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We have learned that faith and repentance are necessary to salvation, but alone they are not enough. To fulfill or accomplish their purpose, they must lead to obedience. In this lesson we will consider two specific commands that must be obeyed in order for the sinner to be converted.
One command that must be obeyed by a person lost in sin is the command to confess Jesus.
Consider the following passages and note what people should confess about Jesus.
>>> Please read John 1:49. <<<
*1,2* Whom did Nathanael confess Jesus to be? Answer: He said Jesus was the __________ and the __________ .
>>> Please read John 4:42. <<<
*3,4* What did the Samaritans say about Jesus? Answer: They believed He is the Christ , the __________ of the __________ .
>>> Please read John 9:35-38. <<<
*5* What confession was made by the man Jesus had healed of blindness? Answer: When Jesus informed him that He was the Son of God, the man answered, "Lord, I __________ ."
Note that confession may consist of simply giving an affirmative answer to a question about our faith in Jesus.
>>> Please read John 11:27; Matthew 16:15-17. <<<
*6,7* Who did Martha and Peter say Jesus is? Answer: They said He is the __________ , the Son of __________ .
A person must confess what they believe about Jesus (John 9:38; 11:27), and they must believe Him to be whatever the Bible affirms Him to be. He is the Christ (the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament to be the King over God's people), the Savior of the world, and the Son of God (God in the flesh, possessing Deity). As such, He is the Lord whom we must obey (Rom. 10:9,10). Note that we studied the meaning of these terms for Jesus when we discussed faith.
>>> Please read Romans 10:9,10. <<<
*8* Why is confession needed? Answer: With the mouth confession is made unto __________ .
>>> Please read 1 Timothy 6:12,13. <<<
*9* What had Timothy done when he was called to eternal life? Answer: He had confessed the __________ in the sight of many witnesses.
Note that we are called to eternal life by the gospel (2 Thess. 2:14). So when he heard the gospel of salvation (and believed it), Timothy had confessed the good confession about who Jesus is, even as Jesus Himself had made such a confession before Pilate (Matt. 27:11; Mark 15:2; Luke 23:2,3; John 18:36,37).
>>> Please read Acts 8:36-38. <<<
(Note that, in some translations, you must look in a footnote for v37.)
*10* Why did the treasurer need to tell Philip what he believed about Jesus? Answer: The treasurer wanted to be __________ , but before Philip would do so he needed to know the man had faith.
Likewise today, baptism is meaningless unless the person believes in Jesus. So the one who is being baptized needs to tell the people present that he does have faith.
>>> Please read Matthew 10:32,33. <<<
*11* What are the consequences of confessing (or not confessing) Jesus? Answer: If we confess Him before men, He will __________ . But if we deny Him, He will deny us.
>>> Please read 1 John 4:15. <<<
*12* Why is it important to confess Jesus is the Son of God? Answer: Whoever confesses Jesus, God __________ and he abides in God.
>>> Please read John 12:42,43. <<<
*13* What problem did these people have? Answer: Although they knew who Jesus was, they would not __________ .
Obviously, these people were not true disciples. This shows that those who will not confess Christ cannot really be His disciples.
Note that many of the above examples refer to people who confessed Christ at the time they became His disciples. Confession, like faith, should continue throughout a Christian's life. But also like faith, one must meet this condition in order to become a true disciple of Christ (a Christian) to begin with. This confession is called "the good confession" and is essential in order for one to be saved.
Finally, note that confession requires a physical, outward act. If a person denies the need to obey commands in order to be saved, he (perhaps unknowingly) is denying that confession is necessary to salvation, since it is a command to obey. But if one acknowledges that confession is necessary, then he must agree that outward obedience is essential to salvation.
Conversions in the gospel always involved water baptism. This is part of the obedience God has commanded. Consider the Bible teaching about baptism.
We have studied several conditions that are necessary to salvation. Notice which ones must occur before one can properly be baptized.
>>> Please read Mark 16:15,16. <<<
*14,15* What should happen before a person is baptized? Answer: The __________ must be preached to him and he must __________ it.
>>> Please read Galatians 3:26,27. <<<
*16* What was necessary for these people to become children of God? Answer: They were children of God by __________ , because they had been baptized into Christ.
Note that the faith came before they were baptized.
>>> Please read Acts 8:5,12. <<<
*17* What happened before these people were baptized? Answer: The message about Christ and His kingdom was __________ to them and they believed it.
