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Sunday, January 26, 2020


"And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, 
calling on his name." 
Acts 22:16

Our friends who advocate "faith only" affirm that we are saved by faith before baptism.  According to them, one is baptized after he has already been saved.  But the Scriptures affirm that salvation by faith includes all the conditions necessary to obtain forgiveness of sins:  repentance, confession, and baptism.  There is a connection between faith and baptism.  So, is baptism one of the conditions included in saving faith?  Does one have to obey the conditions to receive forgiveness?  Does baptism come after forgiveness?  Consider the following Scriptures.

  • Acts 22:16: "And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name." Why not consider Paul's own conversion?  Did he consider baptism essential to his forgiveness?  Let us see what Scriptures have to say about this.
"As the high priest and the whole council of elders can bear me witness. From them I received letters to the brothers, and I journeyed toward Damascus to take those also who were there and bring them in bonds to Jerusalem to be punished.  6 'As I was on my way and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone around me. 7 And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ 8 And I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’ 9 Now those who were with me saw the light but did not understand the voice of the one who was speaking to me. 10 And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Rise, and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do.'  11 And since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me, and came into Damascus"'  (Acts 22:5-11).

You see, on the road to Damascus, Paul saw Jesus and, obviously, believed in Him.  After 3 days, he was praying (Acts 9:11).  Indeed, if man is saved by "faith alone," then Saul must have been saved right away.  But was he?  Paul did not eat or drink for three days. He was in deep mourning, which is not the behavior of a forgiven (saved) man.  Men who are saved rejoice. What did Jesus say to Paul?  He said that in the city, Saul would be told all things that he must do (Acts 22:10; 9:6).  What was Paul told to do?  Ananias told Paul to arise and be baptized and wash away his sins (Acts 22:16).  So, if salvation is "by faith only" before baptism, then Paul would have no need to have his sins washed away at this point.  But he did have sins that needed to be forgiven and remained in sin until he was baptized.  So, where is forgiveness placed according to this passage?  Before baptism or after? Nothing that Paul taught contradicts what he himself did to be saved.  He knew that salvation by faith involves faith and requires baptism rather than excluding it (Eph. 5:26).

  • Romans 6:3-4: "Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life."  
  • Galatians 3:26-27: "For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ."

No one can be in Christ unless he is baptized into Him.  So, can a person be saved if he has not come "into Christ" where the blessings of Grace are found (salvation, forgiveness, eternal life, freedom from sin, and condemnation)?  Can one be saved outside of Christ?  No!  One must be baptized into Christ to be saved.  Moreover, we are baptized into Christ's death (Romans 6:3).  As a result, sin is destroyed (verse 6), and we are free from sin (v. 7).  Can one be saved without the power of Jesus' death? Not at all!  Baptism (preceded by believing, repenting, and confessing) is, therefore, that point in which one comes in contact with that death.  In baptism, one comes into contact with Christ's death and resurrection.  Are we sons of God before we are baptized?  Is baptism essential to become a child of God?  The Bible states that when one is baptized "into Christ," then he becomes a child of God.

Moreover, Romans 6:4 shows that one starts walking in newness of life (new birth, born again) after he has been raised from the waters of baptism and not before (Col. 2:12-13; John 3:5).  Therefore, to become a child of God "by faith" requires baptism rather than excluding it.   Many avoid the requirement of water baptism in these Scriptures by saying that they refer to a "spiritual baptism," which occurs the moment one believes. They would agree with Acts 2:38; 22:16; Mark 16:16; Rom. 6:3-4 and Col. 2:12.  However, these Scriptures say nothing of baptism in the Spirit.  On what basis do they deny the waters of baptism? Many Protestants practice immersion in baptism based on Rom. 6:4 and Col. 2:12 to demonstrate that water baptism is an immersion.  But then if someone discusses the need for water baptism, they return to these verses to saying that this is baptism in the Holy Spirit.  So, which is it, water baptism or Spirit baptism?  It can not be both! When Philip preached Jesus to the Ethiopian eunuch, they came to a certain water. The eunuch asked, "Here is water, what doth hinder me to be baptized?" (Acts 8:36).  He understood Philip to be talking about water baptism and Philip baptized him in that water.

The only baptism of the Holy Spirit that we read of in the Gospel was the promise made to a few individuals.  There are only two cases recorded in the New Testament (Acts 1:1-8; 21,22; 2; 10:44-11:18).  When this kind of baptism occurred, it was always accompanied by miraculous tongue speaking as God poured out the Holy Spirit.  God never required Holy Spirit baptism of all people to be saved. The actual Holy Spirit baptism occurred only on special occasions during that era of miraculous revelation which stopped when the written Word was completed or delivered (1 Cor. 13:8-13; Jude 3; James 1:25).  It is strange that many of those who practice this kind of baptism will also practice water baptism, making it two baptisms (Matt. 3:11).  But Ephesians 4:6 affirms that there is only one baptism that saves today.  There cannot be two baptisms (one necessary and one that is not).  Thus, the only true baptism authorized by Christ is the baptism of the Great Commission, which is water baptism (Mark 16:15-16; Matt. 28:19; Acts 2:38; 8:36-39; 10:47-48).

  • Mark 16:16: "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned."

