International Church of Christ
Which Saves - Faith or Baptism?
How Does Salvation Come, By Water or the Spirit?
O.C.C. teaching: We were told by the lead evangelist that John's baptism saved people because it was for repentance, and that Christ's death was applied retroactively to John's baptism.
Biblically: John's baptism is different from the Christian baptism. In John 1:23-27, John preaches to prepare their hearts and to look for the Messiah who is able to forgive sins. In John 1:29, he introduces Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. In verse 31-33, we find John is baptizing to reveal the Christ to Israel, his ministry is then to decrease and Jesus' is to increase.
In Matthew 3:11, John contrasts his baptism by water with Jesus' baptism by the Holy Spirit (Mk. 1:8)."I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance but He who is coming after me is mightier than I. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit." (Mk. 1:7-8)
Acts 1:5, Jesus said to them "For John truly baptized with water; but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now." Jesus is making a distinction between water and Spirit baptism, just as John did. John's water baptism always showed repentance. It looked forward to Christ whom they would receive. The Holy Spirit's work would be inward. This is the spiritual work of God to regenerate a believer and put them supernaturally in the body of Christ. Water can never wash away sins in a literal sense since it is from the outside. The sin nature is inside which only God can reach and cleanse, which is why baptism must be viewed as a symbolic ceremony of the inward change by the Spirit Himself. Forgiveness and cleansing are in the person and work of Jesus, not the symbol of cleansing itself. To trust the ceremony alone or with Christ's work is spiritual suicide. From looking at all the text we find that John baptized people unto repentance looking forward to the Son of God, the Lamb who alone takes way our sins. (John never could say your sins are forgiven, but Jesus did.Mk. 2)
"Each of us is born again at baptism", John 3:5. (Kip McKean UpsideDown, issue 11, pg. 18),
"Never forget going down in the water, saying Jesus is Lord of my life, making that confession, coming up out of the waters a brand new creature knowing all your sins have been washed away." (Dave Weger, I will Celebrate Before the Lord, audio tape, 1991 Southwest Conference) Its clear they are promoting being born from beneath when the Bible teaches to be born from above.
John 3:5-8 is used to prove that water is included for one to be saved (vs. 5) ". . . unless one is born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." Jesus is having a conversation with Nicodemus, who was a Pharisee. According to the Pharisee's teachings, to be born of water meant to be born physically. Jesus spoke in accordance to the culture of His day. In verse 4, Nicodemus certainly thought to be born again meant physical birth by his remark of one going back into the womb while he is old. In verse 5, Jesus proceeds to say, "Unless one is born of water and the Spirit,you cannot enter the kingdom of God". Nicodemus, who was a Pharisee, believed because he was born a Jew, he should automatically enter into the kingdom of God. However, Jesus later showed this is not enough. In verse 6, Jesus Himself interprets the water as flesh (a physical birth). Jesus says to be born of water is to be born of the flesh according to Judaism of their day ("that which is flesh is flesh"). Jesus explains the difference, telling Nicodemus you have already had a physical birth, you are in need of a second birth from the Spirit above to enter the kingdom.
Jn. 3:5 The new birth is invisible. He likens it to the wind, not from the water beneath (the flesh) but of the Spirit (literally, in the Greek, from above). He is contrasting the natural (flesh) to the supernatural (Spirit).
If one were to read through verse 8 in the context of the conversation, the emphasis is on the Spirit as the means of the new birth. it is God himself who regenerates the believer not anything of creation. The new covenant is God giving us the Spirit, himself.
In Acts 2:38, Peter said, (1) "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (2) for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." This is one of the major Scriptures used for baptismal regeneration.
