It is odd to me that so many people try so hard to discount the very clear biblical teaching regarding the necessity of baptism for salvation. There is not a more clearly defined doctrine in the New Testament than the necessity of water baptism for the remission of sins! There is absolutely no way that anyone just studying the biblical text – free from preconceived notions of what “we’re supposed to believe” – would come to the conclusion that baptism is purely a symbolic gesture. But that’s the typical response to any discussion on baptism. It has been relegated to the status of a symbolic gesture that “is a good thing to do” but isn’t really necessary.
To the contrary, the New Testament says that baptism is the point at which a person is “in Christ” (Rom. 6:3, 4; Gal. 3:26, 27), where salvation is (2 Tim. 2:10). Baptism is when a person is “added” to the church – the body of Christ (Acts 2:41, 47; 1 Cor. 12:13). Baptism is when a person has their sins washed away (Acts 22:16). Since baptism is when a person is “buried” with Christ, it is when we contact the blood of Christ for the washing away of our sins (Col. 2:12; Rom. 6:4; cf. Rev. 1:5). Baptism is the picture of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ! So, baptism is when we die to sin and are raised with Christ. Baptism is when we put on Christ and become sons of God (Gal. 3:26, 27). Baptism is when we become the bride of Christ (Eph. 5:25-27). Baptism is when we are born again (John 3:3, 5). Baptism is when we are saved (1 Pet. 3:21). Everything the New Testament says about Christian baptism shows it is absolutely essential to the salvation only available in Christ!
So, with all of these clear Scriptures showing the necessity of baptism, why do so many argue against it? And, what are the arguments that can be made against such clear statements? Well, the short answer is “Denominationalism.”
Those who reject the necessity of baptism do so, primarily, because they have been taught from the teachings of men – like Luther and Calvin – instead of taught from the word of God. They have accepted Luther’s and Calvin’s, among others, ideas about “faith only” salvation, a “no works” “grace only” system of faith. However, the only time you find the phrase “faith only” in the Bible is in James 2:24. “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.” Martin Luther so hated James chapter two that he wanted the epistle of James taken out of the Bible!
In coming articles I’ll be looking in more detail at the objection to baptism as a “work,” and getting into more of the many objections offered against the necessity of baptism. Have you been taught that baptism is “an outward show of an inward faith”? There’s nowhere in the Bible that defines it like that.
So, what are some of the objections to baptism you’ve heard? Let me know and let’s discuss them openly and honestly. It’s too important not to!