By Rev. Dr. Curian Kaniyamparambil
We have just seen from the Bible that through baptism we:
When the Bible proclaims as above, without a doubt or interpretation, it is obvious that the above argument is incorrect.
In order to make things clearer, we should examine the Biblical verses that are quoted to support the above view. The proponents of the above argument quote five verses.
John 1:12 -"But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God to those who believe in His name"
John 3:16 -"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him might not perish but might have an everlasting life?
Gala 3:26 - "For you are all Sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus"
Eph. 2:8 - "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is gift of God"
Acts 16:31 -"So they said" (Paul and Silas) "believe on Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved, you and your household."
Let us take each of these verses and discuss it fully:
The key word here is receive him. What does this word mean? It means that He is one with us while we accept Him. In Roman 6:3 "Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?"
Ever lasting life is given to a person, not only by believing in the begotten Son, but also by committing to what Jesus asked one to do in Mat. 28:19. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit? Considering Mat. 28:20 teaching to observe all I have commanded you? we can see that believers should do three things: 1) Listen to the teachings 2) Become a disciple (i.e. believer) and 3) be baptized.
We see the above teachings in the epistles to the Galatians. In Gala 3:26, you become sons of God through the faith in Jesus Christ? In the very next sentence he gives a further explanation as how we are taken into Christ (i.e. whether by faith alone or not). For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ? This shows that Galatians who were gentiles not only believed in Jesus Christ but were also baptized when Paul preached to them. We cannot find a sentence in Acts, where the apostles allowed one to believe in Jesus, and thereafter leave without receiving baptism. If baptism was not needed for salvation, Jesus Christ would not have commanded to baptize, nor would have the Apostles baptized people.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is gift of God. What does Paul communicate here? It means that a man is saved by the grace of God, because of His love and affection for us. God gave this to us without a request or petition from us, but by His generosity. The Son of God did not come down because we demanded or because we compelled God. This is what Paul proclaims through these verses.
If people still firmly believe that salvation is sure by faith alone, they should not force anyone to receive baptism. Why force people into something un-necessary for salvation?
Let us look at Acts 2:38. "Repent and let every one be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and you shall receive the gift of Holy Spirit." The Orthodox Churches believe and proclaims so in their creed. Baptism is for the remission of sins.
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