Romans 6:3-6

"Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into 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: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin."

It is surprising the number of people who believe baptism has nothing to do with forgiveness of sins. Do they believe in this nonessential aspect of baptism because they have never read these verses? Could be! Even some, having read these verses, attempt to explain them away in order to harmonize with their belief or the beliefs of the church they are a member of. If baptism is an essential part of our salvation from sin, then it is necessary and we must accept it as a part of God's will. We must not just explain it away but, rather, we must deal with it.

There are those who teach baptism has nothing to do with saving. "Baptism, therefore, is an act of obedience and as such brings the candidate into a more intimate and exclusive fellowship with his Lord; but it possesses no power in itself to remit sin,..." (The Hiscox Guide For Baptist Churches, p. 88, emphasis mine, ERH). It is interesting that this denomination believes this about baptism when the inspired word of God says, "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:" (1 Peter 3:21). Baptism is not a cleansing or washing away of the filth of the physical flesh but it does "wash away thy sins" (Acts 22:16). The passage in Romans 6 states that when we are buried with Christ in baptism the body of sin is destroyed. Sin causes us to be dead (Ephesians 2:1), not physically but spiritually. Being dead in sin, we must be buried; not in a tomb but in baptism. Therefore, as Jesus died on the cross and was buried, we who are dead in sin must be "buried with Him by baptism into death". We must be "planted together in the likeness of His death" so that "our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed." In no other action does this occur but in baptism. We are not buried with Christ when we believe. If so, where is the passage that says so? We are not buried with Christ when we repent. If so, where is the passage that indicates such to be the case? We are not buried with Christ when we confess Him to be the Son of God. If so, where is the passage of scripture? But don't be mistaken, we must believe, repent, and confess. These are absolutely essential to salvation but can we not see that baptism is just as essential? Only in baptism are we "baptized into Jesus Christ" (Romans 6:3; Galatians 3:27). Only in baptism are we "planted together". If we have not been planted together with Christ, we certainly cannot be "in the likeness of His resurrection" nor is "the body of sin...destroyed".

Still there are those who teach and preach we are saved the moment we believe and baptism has nothing to do with saving. What they actually have is a person spiritually dead in sin, made spiritually alive the moment they believe, but they bury them in order to make them a member of the church. The same creed book we quoted from earlier says, "...persons are not received to membership in the churches until they are baptized" (Ibid, p. 83). How ridiculous this teaching is when compared to what the Bible says.

It's no wonder people are confused about what the Bible teaches when there is so much contradictory teaching being done and, yet, everyone is professing to follow the Bible. The fact of the matter is, there are those who are following the doctrines of men. Those doctrines cannot be found in the Scriptures but, rather, in the creed books of men. What we need to do is leave off the creed books and manuals of men and take only what the Bible teaches for what we believe and practice.

A CHALLENGE! Can you find the passage of Scripture which shows where anyone since the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ was saved the moment they believed! Let us hear from you if you know the whereabouts of such a passage. If you cannot, then let's just take what the Bible says: Sins are forgiven after baptism; not before.

E.R. Hall, Jr.

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