My brethren and I are constantly scolded and criticized for putting so much
emphasis on “water baptism” by our Protestant friends. Why is it do you
suppose, that faithful Christians talk and write so much about “water
baptism?” I suggest some reasons at least.
1). Because the New Testament has quite a lot to say on the subject.
2). Because of the “design” given “water baptism” in Christ’s word. Mark
16:16 clearly teaches “He who believes and is baptized will be saved...”
That’s sufficient for me. What about you?
3). Our religious neighbors teach so much error on the subject of “water
baptism” that we feel compelled to “contend for the faith once for all
delivered” (Jude 3), and to “give an answer to everyone who asketh you a
reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15).
When I set out to answer some objections to baptism, let me say right up
front that most religious folks do not oppose water baptism per-se. No, most
every religious group engages in, and at some point even demands what they
call baptism. They also have “water” associated with the same. It is only
when one teaches what the Bible actually says about “water baptism” that our
religious friends and neighbors get all “bent out of shape” with my brethren
Following Is Some of What The Bible Teaches On This Subject
1). The only proper subjects are: Those capable of hearing, believing,
repenting, and confessing faith in Jesus with their mouths. (John 6:44-45;
Romans 10:17; Mark 16:15; Acts 8:21-24; Hebrews 11:6; Luke 13:3; 2 Peter
3:9; Acts 17:30; Romans 10:9-10; Matthew 10:32-33; Acts 8:37).
2). The design or purpose of “water baptism” must be: “to save,” “for
remission of sins,” “into the one body.” (Acts 2:38; Mark 16:16; Romans
6:3-4; Acts 8:12,12; 22:16; 1 Peter 3:20-21; 1 Corinthians 12:13).
3). The action of the “one baptism” of Ephesians 4:5 is complete immersion
in water, a going down into and a coming up out of the water.(Colossians
2:12; Acts 8:38-39; Romans 6:3-4). The meaning of the Greek word translated
baptism means only to immerse.
4). The relationship into which Scriptural baptism places one is as the last
point in numeral 2 suggests, it puts one “in Christ” and “in the one body,
His church.” Still, Objections to “Scriptural Baptism” Abound!
1). “Look at all the passages which demand faith but say nothing about
Answer: We must “live by every word that proceeds from God” (Matthew 4:4).
You can’t get the whole truth on any subject until you read everything the
Bible says on that subject. Even then, it must be “rightly divided” (2
Timothy 2:15; 1 Peter 3:16). If we should use this approach to Bible study
we could teach “salvation by baptism alone” since 1 Peter 3:21 says,
“...baptism doth also now save us.” If we did that we would not be “handling
aright the word of truth” don’t you see?
2). “The thief on the cross was not baptized:”
Answer: Are you sure of that statement? In all probability he was since he
seemed to have such a good understanding of the nature of Christ kingdom. In
fact while hanging on the cross on one side of Jesus he still believed that
Christ death would not hinder His coming kingdom (Luke 23:43). Even Christ’s
apostles thought when He was crucified all was lost. Why? They looked for a
physical kingdom just as many do today (Acts 1:6). Jesus taught, “My kingdom
is not of this world...” (John 18:36). This thief had probably been baptized
with John the immerser’s preparatory baptism of repentance for the remission
of sins as he waited the coming of the Messiah since “all Jerusalem and
Judea went out and were baptized of John” (Matthew 3:5). Those who refused,
rejected the council of God against themselves (Luke 7:30). However, it
matters not whether the thief was baptized by John or by Christ since they
were living under a different dispensation than you and me and since Christ
had power on earth as (God with us) to forgive men’s sins any way He chose
(Matthew 9:6). Anyway, the “Great Commission” of Christ had not been given
as yet and a “testament is of force after men are dead, not while they live”
(Hebrews 9:15-17). Your objection is only a quibble!
3). “Baptism is an ordinance of man:”
Answer: Even John’s preparatory baptism was of such importance that those
who rejected the same, “rejected the council of God against themselves”
(Luke 7:30). Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of man, then shall
you know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father
hath taught Me, I speak these things” (John 8:28).
4). “We aren’t saved by works.”
Answer: I agree that we aren’t saved by “boastful works” (Ephesians 2:8- 9).
We cannot put God in our debt. Works of human devising are incapable of
saving one’s soul. Works of the law of Moses will not save one. Still, to
make a blanket statement that “we aren’t saved by works” would rule out the
essentiality of faith. Someone asked Jesus “What shall we do, that we might
work the works of God? Jesus answered and said, “This is the work of God,
that you believe on Him whom He hath sent” (John 8:28- 29). Still, a man
must do the believing. Does our belief negate the grace of God and deny that
salvation is a free gift provided by God? Certainly not! Christ is said to
be the “author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him” (Hebrews
5:9; Matthew 7:21; James 1:18-25; 2:14-26; Revelation 22:14).
