“Baptism is a human work and has nothing to do with salvation!” Statements like this echo from Bible commentaries, college classrooms, television preachers and personal conversations. It has become a mantra to the “faith-only” groups.
(In answer) I described for my students the following scene. I asked them to picture Bill Gates – the wealthiest person – coming to our campus (Roanoke Bible College). He would no doubt be impressed by the campus, by the important work that is being done, and by the lives that are changed as a result of the work of the students who graduate. Perhaps he would even be so moved as to seek out a poor student and offer to give a full scholarship to him. (All my students usually get real interested at this point). For whatever reason, Gates has no cash in his wallet and has a tight schedule to keep. But he says to this student, “Meet me at the bank downtown at 1:00 and I’ll make arrangements to have this scholarship available to you then.”
It was raining that day and this student didn’t have a car, so he had to walk downtown and he got soaked in the process. A few of the neighborhoods he had to walk through weren’t the safest, so he had to run away from a few rather dangerous characters. He had to cross a 4 lane highway, and had to be careful not to be hit by the cars. Finally, he arrived at the bank at the designated time – soaked, disheveled, and out of breath – but he received his scholarship. Did the student work for the money he received? Good discussion usually results at this point.
The answer quite simply is that he did not work to earn the scholarship. Gates had the money, and he chose to give it to him at the place he designated. The student didn’t develop the software that had made the money. Rather, he had simply believed that, if he could make it to the required place at the appointed time, he would receive what had been promised, the fruit of Bill Gates’ labor.