It was a great message yesterday at c|Life and with 24 people (says Randy Wade) following Jesus in Believers baptism, well, the proofs in the pudding.
The teaching we received yesterday being on a topic near and dear, I cannot help but write a little more on the subject we were so blessed to learn about. Too, I feel I should point out the things I often write following each week’s services are not because my input is needed, no – our pastors are gifted communicators lightyears ahead of me (watch the sermons when I post them and you will quickly agree). I write because I am inspired by their work and feel compelled knowing so very many of the people I am in communication with on social media and other venues do not attend c|Life. Pray with me that God will use my simple-minded efforts to help someone in their spiritual journey find answers to the questions often asked.
Moving forward then with what’s on my mind, here is a rule, a fact you should always apply when studying scripture; It never, never-never-never contradicts itself. In the course of study, you will come across problem passages that on the surface appear contradictory to a doctrinal position taught by your church and you hold to be true – Baptism is one such subject. Mark 16:16, John 3:5, Acts 2:38; 22:16, Galatians 3:27, and 1 Peter 3:21 are the frequently thrown curve balls (problem passages) that beg to differ with “by grace through faith” alone (Ephesians 2:8), a verse with the natural conclusion of adding anything to the work of Christ on the cross is to say the Lord’s payment for sin was insufficient to redeem and save. However, these 6 verses seem to throw a monkey wrench into Paul’s teaching by suggesting baptism as a must do.
When confronted with conflicting passages of scripture, the best course of action is to filter what we know about a subject as taught elsewhere in scripture applying a majority rules approach to the conclusions drawn. In the case of baptism being a prerequisite to salvation, we find the preponderance of scriptural evidence against that position, and an overwhelming majority supporting salvation by grace alone apart from baptism or any other human activity.
Consider this; addressing divisions in the church the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 1:13-17 telling them,
“Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else. For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.”
Reading this, do you find Paul to place the emphasis on baptism or the work of Jesus on the cross? It’s not rocket science, clearly, Paul wants the Corinthian believers to recognize Christ, not baptism, as being the Savior. Furthermore, does it make sense that the apostle would say, “Christ did not send me to baptize” and, “I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius”, if baptism were an essential element to their being saved? No, it doesn’t. If indeed salvation is contingent on baptism, we would here find Paul snubbing the very gospel he proclaimed. Obviously then, Paul does not subscribe to a faith plus baptism belief system.
You may also want to weigh in with this thought; If becoming a redeemed child of God is dependent on something we have to do, then how can it be said, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:8-10 ESV).
To me it is really this simple: If you have to do it, then, you did it. It would be senseless to give glory to God for something your efforts accomplish. Thus, if being saved must be accompanied by baptism or any other action on our part, this passage of scripture should be deleted from the bible, and as we step out from the baptismal waters we should sing out, “Praise be to me, I did it, I got myself saved today”. Sound foolish, it should because it is. It is “not our own doing; not a result of our works, so that we may boast, we are his workmanship”; we are the recipients of Jesus’ doings, Jesus’ works, our boast is in him and him alone PERIOD.
Praise be to God I take refuge in the finished work of Jesus, nothing else. To find sanctuary in any human effort at all is to make the cross of Christ of none effect thereby holding Jesus up in contempt; a statement we don’t want to make, a position we don’t want to take, and a place we don’t want to go.
What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. No other fount I know, nothing but the blood of Jesus.