"For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. " ( I Corinthians 1:17 - NKJV)
This passage is often used by those who teach that baptism isn’t essential for salvation. When we read what Paul was writing about in the preceding seven verses we can see that he was not saying baptism wasn’t essential. He was saying it was sinful to call oneself after human teachers. “I am of Paul.” “I am of Apollos.” “I am of Cephas.” “I am a Baptist.” “I am a Methodist.” “I’m a Mormon.” In fact, when we read on a couple more chapters we see that Paul expands even more on divisions. What Paul is saying is that divisions are sinful.
Doesn’t it seem strange that Paul, an apostle directly inspired by the Holy Spirit, would say in verse fourteen that he did the very thing Christ didn’t send him to do, baptize? Yet he did it. He was thankful he hadn’t baptized more than he did only because then even more people could say, “I am of Paul.”
Paul’s job, and the Christian’s job, is really not to baptize people. If that was the job we could baptize a bunch of people a day with a little thought.
Paul’s job, and the Christian’s job, is to preach the gospel. That’s it. In Mark 16:15 we find what Christ sent Paul, the apostles and Christians, to do, “And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” That is the job Paul was sent to do - preach the gospel of Christ.
Baptism is the result of believed, obedient gospel. Jesus himself continues on in the next verse, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” There is no salvation without belief and baptism.
The job is preaching the gospel. Not everyone who hears the gospel will believe it, but those who do believe must be baptized for the remission of sins. Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16, I Peter 3:21 and others.
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