Monday, September 28, 2009


It is almost cultish to try to argue that water baptism is necessary for salvation. But those who are the weakest in the faith, and who do not know exactly what the Bible is teaching about salvation, always use water baptism to finish in their thinking the work of redemption.

   Now the apostle Paul makes it absolutely clear in 1 Corinthians 1:12-17 that water baptism is not a part of the gospel. He says "Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel ..." Paul had trouble remembering who he baptized in Corinth. While it is a good sign of the cleansing work of salvation, it does not save.

   In Acts 10:43-47 it is clear that one simply believes to receive forgiveness of sins (v. 43), then the Holy Spirit fell on all those who heard Peter's words, then they began to speak with languages (v. 46), and, then it was said that they could be baptized in water (v. 47). Baptism came last after they had believed and received the Holy Spirit!

   Here are some verses the cults use to try to support water baptism for salvation:

   (Acts 22:16) The Greek text reads in regard to the salvation of Paul: "Having arisen, and to be yourself baptized, and to wash away yourself your sins, having yourself called [on] the name of Him."

   Paul uses what is called the Middle Voices in these verbs, that is why we translate them with "yourself." The great old Greek grammarians Dana & Mantey prefer: "get yourself baptized," and "get yourself washed."

   Then a Middle Participle is used: "having yourself called [on] the name of Him." The baptism and the washing is but a picture, the main force in the verse is "having yourself called on His name." This is what truly saves! The calling upon His name!

   Ellicott rightly points out that this is related to the "bath of regeneration" from Titus 3:5-6. "We are saved according to His mercy, by the bath (washing) of regeneration and/even the renewing (remaking) by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior." This is not water baptism but the baptism of the Holy Spirit!

   (Hebrews 10:22) "Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water." How do we literally have our hearts "sprinkled" from an evil conscience? This clearly is a picture, a type, a symbol! We do not sprinkle our pumping heart with water in order to be saved! And if I could somehow throw water on my heart, how would that cleanse my heart from an evil conscience?

   What if the washing of our bodies is not done with pure water? What kind of water can I use? How would that save me spiritually, that is, the pouring of water on my body?

   Ellicott makes sure we understand that this verse is symbolic. He correctly writes: "Sprinkled from an evil conscience, that is, freed by means of the sprinkling from a conscience defiled by guilt. In the last words there is a CLEAR ALLUSION TO BAPTISM as the SYMBOL of the new life of purity (Eph. 5:26; Titus 3:5; 1 Pet. 3:21)."

   The cult guys speak out of both sides of their mouths. They say: "Although water baptism does not of and by itself forgive our transgressions of God's law, it remains one of the required steps in the salvation process." You cannot have it both ways! It either saves or it does not!

   (Mark 16:16) "He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned." Ellicott says: "There is no 'and not baptized' in the second clause here. Unbelief—by which is meant the rejection of the gospel in heart and life, not weakness or doubt as in verse 14—shall condemn a man, whether baptized or unbaptized. And, conversely, it follows that our Lord does not set forth here the absolute, but only the general necessity of baptism to salvation; as the Church of England also teaches. But that general necessity extends to all to whom baptism is accessible."

   The sin of unbelief is the most compelling issue in the passage, and not the issue of baptism! – Dr. Mal Couch