Yes you can!
1. Believe that Jesus died on the cross and rose again. This is the gospel, the good news that Jesus paid the penalty for our sins! 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 For I delivered unto you that which I received, that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures and was buried and was raised again the third day according to the scriptures.
2. Admit that you cannot save yourself by your good deeds. Romans 3:23 All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
3. Receive the forgiveness that God has purchased for you by Jesus shed blood on the cross. John 1:12 To as many as received to them gave He power to become the sons of God.
4. Believe (trust) in the Lord Jesus Christ and you WILL be saved! Acts 16:31 Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.
5. John 6:37 …”him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.”
I Believe In God…Isn’t That Enough?
First, can You Pass This Test?
Even when we come across test questions that seem simple on the surface, we find that they’re often not as simple as we first thought. For instance, the answer to the question, “How long did the Hundred Years War last?’ seems obvious, but the answer is 116 years. When a test asks, “Which country manufactures Panama hats?” the correct answer is Equador. Here’s another: From what animal do we get cat gut? From sheep and horses of course. In which month do Russians celebrate the October Revolution? November. What was King George IV’s first name? Well, everyone knows it was Albert. Ah yes…many test takers are glad to be out of school…far away from trick questions like that thought up in some teacher’s lounge.
But as far as we try to get from the rigors of the academic life, we find our lives are filled with other kinds of tests. We take driver’s tests, drug tests, polygraph tests, sobriety tests, eye tests, entrance exams. People in law enforcement have to qualify on the shooting range at least four times a year, many of you have to take a test for your chosen profession. Like it or not, tests are a part of life.
But is there a test to determine whether a person is on the right track spiritually?
Yes there is….it’s in John chapter 10. Verse 27 to be exact. “My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me.” There are three tests in this verse that will determine if you are on the right track.
Test number one……My sheep hear my voice. Whose voice are you listening to? Are you listening to the God of the Bible or to a god of your own imagination? A god who will not send anyone to hell. A god that does not care if you worship him or not? A god who doesn’t care what religion you follow as long as you are sincere? A god who looks the other way when we sin? A god who doesn’t think that the Bible is truth? Jesus said that His sheep will hear His voice! Their lives are centered around and all about Jesus Christ and His Word! They give their total devotion to Him and His Word. Where does Jesus speak? The Bible! Are you reading the Bible, do you believe the Bible, do you trust the Bible? Do you live by the Bible? His sheep do.
Test number two. …and I know them. Do you know Jesus? That’s important, but the most important thing is does Jesus know YOU? The Lord knows those that are His. Are you His? Do you belong to Jesus? Do you care about what Jesus cares about? Do you know that He is always with you? His sheep do.
Test number three…And they follow me. Do you follow Jesus? Do you go where He goes? Where did Jesus go while on earth? He went to the synagogue (church), He went to pray. He went to the sick and the lost, He went to the cross and He went to be with the Father. Are you going where He is going? Do you desire to go to church? Do you desire to pray? Do you feel the need to share His salvation with others? Do you want to glory in His cross and not be ashamed of Him? Do desire to be with Him in heaven? His sheep do.
Did you pass the test? Only His true sheep will pass the test. God has given all the correct answers to all of life’s questions in a person and that person is Jesus Christ!
Most people in the world today believe in a god or some higher power. I would dare say that most people believe in the God of the Bible. They believe in Jesus Christ also. They even believe that He died on the cross and rose from the dead.
Then we must answer the question, is simply believing in God, the Bible and Jesus enough to get us into heaven? Well to put it simply, you are asking the wrong question.
This may surprise you but the goal of a Christian is not just to get into heaven. Our purpose, our reason for living is not found in a place, it is found in a person Jesus Christ!
Believers are those who haved trusted in Jesus Christ as their Savior and who follow Him each day and are longing to be with Him.
Jesus said in John 14:3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. The question then is not “how can I get to heaven?” but “how can I be with Jesus forever?”
Is believing in God enough? The Bible says that the devils believe and tremble. But the Bible says that they will one day be cast into the Lake of Fire forever!
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. Acts 16:31. “Believe” in the New Testament means to “trust.” Believing is one thing…trusting is another. We have not been asked just to believe in God, but to trust in Him. We trust in Jesus Christ who paid for our sins, who loves us and wants us to be with Him forever.
