What’s the big deal about baptism?

 

“one Lord, one faith, one baptism

-- Ephesians 4:5

 

Why a site about baptism? Why not about love, or relationships, prayer, or the nature of God? There are already countless sites on these topics for the Christian and more. But more importantly the answer for my reason behind writing this site can be best illustrated from the story of Rosie Ruiz—the Boston Marathon cheater in 1980.

 

For those of you who never heard the story, or where too young, or just disinterested, it happened like this: On April 21, 1980 Rosie Ruiz, a 23-year-old New Yorker, was the first woman to cross the finish line in the Boston Marathon. She had achieved the third fastest time on record for a female runner, which was made all the more amazing by the fact that she looked remarkably sweat-free and relaxed as she climbed the winner's podium to accept the winner’s wreath. However, race officials almost immediately began to question her triumph.

The problem was that no one could remember having seen her during the race. Monitors at the various race checkpoints hadn't seen her, nor had any of the other runners. Abundant photographs taken during the race failed to contain any sign of her. Her absence was overwhelming. Finally, a few members of the crowd came forward to divulge that they had seen her jump into the race during its final half-mile. Apparently she then simply sprinted to the finish line.

 

The Bible also speaks of running a race:

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. – 1Corinthians 9:24-27 (Niv)

The “rules” for the “race of salvation” are found in one place—the Scriptures of the Holy Bible.

Satan has so blinded multitudes that though so many are not knowingly or intentionally “cheating”, they are nevertheless not following the rules as revealed in the Word of God—the Bible. They are unwittingly ignorant of what God requires and have gotten off to a “false start.” Runners in track and field events bring the race to a screeching halt if they do not all get off to a correct start out of the blocks. Fortunately, we have God’s Word to look at to see if we got “out of the starting blocks” correctly. If the enemy can deceive you into thinking that you started the race correctly (but you haven’t), he has gained a devastating advantage because few ever look back and question their relationship with God or their conversion. They just run on ahead, unaware they have been fooled. John warned us about this:

Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. –2John 1:9

Where is the “teaching of Christ” found? In the Bible.

Few realize there is a well-defined plan of salvation that consists of more than just belief in the Son of God. If you have been taught that all you need to do is believe in the Son of God—Jesus Christ, and that baptism has nothing to do with salvation, then this site is especially for you. Remember James 2:19—even the demons believe—and shudder!

Jesus Himself warned of being disqualified in the end—He told of a man who, like Rosie Ruiz, had not followed the rules:

Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.

    "Then he sent some more servants and said, 'Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.'

    "But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.

    "Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.' So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

    "But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 'Friend,' he asked, 'how did you get in here without wedding clothes?' The man was speechless.

    "Then the king told the attendants, 'Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'

    "For many are invited, but few are chosen." --Matthew 22:1-14

This parable speaks of a man who actually got in the front door to the wedding banquet. But that was not enough. Upon closer examination from the King, he was found out to not have the proper clothing and was thrown out.

Many are like this man. When they get in that door, they will be found to be without the right wedding clothes. So where do we get the wedding clothes that God desires us to have? God even provides them. The answer is found in Galatians 3:26-27:

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

Now if you are thinking that reading and studying a site about baptism is not for you, then this site is definitely for you. Chances are, you have not been following the rules that God has given us. This is most likely not because you have done this intentionally but because the enemy, the devil, is much more experienced in this than are we mortal human sinners-- blind to God. He knows the rules better than anyone and he loves to trick people into thinking they are obeying God when they are not. He is the master deceiver and far more devious than we imagine. You cannot afford to ignore this site. What God requires is not difficult to understand. He has not asked us to build a rocketship to the moon. He gives us simple commands to obey that any individual can follow to get to heaven.

