Mark Zaveson sent me an e-mail this week that centered on a discussion concerning the Bible and the accuracy of the scriptures. The authorâ€™s intent was to review and promote a book whose author attacked the common historical revisionism that is around concerning Jesus specifically and the Bible in general.
It is commonly taught that all you need to do to be saved is to offer a simple acknowledgement of the shed blood of Christ for your sins or an acclamation of faith, while the acts of repentance and particularly immersion may be left off altogether as not obligatory.
“Repent, and be baptized, every one of you in the name (by the authority) of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
If Peter’s call was authorized by Jesus, what exactly was being endorsed by the Son of God? Did Peter or one of the other apostles mention some other avenue to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit in some other place in the NT?
How many believers on that Pentecost were commanded to repent and be immersed under Peter’s statement? Certainly every one of those men present who had pondered the question, “Men and brothers, what shall we do?” must have been included. And beyond that, in every one of the nine detailed conversions listed in the book of the Acts of the Apostles the indication is that all believers were told the same things, and all were to be immersed “to wash away (your) sins,” “to be saved,” and as Paul later put it, to get “into Christ” or “to put on Christ.”
With these simple facts noted, how many of us today still believe that we can get away with leaving off parts and pieces of commandments and yet be found pleasing to God?
We can easily discount both repentance and immersion – one is dismissed as inconvenient and the other unnecessary. But, we should know that no command of God however troublesome to us can be safely or long ignored.
If we do not repent we are lost. If we are not immersed, but still call ourselves Christians, we are pretenders. And pretenders have no status. Jesus will not recognize us (Matthew 7:21). How can we be in a covenant relationship, and yet be completely off the reservation? How can we be “of Christ?” He said, “Repent and be baptized.” No one seriously believes that you can be a Christian without repentance; and no one, except perhaps a Universalist or a serious Calvinist (a follower of the doctrines of men) would argue for such contrary things. Jesus said, “Except you repent, you shall all likewise perish.” How many of the unrepentant will perish, as indicated by the word “all?”
Dr. Billy Graham is now quite elderly and in poor health. In time he will go to meet his God, as will all; and his remains will be laid to rest alongside those of his recently departed wife. He has been a counselor to presidents and the mighty in this life. But, he doesn’t believe baptism is necessary for his salvation. He wrote that it is “barely mentioned” in the NT. I count 110 references, not including any mentioning John. What (I wonder) would qualify as barely mentioned? Yet if Jesus and his apostles had only once said, be baptized and be saved, would that not have been sufficient? Jesus said, “My word will judge you.” Is that an insignificant statement, as he said it just once? Was he kidding? What do you believe? We know what Dr. Graham believes, he has made it plain over the years. He teaches that baptism is unnecessary for salvation. Who will stand with you in judgment: Dr. Graham or Christ?
We’ve stated this before; and we’re not in any danger of hurting ourselves by learning too much. The late W. Curtis Porter explained things this way. “If Jesus had said, ‘He that believes and is baptized shall receive a Ford Thunderbird,’ then no one would have ever had a problem understanding him.”
Did Jesus, the apostles, and the recorders of the NT all equate baptism with belief and salvation, or did they (all of them) misspeak? Is baptism in fact equated with salvation in both Acts 2:38 and in Mark 16:16 and everywhere else that it is mentioned?
How safe do you suppose you can be without being obedient to God’s authorized plan?
The prophet of God said this to Paul, “And now, what are you waiting for? Get up. Be immersed and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”
The jailer in Philippi later asked that same Paul and his companion Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” What was he told to do, and what did he end up doing?
“How does it read to you?”