I HAVE OFTEN heard folks tell their friends, “You need to be baptized.”
It’s certainly true that immersion is necessary (Acts 8:38; Rom. 6:3; 1 Pet. 3:21; cf. 2 Kgs. 5:13-14).
Despite what our denominational neighbors say to the contrary, baptism is essential for salvation (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Titus 3:5).
But I fear that, at least at times, we’ve not said nearly enough when we tell people, “You need to be baptized…”
Hear me out.
Simply getting in the water is insufficient. Yes, I said insufficient.
If there was something miraculous or holy about the water in and of itself, we could just strong-arm folks up to the baptistry and force them under. But there is no inherent power in the water itself. Water is water–whether it’s in a baptistry, a swimming pool, a jacuzzi, a pond, a creek, a river or an ocean.
An individual has to be buried (Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12), but sometimes well-intentioned church folk stop there at immersion in water and in so doing, stop short of their responsibility (cf. Mat. 28:19-20).
They push the action of faith without first properly and fully emphasizing the person of faith. They fixate on the water without focusing upon the One who mandates the water in the first place.
But beloved, without Christ baptism is simply a bath; the removal of the filth of the flesh (1 Pet. 3:21).
Christ is the center, the beginning and the end, and He’s why water is important in the first place!
Through the years I’ve watched us (i.e., the church) baptize folks in numbers I cannot recall, both stateside as well as on foreign soil. And I’ve also watched many of those folks who went down into the water leave the church soon thereafter because even though they got the water right, they never got the Savior right. They heard, “You need to be baptized…” and “You’ll be lost in hell if you don’t get baptized.” They were told and heard “water” and perhaps wanted an insurance policy against eternal fire (Mat. 25:46a).
Our Baptist friends sometimes accuse us of what they call, “water salvation.” I suspect on occasion, they may actually be right.
Christ is everything!
- We are saved by Christ. 1 Tim. 1:15
- We are saved by faith in Christ. John 8:24; cf. Jas. 2:17, 24
- We are saved by repenting of sins committed against Christ. Acts 2:38; 3:19; 17:30-31; cf. Mat. 12:41; Jonah 3:10
- We are saved by confessing Christ. Mat. 10:32-33; Rom. 10:10
- We are saved by baptism into Christ. Gal. 3:27
- We are saved by the name and authority of Christ. Acts 4:12
- We are saved by the words of Christ. John 6:63
- We are saved by the works of Christ. John 20:30-31
- We are saved by the blood of Christ. Rom. 5:9; Eph. 1:7
- We are saved by the death of Christ. Rom. 5:10a
- We are saved by the perfect life of Christ. Rom. 5:10b
- We are saved by the resurrection of Christ. Rom. 4:25
- We are saved by hope in Christ. Rom. 8:24
- We are saved by calling on the name of Christ (i.e., baptism). Acts 22:16; 2:21; cf. Mat. 7:21
- And at baptism God adds us to the body/church of Christ. Acts 2:41, 47; 5:14; 11:24; cf. Rom. 16:16
Let me say it here–and please don’t wrest my words out of their context. It’s not the water in and of itself that saves. It is Christ who saves and He graciously does so through obedient faith that accepts His word and goes down into the water (Mark 16:15-16; Eph. 2:8-9).
In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand