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Question #420

One more time - Baptism is a work, right?

I don't disagree at all about the verses you listed but you left other important verses out.  I believe one verse is as important as the next.  Romans 10:8-14. Romans 6:3 says we became Christians and were baptized.  It does not say we were baptized to become Christians.  I am not totally disagreeing with you but please look at it from my perspective.  If you start at Genesis and read thru Revelation placing your faith in Christ leads to salvation – Old and New Testament.  Romans 5:1 states we are made right in God’s sight by faith, not baptism. The scripture would have said baptism but it does not.  You said 5 seconds worth of work in baptism is not a work?  That is 5 seconds that Christ cannot take credit for saving you.  Romans 1:16; John 3:15; Romans 3:28.  Please take time to respond so I can understand this better.  I would not want to lead some one down the wrong road thinking that they can do something their self to receive salvation.  Thanks again.

The Answer:

Your response has a number of wrong conclusions, but they all arise from the same mistake. Your disagreement is on the purpose of baptism. Your response contains no verses that mention baptism. How can you learn about baptism without reading verses that at least mention it. The closest that you get is Rom. 6:3 and you misquote it. You assert that it says “we became Christians and were baptized.” Here is what the verse actually says (with verse 4 added): “Or are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him through baptism unto death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life.” Nowhere do I find that language you used. What I do find is that we are “baptized into Christ.” How can you be saved before you are in Christ and how can you be in Christ without coming into Him? Search the scriptures carefully and you will discover that every verse that speaks of coming “into Christ” attributes that moment to baptism (Rom. 6:3; Gal. 3:26-27). Notice that Rom. 6:4 places “walk[ing] in newness of life” after being “buried with him through baptism.” Once one is “in Christ” he is a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17). Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avail anything, but a new creature (Gal.6:15). Notice also that Gal. 3:26-27 not only says that we are “baptized into Christ,” but also that the same baptism is the manner in which we “put on Christ” or become clothed in Him. Your mistake is further emphasized in Gal. 3 by Paul’s introductory words in connection with baptism: “Or are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death…” What does that language mean? If it means what it says, it means “this many and no more.” All (this many and no more) who have done A (been baptized) have entered into B (in Christ and in His death). Those who have not done A (not been baptized) are therefore not in B (not in Christ and not in His blood). If as you claim you were saved before or without baptism you claim you were saved out of Christ and without being covered by His blood. Your position logically eliminates being in Christ and being covered by His blood unessential to your salvation. While you will reject that conclusion, you cannot logically avoid its consequences, and its consequences are eternal.

Jesus said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned (Mark 16:16). When you say that you do not believe that you have to be baptized to be saved, is the last half of that verse talking about you?

You have made the classic error of trying to learn the purpose of baptism by reading passages that deal with faith. It cannot be done. It can do at least two eternally deadly things: 1) It can, and to this point it has, blind you to the truth, and 2) it causes you to lead people down the road believing that they can be saved without obeying God.

Listen carefully to Titus 3:4-7: “But when the kindness of God our Saviour, and his love toward man, appeared, not by works done in righteousness, which we did ourselves, but according to his mercy he saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, which he poured out upon us richly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that, being justified by his grace, we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” This is one of the few passages that mentions both faith and baptism, and maybe the only passage that mentions works, mercy, baptism, and grace. Admittedly the passage does not use the word “baptism”; however, many scholars who are not members of the church of Christ agree that “the washing of regeneration” is a reference to baptism. Still Paul says that, baptism included, salvation is not by “works of righteousness that we have done.” Thus, baptism is not included in the “works” by which men try to earn salvation. It is humble obedience to God’s command and salvation is still by faith, mercy, and grace.

Listen to that which Paul was told to do Acts 22:16: “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on his name.” Nothing can be plainer than that “washing away thy sins” is accomplished by baptism. Reject it if you will, but you can no longer say that you were without knowledge of the purpose of baptism from verses that talk about it.

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)