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Friday, May 1, 2020

Baptism and the Grace of God

By David R. Ferguson

     It’s amazing the lengths some will go to deny that baptism is part of the Lord's gospel plan of salvation. If a person teaches that the Scriptures say that baptism, which is immersion into Christ's body, was taught by Christ and His Apostles, then one will immediately be accused of denying that we are saved by the grace of God, when nothing could be further from the truth. I recently encountered such individuals myself who were adamant in denying the truth that one is baptized to obtain the remission of sins, as Jesus said in Mark 16:16, and Peter wrote in 1 Peter 3:21. Look at the word of God for yourselves: "He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieves shall be condemned" (Mark 16:16). "…the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water: which also after a true likeness does now save you, even baptism, not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the interrogation of a good conscience toward God, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ…" (1 Peter 3:20-21).
     Baptism is not a work of the person being baptized, nor is it a work of the one performing the baptizing. What it is is best expressed by the Apostle Paul in Romans 6:3-4: "Or are you ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him through baptism unto death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life." It’s our expression of obedient faith, the expression selected by Christ for His followers, that has our old, sinful nature dying in the watery grave of baptism. We rise up from that grave, then, born again (John 3:5) as a child of God, and a fellow heir with Christ (Ephesians 3:6), just as Christ was literally raised through the power of God to triumph over physical death. We know that if we die with Him, we also will be raised and live with Him (Romans 6:9).
     When we are baptized we are expressing our belief that we have faith in the promise given by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, that He will faithfully remove our sins and recall them no more. He is our sin-offering, our propitiation: "Wherefore it behooved Him in all things to be made like unto His brethren, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people" (Hebrews 2:17).
     Jesus Christ is our atoning sacrifice. We believe He died for our sins, but that He did not remain dead, but arose the third day and sits now at the right hand of God (Romans 8:34). We believe we are saved by the grace of God, it is a free gift (Ephesians2:5; Romans 6:23), and that when we submit to baptism we re-enact the death, the burial, and the resurrection of our Lord.
     May the Lord bless you!

- David R. Ferguson preaches for the Lakeland Church of Christ in Mattoon, IL.  He may be contacted through the congregation'sFacebook page: https://www.facebook.com/lakelandchurchofchrist/ or davidferguson61@yahoo.com

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