Sola's note: I will not be posting again until the end of next week due to the death of my aunt in Arkansas. We are leaving for the funeral tomorrow. I would appreciate prayers for the family.
My Aunt Diane was one of the bravest people I know, fighting multiple schlerosis for more than 50 years. It's a testament to God's grace and her fighting spirit that she survived that long with such a debilitating illness.
I don't want to leave you with nothing to read and ponder while I am away, so I am going to post (with permission) an excellent refutation of baptismal regeneration. It is posted "as is" with no edits for grammar, punctuation etc. This is a subject I've been having to deal with of late. I hope you find it useful.
Until my return, may the Lord bless you abundantly.
Scriptural Study Refuting
By Dan Corner
Permission is granted to reproduce this in its entirety only.
It is the purpose of this study to examine the Bible's teaching regarding water baptism. Since there are several groups, some of which are very zealous, that stress the necessity of water baptism for the forgiveness of sins, this automatically makes this subject very important to: (1) Those proponents; (2) Those to whom this view of water baptism is presented; and (3) The Christian worker who desires to "contend for the faith," Jude 3.
The groups that teach that one MUST be water baptized to get his/her sins forgiven are: Church of Christ, Christian Church, Disciples of Christ, Roman Catholics, Russian and Greek Orthodox, Mormons (LDS), Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS), Apostolics (Jesus Only or United Pentecostals), Herbert Armstrong's Worldwide Church of God, Lutherans and others.
IF the proof texts used by these groups can be Biblically refuted, while harmony is maintained with other verses on both water baptism and salvation, then logic would declare that these groups are disseminating "another gospel," Gal. 1:8,9. IF this can be shown, then such a teaching is lethal to the individual who accepts it. Furthermore, this would also identify those who teach such as "deceitful workers" (2 Cor. 11:3-15). Before we proceed, it MUST be mentioned that many SINCERE and WELL-MEANING people, who never took the time to think these things out, believe this way! Some were raised believing this way, while other adherents never CAREFULLY considered all pertinent Scriptures on this topic. Finally, let it be noted that LOVE AND CONCERN FOR THE TRUTH are the motives in this expose. Please bear this in mind as YOU consider the points made in both the defensive and offensive parts of this study. Thank you.
Before we move to the most commonly used verses to support the teaching of baptismal regeneration (or the concept that baptism is imperative for one's salvation), let's take a close look at HOW and WHEN Cornelius and his household were saved. As we carefully examine this, please remember that for those of us in New Testament times there is but ONE WAY to get saved (Jn 14:6)! THERE ARE NO EXCEPTIONS! This means that YOU and I are saved the SAME EXACT WAY that Cornelius and his household were saved (Acts 15:9,11)! To get the full impact of how they got saved and at what point God purified their hearts, we must consider these related Scriptures: Acts 10:1-48; 11:1-18 and 15:7-11. If YOU study those verses, you will see that the reason the angel came to Cornelius was to tell him where to find Simon Peter so he and his entire household could be saved through a message from Peter's lips (Acts 11:13,14; 15:7). THIS MAKES THAT MESSAGE VERY IMPORTANT. It BEGINS at Acts 10:34 and ENDS with verse 43, when Cornelius and his household received the "gift of the Holy Ghost." AFTERWARDS, they were water baptized (Acts 10:44-48). The KEY VERSE in Peter's salvation sermon is ACTS 10:43, "To him (Christ) give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins." After Peter spoke these important words, his sermon (which brought instant salvation), was interrupted by the Holy Ghost because those gathered "believed" (TRUSTED) IN JESUS FOR THEIR SALVATION, as Peter just declared. At this point, and most importantly, BEFORE water baptism, Cornelius and his household had everlasting life as Jesus promised (Jn. 6:47). Also, in the "light" of Acts 10:43, their sins WERE FORGIVEN. ALL THIS OCCURRED BEFORE THEY WERE WATER BAPTIZED (Acts 10:44-48)! This also means they contacted the blood of Jesus Christ BEFORE water baptism! How can we be SURE of this? The clearest way to know that baptism was and is EXCLUDED from the TRUE MESSAGE THAT BRINGS SALVATION and FORGIVENESS OF SINS, is to go to Acts 15:7-11! These verses refer back to the event that is recorded in Acts 10, that is, Cornelius' salvation. At Jerusalem, the Apostle Peter reports that his sermon to Cornelius (Acts 10:34-43) is the "Gospel," Acts 15:7. Peter then stated that God, who knows man's heart, including Cornelius' and his household's, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them. Again, this happened BEFORE they were water baptized. This shows that those Gentiles' hearts WERE PURIFIED BY FAITH (Acts 15:9) prior to their water baptism and God gave a sign (tongues) to the Jewish Christians gathered as verification of His acceptance of them! Then in verse 11, Peter explicitly affirms the truth that ALL (Jews and Gentiles) are saved as Cornelius and his household were, when they placed ALL (100%) OF THEIR TRUST IN JESUS FOR THEIR SALVATION.
