It seems to be the general understanding that people are saved by or at
baptism. For a long time it is what I used to think. Now, after I have
read John and verses in other books in the New Testament, it seems there
is a big focus on belief – believe in Jesus Christ. There are more
scriptures it seems that say people will have eternal life if they believe
in Jesus and a few on baptism that say baptism saves you. Can you provide
me some help with this topic? Are we as men able to tell people they are
saved? I do recall a verse in the Bible where someone asked Jesus how to
be saved and Jesus told him what to do… and also the story of the jailer
in acts where he asked how to be saved… I would like some help
understanding how belief (faith in Jesus) and baptism work together.

It is debatable whether we are saved BY baptism, although one could make
that point fairly strongly using 1 Peter 3:21-22. What I can say with out
hesitation is that there is absolutely no question that we are saved AT
baptism. If you are starting to think differently, then you had better
consider carefully before you drop this essential Christian teaching.

Yes it is true that faith is mentioned more often in connection with
salvation. There is a very good reason for this. Obviously the chief
issues in salvation are the sacrifice of the blood of Jesus and the
response of faith on our part. Nevertheless, our repentance and our
baptism into Christ are absolutely and unquestionable connected with our
salvation. Acts 2:38 makes this clear, as does Romans 6:2-10. Galatians
3:26-27, 1 Pet 3:21-22, and many many more. It is very bad Bible
interpretation to use one passage against another. The fact that the
Bible mentions the importance of faith more often than it mentions the
importance of baptism for salvation does not mean that baptism is not
important. It is not the number of passages which determines whether a
teaching is biblical. John 3:16 does not cancel out Galatians 3:26-27.

As for a passage which shows how faith and baptism work together, let me
suggest Colossians 2:9-15. Here we read that we are buried with him in
baptism and raised with him through our faith in the working of God. One
thing is perfectly clear, which is that baptism has no power to save
anyone outside the blood of Jesus and our faith in that blood. We are
saved BY the blood of Jesus THROUGH our faith AT baptism.

John Oakes, PhD

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