"Are You Saved Brother?"
When I was an evangelical, I believed the way to "get saved" was to ask Jesus Christ to forgive you of your sins and ask him into your heart to become your personal Lord and Savior. I used to pound the streets of a small city in NJ in the summertime as a young believer handing out Chick tracts and wearing a 4 inch crucifix asking strangers "Are You Saved?" Now fast forward 35 years. I have tried to find the support for this in the Bible but come up short. I have also tried to find this statement in the writings of the early church fathers and have not found it. I don't profess to be an expert in patristics and early christian history but this formulae for salvation is absent from all the writings of the early Christians and not heard of until centuries after the reformation. I do know that Paul says in Romans that we need to confess with our lips and believe in our hearts that God raised Jesus from the dead, and as a Catholic I do this in each and every Mass. I publically acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord and believe in my heart that God raised Him from the dead. One of the Eucharistic prayers of our liturgy affirms ; "Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again." But getting saved is a bit more involved that taking one verse from Romans and formulating a "sinners prayer" and saying that this is all there is to salvation. After all, Satan and his many demons can acknowledge that they are sinners and believe that God raised Christ from the dead and believe in Jesus more than you or I, but that isn't going to get them into Heaven as James states. My previous post "Losing my Religion" illustrates Paul's and Jesus' view that "being saved" was a process that starts in baptism (being born again in water and the spirit) and continues throughout the life of the believer. Even St. Paul said he hoped to reach the prize and "he that endures to the end will be saved."
Shouldn't we go to the Bible to see what it says the early church recommended to do for salvation? Acts 2:38 "And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
Yes, you say, but what about Paul and Silas and the near-suicidal jailer in the prison?
When the chains fell off Paul and Silas in prison the jailer begged "what must I do to be saved"
The answer was "believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved." What happened next? Did they wait until the light of day when it would have been more convenient for the jailer to make a public confession of faith and be baptized for the world to see, if baptism is just an outward sign? No, he was that very same hour, immediately baptized, and his whole family too. Of course they wouldn't have baptized his infants and little children because they hadn't reached the "age of reason".... wait a second! It doesn't say that in the Bible. There is a fair chance that the jailer, (before the days of birth control) had a whole brood of young uns' and I suspect some were even too young to say the sinner's prayer! No one can tell me that they didn't baptize his babies. Scripture doesn't say no! So it is a possibility, say now?
Jesus great commission to the disciples was to go into all the world preaching the gospel to all creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved." Mk. 16:15
So my reading tells me that a recitation of the "sinners prayer" is not mentioned by our Lord or Peter when they were talking about being saved, but baptism certainly was.
Can someone out there in cyber land tell me where in the Bible it says that we are not saved by baptism? Let me know if you find a verse, I'll keep looking too.( Hint: it's not 1 Peter 3:21)
If you come up with the conclusion as Catholics have for 2000 years, that we are regenerated by the waters of baptism, you are in good company along with Mr. Luther and Mr. J. Wesley. They believed that baptism was the means of, not the sign of, regeneration.
"There is a justification conveyed to us in our baptism, or properly, this state is begun." J. Wesley 1746
Robert Klaus posts a concise discussion on Born Again/Conversion on his website: