«Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation? Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation? Even though baptism is one of the fundamental building blocks of ...»
All these verses would not make sense if works in general were excluded. This fact proves there are two different kinds of works. There are works of merit, which will not save a person, and works of obedience, which are necessary in accepting God’s grace. We can see this again as Paul continues his
letter to the Ephesians:
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them (Eph. 2:10).
While we cannot merit our salvation with works, Paul tells us to walk in good works. Since the grace of God teaches us to have obedient works Paul said: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:11-12). All these things that grace teaches us to do are works of obedience.
Those who claim that we are saved by grace alone would have to admit that all are saved no matter who they are because Paul said that grace has appeared to all men. If this argument is true, then people like Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein are saved if we are saved by grace alone. Those who teach that grace alone or faith alone saves cannot show one Scripture that makes this statement. In fact, the only time the word faith and only appear in the Bible is when James said we are not justified by faith only (Jam. 2:24).
God has always demanded an obedient faith to accept His grace in the Old Testament and the New Testament. While many examples could be given, I want to illustrate this fact by
the following chart:
Noah found grace in the sight of God, and He offered him and his family salvation. However, they had to accept this gift of grace by building the ark, which took an obedient faith.
God did not bring about their salvation until they completed the ark and entered it. He flooded the world with water and killed all the humans that were left, but Noah and his family was saved from the wicked world by the water because it transported them away from the sinful world.
In a similar way, God offers us His grace, but we must have an obedient faith to receive it. We will not receive the forgiveness of sins until we have done what has been asked of us. After we have believed, repented, and confessed Jesus as Lord, we must then be baptized in water before we are saved and our sins are forgiven. This principle could also be illustrated with Moses and the children of Israel, Joshua and the walls of Jericho, and Naaman the leper.
All these examples and Scriptures prove that grace is God’s part, and an obedient faith is our part. So, we are not saved by grace or faith alone. Instead, we are saved by God’s grace by accepting it through an obedient faith, and by keeping an obedient faith for the rest of our lives because it is possible for us to fall from grace (Gal. 5:4).
Before we leave this topic, I want to deal with an argument some Calvinists use on Ephesians 2:8. Since they believe some are predestined to be saved and others are predestined to be lost, they teach that the gift of God in Ephesians 2:8 is faith. In other words, a person has no choice if he is going to be saved or not because God will cause him to have faith or he will not have it. Of course this view would have God showing partiality, which He does not do (Acts 10:34-35).
To prove that it is not grammatically possible for the gift of God to be faith in Ephesians 2:8, notice what Wayne Jackson
The passage cited above (Eph. 2:8), as a proof-text for the idea that “faith” is strictly a “gift,” does not, in fact, teach that idea at all.
The text reads as follows:
There is no specifically-stated antecedent for “gift” in this context. However, it is to be inferred. The gift is the salvation that is implied by the verb “saved.” “For by grace are you saved through faith;
and this not of yourselves, it [the salvation] is the gift of God.” Grammatically speaking, there is no agreement between “faith” and “gift.” Faith (pisteos) in the Greek Testament is a feminine form, while “gift” (doron) is neuter gender.
The “gift” is not “faith” (Is Faith the Gift Ephesians 2:8? christiancourier.com).
Also in his article Mr. Jackson noted:
Even John Calvin interpreted the “gift” of this passage as “salvation,” and not faith (The Epistle to the Ephesians, Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd, 1965, p. 144). This is in perfect harmony with Paul’s declaration elsewhere that the “gift of God is eternal life” (Rom. 6:23).
Not even John Calvin was willing to go against the grammar of this text, even though some of his followers are, which should be enough proof that the gift of God is salvation and not faith. However, it is true that faith comes from God, but Paul explains: “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). So, we can all have faith if we are willing to accept and obey what we hear from the Word of God. It is God’s desire that we will be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4).
Our third argument comes from Paul’s writing to the Corin-thians:
Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe's household, that there are contentions among you. Now I say this, that each of you says, "I am of Paul," or "I am of Apollos," or "I am of Cephas," or "I am of Christ."
Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name.
Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas.
Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other.
For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect (1 Cor. 1:10-17).
Their argument is based on verse 17. When Paul said: “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel,” they say Paul was teaching that baptism is not part of the gospel. Therefore, it is not essential for our salvation because the gospel saves (Rom. 1:16), which is the reason he was sent to preach and not sent to baptize. Those who oppose the necessity of baptism think this argument is a strong one, but as we will learn, it is not.
The first thing that we need to realize when we interpret the meaning of a Scripture is that it cannot contradict other clear passages on this topic. This fact proves that their argument is false because it would cause Paul to contradict other plain Scriptures that prove that baptism is part of the gospel and is essential for our salvation.
When Jesus gave The Great Commission, He told His disciples: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved …” (Mk.
