For church information contact Marv Walker ~ 706 468-6990


Baptism, On, And Below, The Surface

I came across a web page dismissing baptism as a part of, or a necessity of, salvation. I have copied the page verbatim and have placed the author's words in this font color. I have inserted some comments where they apply. I hope I have accurately portrayed the original article.

The author writes...

Romans 6:3-5 is often used as a proof text for the claim that baptism is essential for salvation. It is a strong comparison between our baptism and Christ's death, burial, and resurrection. On the surface, one could conclude that from these verses that baptism is part of salvation.

"Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection," Is this section of scripture teaching us that baptism is necessary for salvation? No, it is not. First, we know from the rest of scripture that salvation is by faith, not by faith and something we do (Rom. 3:28-30). Second, we can see from other scriptures that baptism follows faith. Take a look at Acts 16:30-33 where the Jailer specifically asks what he must do to be saved and where baptism fits in:

"and after he brought them out, he said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" 31And they said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your household." 32And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house. 33And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household," (Acts 16:30-33). If baptism were part of salvation, then Paul should have said, "Believe and be baptized and you will be saved." But, he did not. Also, consider Acts 10:44-48:

We can run into a lot of trouble when we say what God should have said or done or what the Bible should have said. When God tells us what to do, He automatically is telling us what not to do. When God tells us what not to do, He is automatically telling us what to do.

We see this principle in action when Moses struck the rock (Numbers 20:7-12), when Nadab and Abihu used "strange" fire (Leviticus 10:1-2) and Uzzah touched the Ark of the Covenant (2 Samuel 6:6-7). All of these went just a little beyond what God said and paid dearly. God also plainly says we are not to take away from (remove those things we consider wrong or unnecessary) or add to (put in those things we think He should have said) His word. (Deuteronomy 4:2, Revelation 22:19)

The web page author contends, "If baptism were part of salvation, then Paul should have said, "Believe and be baptized and you will be saved." But, he did not." Verse 32 of Acts 16 says they spoke the word of the Lord to him and all of his household. What words? The words, "Believe and be baptized and you will be saved?" The author contends Paul didn't say those words. We don't know what the "word of the Lord" literally, word for word, composed of. To be so sure the words "Believe and be baptized and you will be saved" weren't said is a soul risking conclusion.

The author states "On the surface, one could conclude that from these verses that baptism is part of salvation," and then rejects the obvious conclusion, that even he admits, based on flippantly assuming Paul didn't mention "Believe and be baptized and you will be saved." Again, to be so sure the words "Believe and be baptized and you will be saved" weren't said by Paul to the jailor is a dangerous, soul risking assumption.

"While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, 47‘Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.' 48 So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days," (NIV). These people were saved. The gift of the Holy Spirit was on the Gentiles and they were speaking in tongues. This is significant because tongues is a gift given to believers, see 1 Cor. 14:1-5. Also, unbelievers don't praise God. They can't because praise to the true God is a deep spiritual matter that is foreign to the unsaved (1 Cor. 2:14). Therefore, the ones in Acts 10:44-48 who are speaking in tongues and praising God are definitely saved and they are saved before they are baptized. This isn't an exception. It is a reality. This proves that baptism is not necessary for salvation.

Here the author goes to Acts 10, the conversion of Cornelius, and uses it as "proof" baptism is not necessary for salvation. The context (what the text is about) of Acts 10, on into Acts 11, is that God's grace is extended to the Gentiles beginning with Cornelius.

Peter has a vision in Acts 10:9-16 that shows him God considers all His creation to be acceptable.

Then he is called before Cornelius and when in front of him he tells him, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean." (Acts 10:28) Peter himself explains the purpose of the vision. Peter then asks Cornelius why he was there (Acts 10:29)...

30 So Cornelius said, “Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, 31 and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your alms are remembered in the sight of God. 32 Send therefore to Joppa and call Simon here, whose surname is Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea. When he comes, he will speak to you.’ 33 So I sent to you immediately, and you have done well to come. Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God.” (Acts 10:30-33)

Notice the words in verse 32, "When he comes, he will speak to you’" and in verse 33, "Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God.” Notice that Peter is there to deliver words as God has commanded.

In Acts 10:34-43 Peter preaches the gospel, speaks, to the Gentiles assembled there. The gospel is the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, according to the scriptures. (I Corinthians 15:1-4)

In Acts 10:44-48 the Holy Spirit falls on the Gentiles and Peter in verse 47 asks, "Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” Notice the words, "who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have." In Luke 24:44-49 Jesus tells his disciples to wait in Jerusalem for power from on high. In Acts 2 beginning at verse 1 we have this come to pass and Peter, being under the power of the Holy Spirit, says in Acts 2:16 it is prophecy from Joel being fulfilled.

