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We have forty questions in the inbox about Acts 2:38. There in the text, a bunch of seekers have gathered. And Peter says to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). Indeed, three thousand people repent and are baptized. It’s an amazing sight! The text also appears to put water baptism prior to conversion or in the moment of conversion. Likewise, Paul was told to “rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name” (Acts 22:16). Dozens of listeners have written in to basically ask, “Are we saved after water baptism, before water baptism, or in water baptism?”
When Does Salvation Start?
Question - Precise - Way - Question - Are
I would first answer by making the question more precise, because the way I’d pose the question is “Are we justified before, in, or after baptism? Are we united to Christ? Do we become one with Christ, and does God become one hundred percent for us before, in, or after baptism?” Because in the New Testament, the word saved is used for what happens before, in, and after baptism.
Ephesians 2:8: We “have been saved.”
1 Corinthians 1:18: We “are being saved.”
Romans 13:11: “Salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.”
Future - Word - Salvation - New - Testament
Being saved happened before, is happening now, and will happen finally in the future. The word salvation in the New Testament is broad and includes pieces of salvation. But what’s really being asked is “When did it all start? When was the first moment of union with Christ — the moment of justification, which is not a process like sanctification is, but is decisive?”
“If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). When did that start?...
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