By John Isaac Edwards
History repeats itself! The children of Israel cried out to the prophets, “speak unto us smooth things” (Isa. 30:10) and Jeremiah declared, “The prophets prophesy falsely. . . . and my people love to have it so” (Jer. 5:31). What happened then is going on today!
The time has come “when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall heap to them- selves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Tim. 4:3-4). Many today “by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (Rom. 16:18).
We must always demand the truth, no matter what, and we need men among us who have the courage and the conviction to preach the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth no matter what! Paul penned, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Tim. 4:2).
Some Baptism Smoothies
There are a lot of smooth things being said today in regards to Bible baptism. Logan Fox, a Pepperdine professor, said, “It is possible to be filled with the Spirit without being baptized.” In his book, The Peaceable Kingdom, Carroll D. Osburn wrote, “There should be room in the Christian fellowship for those who believe that Christ is the Son of God, but who differ on . . . whether baptism is ‘for’ or ‘because of’ the remission of sins.” How much smoother can one get than this? This man is Professor of New Testament at Abilene Christian University. No telling how many young preachers are being affected by this smooth doctrine!
Max Lucado, who preaches for the Oak Hills church of Christ in San Antonio, Texas, said in a television inter- view in Nashville, Tennessee, July 2, 1997: “I believe in baptism. Jesus was baptized. The Bible teaches baptism. I just don’t believe that baptism saves you. I believe that Jesus Christ saves us. And baptism is one of those ways we celebrate our salvation. It’s really the initial step of the faithful believer.” In a radio broadcast, When Your Heart Needs A Father, KJAK, Lubbock, Texas, Lucado encouraged his listeners who were in need of salvation to pray a “sinner’s prayer” asking God to receive them as his child. Lucado then said, “Today is the first day you’ve ever prayed a prayer like that. Could you do me a favor? Could you write me a letter? I don’t have anything I am going to ask from you. I do have a letter I would like to send to you; I’d like to give you a word about the next step or two. I want to encourage you to be baptized, I want to encourage you to read your Bible. But I don’t want you to do any of that so that you will be saved. I want you to do all of that because you are saved . . .” Pretty smooth, don’t you think? And on and on it goes!
We must always demand the truth, no matter what, and we need men among us who have the courage and the conviction to preach the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth no matter what!
The Truth About Bible Baptism
As long as there are men who come along and speak smooth things about Bible subjects, there will be a need for us to teach the truth and expose and refute error. Whatever the Bible says about baptism is the way it is, and we need to believe it and obey it! What does the Bible say?
1. Bible baptism is for the remission of sins. The apostle Peter said very plainly, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). To say that baptism is because of the remission of sins is to teach something the Bible just does not teach! We are not baptized because our sins are already forgiven. We are baptized in order for our sins to be remitted. The language of Peter in Acts 2:38 is parallel to that of Jesus in Matthew 26:28, “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Did Jesus shed his blood because men had already been forgiven of their sins? No! He shed his blood to make the remission of sins possible. And, the remission of sins is not possible without Bible baptism! That is the truth! Which will you accept: the truth or a smoothie?
2. Bible baptism saves. Some will tell us, “I don’t believe that baptism saves.” Why not? The Lord said that baptism saves. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16). The word “and” is a copulative conjunction that ties “faith” and “baptism” together. It takes both faith and baptism to save! Faith alone is not enough, as James declared, “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only” (Jas. 2:24). If that’s not enough, listen to the apostle Peter, “The like figure whereunto baptism doth also now save us” (1 Pet. 3:21). I take my stand with the apostle Peter. What about you?
3. Bible baptism is a planting and a burial. Too many have the idea that salvation comes at the point of faith, and that baptism is something you do after you are saved as an outward showing of an inward feeling. Whatever that is, the Bible teaches otherwise. Paul taught, “Know ye not, that so many
of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death. . . . For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection” (Rom. 6:3-5). If you are made alive (saved) at the point of faith, then in baptism you are burying them alive! If not, why not?
4. Bible baptism washes away sins. Somebody may say, “Now wait a minute, I thought the blood of Christ washes away sins.” It does. John recorded, “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood” (Rev. 1:5). The question is not, “Does the blood wash away sins?” The question is, “How does it do it?” According to John 19:34, Jesus shed his blood in his death. To contact the blood of Christ we must reach his death. This is accomplished in the watery grave of baptism, as Paul penned, “baptized into his death” (Rom. 6:3-4). The blood washes away sins as we are baptized into Christ. Until an individual submits to the Bible command to be baptized, he is yet in his sins! This is why Saul was instructed, “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). That may not be very smooth, but that is the truth and Jesus said, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).
We need to take John’s advice, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1
John 4:1). May we be as the noble Bereans, who “searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts