IS BAPTISM ESSENTIAL?
By Paul Simon, Minister.
Is baptism essential to the remission of our sins? It is a shame that there is so much confusion over this question on which the Bible is so plain. There are many proofs that baptism is necessary to the remission of sins to the person who has reached the mental age of accountability. Howbeit, I will not burden your minds with all of these proofs, but rather suffice it with four—any one of which would be conclusive in and by itself.
Condition of Salvation
Baptism is one of the conditions of the remission of sins. Jesus said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16). It must be agreed that this baptism is water baptism and not Holy Spirit baptism, because even those who teach that the Holy Spirit baptism is to be sought today, teach that it is not essential to salvation, but is a “blessing to be desired.” Jesus here makes faith and baptism equally necessary to salvation. Do you believe a responsible person can be saved without faith? Why then do you think he can be saved without baptism?
For Remission of Sins
Jesus says, through His apostle Peter, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38). Jesus here makes repentance and baptism of equal importance. The preposition, for, means the same thing in connection with “be baptized” as it does with “repent,” that is, to obtain. God is here saying, “Repent everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for remission of sins.” Can one be saved without repentance? Then neither can he be saved without baptism.
God Commands It
God commands baptism. “And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord” (Acts 10:48). (You) repent and (you) be baptized everyone of you (Acts 2:38).
Christ is going to punish those who obey not His commandments. II Thes. 1:7-9: “And to you who are troubled, rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.” Therefore, baptism is essential.
All who obey His commandments are to be saved.Rev. 22:14: “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have a right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.”
All agree that to get into Christ is essential. Baptism is one of the acts of obedience which puts us into Christ. Gal.
3:27: “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” This could not be Holy Spirit baptism, because all agree that Holy Spirit baptism does not put one in Christ. Therefore, water baptism is essential. (Note: Someone might say, “The preceding verse says that we are saved by faith.” It does, but it does not say “by faith only.”)
Part of The New Birth
Jesus said “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of the water and of the Spirit he CANNOT enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). Practically all commentators agree that the birth of water, here mentioned, refers to baptism. See Abbott, Wesley, Milligan, Whitby, Theluck, Olshausen. Alford says, “All attempts to rid this have sprung from doctrinal prejudices.” Even Adam Clarke admits that it refers to baptism, and then tries to argue out of it. Therefore, baptism is essential.
And yet, the church of Christ, the Christian Church, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Second Adventist Church, Roman Catholic Church, Greek Catholic Church (with possibly some branch of the Holiness Church) are the only religious groups which teach and practice baptism as essential to the remission of sins.