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?

The Challenge of Obedience

Obedience to the Gospel must never be categorized as a work. And obedience to the Gospel is clearly necessary for salvation. Just listen to these challenging scriptures.

2 Thessalonians 1:8
He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

James 2:22
You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.

Hebrews 5:9
…once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.

1 John 2:3-6 
We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

Romans 1:5
Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.

Give me a little credit!

There is a second problem in using Romans 4:5 as an anti-baptism scripture. Let’s read it again so it is fresh in our mind.

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

What is the focus of this sentence? The man who does not work but trusts God. What is he compared to? The man who works. Does the man who works receive the same thing as the man who trusts God? No. There is a difference between these two people. That’s the point of the scripture. One type of person receives a blessing the other type of person does not receive the blessing. What is the blessing? We might think it is “justification of the wicked,” but not so fast. That is just a description of our majestic and mysterious God. “God, who justifies the wicked,” is a descriptive phrase. What does this “God who justifies the wicked” do for the man who trusts in him? He sees his faith and that faith is credited to him as righteousness. Awesome!

So, this scripture teaches us, the man who trusts in God is made righteous by that God, right?

No, that’s not what it says. It says that the man’s faith is credited to him as righteousness. Here’s the problem. Credit is not ownership. The man has not been made righteous just yet but he is in a really good position. He has a credit from God.

This issue is huge. Why do we assume that the man has been declared righteous when that is not what the scripture says? Please refer to my podcast titled “A Credit of Righteousness.” It’s a fascinating study.

God does not give righteousness to the man who trusts him, He gives a credit.

So, Romans 4:5 is not about baptism, it is about works of merit and probably more specifically about the system of works which sprung up from trying to obey the Old Testament Law. We must not use this scripture as an anti-baptism scripture because baptism is not a work, it is the only proper response to the Gospel if we have a Faith that Obeys!


Dana Haynes

Listen Now – Podcast 017 – Anti Baptism Scriptures – Part 3

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