There are many people that have a misunderstanding of baptism and its connection with salvation. Many people will accept that there are some conditions of salvation, such as faith, confession, or repentance. However, they do not understand that the Bible teaches that baptism is essential for man to be forgiven of his sins and be saved. Let us examine what the Bible teaches about baptism and salvation so that we can understand baptism in God's plan.
Baptism Is An Act Of Faith: -- In Col. 2:12, we read, "Buried with Him in baptism, where in ye are risen with Him through faith of the operation of God, Who hath raised Him from the dead." Paul is telling the Christians at Colosse that they were buried in baptism and at which time their sins were removed by faith in the working of God through Christ's death. To the Romans Paul wrote, "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 as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Rom. 6:3,4). Again Paul describes baptism as being that which is done in faith because of the resurrection of Christ. In being baptized, those at Rome and Colosse had been buried with Christ and were to "walk in newness of life" (Rom. 6:4; Col. 3:1). Baptism is seen as being an action of faith in God and His power. By submitting to baptism by faith we become sharers in the new life and have the hope of eternal life.
Faith Makes Baptism Complete: -- The Hebrew writer wrote, "Without faith it is impossible to please God..." (Heb.11:6). As faith is essential it is just as important to be obedient to God by faith in doing what He has commanded (Jas. 1:22; 2:14-26). In Jno. 3:5 Jesus told Nicodemus, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." On the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), the Jews that Peter was preaching to were convicted of their sins and this prompted them to ask, based on their faith that Go had raised the crucified Christ from the dead, "What shall we do?" Peter responded, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:37,38). Peter did nto leave the impression at all that they were saved by their apparent faith. He did not describe baptism as an "outward sign of an inward grace" that their sins had been forgiven. Rather, Peter told them that in order to have their sins forgiven that they must "repent and be baptized". Again, in the conversion of Saul, we have a man living "in all good conscience", a religious man (Acts 22:3-5), and a praying, penitent man (Acts 9:11). Ananias comes into where Paul is and says, "Why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord" (Acts 22:16). The New Testament makes it clear tht faith was present and that it was faith that caused Saul and those at Jerusalem on Pentecost to be buried in baptism to remove their sins.
Baptism's Connection With Salvation: -- It seems clear that the Bible teaches that baptism and salvation are connected. Let us notice the connections made:
1. We know that in an unsaved state we do not have salvation because of our sins (Isa. 59:1,2) and that our sins are forgiven or washed away at baptism (Acts 2;38; 22:16).
2. Our sins are forgiven because of the sacrifice of Christ and the shedding of His blood for our sins (1 Pet. 2:22-24; 1 Jno. 1:7; 2:2; Rom. 6:3,4).
3. The connection Peter makes when speaking of Noah and his obedience to God's commands when he said, "The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), by the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 3:21).
4. The connection Jesus made when He gave the command "he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mk. 16:16).
The Bible is very clear and understandable in the connection between baptism and salvation. There is never any statement or evidence in the Bible that suggests baptism being "an outward sign of an inward grace". Therefore, let us rest assured of what the Bible teaches. Let us follow its teachings faithfully and be assured that we are saved in the same manner as those in the first century.
By David Cox in Gospel Power, Vol. 13, No. 42, Oct. 15, 2006
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