Forgiveness of Sins Comes At Baptism – Not Before (Part 2)
The question of precisely when salvation comes is a tremendously important question. There is much error found in the religious world today on the subject and we are trying to correct those misunderstandings.
We have [cref 375 previously discussed] certain comments made by a gentleman who has so far declined to participate in our discussion. In that earlier post we noted several passages which demonstrate that salvation occurs at the moment of obedience, at baptism, and not before. The reader is encouraged to begin with that post and then followup with this posting.
We will again post his comment as we will be referring back to it during our discussion:
Every time the phrase “for the remission of sins” occurs it is speaking of the fact that sins have been forgiven previously! The Bible plainly teaches that the forgiveness of sins is conditioned upon repentance of sin and faith in Christ – never upon water baptism! (Matthew 3:11; Luke 24:47; Acts 3:19; Acts 5:31; Acts 10:43; Acts 20:21; Romans 1:16; Romans 4:5; et.al.)
In the previous post we debunked the idea that the phrase “for the remissions of sins” speaks of sins that have been forgiven previously. We will next examine the Scriptures he offers as proof that baptism is not required for forgiveness of sins and, therefore, not required for salvation.
This passage occurs prior to the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. The comments was made by John the Baptist.
“As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove his sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
John’s baptism was similar to that at Pentecost in that it was in water. Baptism in water remained a part of the Gospel message into the church age (c.f. Acts 8:36; Acts 10:47). The difference is that the baptism from Pentecost (Acts 2) onward included the receipt of the gift of the Holy Spirit. Some of the people received a miraculous measure of the Spirit through the laying on of the apostle’s hands (Acts 8:18) but all received the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).
Matthew 3:11 does not in anyway denigrate or discount baptism in water. John the Baptist is saying that Jesus will add something when he comes – that is the component of the Holy Spirit. It was this addition that set the church age baptism apart from that of John’s baptism.
The baptism of fire is well explained in the next verse when John speaks of the divine judgment that will come at the hands of the Lord. This baptism of fire is not a good thing. It is a judgment against the wicked. (1)verse 11 cannot be viewed apart from its context.
So Matthew 3:11 does nothing to advance the argument that water baptism is unimportant.
“…and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed ??in His name to ??all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. “
These words were spoken by Jesus at the moment of his ascension back to Heaven. It is unclear what this has to do with baptism. Repentance was, and still is, proclaimed to all. A person must be a penitent believer in order to be baptized.
If one argues that since baptism is not mentioned it must not be important, we would observe that faith is not mentioned nor is the sweet confession of the name of Jesus.
This contributes nothing to our study.
“Therefore ??repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that ??times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”
Similar to the passage from Luke, this does not argue against baptism. Baptism is not mentioned. Would anyone seriously argue that since it is not mentioned that proves it is unnecessary? Evidently so. Again, faith, belief, confession are not mentioned either. This verse, like Luke 24:47, must be understood in light of all other passages which do include baptism.
“??He is the one whom God exalted ??to His right hand as a ????Prince and a ??Savior, to grant ??repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.”
If one wrests this verse from its context we could argue for the doctrine of universalism – that is – salvation for all men apart from anything at all. The Lord does grant repentance to Israel and to all men through and in Jesus Christ (Romans 6:3, 4).
“Of Him ??all the prophets bear witness that through ??His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.”
This case of conversion is unique and unlike any other in Scripture. Cornelius and his family were baptized and added to the church as Gentiles. They were the first Gentile converts and as such a mighty miracle was required to demonstrate God’s approval of their acceptance as a people. Recall that prior to this, Gentiles were viewed as unclean by Jews.
No man can be saved who does not believe in Jesus Christ. Such is unquestioned. But this begs the question concerning water baptism.
Belief is far more than a mental assent to the truthfulness of a proposition. James 2:19 says, “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe and shudder.” (emphasis mine).
Simply believing that your house is afire will not save you. You must act on that belief and Cornelius did. Perhaps our friend overlooked verses 47 and 48 of the very same chapter when Peter ordered that they be baptized.
“…solemnly ??testifying to both Jews and Greeks of ??repentance toward God and ??faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
This is the same as prior comments made concerning repentance. Nothing at all is said about baptism. Since baptism was so obviously prevalent throughout the New Testament one cannot proclaim it as unnecessary based upon a verse that says nothing about it?
For I am not ??ashamed of the gospel, for ??it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the ??Jew first and also to ??the Greek.
What an encouraging verse! Although I do not see what it has to do with baptism, pro or con. Obviously, preaching the good news includes whatever commands there are that are needed. See the story of the Ethiopian who, after Christ was preached unto him, he asked baptism (Acts 8:35-36).
“But to the one who does not work, but ??believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness…”
Paul speaks of Abraham here. Abraham is a perfect example of one who believed and was counted as righteous. No amount of work would have ever made Abraham worthy of God’s good grace – nothing. But because of his belief and obedience, Abraham was blessed.
There is nothing you or I can do to earn our salvation. Even after we have obeyed every command, served every person possible, prayed every prayer and given all of our goods to the poor, we are still lost apart from God’s grace.
But such a dependence on grace in no way lessens our need to obey. Abraham was not only a man of faith and belief, but also of obedience. No amount of Scripture twisting can separate Abraham’s faith from his obedience. Would anyone seriously suggest that a disobedient person would be called righteous? Of course not.
We have addressed every verse in the paragraph offered by our opposer and we have shown the shallow nature of his comments and studies. Baptism is not the only item required for salvation but it is one of the things required.
We would enjoy seeing your comments and answering your questions. Please leave them below.
Other posts in this series:
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References ↑1 verse 11 cannot be viewed apart from its context.