How A Sinner Can Be Saved and Have Eternal Life
How can a sinner be right with God, to be saved and forgiven of all their sin and have eternal life? This is a question of greatest and most profound importance, that transverses the minds of all people at some point. No question in this life has a greater value put upon it. To arrive at its answer, which is found in God’s Word by understanding the four points below, is a joy unmatched in this world. By understanding: (1) Your Sinful Nature and Condition. (2) God’s Just Judgment of You. (3) God’s Just Remedy for Your Sinful Problem. (4) Your Required Response to God’s Remedy.
My friend, your life is but a vapour. You have no promise of tomorrow. “Man is like to vanity: his days are as a shadow that passeth away.” (Psalm 144:4). Today is the day of salvation. You must never set it aside. “(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)” (2 Cor. 6:2). Nowhere does the Bible promise us innumerable opportunities to be saved. Quite the contrary as we ready in Proverbs 1:20-31, a very fearful passage of Scripture.
Even the smallest measure of human compassion, to say nothing of Christian love, requires that I warn you of the inconceivably horrible, eternal, and unbearable wrath, which quickly and with absolute certainty will fall upon you, the judgment of the all-powerful God, whom you have as your enemy, from whose hand none can hope to escape? “Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver” (Psalm 50:22).
Since the Bible is the inspired and infallible Word of God, it is rightly man’s sole authority for faith and practice (2 Tim. 3:16), and the sole determiner of the nature of the gospel. Let us appeal to its truths alone.
1. Your Sinful Nature and Condition.
Scripture teaches us that the human race was created perfect, but when the first man, Adam, disobeyed God (Gen. 3), “sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Rom. 5:12). Likewise by “the offence of [Adam] many be dead,” and “judgment was [upon all] by [Adam] to condemnation . . . by one man’s offence death reigned by one . . . by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation . . . by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners” (Rom. 5:13- 19). When the father of humanity sinned, we all sinned, we all enter the world with a sinful nature. We can say, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Ps. 51:5). In fact, all people begin life “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1) because of the sin of Adam and their own sinful nature, and so are “children of disobedience . . . by nature the children of wrath” (Eph. 2:2-3).
Jer 17:9 declares that the human “heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”This corruption of heart leads us to commit all kinds of sins and evil (Mk. 7:21-23), even form many ungodly addictions, that so that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Indeed, “there is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Rom. 3:10-12). When God looks on humanity, He sees “that the wickedness of man [is] great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart [is] only evil continually.” (Gen. 6:5).
Until one is born again, he walks “according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air [Satan], the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others” (Eph. 2:2-3). Man is naturally so depraved that he will habitually choose evil over good, unless God draws him and enables him to act differently: “There is none that seeketh after God” (Rom. 3:11).
Jesus Christ said, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him . . . no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father” (Jn. 6:44, 65). Jer. 13:23 reads, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.” In fact, until one becomes God’s child, “not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (Jn. 1:13), he cannot truly please God in any way, for “they that are in the flesh [the unsaved] cannot please God” (Rom. 8:8, cf. Jn. 3:6). For such “is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled” (Ti. 1:15). That applies to all of us before conversion.
All men are born as sinners, are totally depraved by nature, and consequently commit innumerable sins and are unable to cease from sinning.
2. God’s Just Judgment of You.
God, who is entitled the “Holy One” forty-eight times in Scripture (Isa. 1:4, etc), has commanded mankind to be as sinless, righteous, and holy as He is Himself: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). “Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy” (Lev. 19:2). He demands perfect conformity to His character in nature and action, and views sin—any and every failure to meet that perfect standard—as an infinitely loathsome and detestable evil.
God’s Law, as seen in the Bible, is an expression of His holy character. It pronounces a curse upon all disobedience: “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them” (Gal. 3:10). Nothing less than sinless perfection is acceptable: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (Jam. 2:10). Every individual sin deserves death and hell, for “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23), which includes “the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Rev. 21:8). Since all have sinned, all deserve sin’s wages, so that every man’s “damnation is just” (Rom. 3:8-10).
All who are unsaved, which is by far the majority, have the “wrath of God abiding” (Jn. 3:36) on them, which brings God’s present cursing on your life and eternal judgement. Although they do not yet realize the awful consequences of it, they are “condemned already” (Jn. 3:18), with their every heartbeat in the hands of the same God whose holy and just character demands their damnation, and whose wrath could at any moment break forth on them and send them to “unquenchable fire” and “everlasting punishment” (Matt. 3:12, 25:46). “Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell:” (Ps. 55:15a), where you will “be burnt with hunger, and devoured with burning heat, and with bitter destruction:” (De. 32:24a).
We are all indeed worthy to be “cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:” (Mk. 9:45), for “whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:15), into the “furnace of fire:” where “there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 13:42), where you will have “no rest day nor night” (Rev. 14:11), and “shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” (Rev. 20:10b).
3. God’s Just Remedy for Your Sinful Problem.
My friend, escape from destruction and damnation, and enter into the presence of God, who is of “purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity” (Hab. 1:13), Who requires that man be both absolutely sinless and perfectly righteous. As noted, men are sinners by birth and choice, and “are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isa. 64:6), we are ruined, depraved and utterly unable to please God, so hell would appear an absolute certainty for all.