I believe in a chair. But I trust in that chair when I cast my full weight upon it and sit down. Not only do we believe in Him but we trust our very existence now and in the future to Him!
Will you trust in Him right now?
Jack S Ward
The Danger Of Delay
Several years ago Pastor George Sweetings family visited Niagara Falls. As he viewed the large blocks of ice flowing toward the falls, he could see that there were carcasses of dead fish embedded in the ice. Gulls by the score were riding down the river feeding on the fish. As they came to the brink of the falls, their wings would go out, and they would escape from the falls.
He watched one gull which seemed to delay and wondered when it would leave. It was engrossed in the carcass of a fish, and when it finally came to the brink of the falls, out went its powerful wings. The bird flapped and flapped and even lifted the ice out of the water, and he thought it would escape. But it had delayed too long so that its claws had frozen into the ice. The weight of the ice was too great, and the gull plunged into the abyss.
Oh the danger of delay! How stupid can a bird be! How foolish. Delay. We as humans can get in real trouble by delaying things. If we have pain and we ignore it and fail to go to the doctor we might have a dangerous cancer growing inside our body. And by the time we go to the doctor its too late!
You might be driving down the road and see the gas hand at less than a quarter of a tank….but we tell ourselves there will be a gas station up ahead. Then we discover that the gas station has gone out of business. Now we’ve come to far to go back and we can’t go any further. We are doomed to run out of gas.
Why do we delay doing the things we know we ought to do? We delay paying our taxes, we wait to the last minute to get to work, we delay fixing that toliet, painting the chair, and on and on. We delay some things to put off pain such as going to the dentist or fixing something. We delay some things just because we are lazy. We delay most things because we don’t see the urgency.
Oh the danger of delay!
What about the person who says….”I know that I need to think about spiritual things.” “I know that I need to start going to church and thinking about eternal things.” “I know that I need God in my life.”
Nearly everybody thinks about God and heaven and things like that quite often. But instead of acting immediately on our uncertain future and fate…people will put of these things. It’s like they know that this is vitally important but not important now, or not important enough right now. There is time.
This is the greatest danger of delay! Presuming that there will be time for these things! Most people are in hell today not because of their open wickedness. They are not there because they want to be there. The vast majority of people are in hell because of one word…DELAY!
Most will fail to do anything about the most important decision in life. Stange enough they fail to move on a decision that they have already made. They have already decided that eternal things are important. They’ve already decided to one day do something about it…..but that day never comes.
We see a bargain in a sales ad and we will line up for hours to get it. We line up for hours for concert tickets or sports tickets. We understand to delay on these matters means that you will not get the item that you want. There is great urgency!
But in eternal things we think we have plenty of time. There is no urgency. There is no hurry. No one else seems to be running to get to church today so most sadly presume that there is plenty of time.
The Bible is clear. Psalms 95:7-8 To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your heart. Matthew 24:48-51 But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
A demon came to Satan and said “master I have a plan to get more people in hell. Let’s tell them there is no God” The devil said “that won’t work everyone deep inside their heart believe in God.” The demon said “then let’s tell them there is no punishment.” Satan said “that won’t work either for everyone deep inside their heart believe in hell and punishment.” Another demon chimed in and said “I have it master, let’s tell them there is no hurry!” “Brilliant!” said Satan.
Don’t delay in this matter! The most important matter in your life is your eternal destiny. Believe that Jesus died on the cross and rose again.
Admit that you have sinned against Him
Receive the forgiveness that Jesus provides for you by His shed blood on the cross.
Trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. Do it today and please don’t delay!
Jack S Ward
The Most Important Question In Life
It is not a question of, or who you know, how much you have, how good you are, If you belong to a Christian organization, or even if you belong to a church! The question is “If a man die, shall he live again?” Job 14:14.
Life is a journey and with every journey there is a destination. One day your life’s journey will end. Where will you be then? Where is your life taking you? Are you satisfied with your life’s direction? Do you have peace deep down in your heart? Are you preparing for your final destination?
Most people think that their life’s journey is going end up in heaven, But is everybody going to heaven? Who has the answers?
This may surprise you, but according to the Bible not everybody is going to heaven!
