Gen. 15:6, speaking of Abram, ” And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”
Some people read the statements from the Old Testament about Abram’s belief in God being reckoned unto him for righteousness, and use it as an example for us today. However, they are failing to consider that part of Abram’s belief in God was his obedience to God’s instructions. Abraham’s belief caused him to do what God told him to do.
Isa. 7:9, speaking to Ahaz about an attack upon Judah, “…. If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.”
If you do not do the will of the Father, then you do not believe Him, and you will not be established!
Mark 16:16, ” He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”
John 3:18, ” He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
John 3:36, “ He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
John 5:24, “ Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”
John 6:28-29, ” Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? 29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.“
John 6:47, “ Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.”
Believing is not just a rearrangement of the neurons in your brain. Believing results in taking action, doing that which is commanded by our Creator.
Psa. 119:115, ” Depart from me, ye evildoers: for I will keep the commandments of my God.”
Acts 2:38, ” Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins,…”
Acts 8:12, ” But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.”
Acts 18:8, ” And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.“
All of the baptism recorded in Acts and elsewhere in the Bible was a result of their belief in Christ. They believed that He was the resurrection and the life. (John 11:25) They wanted that promise of everlasting life, so they obeyed the command to be baptized, immersed in water for the forgiveness of their sins. (See also the post at the right margin, “Lies of the Roman Catholic Church Part III; Baptism Is Not Sprinkling”.)
Their salvation was dependent upon their action, their obedience to the command to be baptized. Their salvation was given to them upon the completion of their baptism. Belief encompasses the action of obedience to that belief, or there is no belief.
Acts 16:30-33, ” And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. 32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.”
Many people take Acts 16:31 and strip it away from the resulting action of Acts 16:33, and tell you that all you have to do to be saved is believe. That is not the truth, that is a lie. Salvation only comes after the obedience to the command to be baptized.
Any time that the Bible says that the first century Christians believed and were saved, the implication is that they were baptized, because that was the moment they received the promise of salvation.
Sin is the commission of an offense, a wrong doing, or it is also failing to do that which is right. Sin is missing the mark. If you take aim and shoot an arrow at a target, but miss the target, you have missed the mark. That is the concept of sin; taking aim but falling away from the target.
John 16:9, ” Of sin, because they believe not on me;”
Anyone who does not believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah promised from all OT prophesy, is missing the mark, and is sinning. Failing to belief in Christ is a sin.
John 14:6, “ Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. “
John 20:31, “ But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”
Acts 10:43, “ To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.”
Rom. 6:3-11, “ Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: 6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7 For he that is dead is freed from sin. 8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: 9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. 10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. 11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
It is through the baptism, the immersion in water, that we are buried with Christ, that we are crucified with Him, that we have newness of life in His resurrection, that are dead to sins, and we die no more. It is only through baptism that we put on Christ (Gal. 3:27). You cannot be in Christ until you have been baptized!
Romans chap. 4 discusses how Abraham’s faith in God had been reckoned unto him for righteousness before Abraham had received the seal of circumcision. (Rom. 4:9-13) Circumcision was the cutting away of the flesh, a symbolic and spiritual sign of casting off fleshly lusts, and putting away sin to live for God. (Gen. 17:10-14)
Today, under the new covenant, baptism is that seal of the casting off of the flesh, that we have determined to die to sin, and live for Christ. (Rom 2:25-29) Baptism is the spiritual sign to God of our dedication to Him through Christ, and replaces the old covenant fleshly sign of circumcision. (1 Pet. 3:21)
Rom. 6:22-23, ” But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
It is the belief in Christ which causes us to obey the command to be baptized. (Acts 2:38; Mark 16:16) The baptism into Christ is the freedom from sin, and the reward of eternal life. You cannot have salvation without baptism! You cannot have eternal life without baptism! Therefore, you cannot say that you are saved, or that you are a Christian before you have been baptized into Christ.
Baptism is not a work of man; it is a requirement of God. You cannot parse the word of God, pick and choose what you want to abide by and throw away what you do not like. The word of God works as a whole, and must be taken all together, complete unto Him who gave it to us.
Rom. 10:9, the words of Paul preached to the unsaved, ” That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
Paul was saying that this is what he and the other apostles were preaching, and in verse 13, “ For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Rom 10: 16 says, “ But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?”
Obedience to something is required. How do we call upon the name of the Lord? How do we answer the call of the gospel of Christ?
Acts 9:17-18, “ And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. 18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.”
That was how Saul / Paul answered the call. He was baptized. He was obedient to the word of God, and the gospel of Christ.
1 Pet. 3:21, ” The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:”
After Acts, all of the subsequent letters to the churches – Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Thessalonians, Hebrews, etc – were all written to established churches who were made up of Christians who had already believed and had already been baptized. Many of the references within these letters speak of belief without mentioning baptism. They didn’t have to mention baptism again, as those Christians were already baptized!
Rom. 1:16, ” For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”
1 Cor. 1:21, ” For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”
Gal. 3:22, ” But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.”
1 Tim. 4:10, “For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.”
Heb. 10:39, “But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.”
When you read the books of the New Testament you must keep in mind the time periods, and the basic underlying facts. Christians became so because they were baptized into Christ. Once they were baptized the apostles and disciples did not have to teach and speak of baptism again in the letters written to the believing churches.
But, many people today want to base their understanding only upon the letters to the churches and forget the first instructions given by Peter on the day of Pentecost… “…repent and be baptized for the remission of sins…”
The letters to the churches speak of the belief of the Christians because their belief was already confirmed by their obedience to the command. It did not have to be repeated, as it was understood. They had already been baptized, so they were believers in Christ.
All of the statements in the letters to the churches referring to those that believe, – “the man or woman that believeth”, “we who believe”, “to them that believe”, “they which have believed” – are all written to Christians. Christians, by definition, were and are those who are baptized into Christ.
Gal 3:27-29, ” For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.“
Today, under the new covenant, the only thing that God sees now is that you are either in Christ, or not in Christ. Nothing else matters; neither Jew nor Greek, circumcised nor uncircumcised, male nor female, white nor black, American nor Russian nor Chinese. Today, spiritual Israel, all those of every nation who are in Christ are of the seed of Abraham, and are the chosen of God. (1 Pet. 2:9)
If you are in Christ, then are you right before God. You have been clothed in Christ’s righteousness, and his righteousness is reckoned unto you. (Acts 17:31; Roms. 3:22; Rom. 5:17) Only then are you good in God’s eyes, and have done good things. (2 Cor. 5:10)
1 John 3:23, “And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.”
We are commanded to believe. We are commanded to be baptized into Christ, if we want eternal life. (Mark 16:16). Baptism is absolutely required to have salvation and eternal life.
If you ignore this command, then you have not believed, and you will be subject to the judgment of God, and the second death…. the destruction of the soul. (Matt 10:28; Rev. 2:11, 20:6, 20:14, 21:8)
If you have believed, and have been immersed in water for the forgiveness of your sins, then you have risen to newness of life, and have died to sin. You have already been resurrected, spiritually. You already have eternal life in Christ Jesus. All those who die in Christ will be changed in the twinkling of an eye at our bodily death at our last trump, and be taken home to heaven to be with all of the saved forevermore. (1 Cor. 15:52; 1 Thess. 4:17; Rev. 14:13)