“Baptism has no saving power. It is a symbol of a salvation experience that has already taken place.”
The greater Christian community accepts that statement as truth. The idea is that baptism doesn’t save us because we are saved by grace and faith and not by any works like baptism.
I have done my best to study to show myself approved. I am just not sure the bible says that. I have asked myself over and over does the bible support the concept that we are saved by any process, method or madness that doesn’t include baptism?
Are we saved by grace? YES!
Are we saved by faith? YES!
Are we saved through baptism? Let’s see….
The same mob that called for the crucifixion of Jesus was the audience for the first gospel message on the day of Pentecost. They were convicted of their wrong and cried out, “What should we do?”
Here they are. Standing in the streets of Jerusalem. Guilty of murdering God. Now they believe it. How on earth could you make that right?
And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38
The Ethiopian Eunuch
This man was traveling along in his chariot reading the Old Testament and the Holy Spirit sent the preacher Philip to teach him.
The bible says that, “Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus.”
I am not sure what Philip said, but I am sure what the man did. He responded to Jesus:
And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. Acts 8:37-39
The Apostle Paul
Before being one of God’s called out, this guy persecuted Christians in droves. He was on his way to terrorize the church when Jesus smacked him upside the head and struck him blind.
He had a personal interaction with Jesus, but he wasn’t done. Paul was still in sin.
When Paul recounted his own conversion he said:
And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, came to me, and standing by me said to me, “Brother Saul, receive your sight.” And at that very hour I received my sight and saw him. And he said, “The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth; for you will be a witness for him to every one of what you have seen and heard. And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.” Acts 22: 12-16
Then he rose and was baptized. Acts 9:18
The Philippian Jailer
What about this guy? He was saved just by believing. Right?
Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God. Acts 16:30-34
Not really. Part of the jailer’s belief was immediate action. He believed so much that the need to be baptized was urgent, and the context shows, in the middle of the night.
None of those examples show us that they did it because they were already saved or to demonstrate a salvation that had already taken place in their hearts. No, it was directly connected to their moment of belief and resulted in the remission of their sins. There are 9 more similar stories in the Acts of the Apostles.
What about Jesus?
He did it.
John the Baptist tried to talk Jesus out of being baptized. But Jesus said, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.” So John agreed to baptize him (Mt. 3:15)
He told the apostles to teach it to the whole world.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. Mt. 28:19-20
He said anyone who did it (while believing) would be saved.
And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved…
He also said anyone who doesn’t believe will be lost.
…but whoever does not believe will be condemned. Mk. 16:15-16
This is a simple teaching but the waters get so clouded with our religious baggage, our pride and our need to create and all-loving, non-judging, squishy God who will lavish unconditional love on us with no strings attached. Friend, that is simply not who God is.
He is a God of total mercy and self-sacrifice but he is also a God of total justice and equality. His essence is so pure and holy that he cannot even turn his eyes toward us while we are in our sins (Hab. 1: 13). THAT is why we need Jesus.
That is why we need the blood sacrifice of the divine.
For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,
“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
but a body have you prepared for me;
in burnt offerings and sin offerings
you have taken no pleasure.
Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,
as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’”
When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
We need the blood. How do we get the blood?
Do we ask for it? Do we pray for it? Do we recite some script?
We crucify ourselves.
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. Rom. 6:3-4
We put on Jesus.
For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Gal. 3:27
We live in him.
Having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. Col. 2:12
Those who disobeyed God long ago when God waited patiently while Noah was building his boat. Only eight people were saved from drowning in that terrible flood. And that water is a picture of baptism, which now saves you, not by removing dirt from your body, but as a response to God from a clean conscience. It is effective because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. 1 Pet. 3:20-21
PS- If you disagree, I still love you.