OTHER QUESTIONS

By Robert L. Goldsby

Contents

Does Baptism Guarantee Salvation?

Is The Concept Of 'Once Baptized Always Saved' A Scriptural Tenant?

Should We "Baptize" Anyone Without Concern For Faith?

Under What Conditions Should A Person Be Re-Baptized - If Ever?

What Happens When Infants Die?

What About The "Baptism For The Dead"

Which "Law" Was The Baptism Of Jesus "Fulfilling"?



  1. Does Baptism Guarantee Salvation?

    Not apart from faith. God looks at the heart, even as He did with circumcision. The promises of God are conditional. With salvation faith is the conditional ingredient. Ephesians 2:8-10 clearly indicates that it is the Grace of God which saves us through faith. The practice of baptizing unbelievers (regardless of the age) as if that made them Christians is nothing less than superstition and is a false practice of baptism. There are sharp differences in the body of Christ about whether a genuine believer can fall from grace. It is not my intent to deal with that issue in this place. Let me say only that baptism, apart from faith, is not a saving grace. Only when combined with a personal faith in Jesus Christ does baptism work its benefits.

    This is Martin's Luther's position also. See Luther's sermon delivered the Third Sunday after Epiphany in 1527, on Baptism and Personal Faith. Luther deals with the concept of whether any one should be baptized if there is no assurance that the candidate has a personal faith. He applies this to the Waldensians and others as well as to the practice of infant baptism. Do not be fooled by Luther's style. He uses satire to illustrate and drive his points. I have produced the entire message on this site together with links that explain some of the terms he is using. I have also written a summary of the sermon which can be viewed in the Contents window to place them side by side if you wish.

  2. Is the concept of 'once baptized always saved' a Scriptural tenant?

    This question is very like the previous one. Faith is the key ingredient whether we are talking about whether one is saved by baptism or whether baptism guarantees salvation. It is clear we are not saved by our works, faith is the issue. The Bible teaches that salvation is wholly the work of God. He must supply the grace which grants faith without which no one is saved. When one is saved it is wholly and only the work of God. We have seen that baptism and faith are so closely associated that the Apostle Peter claims that baptism saves us but we know that does not happen apart from the faith God gives us. But what about the duration of our salvation? I have mentioned in the response to the above question the theological distinctives extant in the body of Christ today. These are based on honest and sincere interpretations from God's word, interpretations that are quite diverse on the issue of election or eternal security.

    It is a dangerous thing to put one's faith in a historical event for one's present salvation. Whether trusting your baptism or a trip to the altar or any expression one's faith in God. We are saved only by the grace of God through faith in Christ Jesus. That faith is not the result of our own efforts, goodness, righteousness, or value to God or His people. Faith is exclusively the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-ff). When we trust anything other than God to work in us we are practicing idolatry. God uses certain "means" to work his purposes (called the Means Of Grace: i.e. Word and Sacrament) but we do not put our faith in them, our faith must be in God. You may say that when we trust the Sacraments, (put our faith in our baptism or the fact that we sit under the ministry of the Word regularly, etc)that is an expression of trusting God. And I say that there is a thin line between worshiping the Creator and worshiping the creation. A thin line easily crossed, but a great chasms also. Once it is crossed, and one begins to have faith in the sacrament, church attendance, confirmation or any other of the expressions of faith, we are no longer trusting God (the Creator) and are worshipping at the feet of an idol.

    The principle here is very important. Heart attitude is the key. Genuine faith creates a thankful and trusting heart toward God. It has been said; " If your heart is right there is almost nothing you can do wrong, and if your heart is wrong there is almost nothing you can do right." Scripture says that whatever is not of faith is sin. Don't allow yourself to become focused on external things so as to begin trusting them. This is a great danger to our Christian walk! God has called us to trust Him and nothing else.

    Baptism is the first step of discipleship. It should be expected that the person is coming to the waters of baptism trusting Christ as Lord and Savior and with the intent of becoming a mature disciple of Christ. The rest of our life is the process of trusting God to accomplish the work He began. (Philippians 1:6).

  3. Should we "baptize" anyone without concern for whether or not they have faith?

    All of the passages we examined indicate that those baptized were baptized on the basis of a personal faith in Christ. See the answers given above for more detail. Look again at the studies on baptism on this site for a full study on the subject.

