Monday, January 6, 2014

Can We Put Too Much Emphasis On Baptism If It Is In The Scriptures?

By Johnny Oxendine

    Some times we find ourselves having to just go back to the scriptures to show people that what we preach and teach is what the Bible says, not what we want it to say. This comes up with numerous issues, but today we just want to look at a very simple, but sometimes misunderstood topic: baptism.
    Why would a topic like baptism (for the remission of sins) be so controversial for many in the world and denominations today? Perhaps it is because in the church we often hear that we are legalists, or that we put too much importance on “minor” things like baptism in relation to salvation. In view of what the Bible teaches, I do not see how this could be possible. There are five very clearly written passages in the New Testament that mention both baptism and salvation in the same verse. Here is the list -- see for yourself: Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Romans 6:4; Acts 22:16 and I Peter 3:21. In every one of these passages, water baptism precedes salvation, the remission of sins or walking in the newness of life. Do you know of a single exception?
    Just read this verse, "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16:16). This passage clearly contains the conditions for salvation: faith and baptism. It also contains the conditions for damnation: a lack of faith. If anyone wants to know what to do to go to hell, have them read Mark 16:16 -- all that is necessary is a lack of faith. If they want to know what to do for the salvation of their soul, have them read the same verse -- it tells them to believe and be baptized.
    We can also read in Acts 2:38 that Peter told a group of believers to "repent, and let everyone of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins." Our denominational friends (mostly Baptists) often focus on the word "for" in this passage and insist it means "because of," even though it is never translated that way in the Bible. We have to remind them that if baptism is "because of" the remission of sins, then so is repentance. Baptism and repentance are joined by the little conjunction "and." Which means that whatever baptism is "for," repentance is "for" also. After one is buried with Christ in baptism, they are raised to walk in a newness of life (Romans 6:1-4). This new life comes after baptism. Many denominationalists obviously want to "bury" the "new man," since they claim the newness of life comes before our "burial."
    Remember that three days after the Lord appeared to Saul of Tarsus, Ananias told him to "arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins" (Acts 22:16). Some people today claim Saul was saved three days before Ananias met him. Well, Ananias must not have known it, for he told Saul how to "wash away" his sins. If Saul had been saved on the road as some groups claim, he must have been the most miserable saved man in the Bible. Saul was blind and spent three days praying and fasting until Ananias arrived.
    In I Peter 3:21 the Bible plainly states baptism "now saves us." I realize that baptism alone is not the only thing necessary for salvation. Other requirements must be met, like faith, love and repentance. I do not know of anything "alone" that will save a sinner, not even faith (James 2:24). So, as always, we want to speak where the scriptures speak (without additions)

- via the Belvedere Beacon, the weekly bulletin of the Belvedere Church of Christ, Belvedere, SC.  Ken Chumbley preaches for this congregation, and he may be contacted at their website:

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