Must Baptism Be Done “For The Remission Of Sins” To Be Scriptural?

June 10, 2021

We see from many passages that baptism is essential to salvation, for example Mark 16:16, John 3:5, Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16, Gal 3:26-27, and I Pet 3:20-21. Look those up and see for yourself.

And when you look up Acts 2:38, you will see it states “for the remission of sins” as the reason to be baptized. Sometimes the Bible (God) tells us to do things without telling us why. In those cases we must be willing to trust God and obey Him even if we don’t understand why or even agree with the why. But if God tells us why (the reason) we should do something, then we should do it for that reason. Let me illustrate: If one can see from Matt 19:9 that a divorce is unscriptural (unapproved of by God) if it is not done for the specified reason (“for fornication”), then by the same logic one ought to be able to see from Acts 2:38 that a baptism is unscriptural (unapproved of by God) if it is not done for the specified reason (“for the remission of sins”). See the parallel? If one can see the former, why not the latter?

Just a cursory reading of I Cor 13:3 and Matt 6:1,5,16 would tell us that if we are doing what God said, but for the wrong reason or motive, then we are not really obeying God. Doing something that just happens to coincide with God’s command, but for our own reasons, is not really submitting to God’s will, is it? That would be going about to establish our own righteousness, instead of submitting to the righteousness of God (Rom 10:3), right?

Now let’s move back to the topic of water baptism and the reason the Bible gives for why we should do it. The wording of Acts 2:38 ("Repent and be baptized … for the remission of sins") not only proves baptism is essential to the forgiveness of sins, but it also specifies the reason a person should be baptized. Baptizing as "an outward sign of an inward grace" (meaning, to show you are already saved) is no more scriptural baptism than young children playing baptism while they are out swimming.

I was immersed/baptized when I was 10 years old, but when I learned baptism must be “for the remission of sins,” I was baptized again at the age of 20 – this time for the right reason. So even though I thought I was saved between 10 and 20, I really wasn’t. I had never really obeyed Acts 2:38 for the reason given. Have you ever been baptized for the remission of sins?

Baptism is to be done "for the remission of sins," at least according to God it is. If you’ve been baptized, but not "for the remission of sins," then you’ve never really received the remission of sins. You need to be rebaptized, just like the disciples in Acts 19:1-5 were rebaptized, just for a different reason. You have to be baptized for the right reason to achieve God’s intended results. Peter would exhort you to "be baptized … for the remission of sins."

hear Bible Crossfire Sunday nights at 8:04 central on SiriusXM radio Family Talk 131 or at BibleCrossfire.com

Water Baptism Is Essential To Salvation

June 3, 2021

On Bible Crossfire on April 17, 2016 we were discussing the fact that Doctrine is important and a listener called in to question the Bible truth that we have to be baptized to be saved.

The Bible does teach a person must be baptized in water to be saved. To see this is so, let’s simply look at what the passages that tell us the purpose of baptism actually say. Doesn’t that seem fair?

Mark 16:16

Mark 16:16 reads, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be condemned.” This verse teaches baptism is necessary to salvation just like the sentence, “He that eateth and digesteth his food shall live, but he that does not eat shall die” teaches one must digest his food in order to live physically. The little word “and” shows it takes both belief and baptism to receive salvation from sin. Some say the second part of Mark 16:16 doesn’t mention baptism, and therefore baptism must not be necessary. But there was no need to mention baptism in the second part; if a person doesn’t believe, he is not qualified to be baptized anyway.

John 3:5

John 3:5 says “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Water baptism is the only thing of spiritual significance in the New Testament that involves water. Rom 6:4,6 shows we begin our “walk in newness of life” and “our old man is crucified” (phrases analogous to the new birth) at the point of our baptism in water. So John 3:5 must be talking about water baptism, and therefore teaches unless one is baptized in water “he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”

Acts 2:38

Acts 2:38 reads, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” So both the remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Ghost are conditioned upon repentance and baptism. The primary meaning of the Greek word translated “for” in this verse (“eis”) is “into.” A quick glance at a Greek concordance will demonstrate that this word is translated the vast majority of time into words such as “into,” “unto,” and “to,” indicating direction towards something. So this passage teaches baptism is in the direction toward the remission (forgiveness) of sins. That then proves baptism is necessary to the forgiveness of one’s sins.

Acts 22:16

In Acts 22:16, we read, “arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” So Acts 22:16 shows the washing away of sins (by the blood of Christ, Rev 1:5) is dependent upon baptism. Another thing it shows is that Paul’s sins were not forgiven at the point of his initial faith on the road to Damascus as recorded in Acts 9:5-6, but instead they were forgiven at the time of his baptism. Salvation by “faith only” is therefore disproven.

