Home> The Lower Lights> February 2006

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  Alan Jones, Editor

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"Brightly beams our Father's mercy

From the lighthouse evermore;

But to us He gives the keeping

Of the light along the shore."

       Published monthly by the church of Christ, 35900 Palmer Road, P.O. Box 86-233, Westland, MI  48186     

Volume 5                                                                   February 2006                                                                                 No8 

 

BAPTISM IS FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS

 

Almost every “Christian” group teaches and practices something that they call “baptism”. As we have noted in the previous two issues, most of these “baptisms” are not Scriptural “baptisms” at all because 1) immersion is not practiced and 2) believing sinners are not the ones being “baptized”. As surely as most “Christians” are in error concerning what baptism is and who should be baptized, they are in error as to why a person should be baptized.

Some teach and practice baptism as a church ritual. Baptism officially places people into a denomination and enables them to be received into fellowship by a local church of that denomination. Others teach that people are saved by believing- by just “accepting Jesus as their personal Savior”. Baptism is something people do after they are saved to show that they have been saved already- as an “outward sign of an inward grace.”

But, let us see what Jesus has to say about the purpose of baptism. Men have no right to make laws for us, for God has given Jesus ALL authority. Jesus told His apostles, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” (Mt 28:18-19) Jesus commands baptism. You and I must be baptized because He says so.

  Why does Jesus command us to be baptized? For what purpose does He order us to be immersed in water? In Acts 2, Peter preached to the Jews who had crucified Jesus. Some of them saw their terrible mistake and what it had done to their relationship with God. They felt the pain of guilt. They asked Peter what they could do. He replied that they should repent and be baptized “for the forgiveness of their sins”.

The phrase “for the forgiveness of sins” is also found in Mt 26:28 where Jesus instituted His Supper and said of the cup, “This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” If we can understand that Jesus shed His blood for the purpose of the forgiveness of sins, then we can understand that to receive the benefits of His blood, a person must be baptized for the purpose of the forgiveness of their sins. As surely as forgiveness became available after Jesus shed His blood, forgiveness is received after a person has repented of their sins and been immersed in water.

Do you believe that your sins put Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God on the cross? Won’t you be moved by your faith to get rid of your burden of guilt? Won’t you repent of your sins? Then apply Ananias’ words of encouragement to Saul to yourself, “Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.” (Acts 22:16)

BAPTISM IS A CONDITION OF SALVATION

If baptism results in the forgiveness of sins, then it is only logical that it results in salvation. Why are men “lost”? They are separated from God because of their sins. When their sins are washed away in baptism, then they can be reconciled to God and are therefore “saved” from the consequences of their sins.

Jesus said, “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” (Mk 16:16) However, many read Jesus’ statement and still refuse to accept that baptism is necessary for salvation. They argue that if baptism is necessary, why didn’t Jesus say, “he who has disbelieved and has not been baptized shall be condemned”. Is this a valid argument? Consider the following illustration.

Radio stations have contests from time to time to promote listening. A typical promotion might be, “Be the ninth caller and give us the correct answer to our question and we will give you an all expenses paid trip to the Bahamas.” We could state it this way, “The one who is the ninth caller and gives the correct answer shall be sent to the Bahamas, but the one who does not call shall remain at home.”

In order to win the trip to the Bahamas, two conditions must be met- 1) be the ninth caller, 2) give the correct answer. To insure that you stay home, just don’t call the station. If you don’t call, it is a given that you will not fulfill the second condition to win the prize- you will not give the

  correct answer.

In order to be saved from sin, two conditions must be met- 1) believe and 2) be baptized. To insure that you will be condemned, just don’t believe the gospel and its message that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God who died for your sins. If you don’t believe, it is a given that you will not fulfill the second condition to be saved- you will not be baptized.

When a person believes and is baptized, they do not deserve salvation any more than one who is the ninth caller to the radio station and gives the correct answer deserves a trip to the Bahamas. In both cases, the one who met the conditions received a gift. In the second case, the radio station paid all the expenses. In the first case, Jesus paid all the expenses by His death on the cross. But in either case, no one can receive the gift without meeting the conditions laid down by the giver of the gift.

A person anxious to go to the Bahamas would call just as soon as the phone lines were open. What would a person do who was anxious to be saved? A jailer from Philippi and his family were baptized in the same hour of the night (sometime after midnight!) when they learned of Jesus and believed. (Acts 16:32-33). Salvation from your sins through the blood of Jesus is the most important gift you could ever receive. Shouldn’t you be anxious to receive it? If you believe in Jesus, why not be baptized IMMEDIATELY?



 

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