On the Topic of Baptism

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. 51I 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,

S

~

The opinions, beliefs & viewpoints expressed by the various authors on this website do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs & viewpoints of Trinity Press or The Truth Foundation.

15 thoughts on “On the Topic of Baptism”

  1. Jared says:

    I stumbled onto this. Very thoughtful.
    So what do you do with 1 Peter 3:20-21?

    1 Peter 3:20-22 (New American Standard Bible)

    20who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water.

    21Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you –not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience–through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

    22who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him.

    1. Baron Nor says:

      I think that is the baptism of the spirit. The water would remove the “dirt” like a bath. I think like Paul was saying about the one convert who had to get re-baptized, because he was baptized in the apostle’s name, but not of Jesus/God. He was showing ownership of his life. I think baptism symbolizes something, just like communion. I think it takes a spiritual baptism to save.

      If a work we can do would save, then grace is null and void, and it is us doing the work of “baptizing” that would save. In my opinion, that is saying it was the water that saved, and not in this case Noah’s faith and God’s grace. Noah found ‘grace’.

      It’s what Paul says in Romans, “He who cries out to the Lord is saved.”

      Romans 10:8 But what does it say? “THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART”–that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, 9 that 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; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

      That’s my current stance on the subject in a nutshell, no water connected to God’s grace and salvation needed. I point to the thief on the cross. Did they die after Jesus? If after, then they died New Testament covenant people. Isn’t it possible that that is the point Jesus was trying to make? He’s all you need?

      I think baptism has a place, and as Spurgeon said, “Just because a thing is not essential, does not make it less important.” And again, I don’t want anyone to sin against their own conscience. If you feel your stance is right, then like I am doing, look at all the angles, and if it need be I will change or alter my stance if proven in error in some way.

      I appreciate the comment. Just like everyone else, I’m working out my faith with fear and trembling.

      Grace and Peace to you,

      S

  2. Kliska says:

    Matthew 3:11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:

    Obviously there’s two type of baptism; one with water, and one with the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost version is not shown to be in connection with water. I too think the efficacious baptism is the baptism of the Holy Ghost, water baptism being an outward sign or symbol.

  3. Baron Nor says:

    This was sent to me by a learned man, so I thought I would share this little tidbit.

    Quoted: “For by grace you have been saved through faith/ and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works so that no one may boast. Eph. 2:8-9.

    So faith is not a work, but it also is a gift, just like grace.

    If water is needed then Christ needs us to complete salvation, we can boast that Christ perfect life/sacrifice lacked.”

    Something to think on as well,

    S

  4. Josh says:

    Interesting stuff. I love it.

    I will throw this into the circle. There is not two baptisms. Paul makes that very clear in Ephesians. Ephesians 4:4 “There is one body, and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope at your calling. 5. one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6. one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.”
    If there are 2 baptisms why would Paul say in Ephesians that there is only 1. If he is referring to a baptism in the Spirit, (which is not seen in Scripture apart from water), then why would the Apostles teach and practice water baptism at all.
    To refer to baptism as a work of man or a work of the law is not having a correct view of the Scriptures.
    Colossians 2:9 – 14
    For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men, but with the circumcision done by Christ. having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. When you were dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away nailing it to the cross.
    God does the work in baptism not us. We have been buried with Christ in baptism, and raised with him through our faith. It is our faith and God’s work in baptism.
    I love this conversation,
    Josh

  5. Kliska says:

    Circumcision is a perfect example of something that is not required for salvation, since the circumcision of the heart is what is efficacious…not the physical removal of “excess” (sorry brothers) skin. In the same way, it is the faith that proceeds water baptism that is efficacious, not the dipping in the water itself.

    Paul also says there is one faith, one baptism, this statement is only true if we are talking about one TRUE faith, and one TRUE baptism…what I mean by this is, there are obviously different faiths, so to take Paul too literally would be a misinterpretation. The main question, then is which baptism is the true baptism? We absolutely need to be baptized into Christ, the question is; is it water baptism, the actual act, that baptizes us into Christ. This would also be referenced as salvation. Also, note that Christ doesn’t baptize the way John did or with what John did; John baptized with water.

    Salvation is by grace through faith, not through any physical act. If physical act was involved in grace, then man could boast that the physical act they performed was effective in saving them, or added to the finished work of Christ on the cross.

  6. Jared says:

    Maybe there is some confusion (not by you or me or anyone in particular, but in general) about that which we are debating. If the question is, “Is it possible for God to save someone in the absence of immersion?” I would answer “YES!”. Much like I believe God CAN impart the gift of tongues or healing (maybe I’m opening another can of worms here) still today, I don’t believe he does as often as is claimed in the American church.

    SO… I will now hesitantly quote John McCarthur, whom I respect but do not always agree with.

    The cost of immersion in the first century was high and people who weren’t serious in their commitment to Christ wouldn’t have been willing to pay it. There was no way they would risk being alienated from their entire culture and perhaps lose their life. It was inseparable of salvation.

