October 1981

"Their Water Is Sacred"

Curtis Wubbena

Among the many Eastern religions is a group called the Hindus. Just one of their many beliefs is the sacredness of certain rivers in India. The most sacred of all these is the Ganges. "...by bathing in them they can wash away their sins".

Prejudiced minds in the religious world attribute the "Church of Christ" with a similar superstition. Since we believe sins are "washed away" in the waters of baptism, our water must be sacred.

What soon becomes apparent is an improper understanding of obedient faith. The divine will of the Lord is for a sinner to "...arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins..." (Acts 22:16). The only reason sins are "washed away" in the waters of baptism is that God said so. To reject baptism for the remission of sins is to reflect a problem of faith. God said it, therefore the matter is settled. I must develop a belief in what He said.

This attitude regarding baptism is mentioned by Peter in his first epistle. "When 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: which also after a true likeness doth now save you, even baptism, not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the interrogation of a good conscience toward God, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 3:20-21). What saved Noah? It was his obedient faith coupled with the grace of God. "By faith Noah, being warned of God concerning things not seen as yet, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; through which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith" (Heb. 11:7). He had never seen a flood that could destroy the world. But, he was willing to trust God. To this end he was willing to make an ark. The ark was important in that the Lord had asked Noah to build it. God had promised safety to the obedient. Thus, it was not so much the ark, or the water that saved Noah, as it was the humble submission to Jehovah. We are then told that baptism works the same way, ("...which also after a true likeness doth now save you, even baptism...."). Obviously it is not the water that works alone. If that be true, either water is sacred or sin is "filth of the flesh". Peter reveals that neither is true. Baptism saves only because God said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved..." (Mk. 16:16). Thus, with humble submission we are buried with our Lord (Rom. 6:4), in the likeness of his death (Rom. 6:5), for the remission of our sins (Rom. 6:6).

It is possible that our religious friends have misunderstood the Bible teaching on baptism not only because of prejudice, but also because of some poor Christian examples. If we say baptism saves in light of an obedient faith, then let us act like it! Water baptism is the point at which our sins are taken away. However, we must continue to be faithful to the Lord until the day we die. May we leave the waters of baptism rejoicing that we are now able to be obedient children of God.