On Billy Graham and the “importance” of baptism

          Facebook was flooded with posts about Billy Graham as the news of his passing spread on Wednesday. Many shared memories of hearing the popular preacher, others recounted some of his achievements in religion. He was commended by some and criticized by others.
          Those who criticized Mr. Graham’s preaching, specifically his failure to preach the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27), were themselves rebuked with the statement, “God alone will judge!” In truth, no mortal man can preach anyone into heaven or condemn anyone to hell. It is God and God alone who knows all there is to know about a man (2 Corinthians 5:10). However, the Scriptures also teach that we can identify false teachers “by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15-20).
          If you continue reading in Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus talks about religious people who claimed to do good works, but who would be denied entrance to the kingdom of heaven. Despite all of their good works, Jesus says, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!”
          Mr. Graham’s teaching was good, up to a point. He stressed the importance of faith. He extolled the value of morality. However, he stopped short. Concerning baptism, he said, “I believe baptism is important, and I have been baptized. But I think we violate the Scriptures when we make baptism the prime requirement for salvation.”
          First, note that Mr. Graham accuses some of making baptism “the prime” requirement. Brethren, baptism must be based upon faith in Christ as the Son of God and coupled with repentance. It is no more or less “prime” than any of God’s commands.
          Second, compare Mr. Graham’s opinion (that baptism is “important”) to the inspired Word. Read Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21; Galatians 3:27; Romans 6:3-6. Do you get a sense of mere importance in those passages, or is it directly related to salvation?
          Many have sadly been deceived by Mr. Graham’s teachings. May we all strive for faith in the Word of God rather than the words of uninspired men as we seek to obey our Father.

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