A gracEmail subscriber chides me for saying that whoever repents and trusts in Christ as Savior begins to experience the joy of salvation. This reader believes that Acts 2:38 and Mark 16:16 make water baptism a condition of salvation, and he insists that we cannot take other passages at face value which promise salvation to the believer. Salvation may depend on more conditions than those named in a given verse, he insists, but it can never depend on fewer.
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Surely we cannot think that only the most detailed promises concerning salvation are dependable, for that would make all simpler promises both treacherous and misleading. Unless God has cunningly contrived to save as few people as possible (which is opposite the Bible’s teaching), I must conclude that the most simple promise of salvation is completely true and reliable, and that more complex statements on the subject are true because they include or assume the simple promise.
. For example, Jesus assures that whoever believes in him has eternal life (John 3:15-16). Peter affirms that whoever believes in Jesus has remission of sins (Acts 10:43). Paul promises that anyone who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ will be saved (Acts 16:31). Will all these promises, if trusted and followed, actually lead a person astray? Does the Gospel of John, written specifically so that “believing you might have life” (John 20:31result in eternal destruction instead? Such suggestions border on blasphemy and make God a fiend instead of a Savior.
Talk about “conditions of salvation” misses the gospel point. God’s forgiveness involves a personal relationship, once fractured by sin but restored by Jesus’ intervention as the sinner’s representative and substitute. The gospel does not propose a deal, it announces an accomplished fact: “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself” (2 Cor. 5:19). There is no “our part” in the work that sets sinners right with God — Jesus did it all, paid it all and from the cross exclaimed “It is finished!” All we can do is trust that finished work, rely on it, commit ourselves to it (in other words, “believe” it) — then enjoy it and live accordingly as long as God gives us life and breath.