To summarize, we just learned: (1) That the "Gospel" does NOT include water baptism; (2) Forgiveness of sins, everlasting life and a purified heart occur at the moment one places ALL (100%) of his/her TRUST IN JESUS ALONE FOR SALVATION; (3) Jews and Gentiles are saved the same way. Also, God gave an outward sign that Cornelius and his household's hearts were purified by faith BEFORE water baptism! Therefore, we know that water baptism is EXCLUDED from the message of FAITH IN JESUS FOR SALVATION! Peter afterwards baptized these new adult Christians. [The Bible does NOT teach baby baptism!]
Most importantly, don't ever forget that we today are saved in the SAME WAY as Cornelius was, Acts 15:9,11! Remember also that "the gift of the Holy Ghost" that Cornelius received BEFORE baptism shows that God had filled him with the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:4). To argue that Cornelius was NOT saved until he was baptized is to say indirectly that God fills unsaved people or "children of the devil" (1 Jn. 3:10) with the Holy Ghost! This is ludicrous to a student of the Bible.
Finally, according to Acts 2:38, one receives forgiveness of sins BEFORE the "gift of the Holy Ghost." Since Cornelius received the "gift" BEFORE water baptism, we, therefore, know his sins were forgiven BEFORE water baptism! In other words, if A comes before B and B comes before C, then A comes before C. (Also, see explanation on Acts 2:38). Before YOU move on, please reread these points as YOU verify them FOR YOURSELF IN YOUR OWN BIBLE. (These Scriptures clearly refute the theory that the blood of Christ is contacted in the waters of baptism.)
Forgiveness of sins COMES BEFORE the gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:38).
The gift of the Holy Ghost COMES BEFORE water baptism (Acts 10:43-48).
Therefore, forgiveness of sins COMES BEFORE water baptism.
Let's now move on to some other verses you probably have in mind:
This important verse in our study 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.'" This verse, along with Mark 16:16, is probably quoted more than any other verse by the groups mentioned in the beginning of this study to support the erroneous teaching that water baptism plays some role in our soul's salvation. But does it really teach such? Let's take a close look at it. Bob Ross in his book, Acts 2:38 and Baptismal Remission, pp.45-48 (Pilgrim Publications, Pasadena, TX, 1976 edition) makes some important points about this verse and its three clauses:
"The American Standard Version (1901) renders Acts 2:38 as follows: Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
"... there are three clauses in this sentence, and the modifying phrases must stand in their respective, individual clauses, according to the rules of grammar. Consequently, if 'repent' is in a distinct clause from 'be baptized for the remission of sins,' the modifying phrase cannot modify both 'repent' and 'be baptized'
"The three clauses are --
(1) 'Repent ye:'
'ye' -- subject, second person plural number.
'Repent' -- verb, second person plural number, aorist imperative active voice.
(2) 'be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins:'
'be baptized' -- verb, third person singular number, aorist passive imperative voice.