However, God made a glorious provision for man’s salvation! “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16). God’s eternal Son, the second Person of the Triune God, equal to the Father and the Holy Spirit (1 Jn. 5:7, Matt. 28:19; Pr. 8:22-36), left His heavenly glory to become a Man, Jesus Christ. “God was manifest in the flesh” (1 Tim. 3:16), “and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” (Matt. 1:23).
The Lord Jesus lived a sinless life, died a substitutionary death on the cross, and rose bodily from the grave the third day. On the cross, He “once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God” (1 Pet. 3:18), and “redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us” (Gal. 3:13). God the Father “made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Cor. 5:21). Jesus Christ “knew no sin;” He had no sin in Adam or sin nature, for He was virgin born (Matt. 1:23, Lk 1:35), and throughout His life He fully obeyed the demands of the Law of God.
When He died, God “made him to be sin for us,” for “the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:6; compare 1 Jn. 2:2). All the sins of the world were placed on Jesus Christ, who suffered and paid in full the legal penalty demanded. He endured this so that “we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” Having died and shed His blood to fulfill the demands of the Law, the Son of God forgives all sins—past, present, and future—of those whom He “washes . . . from [their] sins in his own blood” (Rev. 1:5). “Christ died . . . [so that we might be] justified by his blood” (Rom. 5:8-9). God “justifieth the ungodly” (Rom. 4:5). To be justified means to be declared righteous.
God not only forgives all the sins of those who are redeemed by the blood of Christ, but He judicially reckons them just. Because Christ having suffered and died as their Substitute to pay for their sins, God accounts to the redeemed the righteousness of His Son. Their sin debt is paid in full, and the Father views them as if they had no sin nature, had lived a sinless life as did Christ, and were as spotless and holy as Jesus Himself, for “Christ Jesus . . . is made unto [them] wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30). They can say, “the LORD [is] our righteousness” (Jer. 33:16, 23:6), since they have been “made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Cor. 5:21).
The Lord Jesus Christ’s work on the cross is sufficient to satisfy in full the demands of the Law and to perfectly and eternally save the worst sinner, yea the ungodly (Rom. 5:6), who receives pardon through it (Rom. 5:6-11).
4. Your Required Response to God’s Remedy.
God decreed that the redemption Christ purchased on the cross would be received by “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ac. 20:21). God “now commandeth all men every where to repent” (Ac. 17:30).
One repents of his sin and places his faith in Christ for salvation at a particular moment of time (2 Cor. 6:2); repentance and faith expressing the two aspects of the one heart response to receive Jesus Christ (Jn. 1:12), so that those who truly repent will turn and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and those who truly believe in Christ have repented. The Bible warns that “except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Lk. 13:3) and “he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mk. 16:16). It also states, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out” (Ac. 3:19), and “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life” (Jn. 3:36). Repentance and faith is both required.
What does it mean to repent? Saving repentance is granted by the goodness of God (Ac. 11:18; Rom. 2:4), where a sinner, having agreed with God that he is lost, is as wicked as the Bible declares (Lev. 26:40-41), and is headed to eternal hell fire of which he is worthy (cf. 1 Ki. 8:47-48; Lk. 5:32; 2 Tim. 2:25), with godly sorrow over his sins (2 Cor. 7:9-11) turns from them all (Ezk. 14:6, 1 Th. 1:9; Rev. 16:11) and from all other idols (self, stuff, people), denying himself by losing his life for Christ and the gospel sake (Mk. 8:34-37; Lk. 14:25–15:32; Jn. 12:25) and turns to God to submit and surrender to Him unconditionally as Lord (1 Th. 1:9-10; Ac. 9:4-6; Rom. 14:11) fully believing and trusting in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ alone for salvation (Ac. 3:19 and 4:4; 20:21).
You cannot repent, that is, turn from your sins, yourself, your stuff and and your people (Is. 55:7; Ezk. 33:11; Lk. 14:25–15:22; Rev. 2:22; 9:20-21), without first genuinely seeking after God (Pr. 8:17, 35; Isa. 55:1-6), without believing and receiving God’s Word as truth (2 Th. 2:10; 1 Pet. 1:23-25), without fearing God with trembling and sorrow (Pr. 14:27; 22:4; Ac. 13:26; 19:17; 2 Cor. 7:10) and a broken and contrite heart and spirit (Ps. 34:18; 51:17; Is. 61:1; Matt. 5:3-4; 21:44), without acknowledging your desperately wicked and ungodly and sinful state before God (Jer. 17:9; Ps. 32:5; Rom. 3:10-20); nor can you believe or trust in Christ to save you from sin’s penalty without wanting the Savior to free you from sin’s enslaving power (cf. Matt. 21:32; Ac. 19:17-19; Ti 2:11-14); nor can you believe in Christ as your new Master without turning from the old master (Matt. 6:24), from sin (Mk. 2:17; Lk. 15:4-22; 1 Th. 1:9; Rev. 9:20-21; 16:11; etc), from self and family (Lk 14:25-35; Matt 10:32-39) and from your love of money and material (Mk 10:21-31).
The Lord Jesus Christ declared, “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life [wants to live his own way and will not turn to God’s way] shall lose it [in hell]; but whosoever shall lose his life [deny self and surrender to Jesus Christ] for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it [receive life, and eternal life]. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? [in hell] Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mk. 8:34-37).
