N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 51 (Faith and baptism, Part 6)

dayrevolutionbegan

N. T. “Tom” Wright has just released another paradigm-shifting book suggesting a new, more scriptural way of understanding the atonement, The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion. Wright delves deeply into how the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus accomplish our salvation.

A conversation about when someone is saved [JFG]

Think of it this way. A new convert has faith in Jesus and confesses that faith. He is baptized. The waters overwhelm him and he arises from the waters. He asks,

“Have I been saved?” 

“Yes. Of course.”

“How do I know?”

“Your baptism tells you this.”

“Have I received the Spirit?”

“Yes, of course.”

“How do I know?”

“Your baptism tells you this.”

“Will I have a part in the resurrection?”

“Yes. Of course.”

“How do I know?”

“Your baptism tells you this.”

“Am I justified?”

“Yes. Of course.”

“How do I know?”

“Your baptism tells you this.”

“Am I a member of Christ’s community, the Kingdom and the church?”

“Yes. Of course.”

“How do I know?”

“Your baptism tells you this.”

“But don’t all these things happen in heaven not on earth?”

“You assume a distinction where there is no difference. Baptism happens in heaven as well as on earth. The two realms unite so that God himself is present, giving his Spirit, as a fountain pouring forth cleansing and salvation. You enter into the death and the resurrection of Jesus, who lives in heaven.

“This is why we baptize in all three names. The entire Trinity enters the water with you, and so you arise a spiritual being but also a physical being. You are flesh and blood indwelled by the Holy Spirit — with a promise of resurrection with a Spirit-given and -empowered body. You become a new creation — transformed so you can be further transformed as God walks with you the rest of your life and you follow Jesus and find yourself enabled by the Spirit to become more and more like God himself.

“Obviously, these things don’t happen just on earth, and neither does baptism.”

“And so baptism is more than a mere symbol or obedience to a command?”

“Yes. Of course.”

“So what if someone comes to faith in Jesus, repents, confesses, and is run over by a train on the way to the baptistry?”

“I don’t understand the question.”

“Was I saved when I was baptized or when I came to faith?”

“Heaven and God exist outside of time — at least, time as we experience time. The question is meaningless.”

“But what about the train thing …?”

“Are you asking whether God will deny someone salvation because he was prevented from baptism by a … train?”

“Yes.”

“Has that ever happened?”

“My preacher says so. At least, he knows a preacher who knows a preacher who had to preach a funeral after this very thing ….”

“Can we talk about something that really matters?”

“Okay. I guess what I’m really asking is whether the Baptists are saved even though they think remission of sins precedes baptism?”

“That’s not the same question as the train question, is it? I mean, how many Baptist converts get run over by trains on the way to the baptistry?”

“It just seemed more polite to ask in the abstract.”

“It’s not. It’s dishonest. If you want to know whether Baptists are damned because they get the timing wrong for an event that doesn’t even happen in earth time, ask the real question and don’t pretend that you aren’t talking about the salvation of people of genuine faith and repentance. Man up and admit that this is about whether the Churches of Christ are the only ones going to heaven — because no one else gets baptism the way we do.”

“Can we go back to whether I’m saved?”

“I’m beginning to question whether you were a proper candidate for baptism. Paul says that if we add anything to ‘faith expressing itself through love’ we are alienated from Christ and fallen from grace (Gal 5:2-6). And you seem to want to insist that it’s not good enough to have faith in Jesus — to want to follow Jesus. You seem to say that even for someone thoroughly convicted and committed to follow Jesus, if a freight train prevents his baptism, God’s grace is not big enough and powerful enough to forgive his sins. I mean, that really is the argument, isn’t it? And how insulting to God that is!”

“God knows everything. He knows our hearts. He knows even contingent truths. That is, he knows what would have happened if the train had not been there. He will not be defeated by a freight train!!”

“So are you saying that God had already forgiven him before he was baptized?”

