Faith that isn't tested isn't faith. We are indeed saved by faith and not works, but a faith without works is a dead faith and that won't save anyone. If I say I have 1 million pounds in the bank, you can say you believe me as much as you like, but how do I know you really do believe me without some sort of test? So here's the test: I give you a cheque for 1 million pounds. And by the way you happen to be living in a country where you owe a debt of 1 million pounds, and the penalty for failing to pay is death (actually eternal death in the lake of fire). Now you can tell the judge you believe that some kind benefactor (not me actually, but God) has given you a cheque for 1 million pounds as much as you like and you're not lying at all. (Aside: the benefactor is the judge, and that's God). You didn't earn the 1 million pounds. God did. But if you don't pay the cheque into your bank (get baptised), you won't be able to use a single penny of that money, and so you'll be condemned to death. Paying the cheque into the bank (getting baptised) didn't earn you the money and the faith to believe that you needed to pay the cheque into the bank as well as the strength to do so are both gifts of God. Grace and works are not enemies, but friends:
10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
(1 Cor 15.10)
Doing work (i.e. being baptised means that the grace is not in vain i.e. faith isn't woolly, but concrete. It accomplishes something. The word which is sown bears fruit if the hearers have a root and receive it, as the Lord explains in the parable of the sower:
18 Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.
19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.
20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;
21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.
22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.
23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
It is faith in something, or rather someone: in God and His Word: His Son. If we believe His words, this means we act accordingly, or else how can we believe? In this case, we're believing the opposite of God' words, just like Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. Now, if you don't pay the cheque into the bank and you say you believe you have a cheque for 1 million pounds and God's paid your debt, there are only 2 conclusions:
You are lying and you don't believe the cheque for 1 million pounds in genuine.
you don't understand how the banking system works. This is true of many, as The Lord warned us in the first verse of the parable of the sower (which I repeat) and 2 other places:
18 “Therefore hear the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside.
46 “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say? 47 Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: 48 He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock.[h] 49 But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell.[i] And the ruin of that house was great.”
48 He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. 50 And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.”
(John 12. 48-50)
16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
Don't allow the devil to deceive you into thinking you will be ok if you ignore God's words spoken by His Son on baptism as he deceived Eve into thinking it was a good idea to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, against God's express command, which she even quoted (you can quote God's Word as much as you like. If it's a command, and you disobey it, it won't help you in the slightest to quote it. What's required is obedience):
3 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
Remember also this:
21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
28 And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine:
29 For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
The subject of the thief on the cross and Yahshua forgiving people 'without the need for actions on their part' is very interesting.
39 And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.
40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?
41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.
42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.
Notice the following:
- the thief on the cross did do something. He challenged the other thief who was deriding The Lord. These words obviously came out of the abundance of his heart. In his heart, he believed The Lord had done nothing wrong and even that He was a king, but much more importantly:
The thief on the cross and the other people referred to were forgiven before Yahshua died on the cross, before He'd risen and issued the following command "...Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." (Mark 16.15-16)
Even the man let down through the roof who was healed and forgiven was instructed to do something:
2 And again He entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in the house. 2 Immediately[a] many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And He preached the word to them. 3 Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. 4 And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying.
5 When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.”
6 And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
8 But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, “Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic, 11 “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” 12 Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”
Note that it was when Yahshua saw their faith, that He responded. It's impossible to please God without faith, and faith is something God can see, because what we believe is shown by how we act. It wasn't the man's strength that healed him. It was the grace of God that gave him the power to walk, but nevertheless he walked! In the same way, it isn't our strength which gives us forgiveness and strength when we get baptised, but we still get baptised and thereby appopriate what Yahshua did on the cross! It's the grace of God that made the man walk and it's the grace of God that makes people get baptised. If we could be saved without being baptised, then why in Mark 16.16 are we told that Yahsua said "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned"? Not because God's contradicting Himself (He's not), but because it's perfectly true that he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. Never disagree with anything Yahshua said: your eternal salvation depends on it. Getting baptised doesn't mean we saved oursleves by our own work, since it's the goodness of God which leads us to get baptised and the grace of God which empowers us to. Grace doesn't mean you don't do anything. It means you do impossible things and you don't get the glory: God does, but you still do the stuff and you feel great beacuse God has glorified you too (Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified, (Romans 8.30)), as you are abiding in His Son, who has been, is being and will be glorified. I ask people who think that noone's perfect so we can just sin as we please and still get to heaven this question: did The Son of God die on the cross to make us imperfect? Of course not:
21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
(1 Cor 5.21)
What does righteousness mean? Clearly it means doing what is right, not what is wrong. That doing what is right takes place by the grace of God, but it still takes place.
9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals,[a] nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
(1 Cor 6.9-11)
13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
To respond to the note that the question is about GRACE rather than FAITH, I quote Paul again:
5 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.