DOES BAPTISM SAVE?
Pastor Suzanne L. Taylor
And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins...
The title question, Does Baptism Save, has come up several times during meetings this last month, and I want to address it. The answer is, "No!" If we were saved by works of men, we would not have needed the Christ to endure all He did for us. Let's take a closer look at what Scripture has to say about this.
Let's begin with Luke 1:76,77 (see above). Here, Luke is speaking of the prophecy Zacharias spoke of his son John the Baptist who was the forerunner of Jesus to the Jews. Verse 77 clearly states that Jesus would give salvation through the remission of sin. Nothing here says that anyone had to be baptized first. How would this salvation come? Through the tender mercies of God by His son Jesus (Luke 1:78,79). Jesus is to guide us into the peace of forgiveness from sin.
The people who are contending that we can't be saved until we are baptized use Paul's writings to prove their point. It makes sense then, that I also use these writings to make my case against baptism for the salvation of mankind.
Let's look first in Acts. After the Spirit of God had filled the 120 men and women in the upper room who were praying and waiting for this filling, they began to speak in the tongues of men which they had no way of knowing. For their efforts to preach the Word in these foreign languages, they were labeled as drunk. This prompted Peter to stand up and deliver his discourse.
Look at what Acts 2:38 tells us. "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." Nowhere in this verse does it say we are baptized in Jesus name to be saved. It says, rather, that we must first repent, then be baptized, then we will receive the Holy Spirit of God!
One verse that has been thrown out is Acts 8:36, "And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?"
That could make a good argument alone, but with the verses surrounding it, it doesn't hold water. (No pun intended.) Read it with me now in Acts 8:35-38. "And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, 'Understandest thou what thou readest?' And he said,' How can I, except some man should guide me?' And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. The place of the scripture which he read was this, 'He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.' And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, 'I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?' Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, 'See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?' And Philip said, 'If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.' And he answered and said, 'I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.' And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him." Did you see it? It was after the eunuch declared his faith in Jesus that he was baptized, not the other way around
Not convinced yet? Let's look in I Corinthians 1:10-17. "Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
"For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name. And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other. For Christ sent me NOT to baptize, but to PREACH the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect." What say ye? If Paul didn't come to baptize, but made many thousands of converts, how did he do it?
Let me close with Romans 10:1-13. "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them. But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."
How can we dispute these truths? How can we believe that we are saved by the work of baptism when Ephesians 2:8,9 makes it clear that, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." What gives us the right to change the Word to make it fit our beliefs? Nothing. Jesus said that not one jot or tittle of the Law would pass away until heaven and earth do. The Law needs to be completely fulfilled before we can say we don't need God's written Word any longer. Why? We'll be in heaven with the Word.