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Baptist views on baptism

Baptist views on baptism
Name: Brandon
Add a little more detail (optional): I know that Baptists teach that baptism is not necessary for salvation; that although it is a commandment, it is merely an outward profession of your faith, and has no effect on your eternal destination, but Mark 16:16, John 3:5, and 1 Peter 3:21 (the first two being the words of Jesus Himself) all seem to teach differently. How do you explain this?


Jul 03 2013 11:11 PM

John 3:5 would be speaking of the water of the womb (vs 4), i.e. our physical birth. Notice in verse 6 he says "that which is born of the flesh is flesh"? Jesus is saying that for a man to enter the kingdom of God he has to be born physically (water) and spiritually. You would think that being born physically to enter the kingdom should go without saying but Jesus was trying to open Nicodemus' understanding of the new birth by drawing a comparison between the two births.


I Peter 3:21 tells you that baptism is a figure i.e. picture or type. The salvation in the passage is not eternal salvation but the salvation of a man's conscience before God. Notice in the previous verse (vs 20) that Noah was essentially saved by water. Obviously this doesn't mean he was born again by entering the ark. You have to be careful when reading the word "save" in the bible because it doesn't always mean eternal salvation.


Mark 16:16 is the toughest of the verses you gave to figure out. So tough that many new versions leave the whole passage out of the bible. One thing I know is that the verse is very similar to Acts 2:38 (another verse that many new version cut out) which is not the gospel we preach today. I honestly can't answer this one without doubting what I'm saying. 

I can't speak for the American  IFBs - I'm an English Christian.


The true saving baptism is by the Holy Spirit, not with water. John promised that Jesus would so baptise, and Jesus himself affirmed that Holy Spirit baptism.


Mat. 3:11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and [with] fire:


Acts 1:For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.

2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.


When Jesus speaks of baptism in Mark 16, the need for belief is stated. It is the Holy Spirit baptism that saves us by giving us new life. Water baptism acknowledges the changes in our life.

Mark 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.


Repentance and faith in Christ show that the Holy Spirit is doing his saving work in our lives. Without that, baptism is meaningless. By baptism we confess that we need the cleansing from sin by Jesus' blood, then end of our old, sinful life, and our born again life by the Holy Spirit within.


Gal. 3:26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

29 And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Sometimes with difficult passages, it's easier to look at the converse. In Mark 16:16, note the requirements to be damned - they are simply to believe not. It does not say that he that believeth and is baptized not is damned. If the lack of belief alone is what damns one, then belief alone is what saves us. Baptism is (as is explained in other places in the Scriptures) simply the first step of obedience, and demonstrates the salvation that has already occurred. Compare with 1 Peter 3:21 that tells us clearly that baptism does not wash away the filth of sin, but is simply the answer of a good conscience toward God. When we have come to God as He instructs - by faith alone in Christ alone - and are saved by faith in His finished work, we have a good conscience toward Him. Baptism, then, is the response of that good conscience in obedience to His instructions.

Below is an exerpt from a paper I did on this subject in the context of contrasting it with Charismatic/Pentecostal theology.  It may be of help in explaining these verses:




Most Pentecostal denominations assert that water baptism is essential to receive salvation.  They most often use two passages as Scriptural support for this position: Mark 16:16 and Acts 2:38.  The commonality among the two is the formula that the command to be baptized precedes salvation in the English translation of the verse.  In order to examine this claim, it is critical to address each passage exegetically and in context.  Simply reading either of these texts in isolation leads to a convoluted and immature understanding of not only the passages, but of soteriology as a whole.  It is this process that humanists/atheists use to tear down the Bible and must be abandoned if sound doctrine is to be developed from any perspective.


