A gracEmail subscriber writes: “This idea of just ‘accepting Jesus as our Savior’ can be a dangerous teaching. Satan knows this fact, and if anyone is headed straight for hell he is. There must be more to this than just a head knowledge of the gospel. Perhaps we must also repent and submit to baptism.”
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Indeed there is more to saving faith than “head knowledge” and anyone who tells you otherwise is simply wrong! You are correct that Satan himself possesses “head knowledge” of the gospel — he knows first-hand that Jesus died for sinners, that he was buried as other men are and that he burst out from among the dead ones on the third day, victorious over Satan and all his works.
Saving faith involves the head, to be sure. But far more than that, it calls for a heart response at the deepest level. To accept Jesus as Savior means that we rely entirely and exclusively on what he did in our place to set us right with God. It means that we turn over control of our lives to him. It means that we are sorry for sin and that we commit to do God’s will instead of our own from now on.
Jesus asks the person who “believes on him” (trusts him alone for salvation) to declare that faith verbally and to express it symbolically by being baptized in water in his name. If someone does these things with a notion of earning God’s forgiveness or obligating God in any way, he is likely not accepting Jesus as Savior at all. But if someone confesses Jesus in words and in baptism with an eye on the Cross and the Empty Tomb — so declaring that Jesus finished the work 2,000 years ago which sets us right with God — that person is merely relying on God in Christ to bestow blessings that she will never deserve, merit or earn.