Salvation in Christ Alone
I just recently mowed my lawn. You’re probably thinking, “Big deal. You have to do that.” When I’m done mowing the lawn, I like to look out over the yard and see the even-cut, short grass and it makes me feel accomplished. It makes me feel good. My yard that was once a mess now looks good and well cared for. It is just a lawn, but I like knowing that I made it look good.
The truth is many of us like a job well done. We like feeling accomplished. We like working hard, contributing to something, and feeling like we earned the final result. It gives room for pride and the truth is that the human heart enjoys feeling proud and receiving praise.
That’s why it is important that we are careful to get the gospel right. Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV) says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” When we are saved, it is all about what Jesus has done and it is nothing about what we did. We didn’t earn our salvation. We didn’t try hard enough. We weren’t smart enough. It is all grace through faith. Paul describes it as a gift and no one can boast about it. We didn’t even contribute to it. Jonathan Edwards said, “You contribute nothing to your salvation except the sin that made it necessary.” No one can boast.
First, this is humbling. As I stated earlier, we are prone to pride. We like to brag. But when someone gives you a gift, you can only brag on the person who gave it to you. You don’t have anything to boast about. You were just the recipient.
Second, I’m addressing this topic because when we add anything to or take anything away from the gospel then it ceases to be the true, saving gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul addresses this very topic in his letter to the Galatian church. There were false teachers who were coming in telling the Galatians that Paul hadn’t preached the full gospel to them and that circumcision was necessary for salvation. The sternness of Paul’s letter shows what an offense he thinks this is. He even goes as far to say that he wishes these false teachers would emasculate themselves. Harsh words indeed.
Something similar to what the Galatians were being told is being propagated today. I’ve had multiple people approach me in the recent months asking questions about baptism being necessary for salvation. To claim baptism is necessary for salvation is to add to the gospel. Baptism is certainly an act of obedience to follow the example of Jesus and so much could be said about the meaning and importance of baptism, but we don’t have the time or space here.
Simply put, I will point to the fact that the thief on the cross was not baptized, but Jesus still saved him. I will also point to the many texts in the Bible that talk about salvation by grace through faith including the most famous one. Jesus himself says in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” It stands to reason that if baptism were required for salvation, Jesus would have said so. Yet, we nowhere find him saying this. If his whole mission in coming to earth was to save sinners and baptism was a requirement of that salvation, it seems foolish for him not to mention it. Yet consistently, Jesus preached a message to repent and believe.
If anyone is placing requirements for salvation outside the bounds of repentance and belief then a false gospel is being advocated. I’ve also heard of groups that require speaking in tongues for proof of salvation. This is another error and also not mentioned in Scripture. If we look earlier in Ephesians 2 at verses 4 and 5 Paul declares, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—“.
Christian, take confidence that God has you. Trust in him alone. We are saved in Christ alone by grace alone through faith alone to the glory of God alone. May we be people who boast in the cross of Christ alone.
No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand
”In Christ Alone”