“Water Salvation”

Who among us has not been accused of believing and teaching “water salvation?” I know I have many times as I attempted to convert one to Christ, giving water baptism its proper place in answering the question “what must I do to be saved.” Because we insist that one isn’t converted to Christ and then baptized, we are accused by denominational preachers and those whom they have influenced, of believing not only in “water salvation” but in believing that baptism is an act that “earns salvation”. I have never known a member of the church of Christ who believed such to be the case. There may be one or some who do, but I would tell them they are simply wrong if that is what they believe about water baptism.

One must close one’s mind completely, being prejudiced by human tradition or creedal statements, who would deny that in every age of God’s dealings with mankind He has placed conditions on various promised blessings--conditions which must be met, or the blessing will be denied. Examples are many. (1) Naaman the Syrian leper would be healed of this dreaded disease only if he would “dip seven times in Jordan” (2 Kings 5:10). (2) The firstborn among the Israelites would not be harmed when God killed the firstborn among the Egyptians, if they would sprinkle the blood of a lamb on their door post of their houses (Exodus 12:7-13). (3) The walls of Jericho would fall down before the army of Israel, if they marched around the city in the proper processional once a day for six days and seven times on the seventh day as they shouted and blew the ram’s horn. Prior to their marching God said, “behold, I have given you the city.” (Joshua 6:1-5). (4) The blind man whom Jesus healed would be healed, provided he would go and “wash in the pool of Siloam” (John 9:1-7). (5) Noah was commanded to build an ark of Gopher wood according to certain prescribed measurements for the saving of his household from the impending flood which God promised to send to destroy wicked mankind from the face of the earth (Genesis 6:5-22). In the New Testament we are told that Noah was saved by faith because he “built an ark” (Hebrews 11:7). Who has the audacity to say that these folks “earned God’s blessings” by doing what God commanded? Why then is the charge made when we teach that which Jesus commanded in His “Great Commission” (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:45-47), concerning how men are saved today, especially as this relates to water baptism? The Holy Spirit records the following for folks in our age. “...when God’s patience waited in Noah’s days, while the ark was being built, in which a few (that is, eight souls) were brought safely through the water. This is a figure of the washing which now saves you, not the removal of dirt from the body, but the appeal to God of a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:20-21 McCord’s Translation). The old King James version of this passage simply says, “..baptism doth also now save you..” Frankly, I believe what God’s word says about this matter, it is just that simple. The same book which teaches salvation by faith, and salvation by repentance, also teaches that baptism saves. Who are we to accept one as true and the other as false? All who were saved by doing what the Great Commission of Christ enjoined, were saved “by grace through faith” and none earned their forgiveness (Ephesians 2:8-10). Still they were not forgiven (saved) before or unless they complied with the conditions Christ Himself gave for salvation from alien sins, period! Neither did the sinner earn his salvation by being baptized, and it is not the water that saves him. Christ, by means of His death on the cross, pardons sinners who meet His conditions of pardon. It is just this simple. He is the “author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him” (Hebrew 5:9).

The “Great Commission ” Being Carried Out

Put the “Great Commission” passages together with these clear cases of conversion under the teaching of inspired men in the first century. Then read the other clear passages on this subject.You will learn that they all followed a logical sequence of events. Hearing so one could believe (John 6:44-45; Mark 16:15; Romans 10:17. Faith in Jesus and in His gospel (John 8:21-24; Hebrews 11:6; Romans 5:1). Repentance of sin and error (Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30-31; 2 Peter 3:9; Acts 2:38). Confession of faith in Christ (Acts 8:37; Romans 10:9-10; Matthew 10:32). Baptism into Christ and into the one body for the remission of alien sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38, 4--41; 1 Peter 3:20-21; Romans 6:3-6; Galatians 3:26-29; Acts 22:16; Ephesians 2:13-16; 1 Corinthians 12:13).

The last two passages cited above show that this Scriptural baptism places one in a relationship known as “the church,” or as Jesus taught in John 3:3-5, in the kingdom. See also Colossians 1:13-14. In the first century, before there were any human denominations, folks who by faith obeyed the gospel of Christ were simply “added to the number of the saved in the one body, the church.” These folks took the family name, Christian (Acts 2:41,47; Acts 11;26b; 1 Peter 4:16; Acts 26:28; 1 Corinthians 1:10-12). If men will only go back beyond Catholicism and Protestantism to the pure word of Christ, believe what these folks believed, and do what they did, it will make them exactly what they were. This is our plea as members of the New Testament church of Christ. The prayer of Christ is answered every time a penitent believer is baptized into this relationship (John 17:17, 20-21; Ephesians 4:1-6; 1 Corinthians 1:10-12). One who has thus complied with Christ’s will in this matter, thereby becoming a Christian, is then in need of identifying and “joining ones’s self to” a local congregation set up after the New Testament pattern (Acts 9:26-28; Philippians 1:1; Acts 14:23; Acts 20:17-28; 1 Peter 5:1-4).

Please don’t allow Protestant preachers or their members, nor Catholic Priest or their members to deceive you in this matter. Submit your will to Jesus as the Lord of your life and allow His word to lead you into His blood bought church where you may worship and serve Him unfettered by denominational creeds and organizations. Step out and take your stand upon the infallible word of Jesus Christ, serve Him in faithfulness then go home to glory when you die (Rev. 2:10; 22:14).

For more information on how to identify the New Testament church, its worship, organization, names, and mission, give a call to the one who gave you this tract or the one whose number appears on the front and we will see that you are put into contact with someone who will eagerly assist you in this matter.

By Kenneth E. Thomas

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