To Believe in Jesus is to Believe Jesus.
It may seem a little redundant to say this. But this concerns the sacraments greatly. People, Baptists and other reformed sects, especially the ones claiming not to be denominations though they have a “satellite” in every city and small town across the nation, (you know who you are) have a way of thinking that if they only believe in Christ they can be saved while ignoring what Christ says concerning the sacraments. In this way they end up pitting scripture against scripture.
I’m going to use Romans 4 as an example here as it was on Paul’s discussion concerning the relationship between faith and circumcision where by a recent man I was dialoguing decided that this trumped anything else Paul or Christ said anywhere.
“What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh?  For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.  For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness."  Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due.  And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,  just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:
 "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
and whose sins are covered;
 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin."
 Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness.  How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised.  He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well,  and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised. (Romans 4:1-12 (ESV)
Now it seemed a bit odd to bring this chapter into a discussion about baptism. I was told I did violence to the text in Romans 6, because my view is that you are actually buried with Christ and raised to new life in Baptism, and that would mean something other than faith would save you. Huh?
Tell you the truth I am almost at a complete loss to even follow this argument. Does not faith believe? And therefore Christian faith believes Christ. But there is a sort of naked faith doctrine. Faith in Christ alone is all you need. I don’t disagree, but what kind of faith is it in Christ that then ignores Christ and the apostles he sent? What kind of faith is it that says Paul is right in chapter four, but wrong in Chapter 6?
Somehow the man reads from this that God saves everyone the same way, so that negates the salvific gift of circumcision in the Old Testament, and Baptism in the new. I don’t get that. God saves through faith which believes the promises He makes, concerning Circumcision in the Old, and Baptism in the new. No one is trying to argue that Baptism without faith is effectual. In the same way that circumcision without faith is ineffectual, which is what I am getting from Romans four.
But it seems to me that Paul here is making an argument about circumcision here that would not have been made before Christ’s resurrection. Sure Abraham believed and was reckoned righteous before he was circumcised. He would have been regarded a rank unbeliever if he then refused to be circumcised, or talked bad of the covenant God made with him through circumcision, a covenant that tends to be more of a Testament (there is a difference). And I am beginning to think this of Baptists in general, because if they really believed in Christ it seems they would believe Christ. And see baptism as essential, as necessary for faith anyway. Though not as a work we do, but as a work that Christ does to us.
Paul would not have been able to make that argument before the resurrection. He would not be able to say that gentiles were saved without being circumcised, unless something had taken the place of circumcision as a seal of righteousness. That something is baptism. And so now Paul is able to say that it is possible for the uncircumcised to be saved just as it is possible for the circumcised to be saved, because what saves is faith and that faith is in Christ who commands baptism, not circumcision. It is a transition period here, though. And Jews who were accustomed to seeing circumcision as a sign of the covenant needed to be taught that this is no longer the case. Those that have been baptized, as even the circumcised Jews had been baptized, do not need to be circumcised. The Old Testament has closed, the New has opened up. Things have changed. No longer is a man to be regarded as a rank unbeliever for refusing to be circumcised. Faith has shed circumcision like a snake shedding old skin. And one might look to Colossians 2 to see how this is done.
“ In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,  having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.  And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,  by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.  He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. (Col. 2:11-15 (ESV)
But then I am told by these same people that Paul isn’t talking about baptism there, not “water baptism” anyway. I’m beginning to wonder if Paul ever talks about baptism where these people are concerned. Because if what Christ says through Paul here in Colossians is true of “water baptism” then that would mean baptism saves and not faith, even though faith is clearly operative in baptism according to this text. Why is faith operative here? Because faith not only believes in Christ, but also believes Christ and the apostles he sent, believes the promises he makes concerning baptism. So when he tells us, through Peter, that Baptism now saves you, he means it. Quit with the wedge.