Can you help me out?
I find in the pages of the Bible, a God who continually saves. Right from the start, he proves this by rescuing Adam and Eve from their poor choice to rebel and sin. In doing that, he sets up a system that reconciles the world. That's right, from the very first infraction, God rolls up his sleeves and says, "everyone will need this, not just these two knuckleheads." Then he covers them with animal skin, a sacrifice, a foreshadowing of that ultimate redemption found in the blood of Christ shed for us.
Nowhere in this narrative is it implied that Adam and Eve "let" God cover them, though I suppose they did. They certainly could have run away, feeling so guilty over their transgression that they didn't feel worthy of God's presence. That was their first reaction after all. They also could've decided they liked their rebellious lifestyle and simply walk away from God.
But they didn't.
When confronted with a God who loved and cared for them, and even sought after them in the garden, they stayed. They moved toward him as he covered them up, replacing their fig leaf fashion faux pas, for the durable and sturdy fabric of God being with them always despite themselves.
God covers them. He saves them.
This is the God of the Holy Scriptures. He is the one who repeatedly saves, always preserving his people by providing rescue in situation after situation until finally Christ comes and we find that final, ultimate salvation in him.
It is God always doing the saving work.
It doesn't matter if Noah had to build an ark. It wasn't Noah's faith that saved him; it was God's desire to save Noah, that saved him. God said, "I am going to save you and your family, and I'm going to use an ark to do it." This is exactly what God does; slamming shut the door of the ark himself.
It wasn't Joseph's faith that saved his family from famine. It was God's desire to save them. Through circumstances no one could have anticipated, including Joseph, despite his faith, God used prideful youth, evil intentions, a dishonest woman and a prison, to save Joseph and his family.
It wasn't Moses faith that saved the Israelites; it was God's desire to bring them out of Egypt. To save them, he parted a sea, even as they complained, dropped food from on high, even as they grumbled and poured water from a rock, even as they desired at times to go back. Yes, they walked on dry ground between two pillars of water, and ate and were sustained by food and water from impossible places, but no one would attribute an ounce of working out their salvation to any footstep, bite or swig of water. This was God saving his people. Their response to it was to move, and they did.
The Word shows us the act of salvation is God's alone. Would we say it wasn't God that rescued His people in the book of Esther? Was it simply David's faith in one smooth stone that felled the giant? Then why pick up five? He'll use whatever he sees fit, to move people towards salvation. A march around Jericho, A fiery furnace. Seventy years of captivity. Marriage to a prostitute. Whatever will paint the picture of God's desire to love and save, he will do it.
We see God save in a variety of ways, but really, it's always only one way.
By grace alone. By faith alone. In Christ alone.
There is a mystery there. We see people move, and do, and respond, but we know it's God. We tend not to question or challenge it when it comes to the "old testament way" God worked, and I believe that is done in detriment to the Scriptures. We think, all those types and shadows are pictures of the Christ we now have, so the only thing we should be seeing is Christ now. This is true. Christ is the living embodiment of God doing the work of salvation entirely on his own.
Then we read new testament passages, like:
"When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and asked Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:37-38)
"Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 3:21)
I know the gut reaction is, "Are you telling me I need to be baptized to be saved?" My question to you, "What does Scripture say?" Don't rewrite it to make it more comfortable for you to reject what Scripture says. Just read it. We confirm Scripture with Scripture. If everything else tells us that God does the work to save us apart from ourselves, then God does the work here too. It doesn't contradict, it confirms. It confirms every work of God in the old testament.
It confirms salvation by ark. Salvation by stone. Salvation by walking and shouting around a wall. Salvation by imprisonment. Salvation by sea, food, and water. And salvation by animal skin. All salvation by God alone. God working salvation in all of it.
God alone works in the waters of baptism, whether you walk in, are carried in, are dunked under or had water trickle off your forehead.
We take God at his Word.
You are sealed and saved by God, just as Scripture states.
Just as he has always done.