5). “I believe the “one baptism” for today is Holy Ghost baptism.”
Answer: Really!!! Then since you also practice some “form” of “water
baptism” or at least every Protestant church with which I’m familiar does,
it appears to me you must decide for sure on this matter and your decision
must be Biblically correct, for you now have “two baptism,” not one. Paul
said in about the A.D. 60’s “One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism,...”
(Ephesians 4:5). As the “Great Commission” was carried out by the apostles
and evangelists of the first century, this “one baptism” was in water. In
Acts 8:26- 39 the Eunuch said, “see, here is water; what hinders me from
being baptized?” (v-36). In Acts 10:47-48 Peter said “can any man forbid
water that these should not be baptized...?” (v-47). In Acts 16:33 the
Jailer “washed their stripes and was baptized he and all of his household.”
Some folks want to dehydrate this matter removing the WATER! It can’t be
done and please the Lord who commanded water baptism. Besides, “Holy (Ghost)
Spirit Baptism” was a promise and the Son of God alone could administer the
same (Matthew 3:11; Acts 1:5). We can’t obey a promise but we are able to
obey this command Disciples were to administer baptism as they carried out
the “Great Commission.” Jesus said, “...Go, Teach, Baptize, and Teach...”
6). Oh, we believe in baptism alright but we think it is just how one
identifies with Christ. Kind of like a soldier putting on his uniform. He is
already a soldier before he puts on his uniform, and we believe this is
simply the way one confesses to the world that they have received Christ.
It’s just an “outward sign of an inward grace” don’t you see? We believe one
is baptized to “join a church.”
Answer: We have heard all of that gobbledegook over and over! The trouble
is, there are no passages of Holy Scriptures to back up those statements.
Besides, according to your teaching on baptism a man could be saved at the
point of faith, die before baptism and go to heaven never having been
baptized. I know that’s what you Protestants teach. Then let’s try your
“putting on the uniform” example. I don’t think it fits your understanding
(rather misunderstanding) concerning baptism’s purpose. That would mean that
the soldier would never have to put his uniform on. They would put such a
soldier in the brig my friend! Too, you would never have to “confess to the
world that you have received Christ” and never have to show “an outward sign
of an inward grace,” since your own doctrine says we are “saved by faith
alone” and rejects baptism as essential to salvation from past sins. See?
The Bible teaches that water baptism:
1). It is obeyed to be saved-(Mark 16:16).
3). It is for the remission of sins-(Acts 2:38).
4). It is into Christ-(Romans 6:3).
5). It is into Christ’s death-(Romans 6:4).
6). It is into the one body-(1 Cor. 12:13; Eph. 2:13-16).
7). It is how one puts on Christ-(Galatians 3:26-27).
8). It saves one-(1 Peter 3:20-21).
9). It washes away sins-(Acts 22:16).
10). It is the washing of regeneration-(Titus 3:5).
11). It is the final act of the “new birth”-(John 3:3-5).
12). It is essential to conversion-(Acts 3:19).
7). Well now, just look at all the folks who haven’t been baptized and who
do not believe what you say the Bible teaches about water baptism! What
about them? Are they all hell bound?
Answer: Final judgment and destinies are left in the hands of an all wise
and all powerful God who makes no mistakes. While I am unable to give any
comfort to one who has not been “born again of the water and of the Spirit”
since Jesus said such cannot “see,” nor “enter” into the kingdom of God,
(John 3:3-5). I must reach and teach as many as I possibly can. One thing is
for sure my friend, You are not among the number who haven’t heard or who
haven’t had an opportunity to comply with the Bible’s teaching in this
matter of “water baptism,” and one thing is for sure, you have no excuse! I
will just add this: If you are honest in your question and you are really
concerned for “all of those lost folks,” you had better obey the Lord at
your earliest opportunity, then get busy trying to reach and teach those
lost folks the soul saving gospel of Christ (Mark 16:15-16; 1 Corinthians
15:1-4; Romans 1:16-17; Romans 10:6-17; 16:25-26). Besides, you teach as do
I that faith in God and Christ are essentials and there are many who do not
believe, are they lost? To be consistent with your argument would negate
faith the same as it would baptism as being essential don’t you see? Yet
(John 8:21-24; Hebrews 11:6) indicate the impossibility of salvation apart
from faith in the Godhead!
