BAP-05 - Objections to Baptism (Part 1)
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Jesus said, “He that believes and is baptized will be saved,” Mark 16:16.
Sometimes when we hear the clarity of those passages that teach
baptism is essential to salvation, people began to make objections.
Today we hope to address those objections from the Scripture. We
encourage you to have your Bible handy as we study this subject together.
In 1 Peter 3:21 Peter said, “Baptism does now also save us.” Jesus
said in John 3:5, ‘Unless a man is born of water and the spirit, he cannot
enter the kingdom of God.” Saul was told in Acts 22:16, “Why are you
waiting? Arise and be baptized and wash away your sins calling on the
name the Lord.” On that first day the gospel was preached on the day of
Pentecost in Acts 2:38 when they had cried out, “Men and brethren what
shall we do?” Peter responded under the direction of the Holy Spirit and
said, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ
for the remission of sin.”
As you look at the Bible teaching about baptism three these
Scriptures overwhelmingly teach baptism is essential to salvation that one
cannot be saved before he's baptized. Yet often times when people are
confronted with this evidence from the Scripture, they'll begin to make
excuses. ‘Well I know the Bible says here or this Scripture seems to teach
that, but for this reason or because of this objection, I don't believe baptism
is essential to salvation.’
We want today, in love, to address those objections from the
Scripture so that God's truth on baptism can be clearly seen. We ask you
today to have your Bible handy, so that we can open our minds and look
together to the word of God as we think about some objections that are
often made to baptism.
The first objection that I hear probably as much is any is people will
say, ‘Well I understand Jesus said baptism is essential to salvation. I know
what Acts 2:38 says and we've heard those passages, but if I believe
baptism is essential to salvation that makes baptism a work. The Bible says
we can't work our way to salvation.’
Friend there's no doubt that Jesus addressed the idea that the Jews
had that they could earn their salvation. In both John 6 and in John 8 the
Jews said to Jesus because we’re heirs of Abraham, in essence, we have
the right to salvation. Jesus said ‘God's able to raise up children to
Abraham from these stones. Don't say to yourself we've got Abraham as
our father.’ The Jews had the mentality that because of their bloodline,
because of being the descendants of Abraham, they had naturally had
salvation. They could do these various works and be saved in God's sight.
God said that's not the way it works. Yet friend sometimes that thinking that
certain people because of meritorious works, meaning that if we do enough
things off the checklist we can earn our way to salvation, sometimes that
thinking comes over to the idea of obeying what God says. Let's not
confuse meritorious works, where if we say enough ‘Hail Mary’s’ are we
doing of things we've earned our way to heaven, with the conditions God
Salvation is the free gift of God-and yet that being true, that doesn't
negate the fact that by faith I have to respond in obedience. In fact did you
know that's exactly what the Scripture says in Ephesians 2:8? “By grace
are you saved.” There's God's part, “through faith and that not of
yourselves it's the gift of God not of works lest any man should boast.’
God's done His part. He's made grace available, salvation available, and
yet it's by grace through faith. I must respond in obedience to the gospel.
Friend here's the objection that we often hear it and that we think about it in
some ways people will say if you believe baptism is essential to salvation,
you're then making baptism a work. You can't have any works in salvation.
Here's the major problem with that. The people who say that will also
insist that one must believe in Jesus. Now you think about this in your own
mind. Must a person believe in Jesus to be saved? Well, nobody's going to
deny that. Everybody is going to say absolutely you've got to believe Jesus
is the Son of God. Here's the problem then, did you know the Bible teaches
belief is a work?
I want to direct your attention to the words of Jesus in John 6:28-29.
Would you look at this passage with me? The Scripture records Jesus
saying then they said to Him, “What shall we do that we may work the
works of God? What do we need to do to be pleasing in the sight of God?”
Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God that you
believe,” listen now, “in Him whom He sent.” Is it a work for God to do? Of
course not. They want to know “What do we have to do?” Jesus said,
‘Here's the work of God this is the work God's given you. What is it to
believe in Him whom you sent?’ Now friend make it crystal clear in your
mind. Jesus said ‘belief is a work.’ What type of work? Not a meritorious
work. If I believe in Christ, can I then look up to heaven say ‘God I believed
in your Son you owe me salvation.’ Of course not! I haven't earned it, but is
it a conditional work that I must meet? Absolutely!