I Peter 3:21

I Peter 3:21 reads, “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” This verse argues that the physical salvation of eight souls through water prefigures our spiritual salvation by water baptism. It does not teach baptism is the earning basis for our salvation (the death of Christ is the basis), but it does teach our salvation is conditioned upon baptism. The verse plainly says “baptism doth also now save us.” What do we have to gain by arguing against it?

Galatians 3:26-27

Gal 3:26-27 reads “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” The word “For” that begins verse 27 means “to introduce the reason.” Therefore Gal 3:27 shows the reason the Galatians were “all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus,” is that “as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” So you can’t become a child of God by faith without being baptized.

Colossians 2:11-13

In Col 2:11-13 we can read the phrases, “in putting off … the sins … Buried with him in baptism … having forgiven you all trespasses.” So both verses 11 and 13 are talking about the forgiveness of sins, and right in the middle of that, verse 12 then is obviously telling us when that forgiveness of sins takes place (at baptism), or else Paul changed the subject from verse 11 to verse 12, and then back again in verse 13. So Col 2:11-13 taken in context is another passage proving the forgiveness of sins occurs when one is baptized.

I Corinthians 1:12-13

Another passage that proves baptism is necessary for salvation is I Cor 1:12-13. Paul teaches here that for a person to be “of Paul,” Paul would have had to have been crucified for him, and that person would have had to have been baptized in the name of Paul. This implies that for a person to be “of Christ” (that is, to be a Christian), Christ would have had to have been crucified for him, and that person would have had to have been baptized in the name of Christ. There is simply no way around this. I Cor 1:12-13 proves that to be of Christ, to be a Christian, one must be baptized in the name of Christ.

Conclusion

We understand that Jesus died for all, but not all are going to be saved. Most recognize those that are going to be saved are those that qualify themselves by meeting the conditions of salvation laid down by Christ. We have just proven submitting to water baptism is one of those essential conditions to be met, just like faith and repentance are.

It May Have Been Good In The Strict Old World, But Not In 2021

May 27, 2021

A guy I study with wrote to me via email on 5-13-21 about Matt 19:9 “It may have been good in the strict old world, but not in 2021.” I suspect a lot of the false “Bible teaching” out there on Divorce And Remarriage is because of the attitude expressed by that quote. Matt 19:9 is not really that hard to understand, but many (even in churches) don’t follow it because what it enjoins “may have been good in the strict old world, but not in 2021.” I suspect the same attitude affects many other issues …

I know it does the gay marriage issue. A religious tract (I picked up at a gay church) justified Homosexuality by saying “These are just a few of the biblical views that are totally different from the way we see things today.” I think deep down the gay church knows what the Bible says about homosexuality, but many of them think that teaching “may have been good in the strict old world, but not in 2021.”

And I am pretty sure this approach is behind a lot of congregations that now allow women to preach in the church service (I Cor 14:34-35) when no way they would have 100 years back. Has this attitude also affected Christians on the modest dress issue (I Tim 2:9-10, Gen 3:7,21, Matt 5:28)? What about Tit 2:5 and mothers working outside the home? Perhaps also the Bible’s covering / long hair teachings (I Cor 11:2-16)? I wonder just how many other issues this ideology has influenced?

The Bible was not meant to regulate or dictate cultural matters:

· Jesus said the Holy Spirit would guide the apostles “into all truth” (John 16:13), not etiquette.

· I Cor 14:37 says “the things I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord,” not suggestions because of culture.

· The New Testament wasn’t intended for just the 1st century; instead, it was written to apply throughout the rest of earth history (I Peter 1:25 – “the word of the Lord endureth for ever”).

hear Bible Crossfire Sunday nights at 8:04 central on SiriusXM radio Family Talk 131 or at BibleCrossfire.com

Doing The Best We Can At Singing

May 14, 2021

It seems many Christians think “doing the best we can” at religious singing means making the singing as “pleasing to human ears” as possible. Does anybody know a New Testament passage that teaches such is important in the least to our singing? Instead of making our singing the most beautiful to men, shouldn’t we concentrate on making it the most pleasing to God? After all, our singing “is not for man, but for … God” (I Chron 29:1).

Without doubt, what is pleasing to God in our singing is if we are doing it “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). “In truth” in this case would mean singing words that teach scriptural truth (John 17:17), not false doctrine. Since we are teaching those around us in our singing (Col 3:16), we had better be teaching them the truth (John 8:31-32). “In spirit” in this case would denote meaning what you are singing. Three illustrations …

A very conscientious Christian friend of mine recently texted me that he felt guilty for leading a song that talks about praying to God “night to night” when his “prayer life was not good.” I think he really gets what I am saying here. His confession inspired me to write this article. The goal is not to sound pretty to man, but to mean what you say/sing (Eph 4:25).

