Does The Act of Baptism Save Us?
If baptism is necessary to salvation (meaning you cannot get into heaven without it, even though you believe, confess, and accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior and ask him to live in your heart), then why did Jesus tell the thief on the cross that he would be with him in heaven? The thief was not baptized, so did Jesus lie? Because if you MUST be baptized to enter heaven, then according to the church of Christ, the thief did not enter heaven like Jesus said he would. So, does the act of baptism save us?
Good question. Thanks for asking. No, we are not calling Jesus a liar. The thief on the cross was saved just as Jesus said he was saved. I think that we need to ask a further question. Can we be saved in the same way that the thief on the cross was saved?
God, by His grace has, throughout the ages, established different covenants with different people. God by His grace gave Noah a covenant to build an ark (Genesis 6:18). Noah was saved because he believed God and obeyed God within the covenant that God gave him.
God, by His grace, gave a covenant to the patriarchs such as Abraham. Abraham’s covenant was established with him and his seed (Genesis 15:18). Part of the requirements of that covenant were circumcision of all the male children (Genesis 17:10). Abraham was saved because he believed God and obeyed God within the covenant that God gave him.
God gave, by His grace, a covenant to the Israelites (Exodus 19:5). Part of the covenant that was given to the Israelites was blood sacrifices (Exodus 24:8). The children of Israel were saved because they believed God and obeyed God within the covenant that God gave them.
Today, we are not required by God to build an ark. We are not required by God to be circumcised. We are not required by God to offer blood sacrifices, because we are under a New Covenant -- the covenant of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 8:7 Hebrews 9:15-17). This covenant was given to us by the grace of God. This covenant came into effect based upon the death of Christ (Hebrews 9:16). The terms of this covenant were given after the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18,19; Mark 16:15, 16). Under this covenant we are commanded to be baptized (Acts 2:38; Acts 10:48). We believe that God will save us if we believe Him and obey Him within the terms of the covenant that He gives to us.
Under what covenant did the thief on the cross die? He could not have died under the New Covenant because the terms of that covenant had not yet been given when he died. Jesus had not been resurrected from the dead. (The thief died the same day as Jesus.) So, he died under the Old Covenant. God saved Him based upon his belief and obedience to that Old Covenant. God will save us based upon our belief and obedience to the New Covenant, so we cannot be saved in the same way that the thief on the cross was saved. Just like we are not saved in the same way that Noah was saved (by building an ark)...just like we are not saved in the same way that Abraham was saved (by circumcision)...just like we are not saved in the same way that the Israelites were saved (by offering blood sacrifices). We are saved based upon our belief and obedience to the covenant under which God has placed us.
So, to answer your question, the thief on the cross was not required to be baptized because that was not a requirement under the Old Covenant. We cannot be saved in the same way that the thief on the cross was saved because we are under a different covenant with God. Baptism is a requirement under the New Covenant and we better be obedient to it if we want God to save us. So, under the New Covenant, God does require us to be baptized “for the remission of sins.” Please study Acts 2:38; Romans 6:1-10; Galatians 3:28; and 1 Peter 3:21.
Why Do Christians Fall Away?
J. C. Choate
It is so thrilling to see people obey God. Those who do are richly rewarded with the forgiveness of their sins. As they become children of God, brothers and sisters in Christ, receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, they have the Lord’s promise that He will be with them and bless them and care for them. These rewards and blessings, however, do not come without responsibilities. The Lord gives, but He expects something in return. For instance, He expects His people to be faithful, loyal, and obedient to Him. This is very little in comparison to all that He gives and does for those who love Him.
When one knows what the Bible teaches about salvation, and all of the blessings that God bestows on His people, it is hard to believe that there would be those who would deny the Lord and return to the ways of the world, but some actually do this. Why would a Christian ever do such a thing? Let’s examine this matter and see what we can come up with. We would hope that in doing so, we might keep one or more from making such a tragic mistake.
Some Fall Away Because They Were Never Sufficiently Taught God’s Word. It is difficult to believe in Christ without knowing who He was, His purpose in coming, and what He requires of one. Paul said that “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). The Hebrew writer declared, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb. 11:6).
In giving the parable of the sower, Christ said that some of the seed "fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: And forthwith they spring up, because they had no deepness of earth: and when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away” (Matt. 13:5-6). In explaining that, He said, “But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he no root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended” (Matt. 13:20-21). Christ was saying that there are those who hear His word, but do not come to fully understand it and to believe it. They, therefore, do not count the cost and are not willing to pay the price when the time comes that they must give up something or must suffer some for Christ. To them, then, the only alternative is to quit.
