Are We Saved The Moment We Believe?


There are many sincere people who believe that they are saved because they believe and have faith in God. This is usually because they have been taught this or simply told to pray what is known as ‘the sinner’s prayer’, which is nowhere to be within the Scriptures.

It is not my intention to prove that we are not saved by grace, because the Scriptures clearly tell us that this is true, Ephesians 2:8-9.

Are we saved by faith? Yes, the Bible clearly teaches this, but we need to ask the question, WHEN does faith save us? At what point do people receive salvation, Titus 2:11.

We will never understand the purpose of baptism unless we look at the texts which speak about baptism. I do not believe that baptism without faith has any value, any more than faith without baptism. Baptism has no value at all apart from faith. And then only because of the authority that lies behind them both.

When a person is immersed in water, they are trusting in the precious blood of Jesus, they are obeying Jesus’ command to be baptised, Matthew 28:19-20 / Mark 16:16. They are doing spiritually what Jesus did physically, they die to self, the old self is buried and they rise to have a new life, Romans 6:2-4.

When the repentant believer is baptised, they are saved at that moment and so receive the forgiveness of their sins because Christ Himself says so in the great commission, Mark 16:16.

It’s no accident that the great commission is recorded in all four Gospels, Matthew 28:19 / Mark 16:15 / Luke 24:47-48 / John 20:21, because they tell us that people must believe, repent, and be baptised so that they can be saved.

Baptised Into A Relationship

“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28:19

When we read Jesus’ words in Matthew 28:19, they not only tell us that we need to be baptised, but they also tell us what happens when we are baptised. Jesus says that baptism is ‘into the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit’.

In both the English and the Greek text, it is a preposition of movement, of motion. It indicates a change of position. When a person is baptised, they change their position, and their relationship with regards to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

If baptism brings people into this relationship with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, ‘it unites with Christ’, it follows that a person is not united with Christ and not in this relationship UNTIL they are baptised. Baptism is necessary for salvation because in Mark 16:16, Jesus put salvation AFTER faith and baptism.

The Order

“Whoever BELIEVES and is BAPTIZED will be SAVED, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” Mark 16:16

People often suggest that because Jesus did not say, ‘whoever does not believe and has not been baptised will be condemned.’ I want to suggest, that He didn’t need to mention baptism again, simply because no one who doesn’t believe would ever be baptised in the first place.

Notice the Gospel has to be preached, Mark 16:15, it has to be believed, baptism follows, and then comes the promise of salvation, Mark 16:16. How anyone who truly loves Christ can say, ‘Lord I don’t believe that baptism is necessary?’ is beyond me.

A few people today suggest that BELIEF comes first, then SALVATION and then BAPTISM, but that is not the order that Jesus used.

Notice that He did not say ‘Whoever BELIEVES and is SAVED shall be BAPTISED’. No matter how we look at this verse, Jesus clearly put salvation AFTER faith and baptism.

Look at the tenses in this text, ‘Whoever believes and is baptised,’ is present tense but ‘will be saved’, is future sense. Jesus says in Matthew 7:7, “Seek and you will find.” No one would suggest that we find before we seek. This is the same idea in Mark 16:16, salvation follows the believing and the being baptised.

The arrangement of words is very important since Jesus says, ‘FAITH, BAPTISM and then SALVATION’. Since He put salvation after baptism and not before, since He restricts salvation to the person who believes and is baptised, and since faith and baptism are connected with a view to the same purpose, it is crystal clear that baptism is essential to salvation.

Unsaved Believers

“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

Peter had preached the gospel, the people had been cut to the heart and cried, “What shall we do?” Acts 2:37, and Peter answers their question, Acts 2:38.

We must note that these people were already believers because, on the day of Pentecost, the 3,000 were never told to believe. Neither faith nor belief is ever mentioned.

These people were never commanded to believe and yet they believed. These were believers, otherwise, people would have to suggest that Peter commanded unbelievers to repent and to be baptised which is ridiculous. So here are believers but are they saved?

Of course, they are not saved. If they were already saved because they simply believed, then Peter’s reply, “Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins”, is a complete waste of time.

These people wanted to know what to do to have their sins forgiven, hence why Peter tells them what to do to have their sins forgiven. They were believers because they gladly received Peter’s word and were baptised, Acts 2:41. And why were they baptised? They believed what Peter had said about it.


Ask yourself this question, according to Acts 2:38, does repentance come BEFORE or AFTER forgiveness?

Does a person repent first and then receive salvation or is a person saved first and then come to repentance?

Would you agree that repentance must come before the forgiveness of sins?

2 Corinthians 7:10 teaches us that repentance comes BEFORE salvation. Surely no one would suggest that repentance wasn’t necessary for salvation.

Repentance is joined with baptism with the same purpose in view, which is salvation, and we cannot separate the two. If people say that faith alone saves us but argue that a person needs to repent to be saved, they have just nullified the first statement. We cannot be forgiven simply by believing, we cannot be saved without also repentance and baptism.