8). “To require baptism for salvation puts a man between God and man.”
Answer: No more than does the command to believe (John 8:24; Hebrews 11:6).
Since “faith comes by hearing” and since God chose “preaching to save those
who believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21; Romans 10:8-17; John 6:44- 45). Any
objection one may raise against the necessity of water baptism can also be
leveled against God for commanding that one believe or perish! Your
objection is really directed toward God, not toward members of churches of
Christ. Your attempts to condemn us comes only because we adhere to the will
of Christ in this matter.
9). “Well, you may be right but I just can’t see it.”
Answer: He means it just doesn’t make sense to me that God would send one to
torment just because he wasn’t baptized scripturally. Well, once again the
same response can be made against other commandments of Christ that you do
take much stock in like “faith” and “repentance.” We are to “walk by faith
and not by sight” according to the apostle Paul in (2 Corinthians 5:7).
Faith comes by “hearing the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17), and the word of
Christ says baptism is one ingredient upon which man’s salvation is
predicated. God’s ways and man’s ways are not alike by a long shot! In fact
God’s ways and thoughts are higher above man’s then the heavens are above
the earth (Isaiah 55:8-9). The apostle Paul speaks of the weakness of God
being stronger than man and indicates to us that we must humble ourselves
before God. He even says not many mighty, not many noble, are called. “But
God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and
God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things that are
mighty; and the base things of the world, and things which are despised,
hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things
that are: That no flesh should glory in His presence....That, according as
it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (See 1
Corinthians 1:18-31). In 2 Corinthians 2:5, Paul wrote “that your faith
should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”
10). “Your position limits the gospel.”
Answer: You don’t say? My position is only following what the Bible teaches
and don’t you know that “your faith only” position (even if your doctrine
was correct) “limits the number who will be saved?” But neither you nor I
can change God’s foreordained plan to save mankind without losing our own
souls (Galatians 1:6-11; John 12:48; Luke 6:46; 2 John 9-11). Christ knows
that His truth will not be palatable to the masses, even though He tasted of
death for every man (John 3:16-17; Hebrews 2:9), He said of the “strait gate
and the narrow way that leads to life” will be entered into only by the
“few” (Matthew 7:13-14). He has “limited salvation” to those who are willing
to “obey the Father’s will” (Matthew 7:21-29; Hebrews 5:9; Revelation
22:14). See also (John 14:15, 21, 23).
11). “Paul said he was sent to preach not to baptize.”
Answer: He did baptize. Did he disobey Christ? See (1 Corinthians 1:14- 17).
Did not the “Great Commission” apply to Paul who was chosen last as an
apostle to the Gentiles (Mark 16:15-16)? What is Paul really saying in that
statement “Christ sent me not to baptize but to preach...?” Only that he
didn’t personally have to do the act of baptizing, others could do that. The
reason he was glad he had not personally baptized very many was because at
Corinth some were taking the name of the one who had baptized them into
Christ and this was promoting division. Read the whole context (1
Corinthians 1:10-13; 1 Corinthians 3:1-3). So this puny objection falls
under the weight of investigation just as all the rest.
12). “Well, We think Christians ought to be baptized.”
Answer: Bless your heart, Christians were never baptized under apostolic
teaching! Believers who asked what they must do were told to “Repent and be
baptized...for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). We have seen what is
attributed to scriptural baptism in this study and those blessings were what
lost people received in being saved from alien sins. When Christians sinned
they were not told to “repent and be baptized,” they were told to “repent,
confess, and pray” for forgiveness (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:9; James 5:16).
Water baptism is for alien sinners in order that they may become Christians
and members of Christ’s blood bought church (Romans 6:3-5; Galatians
3:26-29; Acts 2:22-38,40-41, 47; Acts 22:16; Colossians 1:13-14).
Jesus asked a pointed question of some religious people of His day while
walking among men: “And why call ye Me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things
which I say?” (Luke 6:46).
I ask you why not yield to the truth of Jesus and “save yourselves from this
crooked generation”(Acts 2:40)? Those who obey not the gospel will be
“punished with everlasting destruction...” (2 Thessalonians 1:6-10).
Don’t “object to baptism,” submit to it!
Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them
that trouble you; And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord
Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, In flaming fire
taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of
our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction
from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power; When He
shall come to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony
among you was believed) in that day” (2 Thess. 1:6-10).
See also (1 Peter 1:22-25)!
By By Kenneth E. Thomas
From Expository Files 12.2; February 2005