Jan 09 2007
Water Baptism vs. Salvation by Grace through Faith
Water Baptism is an outward expression of an inward experience. It is a physical sign to the world of a spiritual reality that has taken place in our lives. That is why it was so important to Jesus Christ and His disciples. What power or justification is there in water? There is none. It is the blood of Christ that sets us free from sin through faith in His sacrifice. Let us be very careful not to let our focus drift away from the cross.
There are those that have proposed that we must observe certain external acts of righteousness in order to be justified before the Father. They say that faith in the cross is not enough. But the truth of God is not in them. They have rejected God’s grace and there is no hope for them. Over the past 20 years of serving the Lord I have become acutely aware of a common denominator as it relates to many Christian Cults. Now granted, some of these cults are much more extreme than others but they all tend to have one very important thing in common. And that is the belief, for whatever reason, that the Blood of Jesus Christ alone, and by its self, is not sufficient for their salvation.
While some claim Water Baptism as a pre-requisite for salvation, others adhere to observing the original Sabbath Day, and still others claim that you must be baptized in Jesus’ name. Some even suggest that unless you Speak in Tongues you have not really been justified.
I could expend a great deal of energy trying to dispel these arguments one at a time, but that would be a lesson in futility. This is due to the fact that often times these people do not really want the truth. What they are really looking for is a Methodology, Avenue, or Process that would afford them the belief that their particular group of followers is a little closer to God than everyone else.
At this point, let’s look at a number of the “Justification by Faith” passages that have been recorded for our benefit. After this I will make my closing comments.
19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.
20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.
21 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.
22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference,
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
25 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
26 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.
27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith.
28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.
Romans 5:1+2, 8-11, 18-21
1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be savedfrom God’s wrath through him!
10 For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
11 Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
18 Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men.
19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
20 The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more,
21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 8: 1+2
1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.
Romans 10: 1-4, 8-13
1 Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved.
2 For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge.
3 Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.
4 Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
8 But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming:
9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
11 As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”
12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile–the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him,
13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
1st Corinthians 1: 14-18, 21-23
14 I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius,
15 so no one can say that you were baptized into my name.
16 (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.)
17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel–not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.
22 Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom,
23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,
1st Corinthians 2: 1+2
1When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.
2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified
1st Corinthians 6: 10+11
10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
1st Corinthians 15: 1-4
1 Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.
2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
Ephesians 2: 4-10, 13-18
4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,
5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved.
6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,
7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–
9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.
14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,
15 by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace,
16 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.
17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.
18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
Titus 3: 3-7
3 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.
4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared,
5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,
6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior,
7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
Galatians 2:16, 19-21
16 know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.
19 For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God.
20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”
1 You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.
2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?
3 Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?
4 Have you suffered so much for nothing–if it really was for nothing?
5 Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?
6 Consider Abraham: “He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
7 Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham.
8 The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.”
9 So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
10 All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”
11 Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, “The righteous will live by faith.”
12 The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, “The man who does these things will live by them.”
13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”
14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.
John 3: 3-6, 16
3 In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”
4 “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”
5 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.
6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.
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.
Acts 2: 21
21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
Acts 10: 44-47
44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message.
45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles.
46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said,
47 “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.”
Acts 16: 30-33
30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved–you and your household.”
32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house.
33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized.
Acts 26: 17+18
17 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them
18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me
Why is it that after all this time we still find it hard to accept God’s grace? Why do we feel that we have to add something to the cross? We could pick any one of a hundred different rules out of the bible and quickly decide that it is a necessary mandate for our salvation. But, remember that when you do that you can not stop there. If you are going to pick out one pre-requisite rule for Justification you have to be ready to observe the entire Law of God. How many times does the foundation have to be laid regarding our salvation? If we are justified before the Father based upon some type of work, or act, then we are lost. It is by faith in Christ alone that we are justified in the Father’s eyes.
Our Lord and Savior does indeed expect us to do what is right in His Sight. That is our reasonable to service to him. And Water Baptism is an instituted ordinance which is very biblical. I am a Strong Advocate of Obedient Faith and I do not subscribe to Unconditional Eternal Security. I also believe that we have been set free by faith to be slaves to the Holy Spirit, and not slaves to the flesh. And having said this, we must always remember that; “We do not keep the rules in order to be justified.” “We keep the rules because we are justified!