  4. Under what conditions should a person be re-baptized - if ever?
    1. This is a great question. If we narrowly define baptism to mean a genuinely Christian baptism, and I understand the question to be when SHOULD a person be rebaptized, the answer is there is never a need to be rebaptized.
      A convert who was baptized in a sect or cult which did not acknowledge the basics of the faith has not had a Christian baptism. To baptize him would not be to re-baptize him but to grant him an initial baptism. I mention it here because it may, from his perspective, appear to be a re-baptism.
    2. While re-baptism is never required, it may be allowed in a few very carefully examined instances. For myself, I would not re-baptize anyone who felt that, even though they were baptized in a Christian Church, it wasn't done properly, or the benefits of that Christian baptism are no longer efficacious because they went through a period of backsliding, etc. In short, if the reason one wants to be re-baptized is based on a problem with their original baptism, I would discourage re-baptism and encourage a clearer understanding of God's work in baptism and what it means to have faith in God.
      To reassure or rededicate. Some have been re-baptized as an expression of rededication to the Lord. Some have wanted the experience of immersion (death, burial and resurrection). Others have been re-baptized in the Jordan River because they desired that experience. All of these are extra-biblical acts and are not necessary for salvation.
      Remember, the Lord's Supper, not baptism is the means by which we 're-dedicate ourselves. cf. Matthew 26:26-28; 1 Corinthians 11:23-ff. Rather than being re-baptized, it is possible, and perhaps preferable, to reaffirm what happened spiritually at your baptism. This is one advantage of a testimony time in meetings among believers.
      If one were baptized by Mormons, Jehovah's witnesses or other cults, he has not been baptized as a Christian and should receive Christian baptism.
      Still, there have been times when I have felt it was appropriate for a person to be re-baptized.
    3. An unusual calling of God, e.g. if, in a rare call, one is to work in a denomination or church that requires one to be re-baptized. Some churches use baptism as a membership ritual, re-baptizing everyone not baptized by their denomination. This can be done as a matter of heart submission to leaders in the church without denying the validity of ones original baptism. There is some question about whether this second baptism is a real baptism at all. It may be that, from God's point of view, you are just getting wet. Still, it can be a valuable expression of our submission to those God has placed over us (Hebrews 13:17.

    Always remember, baptism is not to be looked upon as a "work" whereby if we do it "right" we will be "more saved" than someone who does it "wrong". Neither the mode of baptism nor the words said at baptism avail us greater or lesser benefits. It is a work of God, not the work of man!

  5. What Happens When Infants Die?

    One of the great areas of rest in this life is that you and I are not the judge of all the living and the dead. Jesus alone has that place on the throne and does not share it with us. We are not to make pronouncements beyond what He has told us is true. Here is what we know.

    • Children of believing parents have faith put in their hearts (see the section on infant baptism and Luther's sermon on baptism, infant baptism and personal faith) and so we can expect the infants and young children of believing parents to be in the presence of the Lord, just as an adult believer would be.
    • With the children of unbelieving parents we have no such assurance. What we DO know is that there is only one Gospel. There is only one way to be saved, a personal faith in Jesus Christ. If there is some other way, we don't know about it and certainly may neither assume it nor teach it. The urgency of the Gospel message is that the consequence(s) of being out of the household of faith are real and severe!

  6. What About "Baptism For The Dead?"

    This is a doctrine promoted by the Mormons. It is mentioned in only one passage in Scripture.
    1 Corinthians 15:29 "Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all, why are they then baptized for the dead?" There is no reason to believe that this was ever a Christian practice. It certainly is NOT when Paul writes this epistle for he sees the practitioners of such a doctrine as adversaries. He says "THEY" not "WE" practice these things.

  7. Which "Law" was the Baptism Of Jesus Fulfilling?
  8. Matthew 3:13-17: Jesus here indicates that John should baptize Him "..to fulfill all righteousness". John baptized people unto repentance (Acts 19:4) and Jesus certainly had no need of that baptism. It seems that this is a 'legal' term, not signifying holiness, but pertaining to a relationship with a law, i.e. doing what the law directs. The question is; What law was directing Him that He needed to be baptized? Frankly, we aren't certain, but we may find some clue from the Author to the Hebrews.

    Hebrews 7:12-18: ...a change in the priesthood, from the Aaronic priesthood originating in the tribe of Levi, to another after the order of Melchizedek, might require baptism. A portion of the 'consecration' ceremony involved the ceremony of baptizing to signify cleansing and purifying. This may be what Jesus was referring to, that as He assumed the Melchizedek priesthood the law required baptism as a consecration.

There will continue to be controversy over water baptism, and we need to be certain of the Scriptures on this important doctrine and practice. We should be willing to discuss the issue in a loving and positive way, and be willing to hear other positions. We must always be open to the truth. If we find that the truth is different than what we have always believed, we must embrace the truth and forsake error.

Scripture alone is the appropriate judge both of doctrine and teachers.

Shalom


This page last updated January 18, 1998

The document was written by Robert L. Goldsby (5101 NE 121st Ave #140, Vancouver, WA 98682-2121) and is the sole property of the author. It may be used for personal and group Bible study but may not be used for any commercial or publishing purposes without the express written consent of the author.