The Role of Baptism and Communion
The Sub-Doctrine of Salvation - Part 2
Most Asked Questions About Baptism
1. Is baptism necessary for salvation?
The answer is yes. Only saved people can claim to be obedient to the gospel, can claim to be disciples, can say that they are forgiven, filled with the Holy Spirit, members of the body, etc. Only saved people can claim to have these things and these things are given and come into effect at baptism. Previously, 10 scripture references were listed in order to prove this point.
2. Does the Bible not say we are saved by faith?
Yes, it does, but when it teaches this it is always in response to those who are trying to be saved by a system of law or culture. Salvation has always been by faith, not by perfect law-keeping or belonging to a specific culture (Romans 3:27-30). Faith, however, has always been expressed according to God's will in concrete ways, for example: Noah's faith expressed in building the ark; Moses' faith expressed in returning to Egypt to face Pharaoh; believers in Jesus expressed their faith in repentance and baptism (Acts 2:38).
In the New Testament the writers always contrasted faith versus law, not faith versus baptism. The writers understood that baptism was an act of faith that demonstrated the authenticity of their belief. A person who believed the gospel expressed that faith in repentance and baptism and was thus saved. This is what "obeying the gospel" actually means.
3. What about Romans 10:10-13?
10for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. 11For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed."
12For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; 13for "Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved."
This passage is used by Evangelicals to prove that the "moment" of salvation is when one gives intellectual acceptance, when one thinks or decides to believe, this is the historical moment of salvation, not baptism. The reason they believe this is because they do not interpret this passage in its proper context. I could do the same thing with other passages. For example:
46and He said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, 47and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
- Luke 24:46-47
If this were the only passage I used, I could say that repentance was the point of salvation, not faith or baptism.
You have to see the passage in context, what does Romans 10:10-13 mean in context? Let us see what Paul is talking about in Romans:
- Romans chapters 1-3 – All men are guilty of sin.
- Romans chapters 4-5 – God's plan of salvation through reconciliation achieved by Christ.
- Romans chapters 6-8 – The response to God's offer and the terms of this new life in Christ.
- Romans chapters 9-11 – Why the Jews did not believe.
- Romans chapters 12-16 – How to live as Christians in this world.
Romans 10:10-13 is a passage located in the section where Paul is explaining why the Jews, who had great spiritual advantages, failed to receive the promised salvation. Paul is comparing the Gentiles (who did not know God but accepted Jesus), to the Jews (who had the Law, the prophets and the promises but rejected Him). He says that the Jews rejected Jesus because, among other things, they tried to achieve righteousness through law keeping and ritualism, and thought they were succeeding (9:32-10:3).
He goes on to say that the Gentiles, on the other hand, pursued salvation through a system of faith in the Savior, His cross and their response to Him. At this point he quotes from the Old Testament to demonstrate that this idea of "salvation through a system of faith" was known in Old Testament times and was not a new doctrine (as the Jews may have accused him of teaching). This was not new theology; it was taught by the prophets themselves! (Verse 11, Isaiah 28:16 and verse 13, Joel 2:32)
He is explaining the method God uses to save us: faith, not the response to the gospel which is faith expressed in repentance and baptism (Romans 6).
4. Should I be re-baptized?
Many ask this question because they are not sure how to resolve the issue. In Acts 19 we have good information to help us decide this issue. In Acts 19 Paul re-baptized 10 men who had been baptized in the proper way (by immersion) but for the wrong reason (John's baptism of repentance and preparation for the coming of Christ). He explained salvation to them in terms of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38) and re-baptized them so they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Now, Paul could have explained salvation using any number of images (sonship, clean conscience, clothed with Christ), but he did not, he chose only one image of salvation and baptized them (forgiveness and the reception of the Holy Spirit - Acts 2:38).
Here are the questions to ask when it comes to rebaptism:
1. Was I baptized the right way?
By immersion in water, as a repentant believer in Christ. If you are not sure that you have done this (if you were sprinkled or poured, etc.), redo your baptism correctly (by immersion).
2. Was I baptized for the right reason?
The reason for baptism is salvation. That salvation could have been explained to you in various ways:
- Baptized to obey the gospel (Mark 16).
- Baptized to become a disciple (Matthew 28).
- Baptized to be born again (John 3).
- Baptized to receive forgiveness and the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).
There are other biblical reasons, but these should suffice for sake of argument.
When you are baptized for one of the ideas connected to salvation, you receive all the blessings of salvation.
For example, when I was baptized in 1977, I did it to obey Christ and be forgiven of my sins. I did not realize at the time that I had also received the Spirit, was clothed with Christ, became Son of God, etc. The Bible teaches that If you have one of these, you have them all.
If, on the other hand, you were baptized for a reason not connected to salvation: to show that you were saved at some other time, to please your parents, to join a particular church, to do it so you could take communion, you are in error. These are not biblical ideas and you should reconsider and restudy the issue.
Biblical Reason + Biblical Method = Biblical Salvation
Major Christian Doctrine and Communion
There is a beautiful fulfillment and dynamic at work when we take the Lord's Supper, because in this action are stitched together all of the doctrines we have spoken of as well. In Acts 2:42, one of the first actions we see the recently baptized converts doing is sharing the Lord's Supper.
Whereas baptism marks the historical moment when we appropriate all the blessings provided for us through God's plan of salvation, communion is a commemoration of God's plan throughout history.
1. The symbols remind us of the plan.
The choice of Christ, the perfect sacrifice broken for us.
Death as a payment to bring freedom and life.
2. The common action of eating and drinking remind us of the benefits.
Innocent, acceptable children, holy before God, eating and drinking with each other.
This is why communion is taken after baptism and not before.
3. The repetition each Lord's day.
As a reminder to the world that God's plan will one day be completed when the Lord comes again.
Once again let us try to summarize what we have learned so far in a single thought: Through baptism and communion, God's plan of salvation and man's faith come together in a concrete physical form that blesses man and honors God.
- Provide a response to each of these questions:
- Is baptism necessary for salvation?
- Does the Bible not say we are saved by faith?
- What about Romans 10:10-13?
- Should I be re-baptized?
- Discuss the role of communion as it is associated with salvation.
- How can you use this lesson to grow spiritually and help others come into a relationship with Jesus?