Devaluing Water Baptism

Many good people do not believe water baptism is necessary for salvation from sins. This is regrettable, because there are so many New Testament passages that plainly speak to its necessity. These include: Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:37-38, 41; 8:35-38; 10:47-48; 16:15; 16:30-34; 22:16; Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:27; Colossians 2:12; and 1 Peter 3:21.

So, what do these sincerely mistaken religious folks do about all these Bible passages that say baptism is necessary for salvation? Their pronouncement of allegiance to the Bible as God's word is diminished and rendered ineffective when they reject the necessity of water baptism for salvation which the Bible affirms. We urge our religious friends to accept the plain, Bible teaching on this subject. Reject the teaching that says the Bible cannot possibly mean what it says about the necessity of water baptism to be saved, for it is from men, not God (1 Cor. 1:21; Gal. 1:6-10).

Here are some of the things that are said to resist and reject the necessity of water baptism.

1) "I don't need to be baptized, because I was baptized when I was a baby." By this they refer to the practice of sprinkling infants to remove inherited sin. The New Testament always presents the one to be baptized as a believer, and never as an infant (who is without mental and moral capacity, and who is free of sin, Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:37-38; Matt. 18:3-4). Sprinkling is not baptism, for the word itself means to dip, to plunge, to immerse. The practice of sprinkling as a form of baptism did not begin in New Testament times. It cannot be found on its pages. Over 1000 years later, the Roman Catholic Council of Ravenna (1311) declared sprinkling to be acceptable. One who has been sprinkled has not been Scripturally baptized.

2) "The passages that talk about baptism are really describing an internal, spiritual process, the baptism or work of the Holy Spirit upon the heart of the sinner - not actual water baptism." One problem with this explanation is the prominence of water in the baptism commanded by the apostles of Christ in the New Testament. When the Ethiopian came upon water, he knew he needed to be baptized in it (Acts 8:36-39). Peter commanded water for the baptism of Cornelius and his house (Acts 10:47-48). Saul arose and was baptized to "wash away his sins" (Acts 22:16). An unbiased reading of Scripture shows how God uses water baptism to save us (1 Pet. 3:20-21). The proper, desired and commanded element of baptism in the New Testament is water. We cannot "spiritualize" away the water, in an effort to escape its necessity.

3) "The purpose of water baptism is not important." The apostle Peter said it is "for the remission of sins" in Acts 2:38. That's important. Ananias said it will "wash away your sins" in Acts 22:16. That's important. Jesus said baptism is needed to be "saved" in Mark 16:16. That's important. Why we are baptized in water is just as important as whether we have been baptized at all.

4) "Water baptism is important to obey Jesus, but not to be saved." The problem with this is simple: Scripture says water baptism is necessary for salvation (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:21). When we love Jesus, we obey Him (Jno. 14:15). Jesus saves those who obey Him (Heb. 5:9). Therefore, when one loves Jesus, he obeys Jesus by being baptized, and Jesus saves him, just as He said: "He who believes and is baptized will be saved" (Mk. 16:16).

5) "All this talk about water baptism is nit-picking. We should focus on the grace of God and the faith of man, as in Romans 5:1-2, or Ephesians 2:8-9." When we plead for the necessity of water baptism we are focusing on both the grace of God and the faith of man. The sinner is baptized into the death of Jesus (Rom. 6:3). Water baptism for the remission of sins is an act of faith by which the sinner obtains God's grace (Eph. 2:8). When he is baptized into the death of Jesus, the blood of Jesus washes away the sinner's sins (Acts 22:16; Rom. 6:3). God's merciful grace saves us when we receive the "washing of regeneration" that occurs in water baptism (Titus 3:4-5; Eph. 5:26).

There is "one baptism" today; not two (Eph. 4:5). It is the Great Commission baptism (Mk. 16:15-16). It is water baptism (Acts 8:35-39; 10:47-48). It is for every sinner (Matt. 28:19). It is for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). The water cannot be spiritualized away. It is an actual burial in actual water (Rom. 6:4; Acts 8:38). It cannot be changed from immersion in water, to the sprinkling or pouring of water.

We implore you to accept and obey the Bible teaching on water baptism. If you do not, you will find yourself fighting against God (Acts 5:39). Yield your will to His, and in faith, be baptized in water to be saved.

by Joe R. Price

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