Salvation & Baptism

What is the Gospel?

The gospel is good news—the good news of what God has done in Jesus Christ.

The Bible depicts human beings, all human beings everywhere, as in revolt against God, and therefore under his judgment. But although God stands over against us in judgment because of our sin, quite amazingly he stands over against us in love, because he is that kind of God—and the gospel is the good news of what God, in love, has done in Jesus Christ, especially in Jesus’s cross and resurrection, to deal with our sin and to reconcile us to himself.

Christ bore our sin on the cross. He bore the penalty, turned aside God’s judgment, God’s wrath, from us, and cancelled sin. The brokenness of our lives he restores; the shattered relationships he rebuilds in the context of the church; the new life that we human beings find in Christ is granted out of the sheer grace of God. It is received by faith as we repent of our sins and turn to Jesus. We confess him as Lord, and bow to him joyfully.

How Can I Be Saved?

You may have heard before that you can be saved by simply praying a “sinners prayer.” Or maybe you have an understanding that salvation it is based on how good we are or how many times we go to church. Perhaps you even might believe that you are saved because you were baptized as an infant or because your parents are Christians.

Believe it or not, Scripture does not teach us that salvation is as a result of any of the above actions. We are not saved by our works; we are saved by our repentance & faith. God expects us to respond with repentance and faith to the Gospel message outlined above, which will lead to our salvation. As the Apostle Paul writes in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” (ESV)

To repent of our sins means to turn away from our rebellion against God. Repentance doesn’t mean we’ll bring an immediate end to our sinning. It does mean, though, that we’ll never again live at peace with our sins.

Not only that, but we also turn to God in faith. Faith is reliance. It’s a promise-founded trust in the risen Jesus to save you from your sins. If God is ever to count us righteous, he’ll have to do it on the basis of someone else’s record, someone who’s qualified to stand in as our substitute. And that’s what happens when a person is saved by Jesus: All our sins are credited to Jesus who took the punishment for them, and the perfect righteousness of Jesus is then credited to us when we place our trust in what he has done for us! That’s what faith means—to rely on Jesus, to trust in him alone to stand in our place and win a righteous verdict from God!

What is Baptism?

If baptism does not save us from our sins, why do we need to practice it? What is the significance of it?

  1. First, baptism is a public declaration of one’s faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Scripture declares that we are to openly and publicly profess Christ. There are to be no “silent saints.” Therefore, baptism should immediately follow salvation, for in doing so, we proclaim Christ’s work in us (Matthew 10:32).
  2. Next, baptism is a perfect illustration of what Christ has done for all sinners through His death, burial and resurrection. Baptism illustrates the new believer’s break with the past and the beginning of a new life, a resurrected life, through a new birth in Christ. (Romans 6:3-4)
  3. Finally, baptism is a personal identification with Christ and with His Church (Galatians 3:27). Baptism says, “I belong to Jesus Christ and I honor the witness and practice of His Church.” Baptism is the seal of our commitment to Christ, and it recognizes the responsibility of His Church to teach and practice this ordinance described in Scripture. In many ways, baptism is like a wedding ring. You can be married without a ring, but the ring reflects the commitment and alignment of your life to another. Christ compares the husband/wife relationship to Himself and His bride, the Church. Baptism is important for identity as well as obedience.