Baptism and Salvation – Tim Smith

Tim Smith

Much has been written and said about the matter of baptism and salvation through the years, but it still remains the center of much controversy in the minds of many. There are those who contend that baptism plays no role in the salvation of the soul and has no place in modem times. Some contend that one may or may not choose to be baptized in the course of his salvation, that it is totally optional. Some contend that one is saved frst and then baptized to make known his salvation. Some contend that one is saved and then later is baptized to join the church of his choice. This article will demonstrate that each of these contentions is false. We will demonstrate, with the “oracles of God,” that baptism is the point at which salvation is imparted, the remission of sins granted, the washing away of sins takes place, and when the Lord adds us to His church.

In Matthew 28:18-20 we read:

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me inheaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Mark’s account goes like this: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned (Mark 16:16).

Having announced that He received authority from His Father, He goes on to tell His apostles that they now must go into every part of the world and preach to everyone who will hear. Those who hear and believe are to be baptized. The result of this baptism is that they “shall be saved.” Now the words we have cited are the words of Jesus. He claims “all authority.” Who is there with more authority? Who is there who can negate the force of His words?

The command of Jesus to His apostles cited above was first obeyed on Pentecost of Acts 2 and may be summarized in brief as follows:

Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, 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… Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls (2:37-38, 41).

This was the fulfillment of the Great Commission. It was here that the apostles first did what Jesus told them to do a few days before. People who heard the preaching of the apostles and believed it desired to be released from their sins. This release was granted upon their baptism. It would here be good to note that what they did in Acts 2 was exactly what they were told to do in Matthew 28. They baptized people here in keeping with the command of Matthew 28 and Mark 16. If there is a difference in baptizing as per Matthew 28 and as per Acts 2, then we must concede that the apostles violated what Jesus told them to do. Some teach that there is a difference in baptizing “in the name of Jesus Christ” and baptizing “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” They say, “Where is the name in Matthew 28?” The words “in the name of ” were chosen and used by Jesus. He said that men are to be baptized “in the name” of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. He approved what was done on Pentecost also. The question is, what does “in the name of mean”? Is it something that must be said? I contend that “in the name of ” here meant what it elsewhere meant, by the authority (power) of. We find it so used in Acts 4:7. It also makes much more sense; for, what are we doing when we act in the name of Jesus? Are we doing something and then pretending that Jesus did it? Or, are we doing something and then providing the authority for so acting? There is not a single passage in the New Testament that commands that the person immersing another into Christ say anything; there is not a single passage in the New Testament that contains an example of anyone saying anything as he immersed another. At best one might have a personal preference in this connection, more than that is sinful. What the person immersing another says is not a matter of Biblical concern, and it should not concern us either. It is wrong and sinful to refuse to extend fellowship to another because the wrong formula was uttered over him at the time of his immersion. To do such is to make a law God did not make.

That baptism is for the washing away of sins we learn in Acts 22:16, “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” May one be saved who is still in his sins? Does not Revelation 21:27 tell us that those in sin cannot enter heaven? If one is still in his sins up to the point of baptism, can that one go to heaven should he die before baptism? Not according to the Bible.

That baptism puts us into contact with the death of Christ we learn in Romans 6:3-4:

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.

What happened at His death? His blood was shed. Hebrews 9:22 tells us that without the shedding of blood there is no remission. John tells us that His blood cleanses us from our sins in 1 John 1:7. Revelation 1:5 tells us that we are washed from our sins in His blood. If we contact the blood in baptism, can one be saved who has not been baptized? Not according to the Bible. That baptism puts one into the church we learn in 1 Corinthians 12:13: “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body.” The body is the church (Col. 1:18, Eph. 1:22-23). Therefore, to be in the body is to be in the church. Since it is the church that is sanctified and cleansed and shall be presented unto Christ at the last day holy and blameless (5:26-27), may one refuse baptism (and thereby church membership) and still be saved? Not according to the Bible.

That baptism puts one into Christ we learn in Galatians 3:27: “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Since all spiritual blessings are in Christ (Eph. 1:3), and since salvation is in Christ (Acts 4:12), can one be saved who is not in Christ, having never been baptized into Him? Not according to the Bible.

Hear the words of Peter, the one whose sermon we have recorded on Pentecost of Acts 2, the one who taught that baptism was “for the remission of sins,” the one who could have responded to the question, “Men and brethren what shall we do” by saying “Faith only will save you” or “The grace of God will do all the work for you,” but did not. He chose rather to say, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” Hear this same man’s frame of mind many years after Pentecost as he writes by inspiration: “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us” (1 Pet. 3:21). If baptism saves us, can one be saved without it? Not according to the Bible.

Now we have demonstrated that baptism is necessary to salvation, the remission of sins, entrance into the body, entrance into Christ, etc. The Bible teaches these things. Men may disagree, men may mock those who teach the necessity of baptism, but remember the words of Jesus: “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). The Bible says that one must be baptized to be saved, have you?

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