Question:

I am a Christian, a part of the Church of the Nazarene. I myself have been baptized, but it becomes a concern to me when many others find it absolutely necessary to be baptized with water to be saved. I am very open to the consideration of the doctrines of men that find their way into the various denominations that make up the Christian Church universal. If you believe that you must be baptized as a part of salvation, that is a part of your own conscience. I quote from Romans 14: "But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ...Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother's way...For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness,and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God...Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify one another...Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth" (vv10, 13, 17-19, 22, KJV).

Now before you argue the context of this chapter, I am well aware of it -- it concerns those who are eating this or that or worshipping on this day or that (of course, we should worship and serve God everyday). The point of the matter concerns the matter of wrongful judgment of your brothers and sisters in Christ in a Christian body that does not require baptism as part of a means to salvation, although we emphasize the fact that baptism with water is a symbolic act of cleansing, following salvation (justification) that is also a public witness and testimony of God's grace. If you want to judge a church for not emphasizing baptism (with water) as a requirement for salvation, then you must condemn the thief on the cross who accepted, by faith, through Christ's own sacrifice and the grace thereof offered, the love that was shown to him right next to him.

Further, returning to Romans, Paul said, "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; 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. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation...For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (10:8-10, 13). Further, the apostle John wrote, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9). Is Christ's blood not enough to cleanse us from our sins? Must we also receive water as a cleansing tool?

The point here is not to argue the accepted facets of your own church; the point is to stop judging those around you who do not believe in accordance to your own man-based doctrines, and to believe on and in God's Son, Christ Jesus, as the perfect sacrifice, whose blood cleanses us of our sins. Baptism is a ritual, a symbolic act, that all believers, all Christians should partake in (as also in communion) as a reflection of that salvation one has been granted by God, through Christ; by faith, through grace (Eph. 2:8-9). Like sanctification, baptism is a reflection of the justification already received, not something that is required beforehand.


Answer:

Your argument is that baptism is unnecessary for salvation. Though encouraged, you believe that it comes after salvation and not before.

First, review the passages which you gave. Not one proves that baptism is a non-essential step in the process of salvation. Instead, you listed numerous other things which are also required, but pretend that these then somehow exclude everything else God said was related to salvation. I do hope you realize that your list was by no means exhaustive. Take a look at "When is one saved?" and tell me which of the twenty plus things connected to salvation can be left out and a person still be saved.

Romans 14 deals with decisions between matters in which God finds both choices acceptable. "But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: "As I live, says the LORD, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God." So then each of us shall give account of himself to God" (Romans 14:10-12). This passage might be appropriate if God found baptism unnecessary. As I mentioned before, you didn't make that case. You only showed that other things are also necessary. Let me direct you to an article that lists the passages you skipped which state that baptism has a necessary purpose in a person's salvation: "Baptism: Necessary for Salvation."

You claim that the thief on the cross was saved without baptism. My question for you is how do you know he had not been baptized? See "What about the thief on the cross?" for several more points you would need to address to make this argument valid.

The plain answer to your argument is that your position contradicts Peter's. "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). You cannot be now saved by baptism if you were already saved before baptism.

I'll leave you one final point to ponder: why did Ananias tell Saul, "And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord" (Acts 22:16) if he had no sins to be washed?

Reader's Comment:

Thank you so much for your response on the question (or comment) of condemning one for not being baptized.

In addition to your answer, I would should suggest this person is right. No one, except God, can condemn anyone to hell. One can only point out what the Scripture say about the matter, like you did.Even if one doesn't do exactly what I think, or you think, they should I still have no authority to "condemn" anyone.

But, by the same token, neither does anyone have the authority to get someone into heaven. So those folks who have determine who really can get in heaven, have no more authority for their judgment call than I do! It's funny how it's OK for folks to judge one to be OK, saved, or getting into heaven, but it's not OK to judge one to be wrong, living in sin or headed for hell.

And with this said, I don't think I can determine if anyone is in heaven or hell. I can be pretty sure innocent children are with God, and I'd like to think that some of the folks that I've know are there, but when it's all said and done God is the judge -- not me and we should all be thankful for that!

Many people confuse making a judgment (that is, using your head to determine what God said is right or wrong) with sitting in Judgment to determine a person's ultimate destiny. Since we must: "Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is" (Ephesians 5:17), I have to be able judge what is right and wrong. When someone comes to teach me something they claim is from God, again I must make a judgment. "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (I John 4:1). My judgment is whether that person is teaching what God wants taught or not. The consequences of their teaching is what God determines, not myself or anyone else.

In many cases God has told us in advance what is going to happen to people who are involved in certain sins. "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God" (I Corinthians 6:9-10). When someone tells me they are living with someone outside of marriage, I'm not condemning to hell by relaying God's statement that people who do that will end up in hell. God makes the ultimate decision, I'm warning people as to what God said would be the criteria.

If we're driving down the highway and you're going too fast, I will comment that you are going above the speed limit. I might also mention that you could end up with a fine. But I'm not giving the fine. I'm only warning what can happen.

This is a long way to say that it is God who linked being baptized with being saved (I Peter 3:21; Acts 22:16; John 3:5). I'm simply doing my job to point out that this is what God said. I also point out when denominations say less than what God said that they are in danger because they are not doing all that God requires. I don't put people in heaven or hell. I merely teach the rules God laid out for mankind to follow.