Baptism Required for Salvation? - 04/18/2004
First off, I want to say how thankful I am for your website. It is a wonderful compilation of information for Christians and others alike. I am a recent born-again Christian. I read my Bible daily as well as sites that see to be the "right" way. Yours is one of them.
Now, a question..... my new church believes that in order to be saved one must not only accept the Lord as their Savior, but to be baptized as well. I read your example of the thief on the cross and Jesusí saving Grace. However, this was *before* Jesus was crucified and died for our sins. So, wouldn't this thief be living under the Old Testament law? Please explain further as I am a bit perplexed here. I have been baptized, but am curious as to the discrepancy.
Thanks again for your wonderful site and may God bless you and all you do.
CONTENDER MINISTRIES RESPONSE:
Hi Christine. Thank you so much for writing to us. Your words of encouragement mean a great deal to us, and we find them to be an incredible source of strength and motivation in this ministry.
What you present as a discrepancy really is no discrepancy at all. Jesus Christ is God the Son, and He had the power to forgive sins. Simply because His mission of sacrifice had not yet been accomplished does not mean He was incapable of forgiving the sins of those who showed faith. In Matthew 9:2, Jesus forgives the sins of the paralytic, "Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, 'Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.'" This incident is repeated in the other Gospels as well. In Luke 7:47-50, Jesus forgave the sins of the woman who poured perfume on His feet. These examples are particularly noteworthy, as they show the deity of Jesus Christ. Only God has the power to forgive sins, and since Jesus forgave sins, He was obviously God incarnate! In each of those instances, the unbelieving Jews were aghast that Jesus made Himself equal to God by offering forgiveness for sins. So you see, Jesus, as God the Son, was able to forgive sins of the faithful even before He hung from the cross. He overruled the old covenenat for these people, as He was - and is - the Author of the dispensation of grace. If the thief on the cross had been under the old covenant, he would have had to make his way to the temple to have a priest offer a sacrifice on his behalf. Obviously, he was indisposed and not able to do that. And if the woman mentioned in the passage in Luke had been under the old covenant, Jesus would have said, "Woman, get over to the temple to offer a sacrifice, and then your sins will be forgiven." That's simply not the way it went down.
So you see, the Author of the new covenant forgave sins based on faith alone. That is the lesson we must take from this. There is no discrepancy. I hope that answered your questions. Feel free to write back if it didn't. May God richly bless you as you contend for the faith.
Ben and Jennifer Rast