"All material is written by
Joe R. Price, unless otherwise
Times of services:
"And take...the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph. 6:17)
In this issue:
A friend and fellow gospel preacher shared a letter with me that a Christian received from a man who does not believe in the necessity of water baptism for the salvation of sinners. He asked if I might write a brief reply, and I am happy to do so. Those who twist the Scriptures do so to their own destruction, and their attempt to shake the faith of good brethren should not go unchallenged (2 Pet. 3:16; 2 Ths. 2:1-3; Gal. 1:6-10).
Argument #1: “No intelligent person can actually believe that water baptism can remit sins.”
Immediately, an ad hominem approach is presented: an attack on the person instead of his teaching. The apostles were “uneducated and untrained men,” but they were inspired by the Holy Spirit, and by that inspiration they preached “repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” and that water “baptism doth also now save us” (Acts 4:13; 1 Cor. 14:37; Acts 2:38; 1 Pet. 3:21). I would not so easily indict the intelligence of the Lord, who said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved,” (Mk. 16:16). The Bible teaches water baptism is necessary in order to be saved, and it does not matter what intelligent people say to the contrary. “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent’” (1 Cor. 1:18-19).
Argument #2: “Such a theory takes salvation out of the hands of Christ and places it into the hands of other mediators between God and man, for example, the administrators of baptism.”
When the lost man from Ethiopia heard Christ preached he asked, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” (Acts 8:36) Philip did not object with a cry of “other mediators” or “baptism will take salvation out of the hands of Christ!” No, Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may” (Acts 8:37). When Philip baptized the Ethiopian he did not usurp the mediatory work of Christ to save sinners (Acts 8:38; 1 Tim. 2:5-6). If he did, why does the Bible tell us the man “went on his way rejoicing” (Acts 8:39)? Did Philip give him a false hope by baptizing him? No. Those who oppose the necessity of water baptism deny the Mediator’s right to command obedience in order to be saved (Heb. 5:8-9).
The Scripture says, “with the mouth confession is made unto (in order to) salvation” (Rom. 10:10). Does the fact that one must “confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus” take salvation out of the hands of Christ and place it into the mouth of the confessor? (Rom. 10:9) No! Yet it must, if this man’s objection is to be believed.
The apostle Paul taught that who does the baptizing is immaterial to one’s salvation (1 Cor. 1:11-17). It is crucial, however, that the person who is baptized believes in Jesus, confesses his faith and repents of his sins (Mk. 16:16; Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 2:38; 8:35-39).
Argument #3: “When the penitent sinner is ready to receive Christ no power in the universe can prevent his forgiveness and salvation for one moment. Baptismal forgiveness teaches and REQUIRES baptism by man BEFORE the work of Christ can be effective. Any baptizer then would be more powerful than Christ and could in theory halt the work of Christ in the penitent and make the work of Christ of no effect.”
This man is right about one thing; no power can prevent Christ from forgiving sins (Rom. 8:33-34). Since Jesus said He would use His power to save the sinner who “believes and is baptized” (Mk. 16:16), what if a preacher will not “preach Christ” to the lost sinner so that he can believe and be saved? Is he then “more powerful than Christ” and making “the work of Christ of no effect”? No!
The great commission baptism is by the authority of (in the name of) Jesus Christ, not man (Acts 2:38; 19:5). Its power comes from Jesus and does not depend on the person doing the baptizing.
Argument #4: “Forgiveness through baptism also limit’s the efficacy of the blood of Christ to the physical element of water.”
If this is true, we are forced by the same logic to believe that “forgiveness through confession of faith also limit’s the efficacy of the blood of Christ to the physical element of the tongue.” Such objections are pure sophistry based on human reasoning without Scriptural basis and support.
The Bible assures us the power of baptism is not in the external washing of the flesh with water (“not the removal of the filth of the flesh,” 1 Pet. 3:21). Yet, Christ sanctifies and cleanses the church “with the washing of water by the word” (Eph. 5:26). That is, the power of Christ’s blood (His death) is applied when the sinner will be baptized “and wash away” his sins (Acts 22:16). This is because the sinner, when baptized in water, is “baptized into” the death of Christ (Rom. 6:3). The sinner is “buried with Him through baptism into death” to sin, now no longer to continue in sin (Rom. 6:4, 2; Col. 2:12). Thus being saved, the Lord adds him or her to His church (Acts 2:41, 47).
Argument #5: “According to this, where water cannot be found the efficacy of the blood of Jesus cannot be found either…and, we would have to find it in sufficient quantity for one to be IMMERSED of the blood of Jesus would have no efficacy.”
