Imagine you grew up in another church. You went to Bible school, Vacation Bible School, summer camps, and even attended an associated school. At this church, you learned about Jesus’ life. You learned His words, His parables, His death and resurrection. You may have been baptized there. You grew up and got married there. You gave tithes there from your paycheck, and you have invested so much time and your life into the church. You have lifelong relationships there. Your parents committed your learning there and you even entrust your child’s learning there.
Despite gossip and some hypocrites, you are happy and committed to serving your God in your church. Despite a past preacher and a Bible teacher who lost their way, you like and trust the teachers and the preacher that do so much now. You trust the preacher’s commitment to Christ and his knowledge of the words of Jesus in the Bible. Now, you are committed to prayer, a godly family, and telling others about Christ. Some times in telling others about Christ, you find yourself with questions easy to reply and then there are a few questions about the Bible that make you wonder about what Jesus and His apostles taught. You love God and nothing will shake your belief, and yet Jesus said some things that make you wonder if you and your church are observing all that He commanded.
When sitting in a Bible class taught by the preacher, someone brings up one of those questions that they got from telling others about Jesus. They have been talking to a member of another church. It was one of those other churches that your church’s Bible teachers and especially the preacher passionately dislike being disgusted by the their teachings. The teachers and church-workers say they are lost and some even think they are a cult for believing different things. On one occasion in Bible class, Bible verses about baptism are brought up. It appeared to reading and private study that Jesus taught that baptism was essential to salvation. Can that be right? Jesus said in Mark 16:16, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” What does baptism have to do with faith and salvation? More questions are asked, “How do you respond to these people?” “Why does Acts 2:38 instruct, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’?” “What does forgiveness of sins have to do with baptism and why was Paul told to arise and be baptized to wash away his sins in Acts 22:16?” “Why is there so much written in the Bible about baptism being necessary for newness of life?” “Why are people Sons of Faith when they have been baptized in Galatians 3?” “Why did Jesus say that one be born of the water and the Spirit to enter the kingdom of Heaven in John 3:5?” “Why did Jesus command His disciples in Matthew 28:19 to ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’?” “Why is the book of Acts filled with Christians being baptized immediately?” “If Jesus is author of salvation to those who obey Him in Hebrews 5:9, is His command to be baptized a part of obeying Him?”
Back to the Bible class, some in the class scoff at the questions. Still, some are curious and turn to the preacher and simply want to know how to respond. The preacher gives the standard answer from Ephesians 2:8-9 that grace comes by faith and not of works. Now, some are confused and no one is comforted, but the subject is dropped. Some think, “Why does it matter? I’ve been baptized.” Through your whole life, you have trusted the preacher’s and teachers’ answers for what the Bible says, and you want to be comforted to know that they know what Jesus taught. Haven’t they read the whole Bible? Haven’t they read the New Testament a number of times? Yet, how will I trust the spiritual lives and eternal destinies of my children, my spouse, my friends, and my family to what others should know? Should I read for myself? Should I consider all that Jesus said? Whose fault will it be on the day of judgment? After all, were we not immersed in water? Were we not immersed in Jesus’ name? Were we not forgiven for our sins in baptism? Were we not saved? Isn’t the sinner’s prayer in the Bible somewhere? Will not God’s grace cover not obeying Jesus’ words even though Jesus is only the author of salvation to those who obey Him according to Hebrews 5:9?