The perception of most Baptist churches is that one can be saved by faith alone and, or by grace alone. The Baptist position is that one can be saved without being raised with Jesus Christ from baptism, and that baptism is not essential to being raised with Christ into the newness of life. The common Baptist position is misguided and thus misleading.
Many Baptists miss part of the reason why Jesus died. The Spirit of Christ speaks in 1 Peter 2:24, “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed” (KJV). Jesus died for the salvation or the healing of believers as Peter specified. Yet, Jesus also died that believers may die to sin and live to righteousness. The love of Christ is shown in His death for us (Rom 5:8). This love controls us. Christ’s Spirit states in 2 Corinthians 5:14–15,
“For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.“
Christ died that His followers may be changed. The fragrance of baptized believers to this world is death (2 Cor 2:16), because disciples of Christ have died and have been buried with Christ to be raised with Him.
Baptists must realized that one must die with Christ to be raised with Him and thus be saved. The Holy Spirit affirms, “It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him” (2 Tim. 2:11). The apostle noted to the Christians in Colossae that “If ye then be risen with Christ”, then “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col 3:1, 3). Being dead to sin, Christians are alive and their souls are hid in Jesus Christ.
Many Baptists do not understand that God’s grace in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 15:1–4). In Ephesians 2:5–6, Paul revealed, “Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” This is where the grace and mercy of God is in that God raises us with Jesus Christ. Salvation is by grace requiring that believers die, be buried, and raised with Jesus Christ. The Spirit of Christ stated in 1 Corinthians 15:1–4,
“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:”
This is the Gospel by which believers are saved by grace when we have died, been buried, and raised with Christ. Believers must conform to the Gospel. Therefore,
“That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead” (Phil 3:10–11).
Believers die with Christ by dying to their sins, and believers are raised with Christ from being buried in baptism. The forgiveness of trespasses is when one is raised from the watery grave. By the Holy Spirit, the Apostle stated, “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;” (Col 2:12–13). Indisputably, believers are risen with Christ from being buried in baptism. Therefore, God gives believers life quickening them with Jesus Christ by forgiving their trespasses. Baptism in Jesus’s name is necessary to forgiveness of sins throughout the New Testament (cf. Acts 2:38; 22:16).
Romans 6 adds to this fact in even further detail. Romans 6 is so essential in understanding that a believer cannot be free of sin and keep sin from reigning by lusts in one’s body. Romans 6 states,
“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. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof” (6:3–12).
The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is so important that we must conform to it, because this is where the believers’ rebirth and regeneration occurs. Peter affirmed, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,” (1 Pet 1:3). Peter also stated,
“Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (1 Pet 1:22–23).
How are believers begotten by God by the resurrection of Christ? Peter affirmed, “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:” (1 Pet 3:21).
The famous Baptist preacher, Charles Spurgeon noted in his lesson, “Baptism – A Burial” (October 30, 1881),
“Baptism sets forth the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, and our participation therein. Its teaching is twofold. First, think of our representative union with Christ, so that when he died and was buried it was on our behalf, and we were thus buried with him. This will give you the teaching of baptism so far as it sets forth a creed. We declare in baptism that we believe in the death of Jesus, and desire to partake in all the merit of it. But there is a second equally important matter and that is our realized union with Christ which is set forth in baptism, not so much as a doctrine of our creed as a matter of our experience. There is a manner of dying, of being buried, of rising, and of living in Christ which must be displayed in each one of us if we are indeed members of the body of Christ.”
“First, then, I want you to think of OUR REPRESENTATIVE UNION WITH CHRIST as it is set forth in baptism as a truth to be believed. Our Lord Jesus is the substitute for his people, and when he died it was on their behalf and in their stead. The great doctrine of our justification lies in this, that Christ took our sins, stood in our place, and as our surety suffered, and bled, and died, thus presenting on our behalf a sacrifice for sin. We are to regard him, not as a private person, but as our representative. We are buried with him in baptism unto death to show that we accept him as being for us dead and buried.“
“His death is the hinge of our confidence: we are not baptized into his example, or his life, but into his death. We hereby confess that all our salvation lies in the death of Jesus, which death we accept as having been incurred on our account” (Charles Spurgeon Differs from Today’s Baptists on Baptism).
Lastly, consider the words of the claimed Baptist founder, Thomas Helwys, who wrote repeatedly about salvation and baptism found in the gospel. His understanding was,
“And therefore please not yourselves so much in those things, although we acknowledge they are worthy of great commendations in you, and our souls are much affected to you for them. But if you follow not Christ in the regeneration, that is, if you be not ‘born again of water and of the Spirit, and so enter into the kingdom of heaven,’ all is nothing, as you see by the example of this ruler. And Cornelius (Acts 10), if he had not been baptized with the Holy Ghost and with water, for all his prayers and alms he had not, nor could not have entered into the kingdom of heaven.
Thus entered all the people of God of whose entrance the scriptures give testimony, either by rule or by example, and thereof if there be any other entrance found out, it is not, nor cannot be of God. This only is the door which Jesus Christ has set open for all to enter in at, that enter into his kingdom. (John 3:5) And the Lord sanctify all your hearts with grace that you may enter therein. For no other way of salvation has Christ appointed but that men first believe and be baptized. (Mark 16:16)” (Claimed “Founder” of the Baptist Church was Not Baptist, but a Member of the Church of Christ in 1612).