'unto the remission of your sins' -- modifying phrase.
(3) 'ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit:'
'ye' -- subject, second person plural number.
'shall receive' -- verb, second person plural number, future, indicative voice.
'the gift of the Holy Spirit' -- direct object of verb.
"For the claims of Campbellism to be upheld, the first and second clauses would have to be connected so as to allow 'for the remission of sins' to modify both 'repent' and 'be baptized.' However, this presents the following grammatical problem: In the first clause, the person and number of the verb 'repent' do not agree with the verb 'be baptized' in the second clause. 'Repent' is second person plural number; 'be baptized' is third person singular number.
"It is a rule of Greek grammar, as it is in English, that the verb agrees with its subject in person and number:" (emphasis his).
Ross then cites in his book a quote from Ray Summers, Essentials of New Testament Greek (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1950), p.12:
"Person is the quality of verbs which indicates whether the subject is speaking (first person), is being spoken to (second person), or is being spoken of (third person) ...
"Number is the quality of verbs which indicates whether the subject is singular or plural" (emphasis his).
Ross goes on by citing yet another relevant quote from Let's Study Greek by Clarence B. Hale (Chicago: Moody Press, 1966), p. 9:
"If the subject of a verb is the person or the group of persons speaking, the verb is in the first person. If the subject of a verb is the person or group of persons spoken to, the verb is in the second person. If the subject of a verb is the person or the thing or the group spoken of, the verb is the third person" (emphasis his).
"These quotations from 'standard' Greek grammars express the simple fact that subjects and verbs agree with one another.
"It is evident, then, that repentance and baptism in Acts 2:38 cannot be combined so as to have both modified by the phrase, 'for the remission of sins.' The proper grammatical construction of the sentence forbids it ....
"The phrase, 'for the remission of sins,' stands and modifies in only one of the three clauses, namely, the second clause ..." (emphasis his).
To understand Acts 2:38 without any Greek aids, please notice that the "gift of the Holy Ghost" FOLLOWS the remission of sins, according to this verse. Remembering this, note ACTS 10:45. There we see that Cornelius received the "gift of the Holy Ghost" BEFORE he was water baptized! Yet, according to Acts 2:38, one cannot receive the "gift of the Holy Ghost" unless his sins are forgiven! Acts 10 clarifies that the "remission of sins" in Acts 2:38 can ONLY refer to the verb "repent."
It is also commonly believed, because of faulty teaching, that the word "for" as used in Acts 2:38 MUST mean "in order to obtain." However, this is NOT true either! In LUKE 5:13,14 we read of a leper who was immediately healed when Jesus touched him and spoke. After his healing, Jesus told him, "... go, and shew thyself to the priest, and offer FOR thy cleansing, according as Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them." Notice: the man ALREADY HAD his cleansing from leprosy when Jesus told him to go to the priest and bring an offering "FOR THY CLEANSING." If you tried to substitute "in order to obtain" in place of the word "for" in Lk. 5:13,14 it would NOT fit!
Similarly, the common remedy, "take two aspirins FOR a headache," refutes the idea that "for" MUST mean "in order to obtain." (No one would take two aspirins "in order to obtain" a headache!)
This verse reads, "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ." At this point, it is imperative to state that there are PLURAL "baptisms" referred to in the Bible (Heb. 6:2). Therefore, NOT every baptism refers to water baptism! This verse is one that does NOT. How then do we get "baptized into Christ?" The answer is found in 1 Cor. 12:13, which says, "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body ..." It's NOT "by water" that we are "baptized into one body," but instead "by one Spirit." (See also Titus 3:5.) Galatians 3:27 has NO REFERENCE to water baptism! Also, the "one baptism" of EPH. 4:5 is related to 1 Cor. 12:13, which also has NO connection to water baptism. Furthermore, this "baptism" into the body of Christ occurs at the moment a person has repentance towards God and faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21). [Reader, is this what YOU have done?]
