Frank Barnes joins me in this episode of Bible Q-n-A to discuss the biblical principle of spiritual security.
This will almost always come up at some point in a discussion on the necessity of baptism. Many times it gets thrown in after several passages have been cited to establish the biblical teaching on baptism. In the face of the multiplicity of passages that establish the necessity of baptism, the opponent will say something like, “well, the thief on the cross wasn’t baptized!”
The most a person can do in regards to whether the thief was baptized or not is to speculate. That is, to say whether
he was or he wasn’t baptized is pure speculation! I don’t know about you, but the condition of my immortal soul is too important to me to leave up to speculation. But, if we are going to speculate about whether the thief was baptized
or not, we should at least try to provide some evidence for our speculation.
My personal opinion on the thief is that he had been baptized. Now, let me provide some evidence for my speculation on this point. First, the thief lived at a time when John was baptizing so many people that it was said, “all Judea” was being baptized (Mark 1:5). When Jesus began His ministry it says that He baptized even more than John did (John 3:22, 26; 4:1, 2). So, there were a lot of people being baptized! Second, John and Jesus were both preaching a baptism of repentance (Luke 3:3; Matt. 3:8; 4:17). The thief may have been on the cross because of his repentance! Third, the thief knew Jesus was innocent (Luke 23:41). How could he have known that unless he already knew who Jesus was? Fourth, he addressed Jesus as a disciple would, calling Him Lord (Luke 23:42). Fifth, he asked Jesus to remember him when He came into His
kingdom (Luke 23:42). How would the thief know anything about a kingdom unless he already knew who Jesus was?
Why would he expect that Jesus would be able to remember him at all, considering that Jesus was dying on the cross?
It is very obvious, from what the thief said, that he already knew Jesus before the scene on the cross! Now, where is
your evidence that he was not baptized?
Ultimately, though, the entire question is irrelevant. Jesus had power on earth to forgive sins (Matt. 9:6). The thief lived and died under the Law of Moses, before the Great Commission was given (Matt. 28:18-20), before the church was established (Acts 2:38, 41, 47). Jesus was physically present with the thief to tell him personally that he would be with Him in paradise (Luke 23:43). You’re not hanging on a cross next to Jesus, you’re living in the world after Jesus has ascended back to haven. You can’t do what the thief did physically hanging on a cross next to Jesus! You must do
what Jesus said before He departed this world (Mark 16:16). You must be baptized into Christ for the remission of your sins! (Acts 2:38; Rom. 6:3, 4; Gal. 3:26, 27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
It is odd to me that so many people try so hard to discount the very clear biblical teaching regarding the necessity of baptism for salvation. There is not a more clearly defined doctrine in the New Testament than the necessity of water baptism for the remission of sins! There is absolutely no way that anyone just studying the biblical text – free from preconceived notions of what “we’re supposed to believe” – would come to the conclusion that baptism is purely a symbolic gesture. But that’s the typical response to any discussion on baptism. It has been relegated to the status of a symbolic gesture that “is a good thing to do” but isn’t really necessary.
To the contrary, the New Testament says that baptism is the point at which a person is “in Christ” (Rom. 6:3, 4; Gal. 3:26, 27), where salvation is (2 Tim. 2:10). Baptism is when a person is “added” to the church – the body of Christ (Acts 2:41, 47; 1 Cor. 12:13). Baptism is when a person has their sins washed away (Acts 22:16). Since baptism is when a person is “buried” with Christ, it is when we contact the blood of Christ for the washing away of our sins (Col. 2:12; Rom. 6:4; cf. Rev. 1:5). Baptism is the picture of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ! So, baptism is when we die to sin and are raised with Christ. Baptism is when we put on Christ and become sons of God (Gal. 3:26, 27). Baptism is when we become the bride of Christ (Eph. 5:25-27). Baptism is when we are born again (John 3:3, 5). Baptism is when we are saved (1 Pet. 3:21). Everything the New Testament says about Christian baptism shows it is absolutely essential to the salvation only available in Christ!
So, with all of these clear Scriptures showing the necessity of baptism, why do so many argue against it? And, what are the arguments that can be made against such clear statements? Well, the short answer is “Denominationalism.”
Those who reject the necessity of baptism do so, primarily, because they have been taught from the teachings of men – like Luther and Calvin – instead of taught from the word of God. They have accepted Luther’s and Calvin’s, among others, ideas about “faith only” salvation, a “no works” “grace only” system of faith. However, the only time you find the phrase “faith only” in the Bible is in James 2:24. “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.” Martin Luther so hated James chapter two that he wanted the epistle of James taken out of the Bible!
In coming articles I’ll be looking in more detail at the objection to baptism as a “work,” and getting into more of the many objections offered against the necessity of baptism. Have you been taught that baptism is “an outward show of an inward faith”? There’s nowhere in the Bible that defines it like that.
So, what are some of the objections to baptism you’ve heard? Let me know and let’s discuss them openly and honestly. It’s too important not to!
My first guest appearance on Bible Q-n-A! Hopefully, I’ll have more opportunities to talk with other preachers about your questions and comments. Roger is visiting the Northside congregation for our 2019 Spring Gospel Meeting.