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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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Jesus told His disciples to make disciples of “all nations.” This would include all nationalities because God does not show partiality (Acts 10:34-35; Gal. 3:28ff). He wants all humans to come to a knowledge of the truth and be saved (1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9). These verses can also be used to show Calvinism’s doctrine on selective grace is not true because salvation is available for everyone. At first, Jesus’ disciples did not fully understand that all nations included the Gentiles until several years later. God revealed this truth to Peter and his companions at the conversion of Cornelius’s household (Acts 10). From that point forward, the Word of God was eventually preached to everyone (Col. 1:6, 23).

As we get back to Jesus' commands, we learn that teaching is not the only thing necessary for becoming a disciple. He also made baptism necessary as well. He commanded them: “Baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (emph. mine). Jesus is teaching us that teaching and baptism are necessary to become a disciple of Christ, which can be proven by examining the grammar of the original Greek. Both Greek words for baptizing and teaching are present participles, which shows their action takes place at the same time as the main verb “make disciples.” So, both teaching and baptizing are necessary to complete the action of the main verb, “make disciples.” The Pulpit Commentary explains it this way: "The present participle denotes the mode of initiation into discipleship. Make them disciples by baptizing them" (The Pulpit Commentary on Mt. 28:19). The English and Greek grammar proves that Jesus commanded His disciples to teach and baptize to make a disciple.

Jesus command to teach and baptize is to be carried out by humans because we can teach, and we can baptize someone.

The baptism commanded by Jesus was to continue until the end of the age. The only baptism this could refer to is water baptism and not Holy Spirit baptism as some claim. Holy Spirit baptism was a promise (Acts 2:33) that Jesus would administer (Mt. 3:11), and we only have two recorded instances of this happening in the Bible. The first instance was on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), and the second one was at the house of Cornelius (Acts 10 - 11). Since Holy Spirit baptism was a promise administered by Jesus, it cannot be the baptism commanded in The Great Commission because a person cannot obey a promise. However, we can baptize someone in water, and that is what we see happening throughout the book of Acts. There should be no doubt that water baptism is under consideration here.

Several more interesting points can be observed from Jesus’ command to baptize “into the name of the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” First, we need to examine the phrase, into the name of and what it means.

Wayne Jackson notes:

The expression “into the name” (eis to onoma) is interesting. In New Testament Greek it signified that “the one who is baptized becomes the possession of and comes under the protection of” the one into whose name he is immersed (Arndt & Gingrich, p. 575) (“The Great Commission According to Matthew” www.christiancourier.com).

Also consider this quote:

In the Greek papyri, which is that from which we get the New Testament, “into the name of” was a common phrase for the transference of ownership.” That is documented by Stephen L. Keiger in his “ARCHAEOLOGY IN THE NEW TESTAMENT (Wharton 37).

These definitions teach us how important baptism is because when a person is baptized into the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, he becomes God’s possession, and he is under His protection. Without baptism, this transfer of ownership and union with God cannot occur, which means a person cannot be a disciple of Christ without baptism.

Paul brings some clarity to this in 1 Corinthians 1 where he taught against dividing the Lord’s church. After He taught there is only one church, he made the following statement

about baptism:

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? (1 Cor. 1:11).

Paul is stressing that Christ was crucified for us, and we should not divide the one church He established. Also, we should not exalt a human above Christ by calling ourselves after that person because the church belongs to the Lord (Mt.

16:18); He purchased it with his own blood (Acts 20:7). Finally, Paul teaches that baptism is what makes it possible for us to say, “I am of Christ,” which means that we belong to Him.

The second interesting thing about Jesus’ command to baptize “into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” is that it shows the Trinity of the Godhead, which is even more obvious when we look at the original Greek language. The general rule in Greek grammar is that, when a definite article is present before a word, it identifies it as an individual or a specific thing. However, when the article is absent before a word, it shows its nature or quality.

In Wayne Jackson’s book, Treasures from the Greek New Testament for the English Reader, he gives several examples of this general rule. However, we will just observe one of them. He


In John 4, at Jacob’s well, Jesus had an extended conversation with a Samaritan woman.

Frequently throughout the narrative she is referred to as “the woman,” because a definite female is in view (4:9, 11, 15, etc.). When the disciples came upon this scene, after returning from a nearby city for food … (4:27) … The disciples were surprised that he “was talking with a woman” – woman in terms of gender;

any woman (68).

First, the woman in verse 9 shows that this specific woman was being referred to as an individual. However, the second use of the word woman in verse 27 without the definite article the, simply refers to any woman. In Matthew 28:19, all three persons that make up the Godhead have the definite article the in front of them which proves that each of them is an individual that makes up the triune nature of God. Now if the passage had only said the Father, Son and Holy Spirit without the definite article before each name, then all three of these could have been referring to one person. Since that is not the case, this is a great passage that refutes the doctrine that states that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all the same person.

Next Jesus commands: “Teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” As already noted, teaching must occur before we can become a disciple of Christ, and there are certain things we must know and understand to become a disciple of Christ. For instance, we must understand that we are sinners who are separated from God (Rom. 3:23;

Isa. 59:1-2). We must believe in Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, and that He is the only way to heaven (Jn. 14:6).

