THE ONE BAPTISM OF THE BIBLE
Last week’s “News & Views” set forth what the Bible teaches about the “who” and the “how” of the one baptism authorized by Christ in the great commission (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16). In this week’s essay we examine what the Scriptures say about the purpose, the “why”of Bible baptism. All quotations will be from the New King James Version of the Bible unless otherwise indicated.
Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16a). Two conditions are named by the Savior for being saved, and all who would be saved must comply with both conditions. Baptism is not an optional matter.
The apostle Peter instructed inquiring sinners, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). Again, two conditions are set forth as being “for the remission of sins”repentance and baptism. Whatever repentance is “for” is also what baptism is “for.” Both are declared by an inspired apostle to be “for” the remission of sins. Christ shed His blood “for” the remission of sins (Matthew 26:28), but He did not shed His blood because the sins of mankind had already been remitted before He shed His blood! Neither is a sinner’s sins remitted before he repents and is baptized!
In submitting to the one baptism of the Bible one has his or her sins washed away. Ananias instructed Saul of Tarsus (who would become the great apostle Paul): “Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). Ananias was only telling Saul what the Lord had said Saul “must do” (Acts 9:6), “all things which [had been] appointed for [Saul] to do” (Acts 22:10). There is no way open to having one’s sins washed away today that was not available to Saul of Tarsus!
The one baptism of the Bible is into the death of Christ. Paul wrote: “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death” (Romans 6:3)? It was in His death that Christ shed His blood (John 19:33-34), and when one is baptized into the death of Christ one reaches the blood of Christ. It is the blood of Christ that removes our sins, but one cannot and does not contact the cleansing blood of Christ until he or she is baptized into the death of Christ!
In submitting to the one true baptism of the Bible one is baptized into Christ and puts on Christ. Paul declared: “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27). All spiritual blessings are in Christ (Ephesians 1:3), including the blessing of salvation (II Timothy 2:10). Too, it is in baptism that one puts on Christ (becomes spiritually clothed with Christ). Therefore, until one is baptized he remains out of Christ, devoid of salvation from sin, with no spiritual blessings, and spiritually naked before God!
With reference to the salvation of Noah and his family from the flood, the apostle Peter wrote: “There is also an antitype which now saves us, namely baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ . . .” (I Peter 3:21). The King James Version renders this passage: “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us . . .” Unless one is like the lady who, because of her prejudice against what the Bible says about baptism saving us, had taken her scissors and cut I Peter 3:21 out of her Bible, your Bible still says that “baptism doth also now save us”!
All of the above stated biblical purposes of baptism show it to be a condition of salvation from sin and that without baptism one does not have the remission of his or her sins. Thus, one does not stand on the entry side of the baptismal waters already saved, as is so widely taught by many of the prominent denominations. Salvation from sin, remission of sins, having sins washed away, entrance into the death of Christ where His blood was shed, entrance into Christ where all spiritual blessings are found, and becoming clothed with Christ all take place at the time of baptism and are true only of the person on the exit side of the baptismal waters. If you were baptized under the delusion that your sins were already forgiven before you were baptized, have you been baptized with the one valid baptism of the Bible?
Baptism in no way nullifies salvation by grace or diminishes from the truth that we are justified by faith. Baptism does not stand in isolation from either grace or faith. Rather, baptism is faith humbly submitting to the will of God in obedience to the gospel, thus accessing the saving grace of God. It is at the point of baptism that one is made free from sin, in that it is at baptism that sins are washed away (Acts 22:16; Romans 6:16-18).
Regardless, of what your parents’ religious faith may have been, regardless of what your church teaches and practices with reference to baptism, regardless of what you have always felt, thought, or believed about baptism, we urge you to seriously consider what God’s word says about baptism! As we said last week, death is too certain, eternity is too long, heaven is too wonderful, and hell is too horrible for anyone to fail to do what God says, in the way God says, for the reason God says with reference to the one and only valid baptism of the Bible!
April 26, 2016
April 27: Green Hill Church of Christ, Mt. Juliet, TN
May 1-4: Center Hill Church of Christ, Florence, AL