A husband returned from the store with a bag of groceries. He had purchased: 1 carton of eggs, 2 bags of flour, 3 boxes of cake mix, 4 bags of sugar, and 5 cans of frosting. His wife took one look at all the groceries and cried, "I never should have numbered the list!" I wonder if we have made that same mistake with salvation.
We've numbered the list. We say there are five steps to salvation (hear, believe, repent, confess, and be baptized). After college, I heard there were six steps (see above, plus "remain faithful"). Recently, I was reading a periodical where the author listed ten steps to salvation (Help, I'm running out of fingers here!). Surely, our salvation has to be simpler than all of that.
God has assured that a day is coming when the righteous and the wicked will be separated. God has illustrated that day in a variety of ways--sheep separated from goats, wheat separated from weeds. For us, that day will be at Christ's second coming. As is commonly said, "it will be the best day in the life of a believer, and the worst day in the life of an unbeliever." Meaning, some will choose wisely, others will choose poorly.
The Ethiopian eunuch once asked, "What can stand in the way of my being baptized? (Acts 8:36)" He seems to imply, "nothing will prevent me from choosing wisely!" Preacher, Jimmy Allen, suggests there might be several things that prevent one from making this wise choice: 1) They don't feel that they know enough to be baptized. He said, "At my baptism, I was proud that I knew Deuteronomy was a book in the Bible, and not a contagious disease." The saying seems true, "If we wait until we know everything before we do anything, we will always do nothing." Besides, how much did the early believers really know before their faith moved them to the water? They believed Jesus was the Son of God, and that water was a part of the plan. 2) They feel that they are not good enough to be baptized. Really, is anyone good enough? Did Jesus come to seek and save those who were "good enough?" 3) They feel that it would be too hard to be a Christian. Actually, it is the sinner's life that is too hard (Prov. 13:15). Jesus' yoke is easy, not hard, and his load is light, not heavy (Matt. 11:28). So maybe the very things that prevent one from choosing wisely, shouldn't.
So, set before us are two outcomes, and the encouragement to choose wisely. This seems simple enough. Well, what about baptism? No New Testament writer apologizes for it. And every conversion story in Acts contains it. Is there even such a thing as an unbaptized Christian? Or, should the faith of all people rapidly move them to be baptized?
Baptism may be a hangup for you. Maybe it is the one lump that the anaconda of your faith can't seem to digest. Consider this. A father was correcting his young son for the mistreatment of his little sister. Knowing the boy was into Superheroes, the father took this approach. "Son," he said, "a hero is someone that uses his life to help people, but a villain is someone who uses his life to hurt people." Then he asked, "Which do you want to be?" The son thought for a moment and asked, "Is there one in-between?" As you've wrestled with baptism (to be, or not to be), maybe you've wondered, "is there something in-between?" Just as there is nothing in-between heaven and hell, there appears to be nothing in-between faith and baptism. Instead, it is our faith that moves us to be obedient in baptism. So, without wanting to sound trite...our salvation might be, just as simple as that.