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«Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation? Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation? Even though baptism is one of the fundamental building blocks of ...»

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It is impossible for a person like the rich man or Lazarus to cross this great gulf. So, when we die, we are taken to one of these two places. If we did not obey the gospel, we will be where the rich man is. For the doctrine of proxy baptism to be true there would have to be a way for the sinner to cross this great gulf, but Jesus taught us that it cannot happen.

Therefore, proxy baptism cannot be true.

It is also interesting that the Book of Mormon does not teach anything about baptizing the dead. Even though the Book of Mormon contradicts the Bible in many places, it agrees with the Bible in that we must repent before we are baptized, and it must be done while we are still living. Note the following

verses from their book that teaches this principle:

Yea, I would that ye would come forth and harden not your hearts any longer; for behold, now is the time and the day of your salvation;

and therefore, if ye will repent and harden not your hearts, immediately shall the great plan of redemption be brought about unto you.

For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors. And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed. Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world. For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked (Alma 34: 31-35).

But behold, your days of probation are past;

ye have procrastinated the day of your salvation until it is everlastingly too late, and your destruction is made sure; yea, for ye have sought all the days of your lives for that which ye could not obtain; and ye have sought for happiness in doing iniquity, which thing is contrary to the nature of that righteousness which is in our great and Eternal Head. O ye people of the land, that ye would hear my words! And I pray that the anger of the Lord be turned away from you, and that ye would repent and be saved (Helaman 13:38-39).

For behold that all little children are alive in Christ, and also all they that are without the law. For the power of redemption cometh on all them that have no law; wherefore, he that is not condemned, or he that is under no condemnation, cannot repent; and unto such baptism availeth nothing— But it is mockery before God, denying the mercies of Christ, and the power of his Holy Spirit, and putting trust in dead works (Moroni 8:22-23).

These verses from their book teach against the idea of proxy baptism. To find this false doctrine, we have to go to the Mormon’s other book called The Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

This book is a collection of divine revelations and inspired declarations given for the establishment and regulation of the kingdom of God on the earth in the last days. Most of the revelations in this compilation were received through Joseph Smith, Jun., the first prophet and president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Others were issued through some of his successors in the Presidency (“Explanatory Introduction The Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”).

This other book proves that Joseph Smith contradicts himself since the Book of Mormon, which he wrote, teaches against proxy baptism. God’s Word and even the Book of Mormon show that Paul was not teaching the false doctrine of proxy baptism.

Now that we have ruled out proxy baptism, let us examine what Paul was talking about by examining the context of 1 Corinthians 15. This chapter is teaching us that Jesus was raised from the dead and that we will be raised from the dead.

The reason Paul wrote this was to refute some false teachers that were saying there is no resurrection.

Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? (1 Cor. 15:12).

Some among you is referring to those who were teaching there is no resurrection of the dead. In verses 13 – 19, Paul teaches if there is no resurrection of the dead, then we are without hope, and Jesus has not risen. In verse 20 – 28, Paul affirms that Jesus was raised from the dead and that He is reigning over His kingdom right now. Just as Jesus was raised from the dead, we will be raised from dead. Then he asked several


Otherwise, what will they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? Why then are they baptized for the dead? And why do we stand in jeopardy every hour? (1 Cor. 15:29-30).

All these questions are designed to show that if there is no resurrection, then there is no need for baptism or for putting your life in jeopardy. As Paul said, “If the dead do not rise, Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” (1 Cor. 15:32). Then he warns these Christians not to keep company with these false teachers that are teaching there is no resurrection (1 Cor.

15:33). Paul continues teaching more about our bodily resurrection through the end of the chapter.

Now that we have examined the context, let us take a closer look at verse 29. First, we need to observe the pronouns.

When Paul was speaking of himself or the Corinthians, he would use I or you. However, in our text, he used the word they, which is third person plural. So, he is not saying that he or the Christians at Corinth were baptizing for the dead. Instead, he is referring to the false teachers of verse 12. Those who were teaching there is no resurrection were being baptized for their dead. Paul was using an ad hominem argument (i.e., reasoning from your opponents’ view) to show the fallacy of their false teaching. In other words, if there is no resurrection, there is no point in being baptized for the dead because when a person dies, it is all over.

An early writer named Tertullian (160 – 235 A.D.) believed there were some that practiced vicarious baptism at Corinth.

Regarding baptizing for the dead, he wrote:

Now it is certain that they adopted this (practice) with such a presumption as made them suppose that the vicarious baptism (in question) would be beneficial to the flesh of another in anticipation of the resurrection; for unless it were a bodily resurrection, there would be no pledge secured by this process of a corporeal baptism (Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. 3 Resurrection of the Dead Explained Chapter XLVIII).

