Baptism Is It Necessary for Salvation

In his eulogy for Senator John McCain former vice president Joe Biden brought out a statement that senator McCain had made when he converted to the Baptist denomination. Senator McCain stated that he did not need to be water baptized because it would not add to his spiritual advancement. Of course there are many who would disagree with the senator’s statement. Not that they were or are judging him. But the question is raised, “Baptism. Is it necessary for salvation?”

It is a fair and necessary question which one must answer. But the answer should be based on scripture.

What exactly is baptism according to the scripture

If one goes by Hollywood films and the Catholic church one might get a totally incorrect concept of scriptural baptism. If one goes by evangelical denominations and some “full gospel” groups one might still get an incorrect concept. So, what is this baptism that the Bible talks about.

There are two descriptions of baptism in the Old Testament. The first is when the children of Israel were leaving the bondage of Egypt and they came against the Red Sea. The picture drawn here is the total separation from, or death to, the old way of life. The Israelites had been the servants of the Egyptians. But after passing through the Red Sea they were freed from that bondage because the Egyptian army was destroyed. The Israelites became dead to the Egyptians. Never again were they in bondage to them. This image of baptism presents the freedom from sin as one dies to his old way of life.

The second is presented when the Israelites crossed the Jordan River into the promised land. The contrast of the Jordan River baptism to the Red Sea baptism is this: The Red Sea parted and then came back together and brought death to the flesh therein; The Jordan River did not part but ceased to flow from above while the Israelites crossed over. The Jordan River presents an image of the Holy Spirit coming from above and baptizing those who are crossing into the Promised Land. The baptism of the Holy Spirit gives life, instead of taking life.

So we see that baptism was necessary if the Israelites were going to receive the Promised land. The old life had to die and the new life had to be empowered from above.

So, baptism in its presentation must first of all picture a position of dying to one life and then moving forward to beginning a new life of promise.

New Testament baptism

Now we come to the New Testament. What does it say about baptism? The New Testament begins with the preaching of John the Baptist who baptized for repentance of sin. It is made clear throughout the New Testament that there is a difference between the two baptisms. It was not enough to just have John’s baptism after the coming of the Holy Spirit. There must be the baptism in the Name of Jesus.

Jesus was baptized by John, but not for repentance. Jesus never sinned. He always did what His Father did. But He said that He was being baptized to “fulfill all righteousness”. He was setting the example of one who earnestly desires to be pleasing to The Father by being baptized according to the scriptures. He was to become “sin for us that we might be the righteousness of God” in Him.

Is physical baptism necessary for salvation and right relationship with God? Let us look at the example of the thief on the cross next to Jesus. Jesus told him that he would be with Him in Paradise that very day. That man never got baptized in this world, but he went to heaven. He repented and then he committed himself to Jesus. Would he have been baptized if it were a possibility? I think so. But he was not. If it were a necessary act to be able to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, then Jesus lied to him. Jesus never lied.

True baptism

So, the true picture of baptism must present a picture of someone dying to an old way of life and then a new way of life beginning. To be clear and to the point, sprinkling or just pouring water over someone does not paint a picture of dying to anything. So, scripturally speaking, many, so called, Christian denominations do not carry on baptism as spoken of in the Bible. Of course, this has been promoted in popular Biblically based films of Hollywood. Most of these films were not interested in Biblical truths but in making money with movies. So adherence to scripture was not a top priority. Still the word got out.

The Greek word translated to “baptize” in the New Testament was a word which meant to be totally immersed into something. It also meant that one was under the total influence of something or someone. We have a phrase which we say that someone who is drunk is “under the influence” of alcohol. That is what the word means when we are baptized into Christ Jesus. We become totally under the influence of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.

A real picture of Biblical baptism

If we were literal in our baptism ritual and did it according to the Bible, we would take people into a pool of water and would lay or push them under the water and never let them come up. Of course we can not do that because that is against God’s Word. But I use that as an example. Just as baptism is a type, or symbol, of what has taken place within our spirit, it lets the world know that we are no longer the same person but are a new creation.

Conclusion

So, to the question of “Is baptism necessary for salvation?”, the scripture shows that physically speaking it is not. But spiritually speaking it is. If the “old man” has not died, then there is no “new creation” so it does not matter how many times one gets baptized, it will profit them nothing.

In Galatians 6:15 Paul the Apostle put it this way: For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision(physical baptism) nor uncircumcision(not being physically baptized) avails anything, but a new creation. So, the physical act of baptism has nothing to do with your right relationship with your Lord. But, because you have a right relationship with your Lord you earnestly desire to please Him in every way. And just as He desired to please His Father in fulfilling all righteousness, so shall we delight to please Him by following Him in physical baptism.