When people turn from their sins and from themselves, and surrender to Jesus Christ, God immediately changes them so that those who “repent and turn to God” will “do works meet for [i.e. befitting] repentance” (Ac. 26:20) and “bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance” (Matt. 3:8), which happens immediately (Col. 1:6), “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10).
While doing good works is not part of repentance and salvation but a result of it, all who truly repent and believe in Jesus Christ will immediately manifest their change of heart in a changed and fruitful life for God (e.g. 2 Cor. 5:17; Jam. 2:14-26; Col. 1:4-6; Mk. 4:20-19; Lk. 8:15-16; Matt. 3:8; 7:15-20; 21:41-44; 2 Cor. 9:10; Jam. 1:18; 3:17). “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Cor. 5:17).
At the very moment of conversion, the sinner overcomes the world (I Jn. 5:1-5; 2:13-14; 5:4-5; Rev. 2–3). the devil (1 Jn. 2:13-14; 4:3-4) and the flesh (Rom 6:1–7:6) and is translated from darkness into light forever, from being in the flesh to being in the Spirit forever, from being on the wide path to destruction to the narrow path of life forever, from being an enemy of God to being a friend of God forever, etc. Many other things occur at that very moment of conversion and continue on into eternity, so that you are in want of nothing (Psalm 23).
You exercise saving faith, when accepting the truths of the gospel in your repentant heart, trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for salvation. The Lord Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life” (Jn. 6:47). The kind of faith that brings justification is not merely intellectual (head) knowledge of the gospel or of the Bible. Rather, to “believe on him” and be “justified by faith” is repentant faith (Acts 3:19; 4:4) and includes “being fully persuaded that, what [God] had promised, he was able also to perform” (Rom. 4:21-5:1), so to “trust in the Lord” (Phil. 2:24), to “trust . . . in God” (2 Cor. 1:9) for the salvation of your desperately wicked and deceitful heart. One who has justifying faith can say, “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day” (2 Tim. 1:12). Recognizing that he is totally unable to save or help save himself, a man is justified or declared righteous in the sight of God when he entrusts his soul to Christ alone to give him eternal salvation and the washing of all his sin.
It is impossible for a man to savingly believe on Jesus Christ while thinking that his works have anything to do with finding favour with God and obtaining the forgiveness of sin. The Bible says, “For by grace [undeserved favour] are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9). If salvation is “by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work” (Rom. 11:6); grace and works are mutually exclusive in the matter of salvation, the forgiveness of a sinner’s sins.
Anyone who believes that deeds, such as humility, “trying your best,” baptism, church attendance, partaking of the Lord’s supper, pursuing obedience to the Bible, daily prayer, confession of sin, conforming to the law of God, keeping the Lord’s day, or doing “good” and “your best,” confessing your sins before God, reforming or overcoming an addiction through repetitive chants or actions, or any other act has a particle to do with receiving justification before God does not believe in Jesus Christ at all; he merely has intellectual understanding of the facts of the gospel, a kind of “faith” that he shares with the devils (Jam. 2:19) and the damned. Rather, “to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Rom. 4:5).
As long as one is working for salvation or believes he has an ounce of righteousness in him (Rom 10:1-6), he does not believe in Jesus Christ for it, because salvation is for the one who “worketh not, but believeth on him.” (Rom. 4:5). Saving faith trusts and commits that Christ is actually Lord and Saviour, and so is One who saves men without the “filthy rags” of “all our righteousnesses” (Isa. 64:6) as blasphemous additions to the sufficiency of the death and shed blood (Rev. 7:14, 1:5) of Him who “is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him” (Heb. 7:25).
God’s saints are “found in him, not having [their] own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith” (Phil. 3:9). Saving faith looks to the Lord Jesus and His work on the cross alone for salvation. If one truly believes that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16), he will not add conditions to salvation that God has not added. If God says “whosoever believeth in him” is certain of everlasting life, then, obviously, belief in Christ is sufficient to save.
Since the Bible promises that “he that believeth on him is not condemned” (Jn. 3:18), the very moment one truly believes in Jesus Christ he “hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life” (Jn. 5:24). That means you can never lose that most wonderful “gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom 6:23b). If you believe you can lose your salvation, then you do not believe in the gospel found in Scripture, nor in the Jesus of Scripture regardless of your flattery, but in “another gospel” and “another Jesus” (2 Cor. 11:4), and do make God out to be a liar by denying the record that He gave of His Son (1 Jn. 5:9-13).
The instant one repentantly believes, all of his past, present, and future sins are washed away in the blood of the Lamb, and he receives the righteousness of Christ as his legal standing before God. You go through the metamorphosis of the sinner, where God makes you a saint, a brand new creature in Christ Jesus (2 Cor 5:17; 1 Cor 6:11). Because the Lord Jesus paid for his sins in full when He died as his Substitute, God treats every believer as if he were as sinless and righteous as His own Son. The penalty of the Law entirely satisfied, both God’s justice and mercy demand the eternal salvation of the justified individual. God is “just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Rom. 3:26), so we conclude, with the Apostle Paul, that “a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law” (Rom. 3:28).
Will you dear sinner repent and believe for the salvation of your soul and receive eternal life, or will you resist and deny the conviction and reproof of God the Spirit on your heart that is “deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9)?
