[forthright] Is Baptism Always the Right Argument?

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From: "Forthright Magazine" <forthrightmag@...>
Date: Tue, 17 Jul 2007 17:09:19 -0300
Forthright Magazine
http://www.forthright.net
Straight to the Cross


COLUMN: SQUARE ONE

Is Baptism Always the Right Argument?
by Richard Mansel

We should want desperately to reach the lost for
Christ (Matthew 28:18-20). Laying out the truth of
salvation, we face ridicule and, at times, open
hostility. The pervasive division in the religious
world creates endless complications. In matters of
the gospel, this is also true. We must find a way
to convince more people that Scripture is clear in
its plan of salvation.

Salvation comes by grace because we cannot merit
salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 5)./1 We show
from God's Word that we must have faith that
Christ is the Savior and Son of God (Hebrews
11:6). Having done so, we repent of our sins (Luke
13:3-5) and confess Jesus as the new Lord of our
lives (Matthew 10:32). Having submitted to Christ,
we come and have our sins washed in the blood of
Christ through the waters of baptism (Acts 2:38;
22:16; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21)./2

With the mention of these clear passages comes the
aforementioned ridicule and hostility. The
argument that these teachings violate grace and
constitute salvation by works quickly spills out
of their mouths. They are wrong, however.

Experience and meditation lead us to wonder if
baptism is the right point to begin the debate. We
hasten to add that baptism for the remission of
sins is true and should be taught vigorously.
Instead, we may need to stop and realize that
their stubborn attitudes on baptism are not
because they refuse to hear or that they hate
baptism. In truth, almost every religious group
teaches baptism in some form or another. However,
they teach it erroneously because they have a
problem before they reach baptism.

Teaching the lost, the gospel must affect them at
the point of their misunderstanding. Otherwise, it
is just an academic argument. We must be wise and
see the source of contention so we can reach their
souls with the good news.

If the student perceives baptism as a violation of
grace and constitutes salvation by works then we
need to back up and address their
misunderstanding. The debates that have occurred
through the years on baptism have been useful but
thousands have left unimpressed. If we can help
them see the truth on grace and works then we can
possibly reach more souls for Christ.

Baptism for the remission of sins and the
impossibility of salvation by meritorious works
are both Scriptural doctrines. We must study to
see how they coexist.

Meritorious works cannot save us (Ephesians 2:8-
9). Yet, Ephesians 2:10, teaches that good works
must be existent in our lives if we wish to be
saved. These works glorify God rather than force
God to act on our part (Ephesians 3:20-21)./3 

The process of being born again through water and
the Spirit occurs because we have submitted
ourselves completely to Christ (John 3:3-5; James
4:10). Christ's blood saves us through the
cleansing waters of baptism. We do not force God
because he owes us anything or because we have
lived perfectly enough, because neither is
possible. He cleanses our sins so we can enter his
kingdom and become tools to glorify him through
good works (Acts 2:47). It is all about Christ,
not man's goodness.

We must find a way to reach skeptical hearts with
the message of the grace of God and lead them to
the remission of sins. Will we try?
_______
1/ http://tinyurl.com/yrtthj 
2/ On my Square One page you will find many
   articles on baptism as verification.
   http://www.forthright.net/square_one/
3/ http://tinyurl.com/2hnjr2

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