In Christian theology, particularly in Protestant churches, salvation is a key belief and a foundational aspect of churches regardless of denomination. The same applies to Baptist churches, which strongly believe and follow doctrines such as the inspiration of the Bible, the Trinity, original sin, and salvation. With this in mind, it is good to ask this question: what do Baptists think about salvation?
Baptists believe salvation is based on the grace of God, that Jesus Christ alone is the reconciler of God and human beings, and that an individual must place their faith in Christ alone to receive salvation – a doctrine known as ‘Sola Fide.’ A person cannot do anything to earn God’s grace but instead places their trust in Christ to save and reconcile them to God.
This article seeks to elaborate on the Baptist view of salvation by talking about the origin of this belief, whether there are any Biblical scriptures to support this view, and other salvation-related topics such as predestination, the process of reconciliation to God, and the requirements an individual should have if they want to be saved.
How do Baptists define salvation?
Similar to other Protestant denominations, Baptists strongly believe that a person must be “saved” to be right with God. In the Bible and Baptist theology context, “salvation” denotes spiritual and eternal deliverance from the wrath of God, which is caused by the separation of man from God.
Among the teachings of Baptist theology regarding salvation, the understanding and definition of salvation involve these themes:
Human beings are separated from God due to sin
Baptists believe that people need to be saved due to the presence of sin and its consequence, notably the broken fellowship between God and human beings.
The Baptist interpretation of the Bible denotes that all people are born into sin and will be separated from God eternally in hell if they die without receiving salvation from Christ. Some Bible scriptures that support this view include:
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 1 John 1:8
But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear. Isaiah 59:2
For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23
God is the initiator of the salvation process.
Salvation is a process initiated by God because only he can redeem human beings from the penalty of sin, as outlined in scriptures such as Ephesians 2:8-9 and John 3:16.
For it is by grace, you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
Baptist theology also teaches that God chose to initiate the process through Jesus Christ, offering himself as a ransom for the sins of all humanity. This allows human beings to be reconciled to God, as was his original intention. This process occurred in a single event and encompassed several aspects, including:
And by that, we will have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Heb. 10:10
Baptists believe that Jesus Christ was the ultimate payment for sins that he never committed – in other words, he was the perfect sacrifice. This is a callback to the Old Testament when unblemished lambs were sacrificed on behalf of the sins of the Israelites since Christ did not commit any sin, yet he died for the sake of all humanity.
He is the propitiation for our sins, not only for ours but also for the whole world’s sins. 1 John 2:2
The process of propitiation involves the death of Christ, turning away God’s anger from human beings who deserved the punishment of death due to sin. Without Christ’s sacrifice, God’s anger would remain on people, but this sacrifice allowed salvation to become available to all people.
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds, you have been healed. 1 Peter 2:24
This doctrine holds that due to sin, all people are targets of the anger of God and would be separated from him – both in physical life and eternally. However, Christ offered himself as the penalty to correct this, which was the ultimate substitution of eternal punishment.
Salvation begins when one confesses and believes in Christ
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23
Thanks to the entry of sin and its consequences, as Romans 6:23 states, one can receive the offer of salvation voluntarily by confessing that Jesus Christ died for their sin and was resurrected from death. The Bible backs this in scriptures such as Romans 10:9:
Because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9
The whole message of the death and resurrection of Christ is known as the gospel, which has its roots in the whole of the New Testament. At its core, salvation is a gift from God and can never be obtained by self-improvement efforts.
Salvation is by grace alone in Christ alone.
When understanding the concept of salvation as the Baptist church teaches it, it is important to know essential terms such as “sola gratia,” which means ‘by grace alone,’ and “sola fide,” which means ‘by faith alone.’ These terms came up during the Protestant Reformation, spearheaded by Martin Luther, and were responses to some perversions of Biblical truth from the Roman Catholic Church.
The basic Baptist understanding of salvation is that human beings are undeserving of God’s mercy and fellowship due to the presence of inherent sin in all people. Because one is born into sin, God rectifies this by mercifully and graciously offering salvation to all who choose to believe, and it is not based on good deeds or human attempts at merit. The Baptist church terms this as ‘being saved by grace.’
Some scriptures that support this view are:
He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit… Titus 3:5
And we are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption in Christ Jesus… Romans 3:24
Thanks to this grace, one must place their faith only in Christ to receive salvation because he did the work to redeem many through his death. Anyone who chooses to believe is saved because the righteousness that Jesus had is imputed to them, such as what the Apostle Paul outlines in Romans 5:8-9:
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. Romans 5:8-9
What are the requirements for salvation in the Baptist church?
Using the information of what Baptists believe about salvation as a basis, answering the question on salvation requirements is easy. The answer is just one – to believe. This echoes what the apostles told people who asked them this question, such as the Apostle Paul responding to his jailer in Acts 16:31:
Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved. Acts 16:31
This ‘belief’ means to put your faith or trust in something. However, it is not simply limited to believing, since anyone can claim to believe, but the belief that results in salvation. Baptists, and protestant Christians in general, are very particular about this fact, using verses such as James 2:19 as their basis:
You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe – and shudder! James 2:19
In the case of the Baptist view, a person must place their belief or trust in Christ and what he did on the cross as their only hope to be saved.
One does this by affirming several statements and repenting one’s sins. The only time you can repent is when you do not want to dwell in your sin anymore, have decided to change your mind about your sin, and want to follow Christ. A good example of a scripture highlighting the importance of repentance is Acts 3:19: Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.
