Many are believing what’s called Baptismal Regeneration, or the “water gospel,” (basically a “watered-down gospel”) where baptism is added as a requirement for salvation. But we must “try the spirits” behind this doctrine, as we’re commanded to do in 1John 4:1. And two signs of deceiving spirits are when “contradicting and blaspheming” of God’s word occur (Acts 13:45). For example, one may say it’s not our works that save us, but then turn around later and contradict themselves by saying faith and baptism are works we do to be saved.
I found another example recently in a “House to House” pamphlet (vol. 18) sent out by a local church. It claims the thief on the cross was saved without being baptized because he was still under the Mosaic Dispensation. Yet, their website contradicts this by claiming Jesus told Nicodemus (who was ironically also under the Mosaic Dispensation) that he must be born again by being water baptized (John 3:5). So we must ask, “Why the double standard?” Besides, baptism isn’t even mentioned here, which is embarrassingly ironic, for they claim to be “silent where Scripture is silent.” The context here and 1John 5:6-8, even make it obvious that Jesus was explaining the difference between natural and spiritual birth.
Scripture also reveals that saving faith is the means God uses to bring His sheep home. Even Mark 16:16 doesn’t say, “he who isn’t baptized will be damned,” but it does say, “he that doesn’t BELIEVE shall be damned.” Also in 1 Pet.3:20-21 Noah’s family was “saved by water” only in the sense that it was a figure of the true (Jesus Christ), for it symbolized His death, burial and resurrection, just as baptism does today. The water itself didn’t save, or else those outside the ark would’ve been saved. As Peter even says here, baptism itself can’t put away the filth of the flesh, for a symbol can’t purge a guilty conscience, it’s only an outward testimony of what’s already occurred inwardly. Baptism is a figure of the true, whereas faith is the substance (Heb.9:9, 14, 26; 11:1, 7).
Yet, promoting baptism as a requirement for salvation turns the one who “administers” the “requirement” into a human mediator, which is blasphemy. There’s only one mediator between God and men, Christ Jesus (1Tim.2:5). Only He can administer what’s necessary for our salvation (saving faith), for He obtained it and all other spiritual blessings that accompany salvation (repentance, obedience, etc.), so that those who are His don’t try to add their own works to the sufficiency of His sacrifice (Rom.8:32, Eph.1:3, 4:8, Phil.4:19).
Still, many go to great lengths to exalt man and his works, such as twisting Acts 2:38 to mean we’re baptized “in order to get,” remission of sins, rather than baptized “because” believers sins have already been remitted by the shedding of Jesus’ blood (Heb.9:22). Common sense even tells us that one doesn’t take medicine FOR a headache “in order to get” a headache. One takes medicine FOR a headache “because” they’ve already got one!
Matt.3:11 uses the same Greek word in connection with baptism, as Acts 2:38. And clearly it can’t mean “in order to get” repentance, for John told the Pharisees they had to first “produce fruits worthy of repentance” like the Ethiopian, Saul, Cornelius, his family and thousands of others did in Acts, AFTER God had purified their hearts by faith (Acts 15:8-9), BEFORE they were baptized. Yet, if these verses meant baptism “obtains” remission of sins and repentance, then one would have to confess, no one needed that more than the Pharisees, yet John refused to baptize them! To be consistent with the “water gospel,” one would also have to confess that the Israelites were baptized “in order to get” Moses to be their leader, rather than “because” he’d already led them out of Egypt, for the same Greek preposition is used in conjunction with baptism in 1 Cor.10:2.
There are many more infallible, biblical proofs that Baptismal Regeneration is a false gospel, but may have to be covered in upcoming articles. Until then, just remember friend, Jesus didn’t shed His blood in vain. True believers don’t feel they have to make His blood effectual by doing something, for they simply trust that His blood atonement is effectual for those it was intended for, based on the effectual working of HIS power, not theirs (2Cor.4:7, Eph.3:7; Heb.13:12, 20, 21).
Sis Lee Anne—-readers with questions or comments are free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org