You do not have innumerable opportunity to be saved. God eventually stops working in the lives of those He draws, reproves, convicts and grants repentance when they heed not His call. Many are called, few are chosen, because few choose to repent (Matt 22:1-14). They will not repent because they “loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” (Jn. 3:19-21).
The time to be saved is when God is drawing you, convicting you, and reproving you. Like at this moment.
I urge you to reckon the warning of God in Proverbs 1:20-33, to them (maybe you?), who will heed not His call:
“Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets: She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying, How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you. Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD: They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.”
Can Water Baptism Save You?
The water baptism of believers upon profession of their conversion through the Lord Jesus Christ, is one of two Scripturally recognized church “ordinances” (1 Cor. 11:2), the other being the Lord’s Supper of unleavened bread and wine (1 Cor. 11). This tract will focus on the first, believers baptism by water.
False teachings on baptism has maybe deceived and damned more souls to the fires of eternal hell than any other single doctrine. The need of the hour is not only clear teaching on what water baptism is and its established Biblical purpose, but also a plain refutation and expose of false teachings surrounding this very important church ordinance. Such is our purpose here.
Firstly, Water Baptism is Not the Only Type of Baptism in the Bible.
Water baptism is only one of at least five baptisms found in Scripture. It is essential to understand that some baptismal texts do not refer to Christian water baptism, but to something else:
(a) There was the baptism of the Israelites “unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea” (1 Cor. 10:2). That one of course is no longer applicable to anyone.
(b) There was the baptism Christ had to endure of suffering and death —“I have a baptism to be baptized with” (Lk. 12:50; Matt. 20:22; Mk. 10:38);
(c) There was the “baptism of John” (Matt. 21:25; Mk. 11:30; Ac. 19:3), which was believers water baptism because “of repentance” i.e. salvation (Mk. 1:4; Lk. 3:3; Ac. 19:4) seen also in Ac. 8:30-39 which is the baptism this tract will focus on, and is the baptism in reference when referring to Baptism henceforth;
(d) There is the baptism of believers by the Holy Spirit “into Jesus Christ” (Rom 6:3; Gal 3:27) and thereby “into his death” (Rom 6:4; Col 2:12) which happens at the very moment of salvation (Rom. 6:1-23);
(e) There is the baptism by fire (Matt. 3:11) which is not a promise of blessing for the saved, but a warning of judgment for the unsaved, of an eternal immersion into the lake of fire (Matt. 3:11-12) which is the second death. It becomes a reality to those who slam into eternity without having been saved through Jesus Christ. Matt. 3:11-12 indicates that every person in the entire world will be baptized by either the Spirit (at salvation –1 Cor, 12:13; Eph. 1:13-14) or by fire (at death for the unsaved –Matt. 3:11-12). See also Isa. 66:15-16; Mal. 4:1; 2 Th. 1:9-11 and Rev. 19:11-21. The Scriptures warn that the baptism of fire is eternal torment. Friend, have you ever been baptized by the Holy Spirit of God through “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ac. 20:21)? If you haven’t, it is most certain you will be baptized by eternal hell fire.
Why then does the Bible say, “There is . . . one baptism” (Eph 4:4-5)? Firstly, what we do know for certain is that it doesn’t mean what is typically and zealously declared and embraced by unsaved Mennonites: that of only water baptism, regardless of mode, and if you do it more than once, you are eternally damned — which of course further reflects the perverted and “damnable” (2 Pet. 2:1; Gal. 1:8-9) works-gospel embraced by many Mennonites. The explanation for this passage is simple but carries profound consequences: baptism of any kind occurs only once and is never repeated. In that sense, then, there is only “one baptism.” Scripture knows only one baptism. All born again believers drink of one Spirit; they are all made partakers of one and the same Spirit. The five baptisms mentioned above all occur only once in one persons life, if they are applicable. Furthermore, this passage in Ephesians is referring to true Biblical church unity, which is based upon truly saved people, who have been baptized by the Holy Spirit (it occurred at salvation) and then after followed with believers water baptism.
Can Baptism Save You? Is it Necessary for Salvation?
No it can not. Baptism does not save anyone. It never has. It never will. Baptism is NOT for salvation but because of salvation, a picture of salvation and the newly saved persons identity with the Lord Jesus Christ. Baptism is not for the purpose of “the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,)” (1 Pet. 3:21).
The infallible Bible, the sole and sufficient authority for the Christian’s faith and practice (2 Tim. 3:16-17), teaches that by means of the substitutionary death, burial, and resurrection of the Son of God (1 Cor. 15:1-4), God justifies or declares righteous all who in repentance (Lk. 13:3; Mk. 1:15) trust in the blood of the Redeemer (Jn. 3:15-16; Rom. 5:1). This is the gospel in a nutshell. Justification (declared righteous eternally) is received simply by repentance and faith in Christ, apart from good works (Eph. 2:8-9; Mk. 1:15; Ac. 20:21) and religious rituals, including those ordained by God (Gal. 2:16; 5:4-6), such as believer’s baptism (Rom. 6:1-7) and the Lord’s supper (1 Cor. 11:24-25). All who have been justified are eternally secure (Jn. 3:36; 5:24; 10:27-30). “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9).
