In the second chapter of Ephesians, Paul wrote, “For by grace are ye saved though faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” [Ephesians 2:8]. It is important to understand the distinction between grace, faith, and works. There is no work that we could ever accomplish to earn the sacrifice that God made by giving us His Only Begotten Son. “We love Him, because He first loved us.” [1 John 4:19]. We cannot necessarily earn the love of God, as He first gave His love even when we were yet sinners. This is the grace of God, and because of grace we all have the opportunity for salvation. Nevertheless, “by grace are ye saved through faith,” and we know that faith is not simply a confession of words, but a change of life once we have received knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also.” [John 14:12]. Thus, if we truly believe in Jesus Christ, we must follow His example. What example did Jesus give during His life, and what principles did He teach? In Matthew, chapter three, Jesus told John the Baptist He needed to be baptized in order “to fulfill all righteousness,” and to which God spoke from heaven saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” [Matthew 3:13-17]. In the fourth chapter of John, we learn that the apostles baptized others under Jesus’s ministry. For Jesus taught Nicodemus in the previous chapter, saying, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit” he can neither see the Kingdom of God, nor enter into it. [John 3:1-8]. Again, Jesus satisfied both principles, which is why Paul wrote “baptisms” not “baptism.”
If Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, who knew no sin had to be baptized in order to fulfill all righteousness, how much more do we need to follow His example? Therefore, when the people were pricked in their hearts by the Holy Ghost following Peter’s sermon in the second chapter of Acts, they asked, “Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” [Acts 2:37-38].
While the opportunity for salvation is only received through grace, we must not frustrate the plan of grace. Instead, we are commanded to follow the example of Jesus Christ. As Paul wrote to the Romans, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” [Romans 6:1-2]. Paul continues to explain that as we are baptized by the water, we are putting to death and burying our old man of sin, just as Jesus was crucified for the sins of the world. Then, as we are raised up from out of the water, we are resurrected into a newness of life, just as the Son of God was resurrected from the dead, in order to free us all from sin and death.
In baptism, the body of sin is destroyed, but this freedom is not to entangle ourselves again with the bondage of sin, but to live unto God through Jesus Christ. For sin is not to reign or have dominion within our lives for we are now under the law of grace. Paul asks again, “What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.” [Romans 6:15]. For if we turn from the grace that we have received through Christ, who will deliver us from our sins? For Jesus did not chose to leave the courts of glory to save us in our sins, but to save us from our sins.
Scriptures to Consider
John 14:12 (KJV)
14:12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also...
Matthew 3:13-17 (KJV)
3:13 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. 3:14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? 3:15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. 3:16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: 3:17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
John 4:1-2 (KJV)
4:1 When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, 4:2 (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)
John 3:1-8 (KJV)
3:1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: 3:2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
3:4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 3:7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 3:8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
Acts 2:37-38 (KJV)
2:37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Romans 6:1-15 (KJV)
6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 6:2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? 6:4 Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
6:5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection: 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 6:7 For he that is dead is freed from sin. 6:8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him: 6:9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over Him. 6:10 For in that He died, He died unto sin once: but in that He liveth, He liveth unto God. 6:11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
6:12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 6:13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. 6:15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
2 Corinthians 5:14-19 (KJV)
5:14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: 5:15 And that He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again. 5:16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.
5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 5:18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 5:19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
Colossians 3:1-16 (KJV)
3:1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 3:2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3:3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 3:4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory.
3:5 Mortify [to make dead, to put to death, slay] therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: 3:6 For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: 3:7 In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. 3:8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. 3:9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; 3:10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created Him: 3:11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.
3:12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; 3:13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. 3:14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. 3:15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.