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Sunday, 5/26/13 pm

BAPTISM IN GOD’S PLAN OF SALVATION

 When we think of God’s plan of salvation, there are many things that come to mind.  There is His part which is sometimes described as His grace and everything He has done to make that salvation possible.  And there is man’s part which is sometimes described as faith and all that accompanies true belief.  These 2 concepts are emphasized in passages such as Ephesians 2:8 which says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.”

There are some who take passages like this as being all inclusive, meaning that God has done His part and all we have to do is have faith (i.e. believe).  While in its most general sense that is true, there is much more to the story.  Both grace and faith need clarification and the New Testament has much to say about both of them.

In our lesson this evening we want to briefly examine these two parts.  But we want to be more specific in noting how baptism is a part of our faith.

 I.                    The Grace of God

a.        The term “grace” is sometimes described as unmerited favor.  It means that even though we do not deserve it, God has bestowed His favor unto us.  By favor, ultimately we mean salvation.  But what has God done where our salvation is concerned.

b.       John 3:16 tells us that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.  Numerous other passages also reveal this.

c.        But He has also done many other things – He has revealed to us His will (through the Bible – Rom. 1:16-17), demonstrated in times past His power as God, provided an avenue through which we can approach Him (prayer), delayed His return (2 Pet. 3:9), and numerous other things. 

d.       In essence, what God has done is the things we CANNOT do for ourselves. 

e.       When we talk about the grace of God, it is HIS part in our salvation!  And that is what the context of Ephesians 2:8-9 speaks of.  Vs. 1-10 bear this out.  Especially verses 4-5 which says, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).”

 II.                  The Faith of man

a.        IF all there were to salvation was the grace of God, then man would need to do nothing to be saved.  In fact, because of His grace, ALL MANKIND would be saved.  That is sometimes called universalism.

b.       BUT, in reading God’s word you don’t have to turn very far to learn that no ALL will be saved.

c.        Romans 3:23 says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Add to this numerous passages that directly speak of some being lost (Rev. 21:8, Matt. 25:46, 7:21-23, Rom. 16:16b, etc.) it is clear that man has to do something to receive the gift of God (i.e. the fullness of His grace – John 1:14,16).

d.       Notice Ephesians 2:8 again, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.”  In that text Paul notes that man has to have “faith”.

e.       Now the question is, what is the faith He speaks of?  Is it merely believing in Jesus Christ (and certain other facts) or does it involve more?

f.         It involves more than mere “mental assent”.  True faith does what God tells us to do!  That is the point we need to understand.

                                                   i.      Negatively Matt. 7:21-23 – notice how this text addresses believers in Jesus, even calling on His name, but they are lost!  The one who will be saved is the one who DOES the will of the Father.
James 2:19, speaking about the type of faith that justifies, James notes “You believe there is one God, you do well.  Even the demons believe – and tremble.  Again notice that belief that save is MORE than merely believing in Jesus.  It must involve more which is James’ point.  IF you do NOT obey God, then you do NOT have a faith that will save you.  In other words, the two cannot be separated.  In fact, notice James 2:24, “You see then that a man is justified by works and NOT by faith only.  The only the term “faith only” is used in reference to man’s salvation is here and we are told that faith alone is NOT sufficient. 
2 Thess. 1:8 speaks of  God, “in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

                                                  ii.      Positively – Hebrews 11 describes the faith of some in the Old Testament.  They are examples of endurance.  In EVERY example, their faith was obedient – Heb. 11:4, “By faith offered”; “By faith Noah…move with godly fear, preparing an ark…” (11:7); “By faith Abraham obeyed…” (11:8), “offered up Isaac” (11:17); Moses “by faith forsook Egypt” (11:27).
Hebrews 5:8-9
speaks of the obedience of Jesus who, “having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who OBEY Him.”
Acts 6:7 says, “and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.”
Romans 16:26 speaks of “obedience to the faith.”
Romans 6:16, “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?

                                                iii.      And thus we can see OVER AND OVER, we are expected to OBEY God AND the gospel.  By its very definition, obeying God would mean more than MERELY believing in Him.

g.        What must I do to be saved?  There are MANY passages that emphasize different things we need to do.

                                                   i.      Romans 10:9-10, “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

                                                  ii.      Mark 16:16, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.”

                                                iii.      Acts 2:38, on the day of Pentecost, the day the church began, Peter said, “Repent and let every one of you be baptize in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.

                                                iv.      EACH of these passages says something different about what one does to be saved.  My question is WHICH ONE do we need to follow? 
Can we pick one and ignore the others or is there another way?  To CHOOSE one passage over the other is to render the others invalid.  We dare not do that.
I contend, there is ANOTHER WAY – you combine them all and do what they ALL say to do.  In other words, to be saved you must hear the word, believe, repent, confess AND be baptized.  This does NOT contradict or invalidate any particular passage and would satisfy the requirements of ALL of them.

