Faithlife Sermons

Why is Baptism Rejected?

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Is baptism for physical cleansing? Is baptism a work that earns our way into Heaven? Is baptism in order to get salvation or is it because of salvation? Why was Jesus baptized?

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Its Purpose is Misunderstood

Is there magic in the water? What happens to me when I go into the water? What good does it do?
The water is not for physical cleansing, it is the obedience to God
1 Peter 3:20-21
1 Peter 3:20–21 KJV 1900
Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. 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:
Matthew 3:13-15
Matthew 3:13–15 KJV 1900
Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.
Jesus did not have the need for forgiveness of sins, but He was baptized to be obedient to God.
God wishes for people to be baptized.
Mark 16:16
Mark 16:16 KJV 1900
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
The purpose of baptism is to spiritually enact what Jesus physically enacted. Jesus was crucified, died, was buried, and resurrected, all physically. We are to crucify our old way of life, kill the old man of sin, bury it in a watery grave of baptism, and resurrect to walk in a new life following Christ.
Romans 6:3-6
Romans 6:3–6 KJV 1900
Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
Galatians 2:20
Galatians 2:20 KJV 1900
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
Since we are baptized into Christ’s death, we come into contact with His blood, which was shed in His death.
Romans 6:3
Romans 6:3 KJV 1900
Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
His blood is the only cleansing agent that can wash away our sins. When we are baptized, it is the way we come into contact with the blood and death of Christ and it is then that we have our sins washed away.
Acts 22:16
Acts 22:16 KJV 1900
And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.
It is for salvation and not because of it.
The purpose of baptism may often be taught as “an outward sign of an inward change.” In other words, it is believed that you are saved and then you are baptized to show everyone that you are saved.
This contradicts Scripture, however.
Acts 2:38
Acts 2:38 KJV 1900
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
“Unto” means going toward something, not that you have already arrived. If you said, “I am going unto the grocery store.” while you were standing in the grocery store, we would wonder why you said that. You are not going unto something if you are already there. The word translated “unto” in the part “unto the remission of sins,” is from the Greek word “eis.” This word is also used in another instance.
Matthew 26:28
Matthew 26:28 KJV 1900
For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
The word “for” in the part “for the remission of sins” is also the Greek word “eis.”
Was Jesus going to the cross because the sins of people were already remitted? Or was He going because they had not yet been remitted? What was Jesus going to the cross “for”?
If Peter had meant to tell the Jews that they needed to be baptized because their sins had already been forgiven, he could have used the Greek word “gar,” which also means “for,” but it means “for” in the sense of “because.” Peter could have said, “Repent and be baptized because your sins are forgiven.” But he didn’t.

It is Seen as a Meritorious Work

Baptism may be rejected if it is viewed as a work that is done in an attempt to earn salvation, i.e. - a meritorious work.
There are different types of works.
Works of merit - You earn things by the work that you do
Works of obedience - You do things to obey, but do not necessarily earn what you get
I do work for my jobs and I get paid for the work that I do. When you earn money for work you do, we might call those works of merit.
I obeyed my parents, at least sometimes, and did works of obedience. But there is probably no way I earned all the things they did for me. We can call those works of obedience.
The Bible does teach that we do not earn our salvation through works of merit.
Ephesians 2:8-9
Ephesians 2:8–9 KJV 1900
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
But are we to be offered the grace of God and do nothing? Notice the next verse.
Ephesians 2:10
Ephesians 2:10 KJV 1900
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Even though Paul makes it clear we do not earn our salvation, he goes on to say that it is God’s will that we do good works. Clearly, there are works that we should do, even if they do not earn our salvation.
Is Jesus our perfect example? Did Jesus need salvation? Did He need to earn salvation? Did He do good works? Why? To be obedient to the Father. Was He baptized? Yes. Why? To be obedient to the Father.
God gave us freewill to accept Him or reject Him. He offers the gift of salvation through His Son. We can accept it or reject it. Jesus makes it clear that many will be lost in the end.
Matthew 7:21
Matthew 7:21 KJV 1900
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Didn’t God offer salvation? Yes. But many will be lost. Why? Because they chose not to do the works God wanted them to do. Were they works that would have earned them a spot in Heaven? No, because we can’t do enough works to earn our way into Heaven. Therefore, they must have been works of obedience.
Therefore, you cannot do enough meritorious works to earn your salvation, but you have to do works of obedience to obtain the salvation that is offered by the grace of God.
Being baptized is not something you do that earns you salvation. You don’t earn salvation because it is a free gift of God. Nevertheless, you are baptized in order to obtain that free gift. You are baptized in order to be obedient to God.
1 Peter 3:21
1 Peter 3:21 KJV 1900
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:
Peter says that baptism is not for physical cleansing but it is the answer of a good conscience toward God.
When do you have a bad conscience? When you know you should have done something and you didn’t do it. So, when do you have a good conscience? When you know you should have done something and you did do it. So, what is Peter saying regarding baptism? After you are baptized you will have a good conscience toward God because you know He wanted you to do it and you did it.
It is not a meritorious work, but it is a work of obedience.
It also may be interesting that baptism is a passive verb. Baptism can be in the active voice if you are the one doing the baptizing, but the person concerned is actually “being baptized,” meaning it is in the passive voice.
Other acts of salvation, such as believing, confessing, and repenting, may all be in the active voice regarding the person concerned, but baptism is in the passive voice.
Acts 2:38
Acts 2:38 KJV 1900
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
It’s interesting that the one passive action of salvation that a person has done to them may be dismissed as a work of merit, but all the other active things that the person actually does themself are not considered works.
Also, if one says baptism is not required because it is a work, but then says “belief” is required, they may be forgetting that “believe” is a verb and something that a person must do as a work.
John 6:29
John 6:29 KJV 1900
Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

It is Not Commonly Accepted as Necessary

It may be that the majority of religions do not preach the necessity of baptism.
The reasons may be numerous as we speculate that they could range from ignorance of the Scriptures to inconvenience. Each person and case would have to be examined individually, and we can’t read people’s minds.
We do know, however, that some people will reject obeying God because it was not what their loved ones believed, it would cause them to give up something they value more, etc.
But we must teach what the Bible teaches and build our lives on the foundation of Jesus Christ. If we reject what Jesus says on the matter, those words will come back to condemn us.
John 12:48
John 12:48 KJV 1900
He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.
What are the words of Jesus regarding baptism?
Mark 16:16
Mark 16:16 KJV 1900
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
Matthew 28:19
Matthew 28:19 KJV 1900
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
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