Bible Baptism vs. Baptism For the Remission of Sins

By Bobby Holmes

I’m sure this title sounds strange to some but, please hear me out. I sometimes exhort those in the assemblies, “Don’t stop listening until I have stopped preaching.” In this case I would exhort, “Please don’t stop reading until I have stopped writing.”

I truly believe there is a difference between “Bible baptism” and “Bible baptism for the remission of sins.” If not, the Mormons, some Baptists, some of the “holiness,” some in the Christian Church, etc., are Christians by virtue of being baptized ‘for the remission of sins.” I don’t believe that for a moment!

So that you will know that this is not something from my imagination, the president of Magnolia Bible College, Cecil Mays (Mississippi) stated in his paper Preacher Talk (December 1992, p. 2) the following:

“Over the forty years I have been preaching, I have moved from ‘liberal’ to ‘conservative’ on the rebaptism issue, without changing anything 1 believe or practice. I have always believed that some in some denominations, on the basis of their own Bible study, were baptized like the Bible teaches. I have studied with Methodists who were immersed for the remission of sins, and with Baptists who understood when they were baptized that baptism was essential to salvation. I urged them to leave sectarianism and repent of unscriptural practices, but I did not believe they needed to be immersed again. This made me ?there,’ in some people’s eyes. I still believe one must understand that baptism precedes salvation in order to be scripturally baptized. That puts me on the ‘conservative’ side of the rebaptism issue as currently discussed. . . .

From Gobel Music’s book “Behold the Pattern,” he quotes from material by Rubel Shelly on pages 273-274.

“Somehow those of us who make the plea for people to be Christians only have let that plea come out to the world something after this fashion: ‘Come over to us, and be Christians only because after all we are the only Christians.’ That is arrogant, that is wrong, that is self-righteous, that is sectarian . . . heal the breaches that we have created within our own fellowship. . . . Surely there are individuals in practically all the denominations known today who’ve learned of Jesus, looked to him in sincere faith, turned away from their conscious rebellion against his will and embraced him as Savior through immersion in his name. And their unfortunate entanglement in some denominational error or some other in no way alters the fact that they are Christians. .

They’re God’s children. This is not something new that is ‘cropping up.

Carl Ketcherside and Leroy Garrett taught the same thing when I was a young preacher and I’m sure it existed long before that but, one thing I know. It does not go back to “Pentecost of Acts 2” or any other place in Scripture.

Some have “jumped the track” on this subject when they affirm that as long as one is baptized for the remission of sins that makes him a Christian. Not only must one be baptized for the remission of sins but, there are some things he must realize when this is done. He must realize that he is becoming a member of the Lord’s one kingdom or church. Not only must he be taught the necessity of baptism but, “some things concerning the Lord’s kingdom.” Peter did this very thing as is recorded in Acts 2:29-36. There is no mistake about this! Bible baptism includes teaching about baptism and also things “concerning the kingdom of God” (that’s the one church). Please note carefully the following: “Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them” (Acts 8:5, KJV). Note. He preached Christ to them. What all did that include? Verse 12 tells us: “But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women” (Acts 8:12, KJV).

There you have it. To preach Christ one must include “the things concerning the kingdom of Christ and the name (authority) of Jesus Christ.” When he “preached Jesus” to the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:35) he preached about baptism (Acts 8:36). To preach “Jesus” or “Christ unto them” is to preach what one must do to be saved and some “things concerning the kingdom and the name (authority) of Jesus Christ.” Those things concerning the kingdom must of necessity include teaching about the church which is the one relationship that man has with God.

There are those who would have us believe that a Baptist preacher would be preaching the gospel if he preached baptism “for the remission of sins.” I deny that! There is much more to gospel preaching than preaching baptism `for the remission of sins.” No denominational preacher can be a gospel preacher. If he were a gospel preacher he wouldn’t be in denominationalism for the Bible condemns such.

We must recognize that a problem exists today that did not confront these first century preachers of the gospel. To-day, there are a number of churches that preach baptism `for the remission of sins.” Some Baptists, some “Holiness” groups, the Mormons, the First Christian Church and many more I am sure. Some of these may even believe there is only one church and may even go so far as to condemn religious division and “call people back to the one church” but, one thing I’ll guarantee you. They teach that the one true church is the church of which they are members and that’s a Devil’s lie!

True, there is only one church and that is the church you can read about in the Bible that honors his name, is organized according to his dictates, works and worships according to the pattern he has given. No church but the church of Christ can truthfully make that claim. Those who are baptized “for the remission of sins” in the denominations believe and accept the fact that they are becoming members of that denomination. This old trash about them only needing to repent of having been in “religious error” or “doctrinal error” is truly “hogwash.” Brethren, that old dog just won’t hunt!

Some must think there is something magical about the term “for the remission of sins” that necessarily makes one a Christian. I have used the following illustration for many years on this subject. I believe it to be to the point on the subject. Suppose the “Rotary Club” of your city had the following qualifications for membership to their club. (1) Faith in Jesus Christ as God’s Son. (2) Willingness to correct any errors in your life. (3) Must have been a citizen of the local city for at least one year. (4) No criminal record. (5) Must be baptized for the remission of sins. Now if these conditions are complied with, would it make the person a member of that Rotary club or would it make him a Christian? I believe all would agree (maybe I should say most all) that it would simply make one a member of that Club. In the same manner, when people are baptized believing they are becoming members of a religious body unknown by God, they do not become Christians by virtue of the fact that their baptism was “for the remission of sins.” Brethren, though it be a chided term by some it is still true. You can’t be taught wrong and baptized right! Some argue that if one “really believes he is baptized “for the remission of sins” even though it was in a denominational church he should be accepted into fellowship after repenting of error.” Have we forgotten the following: “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Prov. 14:12, KJ V ).

Another argument that is made is this: “Those who are baptized by apostate groups such as those who teach premillennialism, those use instrumental music in worship, those who have gone into liberalism, etc., are not required to be baptized again but, must only repent on error.” The thing missed in this is that these people are part of the one body of Christ though they have become apostate. (Separation will take place in Judgment [Matt. 13:36-43].) These others (denominations) were never part of the body of Christ, the one church. They are not in the kingdom. Never have been  never will be  until they renounce self and bow to the Lordship of Jesus our Savior in deep faith, re-pent of their sins, confess Jesus as Lord and master and are baptized into the one relationship with deity. “Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19, ASV). When I became a Christian I gave up denominationalism. Again let me say, you can’t be taught wrong and baptized right!

Guardian of Truth XXXVII: 11, p. 10-11
June 3, 1993