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Question #375

Baptism is a physical act but faith is a mental act, right?

Baptismal remission advocates teach that Titus 3:5 does not apply to water baptism because it is a "work of righteousness that God does", not what man does. The meaning of "works" or "deeds" all through the N.T. is " to toil or work" (ergon). Can you please show us from Scripture the toiling that God did on the day that you were baptized? I contend that if water baptism is required upon man to be saved and this involves toiling (the baptizee and the baptizer), that it is indeed a " work of righteousness that we have done"; Man did the work to accomplished the task. John 6:29 cannot be equated to baptism because baptism is a PHYSICAL act while belief is a MENTAL act.

The Answer:

First, there is no definition of what is meant by “baptismal remission advocates.” If by that term you mean those who believe that baptism will save in the absence of faith and repentance (such as Roman Catholics who teach that infants who die without “baptism” (sprinkling) go to limbo and not to heaven, I cannot speak for them since the scripture does not teach that doctrine and I neither espouse it nor defend it. If by that term you mean those who contend that baptism for the remission of sins of a penitent believer is necessary to be saved, then your understanding is in error. Even the majority of people who do not believe in the necessity of baptism for salvation believe that Titus 3:5 refers to baptism. The verse does indeed refer to baptism and by itself (though there are many other verses) establishes that baptism is not a work of righteousness that man has done to earn salvation. It says very plainly that we are not saved by works of righteousness that we have done, but by the washing of regeneration (baptism) and renewing of the Holy Spirit. This can’t be misunderstood without expert help! Your contention that it is a work of righteousness that we have done is contrary to Titus 3:5 and does not make it so. As between your statement and Paul’s, I will take Paul’s. You should as well.

Your comment on John 6:29 is also in error. You seek to distinguish between the two on the basis that one is mental and the other is physical. Jesus described faith as a work. Should I take your word or Jesus’? You err in distinguishing based on the adjectives. VERBS are words of action, and even you admit that they are both acts. And they are. God does not believe; man believes.

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)