Scriptures

Is Baptism A Work?

Introduction

I would be a very rich person if I got a pound for every time I’ve heard some say to me, baptism isn’t needed for salvation or isn’t really necessary because we are saved by grace alone. This is the passage which I get quoted time and time again.

‘For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.’ Ephesians 2:8-9

We have to remember grace, in and of itself doesn’t save anyone, grace opens the way up for us to be saved but we need other things, here Paul mentions faith.

If I was to ask you if you repented of your sins before you became a Christian, what would you say? If you said yes, then you clearly weren’t saved by grace alone, were you?

If I were to ask you if you confessed Christ as your Lord, what would you say? If you said yes, then you clearly weren’t saved by grace alone, were you?

Time and time again I hear people say that we’re not saved by our works, and I totally agree with that.

‘He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.’ Titus 3:5

But this doesn’t mean, as some suggest that all works, of every kind are excluded from the salvation process.

Now here’s a question, is faith a work? Yes, yes and yes again.

‘Jesus answered, ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.’ John 6:29

Notice that ‘believe is a work of God,’ not man. The expression ‘work of God’ means the works required and approved by God.

Now here’s another question, is baptism a work? Yes, yes and yes again.

‘Having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.’ Colossians 2:12

Notice again, that ‘believe is a work of God,’ not man. You see, baptism isn’t a work of human merit, it’s an act that has been commanded by God.

‘So, he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.’ Acts 10:48

‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’ Acts 2:38

Notice also ‘We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.’ Romans 6:4

The resurrection which happens when we come up out of the waters of baptism is a work of God, not man’s.

I find it interesting that people claim that baptism is some kind of work of merit, when I look at the salvation ‘process’ found within the Scriptures.

I see that ‘believe’ is something a person has to do on their own because nobody else can believe for them.

‘Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.’ Mark 16:16

I see that ‘repentance’ is something that a person has to do on their own because nobody else can repent for them.

‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.’ Acts 2:38

I see that ‘confessing Jesus as the Christ’ is something that a person has to do on their own because nobody else can confess for them.

‘Because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.’ Romans 10:9

And yet, when it comes to ‘baptism’ this is something which has to be done for you!

‘For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body–whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free–and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.’ 1 Corinthians 12:13

Are we saved by grace alone?

Yes, yes and yes again!

Are we saved by human merit?

No, no and no again!

Did we do anything to save ourselves?

Well yes and no! Yes, because Peter said in Acts 2:41 ‘Save yourselves.’

Well how did we save ourselves?

We go back to the question the Jews asked Peter, in Acts 2:37 ‘Brothers what shall we do?’

In Acts 16 we find the Philippians jailer asking the same question. ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ Acts 16:30

Surely the word ‘do’ implies an action, something to be done. So, we did do something to ‘save ourselves’ but at the same time we didn’t do anything to ‘save ourselves’ because Jesus did it all for us.

In other words, because of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, He made it possible for us to save ourselves. That’s what grace does, grace opens the door for us to enter so that we can be saved, the question is, will we enter through that door to receive salvation?

Now if I were to tell you I had a brand-new house built for you in London, it’s my free gift to you but in order for you to own it, you must go to London. But as you make your way to London, you must to get on three trains, one bus and a taxi, or I can’t give you this gift. Now imagine you accepted my free gift and you got on three trains, one bus and a taxi to London.

Did you earn that gift?

No, it was my free gift to give.

Did you have to do anything to receive that gift?

Yes, you had to get on three trains, one bus and a taxi to London. Would I have given you the free gift if you only used two trains, one bus and a taxi? No! Why? Because my instructions were for you to use three trains, one bus and a taxi.

My point is this, salvation if free but we must do something to receive it. The Bible never says simply believe in Jesus and you’ll be saved. The Bible nowhere teaches that you say the ‘sinner’s prayer’ and you’ll be saved. To receive salvation, we have to follow the instructions God has given us.

The Bible says, we must have faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, we must repent and turn to God, we must acknowledge our faith in Christ Jesus.

The Bible says you must be baptised into water to receive the forgiveness of our sins and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Peter says, this is what you need to do in order to enter God’s kingdom, the church.

 

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."

Matthew 6:33

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