Subscribe in a reader or enter your address to get posts via email: 
Like this blog on Facebook!

Monday, February 11, 2013

A Matter Of Procedure

'Hearts Wrippled in Time' photo (c) 2008, LadyDragonflyCC <3 Canon~vs~Samsung - license: a reader posted a comment on one of my blog entries from a couple of months ago, and although I replied there in the comments, the reply was getting long and I wanted to develop it into something more in its own post. The original comment (which oddly seemed to have little to do with the original blog entry) is:
Your verse in john 3:16 has a miss print "He that believes and is baptized shall be saved " there are plenty if others here's a couple mark 16:16 Jesu says it again ,acts 2:38 the whole bible is inspired by God not just what we edit for what ever reason Billy Gramm once said he don't preach baptism because he wouldn't have as many followers oops I give anyone $500 if they can prove you don't need baptized
My reply was as follows:
Acts 16:30-31 - the Philippian jailer asked "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" Paul and Silas simply replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household." Although the jailer did ultimately get baptized, Paul and Silas, in a simple answer to a simple question, did NOT include it as a requirement. He was saved as soon as he believed in the Lord Jesus.

Romans 10:9 states the requirements for salvation this way: "...if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." Again, no requirement of baptism is included.

I've matched your Mark 16:16 and your Acts 2:38, which seem to include baptism as a requirement, with two verses that absolutely do not include it as a requirement. Maybe the "misprint" you're talking about is in your two verses? I'm feeling pretty safe in saying that John 3:16, which is probably the most popular Scripture verse in the whole entire Bible, has been gone over with a fine-toothed comb any number of times. Do I get $500, or since I proved it twice do I get $1,000?
I don't expect to hear back from commenter "Mark" - at this writing I haven't. If I do, I expect it to be mostly an argument containing a lot of Theological hair-splitting. In fact, I can split some of those hairs myself... if you look at the two verses I cited, they say that if you believe in the Lord Jesus, you will be saved. It doesn't say you immediately are saved. So there's room for bullying people into getting baptized with those two Scriptures too, if you want. But I don't see things that way.

In 1 Samuel 16:7, it is recorded that God said to Samuel "For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart." God's not as interested with the procedures we follow as with what's in our hearts when we follow them. The Old Covenant provided tons of procedures that you could follow to bring you nearer to God, and I truly believe that if someone had been able to follow them perfectly, they would totally not have needed the salvation that Jesus brought. They would have been made righteous by the Law alone. The fact is, though, that until Jesus, nobody was able to do it. Everyone had the disadvantage that they were creatures hindered, let's say, as if by a birth defect. We couldn't walk straight, because we were born with a lame leg. No matter how hard we try, we simply are unable to live up to the rules and regulations which, if we had been able to live up to them, would have provided righteousness to us. That's what the Law was given to teach us: we just can't do it. Rules and regulations don't work for us. We needed someone to finish the work for us and give it to us as a gift. That person was Jesus.

Which brings me back around to my point. God spent thousands of years driving home His point that we are unable to obtain righteousness through performing the correct activities. Why would God turn around and load another activity on us as a requirement to come to Him? Wasn't Jesus' work sufficient? Didn't God tell Samuel that He looks at the heart, not on outward appearance? Baptism is an outward act, there to be a sign to other human beings. It's an "outward appearance" thing; it happens to your body, not within your heart.

I am a firm believer in baptism. I think baptism is a wonderful sign of the change that has happened to the believer. I do think that there is something spiritual that happens when you are baptized. But I do not think it is a requirement for Salvation. I just don't think God is looking for excuses to keep people out of Heaven. "Hello, Mr. Jones. I see here in the Book of Life that you believed in the Lord Jesus in your heart... very good, very good... and you even confessed Him as your Lord with your mouth, that's wonderful! Oh... oh no. Mr. Jones, I'm afraid you never were baptized. I'm sorry, but even though you made a heart decision to choose Jesus as your Savior and follow Him, because you did not get baptized, you're going to have to go to Hell instead of Heaven. Too bad for you." The idea just seems kind of ridiculous to me.

I've been baptized. I recommend that everyone who becomes a Christian get baptized. It's a very special, valuable experience. But I think that people become Christians immediately, as soon as they allow the Holy Spirit to change their hearts. I think Jesus did the job completely. I think he purchased the gift, wrapped it up and put a bow on it, and offered it to anyone who would accept it. I just don't think there's any extra requirement for Salvation after that.

No comments: