The means of salvation in Evangelicalism and the Reformed Faith

Nothing is more central to an evangelical than the way that a person comes to salvation.  To him it is very simple – “The vilest offender who truly believes, that moment from Jesus a pardon receives”.  A key evangelical doctrine that goes with this is the rejection of any role for the sacraments in receiving salvation.  This is precisely what makes evangelicalism just another version of Baptist doctrine.

If you were to ask him, he would say that this is what sole fide is all about, that salvation is received by faith alone.

If you were to go to the men who rediscovered the doctrine of sola fide at the Reformation, men like Luther and Calvin, they would tell you that that is not what is meant at all.  Faith alone is meant to oppose the idea that justification is by works – it is not that faith is the sole MEANS OF GRACE.

A man is justified by faith alone, not by works.  A completely separate issue is HOW God delivers justification and regeneration to us.  The Reformers and all of the Reformation churches agreed with one voice that the sacrament of Baptism is the usual means of conveying grace to the believer.  Baptism when rightly administered and received actually and truly conveys the grace that it signifies.  Baptism signifies justification and regeneration, and thus it conveys justification and regeneration.  There is no other way of conveying these graces mentioned in the Bible, none at all.  This is why an unbaptised child dying in infancy cannot have any assurance of salvation.  God is able to save without baptism, as in the case of Abraham, and we affirm his freedom to do so, while at the same time pointing out that God has not given us freedom to assume or teach that anyone who dies unbaptised will be saved.

Paul believed in Christ on the Damascus Road, but he had to wait for his baptism to receive the remission of his sins:

Acts 22:16 And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

The purpose of this little article is not to prove the point, but to assert it.  Proof will have to wait for another day, or another publication.

Evangelicalism has at its heart an unbiblical doctrine of salvation.


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