16:16), and they were commanded to baptize “them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt. 28:19). These verses teach that baptism is part of the gospel. When the apostles were asked: “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37), Peter told them: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…” (Acts 2:38). When Philip preached Jesus to the Ethiopian eunuch, he understood that baptism was part of the gospel because he said: “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” (Acts 8:36).
These examples are enough to prove that baptism is part of the gospel and essential for salvation.
Since Paul is being accused of saying that baptism is not essential, let us examine what Paul said about baptism. The first thing I want to point out is that Paul teaches more about baptism then anyone else in the Bible. When Paul was converted to Christianity, he was baptized for the remission of his sins (Acts 22:16). When he went around preaching the gospel, people were baptized including many Corinthians (Acts 18:8).
Lydia, her household, and the Philippian jailer’s family were baptized because they heard the gospel from Paul (Acts 16:14-15; 27-34). He also baptized some men who had been baptized with John’s baptism (Acts 19:1-5). Even in our main text, Paul mentioned that he baptized Crispus, Gaius, and the household of Stephanas (1 Cor. 1:14-16). Does it make sense that Paul would talk about baptizing some and then say in the next verse that he was not sent to baptize because it was not part of the gospel? Absolutely not! Instead, these examples show that baptism was part of the gospel and that Paul administered baptism occasionally.
To take this a step further, Paul taught that baptism:
• Puts a person into the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13).
• Puts a person into Christ (Rom 6:3; Gal. 3:27).
• Is when a person is buried with Christ (Rom. 6:4;
• Is when a person is united with Christ (Rom. 6:5).
• Is when a person’s sins are forgiven (Rom. 6:7; Col.
2:13; Acts 22:16).
Other examples and Scriptures could be given, but these are enough to show that Paul was not saying that baptism was not part of the gospel, nor was he saying that baptism was not essential for our salvation. If we are going to rightly divide the Word of God, then we must interpret what Paul said based on all the evidence we have looked at so far.
The first thing that we need to do is examine the context so we can know why Paul said what he did. Paul was writing this letter to the church at Corinth, and he was addressing a unity problem. Some of these Christians were dividing themselves into different groups and calling themselves after the men that taught them, but Paul asked them: “Is Christ divided?
Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Cor. 1:13).
In this context, Paul is condemning division in the body of Christ and Christians calling themselves after men. Yet, that is exactly what denominationalism is all about. Let the reader understand that Paul is condemning denominations in this text.
The questions Paul asked also show the necessity of baptism.
He taught that it takes two things to belong to Paul, Apollos, Cephas, or Christ. First, the person had to be crucified for you. Second, you had to be baptized in the name of that person. To be baptized in the name of Paul would make you belong to Paul, but Paul was not crucified for you. However, Jesus was. So, if a person wants to belong to Jesus, he has to be baptized in the name of Jesus, which is the only way that a person can say, “I am of Christ.” As Paul wrote to the Galatians: “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:27). As I showed in the chapter on The Great Commission, baptism puts a person into the possession and protection of the Godhead, which agrees with what Paul was teaching.
Next, Paul said: “I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name. Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other.” Paul was thankful he had not baptized all these people because he did not want them to be confused and think he had baptized them in his own name. Some of these men were even calling themselves after Paul just because he had taught them the gospel. Just imagine how much stronger their conviction would be if Paul had baptized them as well.
To understand the reason they were doing this, we have to put ourselves in their shoes. When Paul would preach the gospel in a new area, he would prove the words he was speaking was from God by doing miracles and signs (Mk. 16:20).
When these first century people heard the words and saw the signs, they would tend to make Paul into a God in their eyes like they did at Lystra (Acts 14:11). This behavior is the reason Paul was glad that he had not baptized most of these people.
Finally, Paul said: “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.” Since we have examined the whole counsel of God, we can know that Paul was not saying that baptism is not part of the gospel, and he was not saying that baptism was not part of his ministry as an apostle. If Jesus did not send Paul to baptize, then he disobeyed Him several times in his ministry including the names he just mentioned that he baptized. It would also make Jesus
exclude Paul from the command of The Great Commission:
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” (Mt. 28:19).
Based on the evidence I have given, if we are honest with ourselves, we can see that Paul was not excluding baptism from salvation. Instead, he was saying that his main role as an apostle was to preach the gospel and not to baptize because any Christian could baptize another. Besides, we have already learned there were times when Paul did baptize.
The reason it does not matter if an apostle, elder, preacher, or another Christian baptizes a person is that the person that is dipping the unsaved person under the water is just aiding him in his baptism. What takes place in the baptism has nothing to do with the person that is aiding them because God is the one that is doing the work. As Paul said: “In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead” (Col. 2:11-12). So, Paul was not saying that he was not sent to baptize at all, but that he was not sent to baptize only because any Christian could have baptized the unsaved after Paul had taught them the gospel.