John 5:24 ďMost assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and BELIEVES IN HIM WHO SENT ME HAS EVERLASTING LIFE, AND SHALL NOT COME INTO JUDGMENT, BUT HAS PASSED from death into LIFEĒ.
John 3:16;18: ďFor
God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that WHOEVER BELIEVES
IN HIM SHOULD NOT PERISH, BUT HAVE EVERLASTING LIFEĒ
John 3:36 ďHe who believes in the son HAS EVERLASTING LIFE.Ē
My position on the need for baptism of believers in Christ
In my testimony, I do not discuss the issue of baptism of believers in Christ. Nevertheless, owing to email that I have received, from someone asking me for my position on baptism, I state my position here.
My position is that notwithstanding the fact that I believe that we are saved ONLY by grace (ie: grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone), and NOT by works that WE do, there is something to be said for the need for baptism of believers. I believe that ALL who come to faith in Christ WILL be baptized, given the opportunity.
Let me make one thing perfectly clear, for the record: Baptism does NOT SAVE YOU. Baptism is a work. It is a work that has NO SAVING POWER. Only Christ's grace can save you. Nothing else in the world, and nothing you personally can do, except only for trusting Him, can save you. In other words, true believers in Jesus Christ get baptized because they are saved. They do not get saved because they are baptized.
First, let's look at a few scriptures:
Mark 1:4 - John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.
Mark 16:16 - He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
Matt 28:19 - Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost;
There are others, but what I have quoted above will suffice for the purposes of my doctrinal statement.
Now, what are we to make of what is said in the scriptures quoted above? I believe that what scripture says, it says. We are not to look for ways to try to get around what it says, or make excuses for why we should be exempt from having to do what scripture says. The text clearly says that we who believe in Christ are to be baptized. It does not say should, may or could be baptized. No, it simply says that we are to be baptized - period.
So, what are we to make of those who died without being baptized? And is baptism not a work? And if baptism is a work, then am I not contradicting my self by saying that we should be baptized, when salvation is of grace? These are all good questions. And NO, there is no contradiction here. Unlike some who teach that we must be baptized to be saved, I am not teaching so. Rather, I believe that if you are a believer in Christ, you WILL be baptized (given the opportunity) - period. If you say you are a believer in Christ, and at the same time say that you have no need to be baptized, because baptism is a work, and salvation is a free gift, and not based upon works, then you are probably in rebellion against God. For true believers in Christ will be baptized, given the opportunity.
How can I say that? Read the scriptures above one more time. They get right to the point; if you are a follower of Christ, you are to be baptized! Christ and the apostles did not say this merely as a suggestion. In the book of Luke, we learn what God says of those who refuse to be baptized. In chapter 7, verse 30 we read, "But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him." Now, the scripture here is making reference to Ďthe baptism of Johní, but it is still relevant for the purposes of this discussion. In fact, Paul re-baptized those who had only received Johnís baptism, as the baptism of Christ is a higher baptism. So, if the folks back in Paulís day had need to be baptized, do you not also?
Now, to the question - ĎWhat of those who did not get baptized?í
Generally speaking, I have to say that I believe that matter is strictly between the believer in Christ, and Christ Himself. I will give two examples of what I am talking about. The first example, and perhaps the most famous, is the thief on the cross, who was crucified next to Christ. In Luke 23:42 and 43, we read the following words, ďAnd he (the dying thief) said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.Ē
The Lord was clearly telling this man that He would save him, and that he would be with Him in the hereafter. I personally do not believe that the thief had time to be baptized, and nothing in the text indicates that he had previously repented and given himself to the Lord. I also believe that the Lord caused this text to be in the Bible as an encouragement for us. If it is true that with no baptism, there can be no salvation, then that thief was eternally lost. But, as we read, it was Christ Himself who declared that man saved. And we know that who the Lord has saved, no one will remove from the Lordís grasp. He will never lose one saved sinner!
