Listen:  18 – Question 2

Baptism is an important act of obedience for all believers.  All who are saved should be baptized according to God’s Word.  However, salvation is an act of the grace of God towards guilty sinners.  Let’s look at a few scriptures that show us that salvation requires no work on our part, simply believing in the Lord Jesus Christ.  John 3:36 says, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”  Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”  Romans 5:6-9 says, “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.  For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.”  Titus 3:5-7 says, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;  That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”  John 5:24  says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”

There are many, many more verses that show us that our salvation is completely dependent on God’s grace and our faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross.  Over and over, scripture is clear on this.  Anything else, any work or act on our part, would displace Christ as our savior and we would owe our salvation to something other than the Lord Jesus Himself.

As I said earlier, baptism is important.  Let’s look at Romans 6:3-4 which says, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”  It is clear from this portion that baptism is an act of the believer identifying with the Lord Jesus Christ as his or her savior.  In baptism, we acknowledge before the world that we realize that even as Christ died, we died; that even as Christ was buried, we were buried; and even as Christ was raised from the dead, we were raised from the dead, now to walk in ‘newness of life.’  Baptism is a public, open testimony showing what has happened inwardly to the new convert.  While 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” baptism is our public acknowledgement that we understand that we have been passed from death unto life; that in Christ, we are made new.

In Acts, chapter eight, we have the wonderful story of Philip witnessing to an Ethiopian eunuch.   Acts 8:35 tells us, “Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.”  Notice that he preached Jesus, not Jesus and works, not Jesus and baptism.  He preached unto him singularly, Jesus.  It was after his conversion that the eunuch asked Philip, “…See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?” as we read in Acts 8:36.

Another point to consider is the ministry of both Jesus and the Apostle Paul.  In John 4:1-4, we read, “When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,) He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee. And he must needs go through Samaria.”  In 1 Corinthians 1:14, Paul says, “I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius.”  He goes on to say in verse 17, “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.”  If baptism were a necessary part of salvation, we would find both Jesus and Paul baptizing all the people they could, for they both had an overwhelming desire that people would be saved.

Admittedly, there are some portions that seem to say that baptism is part of our salvation.  For example, let’s look at Acts 2:38, which says, “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”  At first glance this seems to teach that baptism is part of our salvation.  But, as I’ve said before, the scriptures deserve more than a first glance.  The baptism here is really an outward expression of the repentance and faith that must be present for salvation.  I encourage you to look at other portions in the light of the fact that salvation comes only through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  With this truth in place, we can more easily understand that baptism is an act of obedience of the believer, not an act of salvation of the sinner.  (18.2)