Many people become alarmed when someone suggests that the Scriptures reveal a very specific plan of salvation for mankind. In an age of fast food, fast cars, fast women, microwaves, instant coffee, instant tea, instant gratification, and speed dating, to suggest that someone may have to do something other than come to an intellectual belief in Christ to be saved, borders on what they think of as blasphemy. Yet the Scriptures warn us that there is a very specific plan of salvation and encourage us to follow it. The problem arises when someone is introduced to this plan and it conflicts with what they have been taught previously, or when it does not coincide with their own experience of “being saved”. Instead of conforming to the teachings of God’s infallible Word, they stick their head in the sand in denial and insist that although the way they came to “salvation” does not match the pattern in Scripture, that they are still saved. The reason God gave us His Word in the sacred writings was so that we would have a written record to go by to make sure we are saved. That way, if we have done something in error, we can correct the problem with the blueprint He has given in His Word—the Bible (2Tim 3:14-17). Simply ignoring the problem will not make God change what He has said.

Imagine a man going through his house opening doors until he finds the door to a closet he opens and finds a skeleton inside. He quickly slams the doors shut and never opens it again, all the time believing as long as he doesn’t open that door and look inside the skeleton isn’t there. And that’s the dirty little secret of Christendom—that a large part really are not saved after all—simply because they have failed to follow the plan of salvation as taught in the Scriptures. And it is not a problem that cannot be remedied quickly enough. In fact, if a person posses faith in Jesus Christ and has a repentant heart as prerequisites to baptism, it takes only a few moments to be immersed. Fortunately for us, God’s plan of salvation does not involve something difficult like building a rocketship to the moon!

For many, faith in Christ as the only way to God is a difficult thing. But even more difficult for even more is having a change of heart and a genuine turning away from sin (as the bible defines sin). A complete submission to God’s Word and these two prerequisites (faith and repentance) make baptism the easy part. And it must be emphasized; it is not merely baptism. It is baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

Many people believe that as long as they are worshiping God in whatever form they believe to be “correct”, everything is ok. After all, it’s the thought that counts, isn’t it? But the Bible teaches us that God does not want us to worship Him in any form we feel is ok, but according to His will, according to His Word. Indeed, it is quite possible to “worship” God—but in vain. Jesus warned us against worshiping God in vain:

They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men. You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men." –Mark 7:7-8

This site is designed to dispel one of the biggest deceits Satan has come up with yet: namely that baptism is not a required component of God’s plan of salvation as revealed in the Scriptures.

It will also illustrate who is a qualified candidate for baptism and answer the most common objections to baptism being required for salvation.

There are those who will be critical of this work, even in the churches of Christ. But what these critics fail to realize is that if the devil can eliminate baptism from the gospel, he can effectively render the whole gospel powerless to save. There are those who will be blind to this message, not seeing that John, who was named the baptizer, and whom Christ said there is none greater born among women than he, preached a baptism for the forgiveness of sins (Mark 1:4, Luke 3:3). This should illustrate the importance of this site . To those that say we emphasize baptism “too much” I say, we do not emphasize it nearly enough. For if we had, there would be more people in heaven and fewer souls deceived by false teaching and false doctrine on their way to the eternal fires of hell. When one truly understands the far reaching implications and application of baptism as it is taught in the New Testament Scriptures-- in its completeness and entirety--with all the things associated with it such as faith, repentance, sin, judgment, and the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, one will see the depth of the whole gospel message all wrapped up in this one event. (Romans 6:3-8) It is only then can one truly understand and appreciate the phrase, “baptism is the gospel”. It is the good news that caused Martin Luther to pen the following:

 

“Therefore every Christian has enough in Baptism to learn and to practice all his life; for he has always enough to do to believe firmly what it promises and brings: victory over death and the devil, forgiveness of sin, the grace of God, the entire Christ, and the Holy Ghost with His gifts. In short, it is so transcendent that if timid nature could realize it, it might well doubt whether it could be true. For consider, if there were somewhere a physician who understood the art of saving men from dying, or, even though they died, of restoring them speedily to life, so that they would thereafter live forever, how the world would pour in money like snow and rain, so that because of the throng of the rich no one could find access! But here in Baptism there is brought free to every one's door such a treasure and medicine as utterly destroys death and preserves all men alive. Thus we must regard Baptism and make it profitable to ourselves.”

Let us never forget that only in baptism can we find the power of the gospel. It is my hope and prayer that your study of this site will ultimately result in your being in heaven with the Lord Jesus Christ for all eternity.

 

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