The Bible says that “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” Hebrews 9::27. Mankind has a problem that has sidetracked him on his journey to heaven. That problem is sin. Romans 3:23 says “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
But God has a plan to save us. “For God so love the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have evelasting life.” John 3:16 “. He hath made Him (Jesus, who knew no sin)to be sin FOR US that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21.
“But God commended His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8.
Although we cannot understand how, God said my sins and your sins were laid upon Jesus and He died in our place. He became our substitute. It is true! God cannot lie! We must repond to this love.
“God commandeth all men everywhere to repent.” Acts 17:30. This repentance is a change of mind that agrees with God that one is a sinner, and also agrees with what Jesus did for us on the cross. In Acts 16:30-31, the Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas: “….sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they answered and said…………………………………………
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved….” Simply believe on Jesus as the one who bore your sin, died in your place, was buried, and whom God resurrected giving you powerful assurance that you have everlasting life when you receive Jesus as Savior. “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” John 1:12. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:13. Whosoever includes you! Shall be saved means not maybe, but SHALL be saved now! The Bible gives us the clear, simple, message of salvation. It is through faith in Christ Jesus alone!
What is the evidence that supports your opinion of life after death? What about all these other religions? Which is the right one, which way it the right way?
There are absolute truths in our physical world, mathematics and physics. Then why do some insist that there is no absolute truth in spiritual matters?
The Bible says there is absoute truth! There is only one way to be saved! Jesus said, “I am the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE, no one comes to the Father but by (through) me.” John 14;6
Is your way, your opinion about truth good enough to get you to heaven?
“He that hath the Son, (Jesus) HATH LIFE, he that hath not the Son, HATH NOT LIFE. 1 John 5:12
The greatest question in life has been answered by God. God did not leave us without answers and a solution to death. Eternal life is in His Son. Death is in rejecting the free gift of life. Now the choice is up to you. Choose life. Choose to follow Jesus.
Jack S Ward
What Is Your Destiny?
The Destiny of Man
Man has long wondered why he is here. What is the destiny of man? In each of our heart of hearts we know that there is God who made us. The Bible says that creation is all the evidence we need to know that God is. The Bible also tells us that He has put His moral law upon each heart. But how can we know Him? How can we know what He wants of us?
Most people believe that if you do your best and have a good heart then you will go to heaven. But they have not counted on the moral law of God. They haven’t counted on the justice and righteousness of God.
You see God is loving and forgiving but He is also a God of justice.
He is holy, taking vengeance upon those who have sinned against Him. The Bible says that there is none good but one and that is God. So then God, by being the creator and being righteous is qualified to judge all mankind.
But if I believe in God how do I know which god is the right god? Which religion is the right one?
You are asking the wrong question. It’s not who is the right god? But who is the creator? Obviously someone created everything. That someone must be God. The Bible introduces Him..…”in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
Then if the God of the Bible is the creator how do we know what He wants of us? We know exactly what He expects of us because He told us so in the Bible.
He gave us His moral law or we call them the ten commandments. He clearly and completely made clear to us how to live and how please Him.
But we have a problem here….One of the commandments is “thou shalt not lie.” We have all told a lie in our lives. Another one is “thou shalt not steal.” We have all stolen something in our lives…a pencil from our sister, a borrowed object we never returned.
Another one is “thou shalt not kill.” Well most of us are good on that one right? We have never killed anyone. But Jesus said that “anyone who hates his brother is a murderer.” uh oh. We are busted again!
The Bible says that if you have broken one of the least of the commandments you have broken them all. We are in big trouble! The Bible says that the soul that sinneth it shall die!
The wages of sin is death! We are in grave danger! What do we do?
That’s where Jesus Christ comes in. The Old Testament was written to tell us that we have broken God’s moral law. The New Testament was written to tell us that we have a Savior. God sent Jesus who did not sin (because He was God’s Son) to become sin for us, to take our sin upon Himself…..to take the wrath of God that was meant for us upon Himself.
For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. “Believe or trust” in Christ is mentioned 185 times in the New Testament. We trust in Him when we believe that He died on the cross for our own personal sins.
We receive Him as our Savior… we turn to Him for forgiveness for all of our sins, past present and future. Jesus rose from the dead to prove that God accepted His payment for our sins and that we too shall rise again one day.
