The Exact Moment of Salvation

When the leaders and members of churches are confronted with the topic of what is the exact moment that one is saved, then there is a list of differing and contradicting beliefs. Many churches believe that one is saved at first belief, and then some may believe at confession of sins or confession of Christ or accepting Christ into one’s heart. Some say when a believer accepts Christ’s grace, says the “sinner’s prayer”, repents, joins a church, “Holy Spirit baptism,” water baptism, “speaking in tongues,” an anointing, or a preacher’s prayer before a congregation. Some believe that any such experiences is when someone could become saved and that salvation depends on the individual.

Should there be so many contradicting beliefs? Ephesians 2:4–7 depicts an actual moment when Christ saves believers. Make a mental note now and think about when did you believe that Christ saved you. Consider some Scriptures and confirm or reconsider at what exact moment that Christ saves.

The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one who believes (Rom 1:16), and the Holy Spirit seals believers of the Gospel (Eph 1:13). Salvation is through faith (Acts 15:11; Eph 2:8; 2 Tim 3:15), and those justified by faith are justified by Christ’s blood (Rom 5:1, 9). This faith is not only a belief in Jesus, but also a belief in Jesus’ raising from the dead (Rom 10:9). In John 3:16, Jesus affirmed that whoever believes in Him “should not perish, but have eternal life.” Looking at John 3:16, the phrase “should not perish” is translated from one word in the subjunctive mood, which is conditional. This means that salvation is dependent upon other factors than belief alone. Translators could translate “should not perish” as “may not perish”.

Faith is certainly essential and necessary for salvation, but Jesus saves those who obey Him (Heb 5:9). True faith is one consisting of works for faith without works is dead (Jas 2:17, 26). Even the demons believed and yet they are condemned (Jas 2:19). Man is justified by works and not by faith only (Jas 2:24). Works are essential to the faith by which Christ saves believers.

In Acts 16:30–34 when the Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas, “what must I do to be saved?”, Paul and Silas said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your household.” Would the jailer’s personal belief save his family who did not believe at that point? After the jailer’s household heard the Word, their immediate response was to be baptized that hour. The jailer is told that he and his household should believe, and they responded to the Word by being baptized. Evidently, it appears that the Word must have consisted of the act of baptism as a work of faith. This is certainly true throughout Scripture that baptism is a part of the Gospel of Christ. People are to obey the Gospel to be saved, and the Gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (2 Thess 1:7–9; cf. 1 Cor 15:1–4). Baptism is a burial into the death of Christ (Rom 6:3–6, Col 2:12–13). Baptism is an essential part of the Gospel.

Because believers are not saved of their own works but by the works of God in grace through faith, then baptism is a work from God and not from man. Jesus did tell His disciples that “Whoever believes and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16). Again, faith includes baptism, because faith includes the Gospel of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Baptism does not omit belief or grace at all, but baptism is a part of belief unto grace. In Christ’s authority, Jesus told the Apostles, “Go you therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt 28:19). Jesus would not command a meaningless ritual that would hinder and, or take away from His Gospel — the power of God unto salvation (Rom 1:16).

Now, nothing can be so apparent as 1 Peter 3:21 that shows the necessity of water baptism. Peter wrote that “now baptism saves you,” which is water baptism (1 Pet 3:20). Knowing that salvation is “not of yourselves” (Eph 2:8) and that “baptism saves” (1 Pet 3:21), then baptism is not included among these works of the Law of Moses mentioned in Ephesians 2:8–9. Baptism like faith is a work of God to which people must submit. Is baptism the exact of moment of salvation?

Ananias told Paul, “Arise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). According to this passage, baptism is the exact moment of salvation for at that point sins are washed away. This is not the only passage. In Acts 2:38, Peter proclaimed, “be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins.” Baptism in the name of Jesus Christ is water baptism (Acts 10:47–48). “In the name of Jesus Christ,” one is “washed,” “sanctified,” and “justified” in the Spirit of God (1 Cor 6:11), so it makes sense that baptism in the name of Jesus Christ is “unto the remission of sins.” “Unto the remission of sins” in Acts 2:38 is the same phrase that Christ used in Matthew 26:28, “this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many unto remission of sins.” Jesus’s blood was not poured out “because of the remission of sins” that people already had, but Jesus’s blood and baptism are “unto the remission of sins,” so that at the exact moment of the pouring of His blood, believers are saved.

In the New Testament Scriptures, baptism in the name of Jesus Christ was neither accomplished in response to salvation in Scripture nor was it an outward showing of an inward grace. Baptism was and is the exact of moment of salvation, because baptism in the name of Jesus Christ is not “because of the remission of sins,” but “unto the remission of sins” at that exact moment of immersion. This baptism is the one baptism of Ephesians 4:5, which is the water baptism of Jesus in which Christ sanctified and cleansed His church by the washing of water with the Word (Eph 5:26). This water baptism is not the same and is set apart from John’s water baptism of repentance (Acts 19:1–5). Baptism in Jesus’s name is for all repentant believers to submit to have the blood of Jesus wash away sins. Let not this work cloud with previous ideas and the word-wrangling of false teachers. Christ’s baptism is one of immersion in water not pouring or sprinkling (Acts 8:36). Baptism is for believers and not for children who are not accountable (Mark 16:16; Matt 19:14; Rom 2:12; 4:15; 7:9).

