For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:13, NKJV)
There is much disagreement and misunderstanding about the work of the Holy Spirit in salvation. This verse will remove some of that misunderstanding – if we will allow it. The Holy Spirit guided the apostles into “all truth” (the gospel), which they preached to the world (Jno. 16:13; Mk. 16:15). This Spirit-given truth calls upon every sinner to believe, repent and be baptized to be saved (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38, 41). Thus, by the direction of the Holy Spirit, all Christians have been baptized into “one body” (the church, Acts 2:41, 47). Based upon this truth, Paul makes a plea for all the members of the church to work together in unity. He notes that one Spirit has directed our baptism in water (by the gospel He revealed), and by doing so, every Christian is a member of the body (church) of Christ. We have all drunk of the spiritual blessings given us by “one Spirit.” The Holy Spirit gives a wonderful gift to all who have been saved – spiritual refreshing and “an inheritance among all those who are sanctified by faith” (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 26:18). Because there is “one body” (the church) and “one baptism” (water), Christians must keep the unity of the Spirit, and not be divided (Eph. 4:3-5).
35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. 36 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?” (Acts 8:35–36, NKJV)
This passage is particularly instructive about what it means to preach Jesus. Preaching Jesus identifies Him as the suffering Servant of God who sacrificed His life (Acts 8:32-34; Isa. 53:7-8). It includes teaching about sin and salvation from it. The Ethiopian was lost, and wanted to be saved. The water would facilitate his salvation. When he asked Philip about baptism, he had not yet announced his personal faith in Jesus, since Philip stated that as the condition upon which he could be baptized (v. 37). To preach Jesus means preaching baptism, since the Ethiopian immediately asked about it when he saw water. How else did he know about baptism, expect that Philip spoke of it when he “preached Jesus” to him? Surely, he told the man what Jesus preached about baptism: “He that believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mk. 16:16). The Ethiopian confessed his personal faith, stopped the chariot, and Philip baptized him (Acts 8:37-38). The man joyfully went on his way, because he was saved when he believed and was baptized. Christ continues to save sinners the same way, today. What hinders you from being baptized to be saved?
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, NKJV)
There is a danger in allowing the Bible to explain itself. The danger is not against the truth or those who believe it and obey it. No, the danger is to false teaching and to those who cling to error instead of surrendering it for the sake of truth. That is dangerous to the soul. This verse well illustrates our point. The preacher Ananias plainly explained to Saul what he had to do in order to be saved. He had to “arise and be baptized, and wash away (his) sins.” The blood of Christ was applied to his sins when he was “baptized into His death” (Rom. 6:3). This is “the washing of regeneration” by which God saves us (Titus 3:5). Calling on the name of the Lord, according to this Scripture, involves being baptized in order to “wash away your sins.” That is dangerous to the false doctrine of salvation before and without water baptism. No amount of appeals to Greek grammar or rationalizations will change the clear force of this verse. Baptism that washes away your sins is commanded by the Lord. The danger comes when one refuses to believe and obey this verse, and instead cling to a doctrine that disregards the word of God. Why are you waiting to believe and obey this divine directive?
15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:15–16, NKJV)
The gospel is the good news of salvation from sins through Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The Son of God sent His apostles into the world to preach the gospel. Those who do not believe the gospel are condemned, lost in their sins. Every person who believes the gospel and is baptized is saved from the condemnation of sin. The words of Jesus are unmistakable. One must believe and be baptized to be saved. Jesus did not say, “He who believes is saved, and will be baptized later”. Jesus did not say, “He who believes and prays the sinner’s prayer is saved”. Let us not twist and change the simple words of Jesus. Do you want to be saved from your sins? Believe the gospel and be baptized and you will be saved. Do you refuse to believe the gospel of Christ? If so, then you will be condemned because of your sins. Come to Jesus. Believe and be baptized, and He will save you.
30 And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. 34 Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household. (Acts 16:30-34)
Too many people stop at verse 31 when telling the lost how to be saved. Clearly, one must “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” to be saved. But since “even demons believe–and tremble”, there must be something more to believing than mental assent (James 2:19). Verse 34 says the jailer and his house “rejoiced, having believed in God”. So, how to “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” is found in verses 32-33. Faith was produced by hearing the word of God (v. 32; Romans 10:17). Repentance is implied in the washing of the stripes that were faithlessly applied and ignored (vss. 33, 23). With believing repentance they were immediately baptized (v. 33). After hearing, believing, repenting and being baptized came the rejoicing of salvation; now they “believed in God” (v. 34).
8 Therefore the neighbors and those who previously had seen that he was blind said, “Is not this he who sat and begged?” 9 Some said, “This is he.” Others said, “He is like him.” He said, “I am he.” 10 Therefore they said to him, “How were your eyes opened?” 11 He answered and said, “A Man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed, and I received sight.” (John 9:8-11)
What if you had been this blind man? Would you have gone to the pool of Siloam and washed as Jesus instructed? Or, would you have said, “any water will wash the mud off my eyes – why should I go to that pool?” It would take faith to do what Jesus said. If you did wash your eyes like this man, would you have earned the right to have your sight restored? No, and neither did this man. God was gracious to him when he put his faith in Jesus and followed His instructions. Yet today, when the same Jesus says “He who believes and is baptized will be saved…”, many sinners object (Mk. 16:16). Why not have the faith to go to the water and be baptized to be saved (to have your spiritual sight restored)? You will not earn anything when you do. You will be saved “by grace, through faith”. We cannot expect to be saved if we do not have the faith to do what Jesus said.
12 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. 14 Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them… (Acts 8:12–14)
This verse teaches us how sinners receive the word of God (v. 14). When these sinners heard the good news of God’s kingdom and of Christ’s power, they “believed” and “were baptized” (v. 12). When Philip “preached Christ to them”, they believed and obeyed, and were saved (Acts 8:5). Simon himself received the word of God the same way (v. 13). There was no yelling and screaming. There was no “praying through”, expectantly waiting for the Holy Spirit to fall upon them. (In fact, the Holy Spirit “had fallen on none of them”, v. 16.) We read of no “sinner’s prayer” to ask Jesus into their hearts. Instead, we read of sinners who “received the word of God” by believing it and being baptized. Did you receive the word of God the same way as these people did in the New Testament? If not, why not? And if not, will you receive God’s word the way they did?
By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. (Hebrews 11:7)
Noah was a great man of faith. He was not sinless, but he was a “just man” of integrity who “found grace in the eyes of the Lord” and “walked with God” (Gen. 6:8-9). God saved this man and his family through the water of the flood (1 Pet. 3:20). Why? Because in faith, Noah was “moved with godly fear” and obeyed the Lord’s command to build an ark. Noah had faith to build the ark, that saved his family. His obedient faith was counted to him for righteousness; Noah became “heir of the righteousness which is according to faith”. By grace, God saves those who have faith to obey His command to be baptized (the antitype of the flood, “which now saves us”, 1 Pet. 3:21). Do you have to kind of faith through which Noah was saved? You can, by obeying Christ’s commands to believe and be baptized to be saved (Mark 16:16). When you do, God will save you “by grace, through faith” (Eph. 2:8).