The statements you should believe to be saved are:
Christ died for the sins of all humanity
This is expressed in 1 Corinthians 15:3: (For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures…). This is acknowledging that the gospel is the meaning behind the death of Christ – in other words, he died for our sins.
Christ was buried
The proof of Jesus’ death was his burial, as his body was in a tomb and stayed there for three days. This is discussed in various passages, such as 1 Cor. 15:4: (…that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…)
He resurrected on the third day.
As stated in 1 Corinthians 15:4, one must believe and declare that Jesus resurrected on the third day – something that no other human being had done. He lived again and never died after that, which broke the hold that death had over humanity as a consequence of sin.
He revealed himself to various witnesses.
Alongside one believing that Jesus rose from the dead, one must also believe that Jesus was seen and various witnesses saw him – these ranged from his disciples to others. This is outlined in 1 Cor. 15:5: (…and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.)
What happens after salvation, according to the Baptist church?
Like other protestant Christians, the Baptist church welcomes new professing believers into the church and believes that salvation is a gradual process that involves one’s desires changing and becoming more Christ-like. After salvation, the Baptist church talks of the following processes happening:
Changes in a person’s life and mindset
This process is referred to as ‘regeneration’ or ‘sanctification,’ and Baptists believe it can only occur through the work of the Holy Spirit, who dwells in all believers. Some changes happen immediately, while others happen over time, resulting in the adoption of the individual into the community of believers.
Some scriptures to support this claim include John 1:12 and Romans 5:10.
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave them the right to become children of God… John 1:12
For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. Romans 5:10
Immersion Baptism is a very important part of the Baptist churches and is only administered to professing believers in Christ, terming it as “believer’s baptism.” This is not done as a salvation requirement but is a public confession by the individual that they have repented of their sins and are following Christ.
The Baptist churches use scriptures such as Romans 6:4 to back up this belief:
Therefore, we are buried with him by baptism into death: as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so, we should also walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4
Due to this belief and the belief that it should only be in the form of immersion (not sprinkling), infant baptism is not administered in Baptist congregations.
What do Baptists think about reconciliation in salvation?
The connection between reconciliation and salvation also referred to as ‘atonement’ in Christian theology, is a key theme in understanding salvation in Protestant Christianity – including among Baptists. This is because it is the main aspect of the gospel, as Christians believe God worked to reconcile humans to himself and restore the relationship between them.
Baptists believe that reconciliation happens when a person is saved, as the sacrifice of Christ on the cross allowed for it to occur. Reconciliation means ‘to restore a relationship,’ and Baptists believe that the relationship between God and an individual is brought back to its proper state through Jesus Christ. This is supported by Paul’s statement in Colossians 1:21-22;
And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him… Colossians 1:21-22
This also echoes closely what Jesus Christ said about himself in John 14:6:
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
Baptists hold to this theology closely: Jesus Christ is the only way to a right relationship with God the Father, and he entrusts all believers to showcase the gospel to others – the ultimate message of reconciliation through salvation. This involves the knowledge of several statements that the Bible implies:
All creation suffers the effects of disorder
The theology of reconciliation is essential to Baptists and Christians, in general, because man is separated from God by sin, and that sin brought spiritual death. This disorder brought other effects, including suppression of the Truth of God, the depravity of human beings, and the enmity of God against humanity.
It also led to the plight of creation, including the ground as implied in Genesis 3:17 as well as heaven in Job 15:15, and creation waits for God to redeem it from sin – a promise that was made in Revelation 21:1 when the new heaven and new earth will be created.
Reconciliation is not the same as universal salvation
Baptists believe that the offer of reconciliation to God is available to all people – but it does not mean every person will be saved. In other words, those who choose to dwell in their unbelief are under the condemnation of God, and the offer of reconciliation is not open to them. As scriptures such as John 3:18 state:
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. John 3:18
Reconciliation happens through faith.
As mentioned earlier in this article, the Baptist view of reconciliation is that it happens through a person placing their trust in the work of Christ, as outlined in Ephesians 2:8-9. This faith will always believe in the gospel’s power and commit to Jesus Christ as Master.
Therefore, all Bible scripture talks of reconciliation happening through the unmerited favor God extends to everyone so that they have a chance to receive the offer and place their faith in Christ. It is this knowledge that drives a person to seek God in repentance.
What is the Baptist view of predestination?
Predestination, a doctrine rooted in Calvinism, talks of God selecting some individuals to be saved while others are unselected.
In terms of the Baptist branch of Christianity, some agree with this view while others do not – since Baptist churches allow their members to have diverse views on it. This topic is quite divisive, with some Baptists following a predestination doctrine as implied in verses such as Ephesians 1:4-5 and John 15:16, while others not following it and are supported by scriptures like John 3:16 and Romans 10:13.
This means that certain sections of the Baptist denomination lean towards Arminianism. However, one can know which side a particular congregation leans to by looking at the church’s belief statements or talking to pastors from that congregation.
Regardless of this difference, Baptists will generally agree that the Holy Spirit reveals the gospel’s truth to an individual and prepares them to repent – whether they have been predestined to do so or not.
What is the Christian doctrine of salvation?
What is the Gospel? | Bible.org
What are the Five Solas of the Protestant Reformation?
What are the “five solas,” and what do they mean?
The Gospel – How can I be saved? | Gateway Baptist Church
Knowing the message of reconciliation (Colossians 1:20-23)
They say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, right? Being raised by Christians significantly impacted my life since I started professing Christ from a young age. My passion for the Christian faith made me pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology. I am a believer and pastor dedicated to spreading the word of God. I have been in the Christian ministry for over a decade and am currently ministering in Life Christian Church. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Please check the About Us Page for more details.