PART 10 THE SPIRITUALITY PUZZLE
Is Salvation Obtained by Water Baptism?
PART 10 The Spirituality Puzzle
What causes someone to become a child of God and have assurance of eternal life?
Does Water Baptism Save Us?
Can the Head of a Household Repent and Believe for Their Household?
Some would call this salvation message water baptism regeneration. There are at least eight major church denominations that believe in this doctrine. It has quite an acceptance. What is water baptism regeneration? This is a church doctrine which proclaims that water baptism by sprinkling or immersion along with the person of the Holy Spirit causes an unbeliever to become a child of God. How did they come up with this view and is it scripturally sound?
According to them, when a baby is sprinkled in water or an adult is immersed, this baptism actually forgives the believer of their sins along with allowing him/her to enter into communion with Christ in his death, being buried with him, and risen with him as a new creature. And while this is going on, either the priest or the congregation prays to God the Father so that through his son Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit may be sent upon the water, which they would say confirms what constitutes the components of this salvation message, being born of the water and the Spirit131. The arrival of the Holy Spirit is important, because they allege, he provides the believer at this time with a new heart. Therefore, water baptism along with the Holy Spirit causes the unbeliever to become a child of God and therefore is allowed to enter the kingdom of God.
There is a lot to consider here. Let’s begin by looking at the scriptural basis for one of the ingredients of salvation which they say is water (water baptism).
A. Water Baptism
Born Of Water
John 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
They would say that this verse is pretty clear. Except whosoever is born of water (water baptism) and the Holy Spirit, he/she cannot enter the kingdom of God. Now, let’s take a look at another section of verses which support the view that water baptism is one of the two keys to get into the heavenly door.
Baptism Doth Also Now Save Us
1 Peter 3:20-21 Which sometime were disobedient, when once 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. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:
They would claim that as Noah and his family were saved by the water of the flood, the water would be a type to pre-figure the baptism that now saves us today, which is water baptism. The final verse they will use to support their view about water baptism is found in the book of Acts.
Repent, And Be Baptized
Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, 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.
This says to repent (a confession of sins; a hearty purpose to turn from them132), and be baptized (in water). When a baby is sprinkled in water it is obvious that they can’t confess their sins so according to them repentance is established for them from the faith of their parents, which is otherwise known as household salvation which we will look at next.
B. Repentance and Belief
Based on the verses used to support the idea that water baptism is one of the ingredients of salvation I would respond by saying that these scriptures clearly seem to be saying such. But what about the idea that a babies’ parent’s faith would provide repentance for them. What verses are used to support this perspective?
Let’s begin by going to the book of Acts chapter 11.
Thou and All Thy House Shall Be Saved
Suggested Reading: Acts 11:1-18
The apostle Peter has left the house of a gentile named Cornelius and is on his way back to Jerusalem. When he returns to the Jerusalem church, he is met by Jewish Christians who were upset with him because he went into the house of a Gentile and ate food, which was forbidden for any Jew under the tenets of the Mosaic Law. Then Peter tried to answer them by explaining the unusual circumstances that took place before he arrived at his house.
He said that he saw a vision, and immediately after it ended three men from Caesarea came into his house where he was residing and allegedly conveyed to him to come to the house of Cornelius, the confirmation of such was given to Peter by the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, he recounted that when he entered Cornelius’ house, Peter was told by him that an angel had appeared to him and said, send men to Joppa for a man called Simon (Peter), which Cornelius proceeded to do.
14 Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.
And then the angel made this astounding statement. This man Peter when he comes to your house will tell (announce) to you these words (all the doctrine of salvation133) whereby you and all your house will be saved.
One could conclude from this, and many churches have, that when Cornelius got saved, he repented for his kinsmen and they got saved. Can someone repent and believe for someone else and bring about their salvation?
Let’s find out and go back to the original story from Acts 10.
Whosoever Believeth in Him
Suggested Reading: Acts 10:1-48
43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.
44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.
What this tells us is that Peter told Cornelius and his kinsmen (of the same kin, related by blood) clearly what they needed to do in order to be saved and that was to believe in Jesus. And as he was speaking, the Holy Spirit fell (indwelt) those who believed the word (the gospel). What I wanted you to notice was, in order for anyone in the house to receive the indwelling Spirit they had to personally believe in Christ. If there were children, they had to be able to comprehend (some would call this having reached the age of accountability) what was said, and if they did repent and believe for themselves. No one else could repent and believe for them.
