It has surprised me recently to learn that there are people who profess to believe very much like I do -- They claim to believe: 1) That Salvation is by Gods Grace alone; 2) That salvation is not earned in any way; 3) That they are fully trusting in Jesus for salvation. But….I have learned that they believe their deeds are essential in that actual process of "coming to Christ". They call it "Obeying the Gospel". They have said that "obeying the gospel" includes various deeds such as water baptism, living a Holy Christian life, etc. I will try to summarize their belief.
An Illustration of False Doctrine:
|"Jesus freely offers Salvation to whosoever will. A person who wants to be saved must "get himself" to Christ in order to receive the gift of salvation. Getting oneself to Christ includes Baptism and living a holy life."|
Here is the truth: After the fall, man could no longer "come to God" because of sin. God remedied that situation by sending Jesus to mediate between God and Man. Now these folks have imagined a "ladder" of sorts which one must climb to get to Jesus. The interesting thing is that their "ladder" includes the step of living a holy life, which is humanly impossible apart from the help of the Holy Spirit (in which case the person is saved already).
Another "step" on their "ladder" is water baptism. Now the Bible has some interesting statements about baptism, but when studied as a body of truth one can not conclude that baptism is a "step" in coming to Christ. Rather, it is obvious that water baptism is identification with Christ -- a public confession that one's faith rests in Christ. Water does not wash away any sin.
John the Baptist was baptizing before Jesus ever showed Himself to the world. People who were in agreement with John's message got baptized to make a public confession. Jesus was baptized. Pray tell, why did the Sinless Son of God need to be Baptized? Was he taking a step toward Himself? The Thief on the cross had no opportunity to be baptized, yet he was promised salvation by Jesus. Did the unchanging God change His plan for this one person in history? NO! These folks are errant in their doctrine. The Apostle Paul, the greatest missionary ever, explained that he was not called to baptize, but to preach the gospel.
A man who comes to Christ for salvation must come with a Faith/Repentance combo. I call it that because Faith and Repentance are two sides of the same coin. Both will result in works, but neither itself is a work. There is no ladder to climb. The Bible commands Baptism, and living a Holy Life, but those are not "steps' in coming to Christ, they are the result of true faith in Him. Don't be fooled by this reheated version of works salvation.