Earning Salvation By “Doing Something”? by Andrew Richardson

Traditional thinking influenced by the reformation era is that men are not to “do anything” (like be baptized) in order to be saved because this is “earning” salvation or “adding to the finished work of Christ,” despite the Bible commanding water baptism as a condition of salvation (John 3:5; Matt. 28:19; Acts 2:38). Most denominationalism holds this view to some extent, especially Calvinism.

God does NOT share this thinking. Let’s observe …

Gideon, who led God’s army in Israel, was told by God to deplete the army’s numbers until a small number of men was reached (Judges 7). Why? God did not want them “claiming glory against God,” thinking that their own hand had saved them. So God depleted them to such a small number that only God could be seen as giving them victory. God gave them victory over the Midianites.

Here’s the point. God did not think that in order to claim glory, He had to require no works or conditions from the men. God believes, contrary to denominational thought, that He can give a gift (war victory in this case) with conditions that men must obey in order to receive. God believes He has the right to require men to do “works” (combat in this case) to get a gift from Him, and still yet His glory is not diminished by the fact that they had to do “something” to get His gift. God had men “do things” and “works” for the purpose of glorifying Himself.

Today people say water baptism cannot be a prerequisite for salvation because that would mean we get the glory. God disagrees, as proved by the Gideon story. Let me say it again. God actually glorified Himself through commanding men to “do things.”

One last note. Engaging in warfare is a lot more “work” than being baptized. Yet salvation is infinitely greater in value than the military victory Israel got. If Israel had to do A LOT of work for a relatively less valuable gift — military conquest — and God still got the glory, then how can it be said that God does not get the glory by us doing a LITTLE work for a much greater gift–salvation?

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