Are You Saved?
That’s the big question, correct? Am I saved? What do I have to do to be saved? Can we say a prayer and my sins are forgiven so I can go to heaven? Does the Bible even mention we will go to heaven… or is it new earth? So many questions. One phrase that has been drilled into my mind since birth, and I’m sure you have heard something similar, is this: To be saved requires: Believing, Confessing, Repenting, and, depending on the specific denomination, Baptism.
Easy enough. But where did this teaching come from? Where did the sinner’s prayer come from? Where did infant baptism come from? What counts, and what is made up? We’re going to attempt to answer some of these questions.
What Is A Conversion?
Acts 2:37-39 (CSB)
37 When they heard this, they were pierced to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”
The first time we especially see people “converting” would be in Acts. And actually, the only time we see people converting is in Acts. Many religions will jump into Romans to explain salvation, but if we’re going to be honest here… the only time anyone is ever saved is in the book of acts – nine times. That’s it! In the New Covenant, we see nine people (or groups) converting from death into life. So maybe, to understand salvation, we should start there!
In Verse 28 above, the Greek word for the is eis, which means: into, unto, towards, etc. So when Peter is teaching everyone about Jesus, he tells them they need to be baptized into the forgiveness of sins. Some versions and religions claim that “eis” means “because,” but it doesn’t. Never did.
What Is Baptism
Simply put, Baptism is our induction into Christ when we obediently respond, in faith and repentance, to God’s offer of salvation through Jesus. Baptism is how we are clothed with Christ.
Galatians 3:27 (CSB)
27 For those of you who were baptized into Christ have been clothed with Christ.
When we are baptized, Paul says that we put on Christ, almost like a garment. We can “wear” the righteousness of our savior, Christ. God then, perhaps, sees us as not sinners considering our Baptism washes away our sins (as mentioned in Acts above).
Clothed With = enduo: I put on.
We are united with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection when we are baptized.
Romans 6:3-5 (CSB)
3 Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we were buried with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of his resurrection.
Paul is telling us through symbolic language is when we go down under the water, we are being buried as a dead man (or woman) so that when we are raised out of the water into a new life, we are just as Christ was when he raised from the dead. We then are receiving a newness of life.
Baptism Or Salvation, What Is First?
But the question may still stand, how can I be saved? What comes first? Are we saved and then baptized as a response to salvation, or until we are baptized, we are still not saved? Paul tells us that we are to bury those who are dead in sins, raise them, and be reborn into a new life in Christ. When Paul is writing to the Colossians, he is reminding them of their conversion experience (because there are no conversions in the book of Colossians, just in the book of Acts).
Colossians 2:12 (CSB)
12 when you were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.
We are buried in Baptism. A dead man is buried, and a live man is rising. But you may then argue, “baptism sounds like a work then, and I know salvation isn’t a work” (Ephesians 2:8-9). That is partly correct. Salvation is not a work, but neither is Baptism. When you are baptized, you are not working – you are dying. How much work does a dead man exhaust when lowered into the ground? The result is all by the Holy Spirit working in you. We are buried in Baptism through faith.
Ephesians 2:8-10 (CSB)
8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— 9 not from works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do.
It seems that we may receive that salvation by grace through faith when we are raised with him through faith after we are buried with him in Baptism. You may have a follow-up question “what about the man in prison that doesn’t have access to water for baptism?” I don’t have time to address the Spirit in which this question is asked (trying to find exceptions and loopholes instead of just obeying God), but I will point you to The Heavenly Man. This book offers a first-hand account of Baptism in one of the worst prisons in the world.
At the end of the day, you carry the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word (Ephesians 6:17). Take the sword into war with the intent to slay the one who is an enemy of Christ (Romans 5:10) so that his flesh will die and he will rise into a new life! So stop arguing and trying to find loopholes to meet some twisted agenda. Submit yourself to Christ in all things!
Christ Commands Baptism
It’s easy for the religious man to pull proof texts for and against Baptism. You may read all the ones above, filled with righteous anger, and scoff that I didn’t even mention Hebrews 11:6 (believing in God), Luke 13:3 (repenting of sins), Romans 10:10 (Confessing Jesus is Lord), Acts 4:12 (Jesus Only Salvation). But I’m not arguing against any of that. I’m just explicitly discussing the topic of Baptism. I think they are all important and all work together. Removing any part of the chain (Believing, Repenting, Confessing, Baptism) creates a huge problem.
The goal shouldn’t be for any of us to quote just one or two verses of the Bible to prove a point. We should be using discernment in studying the Bible and the conversion experiences and understanding a complete picture of how Jesus is the Messiah. Through him, we find salvation. If our goal is to obey Jesus, and view all of scripture through his words first, then let’s end on His terms only.
Matthew 28:18-29 (CSB)
18 Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Mark 16:15-16 (CSB)
15 Then he said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.