Now I realize that the concept of Justification and Salvation and Baptism carry a lot of theological “baggage” because, depending upon the tradition you come from, those terms may mean different things. But as a convinced Reformed Protestant Baptistic Continuationist, I really like how Grudem summarizes the issue of the necessity of baptism. He writes,
“While we recognize that Jesus commanded baptism (Matt. 28:19), as did the apostles (Acts 2:38), we should not say that baptism is necessary for salvation. This question was discussed to some extent above under the response to the Roman Catholic view of baptism. To say that baptism or any other action is necessary for salvation is to say that we are not justified by faith alone, but by faith plus a certain “work,” the work of baptism. The apostle Paul would have opposed the idea that baptism is necessary for salvation just as strongly as he opposed the similar idea that circumcision was necessary for salvation (see Gal. 5:1–12).” (Systematic Theology, 981)
My only concern with this summary is how the terms “salvation” and “justification” seem to be linked a bit more than I think the NT warrants. Now I know where Grudem is coming from, and I agree, but I also want to see a deeper appreciation for all that Scripture has to say about the concept of “salvation” when we use that term. Yes, Justification is an extremely important issue that is intricately tied to the gospel, but the NT’s emphasis on “salvation” is bigger than just being “declared righteous.”
At any rate, when I’m explaining that baptism is not “necessary” for people to be “saved,” I almost always want to stress the importance of being obedient to the teachings of Scripture. So on one hand, it’s not necessary to be baptized to be “saved,” but it is necessary to be baptized to be obedient to Christ (and the NT). And yes, that takes time to flesh out and explain.
Anyway, I’m glad that I don’t have to do certain “works” in order to be right with God… and I’m extremely grateful that it’s all based on Christ’s work. That is very comforting for me.
How about you?