Most efforts to refute the clear statements about the need of baptism as a necessary part of salvation by Jesus (Matthew 1:21, 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-17; Luke 24:45-47; John 3:5, 5:43, 14:26, 20:20-23), Peter (Acts 2:38, 4:10-12, 8:16; 10:36-48; 1 Peter 3:20-21), or Paul (Acts 9:18, 16:15-33, 18:8, 19:1-6, 22;16; Romans 6:15, 10:13; 1 Corinthians 1:1-21; Galatians 3:26-28; Colossians 2:9-12, 3;17; Titus 3:5) and in most of church history (from the apostles, through Justin Martyr and until the time of Zwingli) have failed. A recent survey show that a large numbers of Baptists still believe that baptism is necessary to be saved. This is true. However, many others still hold to salvation by prayer or repentance alone. Where did that idea spring from?
In 1523, Zwingli repudiated the biblical consensus view of baptism and originated what came to be known as the “Reformed view of baptism.” He wrote, “In this matter of baptism — if I may be pardoned for saying it — I can only conclude that all the doctors have been in error from the time of the apostles. . . . All the doctors have ascribed to the water a power which it does not have and the holy apostles did not teach. The fathers were in error . . . because they thought that the water itself effects cleansing and salvation.”
Zwingli’s last sentence is a complete fabrication. None of the Church leaders in the early centuries of the Church claimed there was anything “magic” about the baptismal waters themselves. They all agreed that God alone cleanses and saves us by the blood of Jesus Christ while the baptism is taking place. The grace of God is applied through our faith unto salvation. However, Zwingli chose to believe and say otherwise.
Mark Moore states that:
“Huldrych Zwingli (who defined faith only in 1525) stands in the third position behind Luther and Calvin in the trilogy of Protestant reformers. Yet in some ways his influence is even more important than the other two. That is certainly true in the area of ‘faith only.’ He was clearly the first to espouse the view that the sacraments of baptism and the Eucharist had nothing to do with salvation. If these two sacraments are reinterpreted, suddenly the church is very different than it once was.”
The Catholic Encyclopedia under the topic of Ulrich Zwingli reads:
“The new doctrines (Zwingli’s) were not introduced without opposition. The first opponents of the Reformers were from the ranks of their own party. The peasants could find no reason in the Bible, the sole principle of faith, why they should contribute to their lords’ taxes, tithes, and rent, and they refused any longer to do so. The greatest unrest prevailed everywhere, and was only quelled after long negotiations and some concessions by the Government. The Anabaptists were not so easily silenced. From the Bible, which Zwingli had placed in their hands, they had deduced the most marvellous doctrines, much more radical than Zwingli’s and questioning even the authority of the state. Zwingli persecuted them mercilessly with imprisonment, torture, banishment and death; their leader Felix Manz was drowned. The war against these visionary spirits was more serious for Zwingli than that against Rome. At first Rome allowed itself to be soothed by evasive words; the “Lutheran sects” were aimed at and the Zwinglians clung to the word of God, was the information supplied to Clement VII by Zurich on 19 August, 1524. Soon, however, the breach with the ancient Church was too plain to be doubted. The cantons of Uri, Schwyz, Unterwalden, Lucerne, Zug, and Fribourg remained true to the old Faith, and offered determined opposition to Zwingli. They could not see that Zwingli was more favoured by God than the ancient saints and teachers; in his clerical life he was not superior to others, and he was inclined rather towards disturbance than towards peace.”
This man was instrumental in the persecutions, tortures and murders of many others. Jesus said that any man who killed another in His name was doing Him a disservice and dishonor, and did not serve Him. (John 16:1-3) That alone should be enough to realize that Zwingli had tainted fruit. (Matthew 7:15-20; Titus 1:16)
Martin Luther, the author of ‘Sola Fide’ (Only Faith) rebukes the faith without works mentality that Zwingli had. (John 6:29; James 2:15-26; 1 John 3:15-18; Mark 16:16) As he wrote:
“But as our would-be wise, new spirits assert that faith alone saves, and that works and external things avail nothing, we answer: It is true, indeed, that nothing in us is of any avail but faith, as we shall hear still further. But these blind guides are unwilling to see this, namely, that faith must have something which it believes, that is, of which it takes hold, and upon which it stands and rests. Thus faith clings to the water, and believes that it is baptism, in which there is pure salvation and life; not through the water (as we have sufficiently stated), but through the fact that it is embodied in the Word and institution of God, and the name of God inheres in it.” Here he endorses actions coupled with faith unto salvation. (Hebrews 11:1-40)
As a reaction against the mysteries within Catholicism, and not as well-thought-out theology, men like Zwingli brought a new doctrine in the world. This doctrine was within decades adopted by John Smyth (the first American Baptist preacher, who in 1609 baptized himself in a river) and other separatists as a fundamental tenet of a new creed. Since the early 1600s groups developed which grew into a a new modern system of mysteries or sacramental religion. Though the Baptists originally agreed that Jesus’ name baptism was the correct formula, they now deny it with their works. (2 Timothy 3:5) The Baptist Standard Confession of 1660 declares baptisms in the name of Jesus to be valid.