    Can one be saved without immersion? God can do all things. But Scripture certainly doesn’t show it as the “norm”. I recently heard a quote (sorry, I can’t place where) that anyone who is asking “how little of Jesus can I have and still be saved” probably doesn’t have enough to be. Simply said, if someone is not willing to be obedient to immersion, one might call into question the “faith” he or she claims to have that saves them.

    I find it hard to separate immersion and salvation.

  7. Kliska says:

    I appreciate the sentiment that God can indeed save someone without baptism, but if that is true, then it isn’t necessary for salvation. As an example of this, and touching upon what was said; it wasn’t the norm for the span of the OT, not baptism as such. God is no respecter of persons, and has always actually been after one thing; faith. Abraham had it, Rahab had it, etc… The faith is accounted to us as righteousness, through all spans of time. That isn’t to say what happens after faith isn’t important, it just isn’t what saves you.

  8. Jared says:

    First, let me say that I really don’t know much about HTML. I totally fouled up that quote. The last 2 paragraphs are mine (not John McArthur). Sorry.

    The old covenant was different. What was required was death. That’s obvious through the sacrifices and in a specific way with the blood over the door post in Egypt. We enter into his death (the ultimate death) through baptism.

    Colossians 2
    9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. 11 In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh[b] was put off when you were circumcised by[c] Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.

    All I’m saying is that it can’t be separated. Sure there are a few examples of how God chose to do things differently… He’s God & can do that. I just can’t think of one example of a conversion experience after the pentacost (establishment of the church) that excluded baptism. There may be one, but I can’t think of it.

    Baptism isn’t what saves us. It is grace through faith (that is a gift from God). But being a follower of Jesus requires obedience. Baptism is commanded. If someone refuses to be baptized, one might question his obedience and if he really is a follower of Christ. You might also question his salvation. Therefore, they are inseparable.

    While it’s not “what” saves you, you can’t separate it from being saved.

    I’ve got a lot of ideas right now… but it’s late.

  9. Baron Nor says:

    I too appreciate the sentiment above, but hang with my sister about the necessity.

    I also had the thought today, that to me baptism is something like a marriage ceremony. People can go through the motions and make the vows, and take the plunge, as it were, but only God reads the heart and knows if that couple is truly married.

    Just because someone makes the choice for baptism and repeats words doesn’t make that person a saved individual. So, if just dunking someone can’t save arbitrarily, then the water isn’t what is doing the saving, or anyone that was baptized would make it in. That’s what the Church of England tried to do. It has always been the heart with God/Jesus. Again, it is with the heart man believeth and with the mouth confession is made.

    I know that we can debate spiritual vs. water baptism, and dual-action baptism, but I really think that from what I have read from one website is correct. We make that heartfelt verbal confession and obtain the spirit, and the acceptance into salvation by God, and then that spirit leads us to baptism.

    If you look at the big picture, all of it and not just parts, it appears to me that this is the order of things. Doesn’t Christ say, no one comes to the father save the spirit draw them? If that is the case, then there is a spiritual calling first and foremost, confession by the individual unto salvation and then baptism as that sign. But I do say that it isn’t just a sign, as I have seen too many people and have heard too many testimonies, as to a tugging to go through this. My grandma was a perfect example of this. I don’t think it is a salvational thing, but there is definitely something more here than a “Oh well, I think I’ll just go get baptized today or something.” It’s not a “Ho-Hum action. I think it goes into the same category as communion.

    1. Jared says:

      You make an interesting point about the Spirit. I’ve thought about this for a long time. How can someone be saved if “no one comes to the Father save the Spirit draw them” if you don’t receive the gift of the Spirit until baptism?

      A friend pointed this out to me in John 16: “And when he comes (the Holy Spirit), he will convict the WORLD (emphasis mine) concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because THEY DO NOT BELIEVE (emphasis mine) in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment because the ruler of this world is judged.”

      It seems that the Spirit is working even in the lives of unbelievers. Once we receive the gift of the Spirit, he works in additional ways.

      This helped answer some questions for me. I believe that the Spirit can be at work in unbelievers. I’ve seen it happen. i have seen God bring glory to himself in through the actions of those who do not know him. And he works to draw unbelievers closer to the Father.

  10. Baron Nor says:

    PS I too am enjoying this discussion! 😀

  11. Baron Nor says:

    http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2011/05/10/saved-before-jesus-came#

    Hey, received this in an email today, and thought this was pertinent to the conversation going on here. Sorry for not writing for awhile, been busy with work and under the weather.

    S

  12. Baron Nor says:

    Yet another good site to throw into the mix here. This is good for keeping it simple and to the point.

    http://www.believers.org/believe/bel190.htm

    Again about the thief, I say that if there are supposed exceptions to the rule, then you can’t hold to a hard and fast take on the rule. Water immersion is important, and is something a believer should undergo, but it does not save you. If those members that Paul talks about that got the spirit, and had died before baptism, they would have still made it.

    But again, I look at it as, what if he, the thief, is the first convert. Christ said that he would see the thief in paradise. With his heart he, the thief, believed and with his mouth confession was made unto salvation. Isn’t that Paul’s formula?

    S

  13. Baron Nor says:

    “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”” Luke 11:13 NIV

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