C.G. Caldwell, Sr.
It is generally accepted by all who believe in Christ that His blood is essential in some way or other to the remission of sins. Without the shedding of blood there can be no remission of sins, and all efficacy as a procuring power is in the blood (Heb. 9:22; 1 Pet. 1:19). The denominational world has for many years misrepresented the church on this subject, calling us “water salvationists.” Such misrepresentation obviously comes from those who deny that baptism is one of the steps that brings one into contact with the blood of Christ.
The church has never taught—nor do Christians believe—that water literally saves from sin, or that power is in the water. Water is simply the means by which one is brought to where pardon is obtained through the blood (1 Pet. 3:21). The difficulty here lies not so much in a difference of belief, but a lack of belief on the part of some who prejudicially reject the plain teaching of God’s word.
Saved by Blood
The Bible clearly teaches that, “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:6-7). “And he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the whole world” (1 John 2:2). These, when conformed to English idioms, mean that no man is—or can be—cleansed from sin, save as he is cleansed by the blood of Christ. Jesus, when instituting the memorial Supper said, “For this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many unto remission of sins” (Matt. 26:28). Again, Paul said “feed the church of the Lord which he purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). The statements that He poured out His blood for us, redeemed us by His blood, and purchased us with His blood are doubtless equivalent to “He laid down his life for us.” The first sin offering ever made was a blood offering, made by Abel (Gen. 4:4). The Jews were forbidden to eat blood, because in eating blood they would eat life and all life came from God (Deut. 12:23). The shedding of Christ’s blood is the giving up of His life. He gave His life for our lives. “Whom God set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood” (Rom. 3:5). In setting forth Jesus as a propitiation, He was set forth to make satisfaction, expiation, or reconciliation through His blood. Jesus, by His blood, became the propitiator or expiator for sins.
Redeemed in Christ
There is no room for one to cavil as to where justification and redemption are to be had. It is plainly stated by Paul that both are in Christ. In Christ is where the efficacy of the blood is to be found (2 Tim. 2:10; Eph. 1:3; Col 1:13-14). All those who expect to be rescued by the blood of Christ and cleansed from all their sins, must walk in the truth, the light of God. The truth of God leads to the light where pardon and full fellowship may be had (John. 3:21; 1 John. 1:3-6; 1:17; 2:1-2).
“How may the sinner approach the cleansing blood of Christ?” is a question of great moment. The blood of Christ is not brought to man and applied as a doctor would apply ointment to a burn or sore. Neither is the literal blood of Christ applied to man’s heart. Satisfaction was made with the Father by the Son; the purchase price was paid for all the guilty of Adam’s race, and the requirement laid down in the word of God for man to meet in order to enjoy the benefits of the purchased redemption.
Lost man must come to the appointed place to enjoy the purchase. The blood will not be brought to man, neither man to the blood, in answer to all the prayers that might be prayed. The benefits of the blood are to be had in Christ. One cannot be prayed into Christ. To get into Christ one must be born again, one must obey the gospel.
How Does Man Get Into Christ?
The consummating act of the new birth and obedience to the gospel is being baptized into Christ. This truth is clearly set forth in God’s word. “Seeing ye have purified your souls in your obedience to the truth, having been begotten (KJV born) again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, through the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever” (1 Pet. 1:22-23).
Or are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with him through baptism into death. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection (Rom. 6:3-5).
In the completion of the act of baptism one enters Christ, reaches the merits of the blood and is rescued, redeemed, saved, pardoned, and united with Christ. “For ye are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ” (Gal. 3:26-27). Again, “Be it known unto you therefore, brethren, that through this man is proclaimed unto you the remission of sins” (Acts 13:38). “For in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body” (1 Cor. 12:13). It was by the guidance or instruction of the Holy Spirit that these Corinthians had been baptized into Christ. “As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the Sons of God” (Rom. 8:14).
Paul was a minister of the Spirit, that is, he preached and baptized by the authority of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 3:6; Eph. 3:3-6; 1 Pet. 1:12; 2 Pet 1:19-22). Jesus shed His blood in His death; salvation is in the blood. Therefore to reach salvation one must come to the blood; one must come to where the blood was shed; one must enter into the death of Christ. To get into His death, one must be baptized into it. For that is precisely what Paul says, “Or are ye ignorant that all who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death” (Rom. 6:3).
That which puts one into the name of Christ puts him into Christ or under His authority (Acts 10:48; Col. 3:17). Water baptism is in the name of Christ. Therefore it is water baptism into the name of Christ that brings one to the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; 10:43-48; 19:1-6). Christ is the Savior of the body, the church; and the church is sanctified and cleansed by the washing (baptism) of water by the word (Eph. 5:24-28). The church is Christ’s body; and there is but one body (Eph. 5:24-28; Col. 1:18; Eph. 4:4). We are baptized into that one body. (1 Cor. 12:13) Without baptism, therefore, we are without the body, apart from Christ’s death, away from His blood. Without baptism we are lost.