I can hardly be justified in calling them clues because the framework was never intended to be a puzzle to be solved. Nevertheless, the following “clues” provide the necessary pieces for discovering the consistent principle of grace by which God has chosen to identify those who belong to him. The Lord knows those who are his and his word reveals his perspective.
As someone whose family had worshipped other gods, Abram did not deserve the favor of being the recipient of God’s covenant. But God appeared to Abram commanding him to walk blamelessly before him and offering him a series of promises through a covenant relationship. One of those promises was that the LORD would be his God and the God of his descendants./1 Through covenant, God took Abram and his descendants to be his people.
Years later at Mount Sinai to the gathered descendants of Abram’s grandson, Israel, God thundered that he would take them to be his own possession from among all the peoples, if they would keep his covenant./2 Throughout the history of Israel, God’s covenant with Israel was the vehicle of grace by which God took them to belong to himself./3
Through the prophet Jeremiah, God announced that the days were coming when he would create a new covenant. God promised to forgive the sins and to take as his own people those who would enter into this covenant./4 Through grace God sent his Son to die in order that he might create this new covenant./5 Accordingly, it is the person of Jesus who makes possible our forgiveness and adoption as children of God.
God has not changed how he elects those who belong to him. He calls people into a covenant relationship with himself. Through Christ, God has offered by grace a new covenant to the whole world. It is through the blood of this covenant that the Lord forgives and takes a people to be his own. Salvation is a gift of grace to those who enter Christ’s covenant.
There is a very good reason why baptism is described in the New Testament as being how someone receives the promises of the new covenant (forgiveness & becoming a child of God, that is, salvation)./6 When someone responds to the good news of Jesus by being baptized, that individual enters the new covenant. The gospel calls us to rely upon Jesus by being baptized. This is why when Jesus is preached, people seek to be baptized./7
If the blood of the covenant by which God forgives and claims people as his own is essential for being saved today, then must not also the means for entering that covenant be essential for salvation? If trusting in Jesus is essential for salvation, then must not the manner by which the Scriptures call for us to rely upon Jesus also be essential?
1/ Genesis 17:1-8
2/ Exodus 19:5,6; 24:5-8
3/ Deuteronomy 29:12-15; Ezekiel 16:8; Jeremiah 11:3,4
4/ Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:6-13; 10:16,17
5/ Matthew 26:28; Hebrews 9:15-17 and 10:9,10
6/ Acts 2:38; 22:16; Galatians 3:26,27; 1 Peter 3:21
7/ Acts 8:12, 35,36