Ask OldTimer

What are the "requirements" for salvation?

The Question:

I'm confused about the requirements for salvation. Some say you must be baptized in water, some say you must be baptized in the Holy Spirit. How can I be sure I've done all these correctly since I have doubts?

The Answer:

The only "requirement" for salvation is found in Romans 10:9-13:

That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame." For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile--the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

If you've already done this ... that's all you have to do to be saved. Now water baptism is an act of obedience to Jesus' lordship and an outward sign of your inward salvation. It is not REQUIRED, else the thief on the cross could not have been saved, right? But it's a good thing to do as a testimony!!! 

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is also not required for salvation. We have the Holy Spirit or the Spirit of Christ *in a measure* when we are born again - that's what being "born of the Spirit" means - the Holy Spirit is the one who does the work of salvation in our hearts: recreates us spiritually, adopts us into the family of God, cleanses us of sin (sanctification), declares us "not guilty" (justification), gives us eternal life, and makes us joint heirs with Christ and much, much more! It's a "package deal" - you get it all when you are saved.

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit comes as we fully surrender to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to fill us completely. It is not required, but it sure is helpful! And it is not basically something that WE do, but that Jesus does for us as we yield to Him. Remember what John the Baptist said about Jesus?

Luke 3:16 John answered them all, "I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire."

After His resurrection, Jesus told the disciples this:

Acts 1:4-5 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with [or in] water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit."

So I wouldn't say that there is necessarily a right or wrong way to be Baptized in the Holy Spirit, simply yield to Jesus daily and ask Him to fill you with His Spirit constantly.

You said: "The time of the baptism I may have doubted and was struggling with believing... but does that mean I didn't do it correctly?  I know I've been told by some religious people that if you don't think you've done it right, or doubt a single bit, then you haven't done it.  But is this true?"

If we only pleased God when we are TOTALLY without doubt or struggles, I don't think anyone would make it! Like the father of the demon possessed boy, we often cry, "Lord I believe, help thou my unbelief!" God is pleased with our efforts and will bless us as we try to do it right. It's more honest to say, "God I have doubts and fears, please help me doubt my doubts and fear my fears and grow in faith in you", than be prideful and act like you've got it all together. NONE OF US DO!!!!

The verse, which these people have taken out of context, is this one:

Romans 14:23 But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.

The whole context of Romans 14 is talking about disputable matters: such as what you can eat or can't eat, whether to drink wine or not, what day to worship on, what festivals to keep and so on. The FIRST statement Paul makes is:

Romans 14:1 Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.

That little first word is SO important: ACCEPT. By the very fact that these people have brought judgment and condemnation upon your heart shows they are disobedient to the whole passage, so that shows they don't understand what they are quoting.

Basically, we are each to examine these disputable matters for our own selves, and may come to different conclusions! That is why your 7th Day Adventist friend is persuaded to worship on Saturday, why another may be persuaded to worship on Sunday, but why I am persuaded to worship EVERY DAY. Who is right? We all are!!! Because we have examined our beliefs by the Word and do what we do to honor the Lord. Now this makes some people very uncomfortable... that someone can honor the Lord just as much, and be just as Biblically correct, by worshipping on Saturday or Sunday or any day or every day... and all be right!!! This takes away our pride. See? The focus is on honoring the Lord, not on being proud because we've got it RIGHT!!!

Read the whole chapter of Romans 14 and you'll see the emphasis is on

  1. Honoring the Lord
  2. Accepting our brothers and sisters in the faith
  3. Not causing someone else to stumble

What verse 23 is talking about ... is this. To do something "from faith" or "of faith" is to do it or not do it for the RIGHT motives ... to be fully persuaded in our own minds ... to do it to honor the Lord ... not to be filled with pride or be judgmental of others who might come to DIFFERENT conclusions. Now this is not talking about doing something that the Bible says for sure is sin, such as adultery, or murder or theft. It's talking about those "gray" areas that are neither good nor bad in themselves, it depends on our attitude.

Suppose you decide to worship the Lord on Saturday, you do it out of pride and you condemn anyone who worships on another day. Are you acting "from faith"? NO! Suppose someone makes you feel condemned for eating pork, and you refrain from eating it, not because you are convinced that you should, but because they make you feel guilty. Are you refraining from pork "from faith"? NO! You are trying to please some person, not the Lord.

Now doubt comes to us for several reasons. Usually it is from lack of understanding. Sometimes it comes from trying to please people. Sometimes it comes from getting too many opinions and therefore being confused. Sometimes it comes from lack of self-esteem - feeling that you don't "measure up", that God won't act on your behalf because of something you have done or haven't done. As we go before God and ask for His guidance, He'll reveal to us the root of our doubts and show us how to over come them.

I really don't believe people who say they've never doubted God... when you read the Bible, it is chock full of people who overcame doubts and fears to do God's will. In fact, God delights in choosing the weak things of the world through which to display His strength.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 But he [Jesus] said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 13:4 For to be sure, he [Jesus] was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God's power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God's power we will live with him to serve you.

I Corinthians 1:26-29 Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things--and the things that are not--to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.

1 Corinthians 2:3-5 [Paul Speaking] I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power.

So we come back to the original question ... was I Baptized in the Spirit correctly or not? Jesus said in Acts 1:8: "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

The point of being Baptized in the Holy Spirit is to receive POWER: power from God to witness, power from God to overcome our weaknesses, power to understand God's Word ... to increase our faith ... to obtain victory over sin ... NOT to have some spiritual experience that you can boast about!!!

Jesus compared the Baptism in the Holy Spirit to a fountain of living waters springing up inside and flowing out of us ... it is a continual flow of God's love, grace and power... yield to the Holy Spirit and let Him work through you ... depend on Him to teach you and help you... and don't worry about what people think! :)

Lastly, you can rely on God to keep you saved!

I Corinthians 1:8 He [God] WILL keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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