What Does Baptism Have To Do With Salvation?
A common question that needs a valid answer.
When the Bible talks about baptism, it almost always talks about it in connection with forgiveness, salvation, and the washing away of sins.
But this confuses many people, because the Bible clearly teaches that man is saved by grace, through faith (Ephesians 2:8).
So what, if anything, does baptism have to do with salvation?
Let’s see what the Bible really teaches.
The Outward Sign Of An Inward Grace
Those in the denominations make this claim.
The suggestion is offered to discount what baptism actually does for you.
In fact, they teach you can be saved without baptism.
They promote the “Faith Only” concept of salvation.
Baptism is not something we do in addition to having faith in Christ.
Baptism is an expression of faith in Christ.
1 Peter 3:21 “And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ”.
Peter had just spoken about Noah and his family (8 souls) receiving salvation through the water (water below and water above).
It was their obedience that saved them, not their faith.
In fact, baptism is the biblical way for a lost person to express faith in Christ, in order to be saved by God’s grace.
Acts 22:16 “And why do you wait, arise and be baptized, and wash your sins away, calling on the name of the Lord”.
This is what is meant by the expression of “calling on the name of the Lord”.
Many in the denominations teach that just calling out His name will save your soul.
This is the biblical way of crying out to the Lord in faith:
“I want nothing more to do with a life of sin”.
“I want to live anew as your humble servant”.
“Please, Lord, wash me and I will be clean”.
Man cannot cleanse him/herself of sins.
Only God can do that.
None of what the New Testament teaches about baptism contradicts what is said in passages like Ephesians 2:8,
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”
What the Bible says about baptism is in perfect harmony with what it says about grace and faith.
We are baptized because we have faith that God really does save sinners “by His grace.”
People who argue otherwise do not understand “grace”.
What Does Sin Do?
Isaiah 59:1-2 “Behold, the LORD’S hand is not so short that it cannot save; neither is His ear so dull that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He does not hear”.
Those that teach the false doctrine proclaim a sinner has a relationship with God.
This is totally opposite of what the Bible teaches.
What Does Baptism Do?
Baptism is for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).
Baptism is the moment when sins are washed away (Acts 22:16).
Baptism is the act of putting on Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:27).
Baptism symbolically unites us with Christ. Our old self is buried and we’re raised to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:1-11).
Baptism saves us because it is an appeal for a clean conscience (1 Peter 3:21).
Baptism washes away our sins and makes us a new creature. Titus 3:5; 2 Corinthians 5:17
Baptism puts us into a relationship with Christ. Galatians 3:27.
Our old self of worldly existence is put to death and we put on a new life in baptism. Colossians 3:5-11.
There are many more things that Baptism does according to Scripture.
Not by Works
Here is the argument that some may say, “But if you believe you must be baptized in order to be saved aren’t you teaching salvation by works? Doesn’t Paul say we are NOT saved by works?”
The New Testament absolutely teaches we are not saved “by works.”
Many people in the First Century taught that in order to be saved, you had to keep the Law of Moses.
They were teaching a salvation by works of the Law.
They did not have faith in God’s willingness to save by grace.
The books of Romans and Galatians were written to combat this false teaching.
“We know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified” (Galatians 2:16).
Paul also explained in the book of Ephesians that we are not saved by any of our good works.
We cannot save ourselves by being good people and doing good deeds.
If we could, then we would be able to boast that we had saved ourselves, rather than praising God for saving us.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
We can only be saved by trusting in Jesus’ power and willingness to save by grace.
This faith is expressed by repenting of our sins and being baptized (Acts 2:38).
Jesus said, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16).
Baptism is the biblical way for a lost person to express belief in Jesus.
Until they do so, they remain condemned.
Baptized Because You Are Saved?
Just about every denomination teaches this approach.
Very few, if any denominations teach the biblical purpose of baptism.
Those baptized in the denominations were taught wrongly.
I still say, how can you be taught wrong, and still be baptized right?
And it is very weak to suggest you feel in your heart you were baptized right.
Such feeling is not supported by Scripture.
Many argue this teaching because they deny the biblical teaching on baptism.
They say they were saved first, then later were baptized because they were saved.
In other words, they believe baptism is to show people they’ve already been saved.
This is simply not the biblical teaching on baptism.
Occasionally, the argument is made about the Greek word, “eis” in Acts 2:38, that it means “because of.”
But this is simply not true.
The Greek word “eis” occurs over 1,700 times in the New Testament and it never means “because of.”
Example: I put a picture of Ben Franklin on the table and say, whoever believes and walks up here for the picture can have it.
The argument in question says if you believe, you already have it and do not need to come up here and get it.
This logic is applied universally, except in religion.
Consider the account of Saul of Tarsus (who later became Paul):
After persecuting the church, the Lord appeared to him on the road to Damascus and struck him blind (Acts 9:8).
No one argues that Paul believed at this point, but was he saved?
That’s an important question.
The denominations teach that today, a person who believes without any obedience can be saved.
Then why the Bible account of Paul’s conversion?
We certainly don’t find Paul rejoicing.
The text says, “For three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank” (Acts 9:9).
When a man named Ananias showed up he said to Saul, “And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on His name” (Acts 22:16).
Here was a man who had believed in Jesus for three days, but yet was still in his sins.
It wasn’t until he called on the name of the Lord by being baptized that his sins were washed away.
Salvation is in Christ.
Nobody can deny that.
The question then becomes “How does one get into Christ?”
Baptism is the only biblically approved method of getting into Christ.
Remember that if you are not saved in the manner the Bible teaches, you are lost.
By Carey Scott based on an article by Wes McAdams
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