Are we saved by baptism? Part 2
3) An explanation of Mark 16:16-17
Mark 16:16-17 “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe;”
- Baptism and the Gospel were both very important in the message of the apostles, but the Gospel and faith were the keys to salvation as opposed to damnation. He did not say he that believeth not or he that is baptized not shall be damned. If this were the message, then he would have said it that way.
4) In order to properly interpret passages using the word baptism or baptized, we must understand that it is often used metaphorically/spiritually/figuratively in New Testament passages for a believer’s identification with Christ, His death, His resurrection, or believer’s being placed into Christ’s spiritual body.
Romans 6:3-6 “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.”
- Baptism in this verse does not refer to water baptism. The word baptize has the idea of immersing or placing into, but the context of the passage indicates the type of baptism. If context speaks of water, then it is a water baptism, but if context indicates another, than it is not speaking of water baptism. We see an example of this in Matthew 3:11 “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:” obviously, these baptisms are not speaking of the same thing. One is speaking of being placed into water, and the other of being placed into or identified with the Holy Ghost and fire. One is speaking of a physical and the other a spiritual.
- In our passage, Jesus Christ is not water, his death is not water. “Like” or “as” indicates a metaphorical use of the word baptism indicating a spiritual idea, rather than a physical idea. It is indicating the idea of identification with Christ, His death and His resurrection. He is also using this spiritual identification as the basis of our position as believers and our responsibility to live obediently to God because of our position. We use this kind of expression in our day to day lives, for example, we might say that someone is immersed in his work or that he is has been baptized by fire and is going through some unbelievably difficult trials. All believers have been spiritually immersed or placed into Christ by means of saving faith. In other words, they are unified or identified with Him. Water baptism certainly pictures this reality, but it is not the basis of this reality.
Colossians 2:10-13 “And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;”
- Notice all the phrases that testify to the fact that this is not a physical circumcision or water baptism, but a spiritual identification/baptism/being placed into. “ In Him,” “in whom,” “made without hands,” “buried with Him,” “risen with Him,” “quickened together.”
I Peter 3:14-22 “But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; 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: Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.”
- Here we have another example of a believer’s spiritual identification/being placed into Christ. It is being viewed as a place of security in the midst of intense persecution.
- We see the obvious context of persecution. Peter says: “if ye suffer, be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled, they speak evil of you as evil doers, and they falsely accuse you and are to be ashamed.”
- Second, we see that Peter is encouraging these believers to be steadfast by means of a conscience that is void of offense before God. In other words, while they were in the fire of trials, they needed a conscience that did not condemn them before God, because they know that they are his children. This is why he tells them to be ready always to give an answer of the hope that lies in them, and that he tells them to have a good conscience, because they will be ashamed by the way that these believers conduct themselves.
- Next he uses an illustration of Noah and the flood. Is the point that Noah got baptized and was eternally saved because he got baptized, and that this is an illustration of how our water baptism saves us? No! First, he uses the word “like figure.” “Antitype” is another way this word is translated. This means that this is a metaphor or a spiritual symbol. Noah’s life was spared when he built a boat and got in the boat. If Noah had been in the water, then he would have drowned, but because he was placed inside the boat, he passed through the terror of the flood unharmed because he was in the security of the boat. Peter even stops in the middle of his thought to clear up any confusion about what he has just said. He is not talking about water baptism, but being baptized or placed into Christ as a place of security. Notice he says not the washing away of the filth of the flesh. This parenthesis carries the idea of I am not talking about the kind of baptism that washes away filth on the flesh. He is not talking about water baptism! He is not saying that water baptism washes away sin. The issue is one’s conscience before God in the midst of the trial, which he has already stated earlier in the section. It makes things very clear if we read the verse without the interruption of the parenthesis which was given by Peter for clarification. “Baptism doth also now save us by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” Peter finishes his point of the security of the believer who has been baptized (placed into Christ) when he says that all authorities are subject to Christ. This is a wonderful passage that is not teaching that eternal salvation is gained through water baptism, but that through my identification in Christ, I am able to face the trials of life with a confidence and cleanness of conscience before God that I have been placed in Christ.
Galatians 3:22-29 “But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
- First, here is another instance where baptism is referred to as a spiritual baptism/identification into Christ. Notice the phrases baptized into Christ and all one in Christ Jesus. This is not speaking of water baptism.
- Second, we will not confuse water baptism with faith when we read carefully through this passage. Baptism is used once referring to being placed into Christ, and “faith” or “believe” is used six times in this passage. Clearly faith is the emphasis and the basis of the new birth.
I Corinthians 10:1-7 “Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.”
- To read water baptism into this passage as a means of salvation is a very sloppy way to handle the text.
- First, the word baptism is being used in a spiritual sense: baptized unto Moses, spiritual meat, spiritual drink, spiritual rock…
- Second, the passage never says that the people were saved eternally because of any of these spiritual graces.
- Third, the point of the passage is that all received the same spiritual graces, but many God was not well pleased with. God was warning the church of Corinth to recognize that though they were the recipients of many spiritual blessings, they could be guilty of lust and idolatry, and God would not be pleased with them as He was not pleased with disobedient/faithless Jews. If we cross reference Hebrews 3, we see that the reason that they did not enter into God’s promised rest of Canaan was because of their unbelief. The point of this passage has nothing to do with a proof for eternal salvation by water baptism.
5) The words baptism with the word cup are used metaphorically by Christ as He explains to His disciples the nature of His death, and reality, that they would in the future partake of His sufferings through persecution.
John 10:32-39 “And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before them: and they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid. And he took again the twelve, and began to tell them what things should happen unto him, Saying, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles: And they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again. And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto him, saying, Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire. And he said unto them, What would ye that I should do for you? They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory. But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? And they said unto him, We can. And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized:”
- Christ uses the term baptism not to refer to water baptism, but to refer metaphorically to the sufferings that he would partake.