Know Your Bible
November 2003


It is not because baptism is more important than other Bible subjects that I emphasize it in my preaching. Baptism is no more important than the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. It is no more important than belief in Jesus as the Son of God.

Jesus said, "If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins" (Jn. 8:24). In Mark 16:16 He said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." Many good people try to take out of this verse the part Jesus left in it. These religious folk tell us, "Jesus did not say, 'He that is baptized not shall be damned.'" That is absolutely correct. However, the conclusion they draw from this fact is fallacious. They contend that it means a person will not be condemned, if he believes without being baptized.

Now observe carefully. The conclusion they draw, if correct, would do the very thing I asserted, "Many good people try to" do. This conclusion would remove baptism from the verse. Look closely at the negative Jesus used. "He that believeth not shall be damned." Jesus negated belief. When you negate a thing you put the minus sign on it. Jesus put the minus sign on belief. Jesus left baptism in the verse and took belief out.

Now notice and consider the latter part of the verse. Jesus said, "He that believeth not shall be damned." There is no disagreement about this being what is found in the latter part of Mark 16:16. If we reduce this statement to a mathematical equation it would read: Minus belief equals damned. There has to be something from which the subtraction of belief leaves a person damned. That something has to be the other element in the verse -- baptism. That is right, baptism. Therefore, the equation in the latter part of Mark 16:16 is: Baptism minus belief equals damned.

The equation in Mark 16:16 proves that baptism is no more important than belief. He that is baptized without belief shall be damned. I have heard preachers say, "A man who does not believe would not be baptized", but I have also heard of some who were baptized without belief.

Baptism is no more important to salvation than repentance. Those who believed on the day of Pentecost asked, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37). Peter answered, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins..." (Acts 2:38). How does this question and its answer prove that baptism is no more important to salvation than repentance? The proof here is the coordinate conjunction "and". Coordinate conjunctions "connect words, phrases or clauses of equal rank" (World Book Dictionary). Peter said, "Repent and be baptized." Therefore, repentance is just as important as baptism.

There has been much dispute about the word "for" in Acts 2:38, but just remember that in this verse whatever baptism is "for" repentance is "for" because they are "of equal rank." Some folks need to carefully consider what it would mean to repent because of their sins having already been forgiven.

Before ending this article, it would be in order for me to deal with the title which I choose to give it. I emphasize baptism for several reasons: 1) It is often misunderstood. 2) Many religious teachers deny that man needs to be baptized. 3) Those not baptized are separated from every spiritual blessing. (All spiritual blessing are available in Christ - Eph. 1:3. It is by baptism that we enter into Christ - Rom. 6:3; Gal. 3:27.) 4) Those not baptized are outside of Christ and, therefore, not partakers of salvation because salvation is in Christ (2 Tim. 2:10).

Dear reader, do you believe? Have you repented of your sins? Have you confessed your faith in Jesus (Ro. 10:10)? Have you been baptized into Christ? If you have not, you need to believe, repent, confess, "and be baptized, and wash away thy sins" (Acts 22:16).

---Fred Shewmaker

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There are a lot of polls taken and statistics kept. Here are some disturbing figures that I clipped from my files. In 1998 there were 4.2 million unmarried couples living together in the USA, a 2% increase over 1997, but an 800% increase over 1970 (from 432,000 to 4.2 million). Will they soon outnumber married couples? Within 5 years, 55% of those cohabiting couples marry (but then they have a very high divorce rate), and 45% end the relationship. (Please read: Heb. 13:4; Rom. 7:2,3; 1 Cor. 7:2; Matt.19:3-9; Eph. 5:22,23).

In 1976 only 4% of Americans believed in fortune telling; in 1998 it had risen to 14%. Belief in spiritualism (the reality of getting in touch with spirits of the dead) went from 12% to 52%, in faith healing from 10% to 45%, in astrology from 17% to 37%, in reincarnation from 9% to 25%. (Please read: Deut. 18:9-12; Jer. 27:9; Isa. 8:19,20; 47:12,13; Gal. 5:19-21; Rev. 21:8).

These are just a small number of things in which our nation is moving in the wrong direction. Let us not go that way.

---Bill Crews

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