Jesus said, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." It is assumed by some that the word "water" in this verse MUST refer to water baptism. However, this is NOT true! In Eph. 5:26 we read, "That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of WATER BY THE WORD." Here we see that the Word of God is likened unto WATER. Also, 1 Peter 1:23 reads, "Being BORN AGAIN, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the WORD OF GOD, which liveth and abideth for ever."
It should now be clear to all that the Word of God is instrumental in one being "born again," and is also likened unto WATER. (See also James 1:18,21). Bearing all this in mind, we can now see that the "water" of Jn. 3:5 CAN be the Word of God. It must also be noted that the same Greek word translated "born" in Jn. 3:5 is translated "begotten" in 1 Cor. 4:15. This is IMPORTANT since Paul begat ALL at Corinth through the Gospel (1 Cor. 4:15), but he did NOT baptize ALL at Corinth (1 Cor. 1:14-16)!
Probably the CLEAREST and EASIEST way to resolve this enigma of the "water" in Jn. 3:5 is to focus our attention on JN. 20:31. THIS VERSE IS VERY IMPORTANT! In fact, it declares THE WHOLE PURPOSE OF THE BOOK OF JOHN, which obviously includes Jn. 3:5. It states that it was written so that we "might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name." In other words, John was written so that we could learn about salvation and become Christians. Therefore, the MOST IMPORTANT book in the entire Bible to study to learn about salvation is John, and NOT ACTS as some would like us to believe so they can emphasize certain verses! (Were YOU taught this?) Furthermore, Christian baptism is ONLY referred to in the beginning of chapter 4 in this Gospel, with NO POSSIBLE connection with salvation! (John's Gospel de-emphasizes water baptism. Conversely, it emphasizes TRUST IN JESUS ALONE FOR SALVATION!) To add force to the importance of John's Gospel regarding this controversy about water baptism, it should be mentioned that it was written in about 90 A.D. This means it was written AFTER Pentecost, where Acts 2:38 was first preached. THIS TRUTH ALONE IS DEVASTATING TO SOME GROUPS!
Finally, the entire third chapter of John is summed up in Jn. 3:36, "He that believeth on the Son hath (present tense) everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." NOTICE: The emphasis is placed on believing in Jesus. (Repentance is understood in the meaning of belief in Jesus which brings salvation.)
This verse reads, "And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." Several important points must be noted regarding this passage.
First, the "WASH[ING] AWAY [OF] THY SINS" is coordinated with "calling on the name of the Lord." In other words, it's the SAME ONE who calls on the name of the Lord that gets his/her sins washed away! A person getting baptized does NOT do this!
Second, if you'll read Acts chapters 9, 22 and 26, you'll get the full picture of what happened with Saul and Ananias. A VERY IMPORTANT verse relevant to the proper understanding of Acts 22:16 is ACTS 9:17. This verse tells us WHY the Lord Jesus sent Ananias to Saul (Paul)! Ananias said, "... Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost." Therefore, the twofold purpose the Lord sent Ananias to Saul was (1) So he would receive his physical eyesight and (2) Get filled with the Holy Ghost. The point is: JESUS NEVER SENT ANANIAS TO HIS "CHOSEN VESSEL" TO GET HIM SAVED! He was already saved! IF Saul still needed to get saved when Jesus was informing Ananias what to do, He certainly would have known it and would have put that on the top of Ananias' list! However, Jesus NEVER EVEN INDIRECTLY MENTIONED SUCH as He sent Ananias forth! Can YOU see this? Also, when one is sent to another to get him filled with the Holy Ghost, as Ananias was sent, the person to be filled is ALWAYS A CHRISTIAN ALREADY (Acts 8:14-17)! These verses report that the Apostles in Jerusalem sent Peter and John to those in Samaria, WHO WERE ALREADY SAVED, so they might receive the Holy Ghost!
