It’s dreadfully sad how quickly works-based gospel can creep into the thinking of committed Christians. I’ve really enjoyed reading some of the articles on ApologeticsPress.org. They’ve got some good apologetics articles.
When I was reading their review of the movie, God’s Not Dead, I ran across this near the end of the article (WARNING – spoilers) :
Furthermore, the movie completely misrepresents how God has commanded people to be saved. The clearest example of this false teaching comes at the end of the movie. In a tragic accident, the atheistic professor is struck by a car and is about to die. It just so happens that a denominational minister is on the scene. The minister begs the atheistic professor to call on the Lord, say a version of the “sinner’s prayer,” and receive Jesus into his heart. Yet such teaching is never found in the Bible (Lyons, 2004; Jackson, 2014). God requires faithful obedience to the Gospel plan of salvation in order to receive the gift of salvation
After reading a little further into what Lyons considers the requirements for receiving the gift of salvation, he is apparently only including the obedience of baptism…not works as is sometimes understood.
In truth, it would be possible to go to any number
of verses and pick out a single thing that the verse says
saves a person. According to the Bible, love, repentance,
faith, baptism, confession, and obedience are but a few
examples of the things that save. However, it would be
dishonest, and poor Bible scholarship, to demand that
“only” repentance saves, or “confession alone” saves,
or that “baptism by itself” has the power to save. In the
same sense, one cannot (justifiably) pick the verses that
mention faith and belief, and demand that a person is
saved by “faith only” or “belief alone.”
Growing up, I went to a southern baptist church, and the idea of salvation was complete with confession, repentance, and faith in the saving sacrifice of Jesus. Baptism was seen as the first step of obedience of a new Christian. Now we attend an independent Christian church, and one of the central teachings is that water baptism is point at which a person receives the gift of salvation.
Scripture is clear on the issue of whether a person can be saved by works. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, so that no one can boast.”
So the question is whether baptism is part of “Calling on the name of Lord Jesus Christ” or is it the first step of obedience that a Christian does to publicly show that his faith is genuine. My own story is that I confessed and repented at age 10, but I was baptized at age 18 in recognition that it was part of my Christian obedience.
While I’m not convinced that baptism is the saving action, it is clear that one cannot receive the gift of salvation by good works or by being good enough.