I love God and I love His style; and He always seems to stoop down to deal with my hard head. My pastor used to talk about callings in life, “What we are called to do.” And I always appreciated the fact that he said he never heard an audible “calling” or voice thundering down from heaven. He not only did what he felt led to do, but also paid attention and studied what he was doing, knowing that God could reach down and turn him a different way if need be.
I operate that way and I get really frustrated with God sometimes. Why? Because I can be a talker at times, and I like it when the person I am talking to talks back. So, I say again to you that I pay attention when a topic keeps being raised and things in my life lead me back to that topic, because as of yet I haven’t heard an audible booming voice coming from heaven telling me exactly what to do. Let’s start with this scripture and a funny story.
Romans 10:9-10 (NASB)
9that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
You see a couple of days ago I kicked up BibleGateway and Romans 10:9-10 was the verse of the day. This grabbed my attention. Later that day, I turn on Pandora and, “low and behold,” the first song on was called “Baptism.” I said, “OK God, I’ll throw my hat into the ring.” Isn’t it stated that ‘In the mouth of two witnesses something is confirmed’? So, I am taking this as a sign that I need to put in my limited “two cents.”
The question is: “Is Baptism Necessary For Salvation?“
So I do what I always do – consult the Bible and then go Google it, check all of my research sources and talk to my sister. And I conferred with my Pastor Josh a couple weeks ago. Now, I must confess that this topic is something that I have never really contemplated and it has broadsided me a bit. Silly me, I assumed that you just said your profession of faith and then went to be dunked. But, as I have talked to people and have read in the last few weeks, I have found that there is a WHOLE debate stretching back a long time. I mean there are theories and what not. And people that are downright dyed-in-the-wool “baptism or hell” to “it’s the grace of Jesus and no “washy, washy, washy in the new blue Cheer” people. (That was a reference to the old commercial about Cheer. Thought I would throw that in to lighten the mood.) I am sorry if this is an irreverent tact, but it frankly ‘ticks’ me off a bit. I think Paul sums this up the best.
Galatians 2:19-21 (NASB)
19“For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. 20“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. 21“I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”
So my opinion is that when we turn the baptism thing into a way to salvation then you are rebuilding a “law” and making a “work” in order to obtain salvation. I am still working through this “works” thing, because to me, “believing and confessing with the mouth” to some is work. But, apparently, it can’t be because we don’t work and earn our salvation.
Also, The Christian Scribbler just reviewed Rob Bell’s book and touches on this idea about works.
“For example, “What saves someone?” Faith. “Well, isn’t faith an action, and hence a work.” No, something can be an action without being a work. The Israelites were not allowed to work on Sabbath, were they allowed to think? Sure. Were they allowed to love? Sure. Where they allowed to trust (that’s faith)? Sure. So, the big answer to all Bell’s rhetorical style questions is; we make it in by grace through faith, and faith is not a work. QED.” – from “Book Review: Rob Bell’s “Love Wins” (The Christian Scribbler)
Interesting things to think on that are contained in just a few lines of scripture. We know that Christ followed the Law to a “T”. Absolute perfection. He kept it so we didn’t have to. He gave us grace and took us in the kingdom, period. Thank God I don’t have to understand 100% to get in.
I found the following and I think it does a somewhat good job of saying what I am thinking. (Why reinvent the wheel.)
John 6:28-29 (NASB)
28Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” 29Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”
“…John 6:28-29 to support my view that belief is the only requirement for salvation. Do you realize that you’re also implying that Jesus was less than honest with the people who had asked the question “What is the work that God requires?” If ever He had an opportunity to lay out clearly everything that God needs from us, that was it. All He said was, “The work of God is this. Believe in the One He has sent.” If you’re right about the necessity for baptism to assure salvation, then Jesus didn’t tell them the full story, the thief on the cross didn’t go to paradise, and Paul was also wrong in Romans 10:9-10,13” ~ http://gracethrufaith.com/ask-a-bible-teacher/is-baptism-necessary-for-salvation/
Contemplate this passage of scripture.
John 6:35-40, 47-58 (NASB)
35Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. 36“But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe. 37“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.38“For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39“This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. 40“For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day…”
47“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.48“I am the bread of life. 49“Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50“This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51“I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” 52Then the Jews began to argue with one another, saying, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?” 53So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. 54“He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55“For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. 56“He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. 57“As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. 58“This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.“
Numbers 23:19 (NASB)
“God is not a man, that He should lie,
Nor a son of man, that He should repent;
Has He said, and will He not do it?
Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?
Once God has said something He keeps His word. That’s the only reason that we can trust Him. It’s not His power and everything He has done that makes God trustworthy. This ability to believe what He says, because He keeps his word, is what makes God different than any other religious figure in history. Jesus says, come to me and I won’t turn you away, just believe on me and have everlasting life. I don’t see where being dunked is a necessity to salvation. Again… the thief on the cross doesn’t bear that line of thinking out.
1 Corinthians 13:12 (NASB)
“For now we see in a mirror dimly, …”
Now we see things reflected off of a dim mirrored surface. We don’t even get a dim window. What do we get? A dim reflection that is hard to make out. We can hardly even make out ourselves. Yet we are going to make pronouncements on God and what He can do, like we can clearly see that we are 100% right. Can we make some pronouncements? Sure. Jesus said only by Me will anyone enter in. That means, to the people that have heard the gospel preached, “No Jesus, no heaven.” Buddha isn’t going to do it for you. LISTEN TO THIS »»»
Back to the topic of baptism. I can tell you that it is my current opinion that God is going to save you if you call out for salvation, water or no. As stated above, we have examples like the thief on the cross and Paul’s writing on the subject. Truly, the thief was not baptized in water, yet Jesus said, I’ll see you in paradise. I don’t know why the inclusion of baptism and then it’s not mentioned as much. And we have Paul with his “just call upon the Lord” preaching. Anyone with a link to a good explanation on the topic feel free to email it to me. I’ll look at both sides. I do know that I haven’t found any Christians, that I have come into contact with, that are flat out refusing to be baptized. I think you will want to be baptized if you are saved. I can’t explain it and quite frankly don’t want to argue about it. I will keep looking at this issue and, as I have confessed in the past, unlike some, I have no problem saying that I was off or wrong on an issue. If I have learned one thing in education, it’s that you can say, “I really don’t know right now, but I think this is right. Let me do some more research.”
I will say, however, that Paul tells us to not sin against our own conscience. If you feel like you need to be dunked, then go ahead and get dunked. I was baptized and think it is a good thing. I think the spirit will lead and guide you in all truths, and eventually you are going to get to the truth, either here on this Earth or over in Glory. Also Paul tells us to work out our faith with fear and trembling. Really think it through. I just pray that we can have a healthy discussion about this topic and others without sundering friendships and churches in the process.
Paul’s letter to Timothy, 1 Timothy Chapter 5 (the first few verses), tells us how we are to interact with each other. We should treat each other like family and not like strangers or acquaintances. I’ll be the first to admit though, sometimes brothers and sisters get into arguments. So don’t think topics are always going to be easy to get through. But, we don’t disown family for a disagreement or, at least, most of us don’t. In addition, Paul speaks loads about love and patience throughout his letters. Let’s deal with topics like these in a manner that honors this ideal. I mean, if Paul, Peter and James can slug it out and still remain in the same camp, we can too!
Grace and Peace,
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