Thirdly, Paul stated about the Gospel, "For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ," Gal. 1:12. IF Paul learned the Gospel (the plan of salvation) from Ananias, which would be the case IF Acts 22:16 means as certain groups interpret it, then Paul could have NEVER said this! (Finally, related to Saul's conversion on the Damascus road is Acts 26:17,18. When compared to 1 Cor. 1:17, this combination is devastating to those who think water baptism plays some role in our salvation! More will be said on this later.)
Jesus said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." Does this verse teach the necessity of baptism for salvation? Many stress the first half of this verse to "prove" such.
Please notice that this verse refers to ONLY two types of people: (1) Those that believe and are baptized and (2) Those that don't believe. THIS VERSE DOES NOT REFER TO THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN JESUS, BUT HAVE NOT YET BEEN BAPTIZED. However, Jn. 6:47 DOES! Jesus said in that verse, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me HATH everlasting life." See also Jn. 3:15. The "light" from these verses added to the "light" in Mark 16:16 clarifies, once again, that baptism has NO ROLE in our soul's salvation. After all, since we are saved when we TRUST ON JESUS FOR OUR SALVATION (Jn. 3:15; 6:47; Acts 16:31), it should come as no surprise that we will be saved when we TRUST ON JESUS and get baptized as well, as Mark 16:16a teaches! Can you see this?
Also, the latter part of Mark 16:16 states what damns, that is, NOT TRUSTING IN JESUS! The latter part of Mk. 16:16 reveals whether it is BELIEVING and/or BAPTISM that is important for salvation. (This is probably why many who stress the first part of this verse often neglect to mention the last part of Mark 16:16!) A comparable sentence construct to Mark 16:16 is: "He that starts his car and puts on his hat will drive home; but he that doesn't start his car won't." From this comparison, it should be apparent that putting on a hat (likened to getting baptized) has nothing to do with driving home (likened to getting saved). Does that help you understand Mark 16:16? Remember, we MUST find A HARMONIOUS INTERPRETATION THROUGHOUT THE BIBLE before we can be sure that we understand any given verse. IF you still insist on stressing Mark 16:16a, then you must ignore JN. 6:47! Are YOU willing to do that?
Lastly, it must also be pointed out that many who stress Mark 16:16 will argue inconsistently to make their point. They contend that baptism is incorporated into BELIEVING, then later turn around and say that we must BELIEVE AND be BAPTIZED to be saved using Mark 16:16 while doing so! Mark 16:16 states that we "BELIEVE" BEFORE AND WITHOUT BAPTISM! Furthermore, those at Corinth clearly BELIEVED BEFORE they were baptized. This is shown in ACTS 18:8 which reads, "Crispus, the synagogue ruler, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard him BELIEVED and were BAPTIZED."
REMEMBER THIS: it's the unbelievers (and seven other categories, according to Rev. 21:8) who get condemned, NOT the unbaptized! NOWHERE in the entire Bible does it say, "He that is not baptized is condemned!" Please reread this section on Mark 16:16.
1 Peter 3:20,21
These verses read, "... eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), by the resurrection of Jesus Christ."
Unfortunately, some teachers have taken parts of these verses out of context and therefore misled their listeners. The words, "saved by water," are an example. The context reveals that the subjects, the eight souls "saved," were those in NOAH'S ARK! Also, other reputable translations (NIV, Amplified, Revised Standard, etc.) read "saved THROUGH water," since the Greek work (di) translated "by" in the KJV also means "THROUGH." The eight people in the ark were "saved THROUGH water" as they were in the ark (a type of Christ). THEY WERE NOT SAVED BY THE WATER, AS THE CONTEXT REVEALS. Heb. 11:7 is very clear on this point.
At this point, it must be noted that every time the word "save" or its derivative is used, it does NOT always refer to one's immortal soul! A few examples are: "the prayer of faith shall SAVE the sick" (James 5:15) and "all hope that we should be SAVED was taken away" (Acts 27:20). Neither one of these last two cited references refer to the soul. They are just like 1 Peter 3:21 in this aspect!
