God left behind instructions for following plan

By Leonard Lauriault: Religion columnist

Men have disagreed about humankind’s role in salvation since before the reformation began in the 1550s. The reality, according to Scripture, lies between the extremes of faith and works.

It’s likely more on the side of faith than works because there must be some level of faith causing us to do the good deeds. Still, if we don’t act on our faith, it won’t save us because we’re justified by what we do and not by faith alone (James 2: 14-26).

Often, when baptism is mentioned in regard to salvation (Acts 2: 38, 39), some argue it’s a work that has nothing to do with salvation.

First, this statement misquotes Ephesians 2: 8, 9 — God’s grace is what saves. Our faith leads us to accept the gift of God’s grace by diligently seeking him, including obeying his commands (John 14: 15-24; 15: 1-10; Hebrews 5: 7-9; 11: 6).

Second, although a Christian administers baptism to a repentant believer in obedience to Jesus’ command (Matthew 28: 18-20), God ultimately does the work of salvation even in baptism (Colossians 2: 11-13; 1 Corinthians 3: 5-9).

Baptism isn’t something we do to be saved; it’s done for us. We’re raised to the new life — born again — when we’re united with Christ in his death, burial, and resurrection through baptism because we’ve submitted to God’s working (Romans 6: 3-7; John 3: 3-7; Philippians 2: 12-16).

Third, Jesus categorized faith as a work (John 6: 28, 29). Not many would say faith isn’t required for salvation. Additionally, most recognize confessing Jesus’ Lordship as appropriate based on Romans 10: 9, 10. So, why do we accept the necessity of some “works,” but disregard others?

Still, it’s the blood of Jesus that saves by God’s grace as we submit to baptism (Hebrews 9: 13, 14; 10: 22; 1 Peter 3: 21). While what we do won’t save us, God won’t be with us (we won’t be saved) if we don’t act on our faith in obedience (Mark 16: 16; 1 Peter 1: 22; Hebrews 5: 7-9; Matthew 7: 21-23; Luke 6: 46-49).

God is gracious and has power to save even the worst of sinners; but he’s also told us what we must do to be saved (1 Timothy 1: 15-17; Acts 10: 1-8, 25-33; 11: 13, 14; 16: 30-34; 22: 16). He extends his gracious offer of salvation to everyone (John 7: 37-39), but he only accepts those who obey (Acts 10: 34, 35).

Just as there’s no other name given by which we can be saved (Acts 4: 12), God has given no other means under the new covenant for us to receive forgiveness and the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which is what makes one a Christian (Galatians 3: 26-4: 7; Romans 8: 9).

Now you know the simple things you must do according to God’s plan (1 John 5: 3) — believe, repent, confess and be baptized for forgiveness. Follow up your faith with obedience unto salvation today (2 Corinthians 6: 1, 2).