We are saved by the death burial and resurrection of Jesus, that is a fact. But what is often never addressed is the ‘how’ these events save.
This topic brings questions. For instance, since Christ died for all men, and since men are saved by the death burial and resurrection of Jesus, does that mean that all men will be saved? Are we to take the false theory of the Universalist, and expect that God will save all men?
The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus are three factual events that happened in history. Fact #1, Christ died on a cross. Fact#2, he was buried in a tomb. Fact #3, he was raised from the dead.
The question is, how do those three factual events save man? Are we again, to assume as the universalist, that since Jesus died was buried and raised to life again, that all men, because of those 3 historical events will be saved?
If the answer is yes, then it matters little how anyone lives. Since those factual events alone save people, then it does not matter what choices a person makes pertaining to his morality in this life.
However, if the answer to the questions is “no, not all men will be saved”, then we must conclude that these events by themselves with no other action are not ALL that is included in the salvation process.
For instance… if a person is saved by these historical events alone… and Christ’s death was for all man…then people like Adolf Hitler, Mao Tse Tung, Joseph Stalin etc… who killed millions of innocent people – must still be saved, because these three events are able to save.
So then we ask again; are all men going to be saved by the 3 factual historical events alone?
Note: we readily and whole-heartedly admit that without the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, we would all be lost. There would be no salvation offered to any man because no man would be found ‘worthy’ of salvation without these events.
The questions though must be answered properly. How does a person avail himself of the blood that was offered on the cross? How does a person take hold of the salvation that is offered by the grace of God? Just how does a person participate in and be saved by the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus?
Paul explains it plainly:
1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
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.
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 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. (Romans 6:1-6)
Let us notice some points in Paul’s letter to the Romans.
Based on the fact of Jesus’ Death,
- We too must die to our old sinful ways (v 2)
- The way we die to our old sinful ways is by baptism (v3)
Based on the fact of Jesus’ Burial,
- We too are to be buried with Christ (v4)
- The way we are buried with Christ is in baptism (v4, 5a)
Based on the fact of Jesus’ Resurrection,
- We too are to be raised to walk a new life (v4, 5)
- The way we are raised to walk a new life comes about at our baptism (v4)
- Since we walk in ‘newness of life’ (raised from baptism) we no longer are servants of sin. (v6)
Paul explains that it is only after this “new birth” process that a person may properly serve God. Because until the old (sinful) man has been crucified, the implication is, that he is still serving sin. A person cannot be a servant of sin and a servant of God at the same time.
If a person must either serve God or serve sin and a person stops serving sin at his baptism, then a person begins serving God at his baptism.
A person must either serve God or serve sin. (Rom. 6:16-18)
A person stops serving sin at his baptism (Rom. 6:6)
Therefore, a person begins serving God at his baptism.
If a person cannot be saved while being a servant of sin and a person stops serving sin when he is baptized, then a person cannot be saved until he is baptized.
A person cannot be saved while being a servant of sin. (Rom. 6:16-18)
And a person stops serving sin when he is baptized, (Rom. 6:6)
Therefore, a person cannot be saved until he is baptized.
We ask these important questions; how does the fact of the death, burial, and resurrection save man? Who does it save?
It saves those believers, who in Christ-like fashion, submit themselves to death, burial and resurrection, at the watery grave of baptism.
Based upon our faith in Christ who obeyed the Father, and was obedient unto death, even the death on the cross. (Phil 2:8) Similarly, believers are saved by these events, when we too are willing to die (the old man of sin) be buried in water, and be resurrected to walk a new life. All of this takes place at the point of immersion for the forgiveness of sin.