Those who believe or teach a false gospel, such as one which includes baptism as a requirement for salvation (baptismal regeneration, or pardon through baptism), will be eternally damned (Gal. 1:8-9), and all heretics and false brethren must be rejected (Ti. 3:10; Gal.2:4-5; 1 Tim. 6:3-5). The Bible states in Rom.1:16 that “the gospel of Christ . . . is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” In Gal. 1:6-9, the apostle Paul warns of “another gospel: which is not another,” but a “perver[sion of] the gospel of Christ,” and states that “though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” One of the most dangerous perversions of the gospel of Christ is baptismal regeneration, the idea that one is born again or forgiven of sin at the time of baptism. The true gospel is the one receives forgiveness of all sin, eternal life, and a certain future in heaven the moment he, in repentance, turns from sin and self and idols to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for salvation. One who believes in, promotes, or associates with a gospel other than the true gospel taught in the Bible forfeits the glories of heaven for the eternal curse of God.
Thus, the only requirement for baptism is salvation and true salvation comes only through saving repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Ac. 8:36-37; 2:38-41).
We see this exemplified in the account of the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8:36-39: “And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.”
Paul the Apostle made it very clear that his ministry was not about baptism but about preaching the gospel (1 Cor. 1:14-17), “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel:” (v. 17). If baptism was necessary for salvation, all the people that were saved through Paul’s preaching were not truly saved after all, since he didn’t baptize any of them with the exception of a few.
Menno Simons also rejected baptismal regeneration. In his own words:
“The believing receive remission of sins not through baptism, but in baptism, in this manner: as they now sincerely believe the lovely gospel of Jesus Christ which has been preached and taught to them, which is the glad tidings of grace, namely, of the remission of sin, of grace, of peace, of favor, or mercy and of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord, so they become of a new mind, deny themselves, bitterly lament their old, corrupted life, and look diligently to the word of the Lord, who has shown them such great love; to fulfill all that which he has taught and commanded them in his holy gospel, trusting firmly in the word of grace, in the remission of their sins through the precious blood and through the merits of our beloved Lord Jesus Christ. They therefore receive the holy baptism as a token of obedience which proceeds from faith, as proof, before God and his church, that they firmly believe in the remission of their sins through Christ Jesus, as was preached and taught them from the word of God.” (Complete Works of Menno Simons, 1871, p. 201).
And: “We are not regenerated because of baptism, as may be perceived in the infants who have been baptized; but we are baptized because we are regenerated by faith in God's word, as regeneration is not the result of baptism, but baptism the result of regeneration. This cannot well be controverted by any man, by force of the Scriptures.” (Complete Works, p. 215).
That settles that quite clearly, and what brother Simons taught is perfectly inline with Scripture. But other popular contemporaries of Simons, who are often touted as great men of faith, did not reject baptismal regeneration. These include Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Urich Zwingli. They all embraced and trusted in a false gospel of regeneration by baptism, thus should be rejected as apostates to the faith (Gal. 2:4-5; Ti. 3:10).
Three favourite passages used by baptismal regenerationists are Acts 2:38, 22:16 and Mk. 16:16 and for the sake of brevity we’ll cover only Acts 2:38.
Acts 2:38 is probably the favourite proof-text for many who defend salvation by baptism. It reads: “Then Peter said unto them, 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.” It is usually argued that Peter affirms that one must repent, and then be baptized, in order to receive (“for”) the remission of sins, after which one receives the Holy Spirit. The dogmatic crux on which the argument turns is the assertion that baptism is “for” the remission of sins in the sense that it is administered “in order to receive” forgiveness. A careful study will demonstrate that Peter does not assert baptism is administered in order to receive forgiveness in Acts 2:38, nor is such a view of the verse consistent with the apostle’s teaching elsewhere in the book of Acts. A poster with a picture of a criminal affirming that he is “Wanted for Robbery” asserts that he is wanted “on account of” a robbery already committed, not (hopefully!) “in order to” commit another robbery. The English of Ac. 2:38 is consistent with the view that Peter affirmed that the crowds at Jerusalem needed to repent, and then be baptized “on account of” the remission of sins that they received when they repented, rather than repenting, and then being baptized “in order to obtain” the remission of sins. The believer does not get baptized in order to be forgiven of his sins; he is baptized because he has been forgiven of his sins. A similar expression is used in the latter way in Lk. 5:13-14. The leper was instructed to offer himself to the priest “for thy cleansing,” meaning because he had already been cleansed by Christ.
We also know this is the meaning of Ac. 2:38 (and Ac. 22:16 & Mk. 16:16) by comparing Scripture with Scripture, which is an element of rightly dividing the Word of Truth, the method of studying and interpreting Scripture true of all born again believers who are indwelt by the Spirit of God (2 Tim. 2:15). The apostle Paul said that it is the gospel of Christ that saves (Rom. 1:16), and he taught that baptism is not the gospel (1 Cor. 1:17; 15:1-4).
So water baptism does not save us. Good works do not save us. Religious rituals do not save us. These things follow salvation, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10) but it is personal repentant faith in Christ alone that saves us. Salvation is a free gift of God’s grace (Eph. 2:8-9), and if I could add even one work to it, it would cease to be a free gift (Rom. 11:6; Gal. 5:1-4).
What Then is the Purpose and Meaning of Baptism?
