Posted by Mark Lindley on 13 July 2016 | Comments

What does the Bible teach about baptism, works, and salvation? All who study the Bible will immediately agree that salvation from sin is not “by works.” Many verses of the New Testament reveal this Biblical fact: “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” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Paul wrote to Titus: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5). Paul also wrote concerning salvation: “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (II Timothy 1:9).

            Notice that each of these verses has something in common. Each verse states that salvation does not originate by works. Salvation is not “of works,” “by works,” nor is it “according to our works.” Any honest student of the Bible would readily agree with this doctrine.

            However, doctrinal problems arise when people begin interpreting verses, such as the ones just mentioned. Many interpret “not of works” to mean “not by baptism.” Their argument is as follows: 1) Salvation is not by works; (2) Baptism is a work; (3) Therefore, salvation is not by baptism.

            There are many problems with this argument, but the main problem is that the Bible states that salvation is not of works—it does “not” state that salvation is “not of baptism.” The idea that “works” refers to baptism is a pre-conceived idea, invented by those who do not believe baptism is for the remission of sins. Therefore, anytime they see “works” in the Bible, they immediately interpret the word “works” to refer to baptism.

            Did you know that no scripture of the Bible refers to baptism as a work? That is worth repeating: no verse of the Bible refers to baptism as a “work”! Those who teach that baptism is a “work” need to realize that “baptism” is an act of obedience, and obedience to the Gospel is required (Hebrews 5:8-9; II Thessalonians 1:6-9). Those who want to throw out “all works” fail to recognize that when they teach that sinners must believe, repent, confess Jesus as Lord, “accept Jesus,” say the “Sinner’s Prayer,” “receive Jesus as personal Savior,” etcetera, they do the thing they attempt to condemn. That is, they teach that sinners must “do” something to be saved! They teach this long list of things sinners must do, but then label baptism as a “work.”

            Why not just accept that there is one additional act of obedience that is necessary for salvation? Why not just admit that works of obedience are necessary (James 2:24)? Why not just admit that the Bible teaches that baptism is a simple act of obedience required of God? Please read with an open heart Acts 2:38; 22:16; I Peter 3:21; Mark 16:15-16.

            Yes, the Bible teaches that salvation is not by works. However, baptism is never identified in Scripture as a work! Baptism is an act of obedience and obedience is required of God.



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