What is the destiny of man? That choice is up to you. you can decide your own destiny! You can receive Christ as your Savior and receive His forgiveness and be with Him in heaven forever…… or you can receive the wrath of God and be in the lake of fire forever! What will you decide? It’s a no brainer isn’t it?
Do you know for certain where you will be 100 years from now? I can tell you right now where you will be with all certainty. You will be with the one you love! Either in heaven with the one you love….Jesus, or in the lake of fire with the one you love…yourself!
Jack S Ward
Is Baptism Essential For Salvation?
This is the proper interpreting of a passage and a critical explanation or interpretation of a text. Essentially it is a critical explanation of any text by examining other texts on the same subject.
Hermeneutics. When there is a clear passage on a subject all other passages on that subject refer to the clear one.
Proper Biblical hermeneutics concerning salvation would reveal to us that salvation is by grace through faith alone. John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
These two passages alone would be enough to prove that salvation is by grace through faith alone plus nothing. But these are just two of many clear passages on the subject of salvation. We could always point back to John 3:16 and Ephesians 2:8-9 to prove hermeneutically that you cannot attach baptism to salvation. Yet there are 183 more passages in the New Testament alone that describe salvation as believing in, having faith in or trusting in Jesus Christ alone without any attachments.
Every person in the Old Testament was made righteous by faith alone. (There is no baptism in the Old Testament. By the way, Abraham, Joseph, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Noah and Moses and all the other Old testament saints were not baptized. The Bible says nothing about any baptism of the woman at the well, the demoniac, Mary, and the other Mary’s, Martha, Peters mother, Lazarus, the dead, the blind, the lepers and the lame that were healed by Jesus.) John baptized the baptism of repentance. An outward proclamation of an inward change. But regular baptism did not appear again until after the establishment of the church.
Baptism is therefore a thing unique to the church so that believers can be identified as God’s people. In the Old Testament God’s people wore a identifying mark on the body (circumcision) and were given a land to signify and testify to the world of God’s choice of them. So, the church is now marked and identified by God’s Holy Spirit and our choice of Him proclaimed and testified to by baptism to the world.
Proper Biblical hermeneutics about salvation and baptism would require us to check out all the passages on the subject of salvation. When we do we discover that repentance, belief, faith and trust in Christ in order to be saved seems to be the clear teaching of scripture concerning salvation. That brings us to the controversy. Is baptism attached to salvation? Where does one get the teaching that Baptism is essential to salvation?
In the Bible the word “baptism” or “baptized” is mentioned in only 11 of 66 books. There are only 74 passages in the Bible with the word “baptized” or “baptism.” Of those 74 passages 69 are talking about the act of baptism…..after believing or repenting. Of those five remaining only two seem to give the command to be baptized in order to be saved. But even these two are open to a different interpretation because of the structure of the sentences in the original Greek language.
Here are the two passages….Act 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, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. And 1 Peter 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. In Acts 2:38 “repentance” is the key word. We know that repentance is not tied to baptism in any other passage in the Bible. So we conclude that this passage is not saying that baptism is essential for the remission of sins. When you look at the original Greek language of Acts 2:38 it seems to tells us that a person must repent to have sins remitted and be baptized because sins are remitted. This passage is really telling us that you repent and then you are baptized.
You must remember that Acts is a history of the early church. It is not a doctrinal book. Wouldn’t it make sense that in the beginning of this new work of God Peter would emphasize making a clear public their declaration of their new found faith in Christ through baptism. This would encourage these new Christians by indentifying with Christ’s death, burial and resurrection and challenge them to stand apart from the law and false religions they were being freed from. In the later writings of Peter only in 1 Peter 3:21 does Peter refer to baptism. If he thought baptism was so important why didn’t he put more emphasis on it later on? Peter would be horrified today if he knew that some people teach that baptism is an essential part of our salvation due to his sermon in Acts 2:38 and his writing in 1 Peter 3:21!
In 1 Peter 3:21 baptism is a “like figure” or a symbol. It is saying that baptism does not put away the filth (SIN) of the flesh (This is not talking about a bath to clean our bodies either) but gives us a good conscience because we have been obedient to the Lord. So again if we use proper biblical hermeneutics and we discover that there are many other passages that don’t tie baptism to salvation, we must assume that these verses are not saying that baptism is essential for salvation.