Baptism is a public testimony of conversion and picture of the believers new birth (Jn. 3:3-8) that occurred through repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Ac. 20:21; 8:34-38; 16:30-34; 2:37-38). Baptism identifies the believer with his Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, and depicts salvation—dying, being buried with Christ and raised to newness of life with Him (Rom. 6:1-6; Col. 2:12). It is called a “figure” [symbol] in 1 Pet. 3:21. It is a picture and public testimony of spiritual realities, a public identification with Christ. One who is baptized is “planted together in the likeness of [Christ’s] death” and “shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection” (Rom. 6:5), so baptism pictures the gospel of Christ — the death, burial, and resurrection of the Saviour, as well as the death of the believer’s old life (which is crucified at salvation — Rom. 6:6; Gal. 2:20; 5:24, and is dead — Rom. 6:5-11) and his resurrection to new life in the Lord Jesus (Rom. 6:1-11; Col. 2:12-13).
God commands all who have been born again (Jn. 3:3-8) and justified by faith (Rom. 5:1) to submit to the ordinance of baptism as “the answer of a good conscience toward God” (1 Pet. 3:21). In Scripture, only believers are baptized (Ac. 2:41; 8:13, 35-38; 18:8, etc) because faith unto salvation is a prerequisite to Biblical baptism (Mk. 16:16; Ac. 2:38, 41). And in Scripture all believers were baptized immediately (the longest time span we know of is three days, that of the apostle Paul — Ac. 9) (see Matt. 28:19-20). Since infants cannot understand, much less believe the gospel (Rom. 10:14), or testify to their conversion (Matt. 3:6-8), they cannot be Biblically baptized.
Every true born again believer will want to be baptized, for he is not ashamed of the Lord Jesus anymore (see Rom. 10:9-11; 9:33; 1:16; Isa. 54:4) and he has been dramatically regenerated (meaning: given new life, born again, revived from the dead, made alive forever more) (Jn. 3:3-8; Tit. 3:3-7).
Baptism also adds the recently born again believer to the membership of the local church which authorizes the ordinance (Ac. 2:41, 47; 1 Cor. 12:13, 27; 1:2).
Does it Matter what the Method and Mode is for Water Baptism?
If baptism is not for salvation but a picture of baptism, would the method of baptism matter? Yes it certainly would!
Baptism is obviously an extremely important doctrine, but also one that has been foundational for practically all cults and false religions. For thousands of years now the subject has largely differentiated between true and false churches, and has led cults like Roman Catholicism to pursue after, persecute and murder those who re-baptized new believers (such as the Baptists/ Anabaptists, the Mennonites). It wasn’t really re-baptism because there is only one true mode of baptism and only one condition in the reception of baptism.
If you received baptism before conversion, it amounts to nothing and has no value, because baptism proceeds from conversion. If you received the wrong mode of baptism, even as a truly regenerated believer, it also amounts to nothing, for baptism has a very specific picture it portrays (that of salvation, as the previous point elaborated) and if the mode didn’t portray it, it wasn’t baptism regardless of the label it is given.
How important is it to understand and then obey the proper mode of baptism? Firstly, if we seek to be faithful and true to God’s Word, obeying “every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4), we would want to ensure the method of baptism is in line with what Scripture teaches. True believers obey God’s Word, proving they know Him and love Him, while false believers do not (read 1 Jn. 2:3-5 & Jn. 14:15-24; Lk. 16:13). When we ignore God’s Word and replace it with our own opinions, do we actually know and love Him? Secondly, since baptism is a picture of salvation and salvation is only through one way (Jn. 14:6; Ac. 4:12; Rom. 1:16-17), then the baptism should align with what that one way of salvation is. Thirdly, the Bible’s teaching on the method of baptism is in fact as clear as its teaching on the purpose of baptism (which, as explained, is a picture of salvation and identity with Christ, not salvation).
There is only one mode of baptism taught and practiced in the Bible and that is immersion/dipping. “Baptizo” does not mean several things, and even if it did, it only means one thing in the Bible. There is no basis for ambiguity here. I know that majority Mennonites take a position that allows for more than one mode, but we don't have a basis in the Bible for more than one mode. We know this for the following Scriptural reasons:
1. Immersion/dipping is the meaning of the word. The word baptism transliterated from “baptizo” means “to dip; to submerge; to immerse” (Strong’s; Webster’s 1828). Baptizo is defined by Thayer as to “properly, to dip repeatedly, to immerge, submerge (of vessels sunk, Polybius 1, 51, 6; 8, 8, 4; of animals, Diodorus 1, 36),” by Liddell-Scott as “to dip in or under water,” and by Friberg as “strictly dip, immerse in water.” Even pedobaptists have consented to this definition. This is the word used in the N.T. when the rich man entreats that Lazarus may be sent to “dip the tip of his finger in water.” It is also the word used twice in Jn. 12:36 by Christ, “He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop,” and when, in Revelation, Christ is represented, as “clothed with a vesture dipped in blood.” (Rev. 19:13). The inspired penmen have used no other word, beside this and its derivatives, to convey the idea of immersion; nor have they ever used this word in any other sense. Baptism is called “buried” in Rom. 6:4 and Col. 2:12.
