There is a sense in which baptism saves. Peter says so (1 Peter 1:18-21). From a certain perspective, in a certain sense, water baptism is the method by which a human being is saved. Just as Noah was saved through water under the terms of a prior covenant in a former dispensation so a penitent sinner is saved through water under the terms of God’s promise in the current dispensation.

However, too much emphasis on this particular perspective will result in an overall understanding of God’s Word that is out of balance. For example, what if a person merely gets immersed in water without repenting of a sinful lifestyle? Will Christian baptism save him or her? Why not? Because there are other factors to weigh, different perspectives to consider, other passages to read.

Herein lies the real challenge presented to us by God’s Word. I am convinced that most of our religious division is not the result of true heresy as defined by the Holy Word but is, rather, a failure to recognize that there are other perspectives that are equally valid and that need to be considered before we decide on a final, eternal, all-inclusive declaration of Truth on a given topic.

Take the Incarnation, for example. Place too much emphasis on the humanity of Jesus and you wind up with a man who was merely “inspired” to a greater degree than any other human being. He was a good man but not God-in-the-Flesh. On the other hand, place too much emphasis on the Deity of Christ and you wind up with a Spirit-Man who only seemed to have a fleshly body. He may have been “tempted” in some abstract sense but his Deity prevented Him from actually having the ability to commit sin.

The truth is that baptism saves us; however, it also true that grace saves us and that faith saves us. It is true that works save us. It is also true that works cannot save us. We are under law and we are not under law. We have entered into Promised Land and we have not yet entered into Promised Land.

Every one of these seemingly contradictory statements is true–in a sense. Each statement has its own “proof text” to back it up. The challenge for spiritually maturing people is to see that it is the Sum of God’s Word that is Truth (Psalm 119:160) and not merely one isolated portion.

The overarching principle at work among God’s people is love. Our first priority is to love each other and to avoid controversy over words, perspectives, and emphases. May God help us be His People.