John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” Perhaps no one can argue it’s been quite a fiery discussion in the comment section of “The Necessity of Baptism for Salvation” post. With over a 100 comments, there have been many agreements, many differences, and a few who can’t have a dialogue on a subject without belittling, condemning, and resorting to personal attacks. But as I try to do my best to show everyone through my respectful responses, our words to one another should always strive to reflect the kindness of love we are called to. Otherwise what makes us any more different than the rest of the world who when faced with something that inflames them with disagreement, they seek to tear down a person rather than engage in a respectful dialogue. Nonetheless, in the midst of all these comments I’ve reflected on a few common themes in the differences expressed on my baptism post worth addressing.
Only salvation through Jesus
Many of the most common differences stem from a belief that in stating baptism is a necessary part of receiving salvation; one is denying the truth that Jesus gives us the opportunity for salvation. What I would suggest to all of my very open-minded readers, is that it’s important not to conflate two different issues. There’s the issue of who has given us the opportunity for salvation, and what causes one to receive the gift of salvation. For those of us who practice Christianity, we all agree Jesus gives us that opportunity. The focus of question in the article is not who’s responsible for one having the gift of salvation, but instead how one receives that gift, which leads to the next common theme of difference with my post.
Only receive through belief
So getting past the conflation of the first common difference, we then come to the next point of difference, that it’s only belief that saves. One can point to numerous verses showing baptism is a necessary part of one receiving salvation (Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, Galatians 3:27, 1 Peter 3:21, etc.) But some who think differently will do one of two things. Some will cite Romans 10:9-10 to outrank the verses showing baptism as a part of receiving salvation, which of course we don’t believe one verse over another, we believe every verse, or some will find a way to completely discredit the clear statement of the verses expressing the importance of baptism for salvation. This instance is where we arrive to our final common theme of difference.
Disbelieved shall be condemned
Mark 16:15-16 states “And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” A common difference expressed discrediting baptism’s necessary role in our salvation is some will say it only states disbelief shall condemn, so therefore baptism is not necessary. It seems like a logical point at first glance, but it’s only logical if one inserts their own understanding of disbelieved merely meaning one who does not believe Jesus rose from the dead and confess Him as Lord shall be condemned. But that’s not what’s in this text, and it’s important to base our understanding on what’s in the text.
In doing so, the disbelief would more closely seem to be disbelief of the gospel to be preached, belief and baptism in order to be saved. Let’s recall what 2 Thessalonians 1:8 states, “8 dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.” So the gospel of Lord Jesus must be obeyed to avoid retribution. Mark 16:15-16, Jesus states preach the gospel then immediately states commands to be obeyed (belief, baptism), which that appears to be the gospel to be obeyed. One other alternative thought on theses verses different from my conclusion, there are well respected commentaries that state there would be no point in reiterating not be baptized as part of what condemns, because a person who doesn’t believe is not going to be one who gets baptized. But beyond this alternative thought, we can agree that one can’t use the latter part of a verse to disregard the first part of the verse which ties the words “baptized” and “saved” together. Perhaps a really great question to ask would be why include the word “baptized” in this verse and other verses at all relating to salvation if only belief/confession were necessary? All interesting to ponder.
What are people fighting against?
One of the things I’ve found most intriguing to reflect on in all of the comments of difference with my baptism is necessary for salvation post, is figuring out what exactly people are fighting against? What is it that’s so important to push back vigorously in denouncement of this belief to make sure people don’t think they really need to go out and get their body wet? Is it really that much of a dangerous thing to believe that baptism is necessary for salvation? It would seem in in the heart cries of people’s words of difference is that they want to make sure as many people as possible can be saved, which is a very beautiful desire to have. It’s a beautiful desire that I think we all certainly have. I would suggest that we can trust God being a just God set up the perfect parameters for salvation that as many as possible will in fact get saved.
My only goal in all of my posts is to expand thought and knowledge to hopefully help anyone come to the best conclusion of beliefs and practices of Christian faith. Maybe I’ll be the one that helps a specific person reach to the best, or maybe someone else will. But it’s my hope that in my words that I’ve been a stepping stone in helping someone get one step closer to the truth. I’ll close with the same thing I said in my baptism post that sparked so much conversation. I think even the person who thinks differently on this topic can agree with me on this one statement. I have nothing to lose in believing baptism as a necessary part of receiving salvation, and acting in belief of that as truth by getting baptized. If one doesn’t need to be baptized for salvation, then they’ll still be with God for eternity anyway. But on the other hand, someone who believes it’s not necessary for salvation, and has not been baptized in belief of its necessity for salvation, it seems there’s only everything to lose. We all have the God-given freedom to make the choices we see are best, and it’s my sincerest hope and prayer that we will all make the best one.
Peace to all those who are in Christ.