“No. What I said is that God so loved the world that he gave his One and Only Son so that whoever believes in him will be saved — even if he is killed by a freight train before he gets to the baptistry. Or all the water in his hometown is frozen because he lives near the North Pole. Or he has a health condition that makes baptism impossible. God will resurrect our bodies even if we’re burned in a fiery furnace or lost at sea and eaten by sharks, even if we’re atomized by an explosion. God is not going to be defeated by a train!”

“So the Baptists are right and salvation precedes baptism?”

“Make up your mind. Are you asking when someone is saved? When someone is justified? Whether God’s grace will be defeated by a freight train? Or whether those who misunderstand baptism but get Jesus right will be saved? You assume that these are the same question, and they aren’t.

“For example, ‘salvation’ ultimately happens at the resurrection. No one inherits the New Heavens and New Earth until Jesus returns. ‘Justification’ happens at baptism (normally). Those events may be thousands of years apart.

“The NT repeatedly promises that everyone with faith in Jesus will be saved. There are dozens and dozens of verses so saying in nearly every opening of the NT by nearly every author of the NT. But the NT generally doesn’t speak to when someone is saved because salvation occurs at the resurrection. Or when we die. If someone is run over by a freight train on the way to the baptistry, he’ll be saved — or else it can’t be true that everyone with faith will be saved. But salvation may not happen for that person until his death. Or the resurrection (which I think happen at the same time, from God’s perspective, but that’s another topic for another day). So it may well be that the believer on his way to the baptistry is not saved until he is immersed — unless he’s hit by a freight train — and God saves him despite his lack of baptism because God is righteous — faithful to his covenant to save those with faith in Jesus. Any other result would deny the righteousness of God.”

“You seem to assume a lot. Where does the Bible say ….?”

“Think of it this way. God promised Abraham that he’d save all with faith. God then required Abraham to be circumcised as a sign or seal of the covenant. But God did not deny salvation to those who failed to be circumcised if they had circumcised hearts (Rom 2:28-29). He judged based on hearts even in the face of a direct command to be physically circumcised with over 2,000 years of covenant history.

“Then God gave Abraham’s descendants the Torah, with 613 commands, and as a result, the Israelites sinned more because they were accountable for more of God’s will. How did God deal with the problem?

(Rom. 5:20-21 NET)  20 Now the law came in so that the transgression may increase, but where sin increased, grace multiplied all the more,  21 so that just as sin reigned in death, so also grace will reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

“God added commands to the covenant, and covered failure to obey with grace — for those who have faith.

(Rom. 5:1-2 NET) Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,  2 through whom we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of God’s glory. 

“In the new covenant brought by the Jesus on the cross, God adds baptism. Failure to be properly baptized is error — a type of sin. Misunderstanding the nature, mode, or timing of baptism is error — a type of sin.

“For those who have peace with God because of their faith in Jesus, what is the solution? To damn those who don’t know the local train schedule? Seriously? How about ‘where sin increased, grace multiplied all the more’? If God would overlook a failure to be circumcised and countless violations of the Law of Moses because of his grace given to those with faith, surely he’ll overlook a failure to be baptized because of a freight train!”

“Your problem is that you are looking to find a way to damn the Baptists, whereas God is looking for a way to save them. And God found a way: grace.”

“But the Baptists are in error.”

“Indeed, they are. And their error is covered by grace — because God declares righteous those who have faith in Jesus.”

“Then sin is okay! If there’s no penalty, why not keep on sinning?”

“Well, remember —

(Matt. 7:1-5 NET) “Do not judge so that you will not be judged.  2 For by the standard you judge you will be judged, and the measure you use will be the measure you receive.  3 Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye, but fail to see the beam of wood in your own?  4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye,’ while there is a beam in your own?  5 You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

“Are you willing to be judged by the same standard by which you judge others? Are you willing for God to damn everyone guilty of any error at all?”

