Wednesday, January 7, 2009

"Whoever believes in Jesus will ....."

I would submit that there are several Biblical ways to complete this, and all the completions are complementary. James says that the faith that saves is a faith that issues in obedience: "faith without works is dead." You SEE that a man is saved by works (because only God can see faith; all we can see is its results). Jesus said, "If you love Me you will keep My commandments." A "faith" that does not create any visible change in the life of the person is not a saving faith.

"Do I have to be baptized?"

That's probably not the real issue. The issue seems to me to be, "Just how disobedient and rebellious can I remain and still avoid hell?" These folks aren't particularly interested in loving God, submitting to Christ, becoming holy .... all they want is fire insurance. They want to remain fleshly; hence their aversion to burying the old man.

I see this throughout "organized" Christianity; people who want to "follow the program" so they won't go to hell, but who at the same time don't want to allow the Lord to transform them. That's why they continue to listen to the same garbage music, watch the same garbage movies and TV programs, run with the same worldly crowd, and let their Bible gather dust.

Baptism is a HUGE privilege. Those unwilling to submit to it are not going to fool God on the day of judgment. He won't be swayed by their theological rationale. But on the other hand, those who submit to the "ritual of baptism" and obey from the flesh rather than from the heart, and who don't continue in faith and obedience, will be just as lost as they were before they got wet. Baptism isn't magic; it's obedience. Talking about "saving faith" that does not issue in an obedient life is like talking about a one-ended stick. There is no such thing.

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