In all these passages, people learned the gospel message and believed it before baptism.
>>> Please read Acts 2:41. <<<
*18* Who was baptized here? Answer: Those who __________ were baptized.
>>> Please read Acts 2:38. <<<
*19* What were they commanded to do before baptism? Answer: They were commanded to __________ and be baptized.
Remember also that our study of confession showed that one must confess in order to be converted. Specifically, in Acts 8:35-38 the treasurer confessed Christ before he was baptized.
So the Bible teaches that all the conditions of salvation that we have studied must occur in a person's life before he can be baptized. He must hear the gospel, believe in Jesus, repent, and confess Christ.
Since these are necessary prerequisites, would it be right to baptize someone who had not met these conditions? Since babies cannot meet any of these conditions, would it be right to baptize them? Remember that we already learned that babies do not inherit guilt from Adam, therefore babies do not need to be baptized. We will study more about infant baptism later.
When God reveals what He wants us to do in His service, we have no right to change His instructions but must obey exactly as He said (Matthew 15:9,13; Galatians 1:8,9; 2 John 9-11; Colossians 3:17; Jeremiah 10:23; Proverbs 14:12; 3:5,6). What has He revealed as the proper action for water baptism? Is it a sprinkling, pouring, or immersion? Consider these passages:
>>> Please read John 3:23. <<<
*20* What reason is given to explain why John chose the place where he baptized? Answer: He chose the place because there was __________ there.
Which requires much water: sprinkling, pouring, or immersion?
>>> Please read Mark 1:9,10. <<<
*21* How is Jesus' baptism described? Answer: He was baptized in the __________ and then came up from the water.
>>> Please read Acts 8:36-39. <<<
*22,23* How is the baptism of the treasurer described? Answer: They came to some water, they went __________ the water, Philip baptized him, and then they came __________ the water.
When denominations sprinkle or pour for baptism does the person who is baptized go down into the water, is he then in the water, and does he come up out of the water?
>>> Please read Colossians 2:12; Romans 6:3,4. <<<
*24,25* What are we told about the action of baptism here? Answer: We are __________ with Jesus in baptism and then __________ with Jesus, as the Father raised Him from the dead.
When Jesus was buried, was He completely surrounded in the element (the earth), or was a little dirt sprinkled or poured on Him (see Matt. 12:40; 27:60,66)? When a person receives sprinkling or pouring, is he "buried" in the element? Is he "raised" from it?
>>> Please read Hebrews 10:22. <<<
*26* When our hearts are sprinkled from an evil conscience, what happens to our bodies? Answer: Our bodies are __________ with pure water.
The only New Testament practice this can refer to is water baptism. In baptism, the heart is sprinkled by the blood of Jesus (this must be spiritual, since it cannot be physical). But this happens when the body is washed in water. Note that the body is washed, not just the head.
The proper meaning of words is determined by their usage in context. The context of passages regarding water baptism shows that it requires much water, coming to water, going down into water, being baptized in the water, having the body washed, being buried and raised, and coming up out of the water. Which meaning fits this information: sprinkling, pouring, or immersion?
(Note that dictionary definitions are determined by usage in context. Modern English dictionaries define "baptize" as used today, not as used in the Greek of New Testament times. But if you check English dictionaries for the original Greek derivation of the word, you will find they list meanings such as "immerse," "dip," "plunge," etc).
For further information about sprinkling, pouring, or immersion for baptism, please see the links at the end of this lesson.
We have already learned that an unconverted sinner is not saved simply by believing. Contrary to what some claim, obedience is also required in order to have true saving faith. That obedience includes confession of Christ. We have also learned that baptism is commanded. Let us consider now the proper purpose of baptism; in particular we want to know whether or not, like confession, baptism is an act of obedience that is necessary in order for one to be saved.
Acts of service to God must be done from proper motives (Rom. 6:17,18; 1 Cor. 14:15; 11:26-29; 13:1-3; Psalm 51:6,10; Prov. 4:23). God seeks, not just outward correctness, but also a proper attitude that motivates our actions. When God authorizes an act, the purpose He reveals for that act is part of the pattern, and God has often warned us not to change the pattern He has revealed (see passages listed above).
Consider the proper purpose He has commanded as the reason why people should be baptized in water.
>>> Please read Mark 16:15,16. <<<
*27,28* Who will be saved according to this passage? Answer: He who __________ and is __________ will be saved.