Jesus said he who believes and is baptized will be saved.  What did Jesus require to receive salvation?  Both faith and baptism.  Does salvation come before baptism or as a result of it?  If one takes away either faith or baptism, he no longer has salvation.  "Faith only" affirms that he who believes is saved and can later be baptized.  But Jesus said, "He who believes and is baptized will be saved." Can't you see the difference?  According to Romans 10:9, both faith and confession are essential to receive salvation.  The same is true of Mark 16:16 which states that faith and baptism are both essential to receive salvation.  He who does not believe will be condemned.  Disbelieves what? The Gospel! (Mark 1:15; Rom. 1:16).
  • Acts 2:38: "And Peter said to them, 'Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'"

When Peter preached the first Gospel sermon, he taught the importance of believing in Jesus (verse 26).  As a result of his preaching, sinners asked what to do about their sins.  What was Peter's answer?  Repent and be baptized "for the remission of sins." Again, when does forgiveness come, before or after baptism?  In fact, forgiveness is the primary purpose of baptism.  Likewise, baptism is a work or action (immersion in water) for the remission of sins (purpose). So, if one's sins are forgiven before baptism, the moment one believes, then one cannot be baptized for the remission of sins.  NO!  He cannot!  It would not be a Scriptural baptism.  When man teaches that one is saved by faith alone, and excludes obedience (specifically baptism), he takes his stand on the error that repentance, confession, and even faith are not necessary to man's salvation (because all those things are works that we do).  Such arguments are fallacious!
  • 1 Peter 3:20-21: "Because they formerly did not obey, when God's patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. 21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ."

Noah's salvation illustrates ours.  He was saved by water (v. 20).  It is a figure (type/antitype) demonstrating that "baptism doth also now save us." Water by itself has no power to remove sin (like removing filth from the body).  Rather, we trust in Jesus' resurrection to save us that we may have a good conscience, "an appeal to God for a good conscience." Hebrews 11:7 uses Noah to show that obedience is necessary to salvation "by faith." Noah's case connects faith and baptism (Heb. 11:7; 1 Peter 3:20-21).  The only power to forgive sin is in Jesus' death and resurrection.  We benefit from that power in the waters of baptism.  Thus, baptism also now saves us!
  • Colossians 2:12-13: "Having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses."

When we were dead because of our sins, we were made alive (forgiven of sin) by being raised with Christ through faith in the powerful working of God.  All this happened in baptism!  Baptism is a work (an act) of faith in God's power rather than an act of faith because of our own merit.  Salvation by faith includes baptism and does not exclude it.  There is a parallel between Colossians 2:12-13 and Ephesians 2:4-9.  Dead in sin, made alive, being raised with Jesus, through faith in the powerful working of God, by God's Grace through faith, in baptism, not of self, not of works.  Notice that both Scriptures describe "salvation by grace through faith." One is dead because of sin but made alive by being raised with Him through faith and forgiveness of sin. In what?  In baptism!


The Bible states that we are saved by grace, by faith, by works and by water (baptism).  God says that in the water of baptism one's sins are washed away (Acts 2:38; 22:16).  We are not saved by anything alone:  Grace alone, faith alone, works alone water alone.  But we are saved by those things altogether. God's love, grace, and mercy sent His Son to die for us (John 3:16). God's Grace teaches us to repent and deny worldly lusts (Titus 2:12).  Our works will perfect our faith (James 2:22).  Baptism puts one into Christ (Gal. 3:27).  Only in Christ is salvation found (2 Tim. 2:10).  Remaining faithful is essential to salvation.  Paul told Timothy to "Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus" (2 Tim. 1:13).  Belief in Christ and the Gospel changes and regenerates the heart.  Repentance changes the conduct.  Confession changes the Lord of life.  Baptism changes the status.  And remaining faithful changes the eternal destiny.  How serious are you about going to heaven?  Is your faithfulness exhibited by your devoted service?  Have you remained faithful in your service to the Lord?  Remember this is part of our faith and works.

God's goodness leads all men to repent.  Sadly those who do not repent will receive His wrath and judgment.  One must have faith, but it must be an obedient faith.  For one must confess with the mouth to be saved.  So if Grace is unconditional, then neither faith nor confession would be needed. To be freed from sin one must obey the teaching that is delivered.  This includes baptism.  Paul shows that salvation by Grace must be conditional and must include baptism.  Forgiveness is a gift we do not deserve, but one must meet the conditions to receive the free gift.

The power is not in water but in Christ's death and resurrection.  When we have an obedient faith like Noah, we meet the conditions of salvation and are saved by Grace through faith even as Noah was (Acts 18:27; 8:22; John 1:12-17; Gal. 5:4-6; Titus 3:3-8; Heb. 12:14-15).  Saving faith requires obedience.  Obedience to God's commands is vital to receive salvation.  Saving faith includes baptism.  Faith and obedience go together and cannot work apart from each other.  Therefore, salvation "by faith alone" is not the true Gospel of Christ.  It is a perverted Gospel of human invention!  (Galatians 1:8-9; 2 John 9-11; Matt. 15:9; Rev. 22:18-19).  So, is one saved before baptism or after it?  One must choose to be baptized Scripturally.  One must refuse to be part of any church that teaches the false doctrine of "faith only" (2 John 9-11; 2 Cor. 6:17f; Eph. 5:11).

The Gospel of Christ includes Law (commands) and works (obedience).  Many in the religious world belittle the need for obedience, especially baptism.  They also deny that the New Testament is Law and that obedience is essential to salvation.  Works are an essential part of the Gospel.  Works are necessary to be saved (Gal. 5:6; Acts 10:34-35; James 1:22,25; 2:14-26; Rom. 2:6-10; 2 Cor. 5:10; John 6:28-29; Phil. 2:12; John 5:28-29; 1 John 2:17; 1 Thess. 1:3; Acts 9:6).

May the Lord help us to walk with a faith that can save us, such as Abraham, our example, and patriarch, demonstrated. May we honor the Gospel message of Christ as it relates to the plan of salvation, the worship of the church and our personal conduct and devotion.



  1. Well done! Scriptures do not lie. Unfortunately, Way too many Folks twist the scriptures by blurring their understanding when reading them through emotions, preconceived traditions,or prejudicial denominational doctrines.