October 29, 2006
Mark 16:15-16
15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.

If you don’t believe, why be baptized?

‘He who plugs it in and turns it on will be saved; but he who does not plug it in will be condemned.’

I know. You’ve probably seen this several times, but let’s illustrate this logic as a computer would.

if (believes && baptized)
spiritualStatus = saved;
spiritualStatus = condemned;

Using the AND operator (&&), both conditions must be true before the expression “ spiritualStatus = saved” is executed. If one is false, the code is not executed. Instead, the expression “ spiritualStatus = condemned” is executed. First the computer looks at the condition “believes.” If it is false, then the computer doesn’t care to look at the next condition since they must both be true. If “believes” tests true, then it will look at “baptism.” Again, both conditions must be true. The expressions in these “if statements” will never execute:

if (false && false)
spiritualStatus = saved;
if (true && false)
spiritualStatus = saved;
if (false && true)
spiritualStatus = saved;

But this will execute every time:

if (true && true)
spiritualStatus = saved;

In versus 17-18 we read of the abilities the early Christians had to prove God’s word at that time until “that which is perfect has come” (1 Corinthians 13:8-10).

1 Corinthians 13:8-10
8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

What was prophesied in part? Obviously the word of God, the Bible. But now it is no longer in part but sufficient!

2 Timothy 3:16-17
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Now let’s continue on baptism.

Acts 2:37-38
37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”
38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

In verse 37 they ask “what shall we do?” To do something is to act on something, but why and for what reason were they wanting to do something? To be saved? If they had already believed in Jesus at this point, why do more if they were already saved? They had not yet repented. Peter did not say they had to believe because obviously they had already believed at this point. He said repent and be baptized. If baptism was not essential, why not say repent and believe? Well they already believed and confessed at this point, they accepted the truth that Jesus was the Son of God because they were pricked in the heart, so obviously that wasn’t enough. “Even the demons believe—and tremble!” (James 2:19).

James 2:19
You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!

Would they believe that Jesus is the Son of God? Certainly, they were terrified as we see in Matthew 8 when the swine ran off the cliff. Peter didn’t tell them to say the sinner’s prayer because no such prayer exists in Biblical truth.

Acts 2:21
“Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

If this is what they had to do, why did they ask “what shall we do” later in the chapter? What about belief or repentance? We need to DO what is required of us.

Matthew 7:21-23
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”

Acts 22:16
And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

Paul was baptized. How do you wash away your sins without baptism? Why wasn’t repentance mentioned? What about belief? Confession? Clearly he had already done these, but clearly also it wasn’t enough.

1 Peter 3:18-22
18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, 19 by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, 20 who formerly were disobedient, when once the 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. 21 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, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him.

Is Peter trying to tells us that we’re saved by baptism? Yes! By baptism only? No!, but he does make clear that is an important step to reach salvation.

Acts 10:42-48
42 “And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. 43 To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”
44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. 45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.
Then Peter answered, 47 “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.

In verse 43, Peter says “whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.” Is Peter contradicting what he said earlier in Acts 2? He left out repentance. He also left out confession, but he’s not contradicting himself. However, he is referring to an active and obedient belief.

I’m sure the people of Israel in Numbers 21:4-9 believed that the bronze serpent would save them, but they had to act somehow by looking at it. Let’s say you were one who had been bitten at that time. Would you believe that the bronze serpent would save you? Sure, why not, easy enough, that’s the first step. Then you would have to go to the bronze serpent no? What if you were some miles away? What if your leg was somehow disabled by the snake? What if you were bed-ridden even before the snake bit you? What if you had to cross a river? What if you got stuck in a storm? Maybe if you could see it that far away, that would be okay, but unlikely. Would you not make an effort to go to it? Certainly you would right? So you go to it, that’s the second step. Is that enough? No, now you have to look at it. What if it’s enclosed? You would have to go in and look at it right? What if you died from the poison before you got a chance to look at it? What if you were killed in an accident from some stampeding animals? What if someone moved it? So you go to look at it, this is the third and final step. You’ve been healed from the poison at this point, you will live.

So... what if? Concerning the steps of salvation, we could ‘what if’ from now till eternity, but that won’t save us. Belief is a single step. Don’t go all that way and look at the wrong serpent, or in our case, be baptized for the wrong reason.

Romans 6:1-5
1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.

If we’re baptized into Jesus’ death, but baptism is not essential, why did Jesus have to die? Certainly His blood had to be shed, but why be baptized into Hid death? So we could also be raised with Him to life eternal.

Galatians 3:26-29
26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Ephesians 5:22-24
22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.

Colossians 1:24
24 I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church,

Acts 20:28
Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.

If the church is the body, and Christ is the Savior His body, the church, do we not enter into that body through baptism? According to what you read in the Bible, Certainly we do, but not baptism only, it is simply the last step that so many choose to ignore. Why? Is baptism really that difficult or hard to initiate? Why not ignore repentance or confession? Belief, repentance, confession, and baptism are all required after one has heard the Gospel.

John 3:5-6
5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

In John 3:5, people will often times associate water with physical birth. If this were true, it is therefore a must to enter the kingdom of God correct? If indeed it is a must, and would be since Jesus has said thus, the unborn don’t have a chance since they have not yet been born of water. In simple conclusion, this refers to the spiritual rebirth of baptism, and thus baptism is required to enter the kingdom of God.