Baptism - Where God Exerts His Redemptive Power
"Baptism is a work, and the Bible says that we are not saved by works, therefore baptism must not have any bearing upon whether a person is saved or not."
I doubt that I would get much argument from 95% of the evangelical community with the above statement. However, I am certain that the statement's conclusion (that "baptism must not have any bearing upon whether a person is saved or not") is faulty because it is built on a faulty premise.
First, it is true that baptism is a work, but it is not a human work of merit. When the Bible talks of being saved by grace and not by works (Ephesians 2:8-10, etc.) it is talking about works of human achievement. It is not talking about works of God, for it is quite evident that we are saved by the working of God. Apart from the work (of God) we cannot be saved. So, yes, we are saved by works, but not by works of human merit.
Second, is baptism a work of God or a work of human merit? If a work of human merit that one does in order to earn his salvation, then it does not save us. But if baptism is a work of God whereby He exerts His redemptive power through His Son, Jesus Christ, to wash our sins away, then it does save us, the power being God's and not our own.
Is baptism a work of God? Or is it merely a human religious tradition of some sort, concocted by man. The Scriptures affirm that baptism is a work of God; commanded by Him and expected of those who desire His forgiveness. This is easily proven. Was Jesus' statement, "He that believes and is baptized shall be saved, but he that disbelieves shall be condemned" from heaven or from men? Was Peter's Holy Spirit inspired sermon and invitation on Pentecost "Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" from heaven or from man? Was the invitation to Paul to "Arise, and be baptized, washing away your sins, calling upon the name of the Lord" from heaven or from man?
The evidence is tremendous, but beyond these references and others like them, the Bible comes out and says point blank that when we are baptized, that we are in that act putting our faith in the working of God. It just simply is not true that saying baptism is necessary is depending on human works. It is not. It is depending upon the working of God. Listen to the Word! "having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead." (Colossians 2:12).
See it? Our burial with Christ in baptism, and our being raised up with Him from baptism, is not putting our faith in our working, but in God's working! And, since this is so, then baptism does indeed have a bearing on whether we have been saved by the working of God or not. And that is the way it is!
By Jon W. Quinn
The Final Page
From Expository Files 5.5; May 1998