If belief is a work, then the whole argument of no works conditional
works falls to the ground. It's not true. If we’re going to say ‘I've got to
believe in Jesus,’ then friend one must repent as well. Jesus said Luke 13:3
“Unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” One must meet the
condition of confessing Jesus. Jesus said, “If you won't confess me before
men neither will I confess you before the Father.” What about with belief
and repenting and confessing? Are we going to say we earned it? No. Why
is baptism different? It's just simply a condition God set forth that one must
do. Listen again to the clarity of 1 Peter 3:21. “Baptism does now also save
Friend if the Bible says baptism saves, we need to rethink some of
these objections that people have put forth for baptism.
A second objection that I often hear people say is ‘well the Bible
teaches I know what the Scriptures say about baptism, but the Bible
teaches that a person is justified by faith only and nothing else.’ Wait a
minute - is that really what the Scripture teaches? I know full well there is a
popular doctrine that says all you've got to do to be saved is believe in
Jesus. People have gone around and promoted the idea of faith only. Now
friend I would encourage you today to rethink that based on the Scripture.
Here's why: Did you know the only time in the Bible the words ‘faith and
only’ occur together God says the exact opposite of the ‘faith only’
doctrine? You think about that just a moment. A whole litany of false
teachers and preachers have gone out and preached the Bible teaches all
you got to do to be saved is have faith only. The one time that expression
occurs in Scripture, God says the exact opposite of what these teachers
Now let me show you from the Scripture that passage. Would you
direct your attention to James 2:24? The Bible says, “You see then that a
man is justified,” just as if I never sinned, “justified by works,” now watch
this, “and not by faith only.” What kind of works are we talking about?
Again we're talking about conditions, things I've got to do. We're not
talking about meritorious works where I can check off the list, and I've
earned my way to heaven. The Bible doesn't teach that. That's not true. But
are there conditional works I must do? Absolutely! Don't miss this point:
The Bible says men are not justified by faith only. The only time ‘faith only’
is mention in the Scripture, God says the exact opposite of what millions
are teaching. We recognize this. I mean wouldn't we say to someone who
wanted to be, let's say somebody is living the life of sin let's say they are
living a life of whatever it may be their living a life of drunkenness or lying or
thievery, would we say to that person before they're saved you're going to
have to repent and change your ways before you can be saved?
Absolutely! That's what Jesus said! “Unless you repent you will all likewise
perish.” Sure you've got to do that! Why do we think baptism is any
different? If faith only doesn't save, then there's other conditions one must
meet as well.
Listen to the words of Jesus Matthew 7:21. Jesus forever taught faith
only is not true. Jesus said in Matthew 7:21, “Not everyone who says to me
‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will
of my Father in heaven.” Jesus clearly said it's not enough just to say
Christ's name, just to say ‘I believe in Jesus.’ You've got to do what He
said. Do you remember John 14:15? Jesus said, “If you love me keep my
Third and probably one of the most popular objections that we often
hear revolves around the old thief on the cross. You remember the
scenario. Luke chapter 23:43, Jesus is on the cross. There is a thief on
either side of Him. To one of the thieves who has a change of heart Jesus
said to him, “This day you will be with me in paradise.” And so people say,
‘Well okay Mark 16:16 yeah Jesus said ‘he that believes and is baptized be
saved.’ John 3:5 Jesus said, “You've got to be baptized to get into the
kingdom.” Bible says ‘baptism's for the remission of sins.’ There's no doubt
about those passages. But the thief on the cross was never baptized;
therefore I don't have to be baptized either.
Friend this is a faulty argument at the very base of it. Let me illustrate.
The argument goes like this: the thief was never baptized, and he was
saved. A person can be baptized and not be saved. Therefore I don't have
to be baptized to be saved. Question: if you are pressed to prove that,
could you? Here's the problem with that are here's the whole problem with
it- it is a faulty argument it's not a valid argument, because you can't prove
the thief was baptized. You can't prove he wasn't baptized.
Now friend let me ask you this: Where in the Bible does it say the
thief was baptized? It doesn't. Where does it say he wasn't baptized? Well
it doesn't. It's an assumption either way. Are we going to base our salvation
on an assumption we can’t prove? For an argument to be valid every
principle and every part of it has to be true. You can't prove one way or the
other that the thief was or was not baptized, and therefore the argument
falls. It's invalid, and it falls flat on its face at its very premise. You can't
Even if you could, won't you consider this with me: the thief would he
be an example of salvation under the Old Testament or under the new?
