You’ve Got Baptism All Wrong
You’ve got baptism all wrong…
…if you think baptism will remove temptation.
Those who believe this are in for a rude awakening. Perhaps Jesus faced the greatest amount of temptation immediately after His baptism (cf. Matt. 3:13-4:11). Since a servant is not greater than his Master (cf. John 16:13), we shouldn’t expect the devil to treat us any differently. The same temptations we experienced before baptism will be present after baptism.
Temptation is still a reality for every Christian (cf. Gal. 6:1). “Each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death” (Jas. 1:14-15). Yet, Christians are promised a “way of escape” (1 Cor. 10:13) from temptation (though the “way of escape” might not always be easy).
…if you think baptism will solve all of life’s problems.
Baptism isn’t a “cure-all” for all of your problems. Your marriage problems, financial problems, health problems, and bad habits won’t magically disappear. The problems you had before will still exist after you become obedient to the Lord. Christians are not immune to life’s trials (1 Pet. 1:6-7), but Christians have a different attitude toward trials when they arise. “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ […] But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:31, 33).
…if you think baptism will save someone who isn’t a penitent believer.
To be saved, one must be born of both “water and the Spirit” (John 3:5), not merely “of water.” Just as we are not saved by “faith alone” (Jas. 2:24), we are not saved by “baptism alone.” Scriptural baptism is for the person who has believed in Jesus Christ (John 8:24; Rom. 10:10) and has repented of his/her sins (Acts 2:38). If you are unwilling to rid your life of sin, your baptism will be in meaningless.
…if you think baptism assures eternal salvation.
Baptism will not do diddly-squat if you resume living a life of disobedience to the Lord. In other words, you’re not “once saved, always saved” after baptism. Of course, baptism is how we get “into” Christ (Gal. 3:26-27), but Christians can forfeit their salvation. The Bible communicates this in no uncertain terms. “You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability” (2 Pet. 3:17). See also Hebrews 3:12-19; 1 Corinthians 10:12; Galatians 5:4; Hebrews 6:4-6; 2 Peter 2:21-22.
…if you think baptism occurs after one is saved.
Sadly, many are under the illusion that one must simply “believe” in order to be saved (that is, “believe” as in “merely mentally accepting Jesus as Savior”). Proponents of this teaching argue that baptism is a ‘work,’ and that because we aren’t saved by ‘works,’ baptism cannot be essential to salvation. Yet they will teach that baptism is an important step of obedience for two reasons: (1) it is how you make your salvation public, and (2) it is how you ‘join’ the church of your choice.
Yes, we are saved by belief (cf. John 3:16). Yet, to believe, as taught in the Bible, means to trust and obey. Belief and obedience are inseparably connected (cf. John 3:36). While works of merit cannot save anyone (Eph. 2:1-10), by God’s grace we are saved by means of faithful obedience to Him (Jas. 2:14-26).
How can one be saved if he/she refuses to obey the Lord’s plan of salvation? Baptism is necessary in order to be saved. Baptism is for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38), brings newness of life (Rom. 6:3-4), puts one into Christ (Gal. 3:26-27), and brings salvation (1 Pet. 3:21). Those who “repent and are baptized” are “added to the church” by the Lord (Acts 2:47).
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Question: What are some other misconceptions people often have about baptism?