Question from a Site Viewer
I just finished reading your commentary on 1 Peter 3:21 and agree on several points. From what I gather you believe that salvation is not based upon baptism but on belief on Christ and that the water is not what saves us. For the most part I agree but am still confused a little. I gather that you believe baptism is necessary but not for our salvation. Is that correct? If so what do you say or believe about certain denominations that do not preach the necessity of baptism at all? What if one is only a believer and is never baptized? Would this make them not obedient? I appreciate your time to answer these questions of mine.
Question from a Site Viewer
Thank you for your question. You understand our position rightly in that we do not believe that baptism is necessary for salvation. Baptism always in Scripture followed salvation. You also understand our position rightly that we believe that baptism is part of our obedience to God. I have never understood how any teacher can read the Bible and come away with a view that baptism is not necessary at all. The command of Jesus was for us to go into all the world and make disciples, baptizing them in the triune name of our God (Matthew 28:19). Is this command no longer valid? Can we be followers of Christ and not obey His commands? Peter’s command at Pentecost at the start of the church was for the people to be baptized (Acts 2:38). Is there a reason why we would have a different command today for the church? Paul even baptized some disciples who previously had only been baptized in John’s baptism (Acts 19:3-5). Paul thought this was important. Do we have a better understanding today than Paul did? Paul’s statements in 1 Corinthians 1:13-17 indicate that in Corinth, which was on his second missionary journey, he still believed baptism was important enough that even he baptized some people, though he acknowledges that such was not his calling. If the apostle would baptize people when he was not called to baptize, it indicates the continuing need for baptism.
For me, the statement of Christ and the practice of the early church is sufficient for me to conclude that we need to be baptized. As it was necessary for Christ to be baptized to fulfill all righteousness (Matthew 3:15), I believe it is necessary for us as well. We follow Him in our baptism.
You ask what will happen if a believer is not baptized. I think it is possible to be a believer and not be baptized. I also think it is possible for God to use someone who is not baptized. God uses people who are imperfect in their walk with Him, even while He calls us to perfection. But I think if we seek to honor Him by keeping His commandments, as He teaches us to do, then we should be baptized. I would never lay hands on someone to set them apart for ministry if they were not obedient in this area. Rather, I would encourage them to follow the Lord’s command and be baptized.
I hope this helps. I know that my own baptism was significant to me and I have heard others tell of their surprise at the difference their baptism made for them. One of my highlights of pastoring a small church was the many baptisms we did. I did not preach on the need to be baptized, but the Spirit of God simply worked on one heart after another. People asked for baptism. And the baptismal services were always very special. God’s presence was there in a tangible way.
May the Lord Jesus guide you into truth.