“Grace Alone! Oh Wait, and Faith Too!”
Salvation. Nearly every “Christian” organization is seeking it, and that is where the agreement seems to stop. The popular view of the day holds that we are saved by God’s grace alone. Any attempts to discuss the need for baptism or faithful Christian living is met with a unified, resounding accusation, “You believe that you earn your salvation!”
When we are honest with ourselves and the scriptures we can plainly see the hypocritical nature of this modern theology. Most do not truly believe that grace alone saves. Many teach that you receive God’s grace when you answer His call to be a Christian and accept Jesus as your personal Savior by your faith. So while these loudly proclaim “Grace alone!” they really teach that grace acts with faith and acceptance.
If one truly teaches a “grace only” doctrine they have become universalists. A universalist is one who believes that everyone will be saved no matter what they have done in their lives. God desires that all would be saved (I Timothy 2:4). Therefore if grace is the only factor, no one would be lost. But the problem with this doctrine is it contradicts other portions of scripture (Revelation 21:8). There are not many “grace only” advocates who would claim universalism, but that is exactly what their doctrine implies.
Those unwilling to teach that all will be saved turn to the necessity of faith. No longer can they say “Grace alone!” They admit the necessity of a response from the individual to receive the grace of his Lord. So the new cry becomes, “Grace alone is necessary for the believer to be saved when he accepts Jesus as his Savior!” If grace is not the only factor in the salvation of man, what other things must be included?The scripture supports the necessity of faith (belief) for salvation but is that the only additional element required?
Faith is impossible to leave out. Hebrews 11:6 teaches that we can not please God without faith. Galatians 2:16 teaches that we are justified by it. Repentance also is a key component to salvation. God commands all to repent (Acts 17:30). Without repentance, our candlestick will be removed (Revelation 2:5). Truly confession is necessary to be saved (Romans 10:9). In each account of salvation in the book of Acts baptism is present. The first gospel sermon delivered on the day of Pentecost includes baptism (Acts 2). The eunuch was baptized (Acts 8). Saul of Tarsus was baptized (Acts 9). Cornelius and his household were baptized (Acts 10). The list continues, but consider the strong statement Jesus made, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16). What of Peter’s stance, “baptism doth also now save us” (I Peter 3:21).
I do not earn my salvation when I have faith, nor when I repent and confess. Certainly there is nothing about baptism that says, “I have earned God’s grace.” These elements are simply the means through which we “call on the name of the Lord” (Acts 2:21).