“Well … no. But if baptismal error can be forgiven, then why not error in faith? Why not just save everyone?”

“There are those who agree, but I don’t. Remember: the covenant with Abraham was to treat faith as righteousness (covenant faithfulness). Without faith, there is no grace. Faith is not like baptism because baptism is not part of the Abrahamic covenant, just as circumcision and the Torah are not.

“Faith is not a mere command or an arbitrary test of our willingness to obey. Faith is what makes grace possible. Therefore, there is no grace for an absence of faith.

“Obviously, you and I might disagree about just what is the bare minimum understanding that constitutes ‘faith.’ And the question has been debated many times. But the NT is plenty plain that faith in Jesus is a sine qua non, that is, absolutely essential to grace. Hence, there is no grace without faith.

(Rom. 10:4, 9-14 NET)  4 For Christ is the end of the law, with the result that there is righteousness for everyone who believes. … 9 because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  10 For with the heart one believes and thus has righteousness and with the mouth one confesses and thus has salvation.  11 For the scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”  12 For there is no distinction between the Jew and the Greek, for the same Lord is Lord of all, who richly blesses all who call on him.  13 For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.  14 How are they to call on one they have not believed in? And how are they to believe in one they have not heard of? And how are they to hear without someone preaching to them?

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About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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17 Responses to N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 51 (Faith and baptism, Part 6)

  1. JohnF says:

    The path back from the train, like all analogies, is perilous. What if he was on the way to “hear” the gospel, but was hit by the train. He would have “believed’ if he had heard, but the train killed him first. So following that rabbit trail, we end up with “potentiality” of available light theory.

  2. JohnF says:

    Matthew 7:2 “For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you” As this is the criteria, what does this verse say about our judging one another over what should be / could be a matter of opinion? If you MUST live up to my standard of doctrine and morality and perhaps any number of other things — and I condemn you for not doing so, I had best be sure I am 100% correct in my understanding of the doctrines of God (a certain arrogance in that view of self). I bring the same judgment on myself from God that I bring on you. Perhaps we need to “cut a little slack” in our dealing with each other, based on the love we are to have for each other.

  3. Dwight says:

    I have a question about Acts 2:38. Is conviction the same as faith? I mean if we are convicted we are sinners are we then placing our faith in Christ or does our conviction lead us to faith in Christ. The reason I ask this is because we often assume that in Acts 2, when they felt convicted, they had faith, but this isn’t necessarily so. A person might realize they are sick, but not realize and place their faith in the surgeon or doctor, until they meet the doctor. In the case of the Jews in Acts 2, they understood their plight, in that they were convicted of rejecting the Son of God and thus God, but then they were asking “what must we do?”. They hadn’t place their faith in anything as of yet. The response was not “repent and be baptized for the remission of your sins”, but rather “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins;”
    Jesus was placed as the recipient of their repentance and their baptism, thus turning to Christ and being baptized was an expression of their faith towards Christ.
    It is my understanding that those in Acts 2 weren’t saved at the moment of their conviction, but rather at the moment of their faith which was then expressed in repentance (perhaps confession) and baptism.
    It is clear that the Ethiopian eunuch had faith in God, but had to be taught Christ and as soon as he reached that faith he was baptized.
    Those in Ephesus had faith in John, but were re-baptized into the faith of Christ.
    Cornelius might have had faith in God and yet still had to be taught of Christ. It seems as though the Holy Spirit fell on the people at the moment of their faith and they were told to act on it in baptism.
    All this to say that baptism isn’t to be an act of a work, but an act of faith.

  4. Dwight says:

    The more and more I think about this the more clear I am in thinking that we may push faith on those in Acts 2 too fast, just because they say were “convicted”. I don’t think anybody would argue that Judas showed faith when he felt the conviction of killing Jesus, because his reaction wasn’t one of faith. Similarly, those in John 8:9 who were convicted when Jesus said, “you who are without sin cast the first stone”, didn’t turn to God, but left Jesus. their conviction didn’t result in faith in Jesus, but rather self loathing.
    The word in Acts 2:37 “pricked…in their heart” is “katanyssomai” or a feeling of pain or sorrow.