The German word for baptism is sufficient evidence: “deepen” or “enducken” or “dunken” or “nenducken” or “taufen,” all of which literally mean “dipping into the water” and “dipping in the water.” (Plautdietsch Lexicon — Low German Dictionary). They're ain’t no “dunken” happening with sprinkling or pouring.
So baptizo is the Greek word for dip whereas rantizo is the Greek for sprinkle and cheo is the Greek for pour. The last two words are never used with regard to the church ordinance. Rantizo is defined by Louw-Nida as, “to cleanse and purify by means of sprinkling,” and by BDAG, “To sprinkle liquid on something.” If sprinkling were the mode, the transliteration rantize would have been used in fitting with the verb for “sprinkle,” rantizo.
2. Immersion/dipping is the examples of all baptisms in the N.T. They required “much water” (Jn. 3:23) and required the participant to go “into the water” (Ac. 8:38) and “come up out of the water” (Ac. 8:38-39; Matt. 3:16). Neither pouring or sprinkling requires “much water” (Jn. 3:23a) nor require going "into the water" or "out of the water.”
So we see this was the example of the early Christians. In Acts 8:38-39 the preacher and the candidate “went down both into the water” and “came up out of the water.” The only reason for this would be to practice immersion. Otherwise, the preacher would merely have dipped up some water and applied it without getting wet. The phrases “into the water” and “out of the water” in Matt. 3:13-18 and Ac. 8:36-38 do not technically denote the actual act of immersing the individual being baptized under water, but the fact that one who wished to receive baptism had to actually enter into a body of water to be immersed in it. Had sprinkling or pouring qualified as baptism in Ac. 8:36-38, there would have been no need for Philip and the eunuch to have left the chariot they were riding in and descended into a body of water. A cup of water from a jug in the chariot would have sufficed, and since they were riding through the desert, there is certainly no doubt they had a cup of water! Only if the eunuch was immersed is the narrative explicable and reasonable. Similarly, the Lord Jesus would not have needed to descend into the waters of the Jordan river with John the Baptist for baptism (Matt. 3:13-16) unless the Savior of the world was immersed.
3. Immersion/dipping is the only mode that accurately and truly portrays the picture or “figure” (1 Pet. 3:21) of the gospel (death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ) and thus salvation (the death, burial and resurrection with Christ, death and burial of the old man and the resurrection of the new man to newness of life — Rom. 6:3-6; Col. 2:12). Paul included in his definition for baptism the likeness of a burial (Rom. 6:4 and Col. 2:12) and of a planting (Rom. 6:5), and Peter likened it to the Flood (I Pet. 3:20-21). Both pouring and sprinkling modes corrupt the proper symbolism of the ordinance.
4. Immersion/dipping is the manner in which the Lord Jesus Christ was baptized (Mk. 1:9-11; Matt. 3:13-17) and “It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord.” (Matt. 10:25a). So was the Eunuch (Ac. 8:35-36), and John the Baptist only baptized by immersion (Jn. 3:23).
5. Immersion/dipping was the only mode of baptism in the churches for many centuries. Many ancient baptistries testify to this. The most ancient baptistry in Rome, for example, is a large pool that was obviously used for immersions. I have stood in this baptistry and it comes up to my waist. The same is true for an ancient baptistry at a church in Ephesus.
Immersion is historically the first and recognized manner or mode of baptism. This fact is reported virtually by every historian and/or historical writing which bears upon the topic. Edward Hiscox in his book "Principles and Practices for Baptist Churches," reports a brief history on the deviant mode of pouring. He notes that the first incident of "aspersion" (or pouring) is that of Novatian in A.D. 250 upon his sick bed, hence it is called "clinic baptism." Sprinkling however is rather sketchy but one historian (Vedder) places it on A.D. 259 and adapted as a mode by the Roman Catholic Council of Revenna in 1311. Infant baptism, being motivated by the false doctrine of baptismal regeneration was recognized as early as A.D. 350. One can observe that convenience would be a motive of changing from immersion to any other mode. This change, however convenient it may be, is unjustifiable. The very word for baptism itself, and the examples in Scripture, and the teachings regarding baptism within the Scriptures themselves tells us that immersion is the only Biblical mode for believer's baptism
In summary here, since the ordinance of Jesus Christ is unchangeable and the only one that is acceptable to the Father; and since he has commanded that we shall first preach the gospel and then immerse those who believe; it follows that all those who baptize and are baptized, without the teaching of the gospel and without the new birth, and without the proper mode, baptize and are baptized on their own opinion, without the doctrine and the ordinance of Jesus Christ, and therefore it is idolatry, useless and vain.
The Bible surely has spoken and is clear; to be scripturally baptized, one has to be immersed. Baptism means immersion. It is immersion. It is the actual English word for it, or dipping — “baptism” is a transliteration (Greek baptizo). God commands baptism and obedience to His commands (obeying God’s commandments is a critical evidence of salvation: Jn. 14:21-25; 1 Jn. 2:3-5) and Biblical baptism can only be by immersion. There is simply no Biblical support for the practice of either “pouring" or “sprinkling” water on someones head and all that have undergone such a mode and are professing true born again believers, need to be immersed immediately. Such practices are foreign to God’s Word and those people have never been baptized at all. These modes are false and generate a bad "conscience toward God" (I Pet. 3:21). They contradict the very definition and word for baptism, which is immersion. It’s an oxymoron, like saying “pouring immersion” or “sprinkling immersion.” Such is the error and ridicule when God’s Word is corrupted and not actually believed and practiced. Everywhere in the Bible, the word “baptism” (or derivatives) should be read as immersion or dipping (or derivatives).
