026-Paul Minimizes Baptism

The scales of faith.

There are two sides in the argument as to whether baptism is necessary for salvation. One side claims it is necessary, the other side claims it is not. The latter points to a passage in 1 Corinthians as a proof text for their position. They say, “Baptism can’t be important because Paul minimizes it”

Here’s their proof text.

1 Corinthians 1:13-17
“Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul? I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized into my name. (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel–not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.”

The argument here is, “Paul minimizes baptism.” He says, “He was not sent to baptize,” so it must not be all that important.

Finally, here’s a scripture which actually mentions water baptism, but, this scripture is still not about baptism. Let’s go back and put this into context. What is this scripture about?

Getting the Context

When we are studying out a topic, it is vital to make sure we have the right context. This typically means we need to go back just a little further in the text to see what might have been happening right before the writer makes a claim. Listen carefully to the actual context of Paul’s statements and the content of his heart. He is talking about a serious problem in the Corinthian church. People were beginning to follow a leader such as Apollos or Paul. If you had been baptized by one of these famous figures, that somehow made you more spiritual or special than if you had been baptized by a friend or neighbor.

This is the context:

1 Corinthians 1:10-13
“I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas’”; still another, “I follow Christ.”

“Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul? I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized into my name.”

When we put this into context, it’s easy to see the real issue Paul addresses when he makes his comments about baptism. Paul’s concern is for the divisions this arrogant practice was causing. He states he is happy he personally did not baptize anyone else since it would give them a reason to be boastful or proud! He is not minimizing the importance of baptism. He is scolding the Corinthian church.

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025-Baptism is Like Circumcision?

Baptism is NOT like circumcision!

Another common claim the evangelical community makes in rejecting the requirement of obedience for salvation is the assertion that baptism is like circumcision, it is a work of human effort.

Three Passages to Evaluate

Let’s carefully examine three passages of scripture commonly used to demonstrate that circumcision and baptism are related and both are works. The general argument may be summed up like this: “Old Testament circumcision is a foreshadowing of New Testament baptism. It is a symbol of one’s obedience to God’s commands but it is only a symbol. Abraham was declared righteous before he was circumcised and so are we the instant we put our faith in Christ. Baptism, like circumcision is simply a sign and symbol of our salvation.”

Here’s the first support passage. It is in Galatians. In it, we learn that circumcision has no value for the Christian because it is a work and that faith is the only thing which is important.

Galatians 5:6
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

Let’s put everything in context. In Galatians, we are talking about physical circumcisions as practiced under the Old Covenant. Jews were required to obey that command and it was performed on infant males the eighth day after birth. When we erroneously compare baptism to circumcision, we get a glimpse of how the church might have begun the practice of infant baptism. When one equates Old Testament requirements with New Testament requirements some strange things can happen.

Paul tells us circumcision is of no value, it is worthless. There is only thing which is important: “faith expressing itself through love.”

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024-Cold as Eis

Acts 2:36-41
“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

Peter replied, “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. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off–for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

The Complete Plan of Salvation

When we survey this scripture, we see the complete plan of salvation played out in glorious detail. It’s all here! These people hear the word, they accept it, they are cut to the heart and decide to change or repent, they make Jesus Lord by obeying the message and are baptized for the forgiveness of their sins and then receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Why doesn’t the modern evangelical world just preach the plan of salvation like Peter preached it? When someone comes to the point in their lives where they realize their need for the savior and they humbly ask us, “What must I do?” Why don’t we tell them, “Repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit?” Instead, we ask them to say a prayer, invite Jesus into their heart or accept Christ as their personal savior.

What’s wrong with using Peter’s prescription? It’s baffling that such a Biblically sound and simple instruction is rarely mentioned in churches today. This salvation instruction, uttered by Peter two thousand years ago, has never changed. It is a promise for all generations and it is so clear, a child can understand it. It would take a Greek scholar to get things confused. And here is exactly what a greek scholar will tell you. They say; and I’m loosely quoting here…

The Greek Scholar

“When Peter uses the word “for” as in “for the forgiveness of your sins,” that word is the Greek word ‘ies.’ This Greek word, ‘eis’ may also be translated ‘because of’, or ‘since.’ Therefore Acts 2:38 could read, ‘Repent and be baptized everyone of you since your sins have been forgiven or because your sins have been forgiven.’” End quote.

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023-Anti-Baptism Scriptures – Part 9

Is baptism like circumcision?

