We cannot be justified on the basis of our good works.
In order to be justified before God on the basis of what we do for God, we would have to live our entire life without one sinful act or thought, which is, of course, impossible.
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God —Romans 3:23
Fortunately, God HAS justified us through Jesus’ death, for all our sins—past, present, and future.
Having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us . . . and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. —Colossians 2:14
Therefore, justification is faith plus nothing:
. . . man is justified by faith apart from works. —Romans 3:28
I have a dear relative that insists it is a biblical requirement to be baptized by immersion to be saved. What is your position on their salvation state based on their assertion?
Baptism is important but not a part of the Gospel. Salvation is based on what God did for you (John 3:16) and not what you do—or don’t do. You can never add anything to the finished work of the cross.
He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done . . . but according to His mercy. —Titus 3:5
Paul spent his life witnessing to the fact of how to get to heaven. Yet, he said,
I thank God that I baptized none of you. —1 Corinthians 1:14
But the best example is the thief on the cross at Calvary. He wasn’t baptized, yet Jesus said to him,
. . . today you shall be with me in Paradise. —Luke 23:40-43.
Acts 2:38 is sometimes used to defend baptism as being a part of salvation—
be baptized in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins: and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Properly translating the Greek word “eis” (“for”) the verse would mean they repented “on the basis of,” or “because of.” Therefore, a better translation would be, “people should repent and then be baptized because their sins were forgiven.”
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Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible, copyright The Lockman Foundation 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977. Used by permission.
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