Rubal Shelly (a pre-Graham preacher), Billy Graham and Max Lucado all agree in this statement made by Shelly. He said:
“That baptism is the external sign of the remission of sins, of dying and of being made alive, and therefore does not belong to infants.” (1993) Dr. Shelly says that baptism is God’s affirmation of the prior salvation by repentance. This is a typical cult like saying. A outward sign of a supposed inward happening. This is just the opposite of what the word of God says. Read it for yourself. Nowhere did Jesus walk over twenty miles to make a big show for John the Baptist. He was baptized to show forth the way to salvation, as an example to us and go through all that we are required to satisfy God (as our Great High Priest) Shelly calls it a pledge. Baptism according to 1500 hundred years of church history was always for salvation, though this fact was clouded by the Catholics it remains true today.
While infants need not be baptized because the are under the grace of God until the have the knowledge between good and evil along with faith. (Hebrews 5:14) Adults must be baptized because of like Jesus, they will receive the Holy Ghost in like manner as He did! (Matthew 3:15-17; Mark 1:9; Hebrews 4:15; 1 John 5:8) Shelly also advocates becoming just like the world to convert the lost! (1 John 2:15-17: Acts 15:14) Paul became all things to all men in order to convert them, yet he would never become like the world as in conforming to it. (1 Corinthians 7:31; 9:20) Rubal is advising lukewarmness here instead of true holiness. (Revelation 3:16; Hebrews 12:14)
Max Lucado on baptism:
He says, “Once a person admits his sin and turns to Christ for salvation, some step must be taken to proclaim to heaven and earth that he is a follower of Christ. Baptism is that step. Baptism is the initial and immediate step of obedience by one who has declared his faith to others. So important was this step that, as far as we know, every single convert in the New Testament was baptized.” So far that is scriptural and true. Yet he goes to say the following things about baptism, that is to become acceptable to his particular church.
“Those who have never been baptized. This study will help you see the importance of baptism. If you have never been baptized in any form, you will need to ‘demonstrate your devotion’ by baptism in order to be a member at Oak Hills. Members serving in instructional capacities (such as Bible class teachers, small group leaders, ministry leaders, elders and staff ministers) need to be in agreement and compliance with the teaching position.”
This means that unless you accept the essentially Baptist (pagan) position on baptism you will never be able to teach the truth in a public sense: you must be in compliance with Max Lucado. He says in this same sermon that in essence, prayer is enough for salvation. He said that the thief on the cross was saved by prayer, yet baptism which is into the life, death and Resurrection of Christ was not yet ordered by Him. (Romans 6:1-5) He was to die later on. The son of man or Christ had power to forgive all sin while on earth. (Matthew 9:6) So the fact remains that it was not until the day of Pentecost that baptism was not implemented. That’s when the church began with 3,000 being baptized into the name of Jesus, after believing and repenting of their sins. (Acts 2:36-42) As these heard and obeyed the truth to set them free. (John 8:31-32) Salvation begins in the book of Acts and not in Rome. The Roman church began thirty years later on, after they heard the preaching of Paul and were baptized in the name of Jesus. To say otherwise is just plain ignorant, and a blatant disregard of the what the Scriptures state. Every Christian must use the name of Jesus in their baptism to be His. (Colossians 3:17) There are many so-called scholars who simply wrest or twist the word of God to their own destruction. Disregard them. Instead let the Holy Ghost lead and guide you in all things. Ask for wisdom in faith, doubting nothing and you will receive it from God. (1 John 2:27; John 14:26; James 1:6-8; Matthew 7:7-12; 2 Peter 3:16)
Max Lucado on salvation:
“God is ready to be your Father. Maybe you never understood that the invitation was for everyone. Maybe you thought that you weren’t worthy. Maybe now you do understand God will make you worthy and the invitation is for you, and all you have to do is call him Father. Just call him Father. Just turn your heart to him even right now as I am speaking. Call him your Father, and your Father will respond. Why don’t you do that?”
