Romans 10: 8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is the word of faith, which we preach; :9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. :10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Paul shows clearly here that salvation is attained through believing and confession. Not one word about water baptism.
Acts 8: 36 (Philip and the eunuch) And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See , here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? :37 And Philip said, if thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
Now the eunuch really wanted to be baptized, didn’t he? Sure he did. Anyone that comes to know the Lord Jesus wants to be baptized. The Spirit compels us to be baptized. The condition here was that he believe with all his heart. Belief and confession was made unto salvation. We showed that earlier in Romans 10:8,9,10. Philip used the word mayest here. Now just to reflect briefly on a previous discussion: Acts 10: 43-48 In :47 Peter asked: Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? He wasn’t waiting for an answer from anyone, it was his deduction from the events which had occurred, that they should be permitted (not forbidden) to baptized in the name of Jesus, sense they had become the children of God. Romans 8: 16 The Spirit its self beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God. Now a person cannot have Gods Holy Spirit and not be a child of God and be saved. If anyone thinks otherwise then he got his theology out of a cracker jack box. If God could dwell with a sinner, there would have been no reason for Christ to die. He’d just accept the whole world as is. He can’t do that. That sin has to go before God can know a person. How do I do that? Acts 10:43 we have remission of sins through belief in the name of Jesus. This is a gift from God outright, no strings attached. Now Acts 10: 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days. I’ve reflected on this verse to explain just how the word “commanded” is used. Peter was declaring simply that they were to be permitted (not forbidden) as he said in :47 to be baptized in the name of the Lord. This parallels the statement in Romans 8:37 from Phillip to the eunuch when he said, “thou mayest.” The word command stems from the Latin word “mandar” meaning to order, send, or command. Peter simply meant that it was in order for them to be baptized. He wasn’t bossing them, or ramrodding them into it. He simply permitted them to be because it was in order for them to be baptized.
I most recently had a young lady from the Church of Christ send me a video expressing the COC teaching on water baptism. She reflected on Peters “command” statement, as though he were a D.I. drilling foot troops. “I command!!!! you!! to be baptized!! in the name of Jesus!! In a very legalistic and bossy way. This teaching is just hideous. This is not the spirit of salvation. The statement by the young lady as though their salvation was still contingent on being baptized in water. Clearly we have shown here that it was not. Submission to water baptism is in obedience to the Spirit. It’s not in obedience to verbal commands from a humanoid. I want to note here before going on that in nether of the last two examples given was repentance an issue at all. In most cases of course it tends to be an issue but it is not universal.
Acts 2:38 is used by the COC universally when proselytizing others to “be added to their church.” Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Anyone that needs to repent of course must repent to serve God. There is nothing wrong with teaching this universally, but it is not universally applicable. These were Peters instructions in this particular case. There sins were to apparent to ignore. In his statement he was assuring them of their standing with God if they obeyed the gospel. In vs. :37 “They were pricked in their heart….” The process of repentance had begun here. Peter would not that they be overcome with sorrow. He quickly summarized for them what to do, in order to assure them that they hadn’t committed the unforgiveable, and that they were welcome with God, them having believed in the name of Jesus. He was permitting them!!!
In other words: “This is what you need to do for your self.” i.e. be added to the church. You’re welcome. Like Philip told the eunuch in Acts 8:37 “thou mayest.” They had already believed and confessed; in that; “they were pricked in their heart, and asked; men and brethren, what shall we do??” They’d already met the conditions for salvation according to Acts 10:9. Peters speech was to assure them that they had, and to welcome them. Then Acts 2: 41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized:….
The COC doctrine is to take Acts 2:38 most legalistically, and to apply it universally to every person on the planet. It also contains the phrase; “every one of you.” Peter was speaking to this group in particular. He wasn’t speaking to every person on the planet. I believe that this is the only verse of scripture in the bible that contains the words repentance and baptism in the same phrase. Out of the many sermons that were preached, and the many examples of ones being saved. The COC teaches this like a ritual: You must repent, you must be baptized, and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. And in that order!! Every one of you!! Repentance of course (where it is needful) always precedes salvation; but water baptism can precede either or both, or secede either or both. It’s just in order because it is proper. It’s not law. If a person truly believes that he’s going to go to hell if he isn’t baptized in water then he cannot be saved. He cannot repent of his sin. The law does not grant repentance!! Grace grants repentance. Galatians 5:4 You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. You can have nothing with God, but by grace.
1 Peter 3:21 …..The like figure whereunto even baptism doth save us (Not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a clear conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:
This is another COC favorite. They use this to prove that you will go to hell if your not baptized in water. I want to break this verse down and explain it. The first phrase: “The like figure.” Peter is telling us here that he is speaking figuratively; in that it is not literal when he says: “baptism doth now save us.” He is comparing water baptism to the great flood, wherein he says eight souls were saved by water. This is also figurative speech. Were they actually saved by water?? They were saved by Gods grace. Rev. 6: 8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. God taught him to build an Ark that saved them from the water. The water was actually the threat to him. So this was figurative speech. Not literal. Then in parenthesis Peter continues (Not the putting away of the filth of the flesh (the filth of the flesh being sin. My note here) , but the answer of a clear conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Peter was very careful here to point out that water baptism does not wash away ones sins. It is the answer of a clear conscience toward God by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. To answer a clear conscience a person must first have one. Jesus already suffered the damnation for the sins of humanity. God cannot dam a believing soul. So he that truly believes will repent and be converted. Certainly he will have a clear conscience. Romans 10:10 Belief and confession are made unto salvation. The act of being baptized, I compare to a wedding ring. Here’s some more figurative speech: “With this ring I thee wed.” Do you actually wed someone with a wedding ring?? Is this your life together?? No!! It is symbolic of your life together. It is not your life together. The rings do not marry you.
This completes part two of the discussion on water baptism. Please look for part three in the very near future.