Question:

I was reading more on the La Vista Church of Christ website, and I was a little confused about something. Do you all believe the only way to be saved is through baptism?


Answer:

I have a question for you: Can a person be saved by ignoring what God commanded to be done?

For example, under the Old Law, the Israelites were commanded to be circumcised. If they were not circumcised, "But an uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant" (Genesis 17:14). Being circumcised didn't earn the person salvation. However, it was a command of God and not being circumcised meant that this person was not a part of God's covenant. He could not be saved by the terms of that covenant when he wasn't willing to obey it.

Under the New Law circumcision is no longer required, something replaced circumcision. "In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses" (Colossians 2:11-13). The baptism does not earn you salvation -- salvation is a gift given by God through the death of Jesus. However, baptism is commanded by God and to not be baptized means you are rejecting the offered gift. "Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you -- not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience -- through the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (I Peter 3:21).

There were different requirements for being saved under the Patriarchal Age and the Mosaical Age, but today, under Christ, there is only one way to be saved. "Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me"" (John 14:6). The way we are told to put on Christ is through baptism. "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ" (Galatians 3:26-27).

Now baptism is not the only thing required by God before He gives us His gift of salvation, but it remains a requirement that cannot be ignored. Can you be saved without love? Paul says everything is worthless without it (I Corinthians 13:1-3). Yet, having great love for God and mankind doesn't make God obligated to give you salvation. Our best attempts at love is never enough; yet, without love I cannot be saved. For more on this, see: What Saves a Person?