Among those professing to be saved, how many have been scripturally baptized in Mennonite churches today? Likely very few? Next to none are “re-baptized” according to the truth of Scripture out of fear of man when they ought to be fearing God. “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.” (Pr. 29:25). Nevertheless, if you were now truly baptized by immersion, you are not being “re-baptized” for you have never been baptized to begin with!
It is imperative for those professing themselves to be born again to obey this very important and obvious command, the most important command post-salvation in fact — the very ordinance that specifically identifies the professed believer with their Lord and Saviour and portrays what they profess to have happened with their new birth. True baptism is an evidence that a person has truly been converted and born again. Those who claim to have been saved by Jesus will be convicted through Gods Word to be baptized. Jesus said that those who love Him will obey Him (Jn. 14:23) and those who obey not Gods Word are liars; they don’t know Him and don’t the truth dwelling in them (Jn. 14:23-24; 2:3-5).
A true Biblical church that fears God and is true and faithful to God’s Word, a true church “which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15), one that “worship[s] the Father in spirit and in truth” (Jn. 4:23-24), will not only immerse all new believers in water, but also “re-baptize” those who have never been immersed but were poured or sprinkled post-conversion. They will also plainly expose these other false modes of “baptism,” and not leave the congregation in confusion over this subject. They won’t just add this mode to the other modes, portraying confusion, disobedience, and rebellion against God’s Word. A true believer will be convicted over this serious issue and will not act partially or with double-mindedness, for “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” (Jam. 1:8).
A Call to Salvation.
Beloved Mennonite friend and kin, have YOU been truly born again by God the Spirit through repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Mk. 1:15; Lk. 13:1-5; Ac. 20:21; Jn. 3:3-21)? If you are absolutely sure of that, having repented and believed at one particular moment in time (2 Cor. 6:2) and having received newness of life (Rom. 6:1-23; 2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 2:1-10), justification (Rom. 5:1), imputed righteousness of God (Rom. 4:1-8; 2 Cor. 5:21), washed and cleansed of all your sins forever (1 Cor. 6:11; Col. 1:13-14; Heb. 10:9-23) having received eternal life (Jn. 3:16, 36; 5:24; 10:27-29), etc, and that you had immediate fruits of repentance (Lk 3:3-16) and ongoing evidence of salvation (1 John 5; James) — have you been baptized by immersion since your conversion? If not, you are disobeying the Word of God, which is clear that all true born again believers obey God’s commandments (Jn. 14:15-24; 1 Jn. 2:3-5). As we see those passages, obedience is a major of true salvation.
If you haven’t been saved, you haven't been born again, what exactly are you trusting in with your soul? Baptism? Your “good” works? Daily repentance? Reformation of your life? Church attendance? A false profession? A prayer that you once prayed? Church membership? Rededication? Someone telling you that you were saved at a young age?
Do you know where you will spend eternity? It’s either heaven or hell, and you must know today. Do you “know God, or rather are known of God” (Gal. 4:9)? Have you obeyed the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and sought after Him who is most Majestic to behold and full of Glory and Truth, the Saviour of the world, the Great I am?
As mentioned in the beginning of this tract, there is a baptism by fire (Matt. 3:11) which is not a promise of blessing for the saved, but a warning of judgment for the unsaved, of an eternal immersion into the lake of fire (Matt. 3:11-12) which is the second death. It becomes a reality to those who slam into eternity without ever having been saved through Jesus Christ. Every person in the entire world will be baptized by either the Spirit (at salvation —1 Cor. 12:13; Eph. 1:13-14) or by fire (at death for the unsaved — Matt. 3:11-12). See also Isa. 66:15-16; Mal. 4:1; 2 Th. 1:9-11 and Rev. 19:11-21. The Scriptures warn that the baptism of fire is eternal torment. Have you ever been baptized by the Holy Spirit of God through “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ac. 20:21)? If you have not, it is most certain you will be baptized by eternal hell fire.
Friend, if you are unsaved my heart pleads for you urgently. “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men;” (2 Cor. 5:11a). Please take God’s Word (the King James Version in English) and read these things carefully for yourself. Study God’s Word, His truth. Ask God for light and understanding. Seek after Him with all your heart and soul. He promises that if you do so, you will find Him and find life. Turn and forsake all, flee in sorrow from your sins, and self, and stuff, and from your family, and anything else you hold idolatrously dear to your life, and flee to God by faith in the precious gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and He will save you. He will save you from His wrath and from both the power of sin and the penalty of sin, which is death and hell. You will never regret it even for a second but you will forever regret not repenting as you’re thrown into utter darkness, separated eternally from God and His grace, cast into the eternal furnace of fire, where the flames of torment are never quenched and the worm dieth not, where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth for ever.
I beseech thee to urgently read 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, then Luke 16:19-31, then Romans 3:1-31, then Mark 8:34-37, then Luke 14:25 to 15:32 and then John 3.
“Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” (Is 55:6-7)
Your life is hanging in the balance and hinges upon it. Repent or perish is the warning of God! For, “behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)” (2 Cor. 6:2b).