The Scheme of Redemption
This leaves us with a discussion of baptism. Due to the origin of Prostestant denominationalism many have a problem understanding that baptism is necessary for redemption. Such a concept does violence to the protestant tradition of salvation by faith only. We have already shown such a concept to be invalid, and will now, through the scriptures, clearly show that one must be baptized in order to obtain salvation.
It is unnecessary to give detailed and technical arguments regarding the necessity of the act of baptism. We only need to examine the scriptures with an open mind to see what the Lord commands in this regard. Please note the following:
Baptism is for the Remission of Sins
Acts 2:38, "Then Peter said to them, 'Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'"
Baptism Washes Away Sins
Acts 22:16, "And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord."
Baptism Brings Newness of Life
Romans 6:4, "Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."
Christ is "Put On" Through Baptism
Galatians 3:27, "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ."
We are Buried with Christ in Baptism, and He Makes Us Alive
Colossians 2:12-13, "buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses."
Baptism Saves Us
1 Peter 3:21, "There is also an antitype which now saves us; baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ."
Additionally, the acts of conversion recorded in the book of Acts show baptism to be a part of the response to the gospel.
Simply put, baptism is immersion in water in response to the command of God. That it is immersion is seen in the definition and etymology of the word (gk. baptisma - "consisting of the processes of immersion, submersion and emergence" Vines, pg. 98); also in the examples of the act found in the New Testament (cf. Acts 8:38-39 - Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, Philip baptized him, then they came up out of the water); and finally, in the symbology of the act of baptism (a burial and resurrection to a new life, cf. Romans 6:3-4).
That it is in water is seen both in the explanation of our Lord (John 3:5, "Jesus answered, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.'"); and in the explanation of what happened in the example of the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:38-39, they went into and came up out of the water).
That it is a response to the command of God is seen clearly both in the questions asked by the Jews on Pentecost ("Men and brethren, what shall we do?") and Saul of Tarsus ("Lord, what do you want me to do?"); and in the teaching of Peter in 1 Peter 3:21, "There is also an antitype which now saves us; baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ." This passage also shows what baptism is not. The power is not found in the water "not the removal of the filth of the flesh", but rather it is the effect of the response to God's command "the answer of a good conscience toward God."
The necessary part that baptism plays in man's redemption is not accepted by most in Protestant denominations today. This is not because the Bible is not clear. Rather, it is because of the religious heritage, which has its root in the Protestant Reformation of the 1500's. Martin Luther has had a tremendous influence upon the denominations of our day. He rejected the teaching of James 2, and taught salvation by faith only. He believed that works of obedience such as baptism would invalidate salvation by faith. We have already shown this to be error, but his influence is still deeply felt among the different denominations. It is difficult to fight such deep-seated convictions, but the truth remains. It is our responsibility to be as the Bereans, and "search (-ed) the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things are (were) so" (Acts 17;11).
The Bible is clear. God sent His Son Jesus to earth to redeem man. Jesus was born of a virgin, both God and man on earth. Jesus lived a perfect life, and through obedience proved himself to be a perfect and effective sacrifice for man. Jesus was sacrificed by crucifixion, and shed his blood for our sins. After he died and was buried, on the third day he rose from the dead. His resurrection constituted a victory over death and sin, and made available the hope of eternal life to all mankind. Jesus ascended to heaven, and is there today on His throne as King, High Priest, and Mediator for mankind. That is the part God plays in His Scheme of Redemption for man.
God demands that we respond to the good news of Jesus' life, death and resurrection. We must accept the facts of the gospel (believe), we must repent of our sins (turn away), we must confess Jesus as the Son of God, and we must be baptized to have our sins washed away. That is the part man plays in God's Scheme of Redemption for man.
God has done his part. All that remains is for each of us to do our part, that we might one day meet our Lord in the air, and ever be with him. If you have not yet obeyed the gospel, we invite you to do so today. If you need assistance in this, please email me by clicking on the email link below, and we will put you into contact with Christians who can assist you in your desire to serve God. May God bless you in your desire to serve Him.
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