                                                  v.      Consider Acts 16:30-34, the conversion of the Philippian jailer and his family.  This is a good passage because it helps us understand that believe involves more than mere mental acknowledgment of Jesus as the son of God and our Savior.  In this account, Paul and Silas are in prison and there is an earthquake opening all the doors.  The jailer fearing the prisoners had escaped drew his sword to kill himself.  But Paul stopped him.  The jailer then asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”  Paul’s simple response was, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”  WHAT IS INTERESTING about this is vs. 32 says, ‘THEN they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.  NOTEICE the original statement showed “believe” to be an all inclusive statement for what was about to be taught.  AS A RESULT of that teaching we read, ““And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized.  It can be concluded that included in teaching the jailer about Jesus was the need for baptism.  The jailer and his household complied!

                                                vi.      Another example: Acts 8:26-38 where we read about the Ethiopian Eunuch.  He was returning home from worshipping God in Jerusalem (as a proselyte Jew) and was reading from Isaiah 53.  At the direction of the Spirit, Philip found him on the road and joined him.  He began explaining Isaiah 53 to the Eunuch and “preached Jesus to him.” “Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.”  Vs. 36-38.  NOTICE how preaching Jesus INCLUDED baptism.

                                               vii.      The point is that when we read in Ephesians 2:8 that we are saved “by grace through faith”, the term “faith” means more than mere belief.  It includes EVERYTHING God commands us to do to be saved!

 III.                Baptism and faith

a.        But let’s examine baptism a little closer.

b.       Numerous passages teach the necessity of baptism, including Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, which we have already discussed. WE also noted the examples of the Philippian jailer and the Ethiopian Eunuch. 
 In addition to these we might consider:

                                                   i.      Acts 22:16, spoken of Paul’s conversion, “Why are you waiting?  Arise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”

                                                  ii.      Acts 8:12-13, “But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. 13 Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done.”

                                                iii.      Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you…

                                                iv.      1 Peter 3:20-21, “who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. 21 There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” NOTE: This passage explains how baptism is related to FAITH.  Baptism is not just about “getting wet”, it must be as a result of one’s faith – the answer of a good conscience.

                                                  v.      Galatians 3:27 says, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”  How do we put on Jesus Christ?  Through baptism! 

                                                vi.      Romans 6:3-4, “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 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.

                                               vii.      There are other passages and examples that could be added to these which demonstrate that baptism is not merely bathing, but an ACT OF FAITH!

c.        Without faith, baptism is MEANINGLESS!  That is why we do NOT baptize infants!  We must understand that baptism is not ALL we need to do to be saved, but it IS included in God’s pattern and thus demonstrated over and over!

 IV.                What about passages that deal only with faith?

a.        In our text we have been discussing, we notice Eph. 2:9, “Not of works, lest anyone should boast.” This is the passage that causes some to reject the necessity of baptism as a part of one’s salvation. But I ask, does this nullify doing anything or is it speaking of a specific TYPE of works? 

b.       I contend that Paul’s point is that our salvation is the gift of God.  That is the CONTEXT!  In this statement, “not of works”, Paul is saying we cannot EARN our salvation!  In other words, just because you have done certain things, even the things required in order to be saved, does not MERIT you salvation.  You still don’t deserve it!  It is STILL a gift of God.  But that does not nullify the need for you to reach out and take it by fulfilling His requirements.

c.        Illustrate this with a man drowning in the ocean.  He is out too far for one to come after him, but a person in a boat sees him, casts a lifesaver to him and when the person GRABS onto the lifesaver, he is pulled to safety.  Question – what saved the drowning man?  Was it the person in the boat, the lifesaver or the drowning man grabbing the lifesaver?  The answer is ALL THREE!  It is in this way that our salvation involves God’s grace, our faith and our obedience to His conditions.  But when we obey, we still haven’t earned it.

d.       But what about other passages that only mention belief?  John 3:16, 8:24, Acts 4:4, “However, many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of them men came to be about five thousand.”; Acts 9:42, “And many believed on the Lord” in Joppa. 
These passages do not NULLIFY the need for baptism. They simply use the term “believe” in an inclusive sense, (i.e. all that is involved in believing unto salvation).
CONSIDER THIS:  What would the Bible read like if in EVERY instance dealing with salvation the entire plan had to be published?  While you might say it would be clearer, the truth is the scriptures would be very redundant and much thicker, which is out of character with scripture.  And it wouldn’t say any more than it does right now!

e.       So the point is this:  If believe in every instance means “believe only” or faith means “faith only” that nullifies many of the other passages we have discussed this evening.  But if the terms “believe” and “faith” are inclusive (depending upon the text) then all of scripture COMPLEMENTS concerning matters of salvation.  We need to do EVERYTHING we are commanded to obey.

And thus we can see why we need to be baptized.  God said it is “for the remission of sins”, to “wash away your sins” and how you “call on the name of the Lord”, and to “save us.”  To be baptized for any other reason is a baptism of ignorance.

I conclude with Acts 19:1-5 where Paul comes to Ephesus and finds disciples.  He asks them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”  They said, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”  They had been baptized into John’s baptism (i.e. for the WRONG reason).  Paul explained, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.  As a result, “when they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.  IF you have been baptized for the wrong reason, what is the solution?  Be baptized for the RIGHT reason.  Then there is NO doubt about what you are doing.  Are you subject to the invitation? Please come!