QUESTIONS ON BAPTISM

Wayne S. Walker

     “Regarding the scetion, ‘Saved before baptism,’ are you saying, if I
lead someone to Christ right now, he/she is to understand that he/she has
not really been saved until we get them baptized at the scheduled date
and time NEXT MONTH…?” 

First, let me say that there are no examples in scripture of baptism “at the scheduled date and time next month.”  In Acts 2.41, we read that on the day of Pentecost, “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and THAT DAY about three thousand souls
were added to them” (emphasis mine, WSW).  In Acts 8.34-35, when Philip
preached Christ to the Ethoipian eunuch, the eunuch asked, “See, here is
water. What hinders me from being baptized?”  As a result of what Philip
said, he wanted to be baptized right away–and he was (verse 38).

     In Acts 10.47-48, after Peter had preached to the household of
Cornelius, he said, “‘Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be
baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?’  And he
COMMANDED them to be baptized in the name of the Lord” (emphasis mine,
WSW).  This implies that they were baptized as soon as possible.  And in
Acts 16.30-33, when the Philippian jailor asked what to do to be saved,
Paul and Silas told him to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and then
preached to him the word of the Lord that he might know what to believe;
and then that same hour of the night he and his family were immediately
baptized–not even waiting until morning.  Now, I have to ask a question.
 Why were all these people baptized immediately?  The fact that they were
baptized right away suggests that some great importance was attached to
baptism by the preaching of the gospel in the first century.  In other
words, one is not truly led to Christ until he is baptized.
    

“I understand that in accordance with such scripture as Romans 10:9
one could be saved on the spot.  I further understand that once you’re
saved, a command is that you follow Jesus in baptism.”  This is not
stated as a question, but it demands a response.  Romans 10.9 does say
that those who call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.  But it
raises the question, how does one call on the name of the Lord?  It is
not just saying, “Lord, save me” (see Matthew 7.21).  In Acts 22.16, Saul
of Tarsus (later the apostle Paul) was told, “And now, why are you
waiting?  Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the
name of the Lord.”  Saul was NOT told that he was saved on the spot by
calling on the name of the Lord and then once he was saved to follow the
command of Jesus in baptism.  He was told that he should not wait but get
up and be baptized that his sins might be washed away and that this was
how he should call on the name of the Lord to be saved.

     The fact is, there is NO scripture which says that once a person is
saved, then a command is that he follow Jesus in baptism.  Instead, Jesus
Himself said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved.  But He who
does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16.16).  Who will be saved?
Jesus did NOT say, “He who believes will be saved and then can be
baptized,” but, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved.”  Thus,
Jesus Himself indicated that to be saved one must believe and be
baptized.  Peter told people, “Repent, and let every one of you be
baptized for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the
Holy Spirit” (Acts 2.38).  What were they told to do to receive remission
of sins?  Peter did NOT say, “Repent for remission of sins and then be
baptized,” but, “Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for
remission of sins.”  In order to receive remission of sins, they needed
to repent AND be baptized.  Since my aim is to preach only what the Bible
says, rather than the doctrines and commandments of men, then this is
what I have to preach because it is what the Bible says.

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