"The Plan Of Salvation"
This past week, a card purporting to set forth the "plan of salvation" was placed in the door of the writer. Reference was made to Luke 13:3 which shows the necessity of repentance upon the part of the persons addressed, and then seven points were made in which it was shown both that man is lost and that Jesus is able and willing to save him. Unless the author of this card meant to include repentance (which is not mentioned in the seven points), all a lost soul has to do is to have faith in Jesus Christ. Concern for truth and the souls of men demands that it be pointed out that this is NOT the "plan of salvation" revealed in the word of God.
Of course no Bible believer will deny the necessity of both faith and repentance. There are numerous scriptures which testify to the necessity of each. But it is one thing to recognize that faith is necessary and another to insist that man is saved at the point of faith, that is, immediately when he believes, and without any further obedience to the will of Christ. Certainly men are saved by faith, but the real issue is: when are men saved by faith?
The Faith That Saves
No one can be saved outside of Christ. All spiritual blessings are in Christ. (Eph. 1:3) Forgiveness of sin is in Christ. (Eph. 1:7) Salvation is in Christ. (2 Tim. 2:10) Men are sons of God in Christ. (Gal. 3:26) Therefore, it is easily seen that no one can be saved who is not in Christ. The true plan of salvation then is one which tells one how to get into Christ. There is not one word in all the Bible which says that a man believes into Christ. Men do get into Christ by faith, but not at the point of faith, or immediately upon believing.
The writer of the Hebrew letter says, "By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they had been compassed about seven days. (Heb. 11:30) Could any Bible believer deny that the walls of Jericho fell by faith? Certainly not! But did the walls fall immediately when the children of Israel believed? They did not. The walls did not fall until the Israelites had done all God had told them they must do in order for the walls to fall. To fit the "plan of salvation" set forth upon the card, the walls would have had to fall at the very instant the Israelites believed. But such is not the case. This shows plainly, however, the principle involved in salvation by faith. Men are saved by faith when they are led by that faith to do what the Lord has commanded them to do in order to be saved.
Paul's statement in Gal. 3:26, 27 shows clearly when men get into Christ by faith: "For ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ (Emphasis mine, T.B.W.) did put on Christ." So then the "plan of salvation" set forth by Paul declares that men become sons of God (are saved, have sins forgiven, justified) when they are baptized into Christ. It is plainly untrue then that men become sons of God immediately when they believe and before they are baptized. Such teaching will have men feeling that they are saved and in the kingdom of God whereas in reality they are still unsaved and in the realm of Satan. It would be interesting to see the writer of the card read the passage which says man gets into Christ in any other way save than by being baptized into Him.
Note again the words of Paul in Rom. 6:3: "Or are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ were baptized into his death? Paul understood that all of the Christians in Rome knew that they had been baptized into Christ, and so into his death. This is a sharp contrast to the "plan of salvation" set forth on the card previously mentioned.
Again Paul says that no one has the right to say that he is "of Christ" who has not been baptized into His name (1 Cor. 1:13), and says that the church has been cleansed by the washing of water with the word. (Eph. 5:26)
Thus it has been clearly established that men are saved by faith when they are baptized into Christ. To a group of men who already believed in Christ as Lord and Christ, the apostle Peter said: "Repent ye and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins." He thus connected repentance with baptism as necessary conditions of being saved.
Jesus said that man was saved by faith when he was baptized. Note his words as recorded in Mk. 16:18: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." The tendency of men to put a "not" in front of the words of the Savior is appalling. The universalist comes to this statement of Jesus and puts a "not" before both "believeth" and "baptized." He thus makes the statement look like this: "He that does not believe and is not baptized shall be saved." By his statement, every man will be saved. The Catholic comes along and puts a "not" before the "believer," leaving the baptism essential. He makes the statement look like this: "He that does not believe and is baptized shall be saved." Thus believing that baptism without faith will save, the Catholic (and all who borrow his practice) baptize babies who cannot have any faith. Baptists, and other Protestant denominations, then come along and put a "not" before the "baptized," changing the statement of Jesus to look like this: "He that believeth and is not baptized shall be saved." Each of these three classes have committed, in principle, the same act against the Savior. Those who truly have faith in Christ as Lord and Christ accept the statement just as Jesus made it. Who can dare say that such a course is wrong?
During the temptation of Jesus (Matt. 4) the devil tried to make too broad an application of a certain scripture. Jesus answered him by saying: "Again it is written." He thus showed the devil that he tried to include more by the verse which he quoted than God intended should be included in it. The same mistake is made by those who go to a passage which teaches the essentiality of faith and conclude that it thus excludes baptism. They should learn "again it is written," and determine that they will study ALL that God has to say on the subject of the "plan of salvation" and so not persuade men that they are saved before they actually are saved.