The second example I will refer you to is Christ blessing the little children. Letís read it together. Turn to Mark 10:13-14 in your Bible: ďAnd they brought young children to him, that he should touch them; and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of God.Ē
Now, I personally do NOT believe in baptizing babies. I believe it serves no effectual purpose whatsoever. Baptism is for repentant sinners. Does anyone reading this really believe that small children have the capacity to understand and repent of their sins? I for the most part do not. It was my Lord Himself who declared that WE must become as THEY (the wee ones), if we are to enter His kingdom. As with the thief on the cross, I believe that little children belong to the Lord. I donít pretend to know where God draws the line, as far as when they become accountable. I believe it is probably different for each child, and I will leave that matter for the Lord to decide. It is not for you or me. But ask yourself honestly, do you really believe that babies and small children who are killed, or die in their cribs, or are murdered by abortionists, will really go to hell? If you can say that you believe that, then I suggest you are in error. And I will ask you, what do you make of the Lordís statement that Ďof such is the kingdom of God.í If they were in a position where they could go to hell, had they died just when the Lord made that statement, then how could the kingdom of God be Ďof suchí as them?! Think about it, my friends. This is a serious matter!
Lastly, let me paint a picture for you. Imagine if you will, that you have just come to faith in Jesus Christ, and you decide that you will be baptized, in accordance with the Lordís will for your life. This is something you are serious about. You and a fellow follower of Christ (who will baptize you) go to the riverside to be baptized, in obedience to the Lord's will. You arrive at the water, and just before your friend can baptize you, some guy springs out of a nearby bush, robs you and your friend, and then shoots you both, dead. You never had the chance to be baptized. Now think carefully, and YOU tell ME - are you going to hell or heaven? Remember, you didn't get baptized. I believe that you would be in a position similar to the thief on the cross, who died next to his precious Lord Jesus Christ. I believe you would be Ďabsent from the body, and present with the Lordí.
So, to summarize, I believe in the baptism of repentance for believers in Christ. I believe that God does indeed expect you to be baptized when you come to faith in Christ. If you refuse to be baptized, declaring that you donít need to be baptized, as salvation is strictly by Ďby grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ aloneí, then, notwithstanding the truth of that statement, you are yet in rebellion against God, and you have need to repent, and be baptized.
I believe that all believers in Christ are to be baptized. But I do not believe that those who come to faith (Yes, SAVING faith) in Christ, who happen to die before they have a chance to get baptized, or in other words, those who in their hearts have every intent of submitting to the Lordís will, will be lost, or will not be with the Lord in eternity hereafter. Those whom the Lord has purchased with His precious blood, and made clean, are His FOREVER, and will NEVER BE LOST! Those who refuse to be baptized are in rebellion against God, and there is the fair question of whether or not they are truly believers in Christ. So, if you believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, and you have not taken the time yet to be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, then I counsel you to make a point of submitting to the Lordís will, and get baptized as soon as you can. This is important, my friend. But, with that thought in mind, if you truly desire to do the Lordís will and be baptized, and you should die before you can be baptized, do not despair. Or maybe you came to faith in Christ, and have not yet learned of the importance of baptism for the believer; but you know that you trust Christ as your Savior, and you most certainly would be baptized upon learning about the need for baptism. The Lord will never lose those who are His.
If, on the other hand, your attitude is ĎI donít need to be baptizedí, then I suggest that you should reconsider your position. Are you really seeking the Lordís will? Have you really trusted Christ as your Savior? Dear brother or sister, please make a point of submitting in obedience to the Lordís will, and get baptized. You will be glad you did so. It is worth it. Personally, I was not baptized until several years after coming to faith in Christ, and it was something that was always at the back of my mind, nagging at me. I knew it was something I needed and wanted to do. And finally, on December 26, in either the year 2000 or 2001 (pretty bad, not being able to remember which year it was, eh?), I was baptized in before a congregation of believers in Christ. It was the right thing to do, and I did it to be in obedience to the Lordís will, as well as to make a public proclamation of my faith in Jesus Christ. However, I came to faith in Christ several years before that day, and had given my life to Him. Had I died after coming to faith in Christ, but before that blessed day when I was baptized, I believe I would have gone to be with the Lord.
To All Believers In Christ.
Your Ex Mo Bro and fellow servant,