It is my intent here to simply set forth the Scriptural premise that salvation is by grace. I am well aware that this point alone does not solve the issue, but there is method to my madness. The fact is, those who argue for baptismal regeneration speak of salvation being by grace. So we all agree that salvation is by grace but we obviously disagree on the nature and essence of grace. Nevertheless it is I believe a profitable exercise to remind ourselves why we defend so ferociously the idea, the truth that salvation is by grace.
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
It could not be stated more clearly that we are saved by grace. Our salvation is the gift of God. It being a gift ensures that it is by grace. We do not purchase it, nor do we pay any price to retain it. If we do either it ceases to be a gift, and I would presume it would cease to be by grace.
Ephesians 2:5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
Again, a very clear assertion that it is by grace that we are saved. We were spiritually dead because of sin. He made us spiritually alive. I suppose being spiritually dead that we were incapable of achieving any spiritual act worthy of merit.
Romans 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
Being justified is the legal term denoting salvation. So we are saved freely. Nothing is required. this is true because salvation is by his grace. Again, if it we were not freely saved the argument that it is by grace is greatly weakened. His grace is revealed in the redemption that is provided in Christ Jesus.
Acts 15:11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.
It was believed that salvation was through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:17 For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)
This verse reveals the nature of the gift. It is the gift of righteousness. It is the result of an abundance of grace. I am not saved by any personal act of righteousness. I am not saved because of anything I do, or by refraining from certain things I should not do. I am saved by receiving the gift of righteousness, the righteousness of God. We are saved not by what we do but by what we "receive".
2 Corinthians 8:9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.
I am not saved by any thing I have to offer. I am saved through his willingness to assume poverty on my behalf. It was an act of grace on his part to do so. He did not see me and say he is worthy, or he will be worthy. He looked at me and determined I was unworthy and was made poor on my behalf anyway. It was an act of grace.
Ephesians 1:6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
My being accepted is not due to any merit on my part, no work of righteousness. I have not made my self accepted. He hath made me accepted by providing for me the gift of righteousness. This whole process does not bespeak of any goodness on my part but it redounds to the praise of the glory of his grace that makes it possible.
Ephesians 1:7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
We are redeemed through his blood. Not water, sanctified or otherwise. The forgiveness of our sins is made possible through his blood. It is the blood that makes an atonement for the soul. There is no water on earth that can do that. And in fact not just any blood can. Only the blood of Jesus. We have this redemption, this forgiveness of sins through his blood, according to the riches of his grace.
2 Timothy 1:9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
He saved us according to his grace. In fact, and we will return to this point in the next post, Paul says not according to our works. Works and grace are established as opposites. We are not saved according to our works, but according to his grace.
Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
What is it that brings salvation to all men? The grace of God.
Titus 3:7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
We are justified by what? Grace. It is by grace that we are made heirs of eternal life. Grace is the context in which salvation is offered to the sinner. It is not offered in a context of works.
Hebrews 2:9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
Christ tasted death for every man. Why? Because men are so valuable to God. We would love to so flatter ourselves. He saved us in order to show forth the riches of his grace. It was by the grace of God that Jesus tasted death for every man. He did not die for us because we have worth but because he has grace!
I believe the New Testament is abundantly clear that salvation is by grace. And as I stated at the outset I suspect that most that defend baptismal regeneration would heartily agree with that assessment. Even the Catholics that may well have the most advanced system of "works" of all the "christian" denominations would probably still own the statement that salvation is by grace.
The fact is the statement cannot be denied and one make any pretense to be a Bible believer. Yet, we do not agree on the application of grace. Salvation is by grace but you must be baptized. Thus one must conclude that baptism is not a work. But more on that later. For now suffice it to say that salvation is by grace.
In our next post on this subject we will undertake that the New Testament equally states that salvation is not of works.