by Terry Wane Benton
Salvation is by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:6,8). Of this, there is no controversy. The question is, “At what moment in faith does salvation or remission of sins actually become ours through faith?” Has God designated an exact moment?
The answer is very clear unless one has an agenda guided by unbelief in the word of God. Colossians 2:12 tells us that we are buried with Christ in baptism “through faith in the operation of God.” That means that we go down in the water with faith that God will “operate” and remove our sins. Thus, there is an exact moment in faith that salvation becomes our possession. The first case of conversions after Jesus’ resurrection is given to us in Acts 2 where we see 3,000 Jews move from a state of sin and condemnation into a state of salvation. It is a case of 3,000 being saved by grace through faith, but the Holy Spirit shows us the exact moment in faith when salvation is brought into possession. Follow the text and make observations along the way.
36 "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ." (Not saved yet.)
37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" (No saved yet.)
38 Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call."
(If they do this they can be saved. The when they could have remission of sins through faith is discussed here).
40 And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation." (Not saved yet.)
41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. (Now they are saved.)
So, God told the 3,000 exactly the moment in faith they could have remission of sins. There is no doubt that they were saved through faith. The question is at what point in faith? It was when their faith moved them to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. If their faith did not move them to repent and be baptized in His name, then their faith would not have the right content and consistency.
Does just any faith claim qualify? No! The men in John 12:42 “believed” in Jesus but would not confess Him. Was that faith enough to save them? No! So, there must be a faith that is willing to confess Jesus, repent of sins, and be baptized in His name. Without the right content of faith, it is not the faith that saves.
There is a precise moment when we become “united together” with Christ. Paul clearly says it is when we are “baptized into Him” (Galatians 3:26-27; Romans 6:3-6). Believe what the Spirit said in Acts 2, and believe what the Spirit says in Romans 6:3-6.
"Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin."
Notice the moment in faith is precise. The 3,000 were not celebrating salvation until after baptism, not before. The Ethiopian Eunuch was not celebrating until after baptism because that is the precise moment in faith that he entered into Christ and was “united together” with Christ. This runs counter to modern denominational doctrine, but honesty demands that we accept the word of God over the ideas and doctrines of men. The Bible does tell us the precise moment when grace brings us into salvation through faith.