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Baptism Now Saves You
Bible study on baptism and salvation.

I was discussing baptism the other day and was reminded that it's one of the most contentious issues among churches claiming to be "Christian."

What is Baptism?
Vine's Expository Dictionary defines baptism as "consisting of the processes of immersion, submersion and emergence." Therefore, in order for one to be baptized in water, it is necessary to be submerged under the water and then to emerge from the water.

Immersion cannot be obtained through sprinkling or pouring.

History bares out that immersion in water was exclusively practiced by First Century Christians. Erroneous doctrines of sprinkling and pouring did not come into existence for many years after the apostolic age.

False Religious Beliefs
In general, there are five false beliefs (and resulting practices) regarding baptism in churches today.

  • Babies are sinners in the womb.
    • The church administers affusion (i.e., sprinkling or pouring) to the babies for the forgiveness of sins.
    • The church administers immersion to the babies for the forgiveness of sins.
  • Adults are sinners.
    • The church administers affusion, but not for the remission of sins.
    • The church administers immersion, but not for the remission of sins.
    • The church does not administer affusion or immersion.

The Lord's Church
Different from other churches, the Lord's church obeys Jesus (Heb. 5:9).

The church teaches that baptism is for the remission of sins to individuals who believe, have repented of their sins, and have confessed Jesus to be the Son of God (Mk. 16:16; Lk. 13:3, 5; Matt. 10:32-33; Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:21).

History: Baptism and Affusion
The teaching held by the Lord's church dates back to the first century, when Jesus was upon the earth and commissioned the apostles to evangelize the world. Jesus commanded the apostles to make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; he who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned (Matt. 28:19; Mk. 16:16).

Affusion was not practiced until A.D. 251 when it was ministered to Novation in place of immersion because he was sick. And in AD 1331, at the Council of Ravenna, sprinkling was recognized as a substitute for immersion by the Roman Catholic Church.

In the 3rd century, the false doctrine of original sin was invented by men and churches began to baptize (immerse) babies. Though some denominations still immerse babies today, others have changed to practice affusion in regard to babies, followed by a practice of confirmation when the child is older.

History: Baptism not Essential for Salvation
In the 2nd and 3rd centuries, Gnostic sects invented the doctrine that baptism was not essential to salvation, which was vigorously refuted by Christians.

Tertullian [AD 145-220] wrote an article titled, Is baptism necessary for salvation?, in which he says:

For the law of baptizing has been imposed, and the formula prescribed: "Go," he says, "teaching the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" (Matt. 28:19). "Unless a man has been born again of water and Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of the heavens" (John 3:5). Those words have tied faith to the necessity of baptism. Accordingly, all who became believers after that time were baptized . . . (Tertullian, translated by David W. Burcot, A Glimpse at Early Christian Church Life; Tyler, TX: Scroll Publishing Co., 1989; p. 109-10).

Later in the 16th and 17th centuries, during the reformation, the doctrine that salvation is not necessary for salvation was reinvented by preachers revolting against Roman Catholicism, eventually resulting in the prayer of faith and the mourners bench.

Word of God
The truth is revealed in God's word (Jn. 17:17), which is "profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work" (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

We are commanded to not exceed what is written in God's word (1 Cor. 4:6; cf. 2 Jn. 1:9). We must obey God's word, and reject the false teachings of men (Mk. 7:6-9).

What does the Bible say about baptism and salvation?

  • Mk. 16:16 We must believe and be baptized to be saved.
  • 1 Pet. 3:21 Baptism now saves us.
  • Acts 2:38 Our sins are forgiven when we are baptized.
  • Acts 22:16 Our sins are washed away when we are baptized.
  • Rom. 6:3 We enter into Christ when we are baptized.
  • Col. 2:11-13 We are made alive together with Christ and forgiven our trespasses when we are baptized into Christ.
  • Acts 2:40, 47 We are saved and added to the church when we are baptized.

Correspondingly, every Bible record of a person becoming a Christian includes baptism (Acts 2:1-47; 8:4-13, 26-40; 9:10-19; 10:34-48; 16:11-15, 16-34; 18:1-8; 19:3-5; 22:6-16).

Choose Which to Believe
There are many doctrines of salvation in the world, but only one results in eternal salvation.

  • "There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all" (Eph. 4:4-6).

So it's important that we study God's word to understand salvation as He commands, and reject salvation as taught by teachers of man-made religions.

The Bible says "baptism now saves you" (1 Pet. 3:21), a doctrine rejected by many churches today.

Maybe you've never heard the truth from God's word and need to obey. Maybe you've not been baptized at all; or maybe you were baptized according to a false religious doctrine, and you need to obey God.

If you've not obeyed God, I hope and pray you obey before it's everlastingly too late. Because there's a day coming when each of us must give an account to God when He judges the living and the dead. On that day, people who have obeyed God and faithfully served Him will enter into eternal life, but all others will be sent away into eternal punishment (Rom. 14:12; 1 Pet. 4:5; Matt. 25:46).