Well hello there. If you are just joining us, we are in the middle of a special series addressing the myriad of objections to water baptism. We began by way back in Podcast 012, “The Proponents,” where we discussed a bird’s eye view of the main issues. Next, we spent several Podcasts discussing nine scriptures commonly presented as proof texts by the anti-baptism side. Currently, we are going through the other common objections offered as arguments to prove baptism is not necessary for salvation. In this installment, we address that familiar phrase from the evangelical world,”Baptism is an outward sign of an inward grace.”
Baptism is an Outward Sign of and Inward Grace.
They explain it like this: “Baptism is done to a believer to demonstrate that God has already performed His saving grace in the believer’s life. In baptism, the believer is merely responding to that grace which has already saved them.”
Since these believers think they are already saved, water baptism becomes a symbol, or a ritual to confirm publicly what has already transpired, the forgiveness of sin. Remember, the evangelical world teaches, baptism has nothing to do with salvation.
Since baptism is just an outward sign of an inward grace, it’s not critical and there is no urgency. Accordingly, it’s common for congregations to schedule special baptism services a couple of times a year, at which time, new converts are given the opportunity to obey this Biblical command. I think urgency is important and I’ll tell you why in a moment. In the meantime, let’s test the claim that baptism is an outward sign of an inward grace.
There is a choice.
If I choose not to be baptized, then there is no “outward sign of this inward grace.” If there is no outward sign of an inward grace, how can I claim there has been any inward grace? I can’t! There is no proof. I am incomplete.
While this phrase sounds really good, it’s not scriptural. Baptism is never referred to as a sign or a symbol of anything in the New Testament. It is never performed as a ritual. Now, some of you may reference 1 Peter 3:21 where Peter said: “…and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also…” The water that symbolizes baptism is the water of Noah’s flood. The Flood was a foreshadowing of something to come, namely baptism. Baptism is not the symbol; the Flood is the symbol.
Since baptism is the point in time where we are Born Again, it certainly contains some very strong symbolism in that we actually see a death, burial and resurrection but this, the act of baptism, is not a symbolic event, it is a reality event. It is where we die, we are buried and we are resurrected to our new life in Christ. Read Romans 6:1-14.
Baptism is always an urgent issue!
Now, regarding urgency: look at the conversions in the Bible. In every conversion in the book of Acts where baptism is mentioned, each person was baptized immediately upon their decision to follow Christ. There was an urgency, they did not put it off. Why? Because baptism is integral to conversion and salvation. No one in the Bible ever waited for a bi-annual baptism service. In fact, we never see a baptism service occurring in the New Testament. Since we are still in our sins prior to baptism, it is absolutely urgent that we deal with that situation. Sin is like cancer, we get rid of it as quickly as possible.
While baptism is not a sign, it is a public declaration of our faith in Christ. In the churches I am familiar with which hold to the Biblical Plan of Salvation, people are baptized when they are ready to make this public declaration. They understand they are still in their sins until they die with Christ in baptism and are raised by Christ into their new life. Baptisms happen at all hours of the day and night and frequently, not even in the church building. Baptism is when and where we are Born Again by the power of God. While there is certainly a lot of symbolism in baptism, it is not a symbolic event, it is a reality.
Baptism is not an outward sign of an inward grace. It is an external grace changing the inward person.Enjoy!