Paul baptized the jailer in Jesus’ name after he was told to believe on Christ, in order to be saved because his words duplicate Christ’s (Mark 16:16; John 3:5) and Peter’s (Matthew 16:16-19; Acts 2:38-10:48). Nowhere can we pray ourselves into salvation without baptism by calling the name of the Lord Jesus. I prayed the ‘Sinner’s Prayer’ myself many, many times with fervent supplications, but to no effect! The day that someone preached to me baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus, I felt my heart moved or pricked. When I came up out of the waters, I knew that I was saved with the evidence of the Holy Spirit within me. This is what those who preach the prayer only lack! Read carefully Matthew 7:21-23. Notice that they did not use the name of the Lord – Jesus is Lord of all things, having all power everywhere and His name must be for all works or words done – in their baptism! They were rejected. Do not be caught dead without the name of Jesus applied to your everything. For old Max, baptism is only a symbol of salvation. Paul, Peter and all the rest of the apostles said and did otherwise.
Faith only to Zwingli who is the founder of the John Smyth (Smith) dogma is Calvinistic. This means that not even reading the word in the hope of acquiring “faith by hearing” is allowable. Not even praying is allowable. If you are predestinated to salvation God will get you, willing or not. This is the typical Baptist view based upon Zwingli. In many respects it is quite identical to pagan baptism. Zwingli simply misunderstood the Reformers view of “faith only.”
“Zwingli and Calvin reduced the sacraments to signs and seals of grace which is inwardly communicated by the Holy Spirit. They asserted the sovereign causality of God, and the independence of the Spirit who “bloweth where it willeth” (John 3:8). God can communicate his gifts freely as he chooses. We are, however, bound to his prescribed means.”
Dr. Shelly also makes baptism a symbol, saying:
“Turning away from your sin, you turn to Christ for his pardon. And he affirms that pardon to you in baptism. This is in two stages: (1) turning to Christ brings pardon and (2) He confirms that prior pardon in baptism. Baptism ‘washes away your sin’ — not, of course, because of the water but by the power of the blood of Jesus Christ alone (Acts 22:16). Being saved, after all, is ‘not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God’ (1 Peter 3:21). Baptism is a grace-gift that is accepted in a faith-action; it is not a works-display with saving merit.”
Therefore, baptism is not the Zwingli or Baptist “sign” or “signal” or Shelly “affirmation” that we are already saved. Baptism is the time and place where faithful obedience asks God for cleansing. Cleansing is always after baptism and not before. Even as Naaman, Paul or the blind man washed and then cleansed only afterwards. (2 Kings 5:1-15; John 9:7-11; Acts 22:16)
Consider the Scripture 1 Peter 3:21 in various versions. The word of God always explains itself out. Shelly is all wet (it means, “he’s full of nonsense.”)
And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you– not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience– through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 1 Peter 3:21 (NAS)
(That, by the way, is what baptism pictures for us: In baptism we show that we have been saved from death and doom by the resurrection of Christ; not because our bodies are washed clean by the water but because in being baptized we are turning to God and asking him to cleanse our hearts from sin.) 1 Peter 3:21 (LIV)
Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 1 Peter 3:21 (RSV)
The like figure where unto 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 Peter 3:21 (KJV)
(Note: I personally use the King James Version of 1611 without the Apocrypha, because it does not contradict itself and because it’s the most Holy Spirit filled or inspired that I have found.)
We all know that baptism isn’t a work which demands a wage but the Holy Spirit still says that baptism saves. If Jesus wanted to save us by having us hold up our hand, then holding up our hand would save us because that is the physical way He ordained to get into the spiritual realm. Baptism is no more works oriented than repentance is! To say otherwise is to promote a lie.
Therefore, when preachers assure everyone that they can still believe in baptism it is important to understand the nature of that baptism. Jesus made baptism the means in that it was the time and place to “accept the will of God for your life.” If you reject baptism then you reject God who commanded it. If Christ confirms or makes known pardon in baptism then doesn’t this say that pardon was prior to that confirmation at baptism? That is what Billy Graham would say. But this is not what Jesus commanded or Paul taught! He teaches salvation by faith only (or actually by repentance only) and that when Paul called upon the name of the Lord, that this was salvation by prayer only. This contradicts the word of God. This the latter-day Zwinglian dogma is that belief or repentance automatically causes God to remit sins.
It’s your life, you need to know the truth to be saved and have others who hear you turn to it. The plan of salvation is found in the book of Acts. You can read it for yourself and see it applied throughout the whole or entire word of God. Nobody but the Holy Ghost is needed to guide a person in all righteousness. That doe not mean that you are the Lone Ranger, as everyone needs a preacher or pastor. They are sent out by the Lord. If you need salvation, He (God) will supply it. (Acts 8:26-40: Romans 10:1-17) Do not take my word for it, search the Scriptures yourselves and become like the Bereans. (Acts 17:10-14) Do not listen to anyone who does not line up with the Scriptures, especially in baptismal matters. By your own words you will be either justified or condemned, so make them all count by being in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ unto salvation. (Matthew 12:37; John 10:9; 14:6) Choose the narrow way to life. (Matthew 7:13-14) God bless you all.