Common Objections to Baptism
Calvary Apostolic Tabernacle
Pastor James L. Groce
COMMON OBJECTIONS TO BAPTISM
I. OBJECTION #1: The blood of Jesus Christ has no relation to water baptism.
Without exception, everyone who believes the Bible, accepts that the blood of Jesus Christ was shed for the remission of sins. Before we discuss the relation of water baptism to the remission of sins, let’s ask ourselves why we universally agree that Jesus’ blood was shed for the remission of sins. Wasn’t it because the Lord Himself said in Matt. 26:28, “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”
Certainly, we can accept this plain statement from the lips of our Lord Himself. Why then can we not accept the words of His apostle, Peter, when in Acts 2:38, Peter used identically the same language in the Greek about baptism:
“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
If we cannot believe Peter in Acts 2:38 when he said baptism was for the remission of sins, why would we believe Jesus when He used the same words to say His blood was shed for the remission of sins? If on the other hand, we believe Jesus when He said His blood was shed for the remission of sins, why shouldn’t we as well believe Peter when he used the same words to say baptism was for the remission of sins?
II. OBJECTION #2: Baptism is a work, and we are not saved by works.
Baptism is a work, or a thing done, and we’re not saved by works of a distinct kind, that is, works of merit. This objection is not just an argument against baptism, but also an argument against repentance, for it is a “thing done.” Likewise, using this objection, faith itself is done away with–for it also is a work, as John 6:28-29 says:
“Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”
Thus, if works have nothing to do with our salvation, then faith itself would have nothing to do with the salvation of a person! The truth of the matter is, GOD works in baptism. Paul said in Col 2:12:
“Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.”
In the next verse Paul told about the work [operation] of God does when we are baptized in Jesus’ Name with this faith: Col 2:13 “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcism of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;”
When we have “faith in the working [operation] of God,” rather than thinking baptism has nothing to do with our salvation, we now know that being baptized in Jesus’ Name remits our sins through the operation of God.
To object to baptism because it requires man to “do” something would require one to object to “faith,” “repentance,” “going to church,” “praying,” “worshipping,” and “preaching,” for they all require man to “do” something!.
III. OBJECTION #3: Paul said Jesus didn’t send him to baptize, therefore baptism must not be essential to salvation.
People who take this position use 1 Cor. 1:11-17 to substantiate their view: “For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name. And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other. For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.”
Rather than showing that Paul didn’t think baptism was very important, this passage demonstrates the essentially of baptism. First, notice the context of these words. Corinth, a church wracked with nearly every conceivable problem, also had a problem with its attitude toward preachers.
In this very passage, Paul mentioned that he learned they were divided over the preachers who baptized them. In this context, Paul said he was glad he hadn’t baptized any more of them than he had. This was not because he didn’t think baptism was essential, but lest any man should say that he was baptized into Paul’s name. Paul was glad that he hadn’t personally baptized more of them, lest even a greater number would be calling themselves after him.
About the structure of Paul’s language in 1 Cor 1:17, “For Christ sent me NOT to baptize BUT to preach the gospel,” this is an excellent example of an ellipsis, a figure of speech where certain words not directly expressed are understood nonetheless. Other scriptural examples illustrate how we are to interpret these words. For example, in 1 Pet. 3:3-4, Peter said:
“Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.”
In this passage, which is similar in construction to 1 Cor. 1:17, Peter didn’t forbid putting on apparel — surely women were to adorn themselves with clothing but without the gold, etc., but he placed the emphasis upon women’s inward adorning, the adorning of their spirit!
Similarly, in John 6:27, Jesus used this construction when He said: “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.”
Plainly, Jesus didn’t prohibit working for physical food (Paul in 2 Thess 3:10 said: “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.”) but He showed where we should place the emphasis, i.e., spiritual food should take precedence over physical food.
Likewise, when Paul said Christ sent him not to baptize, but to preach, he didn’t depreciate baptism. (Remember Jesus certainly sent His disciples out to baptize in Matt. 28:19). He was saying that it was
JESUS CHRIST not mere men that they were to follow. WHOSE NAME were you baptized into? Is the question that Paul is asking them. For one to be called a Christian, he must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ!
IV. OBJECTION #4: The thief on the cross didn’t have to be baptized in Jesus’ Name, therefore neither do we.
The case of the thief on the cross has to be the most often offered objection to the necessity of believers being baptized and filled with the Holy Ghost in our time. People argue, “The thief on the cross wasn’t baptized in Jesus’ Name or filled with the Holy Ghost, and yet Jesus said he would be with Him in paradise.” This argument deserves an honest and forthright reply.
Jesus hadn’t commanded anyone in the world to be baptized in His name at the time Jesus was crucified. The thief on the cross was never commanded to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ!
Not until fifty days later, when the gospel was first preached on the Day of Pentecost following the resurrection of Jesus Christ, were believers commanded: Acts 2:38 “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
So the thief on the cross couldn’t have been baptized in Jesus’ Name — he wasn’t commanded to! YOU have been commanded to be baptized in Jesus’ Name!
Suppose that someone refuses to pay his income tax, and when confronted by a federal judge, argues he doesn’t have to pay income tax because George Washington didn’t pay income tax. That judge will inform him the laws have changed somewhat since the times of George Washington and now it is demanded that he comply.
Similarly, one might argue that he doesn’t have to put money in parking meters because his great grandfather didn’t. He, too, will be informed the laws have changed since his great-granddad’s day. We are to obey the law that WE live under –not the laws someone else lived under.
Likewise, the thief on the cross lived under the law of Moses. He was not under the covenant you and I are subject to, for Jesus’ covenant didn’t go into effect until He died (Heb. 9:16-17). The thief never heard the words of the apostle Peter that is directed to all living today: Acts 2:38 “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Acts 17:30 “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:”
When all men’s arguments fall, the Bible’s teaching on this subject is still the same. Acts 2:38 still teaches baptism is for the remission of sins: “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
Acts 22:16 still teaches baptism washes away sins: “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”
Mark 16:16 still teaches the essentiality of baptism: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”
Gal 3:27 still teaches baptism puts us into Christ: “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”
Romans 6:3-4 still teaches baptism puts us into the death ofChrist: “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
Col 2:12-13 still teaches that through baptism we obtain the newness of life: “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;”
1 Peter 3:21 still teaches that baptism saves us: “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:”
The first time the gospel was preached, “They then that received his word were baptized,” (Acts 2:41). People today who receive the gospel do the same thing.
A case of “re-baptism” is found in the New Testament: Acts 19:1-5: “And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.”
A. They had been previously “baptized.”
B. But their baptism was lacking in some way.
C. Their first baptism lacked an essential element.
D. Their baptism was not in the name of Jesus Christ
Re-baptism in the correct NAME is necessary for salvation.
Acts 4:12 “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”
Acts 8:16 “(For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)”
Acts 10:48 “And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.”
Acts 19:5 “When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.”
Col 3:17 “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”
When one has been scripturally baptized once, there is never a need to be baptized again. Have you been scripturally baptized? Eph 4:5 “One Lord, one faith, one baptism,”