A Piece of the Puzzle


In no uncertain terms, Paul states that salvation from sin comes from confession that Jesus is Lord and belief in the resurrection of Jesus. Paul clarifies in the next verse that belief in the heart brings justification while confession with the mouth brings salvation. For he says in vs 13, “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

In 2 Corinthians 7:10, Paul commends “godly sorrow” in repentance which leads to “salvation”, which is line with Acts 11:18’s “repentance unto life”. In this text, Paul is saying that repentance is part of this salvation process. No mention of it is Romans 10, but still a part of this process we call salvation from sin.

In Romans 6:3-4, Paul speaks of baptism as a burial to the old life and a raising to a new life. The old life dies to sin and is buried, but the new life is raised to righteousness. While not stating the essential nature of baptism here, he does say this: vs 7 “anyone who has died has been freed from sin.” Seems to point to the fact that if you do not die in baptism (immersion), you cannot be free from sin. This act appropriately follows faith, repentance and confession. Baptism is a saving action, because it frees you from sin. It is no mere act of obedience. It is not the water that saves you, but submitting to the act itself. Jesus does the saving work. As Peter later on says in 1 Pet 3:21, the water saves you, but only because you pledge your good conscience to God, and the resurrection power of Jesus does he heavy lifting.

What must I do to be saved? It seems that the New Testament has several pieces that need to be put together: Faith, Repentance, Confession, and Baptism. Faith to change the heart, Repentance to bring Godly sorrow for sin, confession to speak the truth, and baptism to bury the sinner and raise the new Christian. Peter also offers in Acts 2:38 repentance and baptism bring forgiveness of sin and the gift of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. This Spirit if God helps us “understand what God has freely given us.” (1 Cor 2:12).

What I don’t understand is that if all of these pieces are essential to salvation, which I believe they are, then why are they not all listed in the same place? Why not put in some conventions place a list saying, “do this to be saved”? I believe when the message was first being preached, these things were included, but as it was recorded, details were recorded as they were deemed significant. Faith is usually recorded as shorthand for the whole. “And they all believed”!

Jesus comes as close any to laying out a plan of salvation in Matthew 28:18-20. He first instructs the apostles to make disciples (so that they believe, change their understanding of sin and who Jesus is), then baptize in the Name of the Triune Lord, and then to continue to teach them the way of obedience. Baptism here is not included as part of the pattern of obedience, but a necessary point of entry into the community of faith. Very telling that.

That’s all for now. Have a good day and God bless!

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I've been in ministry in the Christian Churches/ Churches of Christ for 20+ years. Finished my doctorate in Biblical Studies in 2015. Serve today as a Hospital Chaplain.

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