In our present age many myths are being circulated as biblical truths. In this article we will examine some of them.
1. Salvation by Faith Only.
One myth being circulated which is contrary to God’s Word is that we are saved by faith only. Romans 5:1 tells us we are justified by faith. James 2:24 tells us we are justified by works and not by faith only. Is there a contradiction between these two scriptures. No! James 2:24 says in essence “Yes, you are justified by faith, but not by faith alone, some works are required.” Do we then merit our salvation? No, salvation comes only by undeserved favor or grace. We do however have to follow God’s plan to accept or receive that grace. Faith defined is “A conviction of things not seen”. We must have faith. “Without faith it is impossible to please God…” Hebrews 11:6. So we see that faith is essential to salvation but in itself it is useless. James says, “Faith if it has not works is dead.” No one, not I anyone else, refutiates the fact that we are saved and justified by faith, Ephesians 2:8 and Romans 5:1 both say so, but it is not faith alone because James 2:24 says so.
You say it is confusing. No, not really. Let me illustrate. Say you have a real bad infection and you go to the doctor. He tells you to fill the prescription he lays down in front of you and you will be made well. Faith tells you he knows what he is talking about and that following his instructions will save you heartaches. Now the question is “Does that faith by itself make you well?” Of course not! It does however cause you to fill the prescription and follow the doctor’s orders to the letter.
The same principle applies to God’s Word, the Bible. It tells us that faith in Jesus as the Son of God, His death and resurrection will save us from sin, but it goes on to say faith alone will not save. For faith to be any good, it must immediately be followed by action. The faith does not save, but it leads us to take certain steps which do save us. So then in the sense that faith leads us to obey Jesus” commandments, it does save. That is what the Hebrew writer, Paul and James were saying. Faith saves only in that it leads us to obey.
2. Saved by Faith and Repentance Only.
Another fallacy in our modern day religious circles is that if we have faith and repent only we will be saved. The Bible very clearly lays down a pattern through which we may be saved. Though repentance is a necessary part of salvation, salvation does not stop there. We see in Luke 13:3 and Acts 17:30 that repentance is commanded. We cannot be saved without repenting, just as we could not be saved without faith, believing. To be saved without repenting would be to say, “Okay God, save me, but I want to continue to sin against you and never come to realize my sins hurt and grieve you or turn from them.” To repent means literally to turn, to change one’s mind.
Paul says to repent we must first be sorry for our sins ( 2 Corinthians 7:10 ). Being sorry then is not repentance, but it leads us to repent. Who can be truly sorry for doing wrong, and continue to do so? If we truly are sorry, then we will repent or turn from sin?
3. Faith, Repentance, Confession alone are not Salvation.
In other religious circles it is taught that if we have faith or believe, repent and confess only we will be saved. Although admittedly Romans 10:10 says if we confess we shall be saved, we cannot say that salvation stops at confession without doing a great injustice to the Bible, God’s Word. We know that without coming into contact with Christ’s blood we cannot be saved. Confession does not bring us into contact with His blood nor does faith and repentance. Without confession though, we cannot be saved. Luke 12:8,9 says so. We must confess Christ before men for Him to onfess us before God. If we deny Him, He’ll deny us!! Our confessions must be by mouth. ( Romans 10:10 ). We cannot sign a card or such thing. We must verbally confess our belief in Christ.
4. To be saved we do not confess our sins.
Many would have us think that to be saved we must confess our sins. There is no scriptural authority for this. Christians are instructed to confess their sins. (1 John 1:9 ) and do so before men (James 5:16 ) where their faults are concerned, but with praying for forgiveness this applies ONLY to Christians.
5. Baptism does not save.
Such a statement is contrary to all the apostles taught, Jesus ordered, and history shows! In Mark 16:16, Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved, but he who believes not ( hasn’t faith ) is damned.” People in most religious circles like to omit baptism in the first part of this statement and over emphasize “believes not” in the second part. I agree one hundred percent that if we do not believe (have faith) it is impossible to please God! That does not however release us from the command to be baptized. Contrary to what they teach, the Bible teaches that baptism is essential by reason for it, what it does and the actions of the early preachers and apostles!
Let us consider why we are to be baptized.
- (A) Baptism was commanded by Jesus ( Matthew 28:18,19; Mark 16:16 ).