Let's think about that. When the New Testament begin the Bible teaches in
Colossians 2:14 and in Ephesians 2:14-15 that the old law was nailed to
the cross, and that the new law went into effect with the preaching of the
gospel in Acts 2. The thief did he die before that, before the cross? You bet
he was! The law didn't go into effect until after Jesus died on the cross.
Hebrews 9:15-17 laws in effect after men are dead. The old law is still in
effect while this thief is on the cross.
And so if we’re going to use the thief for anything, he'd be an
example of Old Testament salvation. I'm not going to use Noah. I'm not
going to use David. I'm not going to use King Solomon, whoever it may be
as a New Testament example of salvation. The thief lived and died under
the old law. He's not an example of what must I do to be saved today.
If I want to learn about New Testament salvation the book that
teaches me that is the book that starts with the gospel first being preached
and goes into all the world. What book is that? It's the book of Acts. And
every time in conversion in the book of Acts baptism is a part of that
teaching. The thief on the cross, he's not an example of New Testament
salvation. Here's the more important part, you can't know one way or the
other whether he was baptized or not. The whole argument absolutely
depends on that being true.
A fourth objection that I often hear as it relates to baptism is based on
this idea some will say ‘well Jesus forgave people sins without baptism in
the in His life.’ Well remember, Jesus was living all under the Old
Testament. But remember this also, Jesus had the power to do that while
He was here on earth. Remember Mark 2:10? The Bible says, Jesus
speaking, “But that you may know the power that the Son of Man has
power on earth to forgive sins.” He said to the paralytic, “Take up your bed
and walk.” He forgave that man's sins, but He had power while He was on
earth to do that. Now is Jesus still on earth doing that today? Walking
around? Of course not!
Friend, do we realize what we do have? Jesus has given us His will,
and that will tells us exactly what we must do to be saved. Jesus is not on
earth. He's not here forgiving people's sins today in person, as He was in
the first century and living under the Old Testament. He's given us the New
Testament, and it specifically tells us what we must do.
Now let's think about this then: Is it the case that all people today are
going to be judged by not what Jesus did while He was alive on the earth,
but by the words that He gave us in this book? We're not going to be
judged by Jesus teaching to the paralytic while they were both living under
the Old Testament. But isn't it the case we’re going to be judged by His
Consider John 12:48. Jesus said this, “He who rejects me and does
not receive my word has that which judges him.” Lord what's going to judge
us? ‘The word that I've spoken will judge him in the last day.’
What am I to follow today? Friend, I'm to follow the teaching of Christ.
I'm to obey that. I'm to love it. I'm to live it out in my life. The New
Testament is the law that I'm under today, and that's the law that men are
compelled to obey by the teaching of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Now another objection, the fifth objection, that we often hear people
say is ‘Well I know the Bible teaches in Mark 16:16 he that believes and is
baptized will be saved, but the latter part of that verse it says that belief is
the only can condition of which one can be condemned for. Meaning when
Jesus said he that believes and is baptized will be saved, He then said he
that does not believe shall be condemned. Jesus only said those who don't
believe are the ones who are going be condemned.’ Now friend this
argument is not an argument based on the full teaching of Mark 16:16.
Consider this with me. What did Jesus say? Jesus said, “He that
believes and is baptized will be saved.” Now friend if you're not saved, what
are you? Well you're lost. If Jesus taught you've got to believe and be
baptized to be saved, then friend, listen carefully, both belief and baptism
are absolutely a condition for condemnation. It only takes a little thinking
about this passage, a little common sense, to realize if Jesus said ‘I've got
to believe and be baptized to be saved,’ and I don't do one or both of
those- I am lost and in a condemned state.
Well what about that latter part? ‘He does not believe shall be
condemned.’ Friend it would be utterly ridiculous for Jesus to say ‘oh yeah
even though you don't believe, if you're not baptized will also be
condemned.’ Friend if a person doesn't believe, are they a candidate to be
baptized? Of course not! What if a person does believe? True belief in the
Scriptures, true faith in the Scriptures always motivates a person to do what
God says. ‘By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they encircled them
for seven days.’ Hebrews 11 true faith is always followed by an action word
in that context. Thus, he who believes will be condemned clearly teaches
that if you don't believe you not a candidate be baptized. But if you do, you
will obey God's teaching on this subject.
Friend consider seriously that a lot of objections have been made to
the teaching of baptism to try to take away its clarity. That's not what the
Bible teaches. God wants me-let's think about the good and honest
heart-God wants me to take what He said at His word and simply do that.
