Last updated on October 10th, 2019
Hello again my fellow facttruthers. The other day I got into a very healthy and vigorous debate with a believer of the Christian faith on the necessity of baptism for salvation. I think it’s always important to encounter people who reach different conclusions to you on faith matters to further sharpen your beliefs. After debunking most of the usual points that people bring up (“baptism is a work”, “Romans 10:9”, etc.), the person decided as a last resort to throw a link of a website that he felt confident would debunk all my scriptural assertions. Being a person that’s always up for having my thinking challenged for the betterment of reaching the best understanding of my faith, I decided to read through the article. After reading through all of it, I became more firm in my belief, and decided to make a point by point post that firmly refutes all of the points in this article.
Gty.org appears to be a popular website according to the Alexa internet rankings (http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/gty.org), so I believe this is important to address given millions of people are possibly viewing this misinformation. First I will give you the link to the article (http://www.gty.org/resources/questions/qa79). You can read through all of it yourself first, or choose to follow along looking back and forth from my post and the article as I address just about each portion of the article’s points. Hopefully we’ll all continually study and make the best conclusions of our faith based on what Scripture states. Especially on salvation, which none of us can afford to get wrong.
In the beginning of this article, the author starts out with verses that appear to state that faith is the only part of the salvation process. The problem with that thinking is that just because belief is the only component stated in those verses doesn’t mean it negates baptism being a part of the salvation process. For example with the verses the author cites in Romans, they neglect to mention that Romans 6 later states that baptism puts us into the body of Christ. The author also cites Gal 2:16, but neglects to mention Gal 3:27, again stating baptism puts us into Christ. And then the author cites Ephesians 2:8-9 seeming to suggest that baptism is a work, but baptism is never stated to be a work, and if you look back in Acts 19, it shows that the Ephesians were saved by belief and baptism in the name of Jesus Christ.
In the next paragraph, the author states, “if baptism were necessary for salvation, we would expect to find it stressed wherever the gospel is presented”. Sounds reasonable, but the fact is every salvation occurrence that is noted in Acts involved baptism. There’s not one occurrence of salvation being noted to have occurred without baptism having been a part of the process, and anyone can look through these chapters and see for themselves. I didn’t quite understand why the author chose to cite 1 Cor 15:1-4 in their argument by arguing it shows Paul never made baptism any part of his preaching of the gospel, because it doesn’t negate the fact that he did mention baptism as a part of becoming a part of the body of Christ in Romans 6, Galatians 3, Acts 19 shows the process happening, and many other instances.
That passage is just reviewing the story of what happened with Christ. Not specifically stating a negation of baptism as a part of salvation. And let me be clear about what I mean by saying “negation of baptism as a part of salvation”. A clear negation of that conclusion being accurate would be finding a verse that states specifically in one way or another “baptism is not a part of receiving salvation”. Much like you can clearly find a verse that states in one way or another “works of the law no longer justifies a person” (Gal 2:16). If a person could find a verse that specifically states in one way or another “baptism is not a part of receiving salvation”, we could agree there would absolutely be no debate. Therefore in contrast, by providing verses that state exactly the opposite in stating in one way or another “baptism is a part of receiving salvation”, there should be absolutely no debate on this fact. What I find people who disagree tend to do when you show them those verses, is they try to explain away what the verse states, rather than believing exactly what is stated. I’ll get into that later when the author attempts to debunk the verses I’m talking about.
The author then cites 1 Corinthians 1:17 out of context as proof Paul did not believe baptism was a part of salvation. But when you look at the verses in context, observing the verses before and after, Paul was trying to rebuke the church at Corinth for being prideful in forming separate superior groups (much like all the denominations we see today). The passage does say, and I’m paraphrasing, “he did not come to baptize but to preach the Gospel”. But the question is, is baptism the only part of the Gospel which one must obey (2 thes 1:8) in order to be saved? The answer would seem to be no. Belief is a part of it (Mark 16:16), repentance is part of it (Acts 2:38), confession is a part of it (Romans 10:9), and baptism is a part of it (Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38).