Remember that Christians are saved by the Gospel (Rom 1:16; 1 Cor 15:1–2). People must obey this Gospel to avoid the just vengeance of God and to avoid suffering the punishment of eternal destruction from the face of the Lord (2 Thess 1:7–9). People are made alive at the same moment that Christ rose alive from His tomb. Likewise, in obeying the Gospel — the death, the burial, and the resurrection in Romans 6 — people are made alive rising from their watery graves in this spiritual burial. “We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death. […] For one who has died has been set free from sin” (Rom 6:4, 7). See those who already believe and have died to their sins must be buried in the waters of baptism to rise alive from sin’s death (Rom 6:22–23). One is not saved that person believes and has died to sins unless that believer is buried with Christ unto death and is raised into the new life. Then, they are saved (Rom 6:4–5). This is also as Colossians 2:12 and 13 teach that one is buried with Christ in baptism and then Christians are raised through faith in the working of God thus making one alive (salvation) with Him, and at that exact moment, forgiving all one’s trespasses at baptism.

Remember your previous mental note. At what moment did you believe that you were saved? If you have not been baptized for remission of sins and for salvation as the Scriptures teach, then “Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins” (Acts 22:16). Appeal to God for a good conscience (1 Pet 3:21).

Salvation is not permanent and unconditional after baptism. One must live the new life starting from baptism. One must walk in the light for the blood of Jesus to continue washing one’s sins away (1 John 1:7, 9). I hope grace and peace in Christ Jesus to all who read this.

Must I Be Baptized to Be Saved

About Scott J. Shifferd

Minister, church of Christ in Jacksonville, FL. Husband and father of four. Email: ScottJon82[at]yahoo.com
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24 Responses to The Exact Moment of Salvation

  1. Pingback: Progressives’ Confusion over Baptism and Salvation | Seeing God's Breath

  2. “Truth”,

    You offer nothing new to the conversation. Just the same old heresies. My comments to Tim alone before have answered your statements. Have you read them? You are just saying the same things over and over again. If you would comment on what has been said and show what things are assumptions, then I’ll allow your comments, but we don’t need any more assertions.

    Write your rebuttal on your blog.

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  3. Truth says:

    This is what should be at the beginning of my comment.

    If I am so wrong then you shouldn’t be afraid to show my comment and being so you wrong you should easily be able to prove by Scripture how wrong I am.

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  4. Truth says:

    Didn’t mean to post my comment twice.

    If you are honest Scott you would leave my comment up.

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  5. Three comments have been erased here written by “Truth”. I’m not interested in casting pearls before swine. “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.”

    There are some honest people who stumble over Acts 10, but the honest person will see that Cornelius did not receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, but the gifts of the Holy Spirit for “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word” (10:44). Only the spiritually blind and the ignorant cannot distinguish between the Holy Spirit falling on someone for gifts of the Spirit and the indwelling. Gifts are not essential to salvation as is clear from Matthew 7 and Romans 1:11 and 8:11. The receiving of the Holy Spirit by Him falling on others to give gifts is not receiving the indwelling.

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  6. Truth says:

    All those who believe a person is not saved and given the Holy Spirit until baptized God turns their understanding of His word and their whole world upside down in Acts 10:44. God gave Cornelius and his household the Holy Spirit before they were baptized. God could have given them the Holy Spirit when they were baptized which still would have proven to the Jews that He accepted the Gentiles, God gave them the Holy Spirit before they were baptized. So either God was wrong in giving them the Holy Spirit before they were baptized or those are wrong who believe a person is not saved and given the Holy Spirit unless they are baptized. I believe God is right. Not only does God prove that He accepts Gentiles He also proves that He accepts people before they are baptized, God’s word proves that He saves us before we are baptized.

    Acts 10:44 Cornelius and the others at his house were saved before they were baptized, God gave Cornelius and his household the Holy Spirit before they were baptized. Acts 11:18 Peter told about the Gentiles receiving the Holy Spirit, those Peter told said “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.” They confirmed the Gentiles were given repentance-forgiveness of their sins when they received the Holy Spirit. Acts 15:11 again Peter’s words on this matter about the Gentiles at Cornelius’ house receiving the Holy Spirit Peter said “But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.” Peter said the Gentiles were saved as he told them about the Gentiles receiving the Holy Spirit.

    Scott said: In Acts 10, the Cornelius’ household were not filled with the Spirit nor received the indwelling necessary for salvation.

    Reply: Please give the Scripture that says the Holy Spirit is not the seal of salvation.
    Ephesians 1:13-14
    “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.”

    Scott said: Even the demons believe and profess Jesus’ as the son of God.