  5. Alabama John says:

    if when Abraham was ordered by God to be circumcised the one appointed to do the circumcision found Abraham had lost his penis in a sword fight or accident, would Abraham of been lost or rejected by God because he couldn’t comply although willing and wanting?

  6. Monty says:

    Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation. Many of the Jews at the hearing of Peter’s preaching had Godly sorrow. That sorrow led them(many) to repent and be baptized looking towards the forgiveness of sins. Those that accepted the message(the Gospel concerning Jesus and to be immersed into his name)) got baptized. There was no, “some accepted the message but for whatever reason didn’t receive baptism.” The sign they accepted the gospel message was their baptism. Those who didn’t accept the message of course were not baptized. Who got saved that day? How would you know? Well who got baptized? He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, he that believeth not shall be condemned. Many will argue that if you have to be baptized then why didn’t it say,”he that believeth not and is not baptized shall be condemned?” Well for the same reason that “they that gladly received the word were baptized.” To gladly accept the message was to be baptized. To believe was to accept baptism. If you don’t believe then it’s follows you will not be baptized. When you gladly believe the Good news it leads to gladly being baptized as the Ethiopian Eunuch did.

    Paul was remorseful waiting for Ananias to come(fasting , prayer, lying on his face-,sorrowful look perhaps). But when Ananias comes he is told to, “Get up, be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name. There we see Godly sorrow(realization he had been persecuting the Messiah) led to repentance(fasting and mourning) which leads to salvation, obedience to the gospel(Immersed into the name of Jesus). Paul didn’t have to be told to believe in Jesus as Lord that had already been confirmed at the appearance of Jesus to him, how could he deny it?. His repentance was obvious to Ananias(lying prostrate) so what was left? Well, to be immersed to wash away his sin. To be raised a new creation and to begin to walk in newness of life.

  7. Dwight says:

    Monty, I think the key is “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation”, but sorrow or conviction is not faith in itself. Faith is dependent upon believing in or trusting in someone else. And not trusting in God can bring sorrow.
    Just the fact that Paul did what God told him to do by seeking Ananias was an example of turning to God and faith in God, another example as commanded…baptism.
    Many try to use Mark 16:16 against baptism, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” but this is a classic example of a truth table situation.
    Faith+baptism=salvation, but no faith=condemnation, because once you break the equation by removing any part of it you deny the sum. It could easily be argued as well no baptism=condemnation. Only faith and baptism results in salvation. now faith will also result in confession and repentance, etc. Faith is the base for all action towards God.
    But the fact is that faith will result in baptism which places you before the savior.

  8. JohnF says:

    In view of Paul’s insistence on justification by faith, perhaps we see a progression: Faith -> Salvation / Baptism / Indwelling Spirit -> Law written on our hearts -> Transformational Living -> Works of the law (for James, the perfect law of liberty) of the Spirit of life (NOT works of the Law of Moses).

  9. Dwight says:

    John, I would change this to reflect Jesus, otherwise it almost sounds like we are saving ourselves. Here are my changes.
    Perhaps: God-> Grace-> Faith in Jesus/ Baptism-> Forgiveness/Salvation/ Indwelling Spirit -> Law written on our hearts by the Spirit -> Transformational Living/ Walking in the Spirit -> Works of the law (for James, the perfect law of liberty) of the Spirit of life (NOT works of the Law of Moses).
    I would argue that while faith leads to works, baptism is not a work, but an expression of faith as faith is to be manifested towards God and that these are in place for God’s forgiveness, but perhaps we should look at all works to be an expression and manifestation of faith and not faith leading to works.