The next paragraph after using 1 Corinthians 1:17 to debunk baptism, the author states their following point to be their strongest argument against baptism being necessary for salvation. As I was reading it though, I found it interestingly turned out to be their weakest argument. The author cites all these people who were saved in the gospels without baptism as proof that baptism isn’t necessary. There’s one big problem with that though. All those people were saved prior to the commandment given by Jesus after his death and resurrection of belief and baptism being a part of salvation and being added to the body of Christ. So it does not dispute the fact that every salvation, after which Jesus commanded belief and baptism for one to be saved, were all achieved by following exactly that formula. Just because Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob didn’t have to follow the law to connect with God doesn’t mean the Israelites could just say no to what Moses instructed them to do in order to be connected with God. The Law just wasn’t commanded at the time of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. And baptism as a part of salvation was not commanded until after Jesus was resurrected.
So it was not required of anyone before that time to follow that command Jesus gave in order to be saved because he hadn’t given the salvation command yet for the apostles to preach. In Acts 10:44-48, the author states that the fact that the people Peter preached to received the Holy Spirit before being baptized proved they were saved. I’ve noted already many verses state that baptism puts one into the body of Christ, which is a part of the meaning of being saved. But the larger context of that passage seems to be that Peter was showing that everybody could be saved, and no longer just the Jews. It mentioned the Jews being amazed that the Gentiles were able to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, seeing that God could include them in the faith just as he’d always been there for the Jews. And then after Peter showed them that, he insisted that they can be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ too, just as everybody else in Acts was as a part of their salvation.
The author then goes into some inaccurate defining of Greek terms. There’s already a word in the Greek for because which is gar. The word eis is used to mean for, so it doesn’t change the meaning of Acts 2:38, repent and be baptized (for) forgiveness of sins. The next two paragraphs sounded like the author was trying to do a lot of explaining away of what appears to be being clearly stated in Acts 2:38. It’s my conclusion that at the end of the day, one has to do their best to stick with what the words on the page specifically state, and not fray from what’s being specifically stated for our understanding by inserting one’s own logic and ideas into the text. The author’s next argument tries to debunk Mark 16:16 with the verse not repeating baptism in the second part of it.
The context of Mark 16:16 needs to be considered carefully. Prior to that verse, Mark 16:15 states, ” And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Okay, so prior to verse 16, Jesus states preach the gospel to all creation. So the very next line, He states what that gospel is, believe and be baptized to be saved. So it would seem to follow, that what Jesus is stating that is the disbelief that will be condemned, is the disbelief in the gospel to be preached, that those who believe (in Jesus) and are baptized (in Jesus), will be saved. Now you may think I’m inserting my own ideas here, but the reason I’m fairly confident that I’m not, is because Peter repeats the same baptism that Jesus told him to preach as part of the component for salvation in Acts 2:38.
The author then argues that Mark 16:9-20 are questionable about whether they were originally a part of Mark 16 making Mark 16:16’s statement of baptism being a part of the salvation process irrelevant. Honestly, if the author wants to go down that rabbit hole, then we can open up a whole can of worms of questioning whether anything in the present day Protestant canon that was put together over time is originally a part of God’s Word. But let’s for arguments sake say verse 9 through 20 is not a part of Mark 16. One can still find Jesus commanding baptism as a part of making one a disciple of Christ in Matthew 28:19. Continuing with the last parts of the writing, I don’t follow the author’s argument about the phrase “not the removal of dirt” not referring to water baptism. It would just seem to be the simplest logical conclusion, because it’s describing the process of what happens when you lower someone under water. The author’s debunking of Romans 6 and Galatians 3 appeared to be merely speculation without anything in the verses to back it up. Lastly, the author tries to debunk acts 22:16 by stating it’s not talking about water when it says wash away your sins. But the problem is the Greek word for wash is apolouo, which means wash off or away, and the only way you can wash off or away something is with liquid, particularly water. And in the Greek lexicon, further explanation mentions a baptismal bath, which is again another indication of water baptism being a part of the salvation process.
As always thoughts, questions, or comments are always welcome for the further betterment of our accurate understanding God’s Word and living the Christian lifestyle. Peace to all those who are in Christ.