Another example: there are a lot of songs we sing that talk about kneeling in prayer, but how many Christians actually get on their knees to pray with any regularity (Mark 1:40, 10:17, Acts 7:60, 9:40, 20:36, 21:5)? If the song says “I kneel in prayer,” then I had better be doing that sometimes. Practice what you preach/sing (Matt 23:3 “for they say, and do not”).

And have you noticed how many of our songs talk about trying to reach the lost? As enthusiastically as we sing about it, you would think the whole “church” was going “every where preaching the word” (Acts 8:1,4, Matt 28:19-20), but is that really anywhere close to being the case? Do what you advocate/sing (Matt 23:4).

One final thought: Mal 2:13ff would demonstrate doing the best you can in singing on Sunday would mean living the godly life Monday through Saturday. God does not accept our worship even if we are technically doing the correct things in worship – if our daily morality is lacking.

Is Taking Bankruptcy Scriptural?

May 6, 2021

In the April, 1996 edition of “Faith And Facts,” an article stated about Foy Wallace, Jr., “Wallace declared bankruptcy shortly after his return to Oklahoma City. While in 1996, this does not seem such a great matter, it is important to note that it was considered almost sinful in 1934.” I consider both this quote and what our brother Wallace did very unfortunate. The Bible doesn’t just teach bankruptcy is “almost sinful,” but absolutely sinful, whether it is 1934, 1996, or today in 2021.

In a context of paying money (verse 7), Romans 13:8 says “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another …. The Old Testament taught the same thing in Psalms 37:21 by saying, “The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again ….” Taking bankruptcy that allows a person not to have to pay their debts is in effect stealing and therefore violates passages like Ephesians 4:28, “Let him that stole steal no more …. It doesn’t matter that the government makes it legal (Acts 5:29); it is a transgression of God’s word, therefore sinful (I John 3:4).

Bankruptcy also violates the following two passages: I Thessalonians 4:11-12 “And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing” and Matthew 7:12 “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”

A number of Christians have taken bankruptcy. If they won’t repent, they need to be withdrawn from, because they have demonstrated covetousness (I Corinthians 5:11). Since they will not meet their financial obligations/commitments, as such they are “covenant breakers” and therefore will be lost eternally (Romans 1:31-32).

James Bales and “I, not the Lord” in I Cor 7:12

April 29, 2021

Mr. Bales’ Argument On I Corinthians 7:12

James Bales’ position was I Cor 7:15 (“but if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace”) allows another cause for divorce, scriptural remarriage following, other than divorce for fornication, this second cause being desertion. The first reply to this assertion is usually that Matt 19:9, because it uses the word “except,” shows that fornication is the only scripturally cause, thereby ruling out any other cause, including desertion. Parallels are usually made to John 3:5 and similar passages. Our brother Bales’ response to this reply is that Matt 19:9 is not addressing marriages involving one or more non-Christians, that it is only addressing marriages where both of the partners are “under covenant” to God. Mr. Bales’ proof for this assertion is given as I Cor 7:10-12. He understands (I think correctly) the phrase in I Cor 7:10, “I command, yet not I, but the Lord” is referring to the fact the Lord gave the command “Let not the wife depart from her husband” directly while on earth (presumably recorded in Matt 19:6-9), while the phrase in I Cor 7:12, “But to the rest speak I, not the Lord” is introducing an answer to a Corinthian question that was not directly addressed by the Lord while on the earth. Mr. Bales then reasons that since verse 12 begins a discussion of mixed marriages, therefore Matt 19:6-9 must not address mixed marriages, and cannot be used to refute his doctrine that I Cor 7:15 allows another scriptural cause for divorce and remarriage.

The Correct Understanding Of I Corinthians 7:12-16

The truth is I Cor 7:10-11 does not specify marriages involving two Christians only, it speaks to all marriages. Verses 12-15 do not show Matt 19:9 does not teach concerning mixed marriages, but shows Jesus in Matt 19:9 (or at any other time) did not specifically state what the Christian is to do if his spouse (an unbeliever would be assumed) leaves him. Paul answers that question in verse 15, “let him depart.” In other words, “Don’t go to the point of casting your pearls before swine in trying to convince him otherwise; even if the marriage is restored, who knows if you would be able to convert him to Christ anyway (verse 16)? If you (the believer) couldn’t do anything to help it, you have not sinned; it is not your problem” Verses 12-14, which precede Paul’s answer in verse 15, are Paul’s way of keeping the Corinthians from getting the wrong idea from his answer given in verse 15. Before giving his answer to the question, Paul first wants to make sure the Corinthians did not get the impression from his answer that a Christian could initiate the departing himself.

