OceanSide church of Christ

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Victor M. Eskew


          Some religious groups teach that baptism is necessary for salvation.  Some groups proclaim that baptism has nothing to do with the salvation of the soul.  One thing is absolutely certain:  both groups cannot both be right.  The two views are diametrically opposed.  The ones who are wrong need to admit they are wrong and conform to the truth.

          Whether a position is right or wrong can only be determined by God’s Word.  The Word of God is the divine authority that will be the standard of judgment in the last day (John 12:48; Rom. 2:2).  The prophet of old was right when he said:  “To the law and to the testimony:  if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isa. 8:20).  Let us, therefore, turn to God’s Word in order to see what it has to say about the relationship between baptism and salvation.


Mark 16:16 – He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but the that believeth not shall be damned.


These words form part of the Great Commission spoken by Jesus to His apostles.  Two facts are clearly proclaimed by the Savior in this text.  The person who believes and is baptized shall be saved.  The person who does not believe will be damned.  Does Jesus make baptism a condition of salvation?  Yes, there is no doubt about it.  Anyone who studies the book of Acts will see that this commission was taken seriously by the apostles.  Every conversion in the book of Acts involves baptism.  Why?  Jesus said the lost must be baptized to be saved.


Acts 2:38 – Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.


These words are Peter’s answer to a question posed by those who heard him preach on the day of Pentecost.  Their question pertained to salvation.  They asked him:  “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37).  Acts 2:38 contains Peter’s answer.  He told them to “Repent, and be baptized.”  He also told them the “why” of this command:  “…for the remission of sins…”  Verse 41 is very telling.  “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized, and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.”  The people wanted to know what they needed to do to be saved.  They were told what to do and part of those instructions involved baptism.  They did not argue against the command.  Instead, they gladly complied and were baptized.  That day they received the remission of their sins.


Acts 22:16 – And now why tarriest thou?  arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.


These words were spoken by Ananias to Saul of Tarsus.  Saul had seen the Lord Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus.  The Lord told him to go into the city and it would be told him what he needed to do.  When Ananias saw this Jewish leader in a state of repentance, he commanded him to “arise, and be baptized.”  The purpose of the baptism was clearly stated:  “…and wash away thy sins.”  Ananias’ words harmonized with the words of both Jesus and Peter.  He knew Saul had to be baptized to be cleansed of his sins.


Romans 6:3-4 – Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death:  that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.


Newness of life is what the sinner needs.  Newness of life is the result of the new birth.  In this text, Paul reveals exactly when a man receives newness of life.  He teaches that one receives it when he is raised from the waters of baptism.  NOTE:  There is no newness of life before this time.  Again, baptism is seen to be essential in the saving process.


Galatians 3:27 – For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.


Not one man or woman is saved until he or she puts on Christ Jesus.  In Galatians 3:27, we learn when a person puts on Christ.  One puts on Christ when he is baptized.  Those who do not believe that baptism has anything to do with salvation have a person saved before that person puts on the Savior.  Such is an impossibility.


I Peter 3:21 – The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.


Let’s listen to six words in this verse:  “…baptism doth also now save us…”  Let’s listen to that again:  “…baptism doth also now save us…”  A third time might be profitable:  “...baptism doth also now save us…”  These are the words of Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ.  He heard the Lord.  He understood the Lord.  He was inspired by the Holy Spirit.  He was plain when he said:  “…baptism doth also now save us…”


          In this article, we have looked at six New Testament verses regarding baptism.  We have seen the following:  1) He that believes and is baptized shall be saved.  2) He that repents and is baptized receives the remission of sins.  3)  He that is baptized has his sins washed away.  4)  He that is baptized rises to walk in newness of life.  5) He that is baptized puts on Christ.  And, 6) He that is baptized is saved.  How can any honest person read these Scriptures and reject baptism in God’s plan to save man?  There verses are simple.  There is no doubt the Scriptures teach that in order for a person to be saved he must be baptized into Christ.  “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matt. 28:19).