Gaze with me, if you dare, at a future religious landscape within the proverbial crystal ball. Not unsurprisingly, the topics of discussion have morphed beyond those of our own experiences. Just as people today reject that the earth is flat because irrefutable evidence came to light, so too in that future landscape all serious debate has vanished whether or not the biblical authors understood immersion to be essential for salvation.
When the realization finally struck home that the language of “saved by faith” and “whoever believes shall have eternal life” affirms the principle that we must rely upon Jesus to be saved but such phraseology is mute regarding how to rely upon him, there was only one way for the ensuing biblical investigation to develop. Once the right question was asked, namely, “how do the scriptures call us to trust in Jesus that we might be saved by grace,” research pointed unequivocably in one direction — belief, confessing Christ and immersion as a faith response to the gospel.
What immediately captures our attention in this futuristic religious scene, however, is a new question loomimg large. “Must we trust in Jesus in the manner described in scripture or can we believe in him through any mode we might choose?” In other words, although the scriptures describe baptism as the means for initiating our dependence upon Jesus for salvation, who says that we can not choose our own methods for trusting in him?
Perhaps in asking this question, the real issues that had lurked in the shadows finally crept into the spotlight. Can humanity force the Divine to bend to our will, or must we conform to God’s way? Do our confident claims make something so, or is God’s perspective the one that matters? Whose will reigns? Is Jesus Lord or are we ultimately in charge?
Maybe we have stumbled into a futuristic blip in history because the biblical answer is obvious. Biblically, there can be no doubt whether or not we can choose any mode we desire for responding in faith to Jesus. Through Jesus’ death on a cross, in grace God had once again unilaterally offered a covenant. In giving the new covenant, God had determined both its promises as well as how we could enter into it by trusting in Jesus. Being saved by grace through faith in no way empowered the creature to alter the conditions of the covenant which the Creator had so graciously extended.
Perhaps the real issue is and has always been, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I say?”