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Question #406

Why are you so focused on Water?

Why does every one that says baptism is necessary for salvation always say one must be baptized in water for remission of sins when scripture says that we are to be baptized in the name of Jesus for remission of sins? The focus always seems to be on the water. Why do you leave out the name of Jesus and focus on the water?

Acts 10:43 - To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.

I believe the remission of sins are (sic) in the name of Jesus and not the waters of baptism. I also believe Jesus said we are to baptize disciples, not make a disciple by baptism. There is a difference. One is obedience of faith and one could be an obedience of justification which is a dangerous doctrine to believe in.

The Answer:

This writer has sent an answer and not a question. This is true even though his beginning statement ends with a question mark. The assertion contained in the "question" is that "every one that says baptism is necessary for salvation always say (sic) one must be baptized in water for remission of sins when scripture says that we are to be baptized in the name of Jesus for remission of sins"? He expresses disagreement with statements but makes to effort to support his disagreements from scripture. Since there is no question we will address his assertions.

1. It really doesn't make any difference what "everyone" says unless scripture supports that which they say. Here not a single scripture is cited in support of his arguments. [Acts 10:43 will be discussed below.]

2. It is difficult to determine if he objects to baptism in water or to baptism in water that is not in the name of Jesus.

3. He appears to reject that baptism is for the remission of sins in paragraph 3, but admits in paragraph 1 that "scripture says that we are to be baptized in the name of Jesus for remission of sins." Most likely he misspoke in paragraph 1 because his purpose appears to be to discount the necessity of baptism for the remission of sins. In Paragraph 3 he asserts belief in "remission of sins in the name of Jesus" but he does not believe in the "remission of sins" in association with the waters of baptism. This is supported by the fact that he asserts that Jesus said we are to "baptize disciples," by which he obviously means those who are already saved. One might assume that if he had found such a verse in scripture where Jesus made such a statement he would have cited it. He did not, but the one that he perhaps had in mind will be addressed below.

4. He draws a difference between "obedience of faith" that is apparently baptizing those who are already saved, and obedience of justification that is apparently baptism for the remission of sins, which he describes as "a dangerous doctrine to believe in."

5. The one passage to which reference is made in support of his assertions is Acts 10:43. It is illogical to cite a passage that speaks of faith when seeking to establish the purpose of baptism. There are numerous passages that speak of baptism's purpose. Rather than repeating them here you may find them by searching through Questions and Answers or in Classes: Questions: Lesson 3. It is sufficient here to observe that after he has made all of his unsupported statements Mark 16:16 still says he that believes and is baptized shall be saved, Acts 2:38 still says that baptism is for the remission of sins, Acts 22:16 still says that baptism washes away sins, and 1 Peter 3:21 still saves us. Galatians 3:26-27 still says that one is baptized into Christ and thereby put on Christ. Those statements are too plain to be misunderstood by an honest soul with a mind to learn God's will. Put another way, if our writer is correct scripture clearly teaches "a dangerous doctrine to believe in."

6. The statement that he attributes to Christ is most likely Matthew 28:19 which is Matthew's account of the Great Commission. Perhaps the first thing that our writer ought to acknowledge is that Jesus said baptism was to be in the "name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." When Peter preached the first gospel sermon in Acts 2 he instructed those who cried out seeking that which they had to do to "repent and be baptized in the names of Jesus Christ." Peter, who was inspired by the Spirit that had fallen on the apostles that day, was not being disobedient to Christ. Christ was God and a representative of the trinity. The baptism was by the divine authority of Deity and created a relationship between the penitent believer and Deity.

The next thing our writer should notice is that the main verb in the verse is "make disciples," and it is so translated in most translations. Young's Literal Translation renders it "disciple the nations." Baptizing and teaching are participles that are subordinate to making disciples. This confirms that disciples were made by preaching and baptism. To discover how the apostles understood this instruction of the Lord go to the book of Acts. Acts 2:38, through Peter, was God's first inspired commentary on how that Great Commission was to be understood. It still reads: "And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

7. The last observation addresses the writer's distinction between "obedience of faith" and "obedience of justification." The phrase "obedience of justification" is not found anywhere in scripture. The phrase "obedience of faith" is found in Romans 1:5 and 16:26 (ASV). Both of those passages state that "obedience of faith" was to be made known to the nations. The latter passage reads: "25Now to him that is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which hath been kept in silence through times eternal, 26but now is manifested, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, is made known unto all the nations unto obedience of faith: 27to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory for ever. Amen. (Rom. 16:25-27). Nowhere in either passage or in the entire book of Romans is "obedience of faith" restricted to or applied to baptism after one's sins have already been forgiven. What Romans does say about baptism flatly contradicts our writer's assertion:

3Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4Therefore 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. 5For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: 6Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7For he that is dead is freed from sin (Rom. 6:3-7).

The baptism that Paul preached brought one "into Christ," "into his [Christ's] death," and "into death." Note that this is not Christ's death as in the prior phrase, but is the death of v. 7 that one must have to be "freed from sin." It is after this burial "into death" that one is resurrected – "raised to walk in newness of life.

This is consistent with Galatians 3:26-27, also written by Paul who coined the phrase "obedience of faith." An examination of these verses demonstrates that Paul's inspired understanding of the phrase is far different from that of our writer. Let's look at the whole passage:

26For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 27For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

These verses establish that becoming a child of God by faith includes baptism. Verse 27 defines how those who had faith became children of God and came into Christ. The phrase "as many of you" has a definite meaning in Greek and in English. It means "this many and no more." Dare say that our writer would understand the phrase if it said "as many of you as have been baptized into Christ will receive a billion dollars." Not an accountable person alive would claim the award before baptism and demand the money before baptism. It is sad that our writer does so with the greatest gift that man can receive.

The Bible does not teach that salvation is by baptism alone! It does teach that baptism is the last step to salvation preceded by hearing, believing, repenting, and confessing. All of this is discussed in other places on this website and will not be repeated here. Jesus combined believing and baptism in Mark 16:16 – "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned." The stock response to the passage bythose who reject the necessity of baptism is that Jesus did not mean that baptism was essential to salvation because he did not say "he that disbelieveth and is not baptized shall be condemned." That is like saying that the second 2 in 2+2 is not required to equal four because 2 - 0 does not equal 4. The true parallel is, "He that hath a first two and a second two has four; he that hath only the first two does not have four." The attempt to explain away Jesus' plain statement is both foolish and illogical. Jesus' declaration clearly says that belief and baptism equal salvation, but he that hath not faith shall be condemned. There was no need to add "and is not baptized." One who does not believe could not be baptized if he would, would not be baptized if he could, and if he did it would not do him any good.

Our writer, who clings to beliefs that are unsupported by scripture needs to read and believe the words of Jesus:

"He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my sayings, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I spake, the same shall judge him in the last day" (John 12:48.

These next words of Jesus, recorded in Matthew 7:21-27, were attributed to those who had faith in their faith but did not follow the will of the Father.

21Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy by thy name, and by thy name cast out demons, and by thy name do many mighty works? 23And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. 24Every one therefore that heareth these words of mine, and doeth them, shall be likened unto a wise man, who built his house upon the rock: 25and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and if fell not: for it was founded upon the rock. 26And every one that heareth these words of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand: 27and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and smote upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall thereof.

It is not the doctrine affirmed by that is dangerous!

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)