After the last two posts, I thought it would be helpful if I quickly said why it’s important for Christians to be baptized. Some people may assume that because I believe paedo-baptists are sinning (since they do not get baptized as believers) that they might be disqualified from salvation. I don’t mean that. Belief in Jesus as the atonement for one’s sin saves people. After all, the thief on the cross next to Jesus was not baptized, yet Jesus said to him, “Today, you will be with me in paradise.”
What I do mean when I say that paedo-baptists (or others!) who have not been baptized as believers is that they must obey the Bible’s command to be baptized (just as we must obey other commands in the Bible). If the Bible tells us to do something, by God’s grace we need to do it. Here’s a sampling of verses to show this truth:
- Acts 2:37-38, Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
- Matthew 28:19, Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
- Acts 8:35-36, Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?”
- Acts 10:46-47, Then Peter declared “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”
I have heard people say, “Well, I don’t want the church to tell me what to do.” “I don’t want people to think that you need to be baptized to be saved, so I’m not going to do it.” “I’m not going to be legalistic. It’s not a big deal.”
But it is a big deal.
Peter said, “Repent and be baptized” to receive forgiveness. Simply, this verse says that new birth is something that God works in our hearts and we respond by turning from sin (repentance). The outward sign of that which is true on the inside is water baptism. It should be a willful, joyful, happy obedience in the Christian’s life, just as it was for the Ethiopian eunuch.
Now I must be careful here. The above statements are not made by paedo-baptists — for they think that they are truly baptized. And though I think they are wrong, I will respect their diligent study and not question their faith in Jesus, yet still encourage them in the truth to change their stance on baptism.
But what I would say to someone who makes the statements above — someone who is willfully and knowingly not seeking to be baptized when they know they must be? I would ask them plainly: Are you are true believer in Jesus? Don’t you want to publicly declare your death, burial, and resurrection with Christ? Are you viewing baptism through the lens of an imperfect body of believers or through the perfect Holy Scriptures?
Baptism doesn’t save you. But if your disobedience is willful and stubborn, as with any sin, there must be a great examining and testing of your faith. Jesus’ blood saves you by God’s grace through faith. If that’s your confession, then trust God that your baptism is designed to be an external display of internal realities and that it will be a great public testimony of the transforming power of God in your life.