The inspired scriptures plainly, clearly, undoubtedly and unmistakably teach that a person is saved from his sins and becomes a Christian when he is baptized in water. A person is not saved before he is baptized; nor is he saved without being baptized. Yet, the necessity of baptism as a requirement of salvation is still disputed, debated, and denied by many.
One of the main arguments against baptism as a requirement of salvation is “Baptism is a work, and we are not saved by works.” My question is, “What verse in the Bible calls baptism a work?” If baptism is a work, wouldn’t there be at least one verse in the Bible that calls baptism a work? Actually, there is a verse that calls baptism a work (the King James Versions uses the word “operation”) but it teaches that baptism is a work of God, not man. “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead” (Colossians 2:12). Notice that baptism is a work of God!
Why does the Bible call baptism a work of God? Because, when a person is being baptized there are a lot of things being done. But God, not man, is the one doing them. First, consider Mark 16:15-16: “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” When a person is baptized, he is saved from his sin. But who is carrying out this work? Who is doing the saving? God, of course!
Second, consider Acts 2:38. When those present on the Day of Pentecost asked what they must do to be saved, Peter answered, “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.” When they were baptized, they received the remission, or forgiveness, of their sins. But who was carrying this out? Who was doing the forgiving? God, of course! It’s helpful to consider what Peter did NOT tell them to do to be saved. Peter did not tell them to repeat after him as he recited the “sinner’s prayer.” He did not tell them there was nothing at all for them to do since they were saved by faith only (a doctrine not taught anywhere in the scriptures). No, Peter told them to repent and be baptized for the remission of their sins. Peter did not tell them they needed to be baptized because their sins had been forgiven. Peter told them to be baptized so their sins could be forgiven. Notice the use of the word “for” in Acts 2:38 along with Matthew 26:28. When Jesus said “This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins he did not mean he shed his blood because our sins were already forgiven. He shed his blood so our sins could be forgiven.
Third, notice Acts 22:16 where Ananias told Paul, “And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” When a person is baptized, his sins are washed away. Who washes them away? God, of course. Not man!
Fourth, notice Romans 6:3. “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?” When a person is baptized, he is placed into Christ. But who puts him in Christ? God, of course. “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47). Notice the scriptures teach a person is added to the church, and thus placed into Christ, when he is baptized. To be placed into Christ is the same as to be added to the Lord’s church (Acts 2:47; Ephesians 1:23). Baptism is the only means by which a person is placed into Christ. If a person is saved from his sins without being baptized, he is saved without being in Christ. Who would dare affirm such a statement? We know all spiritual blessings are in Christ (Ephesians 1:3).
Is it any wonder the scriptures call baptism a work of God? When a person is baptized, God is saving him, God is forgiving his sins, God is washing his sins away, and God is placing him into Christ. What is man doing all this time? He is willing submitting to God. He is allowing God to carry out his work.
For more on the question of “Is Baptism a Work” go to my recent sermons section of this blog to listen to the audio.