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Question #284

I have questions about baptism and the name of the church.

On your page of the plan of salvation you say that the Church of Christ is not the name of the church but that it is the description of the church, correct. Your church I noticed is the Katy Church of Christ. This by all means sounds like a name. Shouldn’t it just be the Church of Christ?

If the gospel is the good news of salvation and baptism is part of the plan of salvation and it is essential to salvation please explain why Paul would say that Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel. Why would Paul not even remember some of the people he baptized? 1Cor 1:16-17.

Please explain the entire Chapter of Gal 3. I see nowhere that Paul mentions baptism.
Also explain Eph. 2:1-10. We are saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone as it is so plainly stated.

I by no means intend to try to argue with you or make you ill toward me. I just want a answer that is not evading my points, and if you don’t find it worth the time I understand.

The Answer:

Thank you for your questions. Rest assured that they are not taken as being argumentative nor do they make us ill toward you. I assume that you are an honest inquirer and that upon reading the answers given here and elsewhere on this website you will submit to the Lord’s commands and become a New Testament Christian.

1. The sign on the church property is a means of letting people know that a church of Christ meets in that place. It is a description of the assembly that meets in Katy. Simply put, it is another way of saying “the church of Christ in Katy.” While that might be, and I think is a better way of saying it, it does no violence to scripture to put “Katy” first. That which follows describes the church as the church that belongs to Christ.

2. Paul’s primary commission was to preach the gospel. There were many others who could take care of baptizing penitent believers. Paul proclaimed; others baptized. Jesus did the same thing in his ministry. See John 4:1. Paul did baptize some as you read in 1 Corinthians. Verse 16 does not necessarily mean that Paul had forgotten the names of others; it could also mean that he does not recall baptizing any others. However, even if your assumption is correct, the fact that Paul only baptized and few and others baptized the rest say absolutely nothing about the purpose for which they were baptized. If you want to know that purpose you need to read passages that state that purpose. I trust that you are not suggesting that some in the New Testament were baptized for one purpose and others were baptized for another purpose. That would be “two baptisms” and contradict Ephesians 4:5 which declares “one baptism” as one of the seven unities of the Christian faith. Finally, it is not unusual for a preacher not to remember the names of all of those whom he baptized, either in person or those who responded to his preaching but were baptized by others. I preached in many meetings where people came to be baptized. The local preacher handled the taking of the confession and the baptism. I heard their names at the time, but have long since forgotten them. To use this fact as an argument against baptism’s being essential to the remission of sins (Acts 2:38) or to “wash away sins” (Acts 22:16) is more than a stretch, it is an argument of desperation by those who have no answer to the passages that speak of baptism’s purpose.

3. Galatians 3 is a beautiful chapter. In it Paul is seeking to keep the Galatians from turning back from the gospel to the Law of Moses. He argues that if the Mosaic Law could have saved there would have been no need for Christ. In establishing that truth he speaks of God’s promise to Abraham that was made before the law and the righteousness that Abraham received by promise and not by law. Nevertheless, the law served a good purpose – it was added because of transgression until the seed should come to whom the promise was made. Even so, the law was not against the promise of God; having been added because of transgression, it concluded all under sin that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. The Law served as a schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ that we might be justified by faith. It is important to notice that it does not say, neither does the Scripture say in any other place, that justification is by faith alone. The only time that expression is used, it has a “not” in front of it. (James 2:24 (“not by faith only.”) [Please see the discussion of that passage at: Class: James and Jude, Lesson 5.]

Finally, you say that you did not read anything about baptism in Galatians 3. Unfortunately, you failed to read the entire chapter. In Galatians 3:26-27 Paul declares how the Galatians became children of God by faith in Jesus Christ – they reached that point in a manner that included Great Commission baptism: “26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” The expression “as many of you as have been baptized into Christ” is clear – it means “this many and no more.” All who were baptized into Christ put on Christ; no more than those came either came into Christ or put him on. Paul was not contradicting himself; he teaches that baptism is essential to entering Christ and putting him on. Are you prepared to take the position that one can be saved without being in Christ or putting on Christ? If not, you are ready to be baptized into Christ and to put him on in baptism.

4. Ephesians 2:1-10 is the final passage about which you inquire. Concerning this passage you state that “We are saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone as it is so plainly stated.” Your paraphrase is inaccurate – the verses don’t say that one is saved by anything “alone.” You should not read into the passage that which you wish were there. If you wish to study the place of baptism in the scheme of redemption you should read Lesson on Baptism, and Questions and Answers, Nos. 4, 27, 60, 81, 84, 117, 122, 125, 141, 120, 208, and 215.

But some comments on these verses in Ephesians are in order as well. The passage does not say that we are “saved by faith,” but that we are saved “by grace … through faith.” That is not pointed out to quibble, but to again demonstrate that there is always a tendency to read what one thinks is there rather than what is there. This passage, of course, does not mention baptism. We do know, however, that some early converts in Ephesus were baptized. Acts 19:1-5. Baptism is not a work within the meaning of Ephesians 2. Read Class: Questions, Lesson 3. Please read it all, but section 3 beginning at the bottom of page 17 is directly relevant. Class: James and Jude, Lesson 5. Again, please read it all. A discussion of the meaning of “works” by Paul and James begins at paragraph numbered “1)” on page 4. Titus 3:4-7, written by the same Paul who wrote Ephesians 2:1-10, declares: “4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; 7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” The “washing of regeneration” is baptism according to all responsible scholars. Man is not saved by works within the meaning of Ephesians 2:9 and Titus 3:5; Man is saved by the washing of regeneration (baptism); therefore, the washing of regeneration (baptism) is not a work within the meaning of Ephesians 2:9 and Titus 3:5.

I trust that you will not find these answers evasive, but should you do so please respond with the reasons you think they are evasive and I will try to satisfy your objections. You should also respond with your reasons why you think that these answers are in error, if you so think.

God's Plan of Salvation

You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)

You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)

You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)

You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)

Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)