*29* Where does salvation come in this passage: (a) before baptism, or (b) as a result of baptism. Answer: ____.
Some people claim that baptism is not necessary to salvation, but this passage makes baptism a condition for salvation just as surely as faith is.
>>> Please read Acts 2:38. <<<
*30* What did Peter say a sinner must do to receive remission of sins? Answer: He said to repent and be __________ for remission of sins.
Again, this passage shows that baptism is essential in order for a lost sinner (like the people Peter addressed) to receive remission of sins.
>>> Please read Acts 22:16. <<<
*31* What blessing was promised to Saul (Paul) as a result of baptism? Answer: He was told to be baptized and __________ his sins.
Notice again that the cleansing of sin does not precede baptism but is a result that follows from it.
>>> Please read Romans 6:3,4. <<<
*32,33* Into what does the passage say we are baptized? Answer: As many of us as were baptized into __________ were baptized into His __________ .
Baptism does not save us apart from the death of Jesus. Rather, after one has met the other conditions we have studied, baptism is the condition he must meet in order to reach or come into contact with Jesus' death. Furthermore, salvation is found in Christ (2 Tim. 2:10), so we cannot be saved outside Jesus. But we must be baptized in order to come into Christ where salvation is available.
And finally notice that baptism is necessary in order for one to walk in "newness of life" (v4). This is just another term for being born again, so baptism is an essential condition in order to be born again (cf. John 3:3,5).
>>> Please read Galatians 3:26,27. <<<
*34* How many people have put on Christ? Answer: As many as were __________ into Christ have put Him on.
Again, baptism puts us into Christ. Before baptism or without baptism, we are still outside Christ and do not have the benefits of salvation that only He can give. All of this must be done by faith (v26), but we are in Christ only after our faith has led us to be baptized (v27).
>>> Please read 1 Peter 3:21. <<<
*35* What does this passage say saves us? Answer: The salvation of Noah by water (v20) was a type or symbol of that which saves us (the antitype), namely __________ .
Baptism does not just wash away physical dirt, but it saves us through the resurrection of Jesus, which we have already seen was necessary along with Jesus' death in order to save us from sin.
So according to these Scriptures, baptism stands between a sinner and the following blessings: salvation, remission of sins, washing away sins, coming into Christ, coming into Jesus' death, and newness of life. These verses show the proper purpose or reason for being baptized.
What if a person has been baptized for some other reason? What if he was baptized thinking he had already been forgiven of sins, or what if he did not do it for the purpose of receiving salvation or remission of sins? How could his baptism be Scriptural and accomplish the proper purposes, if he did not do it for the purposes we have studied?
>>> Please read Acts 19:1-5. <<<
*36* What baptism had these men received? Answer: They had been baptized into __________ baptism, so they had to be baptized in the name of Jesus.
The baptism required by the gospel puts us into Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection as an accomplished fact (see Rom. 6:3,4; Col. 2:12; 1 Peter 3:21). But John's baptism was a preparation that looked forward to the coming of Jesus (v4). To receive John's baptism after Jesus died would therefore be invalid.
Note that these men had been baptized, and they had even been immersed in water. If the outward act is all that matters, their baptism would have been fine. But they had to be baptized again, because they had not done it understanding the proper purpose of baptism under the gospel. The same would be true of anyone today who has been baptized but did not understand the proper purpose.
When people teach that we are saved simply by believing so baptism is not necessary, they are teaching a different gospel (Gal. 1:8,9). Furthermore, those who believe such teaching have been misled and need to be baptized Scripturally in order to receive remission of their sins.
For further information about the purpose of baptism, please see the links at the end of this lesson.
Personal application questions:
Have you confessed Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of God? __________
Have you been baptized in water? __________
Was your baptism a sprinkling, pouring, or immersion?__________
If you have been baptized, which of the following is true in your case? (a) When I was baptized I understood that baptism is necessary to receive forgiveness of sins by the blood of Jesus, or (b) I did not understand the purpose of baptism when I was baptized, but I am now willing to be baptized Scripturally. __________
(C) Copyright David E. Pratte, 2004 (click for copyright information)
Pouring, or Immersion?
Is Baptism Essential to Salvation?
How Can You Be Sure of Forgiveness?
Should Alien Sinners Pray for Salvation?
Should Babies Be Baptized?
Saved Like the Thief on the Cross?
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Scripture quotations are generally from the New King James Version (NKJV), copyright 1982, 1988 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. used by permission. All rights reserved.