More sophistry. A sinner who heard Jesus preached to him understood his need to be baptized (immersed) into Christ’s death to be saved, and in a desert he found enough water to do so (Acts 8:35-39). I suppose if he could find enough water, we can, too. Water is among the most plentiful resources on earth. About 60% of our physical body weight is water! Without water, our outer man (the flesh) will die. Without water baptism the inner man will remain dead in sin. “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (Jno. 3:5).
Argument #6: “This theory also contradicts hundreds of Scriptures which say clearly that men are forgiven, saved, justified, sanctified and washed from their sins…not one time is baptism referred to in any one of the passages as NECESSARY in the forgiveness of sins!!!”
One of the passages cited as proof that water baptism is not necessary for salvation is Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” We wholeheartedly believe that salvation is “by grace through faith.” If this anti-baptism use of Ephesians 2:8-9 is correct, then neither can we require repentance of sins in order to be forgiven, since repentance is not mentioned in this passage! Nor can we require confession of faith, for it is not there, either! Once more, what proves too much proves nothing. Such wisdom of men misuses the word of God in a vain attempt to condemn what God approves!
God’s plan of salvation for sinners is not wholly revealed in one verse, but in one gospel, the New Testament of Christ. The sum of God’s word is truth, and we must not interpret one verse so as to contradict and nullify another (Psa. 119:160). God’s word is without error, being completely inspired by Him (2 Tim. 3:16-17). When “rightly divided” we can “understand what the will of the Lord” is (2 Tim. 2:15; Eph. 5:17).
It should be noted that those who love Jesus keep His commandments, and that “faith working through love” is potent to save (Jno. 14:15, 21, 23, Gal. 5:5-6). On the other hand, faith that does not have works (of obedience) is of no profit, dead, unseen, of demons, barren and will not justify (Jas. 2:14, 17-20, 24). It is those who love Jesus and trust His power to save who fully obey Him in faith by confessing faith, repenting of sins and being baptized for remission of sins.
Argument #7: “There are MANY concrete examples of people being saved and having their sins forgiven WITHOUT water baptism.”
The Old Testament saints are
offered as examples of this. OT prophets did not even know Jesus of
Nazareth was the Christ (1 Pet. 1:10-12). Does that mean we do not have to
believe Jesus is the Christ to be saved (they didn’t)? No! Water baptism
was not commanded of OT people. But, the gospel commands it of us (Mk.
16:16). Will you obey Jesus, or rebel? Obey Jesus now!
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
My Condition of Heart
Scripture Reading: Psalms 7:6-17
Heart: Chief organ of life; Seat of our inner
I. GOD KNOWS OUR HEART – Lk. 16:14-15.
A. Astounding & Sobering
Truth. (Heb. 4:13)
II. WE MUST EXAMINE & IMPROVE OUR HEARTS IN ORDER TO EXAMINE & IMPROVE OURSELVES (2 Cor. 13:5).
A. Before We Will Ever
Carefully Examine Our Hearts We Must Want to Improve Ourselves– Psa. 17:1-3.
III. LIKE DAVID, WE CAN BE PEOPLE “AFTER GOD’S OWN HEART” – Acts 13:22; 1 Sam. 13:14.
A. Obedient Heart, Acts 13:22;
The number of diseases directly and indirectly attributable to cigarette smoking continues to grow. Last Thursday, U. S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona made his first official assessment of smoking.
“The surgeon general’s report concluded that smoking causes a number of diseases not previously attributed to smoking. They include: acute myeloid leukemia and cancers of the cervix, kidney, pancreas and stomach; abdominal aortic aneurysm, cataracts, periodontitis and pneumonia.” (“Surgeon General Expands List of Diseases Linked to Smoking,” USA Today, May 27, 2004; http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2004-05-27-smoking_x.htm)
There are plenty of physical and spiritual reasons not to smoke or to quit smoking cigarettes:
1. You will be healthier and live longer. “About 440,000 Americans die of smoking-related diseases each year…On average, the surgeon general says, smokers die 13 to 14 years before nonsmokers.” (Ibid.)
2. You will have more money to provide for yourself, your family, and others. A person who smokes one pack a day spends about $900 annually. The health costs are much more. “The report says treating smoking-related diseases costs the nation $75 billion annually. The loss of productivity from smoking is estimated to be $82 billion annually.” (Ibid.)
3. The addictive nature of cigarette smoking puts one under the control of nicotine. Self-control is part of the fruit of the Spirit that Christians are to bear (Gal. 5:23). Saints ought not be “brought under the power of anything” that hinders self-control (1 Cor. 6:12).
4. Our body is the temple of the
Holy Spirit and is to be used for the glory of God
(1 Cor. 6:15, 19-20). Be careful to treat your body with respect and
usefulness in the Lord’s service. Take care of it. One day we will answer
to the Lord for what we did with our body (2 Cor. 5:10).
Created by Chuck Sibbing -
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA