When one holds to the truth that baptism is necessary for salvation, you quickly realize that this is not the common view of many professed Christians. Not only do you realize this, but you also quickly realize that many people accuse you of holding all sorts of doctrines, which you do not hold.
You might hear someone say, “You don’t believe in the blood of Jesus.” Or “You want to be saved by your works.” Or “You don’t believe the true gospel.” One argument against it that I heard yesterday, as a response to this post, was “I believe Jesus saves, you can believe baptism saves.”
It is quite a good rhetorical feature that happens a lot in discussions. You pit Jesus against anything and Jesus wins. In fact, I wrote about this same argument earlier (click here to read). The problem is that often times the argument sets up a false choice.
This is also the case in the situation of people saying that either Baptism Saves or Jesus saves. In their minds it is one or the other. However, I’m convinced the Bible teaches it is both. Or as I would word it, “Jesus saves us in the waters of Baptism.”
No one who is saved is saved by anything other than Jesus. That fact is not in question. The question is when does Jesus save, or better yet, how do we receive that salvation. It is always interesting to me that people who argue that Jesus saves, and therefore Baptism has no part in our salvation, will quickly argue that we must believe. Does this mean that you are convinced that believing saves and therefore that Jesus does not? I think they would quickly argue that it is just not the case. My response would be that the same is true of baptism.
It is not baptism verses Jesus, rather it is recognizing that it is in Baptism when we receive our forgiveness (Acts 2:38), salvation (1 Peter 3:21; Mark 16:16), all spiritual blessing (Ephesian 1:3 cf. Romans 6:3, 4), are connected with Jesus death (Romans 6:3, 4) are clothed with Christ (Galatians 3:27), and God works on our behalf (Colossians 2:12-15). Baptism is our response to the promise that Jesus is Lord, Christ, and Savior!
When something is so ingrained within the mind of people it is difficult to have an open discussion. Instead fruitful discussions turn into questions of hypothetical situations and strong accusations. I wish this was not the case, but it is so.
With regards to believing that baptism is necessary for salvation it isn’t a matter of baptism or Jesus, rather it is a matter of how and when does Jesus save. Just like it isn’t a matter of believing verse Jesus or repenting verses Jesus. The truth is Jesus saves. Salvation is by grace. It is a gift. But God shows us how to accept that gift and in His wisdom He has determined that baptism is a part of the plan.