Question:

I agree with you on many points however I believe that you make many hasty judgments and contradict yourself many times over.  Whether you are Nazarene, Pentecostal, Baptist Church of Christ etc it truly does not matter because salvation is not found in your denomination rather in Christ Jesus.   Nazarenes do not believe that they hold the secret to salvation but we understand scripture to be true that we who believe in Christ Jesus are all one church.   Paul said in Ephesians 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God.  To say that you are saved by baptism is a misinterpretation of scripture.   Jesus said in John 3:16 that whoever believes in Him should never perish but have eternal life.  Salvation is based on faith alone and I firmly believe that the Church of Christ has made baptism a work that is required to be saved and scripture point to us clearly that salvation comes from faith alone.  You mention denomination fetters in your Nazarene bashing, yet you are a preacher at the Church of Christ which is a denomination.

You said that no one will be saved without baptism in your letter but then change your tune and say that Jesus could have mad an exception.   You see the criminal that was saved was saved by the grace of God right there on the cross.   It is very dangerous to begin speculating that this sinner would have been baptized before hanging that day on the cross.  We must read scripture as it is given to us and not add or take away from it.  That sinner trusted in Jesus Christ that day and that is the only reason he is with Jesus today. People are saved today the same way they were saved two thousand years ago and that is by faith alone.  Scripture tells us that Abraham was justified by faith.  God pours out His grace upon sinful man when we believe in Jesus and trust in Him to be our atoning sacrifice.  In John 6:28 Jesus was asked "What shall we do that we may work the works of God?"  Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him who He sent."

Baptism is important I agree with you.  All of those who have trusted in Christ should be baptized but it is not how you are saved.  Like communion it is an important sacrament that is upheld but does not have the power to save.  Only the blood of Jesus has the power to save and wash our sins away. 

Acts 3:19 Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.  Also if you read the account of Paul's conversion in Acts 9 you will clearly see that Ananias was sent to lay hands on him that Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit as well as the scales falling off of his eyes before baptism and not after.  And in Acts 10 44-46 the people were given the gift of the Holy Spirit before they were baptized.  Scripture is clear when it states that only those who have bee born again receive the Holy Spirit and yet these Gentiles received the Holy Spirit before they were baptized.

I am not bashing what you believe but I certainly do not agree with you and I don't believe that God's word agrees with your teaching that baptism saves.  All of the power to save is in Christ alone.  I am going to use you quote in my conclusion, this came from you. "The Scriptures consistently teach that salvation is only through Christ. “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Jesus warns that the way to heaven is narrow. “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).  I agree with you 100% that salvation is through Christ alone and He is the only way to God, so we as followers of Christ must be careful to teach that He is the only way for us to be saved.


Answer:

There are many things that could be discussed from your note, but I would like to point out just two.

1) You stated "scripture point to us clearly that salvation comes from faith alone."  A bit later you stated, "Only the blood of Jesus has the power to save and wash our sins away." Which was immediately followed by: "Acts 3:19 Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out." Thus you stated that there are three things involved in salvation: faith, the blood of Jesus, and repentance. But you stated that both faith and the blood of Jesus are exclusive of anything else (which technically is a contradiction because you can't have two "only"s). Of course, you left off hearing, "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). Faith cannot exist without hearing. And from that same chapter, confession. "For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Romans 10:10).

Yet for some reason similar statements regarding baptism are discounted and ignored. "Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you--not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience--through the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (I Peter 3:21).  And Paul's statement: "Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Romans 3:4) and "In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead" (Colossians 2:11-12).

2) You stated, "if you read the account of Paul's conversion in Acts 9 you will clearly see that Ananias was sent to lay hands on him that Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit as well as the scales falling off of his eyes before baptism and not after." Conveniently, you ignored what Ananias stated after this, "Then a certain Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good testimony with all the Jews who dwelt there, came to me; and he stood and said to me, 'Brother Saul, receive your sight.' And at that same hour I looked up at him. Then he said, 'The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth. For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.'" (Acts 22:12-16). Yes, Paul's eyesight was restored first before baptism, but between this event and his baptism Ananias told Paul that he needed to wash away his sins. Therefore, his faith that he spoke to the Lord, his three days of prayer, and his receiving his eyesight back miraculously did not cause his sins to be removed until he arose and was baptized.

The real problem is that you don't fully believe what God has said. You feel the need to justify the Nazarene doctrine, and so you subtract from the Bible those things that are inconvenient to acknowledge. I would rather believe what God has said.