In Acts 2 we have a visible coming on of the Holy Spirit along with speaking in tongues and magnifying God. In Acts 2:38 we find the baptism in water commanded as well. In Acts 10:44-49 we have a visible coming on of the Holy Spirit along with speaking in tongues, magnifying God and a command to be baptized. Acts 2 and Acts 10 are parallel accounts according to Peter's own words in Acts 10:47.

The author contends that Cornelius and his family were saved before the Holy Spirit came upon them because only believers receive the gifts of the Spirit. It is true that the Holy Spirit only comes upon believers and then for a purpose. (Numbers 11:24-26, Numbers 24:2, Judges 3:10, Judges 6:34, Judges 11:29, Judges 14:6, Judges 14:19, Judges 15:14, 1 Samuel 10:10, 1 Samuel 11:6, 1 Samuel 16:13, 1 Samuel 18:10, 1 Samuel 19:20, 1 Samuel 19:23, 16.1 Chronicles 12:18, 2 Chronicles 15:1, 2 Chronicles 20:14, Chronicles 20:13-15, 2 Chronicles 24:20, Ezekiel 37:1, Matthew 3:16, Luke 3:22, Acts 19:6)

Acts 10 begins with a description of Cornelius and very plainly says he was a believer, "a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always." He was a believer before the angel or Peter got there but he was still lost in his sins because the angel told him to send for Peter to hear words. Why? So that he and his household may be saved. (Acts 11:13-14)

Now then, what was the purpose of the Holy Spirit coming upon Cornelius and his household?

Peter says it was the same as in Acts 2. " And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning." (Acts 11:15) In Acts 2 the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples to show the happenings were indeed the fulfillment of prophecy. In Acts 10 the Holy Spirit came upon Cornelius and his household to show the Gentiles were accepted by God and thus completes the "all nations" named in Joel 2 and Acts 2.

In Acts 2:38 Peter answers. “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” with " “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized (here's water mentioned) in the name of Jesus Christ." In the same type of situation in Acts 10-11, where Cornelius is waiting the answer to the same question, Peter gives the same command to Cornelius and his household that he gave on the day of Pentecost, "And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord." (Acts 10:47)

Neither the story of the jailer or the story of Cornelius even begin to show baptism is not a part of salvation. These stories and others far and away show the baptism remission of sins salvation connection.

What is Romans 6:3-5 saying? "3Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection," The phrase "baptized into" occurs five times in the NT in four verses as found in the KJV and the NASB:

1.Rom. 6:3, "Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?" 2.1 Cor. 10:2, "and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea." 3.1 Cor. 12:13, "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit." 4.Gal. 3:27, "For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ." To be baptized "into Christ," "into His death," "into Moses," and "into one body" is to be publicly identified with the thing you are being baptized into. The focus is not the baptism itself, but on the thing the baptism represents. In the case of Rom. 6:3-5, being baptized into Christ is a public identification with Christ's death, burial, and resurrection which is said to be the gospel that saves in 1 Cor. 15:1-4. So then, baptism is a public statement proclaiming that the person is trusting in the sacrifice of Christ.

Here the author says baptism represents I Corinthians 15:1-4 which spells out what the gospel is. It is the death, burial and resurrection of Christ with an identifier that is so important Paul says it twice, "according to the scriptures." Why is that so important? Because the gospel is God's power unto salvation. It, the gospel, is "the" power of God unto salvation. Not one of his powers of salvation but the only power of salvation. God only saves through the gospel. (Romans 1:16)

Here are two very important verses to consider...

in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8)
For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? (1 Peter 4:17)

Those who do not obey the gospel will be lost.

How does one literally obey the gospel, the death, burial and resurrection of Christ according to the scriptures? (I Corinthians 15:1-4)

Now at this point, to answer the question, "How do we obey the death, burial and resurrection?" we go back to Romans 6:3-6. The very passage that the author offers, "On the surface, one could conclude that from these verses that baptism is part of salvation." We are baptized in the likeness of his death, burial and resurrection. What is the gospel? The death burial and resurrection of Christ.

The word of God says the blood of Christ remits sins, cleanses, sanctifies and keeps us. (Matthew 26:28, Romans 3:25, Romans 5:9, Ephesians 1:7, Ephesians 2:13, Colossians 1:14, Colossians 1:20, Hebrews 9:14, Hebrews 13:12, 1 John 1:7, Revelation 1:5, Revelation 5:9, Revelation 7:14)

Where was the blood of Christ shed? At his death. How do we contact the blood of Christ? In his death. In baptism our old sin tattered man is put to death, in the likeness of Christ, we are buried, in the likeness of Christ, we are risen to a new life, in the likeness of Christ. In Romans 8:1 it says there is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. How does one get into Christ Jesus? Romans 6:3-5 gives us the answer. We are baptized into Christ.

Baptism saves us. You have to have help to mis-understand I Peter 3:21. It is not a bath, it is the answer of a good conscience towards God. The author admits Romans 6:3-5 calls for a conclusion that baptism is a necessary part of salvation, "on the surface." I Peter 3:21 not only supports Romans 6:3-5 on the surface, it supports it below the surface as well.

Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38. Acts 22:16, Galatians 3:27 also support on, and below, the surface of Romans 6:3-5. Baptism is a necessary part of salvation.

Baptism by immersion is a perfect symbol for this work of Christ with which the Christian is identifying himself. As Christ died and was raised to a new life, so too the Christian, in Christ, is said to have died (Rom. 6:11; Col. 3:3) and has a new life. This new life of regeneration is by faith, the internal work. Baptism, is the external work of identification with Christ. This is why the reference to baptism in the Bible is dealing more with "our union and identification with Christ than to our water baptism."1

No public indentification according to I Peter 3:21. The answer of a good conscience towards God, baptism, is an internal identification with Christ.

•Baptism is being identified as a disciple (Matt. 28:18-9).
•Baptism may be compared to a new birth (John 3:5).
•Baptism is compared to Jesus' death and resurrection (Rom. 6:3-5).
•Baptism is compared to Israel's Exodus and passing through the Red Sea (1 Cor. 10:2).
•Baptism is compared to Noah's escaping the flood waters by entering the ark (1 Pet. 3:21).
In each of the references above, baptism is an identification with something. When people were baptized into John the Baptist's baptism of repentance, it wasn't the baptism that granted them repentance or made repentance real. Repentance is something that happens internally and is the work of God (2 Tim. 2:25). To participate in John's baptism was to publicly proclaim that the person being baptized was accepting John's message or repentance. Hence, it was called a baptism of repentance. It wasn't the baptism that brought repentance; rather, baptism was the result of repentance. The person had to first decide to repent, and then become baptized as a proclamation of his decision. Likewise, the Christian must first decide to repent, to receive Christ (John 1:12), to rely on the sacrifice of Christ, by faith, and then participate in the public proclamation of identifying with Christ's work.

John's baptism was a redeeming baptism just as Christ's baptism is a redeeming baptism, John's baptism was before the death of Christ and in answer to the gospel of the kingdom of heaven. John's baptism looked toward Christ's death. Christ's baptism looks back to Christ's death. The bible clearly says John's baptism was a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. (Mark 1:4, Luke 3:3) Christ's baptism was also "for the remission of sins." (Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16) John's baptism administered after the institution of "in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost," Christ's baptism was no longer valid. (Acts 19:1-5) There is obviously a difference between the two. If baptism were a public identification, what difference would the type of baptism have? For identification purposes both baptisms would be the same.

It is an identification with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ that baptism represents. Jesus' shed blood is what cleanses us from our sins (Heb. 9:22), not being washed with water. It is Christ's death that is the payment for sin. Jesus' burial is the proof that He, in fact, died. Jesus' resurrection is the proof of God the Father's acceptance of the sacrifice of Christ and that death is conquered. Again, for a Christian to be baptized is to make a public proclamation that he is trusting in Christ's work, that he is naming himself with Christ and trusting what Christ has done. This is why it says in Rom. 6:11, "Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus," (NASB). Why? Because "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me," (Gal. 2:20). It is on the cross that Jesus paid for our sins, not in His baptism and not in our baptism. It is our identification with Him, being counted "in Christ" that allows us to say we have been crucified with Christ so that we can say we are dead to sin. We are not dead to sin by our baptism. Rather, we are dead to sin, by faith, in what Jesus did in His sacrifice.

We are saved by our obedience, our active faith. Again, I Peter 3:21 says it is NOT the outward appearance. It is the inward appearance that saves.

Conclusion Romans 6:3-5 speaks to us of Christ's work and our public identification with it. In that ancient world of religious plurality in Roman gods, in the strict Laws of the Jewish system, and in the gods of different cultures, to be baptized was to make a bold statement of commitment to Christ as the risen Lord. It was not the water that saved, but faith in Christ and His work.

To be baptized was to be obedient to God, Christ and the Holy Spirit. That is the inward identification. To live, or follow, after Christ afterwards is the outward bold identification in a world filled with many "gods" and conflicting ignorant beliefs.

The author is absolutely correct, it is not the water that saves. Again, this is what I Peter 3:21 says. It is the baptism that saves. It is where all of Christ's redeeming work comes together with man's redeeming need. It is where belief and faith are united."

The author says that Romans 6:3-5 appears to say, on the surface, that baptism is an essential, required, part of salvation. It appears to say that on the surface because it does say it on the surface and below the surface. Not only that, it also says it in Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, Galatians 3:27.

Dear friends, don't be mislead. The Bible clearly says one must be baptized for the remission of sins. And then one must walk in the light as Jesus is in the light. And walking in the light involves walking in the teaching of Christ's doctrine. Christ's doctrine consists of obedient baptism being an essential part of salvation.

If we can be further service, please call on us.

Marv Walker
706 468-6990

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