BAPTISM QUESTIONS ANSWERED by Pastor Earl Thomas
Intro: I want to show you six things that others say about the purpose of baptism and why they are wrong and Baptists are right.
The erroneous claims of some churches involves the very most important doctrine of the bible which is how to be saved. They teach that: “Baptism is ESSENTIAL to a persons salvation.” Their proof verses:
I. They say one must, Believe and be baptized to be saved. Mark 16:16 “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Many of our problems of disagreement come because of what we do or do not see in a verse, or in being unable to understand an example to illustrate it.
Much of our belief system today has been influenced by the false teachings of the Roman Catholic church, and others. Baptismal regeneration is one of them.
Roman Catholic doctrine says: "The Church does not know of any other means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude..." Pg. 320, #1257 "The faithful are born anew by Baptism..." Pg. 311, #1212 "Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, and are incorporated into the Church..." Pg. 312, #1213
"Baptism not only purifies from all sins, but also makes the neophyte 'a new creature,' an adopted son of God, who has become a 'partaker of the divine nature,' member of Christ and co-heir with him, and a temple of the Holy Spirit." Pg. 322, #1265 "By Baptism all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin." Pg. 321, #1263 (See pg. 257, #985)
The Church of Christ claims: “ Baptism is extremely important because the New Testament sets forth the following purposes for it:
In many church statements of doctrinal beliefs, they teach that baptism is required in order to place one into Christ and bestow salvation upon them. This belief, not supported in the Bible, caused the error of infant baptism. From that error came another, sprinkling instead of immersion to make it more convenient to baptize babies, and especially those physically incapable to immersion. By believing that one cannot go to heaven without baptism had led to many errors and gross neglect of what the Bible actually says about salvation and baptism.
This first so called proof text which they suppose supports the idea of salvation by baptism can be understood differently. Please note that the emphasis is NOT put on the baptism, but on BELIEVING. “He that believeth NOT shall be damned.” If baptism is essential, they why wouldn’t Jesus have said, “He that believeth not and is baptized not shall be damned.”?
Baptism was important as an outward identification of one who has come to believe and trust Jesus as Savior. It was a necessary act to show ones personal faith in the Christ and to picture his own death to sin, burial and resurrection to a new life. It is an expression of our new creature status in Christ, but it doesn’t make us a new creature.
Our motive for baptism is an important consideration. Should one be baptized because he thinks it is necessary to complete his personal salvation and should he trust in it to literally wash away his sins? Or should one be baptized as an act of obedience to the command to be baptized and as a desire to show forth in this picture his faith in a crucified, buried and risen Savior? Baptists believe this latter motive to be the correct and Biblical one.
An illustration why may be seen in this example: I need to get to downtown Lexington. I don’t have a car, so I go to the bus stop. The driver stops and offers to pick me up and carry me all the way down town. He says, “I can get you there and you don’t have to do a thing. Just get on board and sit down. There is no charge, the fair from this point to down town Lexington has been paid for by down town merchants. It is free to you, but costly to them. All you have to do is accept the offer and believe that I can do what I’ve promised. Okay! So I get on the bus and sit down. Question.....does my sitting down have anything at all to do with my getting to the desired destination? Of course NOT. What does? GETTING ON THE BUS! Sitting down is optional. During busy travel times there may be no room for some to be seated, but they get to their destination regardless... simply because they get on the bus!
How does one get into Christ who can take us to heaven without our good works? Some contend that it is by baptism. But the Bible says, Rom 5:2 “By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”
II. They say, Baptism gets you into Christ (newness of life). Rom 6:3-10 “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.”
How does baptism get one into Christ? Baptist believe it is not literally, but in a figure or picture. “Likeness of” is not literal, but pictorial. Anything that is a likeness of something, isn’t really anything more that a likeness. It is not the real thing. For instance, a photograph of your mother is a likeness of her, it is not she. A painting of a beautiful sunset is only a likeness. It is NOT a sunset.
Why would anyone be led to interpret baptism as a literal placing one into Christ’s death, when Paul plainly state that is only “a likeness.”? When Paul tells us that we were baptized “into his death” he is saying that it was “with reference to” his death. The Greek word used is “eis,” which can be translated: for, into, because of, or with reference to. A less confusing translation from the original Greek, in which the New Testament was written, would be “ baptized with reference to Jesus Christ were baptized with reference to his death.”
Words have more than one meaning in their definitions. Also, words carry different shades of meaning to individuals, so that communication becomes difficult if what one person says is not exactly understood by what other people interpret their words to mean. People can come to agreement sometimes just by clarifying their words to others. Then other times there is no communication possible because of closed minds.