(1) What does repentance mean:
In the Greek it carries the idea to change your mind. Peter is speaking to a Jewish audience that has committed the rejection of Christ as a nation previously in Matthew 12. He is telling them to repent, change their mind about Jesus. In Acts 2:40, he concludes by admonishing them, "be saved from this perverse generation". This is the same generation that Jesus called wicked and pronounced the unpardonable sin on them in Matthew 12:22-45. The public declaration of being baptized in Jesus' name meant they would publicly show their repentance and that He is the Messiah by being baptized. It was an illustration and identification of their new allegiance to Jesus as their Messiah. This response to baptism brought these individuals out from under the divine judgment on the generation that rejected Christ, that concluded with the downfall of Jerusalem starting in 66 AD and ending in 70 AD when Jerusalem fell to the Roman armies of Titus and Israel were then scattered.(2) For the remission of sins - the Greek word is eis. The word "for" is a preposition to show a relationship between two things. It can carry the meaning "in order to attain" (causative), or "as a result" (because of). This word eis is used throughout the Bible in various ways. For example: "in reference to" (25 times), "into" (7 times), "among" (18 times), "at" (20 times), "towards" (27 times), "upon" (24 times), "that" (12 times), and "for" (82 times). Its immediate context is not apparent from this Scripture alone unless it is put along side other relative Scriptures. We can then see it means "on account of", not just "for". Literally, on account of your repentance, be baptized.
Here are some examples of how it can be used in a sentence. I am going to pay him for his work, or I am going to hire him for work. The first example is a result of the past (because of); the second example is future tense (in order to obtain).
Biblical examples of the Greek preposition eis (and other words):
In Luke 5:14, Jesus cleansed the leper and said to show himself to the priest and make an offering for his cleansing. His offering was a testimony, a ceremony afterwards, it did not obtain for him his healing. The word "for" is clearly not used to acquire the cleansing but, because he had already obtained it, in reference to his cleansing.
(Strong's Concordance for 4012 peri- about, concerning, on account of, because of, around, near)
this makes it even clearer of the cause and effect. The
Matt. 12:41 They repented because of the preaching of Jonah, not in order to get the preaching of Jonah. John was beheaded for his faithfulness. Was it to obtain faithfulness or because of his faithfulness?
Christ died for our sins. Was it to obtain our sins or because of our sins? common sense in the sue of language should show the context of these words being used.
Baptism is for the remission of sins in the sense of a testimony referring to the death of Christ. It is used in reference to or concerning. Matt. 3:11, I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance. Does this mean in order to repent we are baptized or as we believe with reference to repentance?
Matt. 28:19, Go, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Is this in order to obtain the name or in reference to the name?
If Peter, in Acts 2:38, had meant to say be baptized in order to obtain salvation, he certainly could have used the Greek word hina, which means "so that" or "to the intent that", making it clear this is what he meant.
1 Cor. 10:2 tells us, "all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and the sea". Could we say the Israelites were baptized in order to obtain Moses? Was all of Israel literally put in him? The error of this interpretation is obvious. The real event took place in Egypt when they applied the blood of the lamb and were set free to leave. This is a symbolism of Moses being a type of Christ and the sea they crossed as a grave. The water never touched them but they went across to dry land to the other side while the waters became a means of judgment on Pharaohs army that tried to overtake them. Putting this in a New Testament context, baptism shows the old nature was judged when it died with Christ.
Acts. 8:26-29 We find an angel directing Philip to a clandestine meeting. (vs. 27) Philip is caught up along a caravan leaving Jerusalem. In the main chariot is the treasurer of Candace, the queen of the Ethiopians, a eunuch who has great authority. He had become a convert to Judaism and had come to Jerusalem to worship. Philip comes upon him reading Isaiah and asks a friendly question. "Do you understand what you are reading?" The eunuch admits he needs guidance and invites Philip to sit with him and read. Philip reads him Isaiah 53 and shows him that it speaks of Jesus. More than likely, Philip explained all including baptism and as they neared water the eunuch signifies his desire to be baptized. Philip states if you believe with all your heart, you may. He states he believes Jesus Christ is the Son of God and they were both immersed. Believing in Christ was prerequisite. We notice the eunuch was Jewish and all Jews needed to be baptized to be separated from the accursed generation.
In Acts 10:43-48, vs. 43, . . . through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive forgiveness of sins. In vs. 44, we see the Holy Spirit falling on the Gentiles. In vs. 46, they manifest the gifts of the Spirit after they heard the Gospel and before being baptized. In verse 47, we see they received the Holy Spirit, just as the apostles did in the beginning. It is then they are to be baptized as believers already.