  10. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    JohnF,

    I think that’s pretty much right. A possible tweak to think about (although this doesn’t really disagree with what you’ve said) —

    * Works of the Law of the Spirit of Life is the Law of Moses as fulfilled in Jesus. That is, the Law of Moses is not replaced with the Law of the Spirit (or of Christ). Rather, the Torah remains true but some elements are obsoleted by Jesus. Animal sacrifice anticipated the sacrifice of Jesus and so is now superseded by the crucifixion and the sacrifice of Christians who give their bodies to God (Rom 12:1). Jesus was a sin offering. We give a thanks offering.

    Circumcision, kosher, festivals, etc. designed to separate Jews from Gentiles are obsoleted by fulfillment of God’s promise in the Torah to bless all nations through the descendants of Abraham. Separation was a temporary pedagogue.

    Civil law is largely gone because the Kingdom is no longer a nation-state, but the church as Kingdom still is subject to the two or three witness rule, for example, that is we should not convict except on substantial evidence and after thorough investigation (Deu lays this all out). The Temple/tabernacle is replaced with Jesus as temple, including his body, the church.

    It’s a little messier to think this way, and even the apostles struggled with the transition, but they struggled because they had to learn to read Torah in light of Jesus. The Church of CHrist teaching that the Law of Moses is replaced with the Law of Christ is both true and heretical. It’s true, but heretical when understood as a repeal of Torah and replacement with rules found in the silences of the text, which hidden rules are salvation issues.

    Fortunately, Paul has simplified all this for us in Rom 12-15, esp. 13. He’s still quoting Torah to tell us how to live, but he says “Love your neighbor” contains the entire Torah, meaning the Torah of the Spirit of Life. The Spirit writes “love” on our hearts, as taught in Rom 5:1-5 esp. (Ties to James’ perfect law of liberty, as you say.)

    But the Spirit also transforms parts of the Law of Moses from civil law to Christian ethics. That is, to some extent, the Torah is a book of civil law, and civil law sets the minimum obligations of a citizen to avoid punishment. “Thou shalt not kill” is civil law. In the SOTM, Jesus teaches us to look through the civil law to the heart of God. Hence, “Thou shalt not kill” becomes “Thou shalt not objectify your enemy.” No name calling. No dehumanizing. This is more than a civil code can require but very much what a law written on our hearts by the Spirit can accomplish in us.

    And so the Torah is both heavier and lighter, harder and easier. But it’s still Torah, but Torah read by a mind being transformed by the Spirit and reflecting on the meaning of the crucifixion and resurrection. And so the Torah remains more than a historical accident or curiosity. It’s a window into the heart of God, and should be studied as such, but in narrative context — that is, in terms of what it means within the overarching story of the Bible.

    In short, I’d change “NOT the Law of Moses” to “the Law of Moses interpreted in light of Jesus” or something like that. You just want to avoid the idea that the Law of Moses has been repealed and replaced. It’s been fulfilled and transformed.

  11. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Dwight (Part 1),

    In Acts 2, Peter preaches that the Spirit prophesied in the OT has now been outpoured and that Jesus is the Messiah and Lord as shown by his resurrection. He says the Jewish nation crucified Jesus, although many present were not personally at fault. Many were pilgrims from other countries, even. But a nation already in Exile for idolatry would surely suffer further exile and the awful curses of Deu 28-29 if Jesus turns out to be not only the Messiah, but YHWH in the flesh.

    We’ve been taught that “repent” means “give up your life of sin,” but that’s only one possible meaning. It really means to “change one’s mind” most literally. What did Peter try to convince his audience of? That they are sinners and need to live morally? He said not a word on that subject. The change he wanted was for them to go from disbelief to belief, to believe that Jesus is “Lord and Messiah.”

    Context!

    (Acts 2:36-37 ESV) 36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” 37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

    What did Peter say that cut them to the heart? That you are all lost in your immorality? No, that they’d crucified their Lord and Messiah! How do you repent of a crucifixion? It’s not as though they could un-crucify Jesus or stop crucifying messiahs! They had to “repent” — change their minds — by believing that Jesus is Lord and Messiah. We would call that “faith.”

