Agreeing and Disagreeing with the Baptists on Baptism
Temple Terrace, Florida
Scriptural baptism involves three things: (1) the proper way or action, (2) the proper subject or person, and (3) the proper design or purpose. Baptists are right about the proper way. They affirm, as the Bible does (Rom. 6:3-4), that baptism is immersion, thus eliminating the sprinkling or pouring of water. They believe that the subject must be a mature, accountable person, thus eliminating infant baptism (Acts 8:12). We agree thus far because this is what the Bible teaches. There is one other thing necessary for Scriptural baptism: the proper design or purpose. On this point we disagree with our Baptist friends because they depart from the Bible teaching.
The Purpose of Baptism
The Bible teaches that the purpose of baptism is to bring about the salvation, from past sins, of the individual. (Mark 16:16.) It is FOR (unto, in order to) remission of sins. (Acts 2: 38) Scriptural baptism puts one into Christ. (Gal. 3:27.) But Baptists do not believe this! Hiscox, in The Standard Manual For Baptist Churches, says:
"Baptism is not essential to salvation, for our churches utterly repudiate the dogma of "baptismal regeneration"; but it is essential to obedience, since Christ has commanded it. It is also essential to a public confession of Christ before the world, and to membership in the church which is his body. And no true lover of his Lord will refuse these acts of obedience and tokens of affection." (pp. 20, 21) On page 22, Hiscox says "and while they cannot become members without baptism" (Emphasis mine in both statements, FJ.)
According to Baptists, baptism is "not essential to salvation," but "is essential to obedience." This means one can be saved without obeying! Yet Heb. 5:9 declares that Christ is the author of eternal salvation "unto all them that obey him." Baptists say that one can be saved and go to heaven without baptism, but cannot become members of the Baptist church without baptism. This means that it is easier to go to heaven than it is to get into the Baptist church! One Baptist preacher, in reply to this point, claimed that they had a "high standard" in the Baptist church. All of this demonstrates what we have been trying to get Baptists to see: one can be saved from past sins and go to heaven without ever becoming a member of the Baptist church, thus proving, based on their own admissions, that the Baptist church is a non-essential institution and not the church one can read about in the New Testament.
For a more complete understanding of the Bible teaching on the purpose of baptism study the chart below, which is taken from the Debate On Baptism between this writer and a Baptist pastor. Observe carefully that none of the blessings enumerated on the right of the chart are available to a man until he obeys the Lord in baptism. Examine each Scripture reference in your own Bible to see that these things are so.
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XV: 39, p. 10