Foy E. Wallace, Jr.
The person whom the Bible designates a believer is one who, having been persuaded that Jesus is the Christ, accepts Him in implicit trust as his Saviour (John 20:31). He has not merely assented to Gospel truth or fact, but one who has believed with all the heart; a belief that involves every faculty of his intelligent being—his reason, his sensibilities, his will (Rom. 10:9-10). The noun pisti (faith) means confidence, trust. The verb pisteuo (believe) means adherence to, reliance on. The nobleman’s (Acts 8) belief with all his heart meant his reliance on what Philip had preached unto him as essential elements of salvation. His faith in Jesus and his confession of that faith meant nothing less than his acceptance of all terms and conditions of salvation laid down in the preaching of Philip (8:12). The conviction of those “pricked in their hearts” on Pentecost (Acts 2) was a faith that yielded the willing spirit of obedience in the pleading question, “What shall we do?” Such a faith implies and embraces all necessary conditions named in God’s law of pardon.
According to Mark, the commission says, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:15). This salvation is the forgiveness of past sins, pardon, the complete absolution of guilt, and remission of sins. But this pardon is an executive act. It takes place in the mind of God in heaven, not in the heart of man on earth. The thing
we know as inner consciousness cannot determine by inward feelings that a pardon has been granted. A pardon can be only known as God declares it. The man in the penitentiary knows he is pardoned when the executive, the Governor, declares it. No warden of such an institution would release an inmate of it on the ground of an “inner consciousness” that the Governor had pardoned him. Inner consciousness cannot measure or weigh any outward thing. There must be a standard for all such. God has a law of forgiveness—the sinner is not pardoned until he has complied with it.
The issue is not whether one is saved or justified by faith—to that, we all agree. The issue is the degree of faith—when does faith save one? The Baptist order is repentance before faith, but they do not mean salvation by repentance before faith. The Bible order is faith before baptism—why should a Baptist insist that salvation comes by faith before baptism seeing that they will disavow salvation by repentance before faith in their order of things? True, faith comes before baptism, but one is not saved by faith before baptism any more than one would be saved by repentance before faith in the Baptist order of things. This one thing answers every argument that can be made by a Baptist against baptism on the ground that one is saved by faith and that faith precedes baptism. All passages that declare justification by faith (Rom. 5:1) and others of like import we accept, believe, and claim. However, we deny that these passages teach or imply that one is saved by faith before baptism. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.”