    Reply: The demons don’t believe Jesus as their Savior their Messiah.

    Scott said: Baptism is “an appeal to God for a good conscience”

    Reply: “not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God”
    baptism does not take away sins but comes from a good conscience that already exists in the state of saved by grace. 1 Timothy 1:5 “Now the purpose of the commandment is love FROM a pure heart, FROM a good conscience, and FROM sincere faith.”

    Scott said: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved”

    Reply: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.”
    The Bible says he who does not believe will be condemned, not he who is not baptized will be condemned. The Bible never says that someone who is not baptized will be condemned.

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  7. Tim and those reading the above comment,

    When the thief died on the cross, no one could be baptized in Jesus’ name only in John’s baptism, which the thief may have been.

    In Acts 10, the Cornelius’ household were not filled with the Spirit nor received the indwelling necessary for salvation. They received the gifts of the Spirit and had to be immersed immediately. God used the gifts to show that God accepted the Gentiles in the covenant of Christ. Though every immersed Christian has the indwelling Spirit to be saved (8:11), the Romans did not have the gifts and these are not essential (Rom. 1:11). Receiving the gifts of the Spirit was by the laying on of the Apostles hands [with exception of the baptism of Holy Spirit] which had to occur after some were immersed in Samaria. Acts 8:12-17, “But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done. Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

    Baptism in Jesus’ name being necessary does not exclude those in ICU. Those in ICU have always had God’s patience and providence to be immersed in Jesus’ name. Even if someone 20 years of age dies outside of Christ, God’s providence and patience were at work. These will still be held accountable for not believing and not being immersed. It is the Gospel that saves not our best wishes for dying loved ones who are lost. May you be false before Christ whose words teach that obedience to Him is essential to salvation (Heb. 5:9).

    Acts 10:43 is a future statement hence “will receive forgiveness of sins”. Even the demons believe and profess Jesus’ as the son of God, these will not saved nor anyone else who follows a pattern of salvation that would demons (James 2:19). False teachers also receive Jesus as their savior into their hearts but these are truly condemned.

    Baptism is “an appeal to God for a good conscience” (NASV). As Burton’s Coffman noted, “the Greek word here rendered ‘interrogation’ has a number of meanings: ‘answer,’ ‘interrogation,’ ‘appeal,’ ‘inquiry,’ ‘craving,’ ‘prayer,’ and ‘pledge.’ Three of these meanings, appeal, craving and prayer, if used in the translation would indicate that baptism is submitted to as a craving, appeal or prayer for a good conscience, whereas the others would be something that a good conscience already received before baptism does. These meanings are antithetical, and the true meaning must be determined by Peter’s teaching elsewhere. Did he mean that Christians before they are baptized have already received a good conscience and that their baptism is only the response that a good conscience gives; or did he mean that in order to receive a good conscience one must be baptized?”

    The Ethiopian eunuch was preached Jesus, and for some reason that preaching of Jesus made the eunuch ask to be immersed. Of course, the eunuch had to believe first. Only those indoctrinated in rejecting “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” would believe that faith’s necessity excludes baptism being the point of the forgiveness of sins. Still how does the preaching of Jesus include baptism if it was not necessary? Should we not observe all things as Christ told us and we should not show our love to him in obedience, which is essential to salvation? “Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, ‘See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?’ Then Philip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart, you may'” (Acts 8:36-37).

    The Philippian jailer was told to believe and that his belief [not his household’s faith] would save his family. The dishonest mind and heart may not understand my point here. Also, Peter had not spoken the word to him yet after which the jailer and his household were immersed. Acts 16:31-33, “So they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.’ Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized.”

    Other Scriptures concerning faith should never be used to contradict the Scriptures on immersion’s necessity.

    May God bless you with salvation in the immersion in Jesus’ name.

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  8. Tim Estes says:

    Interesting stuff. Hope you still get this comment even tho I am on an older blog. It seems to me salvation comes at the moment of belief. Consider the thief on the cross. Secondly, in Acts 10 there were believers filled with the Holy Spirit who had not been baptized. If baptism is where sins are remitted (forgiven) then these folks were being filled with the Spirit even tho they had unforgiven sin within them because they had not been baptized.

    I agree baptism is a needful part of the Christian experience and I further appreciate your insight on using the name of Jesus in baptism. But I can’t go with you on baptism being required for salvation. You eliminate many people…those in ICU hooked to life support who want God and forgiveness….those who are going down in a plane crash etc.

    Acts 10:43 tells the exact moment of forgiveness or salvation. When we believe. Baptism follows belief. In 1 Peter 3, notice baptism is not the putting away of the filth of the flesh (washing away sins) but it is the answer of a good conscience toward God. When may I ask, did you get your good conscience? It happened at repentance and faith. Once you are saved it is needful to be baptized. This pattern is scripturally consistent. The ethiopian Eunich was told, “If you believe…you MAY be baptized!” The emphasis was on his faith not on the baptism. The Philippian jailer and his family follows the same pattern.

    Thanks.

    Tim
    Thanks

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