Question #14. This is a follow-up article to add more information about salvation. Should we stop at “Saved by Grace Alone” + “Saved by Faith Alone” + “Saved by Christ Alone”? In Question #13, we put PLUS to the other ten ITEMS. Do you agree that the cited scriptures to the ten items are acceptable? We find these items in the Bible. We cannot make God a liar by clinging only to grace, faith, and Christ.
Answer: We should agree that there are more than three persons or items involved in our salvation. Submitted items in Question #13 are biblical. In this series, we add some more with scripture passages:
+11. Saved by abiding in the teachings and living righteously and godly until the appearing of Christ. We find the scriptures in John 6:27; John 8:31; John 12:48-50; Romans 8:1; 1 John 3:24; 1 John 5:2; 2 John 8, 9; 1 John 2:3-4, 15; Titus 2:11-14; James 1:27; Rev. 2:10.
+12. Saved by preaching the gospel – 1 Cor. 1:21 “foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.”
+13. Saved by repentance, Luke 13:3; Acts 2:38.
+14. Saved through water. . . 1 Peter 3:18-22, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. There is also an antitype which now saves us, namely baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him.”
Was the flood water important in separating Noah’s family from their evil society? Yes. Did the water alone and by itself save them without God and the Ark? No. God and the Ark were involved. Did the Ark alone save the family from death? Not the Ark alone, but God’s love is the primary item in their salvation. Was their building the boat considered alone earned merits that save them? No. Salvation is from God. But if they did not obey the command to build the Ark, would they be saved from the flood? No. Did Noah earn his salvation from the flood? No, he did not earn his salvation. It was still God’s providence that saved Noah, but Noah had to obey God’s instructions. In addition to building the ark, he had to build it according to specifications. Did Noah have the freedom to change the measurements of the ark and the specified materials used in the construction? No, he did not have the freedom. The number of animals to bring into the ark was also specified. Did Noah have the freedom to lessen the number? No, he did not have the freedom. But obeying the exact measurement of the ark by itself did not save Noah. If Noah made the Ark longer or shorter, would God Almighty be pleased? No. Noah had to obey God’s specific instructions for God to be pleased.
Obedience to the conditions and instructions of Christ should not be considered as earning and meriting salvation. We should watch out about our attitude. Rather, have faith and love for Jesus Christ who suffered and died for our sins. Lovingly and humbly carry out the instructions given by our benefactor should be our attitude. In the Old Testament, we have this undying principle: “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice. And to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king.”(1 Samuel 15:22-23)
Three Tenses of Salvation
To this writer, a discussion of the three tenses of salvation should be made clear. In a timeline, where do we place the moment of the forgiveness of sins in relation to the moment of faith and the moment of being born again or the moment of immersion in water?
There are Bible students who place the forgiveness of sins at the moment of belief in Christ or at the moment of faith. Others put forgiveness of sins when the Holy Spirit starts to work on the life of an elected, predestined individual. Still, others place forgiveness of sins at the moment a disciple is immersed in water. This initial forgiveness of sins is called the Past Tense of Salvation. The basis of salvation is on the merits and righteousness of Christ’s sacrifice. But the righteousness of Christ is the Grace of God. It is potential and available to every individual. However, there are prerequisites or conditions in order to appropriate the merits of this Grace and righteousness of Christ before it could be imputed on a disciple. Are the conditions and prerequisites commanded by Christ himself called works? Works of faith? Works of obedience? Works of love? Are they required or not? Like repentance and baptism? Yes, they are required. Do these items earn salvation? No. But they are required by the gracious and merciful God.
The second stage of salvation is the duration after the initial forgiveness of sins and a disciple makes his journey as a Christian in the Kingdom of God. This period lasts up to the point of physical death. Sometimes the disciple stumbles and repents and prays for forgiveness of sins. There could be several examples and dates of stumbling and repentance and reconciliation with our Savior Jesus Christ. This is called the Present Tense of Salvation. Repentance of sins and failures are needed before forgiveness. This process of repentance and praying for forgiveness is gleaned from Acts 8:24. After physical death, there comes an initial judgment where a disciple has enjoyed the imputed righteousness of Christ. His soul is carried by angels unto the Hades, which is called the bosom of Abraham in Luke 16:19-31. Are there activities or works demanded by Christ during this period? Are there good works demanded by Christ that will spell out victory or failure in salvation? Yes, there are according to Ephesians 2:10.
The third stage of salvation is called the Future Tense of Salvation. This points to the Last Judgment Day. 1 Peter 1:8-9, “whom not having seen ye love; on whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice greatly with joy unspeakable and full of glory; receiving the end of your faith, (even) the salvation of your souls.” Because this writer believes there is the possibility of falling from grace, and the strong deceptive works of Satan, not all who start the Christian journey succeed in reaching the finish line. So a disciple has to focus on finishing the race and with the help of the Holy Spirit, he could successfully finish the race and receive the salvation of his soul. That is what we understand from 1 Peter 1:9 and Rev. 2:10.
So when we discuss baptism, we should determine if we relate it to the Past Tense of Salvation or the Present Tense of Salvation or to the Future Tense of Salvation.