Galatians 2:16 is the last scripture presented at the end of the article from GotQuestions.Org and contains the fifth and final error in reasoning the Anti-Baptism position makes. This error comes when we try to create an association between the Old Testament Law and Baptism, or between circumcision and baptism.

Here is the main scripture used to present this case.

Galatians 2:16
“We who are Jews by birth and not ‘Gentile sinners’ know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.”

When an anti-baptism proponent uses this passage, they point out, It is by faith in Jesus Christ we are justified. We are not justified by the law. Baptism is a work or a ritual just like the law.”

Two Different Covenants

This passage is discussing justification under two completely different dispensations, The Old Testament and The New Testament. Commands of the Old Covenant are not longer in effect. They were nailed to the cross. The New Covenant has a different way of doing things and let’s not pretend there are no commands in the New Testament. There are numerous commands established by Jesus and the Apostles.

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022-Anti-Baptism Scriptures – Part 8

Righteousness is by faith.

Well, we are on our eighth podcast and it will be a very short one, examining the scriptures presented in that article at GotQuestions.org. it’s Philippians 3:9, let’s read it.

Philippians 3:9
…not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.

The evangelical argument presents this scripture and says, “See, righteousness is achieved through faith, not baptism.”

No argument here. Righteousness is achieved through faith in Christ. That’s what this scripture says. Don’t add baptism on to it. Don’t build the straw man beat him up. Don’t say this scripture is about baptism.

While this scripture has nothing to do with baptism, it does talk about the old Jewish Law. Using this particular passage as an argument against baptism, we must employ the fifth and rarely used error of comparing baptism to circumcision or to the law. We must claim that baptism is some sort of ritual or sacrament when the New Testament is devoid of all such rituals and brings an end to all ceremonies. The New Testament is about relationship.

The evangelical argument tries to link baptism to Old Testament works in order to countermand the requirement of obedience. The Bible makes no comparisons between baptism and circumcision or baptism and the law. But there is a reason why this common mistake is made. The mistake of comparing baptism to the law is also often made by Evangelicals as they use the next scripture, Galatians 2:16.

Let’s look at that next.


  Dana Haynes
Listen Now – Podcast 021 – Anti-Baptism Scriputres – Part 7

021-Anti-Baptism Scriptures – Part 7

We are saved by grace through faith when we obey.

Ephesians 2:8-10
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

This passage teaches us quite a bit about the salvation experience. It teaches us that salvation is by grace. Nobody deserves to be saved. It teaches us that salvation is through faith. It teaches us that salvation is not from ourselves which would be super boastful! It teaches us that God made us and He made us with a purpose; to do good works, which we surmise should happen after we are saved. And finally, it inspires us with the fact that God is intimately connected to us because He has actually prepared things for us to do!

Once again, a scripture which has nothing to do with baptism is introduced to convince us that since baptism is not mentioned, it must not be important. To make this scripture work as an anti-baptism proof text, we must employ the “all/only” error and buy into the notion that baptism is a work.

Special Use Case

But this scripture also holds a special purpose in evangelicalism. It is the well-spring of three extremely popular phrases created to reinforce their position of “faith alone.”

The first popular phrase is, “We are saved by faith alone.” We have all heard this. The second phrase is, “We are saved by grace through faith plus nothing.” And, the third phrase is similar, “We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.”

I have heard some of the greatest Bible expositors and preachers in our modern era confidently make these claims. They are frequently brought to bear when the topic of baptism is being discussed. All of these statements sound really good.

What I am about to say might surprise you… but just consider carefully what you hear. If I am wrong, please show me where I am wrong.

When we hear someone say, “We are saved by faith alone,” we really should think about this because… they are actually misquoting scripture.

Continue reading “021-Anti-Baptism Scriptures – Part 7”

020-Anti-Baptism Scriptures – Part 6

Why is confession not a human work?

Romans 10:9-10
That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

Wow! There is quite a bit in this amazing scripture but baptism is not here.

This scripture identifies two of the steps in the Biblical Plan of Salvation, confession and belief. Confession happens with the mouth and belief occurs in the heart.

The thing we must believe is that Jesus rose from the dead. We would not be able to do this if we did not believe in Jesus and we would not believe in Jesus if we had not been told about him by an evangelistic disciple. This means we heard the message and we accepted the message.

There is a process.