I might do something similar if my little daughter were to ask me if she could play outside. Before answering her question directly, I would probably precede the answer with, “now let me make this clear; do not go near the road. If your ball goes near the road, don’t go get it; come get Daddy and he will get it. Don’t go near the road!” Then I would finally answer, “Yes, you may go play outside.”

The question raised by the Corinthians would have been something like, “What if I’m married to an unbeliever, and he leaves me, would my desire/obligation to try to convert him demand that I make never ending efforts to convince him to come back to me? Just how far must I go?” That is the question that Jesus does not directly address in the Matt 19:9 type passages. Before Paul gives his answer to that question (such answer found in verse 15), he first wants to make sure the readers don’t get the wrong idea and think he is giving them permission to depart. So he precedes his answer with the warning that they may not leave their partner. The question and answer might have gone something like the following: “Paul, what do we do if our spouse leaves us? How far must we go in pursuing the continuation of the relationship in hopes of converting them? Corinthians, let me first make it clear that you must not ever leave your spouse, even if that spouse is not a Christian. But if they insist upon leaving you, that is not your fault/problem. Who knows if you would have been able to convert them anyway?”

So the thing I Cor 7:12 indicates Matt 19:6-9 does not address is not mixed marriages per se, but what must be done if my spouse leaves me against my will? Matt 19:6-9 does not explain the answer to that question in detail, but I Cor 7:12-16 does.

Conclusion

The bottom line is that both Matt 19:9 and I Cor 7:10 address all, not just two Christians, paired in marriage. They therefore demand, contrary to “Bales’ Doctrine” (same with Homer Hailey), that partners break up unscriptural (adulterous) marriages when becoming a Christian (anytime when repenting).

Backbiting

April 22, 2021

Perhaps one of the sins Christians commit more than any other is the sin of backbiting. The last part of Proverbs 17:9 reads, “he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.” How many times can you remember good friendships (or even kin relationships, Psalms 50:20) being torn asunder because of talk going on behind people’s backs?

Do you ever bite (talk bad about) people behind their backs? The Bible says in Proverbs 10:18 “he that uttereth a slander, is a fool.” We need to put away all evil speaking, and be “kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven” us (Ephesians 4:31-32).

The way to stop one who “privily slandereth his neighbor” (Psalms 101:5) is to stop listening to him (Proverbs 17:4). Don’t take stock in what a person says about another behind his back. Remember, if Ralph is talking to you about Fred behind Fred’s back, then you can rest assured Ralph is also talking about you behind your back. What do you do if you find out someone is speaking evil about you? Do you return the evil? No, you return good for evil (I Corinthians 4:13, Romans 12:19-21).

Backbiting was condemned by Psalms 15:3. Remember that whisperers, backbiters, and revilers are worthy of death; they shall not inherit the kingdom of God (Romans 1:28-32, I Corinthians 6:10).

The Appearance Of Unity

April 15, 2021

Many passages teach God desires unity among the believers. One such passage, John 17:20-23, goes so far as to tie our success in converting people, at least to some extent, to this unity. Notice Jesus teaches this connection in verse 21b as it reads, “that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.”

Unfortunately, unity among believers has not been widely achieved. In the face of this division, and knowing the connection that Jesus made in John 17:21 between unity and our success at converting others to Christ, many Christians think hiding our differences is the next best thing to unity, that though we are divided, if we can somehow hide this from our neighbors, then we can still have the success in converting our neighbors that Jesus conditioned upon actual unity in John 17:21. The only problem with this point of view is that God desires actual unity, not the appearance of unity. Jesus never promised the appearance of unity would help us convert the world; only actual unity will help.

There are at least three categories regarding division and our religious differences. The first one is perfect unity. This is of course what God desires (I Corinthians 1:10), and is therefore possible to obtain. It is rarely achieved however. This is similar to the fact that God desires each Christian to live perfectly, without sin (I John 2:1). It is therefore possible to live without sin; it is just that no man, except Jesus, has ever achieved it (I John 1:8,10).

Lacking perfect unity, most denominations have taken another course of action. They have become content with and accepted their division/differences as okay. This is a violation of passages such as Eph 4:3 that teach us to strive for unity.

