019 – Anti-Baptism Scriptures – Part 5

Trusting Christ is only a credit. Ownership comes with obedience.
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?

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018 – Anti-Baptism Scriptures – Part 4

Romans 3:21 – Baptism is like the Law!

Baptism is not like the Law. There is no connection other than they both must be obeyed.
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.

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017 – Anti-Baptism Scriptures – Part 3

What Must I Do to Be Saved?

Belief alone is not enough to be saved. There is something else you must do.
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.

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016 – Anti-Baptism Scriptures – Part 2 – John: 3:16

John 3:16

Belief without obedience is worthless.

John 3:16 is the next popular scripture used as a proof text against baptism as part of God’s plan of salvation.

Let’s read it:

John 3:16
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

This, of course, is probably the most famous passage in the entire Bible. We see it frequently being used as the way to escape final judgement and be saved.

Not About Baptism

The obvious problem in using this scripture for our argument is that this text has nothing to do with baptism. This passage is commonly used as an anti-baptism scripture because it indicates one of the vital things necessary for eternal life, “belief in Christ.” And then employs the “all/only” assumption, so we are forced into a wrong conclusion.

To make this passage work, we must conclude, “belief” is all that is required. This passage does not teach that “all” we need to do is believe or the only thing necessary for salvation is belief. It says, belief is essential. That’s it. Nothing more. We dare not go beyond that conclusion based on just this passage.

We already know that true biblical belief or a complete faith includes obedience to Christ’s commands. True Biblical belief is so much more the intellectual assent or agreement.

The Bible often just presents the whole process as “belief,” and just assumes we know that complete Biblical belief includes all five of the scriptural steps we find in the Biblical Plan of Salvation. Just because the Bible does not list all five steps every time it talks about salvation, does not mean that any one step is less important. Our job is to discover the composite God has created which is quiet often summed up as “belief.”

If you watched my video series, may remember this example… If I told you I brushed my teeth, you automatically understand I used a toothbrush, a bit of toothpaste and some water. I did not need to tell you everything that was involved in brushing my teeth. Many steps were summed up in one phrase, just as the Bible often sums up the complete plan of salvation as, “belief.”

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015 – Anti-Baptism Scriptures – Part 1 – John 1:12

John 1:12

Believe plus receive does not equal become, it equals given a right.
What does John 1:12 really say?

Now, let’s turn our examination to the scriptures offered by the anti-baptism proponents. In this podcast, we will begin discussing the assertions of the article from GotQuestions.Org titled “Does Acts 2:38 Teach Baptism for the Remission of Sins?” 

That article presents the main arguments of the anti-baptism side very well. The article concludes with a list of nine scriptures commonly used to support the view that water baptism is NOT necessary for salvation. As we shine a critical light on each of these scriptures and their associated conclusions, we will discover five basic errors. 

The first common error occurs in interpretation. We’ll see a misapplication or misunderstanding regarding the scripture. 

The second error unfolds when we apply, what I call the “all / only” assumption. I explain this shortly.

The third error is that the scripture chosen as the proof text, has nothing to do with baptism.

The fourth error is the now familiar mistake of deeming baptism as a work of human effort.

The fifth and infrequently used error occurs when we equate baptism with Old Testament Laws and rituals such as circumcision or sacrifices.

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014 – We are Saved by Faith Alone

An Erroneous Claim

We are not saved by faith alone.

The evangelical world claims, “Salvation is by Faith Alone.” This statement is oft’ times invoked when arguing that baptism is not necessary for salvation. As this anti-baptism position has grown and flourished in modern evangelicalism, it developed its own unique language and phraseology. Grammar, in any discussion is important. But there is an amazing aspect to language and grammar you may not be aware of.

The Power of Language

A common language is the glue which holds like-minded believers together. A common language has amazing power! Think about the Biblical examples of the Tower of Babel and the Day of Pentecost; language played a stunningly powerful role in uniting people. 

In the evangelical world’s vernacular, three common phrases come to mind which are frequently used to articulate and argue the position that water baptism has nothing to do with the salvation experience, meaning the remission of sin. The first phrase is, “We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.” A second phrase is similar… just a shortened version of the previous phrase… “We are saved by faith alone.” In our last podcast, I mentioned the third phrase, “We are saved by grace, through faith, plus nothing.”

