What is the Importance of Christian Baptism?
Is Water Baptism a Work?
By Irvin Baxter
QUESTION: Ken from Michigan stated, The Bible says that if I confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in my heart that God raised him from the dead, I will be saved. And it also says that we are saved by grace through faith, not works. Furthermore, Jesus told the thief on the cross that he would be in paradise with him that same day; he didn’t tell him to be baptized first. And so I disagree with the Pentecostal perspective of water baptism.
ANSWER: Regarding the thief on the cross, we know that he could not be born again because the plan of being born again was not yet provided. The plan of being born again was provided through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And as far as water baptism being a work… I had a good friend; he was a really nice guy and a very successful businessman. He knew what I believed about being born again and about how water baptism was a part of being born again. We ran into each other one day at McDonalds, and as soon as he saw me he said, “I like you. I would attend your church but you believe that baptism is required for salvation and I can’t believe that because salvation is not of works, and baptism is a work.” So I said to him, “Let me ask you one question, do you believe that someone must repent of their sins to be saved?” He looked at me and said, “I do believe that, and I know what you’re going to say and I can’t answer you.” This was of course because he did believe that a person must repent for their sins. The bottom line is this, I do not believe repentance, nor water baptism is a work. As a matter of fact, Titus 3:5 says that we’re not saved by works of righteousness, lest any man should boast, but we are saved by the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost. So Jesus is the one who did the work; he’s the one who died, was buried, and rose again.