Baptism, Pt. 1

Scripture: Mark 16:16, Acts 2:37
What does the Bible say about baptism? This the first in a series on baptism. Is it true that you must be baptized in order to be saved? This question is discussed as well as other questions like, 'What if die before you are baptized? Will you for sure be lost?'
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Announcer: It's time now for Bible Talk. Join our hosts Gary Gibbs and John Bradshaw, speakers for the Amazing Facts Ministry, as they now open the Bible and discuss themes that affect your life today. Stay tuned because the next 15 minutes will deepen your understanding of God's Word.

John Bradshaw: Hi friends and welcome again to Bible Talk where we talk about what the Bible says to us today. I'm John Bradshaw and with me is Gary Gibbs. Hi there, Gary.

Gary Gibbs: Hi John. What are we going to talk about today?

John: Today, on Bible Talk is a subject we haven't covered before. We're going to talk today I propose we talk today about what the Bible says on the subject of baptism.

Gary: I think that's an excellent idea. In fact, I grew up in the church where we put a lot of emphasis on baptism.

John: I think that's a good idea too. The Bible puts a lot of emphasis on baptism. Now, I on the other hand grew up in a church where we really didn't have any emphasis on baptism whatsoever. When I read the Bible, I say, "Hey, this is an important thing; it ought to be emphasized."

Gary: Let me share with you and our listeners a text that I learned as a young man as I actually a little boy. I read this text and it was urged upon me that I really needed to be baptized if I was going to be saved. Mark 16, Verse 16, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. But he that believeth not shall be damned." Let me ask you a question. In my faith background, my teaching was if you're not baptized, you're not saved. Do you have to be baptized John, in order to be saved?

John: Now, let me admit that's a tricky question. I don't mean a trick question, but that's a delicate question to answer. Let's lay down a solid foundation here. The Bible says we are saved one way and one way only. That is we are saved by...

Gary: Grace, through faith.

John: Faith in whom?

Gary: Jesus Christ, what he did on the cross for us.

John: He's shed blood, right? Sure. There's only one way we're saved and that's through Jesus Christ. So, to say you're not saved unless you're baptized is in one sense a little unbalanced. Then, in the other sense, so hear me out. Jesus made it an imperative. You read it with your own mouth, with your own voice there. He said if you believe and you are baptized, you will be saved.

So, it seems to indicate pretty strongly to me that if you can read that and you can understand that and you know that's God's will for your life. If you're serious about your relationship about God and about going to Heaven, then sure you need to be baptized.

Gary: OK, so in order to be saved, you had to be baptized. That tells me then all of those people, your relatives from a church where they didn't baptize; they're all lost even though they went to church every week. They're all lost because they weren't baptized.

John: Good question. That's why I say there's a balance here. Jesus says, or James wrote any man that knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin. So, when you don't know, when you don't have opportunity. When it's not presented to you, yet you're following Christ with a full heart. You're giving Him everything that you know to give Him. Why there's a slightly different spin on that I think. We've got to take that into account.

Gary: So, is it important or not?

John: It's vitally important. Jesus said if you believe and you're baptized, you'll be saved. When you've read the Bible and you know, you ought to be baptized.

Gary: All right, let me ask you another question then. What if a person knows about baptism? They've heard about it and they just say, I'm not good enough to be baptized right yet. One day I'll be baptized, but they die, John, before they can be baptized. You said if you know the truth and you don't do it, it's sin. This person knows it, they don't do it, and they die. Are they saved or lost?

John: Well, I don't like to be non-committal on Bible Talk because I think we can find our answers, and clear answers in the Bible. I do want to say this, it is not for me or anyone else to make a decision as to somebody was saved or otherwise. As for me and my house, we read the Bible. It says be baptized, we want to be baptized. I wouldn't feel right and I wouldn't feel save knowing God's will and flagrantly refusing to do it.

I'm not going to tell you that someone was lost because I don't know their heart. God didn't bring me into his counsel when He made that decision. That's for God to decide and not for me to decide.

Gary: Do we have any examples in the Bible of people who are saved without being baptized?

John: Well, I can think of one straight up. That would be the thief on the cross. Now, we don't know that he was not baptized. But, we don't know that he was either. Most people assume that this was a fellow who was not baptized. What did Jesus say to him? He said to Christ, "Lord, remember me when thou comest in thy kingdom," and Jesus says, "Verily I say to thee today, you will be with me in paradise."

Now, Jesus didn't say, "Man, if you're serious about making this trip to Heaven, you need to hop down off this cross. Run-off to the Jordan and find someone to baptize you."

Gary: He didn't call for the guards to bring buckets of water and start dousing the guy either.

John: He didn't do that. He just said Mr. Thief; I know you haven't been baptized. Now, I'm asserting that, but that's what we're assuming. I'm going to accept you just like you are and accept the sincerity in your heart. In all reality, at that point in time, the poor old thief didn't have opportunity to be baptized.

Gary: I have met people, in fact as a pastor, I have led people to Christ who were on their deathbed who had never been baptized. They couldn't be baptized at that point in time. You know they gave their heart to the Lord. You know they were sincere. You really don't want to wait until a deathbed to convert and give your heart to the Lord. But, it's better than nothing for some people.

John: Absolutely right.

Gary: We have to leave them to God and let God determine. That's what it's all about anyway.

John: So, you see the tension in this question. Must you be baptized? Well, you really ought to be. If you know God's will, you know Gary; if you know God's will on any question, you ought to do it. Isn't that right? If the spirit of God is drawing you and calling you to repent and you refuse to do so, well, that's a dodgy business. That's dangerous ground. But, we'll leave it to God to make a final determination in every case.