Once we believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and we realize that we are lost without Him; we must be taught to repent (Luke 13:3), and we must turn away from our old lifestyle by living our life according to God's Word. Also, we must confess Jesus as our Lord and continue to confess Him as Lord (Rom. 10:10). Finally, we must be baptized in the name of Jesus (by His authority) for the remission of our sins (Acts 2:38). At the point of baptism we enter into the possession of God, and we are added to the one church by Him (Acts 2:47).

When we understand this basic principle of Christianity, we have the knowledge and ability to become a disciple of Christ.

Once we choose to accept God's plan of salvation by submitting to God's authority, we must continue to be taught and learn as much as we can about God's commands (2 Tim.

2:15; 2 Pet. 3:18). However, there is more to salvation than just knowing the commands of God because we must live by them faithfully until the day we die (Rev. 2:10).

Finally, Jesus said: “And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." While Jesus was speaking to His apostles, His message applies to us today, and it teaches us that Jesus is with us and He is watching over us until the end of the age when He comes again. These promises are made to Christians in several other passages as well (Rom. 8:28; Heb. 13:5-6; 1 Pet. 3:12). What a comforting thought to know that our God will always be there for us.

The following charts will help us to see the whole counsel of God at work. This first chart will show everything the Gospel accounts say about The Great Commission.

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This chart shows everything Jesus commanded about The Great Commission. The only thing left out is confessing Jesus as Lord. However, we can know that confession is part of The Great Commission, which leads people to salvation, because it is necessary to be saved (Mt. 10:32-33; Rom. 10:9-10).

As we put all this together, we learn that we must preach/teach people that they must believe, repent, confess, and be baptized for the remission of their sins. When a person chooses not to accept all that Jesus has commanded on how to be saved, then that person is defying Jesus who has all authority over heaven and earth.

To further illustrate how Jesus' disciples followed His commands of The Great Commission, please note the following chart of conversions in the book of Acts on the next page.

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This chart shows how Jesus’ disciples obeyed The Great Commission. In every one of these conversions, preaching/teaching and baptism occurred. Even though belief, repentance, and confession are not specifically named in each instance, they are implied. When we combine the commands Jesus gave at The Great Commission and compare them to the conversions in the book of Acts, we should not have any problem understanding what it takes to become a disciple of Christ. We must hear the Word of God (Rom. 10:17), believe that Jesus is the Son of God (Jn. 8:24), repent (Luke 13:3), confess Jesus as Lord (Rom. 10:9-10), and be baptized in the name of Jesus for the remission of our sins (Acts 2:38). Dear reader, it is up to you to either receive these words with gladness, and become saved, or refuse them and remain in your sins, separated from God. Choose this day whom will you serve (Josh. 24:15).


1. Discuss what it means for Jesus to have all authority in heaven and earth.

2. Does the command “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” apply to us today?

3. Explain how a Jew became a child of God under the Old Testament and how a person becomes a child of God under the New Testament.

4. What two things are necessary to make a disciple?

5. How can we know that Jesus was not commanding Holy Spirit baptism?

6. What is the significance of being baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit?

7. How do the conversions in Acts prove the necessity of baptism?

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And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned (Mk. 16:15-16).

We examined The Great Commission in the previous chapter, but I want to take a closer look at Mark’s account, specifically verse 16. This verse proves that baptism is essential for salvation and everyone with an honest heart can see that it does. Before we look at the verse itself, I want to give several examples that will help us see how easy this verse is to understand.

Suppose a radio announcer said: “If you will drive down to the Toyota dealership and be baptized, you will receive a new car. If you do not drive down, you will miss out on a new car.” What does a person have to do to receive a new car? He has to drive to the dealership and be baptized. Both of these are necessary. If this was a real announcement, hundreds of people would take advantage of this offer, and they would not have any problem understanding what they must do to receive a new car.

Suppose I said: “If you will stand up and shake my hand, I will give you a thousand dollars.” What would a person have to do to receive the money? He would have to stand up and shake my hand. If he stood up and did not shake my hand, would I have to give him the money? No, because he did not shake my hand.

These are simply examples everyone can understand, and it should be just as easy for everyone to understand what Jesus said: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” When I was growing up, I enjoyed watching cartoons. Every Saturday School House Rock would come on during a commercial break and teach something about politics or grammar. One of their lessons was on conjunctions. They said words like and are conjunctions that join two words together. They used two train cars being held together by the word and to illustrate their point, which is what we have in verse 16. A person must believe and be baptized to be saved. Both these conditions must be met before salvation will occur.

We can prove this fact further by looking at the original Greek and its grammar. In our verse, believe and is baptized are aorist participles, and the word and is a coordinating conjunction that binds believe and is baptized together. Finally, our leading verb is will be saved. Basic Greek grammar states that an aorist participle’s action occurs before the main verb, and in rare cases its action can occur at the same time of the main verb. Since believe and is baptized are joined by a coordinating conjunction, this means both believe and is baptized must take place before will be saved happens. This proves baptism is necessary to be saved. Please note the following comments made

by Greek experts:

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The time of action in participles is indicated in the relation of the action of the participle to the action of the main verb. The following indicates that relationship: The Aorist participle indicates action which is antecedent to the action of the main verb (Summers 89).

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