By Tom Wacaster
Winston Churchill is credited with this tongue-in-cheek observation: “Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.” I sometimes think that is precisely what denominational preachers do when it comes to this subject of baptism. Of course such foolishness is not limited to preachers for there are multitudes that imbibe error who, when confronted with truth, do precisely the same thing. When immediately confronted with passages that address the purpose of baptism and whether or not it is essential to forgiveness of past sins, they stumble over it, pick themselves up, and then hurry off as if nothing ever happened. An absence of love for the truth will open the door into one’s heart for a “strong delusion” that will cause a man to be lost. What a tragedy that men will be eternally condemned simply because they did not possess a love for the truth. God has communicated His will to us on this matter of baptism in terms so simple that it takes six years in a seminary to mess it up. Those who have not a love for the truth can (and will) read a passage, and then conclude that it simply does not mean what it says. They may do this intentionally, or they may do this because they have been deceived; but either way they delude themselves into believing a lie.
In my debate with a denominational preacher almost a decade ago I presented a chart on which I had placed two columns. The heading over the first column was, “When the Scripture says….” The heading over the second column read, “What it really means is….” I did this to contrast plain Bible teaching with the false doctrine of men. In order to conserve space I will not draw the two columns, but present to you here the blaring contradiction between what the Bible says and what men think it says or means. Are we to believe, for example, that when the Bible says “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved,” what it actually means is, “He that believeth and is saved should be baptized” (Mark 16:16). Shall we conclude that when the Bible says that “all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death” that what it actually means is, “All we who were baptized were already in Christ Jesus and were already in his death”? (Rom. 6:3) When the Bible says that “we were buried therefore with him through baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life” that what it means is “we walk in newness of life before we are buried in baptism”? (Rom. 6:4). Are we to believe that when Ananias said to Paul, “And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on his name” that what Ananias actually meant was, “Arise and be baptized to show that you have already been saved”? Finally, are we to conclude that when Peter wrote in 1 Peter 3:21, “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ” that what Peter meant was, “Baptism has nothing to do with your salvation”? Passages could be multiplied, but I think you get the picture. David Sain made this observation that is pertinent to this discussion: “Someone may say, ‘I’ve been rethinking the matter on baptism.’ Well, one may rethink these and other matters and change his mind, but that will not change what the Bible actually teaches. If I look at a microphone and call it a pencil, does that change what it is? Of course it does not. I can say what I want about it, but it will still be a microphone. And so it is with the truth. Man may say what he will about a Biblical matter, but what the Bible says about it remains the same” (Spiritual Sword Lectures 2005, Restoring the New Testament Church, page 224).
Many years ago a preacher made this observation. I may not have the words exact, and I cannot remember where I first heard it, but I think you’ll appreciate the point: “If a man is sincere, and is in religious error, and is then confronted with the truth, he will either cease to be in error, or he will cease to be sincere.” When it comes to baptism for remission of sins, it is simply a matter of believing what the Bible says, and then obeying it! Anything else is but folly!