 

 

 

What is the job of angels?-How many are assigned to you?

I do not know what you may think, but I believe in angels. Many times I hear people say, “Well, if there are angels, ‘What is the job of angels?'”. That is a fair question. Along with that question comes another which asks, “How many are assigned to you, personally?”. We shall address these two questions and maybe more in this blog.

What are angels?

In answering these and other questions about angels we shall use the book that is the authority on angels, The Holy Bible. After all, it is the source of our knowledge of these beings.

To begin, angels are created beings. They are not like God in that they are infinite or omniscient or omnipresent, they are none of these. Though they are non of those one should not sell them short on their abilities. As we continue on this blog you will find them to be quite formidable.

They are created, so they are subject to The Creator. Though they are created beings, they are not God’s highest creation. That position is reserved for human beings only.

As we learn more about angels we shall see why some fell from their high position.

What is their purpose?

There are basically two jobs that angels were created for. The first we find in Psalm 148:2. “Praise Him, all His angels; Praise Him, all His hosts.” That was the original job of angels. There was an Archangel who was in charge of directing that praise whose name was Lucifer. Most people who have an elementary knowledge of the Bible know what happen to Lucifer. He was probably the most beautiful of the angels and became a little too enamored with himself and mounted a revolt in Heaven with a third of the created angels.

Too bad for the rebels, they were no match for the Triune God and were cast out of Heaven. Hence, there was a place prepared for them to be their final place of residence where they will be in everlasting torture and pain. It is a place which bears the name of Hell! That will be their final destination where they will abide forever.

As a side question, you may wonder why God did not provide a way of restoration for the angels? The reason will become apparent as we continue, but for the main reason, they were not His penultimate creation nor were they created in the image of their Creator.

The purpose of the angels on earth?

In Psalm 91:11 we find out the other reason for the creation of angels. The scripture says of God’s reason for creating angels, “He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.” One of the jobs of angels is to watch over God’s children and to protect them. In Hebrews 13:2 we see that we are to entertain strangers because they may be angels.

Psalm 104:4 says that they are spirits and servants of the Lord for His children.

The top priority job of angels is found in Psalm 103:20. It says, “Bless the Lord, you His angels, who excel in strength, who do His word, heeding the voice of His word.” It is worth noting that people often misunderstand this verse of scripture. It does not say, in this verse, that they obey the voice of God, but rather, it says, they obey the voice that speaks the word of God. Yes, they obey the Word of God, but only when they hear it voiced by a human being. If you wish to tie the hands of the angels who are assigned to you, just never speak the Word of God out loud. Angels only act on the spoken out loud Word of God. To be sure, they do not move on behalf of any word spoken, but only to what God has spoken in His Word.

The bad angels

Did I mention that there are some bad angels? I think I did. These guys are still roaming around and just would love to wreak havoc wherever they can. But, since Jesus died on the cross paying the price for our sins and restoring the covenant that God had established with the original Adam, these fallen angels wait around listening for the voice of the deceiver, Lucifer.

Now Lucifer, himself, does not speak his word, but he encourages people to speak his words. “What kind of words does he speak?” you may ask. In John 10:9 Jesus said that the “thief” comes to steal, kill and destroy. Any words dealing with stealing or killing or destroying are words of the devil. When these words are spoken they empower fallen angels to act upon them. They are still angels, though fallen angels, and they still do what angels do, but in the negative sense.

How many angels do I have

Quite often people refer to their “guardian angel”. And that is probably true. But what does the scripture say.

Let me first state what the scripture says about the Child of God. In Romans 8:17 it says that we are “children” and “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ”. The term, “joint heir” means “equal in every respect”. So, whatever applies to Jesus applies to me and to you and to everyone who is a “born again child of God”.

Now, look at Jesus’ statement when the soldiers came to take Him in the Garden of Gethsemane, when He said, “do you think that I cannot now pray the Father, and He will provide me with more than twelve legions of angels?” Do you know how many were in a legion? I’ll tell you. There are 6000 in a legion. Twelve legions equal 72,000. Now, if I am a joint heir(equal in every respect) with Jesus and He had more than 72,000 angels available to Him, then how many angels are there available to me? You are correct, 72,000.

To give you an idea of what is available to you, if you look in 2 Kings 19:35 and following you will see that one angel went out and attacked an Assyrian army of 180,000 men and destroyed them all in one night. One angel defeated an army of trained soldiers and did it in one night. Can you imagine what over 72,000 can do when you release them with the word of God. Remember, they have to “hearken”(that means to hear and to do) to the voice(vocalization) of the Word of God. They have no choice in the matter. That is what they are created to do.

