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
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
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)
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
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
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?