Thoughts on baptism versus salvation by the gospel

REV. DR. ROBERT L. HARRISON, PH.D.

Praise the Lord and happy holidays.

It’s not just reading the bible but do you have a correct way to interpret it or do you use cultic methods to arrive at your conclusions. This takes effort. One needs to gather all the information on a subject to be able to arrive at what the bible teaches accurately.

This is why it is said to rightly divide the Word and systematize it correctly. For example, the scripture says we are not saved by any work, not human, social or religious. We are saved by grace through faith. That faith is placed in the gospel, which is about the Lord Jesus Christ who was sent from heaven by the Father to save us from our sins. As soon as one attaches baptism (or anything else) to the gospel, they have altered it into a different gospel.

Why be baptized unless you believe? This is a simple yet essential question. One does not believe unless they have heard the gospel of salvation and the gospel on is the death and resurrection of Christ (1 cor.15:1-4); therefore, with this biblical precedent, baptism can’t be included as the gospel and cannot transfer any benefit that one gets from believing before they are baptized.

Baptism is something we do after we are saved to show our ownership, that we were willing to die to self (pick up the cross) to follow Jesus.

There is only one way to enter into a relationship with God and have eternal life—through the Son. We come to God through His work He completed on the cross almost 2,000 years ago. We are reconciled to the Father by believing in the gospel, translated from the kingdom of Darkness into the kingdom of light, of His beloved Son.

In John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” The central point is Jesus.

Man did not come up with the concept of sacrifice of blood sacrifice to appease God, God did. Man came up with other ways to make his own way either in addition or something completely different. That is why there are different religions and Christian cults.

The Bible says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). Simple, but what does it mean to “believe on the Lord Jesus?”? It means knowing yourself to be a sinner, and that Christ died for sinners.

Repentance, it means abandoning all self-righteousness and self-confidence in your own works, or obedience to the law and have faith in Christ. Casting yourself completely upon Him for your mercy and peace. It means exchanging your natural hatred and rebellion against God for a spirit of grateful submission to the will of Christ through the renewing of your heart by the Holy Spirit.

You going to church faithfully your whole life cannot save you.

You being a faithful tither or giver do not save you.

You working in ministry and doing good to others cannot save you.

You living a moral life or by the golden rule cannot save you.

Obeying the command of baptism cannot save you either.

Paul’s theology did not allow for any ability of water to save a soul. He made a distinction between baptism and preaching the gospel in his epistles.

The whole bible proclaims a blood sacrifice for sin. This is God’s provision, but what is man’s part?

Understanding sin, the sacrifice of Jesus and His resurrection, the gospel are essential to being a Christian.

It is impossible that by rising up out of the water a person can “put on newness of life.” That new man is a “spiritual man”— not material. The physical waters of baptism have no effect on either the “old man” or delivering “newness of life.”

We “were sanctified” by Christ, 1 Corinthians 1:2, “we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all,” Hebrews 10:10; and “sanctified in Christ,” 1 Corinthians 1:2; and in 1 Corinthians 1:30, “whom (Christ) God made our sanctification.” We are not sanctified by the water of baptism, which is of fallen creation.

Galatians 2:20-21 Paul states, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

The “I” that was crucified with Christ was “the old man”. Then when Christ arose out of the tomb, we rose with Him in newness of life, His life that we have within us. Christ is not crucified in any water of baptism. Therefore we are not be crucified with Christ in baptism but in the actual event of his death.

The redeeming sacrifice, a redemptive act is applied to you by faith. Salvation occurs in our heart (man’s spirit) that is why it is by faith and not a physical human work (like baptism).

If someone believes baptism is necessary for salvation and states until one is baptized they are not saved than they do not understand the meaning of baptism or the shed blood of the savior on the cross. If we are born with a sin nature then water, which only affects the physical body cannot change this. As Peter writes in 1 Peter 3:21 (through the resurrection of Jesus Christ).

You should not confuse our conversion with discipleship. One is to take place afterward, which has everything to do with spiritual growth that brings one to maturity. Baptism is always a physical work one does after they believed and received salvation.

Till next week,

God Bless.

Rev. Dr. Robert L. Harrison, PhD

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