For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to
God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, by Whom also He went
and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly were disobedient, when once the
longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in
which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. There is also an antetype
which now saves us, namely baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the
answer of a good conscience toward God), by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Who has
gone into Heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers
having been made subject to Him. -- 1 Peter 3:18-22
Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, paid the price for our sins. His sacrifice is what saves us.
The perfect Son of God suffering for the imperfect sons of men. And, it is our response to
His sacrifice that saves us.
In the days of Noah, those who did not enter into the ark had been preached to, but
refused. Those who heard, those who obeyed, were Noah and his family. They, believing,
responded in faith by building the ark, gathering the animals, and entering the ark. The
water which became the agent of destruction for the unbelieving, was the agent of their
salvation. It was the water which drowned the unbelieving and which lifted the ark above
the destruction saving those who were within it.
In the same way baptism also saves us by destroying sin, and lifting us above the sin. It is
nothing more than requesting a good, clear conscience, free from sin, of God. Baptism is
not washing the flesh, but cleansing the conscience and the soul. It is expressing faith in
the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Who has ascended into Heaven to sit at the right hand of
God, being an ever present Advocate for His people.
Moreover brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you
received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word
which I preached to you unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that
which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He
was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He
was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over 500 brethren at
once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After
that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me
also, as by one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, whom am not
worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace
of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more
abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. Therefore,
whether it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. -- 1 Corinthians 15:1-11
The gospel, as opposed to the Gospels, is represented by the central story of the death,
burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
First, you must believe that Jesus died. Not only that He died, but that He died for our sins
in fulfillment of the prophets. This is a pivotal fact of Christianity. If you do not believe
Jesus died for our sins, it does not matter what else you may believe or do.
Next, you must believe that Jesus was buried.
Third, you must believe that Jesus arose from the grave on the first day of the week on the
third day following His crucifixion. Over 500 people were witnesses of the fact of His
All that we are or do, as Christians, depends upon our faith in this.
And He said to them, Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He
who believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he who believes not shall be damned. --
The gospel was to be preached to every man. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of
Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. --
Those who believe the gospel and obey it are saved. Those who do not believe the gospel
are damned. Jesus put it quite simply and forcefully.
There is a contrast in what Jesus said between believe and baptized and believe not. If
you believe the gospel, you will be baptized and be saved. If you do not believe the gospel
you are lost.
Why is baptism tied in with belief in the gospel? Part of it is a matter of metonomy, a part
representing the whole. Baptism represents obedience in all things (see Matthew
28:19,20). But, more importantly I think baptism represents faith in the gospel as
presented in 1 Corinthians 15 -- the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not!
How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us
as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried
with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the
glory of the Father even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been
united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His
resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin
might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died
has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with
Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no
longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but
the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead
indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. -- Romans 6:1-11
In baptism, we show our faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ in the
likeness of His death, burial and resurrection. We die to sin as we are baptized into His
death. We are raised with Him to a new life as we come out of the water. It is the
complete similitude of the gospel in the death, burial and resurrection. No other act which
we can engage in is so full of symbolism and faith in the gospel.
But some say we are attempting to save ourselves by our work in baptism. Nothing could
be further from the truth. It is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ which is
For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him,
who is the head of all principality and power. In Him you were also circumcised with the
circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the
circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him
through faith int he working (operation) of God, Who raised Him from the dead. And you,
being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive
together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of
requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the
way, having nailed it to the cross. -- Colossians 2:9-14
Baptism is called the circumcision of Christ. The circumcision of the Old Testament, which
began with Abram, was a surgical procedure which removed the unclean flesh. The
circumcision of Christ is a surgical procedure which removes the uncleanness from the
soul: it removes the body of sin. The circumcision of CLhrist is done without hands, it is
the operation (work) of God. Baptism does not express faith in our ability to save
ourselves, but expresses our faith in the ability of God to remove our sin through the blood
of Jesus Christ. It is not what we do in baptism that saves us, it is what God does in
baptism that saves us. We do not perform the operation on ourselves in baptism, God
operates on us.
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were
baptized into Christ have put on Christ. -- Galatians 3:26,27
Can one be saved without putting on Christ? We are the sons of God through faith in
Christ Jesus. Without faith it is impossible to please God (see Hebrews 11:4). Our faith
causes us to put on Christ. Our faith causes us to be in Christ. We are baptized into
Christ. We put on Christ when we are baptized. A faith that says Christ saves us but does
not put on Christ is an empty faith. It is like someone who says a coat will keep them
warm, but will not put the coat on. Will the coat keep them warm if htey do not put it on?
Neither will Christ save us if we are not baptized and do not put Him on.
Then Peter said to them, Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus
Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the
promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord
our God will call. -- Acts 2:38,39
That is why Peter, after he had declared Jesus to be both Lord and Christ, the Savior of the
world to those on the day of Pentecost following Jesus' resurrection, told them to repent
and let every one of you be baptized.
They believed that Jesus, Whom they had crucified was the Christ. Now they wished to
know what they should do about it. They wanted to know what they needed to do to
relieve themselves of the guilt of delivering the Son of God to death. They wanted to know
what they needed to do to obtain the forgiveness of their sin.
The needed to be baptized by the authority of Jesus for the remission of sins. This phrase
is sued by Jesus in ordaining the Lord's Supper as He spoke about His blood being shed for
the remission of sins (Matthew 26:28). For the remission os sins indicates that what comes
before it is necessary for the remission of sins to be received. Remission of sins is not
possible without the blood of Jesus being shed. It is His blood that washes away our sins.
Remission of sins is also not possible without baptism. It is where the blood of Jesus
washes away our sins.
Barton W. Stone was a preacher of prominence int he Great Awakening, a charismatic
movement that took place before, during and after the American Revolution. It was their
common practice to call people to the altar, and have them pray for their salvation, which
was indicated by a manifestation of the Spirit in what they called exercises. On once
occassion, a gentleman of unquestionable passion zeal and fervor came forward to pray.
Stone prayed with him and for him for quite a while; but, no manifestation occurred. Stone
said that no one could question the passion, zeal and desire of the man who had come
forward. Niether could anyone question that God wished that this man would be saved, for
he is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. Therefore
something must be wrong. Perhaps it was that they had asked the gentlemen to do
something different than that which Peter had commanded on the day of Pentecost. For he
told them to merely repent and be baptized.
For years I have asked for the book, chapter and verse from those who say one must pray
to receive salvation. I have asked for the book, chapter and verse where any of the
apostles or inspired evangelists every asked a non-Christian to pray the "sinners' prayer." I
have asked for book, chapter and verse from preqachers, students, and believers. I have
yet to receive the answer as to where this is done. One preaching student, when he asked
his professors to help him to find such a verse was advised not to talk to me again.
The place where we ask for a clear conscience, the place where we ask for the forgiveness
of sins, is the same place we show our faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus
Christ: in baptism. Baptism is no more of a work than praying the "sinner's prayer." The
difference is: baptism is where God said to ask for forgiveness.
And now why are you waiting, Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on
the name of the Lord. -- Acts 22:16.