Others Fall Away When They Are Left Alone in Some Place, Isolated From the Church, or when they are a part of some small congregation that does not give them enough help and encouragement to carry on. These are usually young Christians who have not grown and developed and matured to the point where they are strong enough to remain faithful. This reminds us again of our need for one another, of our need to meet each week to read and study God’s Word, to pray together and to pray for one another. We need this fellowship so that we can encourage one another and to involve ourselves in good works that will help us to grow personally and will help the church to grow in numbers. After the church was established in Jerusalem, the record says, “And they continued stedfastly in the apostle’s doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42).
Many Christians Fall Away Because They Are Influenced by the World. Those who are not Christians or those who are doing those things that are wrong will try to persuade God’s children to join them. They may try to do this in different ways. Some may mock and ridicule those who are following Christ. Others may tempt them to join them in their worldly practices. Sad to say, some are not strong enough to withstand such attacks. In the parable of the sower, Christ said that the seed that fell among the thorns represented those who hear the word, obey it, but allow the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches to choke the Word, and to be unfruitful (Matthew 13:22).
Some Brethren Are Deceived & Led Away Into Error. Besides all of the traditional religious errors that exist, there are constantly those who are rising up with some new teaching. That is why the Scriptures warn again and again that we be not deceived. For example, Paul wrote his brethren at Ephesus, “Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience” (Eph. 5:6).
Finally, There are Those Who Quit Because of Envy, Jealousy, & Not Being Able to Have Their way About Something. We would probably be surprised to know of the ones who fit into this category. These are the little petty things that brethren get involved in that can be deadly and destructive. Paul wrote of the spirit that Christians should have toward one another. He said, “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits” (Rom. 12:15-16).
There are many other causes why a percentage of the Lord’s people fall away. None of them are justified. Those who leave Him are very unwise. They not only give up their relationship with the Lord, and all of the good things that He can provide, but in their departure they are also giving up their hope of eternal life in heaven!
What Kind of Member Are You?
Gus Nichols (1892-1975)
There are all kinds of members referred to in the New Testament. Some had lost their first love (Rev. 2:4-5). Others had become only lukewarm (3:14-19). Some had forsaken the assembling of themselves together (Heb. 10:25). Others had gone all the way back and had fallen from grace (Gal. 5:1-4). Some never did return to the right way (John 6:66; 1 Pet. 2). There are many other classifications of members in the New Testament. Then there are some modern groups each of which has quite a following. What kind of a member are you?
Are you a “ONECER”—one who attends church services only once per week—on the Lord’s day morning? Such members enjoy good health, but they never come at night. Had they been at Troas, they would not have heard Paul preach until midnight, and would have missed the fine fellowship of the occasion, plus the witnessing of the miracle of raising a man from the dead there that night (Acts 20:7-14).
Some are church “TRAMPS”—they go tramping from one congregation to another, worshiping here and there, so as to dodge any responsibility for doing anything in the church and having any part in any real program of work. They are often called “Church Drifters.” They never settle down so as to work and grow in the church (1 Cor. 16:13).
Others are simply “LEANERS”—they “lean” on the church in every time of illness, mis- fortune, and the like, but they never contribute to its work. They are out to “get” and not to “give.” They are like the Dead Sea which has no outlet. They have no life. They are like sponges—they take in all they can hold but you have to squeeze them to get anything out of them!
Some others are “SPECIALS”—they work for the church on some special occasions which happen to appeal to them. But the regular work of the Lord has no appeal unto them. The every-day matter of being Christians is to them a drab affair. When they are tuned up they work enthusiastically, but no one ever knows when they are going to get rubbed the wrong way about something. They are “supporters” of that part of the work of the church that they like, but they oppose the other good works being done by others.
But some are “PILLARS”—they are always dependable. Without them the church would be a laughingstock in the community. They stand ready at all times to do what they can for the glory of God. They are happy that they have been saved, and feel that if they had a thousand lives to live, they could not do all they would like to do for the wonderful Saviour who came, bled, and died, that they might be children of God and have the happiness which they enjoy in the Lord, every day, along the way.
WHAT KIND OF MEMBER ARE YOU? You need not try to deceive anyone by your answer, for the way you are living proclaims daily the kind of member you are! Maybe you need to change your ways, and move up in the church—up to higher ground of Christian living. Many have changed who found themselves in a failing group, doing little or nothing for the church.
Because He LIVES . . .
We enjoy every spiritual blessing (Eph. 1:3).
We have redemption & forgiveness (Eph. 1:7).
We have an inheritance (Eph. 1:11).
We have His power (Eph. 1:19).?
We have been made alive (Eph. 2:5).?
We have been saved through faith (Eph. 2:8).?
We live with purpose (Eph. 2:10).?
Columbiana, AL 35051
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