Let’s take a look at one more section of scriptures that are used to support the idea by some churches that if the father of a household gets saved, his whole house (family) will be saved.
Thou Shalt Be Saved, and Thy House.
Suggested Reading Acts 16:16-34
16 And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying:
This story begins right after a woman named Lydia received the word (the gospel) spoken by the apostle Paul, and was baptized. Apparently, Paul and Silas decided that they needed to go to prayer, where a place for it was designated by a river, which they had attended earlier. While they were on their way, a damsel (a slave girl) possessed with a spirit (an evil spirit) of divination (who told people what would happen in the future134) followed them around for many days. Paul sensing that she was demon possessed commanded the demon, who was residing in her, to come out, which he did. Her masters, who made money off of the spirit’s soothsaying, saw that their money-making scheme was now over. So, they proceeded to stir up the city, making accusations against Paul and Silas, with the result being, that they were apprehended and cast into prison.
While in jail, Paul and Silas were singing psalms as prayer to God, when all of a sudden an earthquake occurred causing the prison doors to open. The keeper of the prison, who was awoken from sleep seeing the doors opened thought that everyone had escaped and took out his sword to kill himself. But Paul cried out and said to him, do yourself no harm for we are all still here.
It’s interesting what happens next. The keeper goes to their cell with some kind of object that produces light and asked them what must he do to be saved. This tells me that he must have received some knowledge beforehand about Paul and Silas in that they were Christians.
31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
It appears that both of them at the same time said, believe in Jesus and you shall be saved, and your house (family). Here we go again. Some churches would teach that what this is saying is, that if the father or head of the household gets saved, they can believe and repent for their entire family. Is this what this really means? The phrase, and thy house, means and your household will be saved if they will also believe135. The idea being that each person in the house must hear the gospel and decide for themselves as to whether they should repent and believe is supported by the next verse.
32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.
And not only did both of them speak to the jailor initially, but then to all that were in his house, which could have included slaves and children. However, if there were children, then they would have to be able to hear the message and understand it in order to respond to it. What we have learned is that so-called "household salvation" has no basis in the Word of God - that is, that the decision of the head of the household brings salvation to the members of the household136.
There are many other scriptures that indicate that in order for someone to be saved, they have to make their own decision in regard to such. Here are some of them.
Ephesians 1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
Acts 8:36-37 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
Galatians 3:26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
Therefore, based on the fact that the salvation message of Water Baptism holds to the view that children, who are not yet able to hear the gospel and understand it are able to be saved based on the head of the household repenting and believing for them, this gospel has been removed from consideration as being a salvation message.
The third alleged salvation message we will look at is called the salvation message of Good Works. Is this based on scripture? We’ll find out by going to the next chapter.
Is Salvation Obtained by Good Works?
Can We Earn God’s Favor?
Now, we are going to take a look at the third gospel message, one that is probably the most popular, most followed, and which makes the most common sense. This one basically says, can I earn God’s favor by what I do for him according to some writing or writings, which seems to be from Him having been conveyed to someone on earth whether this is just one person or many? I think for most of us if someone could convince us that they had a writing or writings from God and if we obeyed the do’s and don’ts of it, we would become his child and go to a better place at death, we would probably follow what was said. Don’t you agree? So, hear is the question, can following a set format of do’s and don’ts that probably refer to behaving in a certain way and performing good works, cause God to consider us as his son or daughters and have waiting for us an eternal destiny when we die?
I’m sure as you are aware by now, I am using the King James Bible scriptures in this study. Those of other faiths would say this is invalid, because the writing or writings they adhere to advocate that good works, which their God encourages them to perform, are the basis for them being a follower of him and of him granting them to go to a place which he has prepared for them at death. I would agree with them that the writings of the King James and what they have to say will differ from their writings if they are not from the same source.
However, here is something I would like them to consider. This study is about finding out if there is a definite salvation message that provides evidence in someone’s life that they have indeed become a child of God and will go to better place at death. By evidence, I mean something tangible that we can’t produce. You might say, who are you to set the bar? I would respond to you by saying, what other bar is there? If we are left with a million faiths, each of which has their own system of good works that they believe will get their followers to a desirable place, then what we are saying is, that there are many ways to get to there or what else might be said without us realizing it, is there is no sure way.
