Must We Be Baptized For The Forgiveness Of Our Sins?
In the second chapter of Acts, Peter had convicted the people there of having killed the Son of God. In verse 37 their question was, "Men and brethren what shall we do?" In Acts 2:38 (KJV), "Then Peter said unto them, repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins." Here people were told to repent and be baptized for the remission of their sins. Note that baptism comes before the remission of sins. Only when we submit to baptism as the Lord has commanded, that is for the remission of sins to be saved, do we show our faith in the Lord. Only then will He save us.
Man has a sin problem. God says in Isaiah 59:2 "But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear." It is our sins that separate us from God. We are to repent and be baptized for the remission of our sins. This is God's instruction on how we solve our sin problem. In the above verse, when Peter told them to "Repent and be baptized for the remission of sins," whatever repentance is for in that verse, baptism is for the same reason. Repent and be baptized are joined by the coordinating conjunction and, which joins words of equal grammatical importance.
Certainly Acts 2:38 does not teach that lost people are to repent because they have already received forgiveness of their sins. Neither does it teach that lost people are to be baptized because their sins are already forgiven. Satan would like you to believe that baptism has nothing to do with the forgiveness of your sins. Have you been baptized for the remission of your sins? Again, the choice is yours; either believe what God has said and be saved, or believe what men say and you will continue to be lost. We only have two choices, and the choice that we make will have eternal consequences. But please make the right choice so you can go to Heaven.
In the book of Acts we have the account of the conversion of the Apostle Paul. In Acts chapter 9, Paul is traveling on the road up to Damascus to persecute Christians. The Lord appears to Paul on the road and strikes him blind. In verse 5 he tells Paul, "I am Jesus whom you are persecuting." In verse 6 Paul asks, "Lord what do you want me to do? Then the Lord said to him (Paul), Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do." The Lord did not tell Paul what he must do, but that someone in the city would tell him what he must do. In Acts 9:9, after Paul went into the city, "And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank." Paul was worried sick and very upset. He had just found out that all the years in his zeal, while persecuting the Lord's church, he had actually been persecuting the Lord. Paul was devastated and broken-hearted in finding out that he had been religiously wrong all these years.
Let's see now what Paul was told what he must do. In Acts chapter 22, a man named Ananias, who was sent by the Lord, came to Paul and miraculously restored Paul's eyesight. Notice what Paul was told by Ananias what he must do. Acts 22:16, "And now why are you waiting? Arise, and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord." Paul was not saved three days earlier while on the road to Damascus, as some people would like for us to believe. Paul up to this point was still lost, because he still had all his sins that needed to be washed away. Paul still had a sin problem. Note that baptism came before his sins were washed away. Obedience to the Lord's command to be baptized was necessary to wash away Paul's sins.
At the point of baptism every sin that we have ever committed will be taken away, if it is done for that purpose. Many people today have been baptized in order to be added to some denomination, but not for the remission of their sins. Have you been baptized for the purpose of having your sins washed away? If you have not, then you still have a sin problem. You are still lost.
Paul was not told "to pray the sinners prayer and ask Jesus to come into his heart in order to be saved." This is completely foreign to the scripture. You cannot find anywhere in the Bible where anyone was ever told to do this. Since God in the Bible has never told anyone "To pray and ask Jesus to come into your heart in order to be saved", who else but men could have come up with such an idea? Forgiveness occurs in the mind of God and not on the basis of man's feeling in his heart. Only when we have done what God has said that we MUST do, will God forgive our sins. We cannot devise our own plan as to how our sins are to be forgiven. To be baptized for any reason other than for the remission of sins so one can be saved is to reject Christ.
Do not misunderstand. We do not "earn" our salvation by being baptized. Salvation is a gift from God. Even though salvation is a free gift from God, he has laid down certain conditions upon which he will give it. One condition to receive his gift is faith: Hebrews 11:6, "But without faith it is impossible to please Him." Another condition of his free gift is repentance: Luke 13:3, "Unless you repent you will all likewise perish." Another condition is baptism: Mark 16:16, "He who believes and is baptized will be saved." Still another condition is living a faithful Christian life: Revelation 2:10, "Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life." The conditions include doing all "the will of the Father," Matthew 7:21. These are God's conditions. Believing in God and Christ with all our heart, repenting of all our sins, confessing Christ and being baptized are all equally important to our salvation. If any one of these is lacking, then we will not be saved. You can't have one without the others.
There is nothing that we can do to merit our salvation. Whether it be believing in Jesus or being baptized, we can never "earn our salvation". Our salvation is free, but it is not cheap. It cost the very own life of God's Son. The only way we can show our faith in Christ is if we are willing to accept and obey all of what He says. We are only saved through faith when our faith has produced the works of obedience. If we really have faith in Christ, then we will do anything and everything He tells us. But if our faith is lacking we will balk at Christ's commands such as being baptized for the forgiveness of our sins to be saved. Since we have sinned against God, it is for God to dictate the terms of our pardon. It is in baptism that God has chosen to impart his wonderful grace of salvation to us as a willing believer. God's gift of salvation must be accepted on His terms, not ours.
According to the Bible, it is at the point of baptism, that we pass from an unsaved state into a saved state. In other words, at the time of baptism, we go from being unsaved to being saved. We read in I Peter 3:21 (KJV), "The like figure whereunto even baptism does also now save us." The Bible says that "baptism does now also save us," but men say that "baptism does not save us." This is very similar to the situation of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. God in Genesis 2:17 told them not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, "For in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." But Satan told Eve in Genesis 3:4, "Then the serpent said to the woman, you will not surely die." Satan only added the one word "not" to what God had said and completely changed the meaning. That is what men are doing to God's commands today. Who are you going to accept, the word of men or the Word of God? We are told in Acts 5:29, "We ought to obey God rather than men." On the Day of Judgment, the Bible will still say that "baptism does also now save us." Again the choice is yours, but it is very serious. We dare not make the wrong choice which will have eternal consequences.
Questions Lesson 14
Must We Be Baptized For The Forgiveness Of Our