Twitching nervously, squire mouse felt quite perplexed. Although he had expected difficulties, he had not anticipated encountering what was unfolding before his large brown eyes.
His mind flashed back to when standing before the king’s presence, he had heard with his own ears that awesome yet caring roar sending forth the king’s servants to enlarge his kingdom. The instructions had been simple. All woodland creatures who would trust in the great benevolent lion king to care for them would receive citizenship in Nahnia and his protection. There would be no need to demonstrate a noble birth, gallantry, financial means or even good health. The king was asking each would-be subject to send a letter to his majesty requesting citizenship.
With this image resonating clearly within his mind, squire mouse listened again to the enthusiastic beaver perched on an old stump. A score of woodland creatures had gathered around. With a distinctive dental pronunciation, the beaver continued. “That’s right, every animal who is willing to trust in the king can become a part of Nahnia and receive his protection. All you have to do is say, ‘I trust the king’ three times.” Sincere critters of the ground as well as from the forest canopy eagerly accepted the wonderful message demonstrating their faith that the king would accept them and care for them by joyfully shouting in unison three times, “I trust the king!”
It was because of these events that questions flooded the young squire’s brain. “Since these animals had trusted in the king, but not in accordance with the king’s clear instructions, how would they discover that the king had not recognized them as citizens of Nahnia? Now that these gentle creatures were convinced they were part of the great kingdom of Nahnia, would they be open to hearing how the king had actually called them to receive the gift of citizenship?”
Squire mouse’s problem is also our problem today. The wonderful message that salvation is freely granted to those who will trust in Jesus has resounded throughout the earth. The gospel calls us to rely upon him by being baptized. Those who are baptized as a faith response to Jesus are given salvation, cleansed of sin, included in Christ’s community (Christ’s body) and are spiritually born from above./1 Just as the New Testament teaches, they are saved by faith. Unfortunately, competing human versions of how to trust in Jesus proliferate.
Does it matter how someone depends upon Jesus in order to be saved? Both the unilateral nature of the New Covenant God offers to us as well as the fact that the salvation Jesus provided can not be separated from the context of this New Covenant unequivocably indicate, it matters.
It is commonly understood that Jesus’ blood and death on the cross have made possible salvation and becoming a child of God./2 What can be overlooked is that these promised benefits from Jesus’ blood were not offered to us in a vacuum. If we had simply been told to rely upon Jesus without being instructed how to do that, then apparently “the how” would not have been significant. But as it stands, God embedded the gospel’s wonderful promises within the framework of a unilateral covenant called the New Covenant./3
Accordingly, God has the sole right to determine the conditions for receiving the Covenant’s benefits. By grace God forgives sins and takes as his own people those individuals who will depend upon Jesus by being baptized into him./4 These, then, are raised up out of the water into the new life Jesus made possible by his death. They are saved by grace through faith. Their salvation comes not from themselves, but is wholly dependent upon him who died for them.
“When they believed Philip preaching the good news concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women” (Acts 8:12).
1/ 1 Peter 3:21, Acts 2:38; Galatians 3:26-27; Titus 3:5; 1 Corinthians 12:13
2/ Ephesians 1:7; Romans 3:24-25; Revelation 5:9,10; John 1:12-13; Ephesians 2:12-13
3/ Hebrews 8:10,12; 9:14,15; 10:14-18 Jesus identified his blood being poured out for the forgiveness of sins with the covenant. Matthew 26:28 Notice also that the Messianic text of Isaiah 46:6 places Jesus’ ministry within the context of establishing a covenant.
4/ Romans 6:3-4, 17-18; Galatians 3:26-27; Titus 3:5