Video: Does Baptism Save Us?

Today’s question: “In Q&A#46, you seem to say that baptism (with water) is necessary for salvation. Am I interpreting your perspective correctly, and if so, what do you think about the man on the cross next to Jesus going to heaven without baptism?”

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About Alastair Roberts

Alastair Roberts (PhD, Durham University) writes in the areas of biblical theology and ethics, but frequently trespasses beyond these bounds. He participates in the weekly Mere Fidelity podcast, blogs at Alastair’s Adversaria, and tweets at @zugzwanged.
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4 Responses to Video: Does Baptism Save Us?

  1. I always get frustrated when people use the thief on the cross to demonstrate that baptism is unnecessary. He dies before the resurrection and the ordaining of Christian baptism at the great commission, and so he’s an Old Covenant saint. That’s not to say someone who dies in the same situation after the ascension can’t be saved. But we need to be sensitive to where we are on the redemptive-historical timeline.

  2. Phil James says:

    One of the more frustrating things about the Evangelical tradition I was born into (and for which I am immensely grateful) is the fact that despite our professed submission to scripture, we never spoke of baptism with the language the apostles/scripture used; and if someone did us that sort of language they would immediately be admonished.

    Regarding the thief on the cross, etc- I’ve thought of it in terms of entering into the eschaton. Salvation is about entering into that age to come. It is completed in our glorification. There are undoubtedly many around the world and throughout time who have lived their earthly life entirely in the old creation, but who will enter into the new creation on that day, but in the resurrected person of Christ the new creation has already begun, and those who are baptized into his body are partakers (in so far as they live into baptism’s reality) in that ‘yet to come’ reality in this evil age.

    In that sense one might guardedly say that someone (apart from the life of the church) is not yet saved, and yet will be saved at Christ’s coming. And there are others who enjoy that salvation now.

  3. hygelac says:

    Good thoughts here.

    Does the example of Cornelius, a God-fearing Gentile before his baptism, who would have certainly gone to heaven upon his death, have a parallel in the lives of the devout Jews of Paul’s times?

    It’s a tricky question I know, because you have to factor in Paul’s lament for his kinsmen who were accursed and cut off from Christ for their unbelief (the big picture, I believe, in Romans 9-11, focuses on the change that took place in Israel with the death and resurrection of Christ. Since the Ascension and the coming of the Holy Ghost, to be cut off from Christ is to be cut off from Israel in Christ, represented in the image of the olive tree; to be Christ’s is to be grafted into Israel in Christ as a living branch of the same.)

    A flat rejection of the gospel would certainly have placed Cornelius under the same condemnation that had fallen on those Jews who had rejected Christ. But I must assume that until they had actually heard the gospel, their salvation was assured according to the promises of an earlier stage of redemptive history, which encompassed all men who had placed their trust in the God of Israel.

    This may be a silly question, but, after 2000 years, can we possibly imagine that there are Jewish people in a similar condition? I tend to doubt it myself; the parallel development of Judaism and Christianity has crystallized the disagreements between to the two faiths with regard to monotheism (Christians are Trinitarian monotheists) and christology. The two, of course, cannot be separated; but to disbelieve the incarnation is a matter of rejecting the witness of Father and incurring his enmity, according to St. John. The gospel, itself, has a certain prioritizing order; it is to the Jews first and then the Gentiles. And, according to Paul, God has veiled the eyes of the Jewish people, such that they will not see Christ in the Law and Prophets until they turn to him.

    I could be wrong, though. There seems to be a very encouraging softening of relations between Jews and Christians of late, (which we may hope will heal the memory of historical Christian antisemitism.) But some have called for exempting the Jews from the project of evangelism on the grounds that they will be saved through Christ, just like anyone else, but in the manner in which all faithful Jews attained salvation before the Advent of Christ.

    Does this have anything going for it, or do you think it is tilting towards universalism?

    Thank you for these videos. They are immensely helpful.

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