In an exchange between a Christian evangelist and a Baptist “pastor”, the latter stated that anything one needs to do in order to be saved is a work, and thus nullifies grace. Surely, he will admit that one needs to believe in order to be saved. Is belief a work that nullifies grace? Some of Christ’s followers asked Him, “‘What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?’ Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent’” (John 6:28-29).
But the Calvinist will also agree that a little confession is good for the soul. He submits to Paul’s teaching in Romans 10:9 which demands that confession precede salvation. The minimal effort required to articulate such a confession as the Ethiopian eunuch made in Acts 8:37 is a facet of faith, the Calvinist argues and thus is not really a work. Oh really?
What then of repentance? Must one repent of sins in order to be saved? That is, must he be converted from the error of his way (Acts 3:19)? The Calvinist will admit that he must repent of his sins, but this too is relegated to “a feature of faith” and not really a separate consideration that we might label a work. But anyone who has witnessed a person repenting of alcoholism or any sin for which he has a particular affinity will quickly affirm that such requires diligent effort (Philippians 2:12-13).
If the Calvinist can accept that faith, confession, and repentance are necessary, why is he biased against baptism? Even if he were to reason about baptism as he has concerning these other terms, would he not arrive at the conclusion that baptism is as necessary a “facet of faith” as confession and repentance?
A mountain of evidence exists in the Scriptures to suggest that baptism is a necessary precedent to salvation (Matthew 28:18-20; Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:27; 1 Peter 3:20-21). Every record of conversion in Acts includes the immediate baptism of the believer and their subsequent rejoicing. James argues that faith alone can’t save us (2:14, 24). The Baptist will argue that baptism is only necessary to gain admission to the Baptist church. To him, it takes more to be a Baptist than to be a Christian. And it’s possible to be saved before and without becoming a Baptist, which renders the Baptist church unnecessary to salvation.
In fact, baptism upon a confession of faith brings conversion to fruition and automatically places one in the church for which Jesus died (Acts 2:47). It also places one into Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:27). Paul called this assembly the “church of Christ” in Romans 16:16, and it is purely necessary to the scheme of salvation as the household of God in which the redeemed dwell while on Earth.