What Baptists Believe About Baptism (II)

By Larry Ray Hafley

The Baptist World, a Landmark Missionary Baptist publication, has a monthly feature entitled, “What Baptists Believe.” In the December, 1971, issue, baptism is discussed under the subheading, “What Is Scriptural Baptism?” The article states that “Four Things Are Essential for Scriptural Baptism.” We reviewed the first of the four essentials in a previous article and will review the third one in this study. We shall not note point number two which correctly represents baptism as immersion.

Essential Number Three

“3. The third essential is there must be a proper reason for being baptized. The purpose of being baptized is not in order to be saved. It is because one is saved.

“One is baptized to identify himself with the children of God. As a serviceman wears a uniform to identify him as a part of a particular branch of service, so the child of God identifies himself by baptism. A serviceman may not be in uniform but still be in the service, though not identified. A child of God may be one of God’s children without baptism, but he isn’t identified as a Christian. When a child of God is baptized-buried in water and raised again-he declares to the world that his faith is in Christ who was buried and rose again. ‘Therefore, we are buried with him by baptism unto death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we should walk in newness of life. 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). When one is baptized, he makes a likeness or demonstration of Christ’s burial and resurrection known. He declares that his own spiritual nature is dead to sin and raised to walk in the newness of life. Peter, in Acts 2:38 told the people to repent (repentance is unto life, see Acts 11:18) and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for (because of) the remission of sins.’ People shout for joy and weep for sorrow. They go to prison for crimes and receives wages for work, that is, because of.

“Jesus baptized to make Himself known to Israel as the Son of God (John 1:31). We, also, are identified in baptism as the sons of God. We are baptized for the same reason Jesus was.”


(1) If the purpose of baptism is not in order to be saved, as Baptist doctrine says, in what way could Peter have said, “baptism doth also now save us” (1 Pet. 3:21)? Note that no Scripture is cited to prove that one is baptized because one is saved. A Baptist assertion is not sufficient. Where does the Bible say so?

(2) The illustration about the serviceman and his uniform does not fit (no pun intended) Baptist doctrine. Landmark Missionary Baptists teach that the outer man is a child of the Devil. Only the spirit, the inner man, say they, is born of God. Thus, they have baptism putting the uniform on the outer man who is not even in the service, not a child of God. That leaves their inner man without any clothes; he has no uniform because their doctrine puts the uniform on the civilian. The statement, therefore, that “one is baptized to identify himself with the children of God” is a license for misrepresentation. Since the outer man, the body, is a child of the Devil, to dress him in a uniform to identify him with the children of God is to put a wolf in sheep’s clothing. That is the consequence of Baptist doctrine.

The service must be represented by Christ. How is one inducted into Christ? We are “baptized into Christ” (Gal. 3:27). One cannot be in the service until he is “baptized into Jesus Christ” (Rom. 6:3).

Romans 6:3-5 is an unfortunate passage for Baptists to quote. Baptist doctrine says we are in Christ and walk in newness of life before baptism. But Romans 6 shows that we are “baptized into Jesus Christ,” and that we arise from the burial by baptism “to walk in newness of life.”

(3) In Acts 2:38, we are told that “for” means “because of.” The difficulty concerning repentance in Acts 2:38 also being “because of the remission of sins” seems to have been anticipated, so the author cites Acts 11:18 where repentance is said to be unto or in order to life. But one step in quicksand is only worsened by another. It is the same here. The word “unto” in Acts 11:18 is the same Greek word as “for” in Acts 2:38. He helps himself worse! If “for” shows baptism comes after the remission of sins, then “unto,” the very same word, shows that repentance comes after we have eternal life.

Both repentance and baptism are “for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). “Because of” will not do as a definition of “for.” It makes repentance “because of” just as surely as it makes baptism “because of.” This will not suit Baptist doctrine. The truth is that both repentance and baptism are for, in order to, the remission of sins.

Acts 2:38 and Mt. 26:28 have the identical expression in the English and Greek languages, “for the remission of sins.” Would Baptists say that Christ shed His blood “because of” the remission of sins? No, they would not. They admit that the phrase means “in order to” or as Thayer’s Lexicon says, “in order to obtain” the remission of sins as used in Mt. 26:28. The same phrase means the same thing in Acts 2:38.

(4) The sentence, “People shout for joy” and the others all correctly show “for” with its meaning of because of. But the Greek language has numerous prepositions to express differences in meaning; whereas, English has one which expresses different meanings. The Greek word “for” that would be used in the illustrative sentences would be “dia” and not “eis,” the preposition used in Acts 2:38; 11:18; Mt. 26:28. People “go to prison for crimes,” because of crimes. But they also go for (in order to) punishment. “For” in the English is used to mean both because of and in order to, but in the Greek it would be, Ago to prison for (dia – because of) crimes, and Ago to prison for (eis – in order to) punishment. And it is the word Aeis@ that is found in Acts 2:38, no Adia.@

(5) Jesus= Sonship and baptism and our sonship and baptism are parallel by Baptist doctrine, not by the Bible. The statement, AWe are baptized for the same reason Jesus was@ is unfounded, unproven and unscriptural. The parallel lacks a passage to substantiate it. Christ was baptized Ato fulfil all righteousness@ (Matt. 3:15). Penitent believers are baptized Afor the remission of sins@ (Acts 2:38, that is, to be saved (Mark 16:16, 1 Pet. 3:21).

Truth Magazine, XVIII:2, p. 7-8
November 8, 1973