“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10
When will men and women learn that submissive obedience is the only act of human will that will save them? It is God who saves through His Son. There is no salvation except complete acceptance of His will for your life. Being baptized is one indicator of submission to His will … but only one.
Acting out of love, God mercifully makes every penitent, immersed, submissive “alive with Christ”. This action of His was pre-formed before actual obedience was exercised by man. The Lord Jesus accomplished the favor of God in order that men and women would have that to which they could respond.
Salvation is not automatic. There are two aspects of it, i.e. that of God’s and that of man’s. God acted first in order that man might have that to which he might respond. Salvation is based upon the action of Jesus; it is not initiated by man. It is based in the will of God, not the will of man. Man’s possibility for eternal life is to accept – without quibble, nor reservation, nor modification – what God has done and what God orders. That is faith – the complete and utterly unreserved acceptance of the will of God. This is why repentance is such a vital part of the process, for it is the utter admittance that all reservations about the will of God are unacceptable and that all inclinations of selfish regard and desires are to be discarded.
Submission is key. A man might be baptized and the human assumption may be made that he is saved. But is he? Whether he is or not is not a matter of human decision. We can only assume from the evidence set before us that he is saved. But God knows more than we. Whether salvation has been granted will depend on whether God has seen a heart bowed low with godly sorrow and whether He has observed a will which has utterly surrendered to His will.
As John urged those he baptized to show forth fruits of repentance, the fruit of a person’s life after baptism indicates the genuineness of the repentance. If a man is truly submissive, he will continue to desire to know the word of God and to do it. Those who are baptized, but who show disinclination or reluctance to study more, to worship regularly and to walk in the pattern of the New Testament, may have understood the significance of baptism, but not of submission.
Without submission, baptism is reduced to ritual, an act of getting wet. Faith in the validity of baptism can be expressed, but the faith that saves is expressed in submission to all the will of God, not just a portion of it.
- Frank J Daniels, pulpit minister & teacher