Listen again to what the Scripture actually says in Mark 16:16. “He who
believes,” conjoining word 'and', “and is baptized will be saved. He who
does not believe shall be condemned.”
Did Jesus say there are two conditions that are essential to meet
prior to being saved? Now you think about that a moment. It is that what
Mark 16:16 teaches? Jesus absolutely said that if both of those are
essential to be saved, and I leave one or both of those out I am lost. Friend
that's the clarity for which Jesus spoke and it's not just in Mark 16:16. It's
throughout the New Testament. Jesus said in John 3 verse 5, “Unless,” if
and only if “unless a man is born of water and the spirit he can't enter the
kingdom of heaven.”
Can you get in God's kingdom, which is ultimately that which is going
to heaven, without being baptized? Of course not. If that's true, baptism is
essential to salvation. Think about Galatians 3:27, “As many of us as were
baptized into Christ have clothed ourselves with Christ.” Where's salvation
at? According to 2 Timothy 2:10-11, salvation is in Christ. “All spiritual
blessings are in Christ.” I want to be in Christ where salvation is. How do
you get there? “As many of us as were baptized into Christ.” If I'm not
baptized into Christ, I'm outside not where salvation is but where
condemnation is. Think about the clarity of 1 Peter 3:21.
Friend I want you to think about this: If God wanted to say that you
have to be baptized to be saved to be right with me, how else could He say
it any clearer than 1 Peter 3:21? “Baptism does now also save us.”
If God said ‘baptism saves us,’ then how dare anyone say baptism is
not essential to salvation.
Sometimes people will say to me, ‘well you know maybe I didn't really
understand that, but I've been baptized.’ Wait minute now! Jesus said in
John 8:32, “You've got to know the truth for the truth to make you free.”
You can't apply this knowledge to a scenario that happened where you
were ignorant years ago and that somehow be okay. Jesus said ‘you've got
to know the truth first, and then the truth will make you free.’ If you had no
clue, why you were baptized? You didn't understand the teaching of it, or
you were misled and taught error about that.
Have you been baptized correctly? Think about this question. Can
you be taught wrong and baptized right? Of course not if we don't
understand. Jesus said we've got to understand. If we don't understand,
how can we be saved if we didn't know the truth before we did it?
Today here's what we ask of you, this is our first series of lessons on
objections to baptism, and we’re going to have two lessons on this.
The Bible is so clear on this teaching. The objections that men raise,
they don't hold water when it comes to the truth.
As we think about these ideas, friend we’re saying this not to be
mean or unkind- we want to preach the truth in love. We’re saying these
things today because we love your soul. We want you to go to heaven. We
want you to spend eternity with God.
If you've been taught wrong or you are baptized in ignorance and you
didn't understand these things, we’re begging you, we’re pleading with you
today: please obey the gospel plan of salvation as is taught in the
What is that plan?
The Bible teaches one must first hear the word of God. I've got to
study my Bible. I've got to come to know the truth for myself. Jesus said or
Paul said in Romans 10:17 “Faith comes by hearing, hearing by the word of
Secondly I must believe in Christ. John 8:24 Jesus said “Unless you
believe that I'm He you'll surely die in your sins.”
Then one must be willing to repent. Jesus said in Luke 13:3, “Unless
you repent you will all likewise perish.”
One must make the good confession. Jesus said in Matthew 10:32
and 33 “If you won't confess me before men, neither will I confess you
before my Father who is in heaven.”
And then, the Scripture teaches one must be baptized for the
forgiveness of sins, Acts 2:38.
Friend we’re encouraging you today to study the Bible for yourself.
Check these things out. If they're true, if they're right, if the Bible
teaches baptism is essential to salvation, don't obey it because we said it.
Obey it because Jesus said it, because God said it, and because ultimately
you want to please God and go to heaven.
We pray that you will do just that.
Study Questions for: “Baptism: Lesson 5”
1. According to Mark 16:16, what must you do to be saved?
2. Is baptism essential to salvation according to Mark 16:16?
3. According to 1 Peter 3:21, what now also saves us?
4. What must a man do to enter the kingdom of heaven according to John
5. What were they told to do in Acts 2:38 to be saved?
6. In John 6:28-29 what work did Jesus tell the people to do?
7. According to Luke 13:3, what must we do?
8. According to James 2:24, is a man justified by faith only?
9. According to Matthew 7:21, who will enter in heaven?
10. What should we do if we love Jesus according to John 14:15?