The first thing I would like you to consider are the protocols that members of eight different mainstream faiths are asked to follow, which if they do will procure favor with whosoever the god is of this faith. Each faith will have one grammatical bullet ascribed. While there is a lot more to each faith than mentioned I think what is provided will allow us to form some conclusion as to what they believe causes their followers to become a child of God and go to better place at death.
●Be baptized in water; obey the sacraments, and observe certain religious days each year.
●Learn the first five books of the Bible and follow the guidelines of the faith.
●Follow the four noble truths and obey the eightfold path to enlightenment.
●Obey the Ten Commandments and follow the teachings of its founder.
●Observe the Five Pillars.
●Observe the 7th day Sabbath and agree with the 28 Fundamental Beliefs.
●A follower will end up in one of two groups of people. One group will have to be loyal to three areas of requirements while the other group are considered the chosen ones.
●Uses scientific approaches to help reach one’s fullest potential.
Did you notice what they all have in common? They are all asked to in a sense merit the salvation message. Did you get what I just said? The salvation message is earned. If this is true, then what this is saying is, all roads (faiths) lead to the same place at death. Is this true?
What do the scriptures from the King James Bible tell us about the salvation message? They probably will agree with this consensus, right? Are there any scriptures that support performing good works?
Acts 9:36 Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did.
Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
1 Timothy 5:10 Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.
1 Timothy 6:17-18 Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;
It appears to be that good works are the avenue to become a child of God and have assurance of eternal life? Is there anything else that scripture tells us about good works in respect to the salvation message?
Please to the book of Ephesians chapter 2.
Salvation by Works
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
This scripture conveys to us that that it is by grace that someone is saved (a present possession of salvation; saved and saved forever137; saved and as a result are in a saved state at the present time138) through faith (God justifies man through the worthiness in whom he believes; and that someone of heavenly origin takes the proposal of the word, the salvation message, and illuminates it in the person’s soul and the unbeliever chooses to believe it or not). We are not only told how an unbeliever is saved, but the rest of the verse tells us how someone is not saved.
And that (this salvation which is by grace through faith) has nothing to do with yourselves
(it is not earned; it is not of human merit; it does not have its source in man139). It is a gift (without money and without price) of God. This is emphasized again in the next verse.
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
This salvation is not of works (it doesn’t involve human activity), because if it did each of us would boast (a thing boasted of, a cause for pride140). This clearly tells us that salvation is not based on good works.
But let’s not draw a conclusion based solely on two verses. Are there any other verses that talk about a salvation message of Good Works which causes an unbeliever to become saved?
Please go to 2 Timothy 1.
Who Has Saved Us
2 Timothy 1:8-9 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; 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,
The apostle Paul is instructing Timothy to don’t even begin to be ashamed (embarrassed) of the Lord’s testimony (spiritual teachings that has influenced the ideals and practices of society141), nor of Paul himself of being a prisoner for the Lord’s sake, but to join courageously in the hardships of the salvation message according to God’s power which will help him to endure such.
And then Paul talked about the fact that God saved both of them by his calling (an effectual call into salvation in which the sinner called, willingly accepts the salvation God offers him142), which is a holy calling (with an invitation to a holy life which the one called is expected to live143). And then he makes this astounding statement, that this calling and salvation were not according to their own merits or earned by anything they have done, but according to God’s own purpose and grace, which involved someone of heavenly origin’s participation in the saving counsels of God prior to time144). In other words, Paul and Timothy were not chosen in eternity past in regard to salvation because God foresaw that in time each of them would perform certain good works as would be the reason for their calling and salvation.
This salvation message is entirely different from the eight salvation messages that we looked at earlier. It says that salvation is not and cannot be merited by us. Instead of saying all roads lead to the same place, where we are actually at is a crossroad. If we can’t earn salvation, then the gospel of good works has no place in the salvation process. And we could infer that whatever it is that would cause us to become a child of God and without a shadow of doubt gives us confirmation while we are here on earth that when we die our eternal place is secured is tangible, and yet not from our own production.
Therefore, we can conclude that the gospel message of Good Works will not cause us to become a child of God and secure for us a God provided place for us to reside at death.
Finally, we have come to the fourth and final salvation message that many churches believe will cause their members to become a child of God and secure an eternal resting place. Let’s go to the next chapter and see what this is all about.
131Catechism of the Catholic Church - The sacrament of Baptism ˂www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p2s2c1a1.htm>
134UBS New Testament.
135The Bible Exposition Commentary/New Testament.
136The Bible Exposition Commentary/New Testament.
139Bible Knowledge Commentary/New Testament.
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