READ: Proverbs 12, Mark 16, 2 Peter 3
SAVED BY BAPTISM
“He who believes and is baptized will be saved.” Mark 16:16
Unlike all other rescues that prevent death, salvation is only efficacious if we die. Baptism is both a death and a resurrection, and it is only completed sequentially. We have to die with Christ if we are to be raised with Him. In this sense, belief is not enough (for even the demons believe and tremble according to James). Baptism must accompany belief.
Baptism is not to be equated with works. Salvation comes by grace through faith alone not of works, yet faith requires baptism. In the Muslim world, the point of no return is baptism. A Muslim can make a verbal profession of faith in Jesus and his friends and family not consider it binding. When a Muslim is baptized it is a clear line in the sand: I am dead to being Muslim (there is no return) and now I live only in Christ. When the Bible talks of baptism, it does not consider the symbolic act to be magical but rather binding. If we are to be saved, we must not only believe that Jesus is Lord and Savior, but we must also take irrevocable private and public steps that bind us to Him and His purposes. There is no dual citizenship spiritually; we are either all in or not in at all. Baptism as a symbol reflects the ongoing reality that we only have life in Christ if we have died to sin, and this death has concrete, measurable, observable benchmarks. We don’t say what we used to say; we don’t do what we used to do; we don’t think how we used to think; we don’t react as we used to react; and we don’t trust ourselves or fellow man in the same ways,
We must be careful that we don’t baptize too early. Former Muslims are baptized too early if they do not understand that it requires the death of Islam. Evangelical Christians are baptized too early if they do not understand that it requires death to old habits, friends, behaviors, patterns, words, thoughts, and attitudes. If we are to be truly saved, both Islam and secular humanism and any other ideology must be nailed to the cross and forsaken. The symbolic act of adult baptism may only happen once (though symbolism does not suffer from repetition), but the spiritual act of baptism needs to be daily renewed. Morning by morning we need the spiritual baptism of dying and rising. When we awake from a night of sleep, let it be the renewed baptism of rising from the dead. Let our rising prayer be: “Jesus, I have died with you in baptism. Today I rise to live your life, think your thoughts, do your deeds.” When the sun goes down, may its message to us be: “You must die again to the old self; you will rise to the image of Jesus.” We are not saved unless we both believe (turn to Jesus) and are baptized (radically turn away from sin). We daily die, and we daily rise from deadly self to new life in Christ.