WHAT does water baptism SAVE us from? Verse 21 says water baptism SAVES us from a bad conscience towards God. Having a good conscience (and holding on to faith) are important as shown by some rejecting these who consequently have shipwrecked their faith (1 Tim. 1:18,19). However, as important as baptism is, it still plays NO ROLE, direct or indirect, in initial salvation, or as we might also say, getting "born again." Baptism does NOT put away the "FILTH OF THE FLESH" (v.21). See Gal. 5:19-21 for a list of these sins. (Remember Cornelius, Acts 10:43-48 cf. 15:9-11).
NOTE: The context of 1 Pet. 3:20,21 reveals that ONLY the righteous (Noah and his family) were DRY and therefore SAFE. In contrast, ONLY THE WICKED IN NOAH'S DAY CAME IN CONTACT WITH THE WATER AND THEY ALL PERISHED! Considering all this, does it seem to you that some are wresting 1 Pet. 3:20,21 out of context and, perhaps even "unto their own destruction" (2 Pet. 3:16)?
These verses read, "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection."
The KEY to the understanding of these verses are the words, "LIKE" and "LIKENESS." These words show that these verses are to be symbolically and NOT literally interpreted. We might say, "This person is like that person," but by this we are not saying he is the same as that person! In the same way, baptism bears some resemblance to Christ's death, burial and resurrection in that it identifies us with his death, but it is NOT His death or His burial or His resurrection. BAPTISM, THEREFORE, IS A "LIKENESS" AND NOT THE REALITY. The only way we can identify with Jesus' bodily resurrection from the grave is for this passage to be non-literal. By baptism, a person who is already saved identifies with Christ's death, burial and resurrection in a symbolic way.
1 Cor. 1:17 will shed more "light," in an overall way, on this important subject of baptism. In this verse Paul declares, "For Christ SENT me NOT to baptize, but to preach the gospel ..." From this we see what Christ "SENT" Paul to do and what Christ "SENT" Paul NOT to do. Since Christ "SENT" Paul to preach the Gospel, but NOT to baptize, then it's impossible for baptism to be included in the Gospel! (The Gospel is the message that brings salvation, Rom. 1:16, 1 Cor. 4:15 and 15:2). This last reference reads, "By this gospel you are saved, IF you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. OTHERWISE, YOU HAVE BELIEVED IN VAIN," NIV. (Like it or not, this is what that verse teaches!)
We should also carefully compare ACTS 26:17,18 with 1 Cor. 1:17. This will help us understand baptism even more when we compare these verses. In 1 Cor. 1:17, Paul writes of what happened in Acts 26:17,18. Let's take a close look at these verses. There Jesus said, "... now I SEND thee, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive FORGIVENESS OF SINS, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me." THIS IS WHY CHRIST SENT PAUL. (All this can be accomplished by preaching the Gospel.) Notice that one of the reasons listed as to why Christ "SENT" Paul was so others could "receive forgiveness of sins." Now, look at 1 Cor. 1:17 again. Paul tells those at Corinth WHAT Christ SENT him to do. He said that Christ SENT him to preach the Gospel, not to baptize. This means that we "receive forgiveness of sins" WITHOUT baptism! This is just like ACTS 10:43. Can YOU see this? (This isn't to say that Paul never baptized anyone, for he did! Crispus, Gaius and the household of Stephanas were baptized by Paul, 1 Cor. 1:14,16). The point is: Paul was NOT "SENT" to baptize! Paul prayed, fasted, took an offering to Jerusalem, and drove a demon out of a girl with the name of "Jesus," but he wasn't directly SENT by Jesus to do these things either! However, he was "SENT" to preach the Gospel.) Please consider the following syllogism based on Acts 26:17,18 and 1 Cor. 1:17 ....
Christ SENT Paul forth so that others could receive forgiveness of sins (Acts 26:17,18).
Christ did NOT SEND Paul to water baptize (1 Cor. 1:17).
Therefore, one receives forgiveness of sins WITHOUT water baptism.
