by Pastor Art Kohl
Introduction: There are many who are trusting in their baptism for the salvation of their souls, or at least for part of their salvation. Certainly a concern for one's salvation should be foremost in our lives. Our souls are the only possession that we own which is eternal. EVERYTHING else you own is temporal. The way to Heaven is narrow, it is not broad, notice Matthew 7:13-14 "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." If you are going to go to Heaven, you must God's way! There are not many roads that get there, but one. Make sure! Don't gamble with your most valuable possession. Don't trust what man says. ALL MEN ARE FALLIBLE! Study your Bible! Jesus said, "Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of ME." John 5:39. Jesus is the ONLY WAY! The Bible says in John 14:6, "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." With these thoughts in mind, let's examine this important subject of Baptism.
1. What Is Baptism? According to the Bible, God's Word, Baptism means "to immerse fully". The New Testament was written originally in Greek. The Greek word for Baptism is baptizo. This mode is seen clearly in the example set for us by Jesus the Savior. Matthew 3:16 describes, "and Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water..." Mark 1:10 also gives this account, "and straightway coming up out of the water ..." Many reading this article were sprinkled with water as an infant. They were told that this is baptism. There is no such mode described in the Bible. The word sprinkled is only found 7 times in the New Testament. IT NEVER HAS ANYTHING TO DO WITH BAPTISM. It comes from the Greek word rhantizo. So you may have been "rhantized" but not baptized scripturally. Some had water poured on them as an infant or child. This also is unscriptual as a mode of baptism, for baptism means immerse, not pour. If baptism is so important and necessary for salvation (as some erroneously teach), most reading this then, have never been baptized! You may have been sprinkled or had water poured on you, but you were not biblically baptized! Have you ever been truly baptized? God's way?
2. Biblical Facts About Baptism
A. It was not to be the main emphasis of the church's message. John 4:1-2 tells us that Jesus had many opportunities to baptize but NEVER baptized anyone. The great Apostle Paul, whom God used to write 1/2 of the books of the New Testament, said, "For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel ..." I Corinthians 1:17. The thief who died on the cross next to Christ was promised an eternity with Christ in Paradise. He died shortly after Christ promised him this, though he was NEVER baptized, he went to Paradise.
B. There is not a single story in the Bible anywhere that tells of a child or an infant being baptized! Every single historical record of a baptism in the Bible is of adults. Study in your Bible these texts: Acts 2:41, 42: 8:12: 8:27-38: 9:17,18: 10 :44-48: 16:14-15: 16:31-33: 18:8 :22:16. The book of Acts is a history of the 1st Century church. Adults were baptized in each case.
C. Baptism does not save! It is not wrong to split hairs over the mode of baptism, for everything we do must be according to God's Word. Any other doctrine is man made and contaminated. However, baptism does not save anyone. A person can go to Heaven without baptism (like the thief on the cross). Jesus did not need to be saved, but he was baptized to set us an example to follow. Acts 16:31, "BELIEVE on the Lord Jesus Christ and THOU SHALT BE SAVED." Romans 10:13, "Whosoever shall CALL upon the name of the Lord, SHALL BE SAVED." I Corinthians 15:1-4 defines the gospel. Paul says, "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel ... BY WHICH ALSO YE ARE SAVED ... how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures." Notice in these verses it is personal faith that saves, not baptism. Baptism is a figure or a picture of salvation (I Peter 3:21). A person should be baptized AFTER they are saved. As a person is standing in the water during baptism, they are identifying themselves with Christ's death. As they are immersed under the water, they are identifying themselves with Christ's burial. As they come up out of the water, they are identifying themselves with Christ's resurrection. Baptism, therefore, is an outward profession of an inward belief that is faith in Christ's death, burial and resurrection for our sins as God's only way of salvation from sins.
D. Who can be baptized? Acts 8:26-40 tells the story of an Ethiopian man who was reading the book of Isaiah. He did not understand what he read. An evangelist named Philip explained to him about Jesus. "And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water; and the eunuch said, "See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?" And Philip said, "If thou believeth with all thine heart, thou mayest." And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." Only people who have placed their personal faith in the Lord Jesus have the right by God to be baptized. Notice what happens next: "And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him." He believed, then was baptized! An infant can't do that. A little child of 1 or 2 years can't do that. When a person becomes of age to accept or reject Christ as their Savior, then they can make a decision to believe. Salvation is through Jesus Christ and Him alone, by faith in what He has done, not what we can do. Salvation is not through baptism, church membership, sacraments, morals, good works, penance, etc. If these things could save, then why did Jesus die on the cross? You may be "baptized" but lost! Baptism is a work we can do. However Titus 3:5 says salvation is "not by works of righteousness which WE HAVE DONE but according to HIS MERCY He hath saved us."
Conclusion: Your soul is the most valuable possession you have. It is eternal. Do not gamble with it. Be sure! Don't believe what I say, or anyone else, believe what God says: "For by grace are ye saved through faith: and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast." Ephesians 2:8,9. Get right with the Lord. Those who wait till the 11th hour to repent, usually die at 10:30. Take God's gift of salvation today by calling on the Lord right now to be your Saviour.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
by Pastor Art Kohl