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             Baptism Is A Work, We Are Not Saved By Works!


1. A popular objection to the necessity of baptism involves salvation
   and works...
   a. People often say, "Baptism is a work, and we are not saved by
   b. Support for this objection is made by appealing to passages like
      Ep 2:8-9

2. Certainly baptism is a thing done, and as such is a "work"...
   a. But is it a work of merit, by which one earns salvation?
   b. Or is it a work of faith, by which one receives salvation?

3. In considering the work involved in baptism, who is truly the one
   "at work"?
   a. Is it the man or woman who submits to being immersed?
   b. Or is it God who forgives and regenerates through the blood of
      Jesus and working of the Holy Spirit?

[When one carefully considers what the Bible teaches, there is no 
contradiction between the idea that we are saved by faith and not 
works, and at the same time saved by baptism.  

In this study I hope to make that clear.  Let me begin by pointing out


      1. There are works of "merit"
         a. These are works done to "earn" something
         b. Those who have done such works believe they "deserve" 
            something; e.g., those who believe they will be saved:
            1) Because they kept the Ten Commandments
            2) Because they went to church, did good deeds, etc.
         c. It is these kinds of works Paul has under consideration in
            Ro 3:27-28; Ep 2:8-9; Ti 3:4-5a
            1) There is no way we can "earn" or merit" salvation!
            2) All the good we might do cannot outweigh even one sin! 
               - cf. Ja 2:10
      2. There are also works of "faith"
         a. These are things done to "receive" something
         b. Those who have done such works believe they "deserve" 
            1) They understand their obedience did not earn or merit
               their salvation
            2) They understand their salvation rests upon God's mercy
               and grace, not because God owes it to them!
         c. Such works can rightly be called "works of God"
            1) Of which faith itself is called by Jesus - Jn 6:28-29
            2) Other works of faith commanded by God include repentance
               and confession - cf. Ac 17:30; Ro 10:9-10
         d. Though such works as faith, repentance and confession are
            1) They are not meritorious works; we do not earn salvation
               through them
            2) They are works God has ordained we do to receive His
            -- When all is said and done, salvation is still by God's
               grace and mercy!

   [What is said of faith, repentance, and confession may also be said
   of baptism...]

      1. Baptism requires faith
         a. The necessity of faith was emphasized by Jesus - Mk 16:16
         b. Philip made it a prerequisite to baptism - Ac 8:36-37
      2. Baptism is an act of faith by which one receives (not earn)...
         a. The forgiveness of sins and gift of the Holy Spirit 
            - Ac 2:38
         b. Union with Christ in His death, raised with Him to new life
            - Ro 6:3-4; Ga 3:27
      3. That baptism is not a work of merit is emphasized in Ti 3:4-5
         a. While God saves us "through the washing of regeneration and
            renewing of the Holy Spirit" (an allusion to baptism)...
         b. He does not save us by "works of righteousness", i.e., 
            by works of merit
      -- Thus baptism is clearly is not some work of righteousness done to
         earn or merit salvation!

[Nowhere does the Bible suggest that baptism is a work of merit, by
which God owes us salvation upon the basis of our baptism.  Like faith,
repentance, and confession, baptism is simply an act of faith by which
we receive salvation.  

And why is this so?  Because...]


      1. We are buried and raised with Christ "through faith IN THE
         WORKING OF GOD" - Co 2:12
      2. It is God who does the work, not man! - Co 2:13
         a. Man is dead in his sins
         b. But God makes him alive, forgiving him of sins
      -- Thus it is God who saves us, not we ourselves, which He does
         through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy
         Spirit - Ti 3:5

      1. An operation in which the "Great Physician" does His work
      2. When one needs physical surgery, it requires faith in the 
         skills of a physician to submit to the operating table
         a. When the surgery is over, have I "earned" or "merited" my
            healing?  No!
         b. It required both faith in the doctor and a willingness to
            submit to him!
      3. So my faith in God and in the death of His Son for my sins
         prompted me to submit to the "spiritual operation" of baptism,
         in which God did His wonderful work of cleansing by the blood
         of Jesus and regeneration by the Holy Spirit!


1. When we understand that baptism...
   a. Is a work of faith, not a work of merit
   b. Is a working of God at which time we receive salvation, not earn
   -- We will not reject the necessity of baptism under the mistaken
      idea that it is some work by which we try to earn salvation

2. Sadly, many people reject baptism because they see it as something
   you DO...
   a. In reality, baptism is the most PASSIVE act of faith required to
      receive Christ and the blessings He provides
   b. I.e., "believe", "repent", "confess Christ", are all things we DO
   c. On the other hand, baptism is something DONE TO US

3. Consider this...
   a. "Faith," "repentance," and "confession" are all ACTIVE acts of 
      faith on our part
   b. "Baptism" is but a PASSIVE act of faith in which we submit to the
      working of God in our lives (cf. Co 2:12)
   -- To object to baptism because it requires man to "do" something
      would require one to object to "faith," "repentance," and 
      "confession," for they also require man to "do" something!

4. Even Martin Luther, who coined the phrase "salvation by faith only",
   understood that salvation by grace through faith did not preclude
   the necessity of baptism:
   a. In answer to the question, "What gifts or benefits does Baptism
      bestow?", Luther replied in his Small Catechism, "It effects
      forgiveness of sins."
   b. He also wrote concerning the sinner:  "Through Baptism he is
      bathed in the blood of Christ and is cleansed from sins."
   c. Again, he wrote:  "To put it most simply, the power, effect,
      benefit, fruit, and purpose of Baptism is to save."
   d. Responding to those who call this a kind of works-salvation, he 
      said "Yes, it is true that our works are of no use for 
      salvation.  Baptism, however, is not our work but God's." -- (as
      quoted by Jack W. Cottrell in Baptism And The Remission of Sins,
      College Press, 1990, p. 32-34)

So to those who say, "Baptism is a work, and we are not saved by
works", I would reply:

      "Baptism is a work of God, and we are saved by faith in the
      working of God!"

Have you submitted to the working of God in baptism?  If you believe
that Jesus died for your sins on the cross, have repented of your sins
and are willing to confess your faith in Him as the Son of God, you can
receive the working of God in your life today!

   "And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash 
   away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord." (Acts 22:16)
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