- (B) Baptism is for the remission or forgiveness of sins. We all know that when we are saved our sins are forgiven. It is impossible to be saved otherwise. Acts 2:38 makes it clear that if our sins are to be forgiven we must “repent and be baptized for the remission of sins.” The word remission here means “pardon” or “forgiveness”. That is real clear then that for forgiveness of sins we are to be baptized.
- The apostle Paul was told at his conversion “Arise and be baptized and wash away thy sins” ( Acts 22:16 ). Notice here that Ananias would not wait, he wanted it done right then. He says, “Why tarriest thou; arise and be baptized and wash away thy sins.” Even though Jesus told Ananias He had a special purpose in Paul. Ananias would take no risks and he rushed to get him baptized then and there. It must have been extremely important then, wouldn’t you say?
- Another important scripture to consider is Galatians 3:27, not to mention Romans 6:3. These both say, we are “baptized into Christ.”
What is in Christ? “Spiritual blessings” ( Ephesians 1:3 ); “no condemnation” ( Romans 8:1 ); “eternal life” ( 1 John 5:11,12); “salvation” ( 2 Timothy 2:10 ). How do we get into Christ to receive all these things? Baptism! ( Romans 6:3; Galatians 3:27). Baptism then is important! Even essential! 1 Peter 3:21 says, “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us…”
6. Baptism does not refer to water.
Many will say, “Well, baptism does not refer to water, it refers to the spirit.” Just two points to mention on that subject. First, Jesus refers to being born of the water and of the Spirit in John 3:5. They will refutiate that by saying water means physical birth. The very verse before it tells us differently as do the context and circumstances. It is very clear from the previous verse that Nicodemus knew Jesus was talking about a “second birth” and the context of the whole scripture tells us that is what Jesus meant. For this to have meant physical birth Jesus would have insulted the intelligence of Nicodemus. Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedren, the Jewish ruling council. I think he had enough sense to know that if you were to do something the second time you had to have done it the first! I just cannot picture my Lord and Savior as being so arrogant as to spring that newsflash on an old man!
Second, Romans 6:4 says, “We are buried in baptism, so that like Christ was raised from the dead, so we can be to walk in the newness of life”. Couple this with John 3:5 and the other scriptures we have studied such as Galatians 3:27 and those referring to all things being in Christ and add to all this one dash of Acts 10:47 in which Cornelius and his family have already received Holy Spirit baptism and Peter wants them baptized in water and what do you have? WATER BAPTISM: resulting in the second birth.
We are buried with Christ, ( Romans 6:4 ) in water baptism ( Acts 10:47; 8:37-38 ) and raised to newness of life ( Romans 6:4 ). This obviously is the second birth spoken of in John 3:5. Baptism then brings us in contact with Christ ( Romans 6:3; Galatians 3:27 ) and hence forth His blood where in is atonement for our sins.
We see then that to be saved we must have faith and believe ( Hebrews 11:6; John 3:24 ) but believing only is not enough nor is faith only (James 2:19,24 ) or the devils would be saved.
We must also repent, which is merely changing one’s mind, no prayers involved. Then we must confess Christ and our belief in Him ( Luke 12:3,9; Romans 10:9,10; Acts 17:30; Luke 13:3; John 9:31 ).
Then we must be baptized for remission of sins, ( Acts 2:38 ), to get into Christ ( Galatians 3:27; Romans 6:3 ) to obtain salvation which is in Christ ( 2 Timothy 2:10 ).
7. Baptism is sprinkling or pouring.
This cannot be so! We see from Romans 6:3-5 that baptism is a burial so it couldn’t possibly be done by sprinkling or pouring, but would have to be done by immersion.
For what reason were you baptized? Were you saved by the above method? Were you baptized before you were saved, for the remission of sins following belief, repentance, and confession of faith? We see in Ephesians 4:5 there is only one baptism. It is before salvation for remission of sins and to get into Christ ( Galatians 3:27; Romans 6:3) where salvation lies ( 2 Timothy 2:10 ). It is a burial, signifying submersion or immersion.
Baptism alone after you are saved does not count, or for any reason besides remission of sins does not count or without faith, belief, repentance and confession of faith does not count or by any means other than immersion such as sprinkling, pouring does not count or by any authority other than Christ ( Matthew 28:18,19 ) does not count.
Do you fall under any of these? There is a Church of Christ in your community. Contact them and they will be glad to Scripturally baptize you. Call on them, will you? Don’t wait another minute because it may then be too late ( James 4:14 ), and good intentions will not save (Matthew 7:21-23 ).
Please do not take our word as final on anything you read here. May God bless you as you search for His truth!