This week, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Al Mohler took questions from listeners on his podcast “The Briefing.” One of the questions dealt with a listener’s mother, who is nearing the end of her life on this earth and believes she is saved because she was baptized as a teenager.
“My mom is now facing several health challenges and it looks as if her time on earth is short,” the listener wrote, expressing concern that his mother had placed her sense of eternal security in the ordinance itself. “Is she really going to hell because she thinks that one must also be baptized to go to heaven?”
Mohler answered, “No. No one’s going to hell for that.” The theologian then pointed out the fact that “theologically and biblically, just remember we go to hell as God’s just verdict on our sin, unless God’s just verdict on our sin falls on Christ rather than on ourselves.” Mohler explained that salvation comes through the substitutionary atonement which was achieved by Christ on the cross.
Salvation can only come from those who faithfully confess that Jesus Christ is their Lord and Savior and repent of their sins, Mohler shared.
Baptism is what takes place in a believers life after they decide to give their life to Christ and follow Him. Mohler explained, “Baptism itself is not the saving work.” It doesn’t regenerate and if someone places confidence in it doing so, it is “misplaced confidence.”
Jesus is the only thing a believer places their confidence in—”our understanding is that salvation comes by Christ alone, by grace alone, through faith alone,” he answered.
Mohler encouraged the listener to share the gospel with his mother in order to make sure she understands that baptism alone does not bring anyone salvation. “Bear witness to Christ to your mom and do everything you know to just repeat over and over again and emphasize in every way you know that salvation comes to those whose faith is in Christ,” Mohler concluded, “not whose faith is in baptism.”