How was Paul able to get others to "receive forgiveness of sins?" Read his message to the unsaved in Acts 13:38,39; 16:30,31 and 20:21. This same truth is reiterated throughout the New Testament (Eph. 2:8,9; Titus 3:5; Romans 4:4-6, 9:30-10:4; Gal. 2:16; Phil. 3:9; 2 Tim. 1:9, etc.)
When a person teaches the necessity of baptism for salvation, by implication he is saying that the unsaved are at the mercy of the following conditions for their salvation: (1) Enough water to be immersed in for a Scriptural baptism, and (2) A WILLING and QUALIFIED person (a Christian) to do the baptizing before they can get saved! This would make the blood of Christ of NO EFFECT for him or anyone else who sincerely wanted to repent and get saved, but couldn't find a Christian who could and would baptize him in enough water to be a genuine Christian baptism! Hypothetically, this means that an unsaved person either in an arid place with a Christian friend OR stranded on an island by himself with a Bible, could NEVER get saved! This is the logical conclusion from the teaching that water baptism is necessary for salvation. This would also make the person doing the baptizing a MEDIATOR with Christ between the unsaved and God! However, 1 Tim 2:5 states that Jesus is our ONLY mediator. Furthermore, if baptism was a necessity for the salvation of the lone man on the island, then 2 Cor. 6:2 would also be untrue! This verse teaches that "today" and "now" is the time for salvation, which implies that we can get saved instantly on any given day, at any given place, even if we couldn't be baptized immediately! However, 2 Cor. 6:2 is true! And the stranded man on that island can get saved without a second mediator, because he can REPENT and extend a TRUSTING AND SUBMITTING FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST FOR HIS SALVATION.
A Trusting-Submitting Faith In Jesus Saves
"But wasn't Jesus baptized?" someone might ask. Yes, but NOT TO GET HIS SINS FORGIVEN! HE DID NOT HAVE ANY! Why then was He? See Matthew 3:15, 16 for the answer. Also, Jn. 1:31 says, "I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel," NIV. "Aren't we commanded to get baptized?," others ask. Yes, but WE STILL RECEIVE FORGIVENESS OF SINS BEFORE AND WITHOUT WATER BAPTISM, as Cornelius clearly did!
Friend, only God knows how many are in "eternal fire" today because he/she sincerely believed a wrong plan of salvation, either before they could get saved or after their conversion (Gal. 5:2-4; 1 Jn. 2:24; 2 Jn. 9). If believed before, true conversion did NOT take place! If believed after true conversion, then such would "fall from grace" (Gal.5:2-4) and be without God (2 Jn. 9).
Remember Rom. 3:22, "This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe." Please note the word, "believe" here is a continuous tense! We are NOT saved by good works, Eph. 2:8,9. However, good works will IDENTIFY a saving faith in Jesus (Jam. 2:14; Tit. 1:16 and 1 Jn. 2:3,4), if our doctrine about salvation is correct.
Finally, for you to try to MIX works and grace for your salvation is DEADLY, according to ROM. 11:6! This important verse states that you are either trusting in: (1) God's grace (Jesus and His work on the cross) or (2) Your own good works for your salvation! YOU CANNOT MIX GRACE AND WORKS according to this verse! To TRUST in Jesus 99% and good works 1% for your salvation, is the SAME as placing ALL your trust in good works, which would be DISASTROUS. The ONLY way that YOU and I can escape Hell, a literal place of torment, is to place ALL (100%) OF OUR TRUST IN JESUS CHRIST FOR OUR SALVATION. Remember Jn. 6:47.