When we accept the message, it means we are agreeing with what someone has taught us about Jesus… specifically that he died for our sins and was risen by God to life again. We are taught that if we want to be free from our sins and enjoy eternity in heaven, we should put our faith and trust in the work Jesus did, on our behalf, at the Cross. We are taught that he paid the price for our sin and there is nothing we can do to earn or merit the free gift of eternal life. This is the Gospel.

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019-Anti-Baptism Scriptures – Part 5

Trusting God brings a credit of righteousness.

Well, welcome. If you are just joining us, let me explain where we are in our quest. We are in the middle of responding to the arguments made in an article from gotquestions.org titled, “Does Acts 2:38 Teach that Baptism is Necessary for salvation?” At the end of that article, the author offers nine scriptures as proof texts for his conclusion that baptism is not necessary. These scriptures are commonly used in this argument and we have been reviewing each one. Romans 4:5 is the fifth scripture in this list. Here it is.

Trusting Christ for Salvation

Romans 4:5
However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.

My Evangelical friends explain this scripture as follows: “It is the man who trusts God who is made righteous, not the man who works. Do you see that? Works are of no value. The thing that saves you is trusting God.”

There are a couple of problems here. The Evangelical claims, we can not be saved by works and baptism is a work. No argument on the first part of that statement. We can not be saved by works. This is what this scripture is explaining to the Romans. But, this scripture does not call baptism a work. This scripture does not mention baptism. This scripture is not even remotely about baptism. In order to use this scripture as an anti-baptism scripture, I must buy in to the error that baptism is a work. We have covered this issue elsewhere but in my desire to keep each of these lessons modular and self contained let me review the error and then point you to the original lessons which deal in depth with the issue.

Baptism is not a work. Baptism is a command of God. Why does any church baptize a new believer in water? Because it is a command of Christ. We conclude this from the Great Commission. Baptism can not be a command of Christ and a work of human merit at the same time. So, the first issue, “baptism is a work,” is not valid. Baptism is a command. I have no choice but to obey it. For a complete review of that topic please read or listen to my Podcast titled, “Who told you baptism is a work?

Continue reading “019-Anti-Baptism Scriptures – Part 5”

018-Anti-Baptism Scriptures – Part 4

Romans 3:21 – Baptism is like the Law!

The Law brings us to Christ!

Here’s our next anti-baptism proof text.

Romans 3:21-30
But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

This is Paul explaining why the Old Testament Law is no longer effective or necessary. It’s a long passage, so hang in there.

God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished — he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith.

For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law. Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith.

There are two basic assertions made in this scripture. This scripture tells us that salvation under the New Covenant is through faith and belief in Jesus and how we can not be saved by following the Old Testament Law.

A Radical New Teaching!

For the Jews of the Roman World, this would have been a radical new concept! Paul is telling them, the Law can’t save you, only this new thing… a faith in Christ can save you.

These are the only conclusions we should draw form this scripture. This is its purpose, to introduce Jews to God’s new of entering a relationship with Him. We must have faith in Jesus Christ.

Like the other scriptures we have looked at, this scripture has nothing to do with baptism. The evangelical argument is once again designed to corral this scripture and make me believe it is about baptism. And, once again, I have to also believe that “all” that is required for my response to the Gospel is faith and belief.

Continue reading “018-Anti-Baptism Scriptures – Part 4”

017-Anti-Baptism Scriptures – Part 3

What Must I Do to Be Saved?

Acts 16:31 Clarified

Acts 16:31 is another common scripture used to support the idea that water baptism is not part of the conversion experience. Let me read it… we will back up just a little bit and begin in verse 15b so you have the context. The Philippian Jailer has just asked an important question…

Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household.”

This is Paul’s response to the Philippian Jailer and it comes after that very specific, very direct question. “What must I do to be saved?”

The evangelical’s argument goes like this. If the Bible ever had a chance, once and for all, to tell us baptism was a part of the salvation experience, this would have been the opportunity. But Paul says “believe and you will be saved.” This passage says nothing about baptism. I wholeheartedly agree. This passage says nothing about baptism. So why are we using it as an anti-baptism scripture?

Shouldn’t we also note the absence of obedience, repentance, confession and accepting the message? And, shall I conclude that by their absence they are not a part of the Biblical Plan of Salvation and by extension, the jailer’s belief. Paul does not spell out every single detail involved in belief. But… there are some very curious things which happen in the rest of the story we ought not ignore.

Continue reading “017-Anti-Baptism Scriptures – Part 3”