In Acts 11:1-18, Peter recalls what happened to the Gentiles in the previous chapter and tells the story. In verses 16-18, he remembers the contrast of John's water baptism and Christ's Spirit baptism. In verse 18, when this happens, he states God granted the Gentiles repentance to life. They were immediately saved before being water baptized (see Acts 10:43).
Acts 15 the Jerusalem council was called because some men said that certain parts of the law needed to be obeyed. Vs. 8 Peter recounts how the gentiles heard the word of the gospel and believed back in Acts 10. God seeing their hearts acknowledged them by giving them the H.Spirit just as he did us. And making no distinction between us & them, purifying their hearts by faith vs. 11" We believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus we shall be saved in the same manner. The consistent teaching in the book of Acts and the rest of scripture by grace through faith.
Another Scripture that goes against baptism is, Acts 16:30-33. "What must I do to be saved?" The answer is, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ". No baptism is mentioned until later after they spoke the Word of the Lord to him and all who believed were baptized. This still isnt clear to those in this movement where a leader said "The observation I want to make of this passage is that this is all taking place in the middle of the night In the middle of the night you can only do what cannot wait until morning" (O.C.C. Doug Chin Mar.16, 1997). Where does Paul say do the believing tonight and be baptized to be saved in the morning. It says" believe and you will be saved" end of teaching! It actually says they went out at night to be baptized after the word was shared with his whole house. Obviously the jailer needed to believe first to bring Paul and Silas to tell his family.
In Acts 19:1-7, we find those who are baptized by John in water, later had to be baptized in Christ. Vs 2, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" They reply they have not as much heard whether there is a Holy Spirit. They should have known about the existence of the Holy Spirit from the Old Testament. John taught his disciples that the one who comes after him would baptize them in the Holy Spirit. This group was water baptized and never received the Spirit because they probably left before Jesus was identified as the Messiah. They did not know that He had died and rose again and ascended to heaven and the Holy Spirit was sent.
Meeting Paul in Ephesus (vs. 5). They were baptized in the name of Jesus (in reference to Jesus) (vs. 6-7). Paul lays hands on them showing apostolic authority and they receive the Holy Spirit. This clearly shows water baptism is different from Spirit baptism, since they were already water baptized by John. They received the Spirit not by water but after the apostles laid hands on them, affirming their belief. They then spoke in tongues and prophesied, showing Paul's apostolic authority.
Acts 22:16 This Scripture is the baptismal regenerationists trump card to prove water washes away our sins (immersion is conversion). Verses 6-16 is Paul's recollection of his conversion. If we return back to Acts 9 and look at the sequence of events of Paul's conversion, it becomes drastically clear that this passage is no friend to baptismal regeneration.
1. In Acts 9:6, Paul, after falling to the ground and hearing the Lord, says to Jesus, "Lord, what will you have me do?" (He repented of his unbelief calling Jesus his Lord and he is ready to serve him.) Paul also recollects this encounter in 1 Cor. 15:18, saying he was born out of due time, pointing to this event as the time of his regeneration. In Gal. 1:12, Paul relates to us that the Gospel he heard did not come from man but directly through the revelation of Jesus Christ. When was that revealed? When he first saw and heard Jesus on the Damascus road. We also know that Paul received his baptism by man, by Ananias (Acts 9:18). This shows that baptism is not part of the Gospel because the Gospel was received directly from God and not from man.
2. In Acts 9:11, the Lord has Ananias go to Paul where we find the Lord telling him Paul is praying, indicating that Paul's prayer, which was to Jesus, was pleasing to God. 3. In Acts 9:13-14, Ananias was against going to see Paul because he considered him an enemy of Christ. Verse 15, the Lord tells Ananias he is a chosen vessel (separated from birth Gal 1:15).4. In Acts 9:17, Paul is called a brother by Ananias, something he would never say unless Paul was already converted. Ananias tells Paul he will receive his sight and be immediately filled with the Holy Spirit.
