From Gospel Digest, Vol. 5, No. 3, May, 1947
So far as I know, all professed Christians of whatever creed or belief agree that there is a time when an alien sinner is separated from God. They are not agreed, however, on the place where reunion takes place when the alien returns to God. Some of them teach that it is when the sinner, in answer to prayer, receives the Holy Spirit into his heart. Others teach that it is when the sinner touches the blood of Christ.
This is one of the most important differences confronting the religious world today. On it hangs the destiny of millions of human souls. If the penitent sinner is reunited to God by the Holy Spirit coming into his heart in answer to prayer, then I unhesitatingly affirm that Christ shed his blood in vain. That kind of salvation is a bloodless salvation. But this cannot be, for God’s word says, “Without the shedding of blood there is no remission” (Heb. 9:22).
Just where is this connection established? Perhaps most of the preachers in the world today will tell you that it is when God sends the Holy Spirit into the heart of the sinner and the sinner passes from death unto life. The sinner himself may believe this, and become very happy, and from that day forward live a prayerful, consecrated life and finally die believing with all his heart that he has been saved from his alien sins. But has he? Not if the blood of Christ has anything to do with his salvation. And who will say that he can be saved independent of the blood of Christ?
On the day of Pentecost the law of pardon for the alien sinner was made known (Acts 2). Peter and the other apostles first preached the gospel to the multitude. Those who heard them were pierced in their hearts and cried out, “What shall we do?” (Acts 2:36). By inspiration, Peter gave the answer. What did he say? Did he tell them they should pray, and then God would send His Spirit into their hearts and take away their sins? He did not.
He said, “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” (Acts 2:38). “But,” you say, “there is no mention of the blood of Christ. Only repentance and baptism are mentioned in connection with the remission of sins.” That’s true, but baptism is connected with the blood of Christ, and one reaches the blood of Christ only through baptism. Notice carefully:
“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” (Rom. 6:3-4).
The inspired Paul clearly says here that we are baptized into the death of Christ. He says we are buried with him by baptism into death. Now this much has been made clear: When an alien sinner has been pierced in the heart and wants to know what he must do to be saved, he is first told to repent and turn away from his sins. He is then told he must be baptized for the remission of sins. He is informed by Paul in Romans 6:3-4 that his baptism is to be a burial and that his baptismal burial is into the death of Christ. But what happened in the death of Christ? It was there where He shed his blood.
While Jesus was on the cross, the Roman soldiers came to break the legs of those who had been crucified. They broke the legs of each suffering thief, “But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs, but one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water” (John 19:33-34).
Jesus, then, shed His blood in death, not in His life. This being the case, it follows that if I would reach His blood, I must do so by getting into His death, and that is done by being baptized into the death of Christ.
Now the question we are discussing is this: “Where does a penitent, alien sinner make connection with God to receive forgiveness of his sins? Is it in the Holy Spirit, or is it in the blood of Christ?” Denominational churches teach that the connection is made when God, in answer to prayer, sends the Holy Spirit into the sinner’s heart and takes away his sins.
The Bible teaches that the connection is made when the penitent sinner is buried with Christ in baptism into His death where His blood was shed and where it is contacted to remit sins.
If I were to call all the denominational preachers in the world together and ask them where the penitent alien sinner receives the forgiveness of his sins, the great majority of them would say, “At the altar,” meaning that the sinner prays to God, that God hears his prayer, and sends the Holy Spirit into his heart. The Holy Spirit then takes the sin out of the sinner’s heart, and he is then and there saved. He can now be baptized or not as he sees fit, by sprinkling or immersion, or as the church he wishes to join to become a member requires. “But,” those preachers will say, “baptism has nothing to do with salvation. That was taken care of at the altar when the Holy Spirit entered his heart.”
If these preachers are right, the Bible is wrong, for the Bible does not teach it that way. I will gladly go on the polemic platform with any denominational preacher in the land and examine every case of conversion since Christ died and prove that not one of them is right in asserting that salvation comes through prayer.
If these preachers are wrong, then they are leading millions of sincere people into the ditch of error. In this case, the blind are leading the blind and both will fall into the ditch.
We are saved by the blood of Christ, or we are saved independent of it. If we are saved by it, then we are saved when we reach it, or are connected with it. We reach it, or are connected with it when we are baptized—buried—into the death of Christ where His blood was shed. Since there is not a living man who can put his finger on one word of Scripture that shows any other way to get into the death of Christ than by burial in baptism, it follows that there is no other way.