SALVATION, FAITH, AND BAPTISM

Wayne S. Walker

     Question:  “Since Jesus died on the cross and shed His blood to pay
for our sins so that we’re saved by believing in Christ and just asking
Him to forgive us, why do you say that baptism saves?”

     The real issue is not what I say, nor even what the “church of
Christ” says, but what the Bible says.  Certainly, the Bible teaches that
Jesus Christ died on the cross and shed His blood to pay for our sins.
As the inspired apostle Paul was talking about the gospel by which we are
saved, he said in 1 Cor. 15.3, “For I delivered to you first of all that
which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the
scriptures.”  The death of Christ on the cross and the shedding of His
blood are the grounds for our salvation.  Nothing that we can do, in and
of ourselves, could have paid the price for us that Jesus paid by His
death.

     However, while the basis for our salvation is the blood of Christ,
the condition for our salvation is a response of faith and obedience.
Just as surely as Christ died on the cross, so we must believe in Him to
be saved.  He said in Jn. 3.16, “For God so loved the world that He gave
His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish,
but have everlasting life.”  Believing is something that we must do to be
saved by the blood of Christ.  But the Bible never says that all we have
to do to be saved is to believe.  Nor does it say that we are saved by
just believing and asking Christ to forgive us.

     The response that God demands of us in being saved involves both
faith and obedience, and our obedience includes baptism.  Jesus Himself
said in Mk. 16.16, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he
who does not believe will be condemned.”  When those who preach the
gospel teach that a person must be baptized to be saved, they are not
saying that one is saved by trusting in himself, human works, or water,
but simply that he must do everything that Christ Himself said that we
must do to be saved.  Nor are they adding water to God’s plan nor reading
water into the Bible, because Jesus Himself made water baptism a
condition of salvation.  Baptism is not just someone’s opinion.  It is
Christ’s command!  We are saved by Jesus’ blood when we believe on Him
and are baptized in obedience to Him.

     So those who preach teh gospel teach that baptism saves because that
is precisely what the Bible teaches.  In 1 Pet. 3.21, the familiar King
James Version reads, “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also
now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the
answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus
Christ.”  Now some people may argue that the Bible does not mean what it
says here, but what it says is, “Baptism doth also now save us.”

     Again, when the Bible says that baptism saves us, it does not negate
the truth that Jesus Christ and His blood save us.  Surely, all Bible
believers acknowledge that Jesus Christ saves us.  But the Bible says
that He saves us in baptism.  Paul wrote in Gal. 3.26-27, “For you are
all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.  For as many of you as
have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”  Yes, Christ is the
Savior.  How do we come to be in Christ and receive His salvation?  By
faith.  But when do we come to be in Christ and receive His salvation?
When we are baptized into Christ and thus put on Christ.  So it is by
faith, yet not by faith only but by an obedient faith.

     Also, the blood of Christ is the agent which cleanses us from our
sins.  But the Bible says that the blood of Christ is applied to our
souls in baptism.  Again, Paul wrote in Rom. 6.3, “Do you not know, that
so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His
death?”  To “shed blood” simply means to die.  Thus, Jesus shed His blood
in His death, and we are baptized into His death.  Only after baptism can
we have the benefits of Christ’s blood, including salvation from sin.  So
the Bible does not say that just believing in Christ and asking Him to
forgive us are all that save us.  It does say, “Baptism doth also now
save us.

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