    Peter demanded faith when he preached that God made Jesus Messiah and LORD. To move from disbelief to belief is repentance (but not the only kind).

    In American Frontier Revivalism from the Second Great Awakening (19th Century before the Civil War), most people believed in God and Jesus, but they lived immoral lives. Alcohol abuse was epidemic, for example. Therefore, the preaching of the day tended to focus on giving up immorality and following Jesus. No one worried about whether Jesus was Messiah. Rather, they needed to commit to obey Jesus’ commands, and so we read these passages as being about morality because the nation needed morality. But the Jews of the First Century struggled much more with faith that Jesus is LORD and Messiah than with morality. We read our culture backwards into the text because our denomination was birthed in the early 19th Century. But Acts 2 is a First Century document. Obviously, Peter wanted his hearers to be moral people, but that wasn’t his first or primary goal. His goal was to create faith in Jesus as Messiah and LORD. They’d crucified Jesus, not because they were immoral, but because they lacked faith.

  12. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Dwight (Part 2),

    The central text of Peter’s sermon in Acts 2 is Joel 2:28-32a, ending in–

    (Acts 2:21 ESV) 21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

    Peter preached to answer one question: Who the LORD?

    In Acts 2:36 he concludes that “this Jesus” is both “Messiah and LORD.” (In the Hebrew, “LORD” translates YHWH in Joel 2:32a.)

    So if Jesus is LORD, what must we do?

    Answer: Call on his name, as Joel said.

    How do I call on his name?

    Answer: By repenting (coming to faith that Jesus is Messiah and LORD) and being baptized in the “name of Jesus Messiah.” That is, “Jesus Messiah” = “LORD” of Joel 2:32a. Baptism in Jesus’ name is the prescribed means of calling on his name.

    So does this absolve me of the crucifixion?

    Answer: The entire nation of Israel was in exile. When the leaders crucified Jesus, they only made things worse. God sent his “prophet” and Messiah — literally YHWH in the flesh — and the Jews (as a whole, not all) rejected him, even killing him. So the exile continues and was apt to get even worse for the Jews (it did in 70 AD). The only solution is “forgiveness of sins” (a shorthand expression not only for forgiveness but all the blessings of the Messsianic age, as argued by Wright and easily confirmed with a search on that phrase in Luke-Acts).

    Faith in Jesus as Messiah and LORD/calling on the name of the LORD/submission to baptism in the name of Jesus Messiah results in forgiveness of sins, including the promised gift of the Spirit (as promised by Joel 2:28-32a), a sure sign of the messianic age and hence forgiveness — the end of exile for those who repent (change their minds) and entry into a state of grace with God based on faith.

    Read in narrative context, this is plainly a sermon about faith, even though it says nothing of “faith” as such. Rather, Peter speaks to what it is we are to believe (that Jesus is LORD and Messiah) rather than that we must believe. He preaches Jesus and him crucified.

    In the CoC tradition, we can rattle off Five Steps and not even mention “Jesus.” In Acts 2, the steps are there, but they expressed in terms of what they really mean. It’s not “believe and be saved.” Rather, it’s more “Jesus is LORD and Messiah.” Do what that fact requires according to the Prophets and you’ll be saved.

    What must I do?

    Call on his name — which requires naming Jesus as “LORD” which requires faith.

    In short, I think Acts 2 is all about faith. We don’t see it because it doesn’t say “faith” and sometimes we want to have faith in faith rather than faith in Jesus as Messiah and LORD. Those are not the same things. Faith in faith means that I will myself into heaven by how I think. Faith in Jesus requires me to submit to him as LORD and Messiah = King. It’s all the difference in the world.

  13. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    JohnF,

    Amen and amen. The arrogance bred by legalism is the surest sign of its erroneous nature.