Where in the Bible are faith or belief and baptism together? Only one time in Mark 16:16. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And even that passage can be interpreted in two ways. Is it baptism that saves or belief that saves? It seems to say that baptism is necessary for salvation. The key word in this passage is not baptism, but believeth. It says that one that “believeth and is baptized shall be saved” and “he that believeth not” is damned. So going back to basic Bible hermeneutics and exegesis we would we see that all other passages on the subject indicate that believing saves a person and believing not is what damns a person, and not the failure to be baptized. Add also the fact there is not one passage in the Bible that says if you are “baptized not” you shall be condemned or damned, we conclude that this passage is not referring to baptism as the key to salvation but belief is the key to being saved or damned. It is really saying “He that believes and is baptized are of the saved. Those that believe not are the condemned.”
You can’t take a pretext and make it the main text. You can’t take a minor subject and make it the main subject. That would be like saying that Sports Illustrated is about beer because it mentions it 5 times in 50 pages. No….Sports Illustrated is about Sports. That would also be like saying that ESPN is a network about comedy because it has funny promotions. No, ESPN is a network about sports. Baptism is a minor subject in the Bible. Repentance, faith, trust or belief in God or Jesus Christ for salvation apart from baptism is alluded to, characterized, symbolized, commanded, urged, and flat out stated hundreds of times in all of the sixty six books of the Bible. The Bible is a book about God’s love for man and redemption of man through the hero of the Bible the Lord Jesus Christ and the work He accomplished on the cross. Jesus said on the cross “it is finished.” All that we need for salvation has been accomplished on the cross. So that all we have to do is trust in Jesus Christ as our Savior. Baptism is not even mentioned with the cross. Our salvation was made possible at Calvary. Our salvation begins Calvary and ends at the empty tomb. Our salvation is only proclaimed in baptism. The Bible is about salvation by the grace of God through faith in Christ alone. That is the theme throughout the Bible. The Bible is clearly not a book about baptism.
Where does one get the belief that Baptism is essential for salvation? That would be what is called…. Eisegesis. This is the process of interpreting a text or portion of text in such a way that it introduces one’s own presuppositions, agendas, and/or biases into and onto the text. If one teaches that baptism is essential for salvation they are biased toward baptism and works salvation. They have an agenda.
If I do this God will save me. If I don’t do this God won’t save me. This is “works” salvation. And that work is being good and being baptized. What would you gain if you were baptized every day of the week? Would God be more pleased with you? That is law, not grace. I have even read one preacher say that we must follow the law of the New Testament. Do we follow the law of Moses? No.
Then what law is in the New Testament? I guess he was referring to Galatians 6:2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. Christ’s law was grace. Helping others without any reward and loving those who don’t deserve it and forgiving those who don’t even ask for it. That’s what He did for us. The law of Christ is not obeying a set of rules in order to be saved but giving grace to those who don’t deserve it, like the grace that God gave to us because of Christ!
Romans 10:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. The law of keeping a set of rules to please God ended with Christ. We are free from the law for righteousness because Christ has set us free. John 8:36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
Christ freed us from the constraints of the law. Christ fulfilled the law. Christ completed the law of God because He is the only one who could keep the law. But some have gotten entangled again with yokes of bondage. Salvation through baptism is that entanglement.
Baptism for salvation is keeping the law. That is a burden upon us that Christ did not intend for us to bear. The true burden of the Christian is found in John 10:27-28 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. Luke 9:23-24And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? Our burden is not a heavy one, our burden is to follow Jesus Christ every day and in every way. Jesus said that His yoke was easy and His burden was light. I know some will say that part of following Jesus is baptism. I would agree. We show we are following Jesus when we are baptized. We aren’t baptized in order to follow Him we are baptized because we follow Him.
I know this is an old argument….but you must really think about this….if baptism were essential to salvation why didn’t Jesus baptize anyone? John 4:2. Why did Paul baptize just two? 1 Corinthians 1:14.
Obey the Gospel.
