Man's problem is that he is separated from God because of his sins (Isaiah 59:1–2). This is first seen in the Garden when Adam and Eve were physically removed from the presence of God because of their sin (Genesis 3:22–24). But God loved us enough to send His Son to die so that our sins could be forgiven and we could once again be reconciled to God (John 3:16–18; Romans 5:6–11).
The apostles said, "This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:11–12). We realize that salvation can only be received through obedience to the gospel of Christ. He truly is the Way (John 14:6).
But how can we be saved?
- We must believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and sacrifice for our sins (John 8:24). We must have faith.
- We must also repent of our sinful and selfish life we have lived prior to our faith in Christ (Luke 13:3). Repentance just means "to change."
- We must also be willing to confess our faith in Christ publicly (Matthew 10:32–33; Romans 10:8–10).
- We must be baptized (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38).
But why baptism?
Baptism is a polarizing subject in the religious world. Many would agree with the need to have faith, put away our previous life of sin, and confess our faith while rejecting the necessity of baptism. So why is baptism necessary?
- Because Christ commanded it (Matthew 28:18–20; Mark 16:15–16). If we are going to be subject to Christ's authority, then part of that obedience is being baptized.
- Because it washes away sins (Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16). Many have a sin problem and God prescribed baptism to wash away those sins and save us (1 Peter 3:21). The Christians in Corinth had been guilty of severe sins but Paul said they were "washed... sanctified... and justified" (1 Corinthians 6:9–11). This occurred when they were obedient through baptism and had their sins removed.
- Because it is how you die. We are told that we need to die, or be crucified, so that Christ can live in us (Galatians 2:20). How can we be crucified but not physically die? Paul says that occurs through baptism as we put to death, buried, and are raised with Christ (Romans 6:3–4).
- Because it is how we put on Christ (Galatians 3:27). If we want to put on Christ and wear His name (Christ-ian), then we must be baptized.
Each person has the responsibility to work out their own salvation (Philippians 2:12). This doesn't mean they can make up the plan for their salvation. It simply means they are individually responsible for understanding Christ's plan and following it.
Some might say that this negates the grace of God. Paul said we are saved "by grace through faith" (Ephesians 2:8–10). Submitting to God's truth doesn't negate His grace or give us a reason to boast in our own obedience. We are merely submitting to His Will so that He can save us by His Grace.