We seem to have a tendency to make things as easy on ourselves as we possibly can, and that certainly appears to be the case spiritually. In regard to salvation, many people act as if God has provided some one-time act on our part that automatically causes Him to ignore the rest of our lives. This has no foundation in Scripture—regardless of what action someone may suggest. However, the rich young ruler seemed to ask for just such a recommendation. “Now behold, one came and said to Him, ‘Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?’ So He said to him, ‘Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments’” (Mt. 19:16–17). The young man asked what one thing he could do; Jesus responded by reminding him of all that he should do. The disparity between how we see religion and how God sees it could not have been made more clear.
Men usually expect that they must do some good works in life for God—usually of their choosing, but the example of Jesus tells a very different story. We see good people and want to find some simple task that will make us good too. We want salvation, we want eternal life, we want heaven, but we also want to reduce it to a simple, earthly task. We tend to look at religion and spirituality like we look at everything else, instead of how God has revealed it. The young man approached Jesus in just such a way when he said, “Good Teacher.”
But today, even with all that God has provided in the gospel, people often make a similar mistake. Some people act as if Jesus’ sacrificial death alone guarantees their salvation, but this contradicts Scripture (Gal. 2:21). Others are often willing to follow part of God’s plan–just not all of it (Jas. 2:18). But sometimes people can also get the impression that because faith is essential for salvation or baptism is essential for salvation that it is the only thing required for salvation. But friends, that simply is not the case.
Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation” (Acts 2:38–40).