That brings us to the third category. Knowing there are differences, many Christians are taking the correct action; they are striving for unity. But of these, many think it is God’s will that we hide our differences in the mean-while from non-Christians. They evidently think John 17:20-23 teaches that, lacking true unity, covering up our differences will help us in trying to convert the lost. They usually justify their actions with old adages such as, “we shouldn’t air our dirty laundry before unbelievers,” or “we need to put our best foot forward.” But hiding our differences, covering up our disunity, is dishonest (Rev 21:8), and hypocritical (Matt 23:3). Jesus did not teach in John 17 that the appearance of unity will help in our teaching the world; only true unity will help that.

Lacking true unity, God does not desire us to hide our divisions. Acts 15 records a debate between Christians, trying to settle their differences/division, and God put it right smack in the middle of the New Testament for the whole world to see, including non-Christians. If we are not united, then it is better for non-Christians to see us striving for unity, rather than for them to find out later we were not honest with them, that we were hiding something from them. Our non-Christian prospects need to know what they are getting into, if and when they choose to obey the gospel. It is better for non-Christians to see us discussing our differences, trying to obtain unity, than for them to think we are just content with and accept our divisions as okay.

I am not saying we should flaunt our differences unnecessarily, but I am saying it is dishonest to cover up our differences. Jesus did not teach in John 17:20-23 that the appearance of unity would help us convert the world, he taught that only true unity would help in that regard. God desires actual unity, not the appearance of it.

Is Israel Still God’s Chosen Nation?

April 8, 2021

A parable the point of which is to show the Jews would no longer be God’s chosen people is found in Matt 21:33-46. In the story a landowner plants a vineyard, lets it out to farmers, and moves far away (33). The landowner represents God and the farmers represent the Jews (45). When harvest time comes, the owner of the vineyard sends servants to collect his share of the fruit, but the farmers beat, kill, and stone these servants (35). These servants represent the prophets (Luke 11:47) God sent to the Jews through the centuries, and how the Jews mistreated such prophets (Luke 13:34). Lastly the landowner sends his son to collect, but the farmers kill him also. This son represents God’s son Jesus Christ of course.

Jesus asks his audience in verse 40 “When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?” His audience correctly answers “He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen ….” Jesus reaffirms this conclusion by saying in verse 43 “The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” Precipitated by their longtime disobedience, with the final straw being the killing of the son of God (Matt 23:37-38), the kingdom of God would be taken from the Jews and given to the Gentiles.

This doesn’t mean Gentiles are children of God by physical birth (like the Jews used to be). Instead it means anybody can become a child of God (and heirs of the promise to Abraham) through faith by being baptized into Christ (Gal 3:26-29), and that most of those who end up doing so are Gentiles (Acts 28:28). Now “he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” (Rom 2:28-29). Now one is of the “Israel of God,” not because of physical birth and circumcision, but by being a “new creature” (Gal 6:16). Exod 19:5-6 said about the Jews “ye shall be a peculiar … people … a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.” Of course this was always conditioned upon the Jews’ obedience (Exod 19:5). Their disobedience would lead to them being “plucked from off the land” (Deut 28:58,63). Now that the Jews have lost their status, I Pet 2:5,9 says the exact same thing about Christians “ye … are … a spiritual house, an holy priesthood … a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people.” Christians are God’s chosen people now; it doesn’t matter anymore if one is Jew or Gentile (Acts 10:34-35). Spiritual birth is now the entrance to the kingdom (John 3:3,5).

Accepting Jesus Christ As Your Personal Saviour?

April 1, 2021

Many churches teach that to be saved, all a person has to do is “accept Jesus Christ as his personal savior.” Assuming they mean the same as believing “with all thine heart” (Acts 8:37), accepting Christ as your personal savior is a good thing. The problem is “accepting Christ” is not all a person has to do to be saved.

To show this, we can substitute “accept Jesus Christ as personal savior” for “believeth” in Mark 16:16a. The passage would read “He that accepts Jesus Christ as his personal savior and is baptized shall be saved.”

The truth is accepting Christ and obeying Christ are both required. Talking about Jesus, Hebrews 5:9b reads “he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” Matthew 7:21 proves the same as it says “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” Acts 10:35 teaches “he that … worketh righteousness, is accepted with” God. James 2:24 says “by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” Revelation 20:11-15 reads “they were judged every man according to their works.” Obedience is required to become saved (Acts 2:38), and obedience is required to stay saved (Revelation 2:10b).

Galatians 5:6 teaches that what avails is “faith which worketh by love.” We must have all three attributes. Leaving off faith won’t work, even if we possess the other two attributes. Neither will leaving off working. And neither will leaving off love.