There should be no doubt that Paul was referring to these false teachers in this text. The only way this text could have applied to Paul or the Christians at Corinth is if Paul had said, “What will we do who are baptized for the dead?” Regarding

these pronouns Burton Coffman wrote:

Concerning Christian baptism, for example, it is always “we” or “you” who were baptized and addressed in the first or second persons, never in the third person. It is still “they” not “we” who baptize for the dead! (Coffman).

As I said earlier, there are 30 to 40 different interpretations of this verse, but I believe the one I have given is the most logical because it works well with the context, and it does not contradict any other teachings within the Word of God. One thing we know for sure, Paul was not teaching the false doctrine of proxy baptism. We should never try to build a new doctrine based off one ambiguous verse as the Mormons have done.


1. Discuss the Mormon’s doctrine of proxy baptism.

2. After people die, can they still be saved?

3. What did Paul mean when he asked, “Why then are they baptized for the dead?”

–  –  –

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. There is also an antitype which now saves us -- baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him (1 Pet. 3:18-22).

Peter is giving us a classic example of a type and antitype. The type is the salvation that Noah and his family received by water, and the antitype is our salvation by baptism in water that was made possible through Jesus’ death and resurrection. We will examine this idea more in a minute, but first, let’s deal with verses 18 – 20.

The first part of our passage is easy to understand because it is talking about how Jesus suffered for us on the cruel cross to become the perfect sacrifice for our sins. He did this because He loves us and wants us to be reconciled with God (Rom. 5:8-11). When Jesus was put to death in the flesh, He was raised alive by the Holy Spirit.

What Peter wrote next has caused the Catholic Church to teach the false doctrine of Purgatory, which does not exist anywhere in the Scriptures. They believe that Purgatory is a temporary place of punishment in which a person’s soul is tormented for a certain length of time based on the sin he was guilty of. Once that time is up, they get to go to heaven.

However, they claim that their priests can decrease that person’s torment and get him into heaven quicker if they pray for them. In the middle ages, they made this into a moneymaking scheme and took advantage of their followers. This scheme was one of the problems that Martin Luther had with the Catholic Church. They continued to take advantage of their followers until Pope Pius V put an end to this practice in 1567. They still pray for the dead today, but they are not allowed to charge for it. Praying for the dead is not going to

change anything because once a person dies his fate is sealed:

“And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27).

Some teach that when Jesus was dead for three days, His spirit went to the spirit realm, and He preached the gospel to those who died in the flood. Again, this interpretation would not make sense because their fates had already been sealed (Heb. 9:27); so it would be pointless for them to hear the gospel. Also, it would not make sense for Jesus to preach the gospel only to those spirits of Noah’s day because that would be showing partiality, which God does not do (Acts 10:34).

The story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16 teaches us there are only two places we can go after we die. We either go to paradise, called Abraham’s bosom, or we go to the place of torment, known as tartarus (2 Pet. 2:4). There is no escape from either of these places because the departed soul cannot cross the great gulf between these two places (Lk. 16:26).

Since we have ruled out Purgatory and Jesus preaching to the departed souls, let us find out what Peter is talking about.

First, we need find out when Jesus preached to these people.

Peter answered this question by telling us that these spirits in prison, which refers to their location at the time Peter wrote this, were preached to during the time of Noah.

Second, we need to find out how Jesus preached to these

people during Noah’s day. Again, Peter answered this question earlier in his letter:

Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow (1 Pet. 1:10-11).

Notice, the spirit of Christ is said to have been in these prophets of old who were proclaiming God’s Word. Peter tells us that Noah was a preacher of righteousness (2 Pet.

2:5). Therefore, we can see that Jesus preached through Noah to those wicked people of his day. To help clarify this idea

notice what Macknight said:

For it is certain that our Lord, after his resurrection, did not go personally to the Gentiles to preach peace to them: he preached to them by his apostles only. But if Christ is said by Paul to go and do, what he did by his apostles, he may with equal propriety be said by Peter, to go and do, what he did by his prophet Noah (Macknight 620).

We can also see a connection between Jesus’ preaching through the Holy Spirit who in turn preached through humans. Jesus said: “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak;

and He will tell you things to come. "He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you” (Jn. 16:13As the inspired apostles spoke by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they were in essence allowing Jesus to preach through them (1 Cor. 2:13). The Holy Spirit also caused the prophets of the Old Testament and Noah to proclaim the Word of God (Gen. 6:3; 2 Pet. 1:20-21), which confirms how Jesus could preach through Noah to those wicked people while they were still alive. So, when Peter is talking about the spirits in prison, he is talking about where these wicked people were at the time of his writing, and they will remain in the place of torment until the Day of Judgment.

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