by: Jim McGuiggan
How do you get saved? The very question makes it sound like we save ourselves, and that couldn’t be further from the truth! God alone is the Savior in Jesus Christ. But because God cannot and will not save us against our will, the scriptures call us to respond in free cooperation with the saving Lord. That’s why you hear texts saying, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation” (Acts 2:40). Or 1 Timothy 4:16, which says, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them. Because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
Some people fear such speech because they see a legalist under every bed. They don’t want anyone to get the impression that they can save themselves. This is a legitimate concern but there’s no point in being so “careful” that we don’t call people to do what they’re called by God to do. “What must I do to be saved?” a jailer asked Paul (Acts 16:31). “What must we do [to be forgiven]?” thousands asked Peter (Acts 2:37). “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” a man asked Jesus (Luke 10:25). None of the three acted as though this was a terrible question. No one said to the inquirers, “Ah, now that’s your fundamental mistake because you can’t do anything to be saved.” All three told their hearers what to do to be saved.
Responding to the gospel of Jesus Christ in trusting repentance saves you when you get baptized into Jesus Christ. This is what Paul taught the jailer in Acts 16:31-32. This is what Peter taught thousands in Acts 2:37-38 and it’s what Christ told his apostles to teach all nations in Matthew 28:18-19 and Mark 16:15-16. It’s what Ananias told Saul in Acts 22:16 when he wanted the forgiveness of his sins. I’ve stressed in scores of places on this site, and at length, that faith in Jesus Christ is the heart of our response to God’s gospel. That isn’t to be denied. Without a trusting and penitent heart nothing else matters—it’s all in vain for without that trust and repentance which is part of a full-bodied faith there is no true acceptance of Christ. But I need to say plainly that in the New Testament when convicted and now believing people wanted to become Christ’s they were told to be baptized.
It doesn’t matter that some sweet and wise people that we know don’t hold to that. The scriptures are very plain about it. You aren’t required to obey these sweet wise people but you are required to obey the voice of God in scripture. Read the texts on baptism for yourself and if they’re as plain to you and as they are to me, don’t ask anyone’s permission or approval—get yourself baptized and know you are saved.
And it isn’t necessary for you to make judgements on the spiritual condition of everyone you meet. Leave that to God. [Please see Remarks on Baptism (3).] Simply tell them what you’ve read in scripture and what you have done about it and let them make up their minds before God what they’ll do about it. In Acts 22:16 Ananias told a now believing and repentant Saul, “And now, what are you waiting for? Get up, and have yourself baptized and wash your sins away, calling on the name of the Lord.” So, if you haven’t done that, “What are you waiting for? Get up, and have yourself baptized and wash your sins away calling on the name of the Lord.”
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