|Volume 23 Number 11 November 2021
When discussing the subject of salvation, some quote certain passages to the exclusion of others that also are relevant to the subject. For example, some will quote “…Whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43 NKJV) and then make the claim this passage teaches that all one has to do to receive remission of sins is to believe. However, such assertions ignore other relevant passages, such as Acts 11:18, which teaches the essentiality of repentance. In addition, Acts 2:38 states, “…Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…” The latter of these verses teaches that both repentance and baptism are essential in order to receive the remission of sins. Furthermore, Romans 10:9-10 teaches that both belief and confession of Christ are essential to salvation.
What all this means, and what should be obvious to all, is that one must not ignore any relevant biblical passage on a given subject to have the truth on that subject. Even the devil quoted Scripture (Matthew 5:4-6). However, the devil will quote some Scripture to the exclusion of other Scriptures (Matthew 4:7). The New Testament teaches belief, repentance, confession and baptism for the remission of sins. Which Scriptures do you ignore?
Is Baptism a “Should” or a “Must”?
I read something the other day that I had never considered. It’s an idea that is glaringly obvious once it is read, but I never thought about it until I read it. In Acts 2, when Peter and the others were preaching on the day of Pentecost, just 50 days after the crucifixion of Jesus, some Jews became convicted at the message of Scripture being fulfilled before their very eyes; they had realized that they had crucified the Messiah. They, then, asked a very simple, yet an important question, “What shall we do?” They knew and understood that they were guilty and outside of the covenant, but they wanted to get back into a covenant relationship with God. Therefore, they inquired what needed to be done.
Peter, therefore, gave them the answer. “…Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…” (Acts 2:38 NKJV). When they received their answer, there was no retort about John 3:16, Romans 10:9-10 or Ephesians 2:8-9. Why? Because those passages had not been written yet. Similarly, when Ananias told Saul to be baptized (Acts 22:16), there was no argument; he did as he was instructed.
Keeping that in mind, now think about the next 40 years as the New Testament was being written, and notice baptism is cited as uniting us with Christ in His death (Romans 6:3), is where our hearts are circumcised (Colossians 2:11-12), is how we clothe ourselves with Christ and become Abraham’s offspring (Galatians 3:27) and how we appeal to God for a good conscience (1 Peter 3:21). John 3:16, Romans 10:9-10 and Ephesians 2:8-9 are surely important passages, but they do not represent the whole picture, and neither does baptism alone. All of these elements work together, and all are a “must.”