What we need to do is settle in our hearts that if we know God's will, happy are we if we do it. And, we'll do God's will out of love for Him.

Gary: Now, John, there are some churches that it's interesting to me. They really don't have any other real clear cut teachings from the Bible that they really emphasize that people need to follow the Lord in. Where they're accepting the Lordship of Christ and giving up some of the worldly things in order to be more God like, but they do put a huge emphasis on water baptism. Now, are they being legalistic when they say, "Listen, you live your life any other way you want. As long as you come to the altar, you give your heart to God and we get you dunked and we baptize you, then you're good to go for Heaven.

The truth of the matter is, I believe, someone who says that is being legalistic.

Gary: How so?

John: If someone says, man, you can do what you want but this one little thing, you must do. This act you must perform and that will qualify you for Heaven. That's out of kilter with the rest of scripture. Scripture says accept Jesus Christ. That's the key to everlasting life. Then once you've accepted Jesus, your heart will change out of love for him and appreciation for what He's done on the cross.

Gary: But, is it legalism? Is it legalism even if you have the right heart about this? You're talking to a converted person and you're saying you have to be baptized. A person says but I don't want to. I'm going to get my hair wet or whatever it is. I don't want to be baptized. God knows my heart, He accepts me.

John: Listen; if you've got an honest heart with the Lord, it is not legalism to do anything that he requires. In fact turn that on its head.

Gary: But, what if I don't want to do it?

John: Turn that on its head. Someone who says I don't need to; I've already done enough. That's legalism because that person is saying I've done enough. I have done enough.

Gary: They have a checklist. They've checked enough things off; they should be accepted by God.

John: Salvation becomes what I have done. You're quite right. Here's where salvation really works. The person comes to Jesus because he draws them. And then that person says what must I do to be saved? What shall I do to inherit eternal life? In other words, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? Because I love you and Jesus says if you love me, keep my commandments, do my will in every specific and every particular [inaudible 0:09:20] .

When your heart is right and you know God's will, listen, wild horses ought not be able to keep you away from the baptistery from the waters of baptism. You ought to get in there as quickly as you possibly can.

Gary: Why can't we say just believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shall be saved? Why do we have to say believe and be baptized?

John: Well, because that's what the Bible says. You want me to show you where? You've got a Bible, in the book of Acts, Chapter two and Verse 37. "When they heard this, they were pricked in their heart and said to Peter and to the rest of the apostles, men and brethren what shall we do?" Peter said, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. You shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." You mentioned why don't we just believe?

Gary: Just believe in Jesus.

John: That word believe is a misunderstood word.

Gary: How so?

John: A lot of people say if I just believe, then I can carry on how I am. That word believe is an action word. When you believe in Jesus Christ, if you believe in Him, if you are in Him and you believe, that's going to radically impact your life. You're not going to be the same person. You're not going to think the same thoughts. You're not going to say the same words. You cannot possibly believe in Jesus and remain unchanged.

Gary: So, you're not really looking for ways out of doing what God asked you to do when you're really converted, when you really believe it.

John: You're looking for ways in. When you believe your life is impacted and it is changed. Now, it's true, believe on the Lord and you'll be saved. That's a 100 percent right. But, don't be watering down this thing about belief and turning belief into some namby pamby weak thing that just leaves you as a sinner stuck in your sins. Believing in Christ is powerful. It's the power of the gospel unto salvation and it'll impact you and move you in the direction of Christ.

Gary: I've experienced that. When I gave my heart to the Lord, I wanted to do whatever he said. I wanted to be baptized.

John: Was that a checklist? You were saying now that I'm a Christian I mustn't smoke, I mustn't have rock music, and I mustn't run around or whatever. Was it like that?

Gary: Not at all.

John: I hope not.

Gary: In fact, some of those things weren't on my checklist.

John: The correct experience would be saying because of what Jesus has done for me, I now find it a delight to do His will.

Gary: In fact, you mentioned rock music. I was actually baptized and still had rock music. But, as I got to listening to it, I said, these words and this music doesn't go along with where my heart is anymore. That's why I got rid of it.

John: Sure, because you could say this is not consistent with the will of Jesus Christ for my life.

Gary: You know, I think John, next program we need to talk about the meaning of baptism. It's got to be more than just getting your head wet with water.

John: Absolutely, there's not doubt about it. In the mean time, why don't I mention we've got a Bible study that goes right along with this? We are not going to be able to exhaust this subject this time or next time. So, get that Bible study, call the toll-free number that you're about to hear and remember, when we talk about baptism, Gary, what are we talking about? A change.

Gary: A change of the heart.

John: A change of heart. A person that comes to Jesus Christ, what's going to happen in their life? [music]

Gary: They're going to live for God and they're going to reveal a life that glorifies God because they love God.

John: Friend, there's more, we'll talk about more next time. Be sure to join Gary and me for more here on Bible Talk.

John: If you'd like more information on what we've been studying today, we have a comprehensive Bible Study Guide we'd love to share with you that's absolutely free. This study includes many of the texts we've just discussed and expands on the subject including information you'll want to know. To receive this free and informative guide, simply call, write, or email and ask for BT109. Buried and forgotten by God. The toll-free number is 866-biblesays. That's 866-242-5372. You can write to us at Bible Talk, P.O. Box 1058, Roseville, California, 95678 or email us at

Bible Talk has been produced in association with Amazing Facts in the studios of Life Talk Radio.

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