The United Church of Christ has a drawing on their website of From the United Church of Christ Web site: This chart is the gospel. (a drawing of Jesus being crucified, a drawing of the tomb and a drawing of Jesus resurrected.) Jesus lived. He died on the cross, he rose from the dead. The chart above (three drawings of a person standing the water, being submerged in the water and coming up out of the water.) This chart illustrates how that in baptism we obey the gospel. That is we obey a form of His death, burial, and resurrection when we are baptized, so that vengeance will not be taken on us. Continuing in this sixth chapter of Romans we read in verses 17-18 (KJV), “But God be thanked, that you were the servants of sin, but you have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, you became the servants of righteousness.” So, we see that when people obey that form of doctrine that is a form of the Lord’s death, burial, and resurrection when they are baptized, they are at that point then made free from the sin and become the servants of righteousness.
(They then ask)……………Have you obeyed the gospel by being baptized into His death, being buried in baptism with him and then being raised with Him up out of the watery grave of baptism to walk in newness of life? If your baptism was not for the purpose of making you free from sin so that you can be saved, then you haven’t obeyed the gospel of Christ. You haven’t been made free from sin.
Okay….. that is the United Church of Christ statement on obeying the Gospel.
But what is the gospel? 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.
Only one time is gospel and baptism mentioned together. 1 Corinthians 1:17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.
The phrase “Obey the gospel” appears only three times in the King James Bible yet is the key phrase used by those who seek to use baptism as essential for salvation.
Romans 10:16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? The Amplified Bible says this: But they did not all pay attention to the good news [of salvation]; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” Clearly the phrase means that not all people have not paid attention to nor accepted the good news. Paul clearly gives the meaning of the phrase “have not all obeyed the gospel” when he quoted from Isaiah ”who hath believed?….”
2 Thessalonians 1:8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: The Amplified Bible says: Dealing out [full and complete] vengeance to those who do not [seek to] know God and to those who ignore and refuse to obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus [by choosing not to respond to Him]. Clearly the phrase here means that they Refused to accept the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 4:17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?
The Amplified Bible says it this way: The time has come for judgment to begin, and God’s own people are the first to be judged. If it starts with us, how will it end with those who do not believe the Good News from God. For it is the time [destined] for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not respect or believe or obey the gospel of God?
Proper Biblical study would the tell you that you cannot “obey the gospel” in the literal sense. You must obey it in the sense that you must believe it, receive it, accept it, and respect it. Proper Biblical hermeneutics would lead us to conclude that there are 185 passages that clearly tell us that salvation comes through belief, trust and faith in Jesus Christ. So clearly the phrase “obey the Gospel” means to receive the gospel, accept the gospel, and believe the gospel. This is God’s only way to salvation and it is through faith and trust in Jesus Christ alone. The phrase cannot logically mean that “obeying the gospel” means being baptized, for the passages do not even infer baptism in the content.
The most important part of the body is the brain, the heart, the lungs, and the blood system. A body can appear just fine but have bad things going on inside. It’s not the outward that defines a person according to the Bible, but the heart. So, if that is true of a person then isn’t it true in spiritual matters also? The invisible things of God! The most important part of salvation is what happens in the heart of that person. It’s not the action of the body being baptized but an action in the heart and the mind of belief, faith and trust in Christ. You obey the gospel by being obedient to God’s plan of salvation through faith and trust in Jesus Christ.
Isaiah says “come let us reason together.” I’m not against baptism. I was baptized. Every believer should be baptized as a confession of faith in Christ. As a matter of fact you cannot truly be obedient to Christ without being baptized. But I am not saved by being obedient to being baptized. I am not saved because I am baptized. I am saved because I repented, I changed my mind about sin and agreed with God that I am a sinner then I trusted in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Only then I can be obedient to Him and follow Him in baptism.
Salvation is all about Christ and the free gift of salvation. To tie this wonderful gift of salvation to any act or deed that we must do is works, and by works of the law shall no flesh be saved. I would even declare that the teaching that baptism is essential for salvation is a heretical and damnable teaching. To teach and believe that baptism is essential for salvation is not trusting in Christ alone, His work on the cross alone and His shed blood for our sins alone, but it is adding to the work that Christ has done.
The Bible does not contradict itself. It would not have Ephesians 2:8-9 and Acts 2:38 if they did not agree. And they do agree. Salvation- the remission of sins is by grace through faith alone and baptism is the outward display of what has happened in the life of that person.