Vol.I No.X Pg.3
October 1964

Emphasis On Baptism

Robert F. Turner

This story is told about a preacher who preached on the subject of baptism, sermon after sermon. Finally one member, in desperation, asked him to preach on Gen. 1:1, or creation.

The preacher began, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth-- the clouds, the land, and the water-- which reminds me---" so they had another sermon on baptism.

It is expedient for us to discuss more thoroughly those subjects about which there is greatest misunderstanding; hence, baptism has had a multiple work-out. Some of us may have emphasized this subject to the neglect of other important topics, but we have not violated the scriptures in teaching the necessity of baptism.

The great commission, sending the Apostles into all the world, and putting in motion the church as a teaching institution, is very clear on the subject. Matthew records Christ as saying, "--teach all nations, baptizing them--" and Mark reports, "he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved--" (Matt.28:19 Mk.16:16) In the first application of this commission (Acts 2:38) Peter commands, "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."

In the cases of conversion recorded in the Acts of the Apostles one must be blind indeed not to see baptism. On Pentecost, in Samaria, the eunuch, Saul, Cornelius, Lydia, the Philippians, Corinthians, Ephesians-- all were baptized. The evidence is so profuse that discussion is limited by space and time-- not material. Then the epistles confirm our findings from Acts of the Apostles. Paul wrote, "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." Did Paul "overemphasize"? (Rom. 6:3-4)

Water was the dividing line between a sin-cursed generation and the clean new world in Noah's time; and Peter said, "The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us --". (1 Pet.3:21) The negative clause, ("not the putting away of the filth of the flesh--") eliminates direct physical cleansing ("water salvation" as some put it) but actually strengthens the truth. Baptism, a figure, is a God-given figure, required of all who would be saved.

Whatever God requires of us in order to our salvation, may be said to "save" us. This is true of faith. If God had not made faith a condition of salvation, there would be no propriety in saying we are "saved by faith." Thus, when Peter says we are saved by this figure, baptism; he is fully consistent with every passage that shows baptism is commanded "for the remission of sins." (See Acts 2:38)

Should we emphasize "baptism"? To the extent this is needed in order to save men's souls -- YES! And woe to the weak in faith who ignore it.