Posted by Stacy Lewis on June 21, 2014 @ 11:13 AM

Post written by Craig Waddell, elder at the church that meets in Center, KY

Salvation is a gift (Rom. 6:23). Grace is the attribute of God which purchased that gift and offers it to the world (Eph.1:6-7). Like any gift, salvation must be accepted by the recipient (2 Cor. 6:1; 2 Thess. 2:10; Acts 2:41; James 1:21; Col. 2:6). Acceptation requires action on the part of the recipient, be it external or internal action. An action is a deed. A deed is a work, regardless of our being able to see it accomplished or not. Therefore, acceptation of salvation requires works of obedience on the part of the recipient (Heb. 5:9; Mt. 7:21-23; James 2:14-26; 2 Thess. 1:7-9). This work may be internal and invisible, external and visible, or both. Many people do not realize this; they believe a decision or invisible action which a person totally performs inside himself to be something other than a work. Many also consider every visible action a person performs to be the work which Paul negates in Ephesians 2:8-9. Grace offers the gift of salvation and it is accepted through faith. Faith is a work, an action, which a person performs inside himself. (John 6:26-29); please note the commands to actively engage in the act of believing. (Acts 16:30-31; Rom. 10:9). Faith brings forth more actions (works) such as diligently seeking God (Heb. 11:6), crucifying our old man of sin (Gal. 2:20), committing our lives to him (2 Tim 1:12), calling on the name of the Lord (Rom. 10:13), etc.; some of these can be seen or heard, while others can’t. Repentance is a work which occurs inside the recipient; please note the commands to engage in the act of repenting (Acts2:38; 3:19). Repentance produces external actions which others can see (Mt. 3:8). Confession is an external work which is motivated by the recipient’s faith and repentance (Rom. 10:9-10; Mt. 10:32-33). One must work his mouth to confess the Lord Jesus with his mouth; he may stand perfectly still, but his mouth must move by his on volition in order for him to confess unto salvation. Since all three of these prerequisites for salvation are active imperatives and each must be present in a person’s life in order for him to receive the gift, then there are indeed actions a person must perform before he can confidently say, “I have been saved by the blood of Jesus.”

Very few people teach true “faith only” salvation. Any time a person uses the word “and” in conjunction with “believe” when he is explaining the plan of salvation, he becomes a “faith and works” proponent; he is saying that a person’s faith must cause him to do something in order for him to receive the gift of salvation. A person who proclaims, “Believe and call upon the name of the Lord,” is saying, “Have faith and perform the work of calling on the name of the Lord.” Many will say, “This is done inside oneself where no one else can see it. It is done in prayer and therefore is not a work.” Calling on the name of the Lord in any way, whether internally or externally, whether visibly or invisibly, is an action and thus a work done by man through his own volition. Prayer is a work; whether offered silently in one’s heart or vocally in the hearing of others, whether a “sinner’s prayer” or a “believer’s prayer”, whether offered on one’s own behalf or on behalf of another, praying is action and therefore a work. Any time we encourage someone to call on the name of the Lord or to ask Jesus into his heart, we are admitting that man must do something in order to accept the grace offered gift of salvation.

Most disagreements concern the “something” connected to “believe” that man must do in order to receive salvation. Many argue that “calling on the name of the Lord” sounds like prayer. Prayer can be done individually, silently, personally, and invisibly, therefore, to these people, it should not be classified a work. They then reason that the Bible must mean that calling on the name of the Lord is praying. The question that we need to ask is, “What does the Bible say one must do in order to call on the name of the Lord?” The Bible clearly provides an answer to this question. Acts 22:16, “And now why tarriest thou, arise and be baptized, calling on the name of the Lord.” For many, this can’t be right because baptism is an external, visible action, and thus it must be one of the works Paul nullifies in Ephesians 2. Remember, an action is an action whether invisible or visible; a work is a work whether external or internal. When faced with a choice, a person may judge one act to be less of a work than another act, because he can’t see it done or it doesn’t take as much energy to do it, but that does not make his judgment correct. A person may choose one act over another because it fits his theology better, but that does not make it the right choice. Only the One who bought the gift can choose the conditions of its acceptation, and God has chosen baptism as the way one calls on the name of his Son.

The belief that one accepts the gift of salvation through prayer without one being baptized creates many problems. In that situation, a person would be saved without having his sins remitted or washed away (Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16). He would be saved without having crucified the old man of sin and becoming a new man (Rom. 6:3-6). He would be saved outside of Christ (Gal.3:26-27). He would be saved without having put on Christ (Gal.3:26-27). He would be saved outside the church, the group of people of which Christ is the savior (Eph. 5:23-27). He would be saved without having submitted to an ordinance which the Bible plainly claims saves us (1 Peter 3:21).

We are saved by grace through faith, only when through our faith we actively seek to accept the grace-offered gift by calling on the name of the Lord in baptism.

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