[Editor’s Note: Though we have run this article before, we think it is worth repeating and hope it is helpful to all.]
Hardly does any one question arouse more fervent debate and heated exchanges than the following question: “What saves men?” Being that the answer to this question has eternal ramifications, it is an important question and one which people will arduously contend for.
Just a cursory reading of the Bible reveals that men are saved by a number of things, yet we so often read and hear from supposed Bible scholars that men are saved by “grace alone” or by “faith alone.” But as soon as they say this they find themselves in a con-tradiction. Some say man is saved by grace alone, but then add that he must also believe. Others say he is saved by faith alone, but then pile on that he must repent of his sins and say the Sinner’s prayer.
Then there are others that say baptism is the only thing that saves man from his sins. Allow me to suggest that if we could all stick with what the Scriptures say about our salvation that would elimi-nate all the confusion regarding this subject.
How is man saved according to the Scriptures? Please note what the Bible has to say about how man is saved from his sins:
- We are saved by grace (Ephesians 2:5).
- We are saved by faith (Ephesians 2:8).
- We are saved by baptism (1 Peter 3:21).
- We are saved by obedience (Hebrews 5:9).
- We are saved by confession (Romans 10:9, 10).
- We are saved by repentance (Luke 24:47).
- We are saved by belief and baptism (Mark 16:16).
- We are saved by repentance and baptism (Acts 2:38).
- We are saved by hope (Romans 8:24).
- We are saved by works (James 2:24).
- We are saved by mercy (Titus 3:5).
- We are saved by the washing of regeneration (Titus 3:5).
- We are saved by the renewing of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5).
- We are saved by calling on the name of the Lord (Rom. 10:13).
- We are saved by the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1, 2).
Are we saved by faith, grace, or works? Or, are we saved by our obedience or God’s mercy? The correct answer to the question is all of the above! As the list above demonstrates, there are so many other factors that go into our salvation. (By the way, this is not an exhaustive list of what the New Testament connects to our salvation.)
At this point someone might be inclined to ask, “Why do you em-phasize baptism so frequently in your teaching and make mention of it in every invitation?”
That is a good question and one that I hope all that are reading can answer before proceeding with this article. It would be foolish and incorrect to respond by saying that baptism is somehow superior to the other things enumerated in this list. How then does one answer this legitimate question? Consider Galatians 3:26, 27.
“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”
In this verse Paul says we are all sons of God by faith because we have been baptized into Christ and have put on Christ. Is Paul say-ing that baptism is the only thing that saves us in this verse? Not in any way. Men are not saved by merely being baptized, but because in the obedience of faith they have come into Christ and unto God’s grace. Said another way, baptism does not save us alone, but it is how we demonstrate our obedience and where we contact God’s grace.
Paul also says of Christ that men are baptized “into His death,” where His blood was shed, and are, thus, saved by grace. It is from baptism that they arise to walk as new creatures who are free from sin and its hold (see Romans 6:1-4 and 2 Corinthians 5:17).
Those who add “only” to grace, faith, baptism, obedience, confession, repentance, hope, works, mercy, or anything else are perverting the teaching of Scripture and in doing so are rejecting God’s plan of salvation.