Is Baptism “Water Salvation”? – J.D. Tant

J.D. Tant

Our present lesson is what the world calls “water salvation.” The charge against my brethren is unjust. Yet, for the purpose of arousing prejudice, men who are unable to meet the Bible doctrine as taught by my brethren will cry out, “Water salvation.”

If we should run a man down and baptize him against his will, there would be room for the charge. Or if we advocated the doctrine of total depravity, or believed in infant damnation as many do, and should baptize children as the Catholics do to wash the child and deliver him from God’s wrath, then the charge might be true.

But as the charge is made against my brethren that we teach water salvation, it will be well to examine water in connection with salvation, and learn what God says about it. In the salvation of the sinner, we all agree that we are saved by the power of God. Then the question arises in this moving power of God: “Has He connected water with the same?” If we learn that He has, we may then understand why the religious world calls salvation by God’s power, “water salvation.”

We all agree that God’s power is both universal and special. It is universal as a whole and special to certain people for certain purposes. But in all power we agree, (1) there is the power, (2) the object, (3) the adaptation, and (4) the moving, after the power through the law of adaptation acts upon the object.

For example, we say water is a power to act upon the water wheel that moves the mill, but water is no power to act on powder to set it on fire and throw a cannon ball. The weight is the power that acts on the clock and causes it to move and keep time. But a weight is no power to act on a watch and cause it to keep time, for there is no law of adaptation between the weight and the watch. The spring is the adapted power to cause the watch to move, fire is the adapted power to make the powder burn and water is the adapted power to make the mill move. This shows that God has ordained different powers and different laws of adaptation to act upon different objects to cause them to move.

Now we are prepared to state that God’s power is (1) universal over all in bestowing blessings such as life, food, rain, and sunshine, and (2) special over people for certain blessings.

One great hinderance to an understanding of God’s law is that many theological teachers make no difference in special and general power. They will not reason on how God’s power may accomplish different things under different conditions. When they once decide that God’s power is demonstrated along a certain line to reach a certain end, they will readily close up all other channels and exclaim, “water salvation” to the man who wants to adapt God’s saving power to him through God’s divine law of adaptation.

To illustrate this idea, A tells B that 20 acres of his land made 1,000 bushels of corn; he tells C that his old gray mare made him 1,000 bushels of corn; he tells D that the rain in June made him 1,000 bushels of corn; he tells E that his new plow made him 1,000 bushels of corn, and he tells F that he made 1,000 bushels of corn.

Soon these five meet and discuss A‘s corn crop. They argue like Methodist preachers do in their 9th article of faith which teaches that justification is by “faith only.” B claims that 20 acres of land made the corn, for A told him so. C thinks that A lied, for he told him his old gray mare made it. D knows there is something wrong, for A told him that his new plow made the corn. E is sure A is not truthful, for he told him that the late rain in June made his corn. Then F knows that A lied, for he told him that he made the corn himself.

So these five men, reasoning like sectarian preachers do, would soon have A as full of contradictions as these preachers have the Bible. But did A tell the truth at all places? Yes. How? He hitched his horse to the plow and worked the land. God gave the rain. So the man, the horse, the rain, the land, and the plow each supplied the part they were adapted to in this crop, and it can be said truthfully of one, or all, that they made the corn.

God’s power was special to (1) Noah, (2) to save him from the flood, (3) by means of the ark, (4) that he must use, (5) to obtain the result which was salvation from the flood.

God’s power was special (1) with the Israelites, (2) to save them from Egyptian bondage, (3) by means—Moses and the Red Sea. (4) When they used the means, (5) they obtained the result—salvation from Egyptian bondage.

We notice God’s special power (1) with Naaman (1 Kings 5), (2) to save him from leprosy, (3) by means of the water of Jordan. (4) When he used the means by dipping seven times in the river (5) he obtained the result—salvation from his disease.

Once more, we notice God’s special power in the case of the blind man (John 9:1-7). (1) We have the blind man, (2) who was saved from blindness, (3) by means of clay and the pool of Siloam, (4) when he used them, (5) to obtain the result of salvation from blindness. This, then, brings us to the final thought—the sinner’s salvation from sin. Is he saved by the power of God? If we answer, “yes,” then I ask, are we justified in calling it “water salvation?”

While God has other powers to save from trouble and distress, He has only one power to save from sin, and Paul says the Gospel is God’s power to save. (Rom. 1:16-17). Then as the Gospel is that power which moves, or puts in motion, this power must act on the sinner to save him. As it must come to the sinner through the law of adaptation, the question comes up, “How does it come? Does it come direct, in some better-felt-way-than-told, or in some mysterious way that is above our comprehension?”

Paul says it comes through preaching, (1 Cor. 1:21), Jesus said go preach it to all the world (Mark 16:15), and the Holy Spirit affirms that the faith we must have in order to be saved comes by hearing the word of God. (Rom. 10:17).

Now we can make the application of God’s special power in the salvation of sinners. (1) We have the sinner, (2) God saves the sinner from his sins. (3) The gospel is the means God provides. (4) The sinner must use the means, i.e., obey the gospel, (5) to obtain the result, or salvation from his sins. (Rom. 1:16).

Just as positive as God affirms that the gospel is His power to save those who believe it, just that positive He pronounces condemnation upon those who do not obey it. (2 Thess. 1:7-9). As it is impossible for God to lie, and as God’s mercy cannot go beyond his law, and God’s law states that He will punish those who do not obey the gospel, the idea that is prevalent that God will save many who never obeyed the gospel, is not taught in God’s word.

All persons who are saved by the power of God must come under said power for that salvation. As God’s power is located in the Gospel, then it is necessary to come to the Gospel, and use all the means as God has ordained we should.

What are the means ordained in the gospel for man’s salvation? (1) Man must hear God’s word (Acts 3:22). (2) A man must have faith in Christ (John 20:30). (3) A man must repent of his sins (Acts 17:30). (4) A man must confess the Son of God (Matt. 10:32; Acts 8:37). (5) A man must be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). This is God’s law and the result will be salvation from sin (Mark 16:16).

Sinner, will you not lay aside prejudice and do God’s will that heaven may be your home?

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Author: Editor

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