What Baptism Cannot Do

Ron Cosby

Within Holy Writ, God has said many things about water baptism. The Bible teaches that the penitent sinner who believes in Jesus is baptized into Christ (Gal. 3:26-27). Sinners are baptized into His death (Rom. 6:4). Peter said, “…baptism doth also now save us” (1 Pet. 3:21). But we must not entertain the idea that water baptism is a magic formula for all of life’s ills. Though God has declared spiritual enrichment through obedience, there are still some things baptism will not do.

Baptism cannot change the will. The good news of salvation in Christ which reveals God’s goodness changes the will; “…not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” (Rom. 2:4). God has commanded all men to repent—to change the will (Acts 17:30).

Baptism cannot change your life. True, at the point of baptism, one’s spiritual life is changed; however, this physical life will be the same. The one baptized will still have the same debts, the same job, the same paycheck, the same family, and the same physical health. Because of a new lifestyle after baptism, one’s social and political life may change.

Baptism cannot remove temptations. The Lord Himself did not escape the solicitation to sin, though He had no sin (Heb. 4:15). Each one is tempted when he is, “drawn away by his own lust, and enticed” (Jas. 1:13-14). We do have God’s promise that the nature of all temptations will be human in nature. None will be supernatural (1 Cor. 10:13).

Baptism cannot give life to the living—the saved. Sinners are dead in sins and not saved.

And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) (Eph. 2:1-5).

Sinners—not the saved—are baptized to reach salvation. Sinners are baptized unto forgiveness, or remission of sins (Acts 2:38). Sinners are baptized once, but the saved are never baptized. In each example of conversion, recorded for us in the Bible, three basic truths are repeated: 1) They heard the gospel. 2) They believed the gospel. 3) They obeyed the gospel, being baptized into Christ.

Your physical life may improve as a Christian. If it does, it will not be because you became a Christian, but because you are following the principles set forth by the Creator.

Since the Bible teaches that baptism places one in Christ where salvation is (2 Tim. 2:10), and it places one into Christ’s death where His saving blood was shed (John 19:33-34; Rom. 6:4), and it sets free from sin (Rom. 6:17-18), “why tarriest thou? Arise and be baptized and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).

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Author: Editor

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