The choice is up to you

Now, you, being a human created in the image of your Creator, have a choice. You can choose to believe the Word of God about angels, or you can choose not to believe the Word of God. If you choose to believe God and exercise your belief by speaking out loud what His word says about your circumstances in life, then you will get legions of angels working on your behalf to perform God’s Word on your behalf. Your assigned angels will always do what God’s Word says when you say it out loud. Unlike you, they have no choice, or they must be cast into the lake of fire reserved for the devil and his angels.

Isn’t it nice to know that this is one of the benefits of the covenant which Jesus secured when He went to the cross and paid the price for our sins.

Have you availed yourself for this salvation? Yes, it will cost you your life. But the life you will receive will so exceed anything that you could ever imagine. It is life that only your Creator can give you.

May God bless you!

 

 

 

 

God Added To The Church

Our church has begun a new promotion in which the members take a preprinted business type card with the church information on it and give it to a friend or anybody you wish. On the card is the “promo” which says “Meet me at the Spot”. The “Spot” is a particular location on the campus of the church location. From there you will go with your invitee to the worship service where you hope that he or she will hear the Gospel.

Is it scriptural

Let me set forth two scriptures.

Matthew 28: 19-20.

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:

20 Teaching
them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I
am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

 

Acts 2:47b
And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

It is the Lord Who brings someone into the church. It is those who are the saved that He brings in. He does not bring them into the church to save them. He adds them because they are new creations in Christ Jesus.

You may ask, “How do they become a new creation in Christ Jesus if they don’t come to church?”

The answer is found in Matthew 28. “You go and teach them and make disciples of them.”

The problem

Herein lies the problem. For years, we have been taught that people need to come to church to hear the gospel. Bring them to church and they can hear the preacher preach the gospel and lead them to Christ. There are no scriptures to back up this type of approach to spreading the gospel.

Jesus gave us an example when He sent his disciples out two by two to preach the gospel of the kingdom. He did not set up a headquarters or build a great complex to produce fancy programs to attract people to come to and follow Him. No! He sent His disciples out. Jesus had told them that they would be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the uttermost parts of the world. When the disciples decided to set up in Jerusalem and let the people come to them, there came persecution which brought about dispersion. They had to “Go” then.

The job of the church

Ephesians 4:11ff

11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

13 Till
we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son
of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the
fullness of Christ:

14 That
we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about
with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning
craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

 

We see here the gifts given to the body of Christ(the church) and what their whole purpose is. The church’s job is not to get people into the church. The church’s job is to grow born-again-children-of-God into mature men and women of God. They are to be grown up to be just like Jesus. That is the job of the church. It is not the job of just the pastor or the paid staff, it is the job of every member of the body to some degree or another depending on each’s level of maturity.

 

If you have been a member of a “church” for many years and you are not doing the same things that Jesus did when He walked on the earth, you should consider if you are truly part of a New Testament church. The scripture is clear. “The Church of Jesus” will produce people who do the same things that Jesus did.

 

You may ask, “How do you know that is true?” In Acts 11:26 we find that it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians. What does the word Christian mean? It comes from the root word “Christ” which means “anointed one”. The “Anointed One” was Jesus. When these disciples began doing the same things that the Anointed One did the people began to refer to them as “anointed ones”. They were not “THE ANOINTED ONE” but they were doing the same things that THE ANOINTED ONE did, therefore they were rightfully called “anointed ones”, or as we say “Christians”.

 

How to know the church

You may wonder just how you can know the true church of Jesus Christ. The only way you will know the true church is to find out what the Word of God says about it. The New Testament is full of descriptions of the Body of Christ. The best picture of what the church does is the example of Jesus, Himself. “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Christ in you is not going to be any different in the 21st century than He was in the New Testament. What He did then, He still does now. We know He is consistent because He continued to do the same works in His disciples and through Paul and elders and deacons in the church of the New Testament.

Jesus discipled people. The very term comes from the root which means “to discipline”. The New Covenant” in the blood of Jesus speaks of a new creation which is conformed to the image of Christ. The true church cannot build huge congregations because they are to busy going and sharing the good news. They are ever reaching out to those who have never heard and always preparing those who are growing to be going out and making disciples. If you ever see a comfortable church, you are probably not seeing the Church of Jesus. Too many people are going down the road to hell and we have the only means by which they might be delivered from that loss.

We have the Good News of what God has done in Jesus, The Christ, and we cannot rest until everyone has had the opportunity respond to that good news.