Tag Archives: Baptism

The Purpose of Baptism

There are many opinions about baptism in the 21st century religious world. Most recognize that baptism is important but disagree on its place in God’s plan for saving man. Since it is an important topic, we would be wise to seek the counsel of God on baptism.

“For the remission of sins”

Acts 2:38, Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

According to this passage, Peter says that baptism is “for the remission of sins.” What does that phrase mean? In English, we recognize that “for” can have a few different meanings. It could mean that baptism is done with a view toward, or in order to accomplish the remission of sins. Another way to understand it is that baptism is done because of the remission of sins, or because remissions of sins was already accomplished. So which is it?

This is not the only passage in the Bible that uses the phrase, “for the remission of sins.” I am a firm believer in the idea that the Bible is its own best commentary, so let’s look at the other passage in which the phrase “for the remission of sins” is found.

While instituting the Lord’s Supper, Jesus said about the cup, “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28). Now, apply the above meanings to this passage. Was Jesus’ blood shed with a view toward, or in order to accomplish the remission of sins? Or was His blood shed because the remission of sins was already accomplished?

Obviously, the first view is correct. If remission of sins was accomplished before His blood was shed, then why was His blood shed? Just as Jesus’ blood was shed in order to accomplish the remission of sins, likewise we are baptized in order to accomplish the remission of sins.

Not baptism alone!

Let us pause for just a moment to clarify that the Bible does not teach salvation by baptism alone. The Scriptures are clear that one must hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe (John 3:16), repent (Acts 2:38; 3:17), and confess his belief in Christ as the Son of God (Acts 8:37). All of these things work together with baptism to bring about God’s grace in a person’s life. It is neither faith alone (James 2:24) nor baptism alone (Mark 16:16) that saves, but an obedient, active faith.

“Wash away your sins”

When Jesus appeared before Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus, the Lord told him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do” (Acts 9:6). For three days Saul fasted and prayed (Acts 9:9,11) until Ananias came and said, “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).

So follow the events: Saul believed, then started fasting and praying, and then Ananias said stop praying, be baptized, and wash away your sins. That’s a lot different than what many say today! Many teach that when you believe and say a prayer, you’re saved at that point, and then later you can be baptized if you want. But Ananias placed baptism before the washing away of sins!

Necessary or not?

The North American Mission Board, an organization of the Southern Baptist Convention, says, “While baptism is important, it is not necessary for salvation.” They argue against the clear statement of Mark 16:16, in which Jesus says, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” NAMB argues, “Mark 16:16 is silent concerning whether the person who believes but is not baptized is saved or lost.”

Jesus is clear in His command. Why must man take His plain statement and twist it and make excuses and try to find loopholes? Jesus said believe, be baptized, be saved. Nothing is said about belief without baptism because there is no such thing; if one truly believes and understands, he will simply obey what Christ commands without looking for a way out.

Where do you stand?

Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and died so that your sins could be forgiven? Have you had your sins washed away by the saving blood of Christ? Have you been baptized for the remission of sins?

If you need assistance in obeying this simple command of the Lord, the only One who can save you from your sins, please contact your local church of Christ today.

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.

The Life of John the Baptist: John Baptizes Jesus

The Life of John the Baptist

JOHN BAPTIZES JESUS // Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22

I. Why did Jesus submit to baptism?

    A. John tried to prevent Him
    B. It was not “for the remission of sins” (Luke 3:3; cf. Hebrews 4:15)
    C. “To fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15)

      1. “He learned obedience” (Hebrews 5:8)
      2. He came to do the will of God (Hebrews 10:7)
      3. “There are two aspects of baptism; first, it was an act in connection with the remission of sin, and an act of obedience to a positive command of God. Jesus had no sin to be forgiven, but he must obey the command of God.” (Boles, Matthew)
      4. “Could He have gone on in His sinlessness as heretofore and have remained sinless to the end if at this point He did not do everything God had commanded? No, perfect holiness involves doing all God says to do, without rationalizing. Had Jesus refused or neglected to obey this precept of God, He would have failed, coming short of perfect righteousness.” (Fowler, Matthew)
      5. “Our Lord came to set us a perfect example, hence it was needful for him, having taken the form of a man and a servant, to set us an example of obedience. He was baptized, not unto repentance, for he had no sins, but to fulfill all righteousness, and thus to show us how every disciple ought to do.” (Johnson and DeWelt, Mark)
      6. “How worthy of emulation is that sublime attitude of Jesus; and how unlike that attitude is that of men who set aside even the baptism that is greater than John’s, making it a non-essential, an elective privilege, rather than receiving it for what it is, namely, a divinely-imposed condition of eternal salvation, which if spurned cannot fail to bring everlasting remorse.” (Coffman, Matthew)

    D. Why are we supposed to be baptized today?

      1. “For the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38)
      2. “Wash away your sins” (Acts 22:16)
      3. “Into His death” (Romans 6:3-6)
      4. “Put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27)

II. The Spirit “descending like a dove”

    A. John 1:32-34
    B. “As in all Scriptural symbolism, the dove was a creature most admirably suited to serve in that situation as a vehicle for suggesting the Holy Spirit. Note: (1) The dove was a ‘clean’ creature under the ceremonial laws of the Jews; (2) it was used in their religious sacrifices, two, in fact, being offered upon the presentation of our Lord in the temple (Luke 2:24); (3) it is a monogamous creature! (4) it is a symbol of peace; (5) it is a marvel of gentleness, love, and affection; (6) it is a messenger (the homing pigeon is a dove); and (7) the dove has no gall, suggesting that there is no bitterness in the service of God.” (Coffman, Matthew)
    C. Jesus called doves “harmless” (Matthew 10:16)
    D. “The coming of the Spirit performed these all-important functions:

      1. “The divine authentication of His identity: HE, and no other, is God’s Son and Messiah;
      2. “His public anointing as God’s Messiah (Ac. 10:38);
      3. “The reinforcement of the human nature of Jesus for the great work and suffering which He must shortly commence.” (Fowler, Matthew)

III. The Father’s voice from heaven

    A. “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
    B. Two other instances of the Father speaking from above in the New Testament

      1. At the mount of transfiguration: Matthew 17:5, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!”
      2. At the feast: John 12:28-29, “‘Father, glorify Your name.’ Then a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.’ Therefore the people who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered.”

    C. Jesus’ status as the Son of God is different from other sons (and daughters) of God

      1. “Only begotten” (John 3:16-18; 1 John 4:9)
      2. Jesus is a unique, one-of-a-kind type of Son
      3. We are children through adoption (Galatians 4:4-7)

IV. The trinity

    A. “Here at the baptism of Jesus, we have one of the clearest and most complete revelations of the three Persons who make up the Deity: the Son of God standing incarnate upon earth, the Spirit descending out of heaven, and the Father speaking from heaven. Again, our obedience to the divine will brings together those mighty names in connection with our baptism.” (Fowler, Matthew)
    B. Matthew 28:19-20
    C. 2 Corinthians 13:14