III. They claim, People must repent and be baptized for the remission of sins. Acts 2:38 “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
The same meaning given for the Greek preposition “eis”, is here applied. It can be translated “for, unto, because of or with reference to.” What Peter is saying in the Greek language for those who asked what they must do, is to repent, and be immersed in the name of Jesus Christ because of or with reference to the remission of their sins. Baptists believe the Bible teaches that repentance brings the remission, not the baptism. Here the Gr. Prep. “Eis” is translated in the English, “for”, but the true meaning of the word is meant to convey “because of” the remission of sins. Be baptized because your sins have been remitted because of your repentance/faith.
It is also stated in our confession of faith that we believe repentance and faith to be inseparable graces. When one is the other is too. Where there is real repentance, there is genuine faith in Christ.
Luke 24:47 “And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”
Acts 10:43 “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.”
Romans 3:25 “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;”
The example of repentance that Jesus sighted is helpful in understanding this. Luke 11:32 “The men of Nineve shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.” This word “at” is in the Greek “eis”. The same word used in Acts 2:38. Question: Did Nineve repent “for, or in order to” get Jonah to preach to them? Or did Nineve repent “because of” Jonah’s preaching?
In everyday usage we use the preposition “for” to mean “because of” or “with reference to.”
Example: I went to the doctor “for” a cold. Did I go in order to get a cold, or because of a cold I already had? I went to jail “for” a law violation. Did I go in order to violate a law? Or did I go “because of” a law already violated? Baptists believe that Acts 2:38 is understood in this way.
I know that perhaps a majority of what is usually called “Christendom” does not believe what I’ve just stated. The majority is not always correct. Each person has to decide for themselves based upon their individual willingness to see the truth, and not be influenced by preconceived notions or erroneous church traditions. Many people will never have the same understanding that the Lord has given Baptists. Others are, 2 Tim 3:7 “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
Another question. If baptism literally saves and washes away our sins, then does it matter what a person believes about what has happened or not, when they were baptized? Probably not. If you say I must be baptized in order to be saved, and I say that I don’t have to be baptized in order to be saved, what is the result? If I repent and be baptized, no matter what I think about it, I’ve done what you say I must do in order to be saved. So, I must be ready to meet the Lord.
But if I am correct that baptism does not literally save, but you are baptized trusting in it to cleanse you from sin and put you into Christ, then you have trusted in a false hope that cannot save. You trusted in that which was a “figure” instead of the real Christ. And no matter how you look at it, you trusted in the wrong thing to save you. If you are saved at all, it will be in spite of yourself and through God elective grace.
IV. They say, Baptism washes away sins. Acts 22:16 “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” Here again is an expression to be taken figuratively, not literally. How can water wash away sins and transgressions charged against us? Paul wasn’t told by Ananias to repent and to believe the gospel in order to be saved, he had already done that. What Paul needed to do was accept a baptism that pictured his experience on the road to Damascus. That Paul had repented is clearly seen by his question to Jesus, “what shall I do?” The answer was to go seek one to administer believers baptism.
V. They claim You must be baptized to put on Christ. Galatians 3:26-27 “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Baptized into is the same as the other places where the Greek “eis” is used. “Baptized with reference to”, or “because of” Christ, have put on Christ.” You see, we are baptized with reference to His having died on the cross for our sins, buried, and risen for our justification.
Our baptism doesn’t procure this, but it does picture it.
VI. The affirm, that Baptism saves. 1 Peter 3:20-22 “Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.”
Peter is not advocating that baptism saved Noah’s family, and that therefore it can save ours. Actually, the water never touched Noah’s family. The salvation of Noah’s family was God’s work to save the human race from extinction by the flood. Noah’s family was saved because they were in the ark, they were saved “from” the water, not “by” it. The figure of water speaks of death, not life; destruction, not preservation. The Ark was lifted up in safety by the waters, just as water baptism lifts up in a symbol/picture of Christ dying for our sins, placed in a watery grave, then raised to life again, in whom the believer has trusted as his ark of salvation. .
How was it that Peter says the waters saved Noah’s family? In a “figure.” A figure is only a symbol not a literal saving. Our baptism is the response we make with a “good conscience toward God.” Our believers baptism shows in a figure how that Christ died, was buried, and rose again. That is what we identify with. Our baptism shows our faith in what Christ has done for us. Baptists believe that baptism saves us in a “figure.”
Is there a single verse that teaches we can be saved without water baptism? Yes, more than one.
Acts 16:31 “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
John 6:40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
Luke 8:12 Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.
Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
Romans 10:12-14 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” No mention of baptism.
Now, dare anyone say that “believing” on Christ is not enough?
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