Are We Adding To The Finished Work of Christ On The Cross When We Tell Others That They Must Be Baptized For The Remission of Sins?
There are several denominations that assert that if you teach a non-Christian that he/she must be immersed in water for the remission of their sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16) you are actually adding to the finished work of Christ on the cross.
It is clear from the Scriptures that Christ finished His work on the cross. He died on the cross for our sins (Matthew 26:28; John 3:16; 19:30). When we teach the essentiality of faith to salvation, we are NOT adding to the finished work of Christ on the cross (Ephesians 2:8,9). What does faith entail though? Does faith entail repentance of our past sins? (Acts 2:38) Yes. Does faith entail baptism for the remission of sins? Yes. In Acts 2:44, the word “believed” is a summary of all the prerequisites sinners must undergo in order to be saved from their sins - two of these prerequisites explicitly mentioned are repentance and water baptism (Acts 2:38). Luke points out throughout Acts that those who are converted to the faith are those who believed (cf. Acts 4:4; 11:17; 14:1,2; 16:34; 19:2). As Wayne Jackson states: “Belief, because it is the foundation of one's surrender to Christ, and because it is the motivating factor for further obedience, is employed by Luke to reflect the entire process in becoming a Christian – including repentance, acknowledgement of Jesus as the Son of God, and immersion in water. How can anyone contend that the sole mental act “believing” in Christ represents the entire plan of salvation?” (Wayne Jackson, The Acts of The Apostles From Jerusalem To Rome, Stockton, CA: Christian Courier Publications, 2005, 417,418).
The sectarian mindset is already presupposing that water baptism is a work of human merit. But the Scriptures teach that it is a working of God (Colossians 2:11,12). [NOTE: Please consult our question for further information in our Q & A section: “Is Water Immersion A Work of Human Merit?”]
In Galatians, Paul is combating some false teachers called the Judaizers who were teaching that the Gentile Christians must keep the law of Moses and physical circumcision in order to be saved (Galatians 1:6-9; 5:6; 6:15). They were guilty of adding to the finished work of Christ on the cross. However, Paul makes it very clear that faith and water baptism does not add to the finished work of Christ on the cross (Galatians 3:26-29); for it is through water baptism that we come into Christ where salvation is found (2 Timothy 2:10). In other words, “obeying the gospel” enables a soul to benefit from the finished work of Christ on the cross (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9; Romans 6:3-23). [NOTE: Please consult our question for further information in our Q & A section: “Into What Are Alien Sinners Baptized?”]
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