THINGS BAPTISM DOES NOT DO
The churches of
Christ Greet You (Romans 16:16)
Through water baptism, one gets into the Christ and into His death (
6:3). Scriptural baptism gets one into the body or church of the Christ (1 Cor.
12:13). Scriptural baptism results in one's sins being washed away (Acts
22:16) by the blood of Jesus (Matt. 26:28) These are all wonderful Bible truths
that point out great changes in a person's life and relationships. It is tragic that
many in the religious world do not recognize these truths.
While the Bible plainly speaks of the necessity of water baptism and the
blessings that result from it, it is also true there are some things baptism
does not do. Let's look at a few of these. Baptism does not:
1. Remove financial debts. If one has borrowed money in order to buy a
house and each month is required to pay the bank or some financial institution
a certain sum of money, for that person to be baptized does not remove
his/her obligation to make these monthly payments.
2. Remove the consequences of sin. The man who gets drunk, drives a
car, has a wreck, and loses a daughter in the accident will be without that child
as long as he lives on this earth. He may later obey the Gospel by being
baptized, but the consequences of his drunkenness (the loss of his daughter) are
not changed by his baptism.
3. Erase other people's memory of one's past life. Scriptural baptism
results in sins being remitted (Acts 2:38), but other people will still remember
the past life, good or bad, of the one baptized. The baptized person will
have to live with this reality.
4. Give a person the right to go back into sin. When one obeys the
Gospel from the heart, he/she is made free from sin (Rom. 6:17-18). Baptism,
however, is not a stamp of approval for returning to and living in sin. Baptism
takes care of past sins, but does nothing to remove future transgressions. Away
with the idea that says as members of the church we can plead, "But I've been
baptized, so I have the freedom to do as I please."
5. Make a person a member of a denominational group. It is possible
for one to become a member of a denomination, and it is the case that some
denominations require a "baptism" for such membership. However, scriptural baptism
puts one into the Lord's church and nowhere else (1 Cor. 12:13). The Lord
adds the saved to His church and nothing else (Acts 2:41, 47).
6. Remove physical ailments. A saved person ought to have a better
outlook on his/her physical infirmities, but being baptized does not remove them.
If one suffers with congestive heart failure before baptism, that congestive
heart failure will not be changed by baptism. Also, baptism by no means
guarantees that a faithful child of God will never have health problems. Paul, a
faithful servant of the Christ, had a thorn in his flesh long after he was
baptized (2 Cor. 12:7-9). Also, Timothy had stomach problems (1 Tim. 5:23), and
Paul once went on without brother Trophimus when the latter was sick (2 Tim.
7. Change an adulterous relationship into a God-approved relationship.
Jesus said, "Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication,
and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is
put away doth commit adultery" (Matt. 19:9). A person that divorces his/her
mate, but does not do so because of the mate's fornication, enters an
adulterous union if he/she enters another "marriage." Jesus calls the new union
"adultery." If an unbaptized person enters such an adulterous union, then for
him/her later to be baptized does not change the adultery into a God-approved
marriage. If, in God's sight, a man was simply living with a woman before his
baptism and their legal marriage was not approved by Him, then for the man to be
baptized does not make the woman into his wife. Baptism is not a marriage
ceremony. (The same applies to a homosexual if he is baptized. Repentance requires
he get out of his homosexual relationships.)
8. Automatically change a person's heart. It is the change in heart or
desire to please the Lord that should lead one to baptism! Many that have been
immersed have failed to live faithfully to their Lord after baptism. Why?
Their lives never changed because their hearts never changed. Moms and Dads,
don't be deceived into thinking that if you can just get your child to be
baptized, then that will change his/her heart. It doesn't work that way. Baptism must
be preceded by repentance (Acts 2:38).
9. Automatically remove barriers between the one baptized and other
people. While the newly baptized person ought to strive to be at peace with all
men (Rom. 12:18), the fact remains that those who were antagonistic to him/her
before baptism just might retain such antagonism after baptism. A Christian
can do his/her best to right all past wrongs, bury the hatchet, and restore
severed relationships, but sometimes other parties just are not interested in such.
10. Automatically make one ready to teach a Bible class. It is often
the case that folks come up out of the water "on fire." That is wonderful, and
God forbid that we should do or say anything to dampen their zeal. Yet, it is
also true that zeal must be based on knowledge (
are given the responsibility of teaching need to be those that have first proven
themselves, both in their knowledge (Heb. 5:12-14) and in their lifestyle
Not for a minute would we consider trying to minimize the significance of
being baptized. At the same time, though, we must keep in mind the purpose and
results of baptism, realizing that there are a number of things that baptism
does not and cannot do.
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