I could go on and on indefinitely regarding my brother in Christ and fellow Bible student Jesse Winn — particularly regarding some of the specific issues he raised recently regarding the things he has come to “believe” about faith in Jesus. If anyone would like to discuss a particular point of interest with which I have not fully dealt, I will be more than happy to do so in a different forum. I believe I have made my general points I have made about differences of doctrine within the body of Christ and how to deal with them. I will limit my specific points regarding such differences to one specific: baptism.
The first of 30 assertions Bro. Winn makes regarding his current beliefs (and for which, again I emphasize, he makes no effort to defend and promote) is this:
I believe one is saved at the point of genuine faith (Spirit immersion) and then is baptized as a sign of said faith.
I mentioned during our e-mail exchange that I assumed this was not how he was brought up, that he believed baptism was part of the salvation process when he was baptized. He did not correct me, and so I continue to assume this. The doctrine of baptism for remission of sins has been a hallmark of those who work under the label of “churches of Christ” for centuries. That does not make it right, of course. What makes it right is the clear and consistent teaching of the New Testament.
Consider the following:
When sinful people asked, “What shall we do?” they were told by an apostle of Jesus Christ to be baptized (Acts 2:38).
A great deal of effort has been made to get around the clear meaning of the text. I have more than 15 translations of the New Testament in my library, each one put together by people with far more scholarship and education than me and Bro. Winn combined. They all translate the phrase essentially the same way — “for the remission of sins”. Not one mentions being baptized because one is already saved. Not one.
The Christian’s “newness of life” begins at baptism (Acts 6:3-4).
If you are not in the new life, you are still in the old life. The old life is sinful, and condemned.
We are “baptized into Christ” (Galatians 3:27).
If you never got into Christ, you are not in Christ, and therefore do not have the spiritual blessings that are in Christ (Ephesians 1:3).
Baptism washes away sins (Acts 22:16).
“Calling on His name” clearly includes being baptized. If there is another way to “wash away” sins than baptism, I do not know what it might be.
Baptism now saves us (1 Peter 3:21).
Noah’s contemporaries could not have been saved without getting on the ark. People today cannot be saved without getting into the water of baptism.
Baptism fulfills all righteousness (Matthew 3:15).
I find it blasphemous that someone could claim to not “need” baptism when our Lord and Savior did need it.
Jesus said so (Mark 16:16).
Surely that is enough, even without all the rest. And yet, we have all the rest as well.
I do not know of another Bible doctrine that is defended so consistently and from so many different perspectives. If the Holy Spirit were to tell us baptism were essential, I don’t know what He could have done other than what He has done.
I say this with kindness, but Bro. Winn has been listening to denominational scholars who have a built-in bias against the clear Biblical teaching regarding baptism. We are warned time and time again of the dangers of the world’s wisdom that would call God’s teachings foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:26-31), of the watering down of God’s truth for carnal purposes (2 Peter 2:1-3), of the desire of some to “have their ears tickled” (2 Timothy 4:3-4), and of “the writing of many books” (Ecclesiastes 12:12). God’s word is clear. God’s word is enough. “Let God be found true, though every man be found a liar” (Romans 3:4).