Another Unsaved Believer

Some suggest that people don’t need to be baptised because they are saved at the point of calling on the name of the Lord, Acts 2:21. They believe that the Jews on the day of Pentecost were already saved because Peter earlier declared that “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Acts 2:21.

However, notice once again that we have baptism associated with the ‘calling on his name’, Acts 22:16. Paul was not converted on the road to Damascus, he did not have his sins forgiven on the road to Damascus.

The very fact that Paul was told, ‘Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away’ Acts 22:16, implies that this man had sins to wash away.

And if Paul was already saved, then he didn’t know it because for three days he didn’t drink or eat, but prayed, Acts 9:9. If he was saved before he called on the name of the Lord and was baptised, then Ananias didn’t know it, because he came with the wrong message, Acts 9:17.

If he was saved on the road to Damascus, even the Holy Spirit did not know it because it was the Spirit that sent Ananias with that message, Acts 9:10-16.

Paul was a repentant believer because he was a believer at this time, and he was certainly repentant because he had changed his whole life.


If Paul was already saved, why was he told to be baptised?

Was Paul saved simply by ‘calling on his name’ or was his command to be baptised connected with ‘calling on his name’?

What command was given first to Paul, to be baptised or to call on his name?

Is ‘calling upon his name’ connected with baptism?

If those present at Pentecost were saved earlier by calling on the name of the Lord, then why would Peter later tell them to repent? Acts 2:38.

If they were already saved on the same day, then why would Peter tell them to be baptised for the forgiveness of their sins? Acts 2:38.

More Unsaved Believers

In Acts 19, Paul found certain believers and asked, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit”. Acts 19:2.

Notice that Paul connected they not having the Holy Spirit with the fact that they had not been baptised in the name of Jesus Christ. He said, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied.” Acts 19:3.

Here were men who had evidently accepted the baptism of John after the church had been established on the day of Pentecost. And when Paul realised that these men had received John’s baptism, he told them that the baptism of John was to the time when Christ should come. And he commanded them then to be baptised in the name of the Lord, Acts 19:4-5.


If these believers were already saved, why were they baptised?

Why were they baptised in the name of the Lord?

Remember that baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, by the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, according to Acts 2:38, is indeed for the forgiveness of sins, so that you may receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The gift of the Holy Spirit was always associated with baptism in the name of the Lord. We find, for example, in Acts 5 Peter says, “We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who OBEY him”. Acts 5:32.


Is repentance necessary for salvation? Can one be saved who refuses to repent? Certainly not! Acts 17:30 says, “In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.” But where does repentance come? Before or after faith?

It is really immaterial whether it’s repentance then faith or faith and repentance. It does not really matter. It is not repentance without faith and it’s not faith without repentance. It is repentance plus faith so, even there our faith is not alone.


Paul says in Romans 10:9, “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord”. Is confession of Christ necessary to salvation? If we say that confession of Christ is necessary to salvation, then this is not faith alone.

Remember this confession comes AFTER faith because we do not confess Christ first and then have faith, it is impossible. We can only confess that which we believe that which we have.

So, the order evidently is, faith first and then the expression of that faith in confession. But according to Paul’s argument in Romans 10:10 your salvation is not until after confession, “with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”


In 1 Peter 3:21 the apostle Peter, speaking of the salvation Noah had in Old Testament times says, “This water symbolizes baptism that now saves you ALSO—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God”.

Baptism is a penitent appeal of faith for the forgiveness of our sins. It is trusting God that He will wash away our sins.


Noah and his family were saved by the water or by the ark in the water. How does baptism save?

Is this some present salvation or is it some future salvation referred to here?

And how can baptism be the request to God for a conscience that’s right with Him, if we’ve already got that conscience by believing in Him?

Is baptism simply a response from an already clean conscience?

Water baptism does not save us because of some inherent power found in water, but rather through the word, the blood, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, John 8:51 / John 14:23 / Romans 5:9-10 / Ephesians 2:13. It seems pretty plain in this passage that Peter says that baptism does now ALSO save us.


Faith is necessary for salvation, but it is the faith that works through love, Galatians 5:6. Faith becomes God’s condition of salvation and in Romans 1:16 Paul says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes”.

It is not unconditional, faith itself is a condition of salvation. The gospel is the power of God, but it does not save everybody. It only saves those who believe.

Believing is a work of God, simply because it is that which God has commanded, John 6:27-29. If I am employed by somebody, whose work do I do? Do I do his work, or do I do the work that he tells me to do?

We can work the work of God, and believe on His Son, and be saved by faith, but have you earned your salvation? Certainly not!

There is no merit in faith. There is nothing in faith that makes God have to save us, nothing at all. There is no merit at all. But faith saves because faith and baptism have both been commanded by the Lord Jesus Christ, Matthew 28:19 / Mark 16:16.