What about Baptism?
Baptism is a burial (Romans 6:3-4) in water (Acts 8:36-38) of one who believes that Jesus is the Christ (Acts 8:12-13). This sounds like a lot of work. Why would one want to expend the effort to be baptized? Quite simply, one who believes in Christ, repents of his sins, confesses his Lord, and is baptized for the forgiveness of his sins is saved.
This explanation shows that the modern practice of baptismal regeneration is contrary to New Testament teaching. Baptismal regeneration is the belief that baptism is a “sacrament” that has a mysterious, innate power to remove the contamination of sin independent of personal faith and a voluntary submission to God’s plan of redemption.
Baptism alone never saved anyone. But Scriptural baptism introduces a person into several relationships.
- Relation to the Godhead. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” – Matthew 28:19. This final commission of the Lord to His disciples shows the importance of baptism in His plan of salvation for the whole world.
Baptism “into the name of” Christ means that one becomes the possession of Christ. The most highly respected dictionary of New Testament words says, “Through baptism into the name of one those who are baptized become the possession of and come under the dedicated protection of the one whose name they bear” – Bauer, Danker, Arndt, Gingrich Lexicon, p. 713. Scriptural baptism brings us into a sacred relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
- Relation to salvation. “And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” – Mark 16:15-16.
Jesus says a certain “He” will be saved. What “he” can claim this promise? The Lord states two conditions: “He who believes and is baptized.” He states one result that follows this response: “will be saved.”
What would we do if we heard this offer? “From Detroit today: General Motors announced that who-ever believes and is baptized will receive a new car; those who do not believe will not receive one.” Would there be any doubt about the conditions we must meet to receive the car? The Lord is just as plain.
- Relation to sins. “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’” – Acts 2:38.
Jesus earlier explained His role in the remission of sins. “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” – Matthew 26:28. Our role is to repent and be baptized “for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38).
- Lord: Blood for remission of sins, Matthew 26:28
- Sinner: Baptism for remission of sins, Acts 2:38
Acts 2 agrees with Acts 22:16, where Ananias instructs Saul of Tarsus, “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” Saul has already believed and repented, yet he still has sins that need to be washed away. The baptism that washes away sins is the same baptism that brings the remission of sins (Acts 2:38).
- Relation to death of Christ. “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” – Romans 6:3-4.
What is baptism “into Christ”? “To be baptized into Christ is for Paul an involvement in Christ’s death and its implications for the believer” –Bauer, Danker, Arndt, Gingrich, 164.
Philip Schaff, a respected Presbyterian historian, said, “into the death must be closely connected with baptism into the death of Christ for the appropriation of its full benefit, viz., the remission of sins and reconciliation with God” – Lange X 202.
Dean Alford, a highly regarded Anglican scholar, said, “were baptized into (introduced by our baptism into a state of conformity with and participation of) His death” – II, p. 367.
- Relation to works. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” – Titus 3:5.
Some charge that baptism is salvation by works. But there is a difference in works of man’s own righteousness and works of righteousness that God requires (Titus 3:5). This passage clearly says that we are not saved by works in righteousness (works of merit), but adds that we are saved by washing of regeneration – an obvious reference to baptism. Consider these impartial references –
- “through the water of rebirth” (NRSV).
- “through the bath of regeneration” –Williams; Goodspeed (Baptist translators).
- “the bath that brings about regeneration” Tit 3:5 – Bauer, Danker, Arndt, Gingrich, 603. Spicq, a French scholar, quotes Ambrose (died A. D. 397) who “comments accurately: ‘The father has begotten you by the washing’” (II.414).
When the Corinthians ate unleavened bread and drank the fruit of the vine, they ate approved elements, but it was not the Lord’s supper (1 Corinthians 11:20). A faulty purpose defeats an action’s intended results.
When Paul met men in Ephesus who had been baptized with John’s baptism, though they had used the proper element (water) and purpose (for the remission of sins), it was not the Lord’s baptism. They had to be baptized correctly (Acts 19:1-7). It is not enough to say, “I was baptized.” Purpose matters to the Lord.
- Rick Duggin
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