  14. Dwight says:

    Jay, I agree whole heartedly with your assessments in Part 1 and 2.
    The central theme of the scriptures is “Jesus as “LORD””. It requires faith to get there. Repentance isn’t really about a moral change, but a change in direction of the heart. Those in Acts 2 were convicted, so they knew they were guilty and thus separated from God. They asked what they had to do to mend the break. Repent…to Jesus. Be baptized into Jesus. Or in others words accept Jesus and be mended to God. Faith was reflected in their reaction and direction.
    Paul, was focused on defending God, but was closed minded against the truth of Jesus as God and savior. He had to be shown and then he had to repent, change his heart, to accept the truth, then he had to trust in that truth by following God in faith.

    One things you said is interesting: “To move from disbelief to belief is repentance (but not the only kind).”
    What is interesting is that they were asked to repent after they were convicted, meaning that Paul didn’t think that their conviction was repentance. They still had to turn from their disbelief to belief in Jesus and this is paired with baptism, which is an expression of that belief/faith (Mark 16:16).

    I am looking at a flier/pamphlet from our church called “Baptism: 5 steps of salvation by Allen Webster. It is a sad thing to behold. Not only because it mentions 5 steps, but mainly because it only focuses on one step- baptism. And then where it takes you: Baptism – saves, puts one into the kingdom, grants remission of sins, brings gifts of the Holy spirit, washes away sins, raises one with Christ to walk in newness of life, puts one into Christ, etc.
    All the things that God or Jesus, even included with the scriptures given for each things, is alluded to baptism.
    According to it Jesus isn’t the savior, baptism is. It is clearly church rhetoric, but it clearly de-glorifies God in its words and makes us our savior due to our actions.

  15. JohnF says:

    Not sure where I posted this before, but will place here also … . seems pertinent to Dwight’s comment:
    . . . consider these examples: in Egypt, the Israelites had to place blood on the lintels; they had to walk through the Red Sea and through the desert. Were they saved by the blood, the water, or the walk? Or were they saved by God? Could they have been saved without the blood, or the walking? The same is true of baptism, in my view. We were “dead in sin.” How can that which is dead bring itself to life? In baptism, we allow ourselves to be (passive tense or indirect middle tense in the Greek, same form) submerged by another. Does God “count” our baptism as our righteous “work” of salvation? I don’t think so, but it is baptism that places us in Christ (some 89 times in the NT) in whom are all spiritual blessings (Eph. 3:1). We are baptized “into Christ” (Rom. 6:3 and Gal. 3:27). We don’t have a single Bible verse about being “faithed into Christ” or “beliefed into Christ.” There is belief in Christ and faith in Christ in the NT verses, but we are baptized “INTO” Christ.

  16. Dwight says:

    John F,
    Maybe or maybe not! Those in Ephesus were baptized, but not baptized into Christ, meaning baptism doesn’t place you into Christ, unless you place your faith in the Christ you are baptized into.
    A lot of it is how we view these things as a totality.
    We may be baptized into Christ and we are, but is it baptism that saves us or is it Christ who cleanses us.
    We may have faith in Christ unto salvation, but it isn’t faith that saves us, but faith in Christ.
    Our predication of focusing on the creature, rather than the creator makes things complicated and leads to a lot of bad theology.
    As you note they wouldn’t have been saved without the blood, or the walking.
    But then again they wouldn’t have been saved unless they believed enough to place the blood on the lentil or to have taken the walk.
    And they wouldn’t have been saved unless they were told by God to do these things.
    It all ultimately comes back around to God’s grace and allotting him the glory.

  17. JohnF says:

    If it is just “baptism” that saves, we should take up weapons, stop the traffic on the road, and dunk everyone coming by. Of course it is God who at “work” within us. We have nothing to boast about, but the Lord. 1 Corinthians 1:31 Therefore, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord. (Jer. 9:23)”

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