A “Faith Only” Pamphlet & My Response

While visiting a Wisconsin Fundamental Baptist Church, I made a brief stop at their pamphlet rack to see what they had to offer. Usually, one can determine the nature of a church’s beliefs and propagations by a perusal of their pamphlets. Among these pamphlets I found one discussing baptism. Intrigued, I picked it up. As I read it, I scribbled in Scripture verses that popped into my head. Below I share that very pamphlet with you; then below that, my response to that pamphlet.

MY RESPONSE . . .

Based on this pamphlet, we are agreed on all points except regarding the purpose of baptism.

The first claim of the pamphlet is that baptism should take place AFTER salvation. This theory I find little or no Scriptural basis for. Yes, in Acts 8:36-37 Philip tells the eunuch that he could only be baptized if he believed. But never in the recorded account of the apostles’ ministry was a convert told to pray a prayer to be saved. Yes, we are told in John 1:12 that to those who believe he gives the POWER to become the sons of God — but notice he gives them the POWER (the RIGHT, the ABILITY) to become the children of God. If I have the RIGHT to own a gun, it does not mean I automatically own a gun. I still have to obtain a gun.

Mark 16:16 says, He who believes AND is baptized will be saved; he who believeth not will be damned. If you don’t believe, yes, you have no chance at salvation. All the praying, confessing, and baptizing in the world will do you no good. Salvation hinges on faith, but nowhere in Scripture does it say that faith alone brings about salvation. As a matter of fact, James 2:24 says that faith alone does not justify us. That is the one and only verse in the entire Bible that even mentions “faith alone”.

Mark 16:16 is saying this: If you want to be condemned, all you have to do is not believe. If you want to be saved, believe and be baptized. Believe and obey.

A preacher I respect once put it this way:

Mark 16:16 is read five different ways:

  • The Catholic — He who does not believe and is baptized will be saved.
  • The Unitarian  — He who does not believe and is not baptized will be saved.
  • The Atheist — He who believes and is baptized will not be saved.
  • The Baptist — He who believes and is not baptized will be saved.
  • The Bible — He who believes and is baptized will be saved.

To read this verse in any of the first four examples is to manipulate the Bible, which is sinful.

On the Day of Pentacost, the 3000 believed. This is evident because they were “pricked in the heart” — i. e., their consciences convicted them of their guilt. Moreover, they asked, “What shall we do?” If faith (belief) were all that is required, Peter would have told them to relax — they believed, and thus were saved. If he were a Baptist, he would have told them to be sure to “pray the prayer”, to go to church every Sunday, and to always be regular about giving their preacher money. And — oh yeah — it would be a good idea to get baptized sometime down the road.

But that wasn’t the case.

Instead, he told them, Repent, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission [forgiveness] of sins. — Acts 2:38

Obviously, the 3000 believed, else they would not have asked, “What shall we do?” They had faith. Now Peter prescribes two more elements: Repentance (a change of heart), and baptism (immersion) in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.

The word “for” in “for the remission of sins” is translated from the Greek word eis, meaning, “in order to”, or “to the end of” or “into”. Thus, Peter refers to “immersion (in the name of Jesus Christ as per the commandment in Matthew 28:19) into or to the end of remission of sins.”

Some might argue that “for” is actually “on account of” or “because of”, making “for the remission of sins” read “BECAUSE OF the remission of sins”. If this is the case, consider the following points:

  • To command the 3000 to repent and be immersed BECAUSE their sins were already forgiven, Peter would be telling them, not only to be baptized because their sins were forgiven, but to also REPENT of sins that had already been remitted. This, of course, is absurd.
  • It contradicts an obvious fact. It makes Peter command those who asked, “What shall we do?” to be immersed because their sins were already forgiven, while it is an indisputable fact that their sins were NOT yet remitted. In actuality, those who were pierced in the heart with guilt and were asking what to do were trying to learn how to obtain the very remission this interpretation assumes they already had.

This absurdity indicates the desperation “faith-only” advocates reach in their attempts to explain away Acts 2:38.

So, in conclusion, we find that we must (1) Believe, (2) Repent, and (3) Be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.

I notice how studiously “faith-only” advocates either avoid or gloss over this passage. The only reason I can find is that it blows such a hole in the “faith-only” premise that the theory is completely scuttled.

You Say, “BUT THAT’S WORKS-BASED SALVATION!”

Is it? Let’s examine baptism for the remission of sins versus “faith-only”.

What defines a work? You likely define it as, “Something you do to obtain salvation.”

Okay. You say one must believe, repent, confess Jesus, and pray a prayer in order to be saved.

But if a WORK is something you DO:

Believing is something you DO . . .
Confessing is something you DO . . .
Repenting is something you DO . . .
Praying is something you DO . . .

Then — logically — believing, confessing, repenting, and praying are all WORKS!

Is baptism a work? ABSOLUTELY! you cry . . .

But is it?

We are commanded to BE baptized. This is something we submit to, something we receive. We do not baptize ourselves. Someone else does it to us. When a convert is being baptized, a Christian is doing the baptizing. The convert is simply receiving the action.

A Christian is a member of Christ’s body. The Christian’s hands are Christ’s hands. Those hands baptize the believer. Thus, the believer is not only receiving the baptism, but receiving it from GOD HIMSELF! Baptism is not something we DO, but rather a GIFT FROM GOD, which we receive!

Grammatically speaking, the believer is the OBJECT of the verb. The baptizer is the SUBJECT, the doer of the action. The OBJECT of a sentence is the receiver — not the doer — of the action. Thus, the commandment, “Repent, and be baptized” is telling the hearers, “YOU repent — and have someone BAPTIZE YOU!” Repentance is the work of the believer. Baptism is not.

Thus, BAPTISM IS NOT A WORK!

So when you get down to it, the so-called “faith-only” advocates base their salvation SOLELY on works, while rejecting God’s free gift of baptism as something of no merit, as something THEY would have to do themselves. How much more ironic can one get?

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2 Responses to “A “Faith Only” Pamphlet & My Response”

  1. FINALLY, someone who sees the Bible for what it really is. I nod with a huge smile while reading your articles! 😀

    • I’m glad you enjoy reading them, Rachel! Unfortunately, the number of people out there who share this school of thought are few and scattered, like islands in the sea. I’m always thrilled when I encounter someone who shares my beliefs! Blessings!

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