5. In Acts 9:18, Ananias lays hands on Paul and the scales fall off from his eyes. He is later baptized, which occurs only after he has shown the evidence of repentance, faith, obedience, and prayer, as proof of his conversion. All of these are present in Paul before he was baptized. How could he have these qualities that only a saved individual can exhibit if the new birth is by baptism? (Notice in Acts 26:18, when Paul is giving his testimony to King Agrippa, he states that, "they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are set apart by faith in me". In verses 15-18, we see Paul is called a witness called to preach and is being sent to the Gentiles all before he is baptized. None of this makes sense if the new birth is from baptism. Paul clearly points out that trusting the Lord for the removal of sins is done, not by baptism, but through faith.
1 Cor. 12:13 While someone can baptize another in water we don't have the ability to put someone in the body of Christ. This is the work that only the Spirit can do. A person baptized in water is either already put in Christ or he isn't. If salvation comes by the ceremony of baptism then we have a third party involved in salvation. It no longer is the Holy Spirit and the person's decision, but another man who mediates between God and man. The only scriptural conclusion you can come to is that the baptism ceremony is an outward show of a person's identification with Christ's death, burial and resurrection, testifying of the work of God that has already taken place. This is why the word likeness is used. We also find baptism is referred to as a death but it is never said to be a birth. Going down in baptism means our sin nature was judged and we are resurrected into a new life.
1 Peter 3:21-22 ". . .And this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also . . ." (Discipleship Magazine pg. 22 Winter 1990) This is taken from the NIV, which is a paraphrase (thought for thought translation ) which does not clarify the literal translation (word for word) position of 1 Peter 3:21, which actually says in full, "there is also an antitype which now saves us - baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh but the answer of a good conscience toward God through the resurrection of Jesus Christ."
". . . when once divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared in which a few, that is eight souls, were saved through water". "There is an antitype which now saves us - baptism" This epistle is written to a Jewish audience in which Peter parallels Noahs ark to baptism. The word saved by water in verse 20 does not mean the water saved. It accurately reads saved through water. The waters were sent as a judgment on an ungodly, unbelieving world. The flood washed away the evil civilization that surrounded him, and "corresponding to that," baptism symbolizes that we have been cleansed of our sins. How? By turning to God through faith.
Was it the flood save Noah? According to Heb. 11:6-7. Noah was obedient, having faith in God by building the ark. This is what had him obey to build the boat! By going in the ark they were saved physically. It protected and carried them through the judgment. They were saved physically because they were already obedient by faith before entering. (Gen. 6:8, Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord, 2 Peter 2:5, He was a preacher of righteousness.)
This is typology. Peter used the expression "a like figure" or "a similar figure". The Greek word is antitupon, meaning a corresponding type, something resembling another (Thayer's Lexicon). Vines, in his Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, defines the word as a corresponding type. He says "It is not a case of type or antitype, but of two types. That in Genesis, the type and baptism, the corresponding type. (Vol. 2 pg. 96)
Baptism then resembles the ark as a corresponding type pointing to Christ. Those who enter Christ are delivered from judgment. The likeness that baptism shows is our union with Christ. We are carried with Him from death to a resurrection. Just as Noah was carried safely through the waters, in this manner, baptism now saves. Peter tells us baptism is for an answer of a good conscience towards God. It is not for the putting away or the removal of the filth of the flesh. 1 Pet. 3:20, the word filth is not upon the flesh but of the flesh The Greek word rupos is found nowhere else in the Bible. The word rupoo is used in Rev. 22:11. He that is filthy, let him be filthy still. This is referring to sin. So this Scripture actually teaches against the water washing away the sin that is in the inner nature of man. Only Gods applicator the blood of Christ can remove sins (Heb. 9:14 and 10:22). The water itself cannot make one a clean sinner, neither does the ritual itself save. If it did then it would be like circumcision for the Jews and as Christians we would be saved by a work. How can water get inside someone and change their inner nature. The Bible is clear we are born of God of the Spirit, if born of water than it is not of God, but creation.
The baptism that truly saves is not from water but the baptism by the Holy Spirit. When one puts his faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior this occurs. Paul refers to this baptism in I Corinthians 12:13 where he says, "By one Spirit we were all baptized into one body." Not by one water! We are saved by the one who created the water, not by or through creation. It is God who is the source and the means to salvation.
Articles are taken from the spiral bound book International Church of Christ (click> on books)