Also remember this important verse: Acts 20:21, "... they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus," NIV. Did YOU know that the Greek word translated, "believe" (which we must extend towards Christ to be saved) means: TO TRUST IN; RELY UPON AND CLING TO? In other words, IF we are really "believing on Jesus" for our salvation, then we are placing ALL (100%) of our TRUST in Him ALONE. This means that we canNOT mix in good works, church membership, the Ten Commandments, the Golden Rule, communion, confirmation, Saturday-Sabbath keeping, Mary and/or BAPTISM with our TRUST IN JESUS for our salvation! Remember, Jesus is our LIFE (Jn. 14:6), our SWEETNESS (Matt. 11:29), our HOPE (1 Tim. 1:1), our ONLY mediator (1 Tim. 2:5; Heb. 9:15), our HIGH PRIEST (Heb. 7:23-28), the TRUE vine (Jn. 15:1), the ROCK (1 Cor. 10:4), the DOOR to Heaven (Jn. 10:9), and the ONLY WAY to the Father (Jn. 14:6). He died ONCE for ALL sins (Is. 53:6, Acts 13:38,39; Heb. 10:10-14) and has the ONLY name under Heaven in which salvation is found (Acts 4:12). He invites ALL to come DIRECTLY to Himself for eternal life (Jn. 5:40; 6:35; 7:37; Matt. 11:28-30). He won't reject YOU (Jn. 6:37). He loves YOU! He wants YOU to spend eternity with Him. However, IF YOU refuse His invitation and His Gospel, you are saying indirectly that YOU don't NEED Him, WANT Him, or YOU don't think He is ABLE to save you BY HIMSELF. IF YOU "reject" Jesus (Jn. 12:48) by rejecting His Gospel, then HIS very words will be your judge and they will condemn YOU (Jn. 12:48, Rev. 21:7,8)! The choice is YOURS. YOU MUST DECIDE. YOUR ETERNAL DESTINY HINGES ON YOUR DECISION. WHAT WILL YOU DO? Remember friend, since Jesus is the Judge (Jn. 5:22), YOU can't possibly go wrong or be deceived by accepting His plan of salvation! (Remember His words in Jn. 6:47 and Lk. 13:3.)
Sincerely Pray This To Be Sure
Father in Heaven, humbly I ask you to have MERCY ON ME A SINNER (Luke 18:13). I am now willing to totally turn from my all 100% of my sins, and FOLLOW JESUS UNASHAMEDLY in this wicked age (Lk. 9:23-26; 13:3; Jn. 8:12; 10:27). I believe in my heart that God has raised Jesus from the dead and I now confess Him as "Lord" (Rom. 10:9,10). Lord Jesus, I now ask you for eternal life (Jn. 5:40). I thank you that I am now saved. All my sins are NOW forgiven. I know this because you won't reject anyone (Jn. 6:37). I will FOLLOW you, Lord, ALL the days of my life (Luke 9:23) as I TRUST you and STUDY THE BIBLE for strength (Phil. 4:13; Acts 20:32). Jesus, ALL (100%) of my TRUST is now in you ALONE for my soul's salvation. I believe that you are the ALL-SUFFICIENT Savior. Amen.
It's Very Important For You ...
Friend, it's VERY IMPORTANT for YOU to attend a congregation somewhere in your vicinity where the true plan of salvation is being preached and evangelism is emphasized. Don't stay in a congregation because you were raised there or because its location is close and convenient to attend! Find a Bible-preaching, Bible-teaching, Christ-exalting church that lovingly spreads and boldly stands for the TRUE Gospel, where the pastor is zealous, fears God, and doesn't compromise the truth to please man or build his own ministry over the Kingdom of God. Also, make sure unconditional eternal security is NOT being taught there. This is also very important. The lie of eternal security has certainly sent multitudes to Hell!
This point of church attendance canNOT be over-emphasized! Remember also that true worshippers of God MUST "worship in SPIRIT and in TRUTH" (Jn. 4:23,24). See also Rom. 16:17,18.
Finally, if YOU have decided to repent and trust Jesus ALONE (100%) for your salvation, you need to be water baptized by immersion. This is the Biblical way. This is important for ALL saved people to do, as soon as possible, after conversion. Note: one gets water baptized AFTER he becomes a Christian, not to become a Christian!