Vol. 2 - No. 6

June, 1983

"Baptism Is Not

For The Remission of Sins"

by R. L. (Bob) Craig

I just read a peculiar statement; peculiar in view of the fact that it was in a book written by a religious man with a fundamental attitude concerning the Bible. The book was a Baptist Manual. The statement was -- "Baptism is NOT for remission of sins." It seems like anyone who believes the bible ought not to question baptism for the remission of sins, but they do. We might shrug off the statement also with the reasoning that, after all, this was a Baptist and such is their history. And, perhaps we would ignore it, but this is the basic concept of almost all of the religious world and these sectarian notions seem to rub off on the brethren. So, let's consider the old question, once again, in view of what the Scriptures teach.

It should be enough to just quote Acts 2:38: "Repent, and be baptized, everyone of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins…" But, someone reasons that "repent" is just as much a command FOR remission of sins as baptism, therefore, it is not right to say, "BAPTISM for the remission of sins." Then, too, this Baptist writer says that BLOOD is actually what remits sin and he mentions Hebrews 9:22: "…without the shedding of blood is no remission." And Matthew 26: "This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins."

I am just as much aware of all the Scriptures concerning remission as any of these other writers. In fact, I might even go farther and remind our readers that there are several equivalent terms used rather than the remission of sins such as, "saved, salvation, wash away, forgiveness, redemption, reconciliation, eternal life, born again, etc., etc." All of these words or terms mean, basically, the same thing -- standing justified in God's sight -- the remission of past sins.

Also, I readily grant that there are at least nineteen things to which remission of sins, or its equivalent, is attributed, such as blood, life, death, God, Christ, Holy Spirit, word, and others. So, what about just BAPTISM for remission?

All right, we are not talking about JUST baptism bringing about the salvation of anyone. I am suggesting that there are many, many, things that enter into the picture of salvation and I only ask that others be equally objective in their study of the subject as we shall be in this article. I would readily affirm that a person CANNOT have remission if just one of those nineteen things are lacking. But these who cry against baptism for remission are not willing to do what I have suggested. They want to talk about "faith only" or "wholly by grace" or some other false notion that I continue to challenge them on.

I am also ready to affirm, with all confidence, that "Baptism is FOR remission of sins." Separate and apart from baptism there IS NO REMISSION. We can talk about the grace of God from now on but until baptism, there is no remission. We can weep and lament concerning God's love for sinners but all the crocodile tears we may shed will not change the fact that until baptism, there is no remission. Let people cry and cavil about the blood washing away sin, and robes being cleansed by the same, and still there is no remission until baptism. Then there will be moaning and groaning about repentance and faith and -- still -- no remission until baptism.

Now I could write two or three more pages going over all the components of salvation -- remission -- but anyone who is an honest Bible student can see the point. No one that I know of -- except the baby baptizers -- believe that anyone can have remission by water ONLY -- not even Alexander Campbell. BUT -- no one can have remission without WATER.

God has made every provision for the salvation of man -- "the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared…(Titus 2:11). John prepared people for the coming of Messiah; men were prepared to carry the good news in the personal ministry of Christ; Jesus died on the cross; God raised him from the dead and exalted him in the throne room of heaven at his own right hand; the Holy Spirit was sent to reveal the mind of God to man; the messengers heralded heaven's message to man; man believed that message and cried in anguish for deliverance; but there was none. In spite of all these heavenly preparations, there was no remission -- UNTIL -- man, himself, responded --and when those responders were baptized, they were the saved of God; they had remission of sins.

Just as God put salvation for Noah and his family the other side of the water, even so it is with us and Peter testified to that (1 Peter 3:20-21). Just as the healing of leprosy for Naaman was after the water, so in our healing from the disease of sin (2 Kings 5:14). Just as salvation was on the other side of the water of the Red Sea for Moses and the host of Israel (Numbers 14:30) so is salvation for us on the other side of the water. Just as the promised land lay on the other side of Jordan, even so our promised land lies on the other side of baptism.

Baptism is the means of ingress into all those things "that eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor had entered into the heart of man" -- the blessings of God -- remission of sins -- on the other side of the water.

Who will deny it? Not one who loves the divine truths found in the Book. Who will accept it? All those who depend on the love and mercy of the heavenly Father; those who call on the name of his Son by obedience to His will; all those who have a deep seated love, trust, confidence and regard for the Word which is the product of the Holy Spirit.

What about YOU?