Of the two passages, Mark 16:16 is cited less often.  Perhaps this is because it is obviously less defensible, even from a cursory reading.  It states “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”  Often, the Charismatic theologian will use the first half of Mark 16:16, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved…” [emphasis added] to show that baptism is a requirement.  However, the second part of that verse, “…but he that believeth not shall be damned.” [emphasis added] seems to indicate that belief is the key operator since it is the commonality between the two parts of the verse.  The construct of this verse is strikingly similar to many of the “blessing-cursing” verses in the book of Proverbs that present behaviors in a thesis-antithesis format. In this construct, a behavior (“believeth” in the case of Mark 16:16) is exhorted and a blessing is proclaimed (“shall be saved”) while the opposite behavior (“believeth not”) results in a cursing/condemnation (“shall be damned”).   Without examining the original Greek of this verse, it is clear that using it to state that baptism is a requirement of salvation is on shaky ground.


Conversely, Acts 2:38 is probably the verse quoted most often by Charismatics (and even some other denominations/movements) to claim the requirement of baptism.  In this verse, Peter was telling those present at the Pentecost “...Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…”  The phrasing and punctuation in this verse can certainly be taken to indicate the Charismatic position from a cursory reading.  However, when the text is examined, a different truth is illuminated.  In Koine Greek, there were no punctuation or sentence structure markings.  The meaning of the sentence rested entirely on the context and syntax.  In this case, “Repent” is in the active voice and imperative mood, and thus indicates the subject is doing the action. On the other hand, “be baptized” is in the passive voice imperative mood, indicating that the subject is having the said action done to it.  This is to say, Peter gives the command to repent and then receive baptism.  The phrase “for remission of sins” is the most misinterpreted portion.  On the surface, and as posited by Charismatics, this statement appears to say that baptism causes the remission of sin.  However, this is not case.  The word translated “for” is εἰς (transliterated ĕis) does not indicate causality (i.e., baptism causes remission) or dependence (i.e., remission depends on baptism), but literally means “into.” Therefore, it would be more accurate to say that the person is to be baptized INTO the remission of sin; or rather, identified with remission of sin through baptism. Though the King James Version rendering is completely accurate rendering according to 17th century English, perhaps a better understood rendering (in degraded 21st century English) of Acts 2:38 would be “Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ to show that your sins have been forgiven.” It would then appear that the Charismatic assertion that baptism affects salvation is made from an immature and/or undeveloped interpretation that lacks exegesis and depends entirely upon an experiential explanation. 


To show the non-necessity of baptism you really only need to look at the instances of where a person is saved apart from baptism.  A particular evidence of this can be seen in which people are indwelt with the Holy Spirit, an action that cannot take place before salvation because God will not join himself to unrighteousness (Ps 22:1; Isa 59:2; Habakkuk 1:13; 2 Tim 2:13).  There need only be one example of this to disprove the theory of the requirement of baptism for salvation, which can be found in Acts 10 in which Cornelius and his house recieved the Holy Spirit before baptism.  Additionally, considering the whole of instruction in the New Testament, it become clear that salvation hinges on faith and not a physical act of baptism (Eph 2:8-9; Acts 2:21, 10:43, 15:11; Rom 1:16-17, 10:10-13; Eph 1:13; 2 Tim 3:15; Tit 2:11; 1 Pet 1:5).  These verses are all clear that salvation comes by grace through faith.  Sound interpretation dicates that more difficult passages should be read in light of those that bring no confusion; thus Mark 16:16 and Acts 2:38 should be understood in terms of these verses that purposely omit baptism as a requirement.

Mark 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.


One has to read the whole sentence here, not just part of it.  The latter part affirms that baptism doesn't save, belief does for there is no mention of baptism to be damned.


If we're to believe that Baptism saves, this verse should read: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not and is not baptized shall be damned."


Only when one makes Repentance towards God and puts their trust/faith in Jesus Christ will God save them.  Turn  to Christ from sin.  Baptism is a work and Grace is a free gift that cannot be purchased by works or anything else.  If it were it wouldn't be free!


Ohh, these aren't Baptist beliefs, these are Bible beliefs, God's Word!

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