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013 – Baptism is a Work!

Baptism is not a work. It can't be because it is a command.

As you know, there are two proponents in the argument about whether baptism is necessary for salvation. One camp argues that baptism is necessary for salvation and the other camp argues that it is not. Both camps have well thought out reasons for their positions. In my view, the most common objection to water baptism for the remission of sin seems to be the belief that baptism is a work of man… in other words… it is a human work and as such, can have nothing to do with salvation. This is a widely held belief in the evangelical world, so when the debate comes up… it is primarily to this objection the argument turns as a defense… baptism is a work.

Easy to Spot

You can spot this defensive position referenced when you hear a preacher use the familiar phrase, “We are saved by grace through faith plus nothing.” This, and other similar phrases, are commonly called upon when arguing against baptism for the remission of sin… this is what the, “plus nothing” phrase is referencing. The “nothing” they are referring to is typically baptism.

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012 – The Proponents

Photo by Peter Dargatzl on Pixabay

The issue of whether baptism is necessary for salvation is really not about baptism at all. The issue we are dealing with is whether or not a person is willing to obey the Gospel, which just happens to included baptism. Let’s talk, for a few minutes, about this age old argument and see if we might be able to make a little progress.

In order to define and understand the arguments, it may help to know a little bit about the proponents.

Two Groups

The first group are those who believe that water baptism is not necessary for salvation. They say baptism has absolutely no connection to the remission of sin.

This would be the position of most of the evangelical world today. Their position states that when someone makes a heartfelt and sincere commitment to Jesus Christ, sins are forgiven and we are saved. This salvation experience happens at some point in time before water baptism. Many of these same people are baptized later… but not for the forgiveness of sins.

In the other camp, are those people who believe that baptism IS necessary for salvation and it has an incontrovertible connection to the forgiveness of sins. They teach that someone who is not baptized is not saved. They believe that baptism is the exact point in time salvation occurs.

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011 – For the Executive Listener

The Anointing of Jesus
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Few people have enough time to dive into a complete series of video lessons or plough through a bunch of podcasts so, I wanted to record one short podcast to provide a brief, concentrated “executive summary” of what “A Faith that Obeys” is all about.

At “A Faith that Obeys,” we believe the Bible presents a clearly defined plan of salvation. This plan, God’s Plan, was established in 33 AD and has not changed nor can it change. The plan is still alive today and we should still be following that plan if we want to follow Jesus scripturally. I call this plan, “The Biblical Plan of Salvation.”

Now, there is a problem. A new plan developed over the last few hundred years which has become what I call, “The Modern Plan” or “The Traditional Plan of Salvation.” This plan is taught in almost every evangelical church today. When people hear about Jesus and are willing to make a life-long commitment to Him, it is at this critical point in their spiritual journey, the traditional plan is promoted as “the way” to be saved.

I created “A Faith that Obeys” to help people spot the difference between these two plans, and explain how the Biblical Plan of Salvation differs so greatly from a plan they may have followed. I want to challenge people to dig into the scriptures, so they can decide, for themselves which plan makes sense. I do this through a series of 11 short video lessons which can be watched at www.afaiththatobyes.org.

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010 – The Anointing of Jesus

The Anointing of Jesus
The Anointing of Jesus

Jesus made only a few prophesies about future events. He made even fewer prophesies about people. On one occasion, Jesus made a curious prophesy about the woman who anointed him with expensive perfume during a dinner party.

Lukes Account

Luke 7:36-50
Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisees house and reclined at the table. When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisees house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is that she is a sinner.”

Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”

“Tell me, teacher, he said.”

“Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.”

“You have judged correctly, Jesus said.”

Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”

Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”

Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Matthew’s account of this event adds the following information:

Matt 26:13 – “Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

Did History Repeat?

Now, the narrative of this event differs slightly in each Gospel. In Matthew, Mark and John, this touching event occurs with certainty, in the last week of Jesus’ life and focuses mainly on the disciple’s reactions regarding the behavior of the woman. In Luke, the focus is on the host of the banquet, Simon the Pharisee, and the event seems to occur much earlier in Jesus’ ministry; leading many people to believe that an anointing like this happened to Jesus at least twice.

Did this dramatic action happen to Jesus more than once? I don’t think so.

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