Purpose of Baptism

By George T. Eldridge

The religious world is filled with Protestant churches, denominational churches, independent churches, Jewish faith, and the “One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Roman Church.” All of those false churches have influenced responsible people to hole to one idea on the purpose of baptism: remission of sins is received before baptism. These false teachers are at times bold in teaching the penitent believer that baptism is not for (in order to obtain) the remission of sins.

The Baptists Teach

As representative of that one idea, please read this quotation:

“Note 8. – Baptism is not essential to salvation, for our churches utterly repudiate the dogma of baptismal regeneration” (Edward T. Hiscox, The Standard Manual for Baptist Churches, Philadelphia, 1961, p. 20).

Baptists, like other religious people of the past, had a great deal of interest in and much concern for defending the scripturalness of their practices and teachings. Men, for example, like D. N. Jackson (Baptist), J. B. Moody (Baptist), Ben M. Bogard (Baptist), John Walker (Presbyterian), William L. McCalla (Presbyterian), Robert Owen (Atheistic Socialist), John B. Purcell (Roman Catholic Bishop of Cincinnati), Nathan L. Rice (Presbyterian), Charles Smith (President, American Association for the Advancement of Atheism, New York City), B. Sunday Myers (Pentecostal Church of God), E. R. Vaughn (United Pentecostal Church), Morns Butler Book (Christian Church), Eric Beevers (Roman Catholic), Kenneth E. Farnsworth (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints), David F. Smith (Seventh Day Adventist), and J. R. Scherling (Congregational Church) would debate their beliefs with preachers from churches of Christ.

A Moment of Thought

For the most part, only the churches of Christ encourage religious discussions, seek debates, and openly solicit questions about their teachings. Churches of Christ are not denominational, Jewish, Protestant, or Roman Catholic. They are the church you read about in the New Testament. Jesus Christ founded the church of Christ. The apostles persuaded men to enter the church by being baptized. The point of view today expounded by preachers and practiced by churches has shifted from “whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus” to curing the poverty, social injustices, unhappiness and unrest of mankind (Col. 3:17). This new teaching makes the church an entertainment club, recreation center, and social institution! This new teaching is not authorized by God’s Word; therefore, churches of Christ do not practice it or encourage it.

The purpose of baptism is still a Bible subject of great importance, even though most people never examine what the Scriptures teach with reference to its purpose and denominations do not practice Bible baptism! Listen to the Word of God. It teaches that water baptism to the penitent believer is for (in order to obtain) the remission of sins. Kind reader, remission of sins is not received before baptism.

Mark 16:16

“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Divine law, spoken from the lips of Jesus, says salvation is after the baptism of the believer. What kind of believer is saved? The believer that is obedient, a baptized believer. Under the N. T. law, there is not one exception where an individual had salvation before baptism! The term “saved” in Mark 16:16 is used in exactly the same sense in which “remission of sins” is used elsewhere in the New Testament. Luke, the physician, records the Great Commission in these words: “Thus it behooved Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations” (Luke 24:46-47). The term “saved” in Mark 16:16 is parallel to the term remission of sins in Luke 24:47. Based upon Mark 16:16, how could any person fail to teach that water baptism of the believer is for (in order to obtain) the remission of sins?

Acts 22:16

“And now why tarriest thou? Arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” Paul was not saved on the road to Damascus. His sins had not been washed away because he had not yet heard and obeyed what Ananias told him to do. Paul ‘was instructed to “go to Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do” (Acts 22:10). In the expression “wash away thy sins,” the purpose of water baptism is again given. Water baptism will “wash away thy sins” provided you are “calling on the name of the Lord.” Why are religious people not able to see that truth?

Final Word

The popular, teaching that remission of sins and the blessing of salvation is received before baptism was not (1) instituted by Christ, (2) practiced by His apostles, (3) known in apostolic churches, or (4) sanctioned or recognized in the Bible. Our plea is for you to accept God’s gift of remission of sins through faith by being baptized (Eph. 2:8). Through faith, do what God teaches. Through faith, “be baptized, and wash away thy sins.”

Truth Magazine, XVIII:29, p. 11-12
May 23, 1974