The Myth of Baptismal Regeneration
October 23, 2009
Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls where saved by water. 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 3:20-21
I doubt that there is any one thing that has been debated about the scripture more than baptismal regeneration. What I mean by baptismal regeneration is the doctrine that teaches one must be baptized to be saved. The Bible does say repent and be baptized for the remission of sins. A man must first repent of his sin and put his faith in Jesus Christ, then he will naturally want to be baptized and identify with the Lord’s church. The first public act of obedience for the new creature in Christ is scriptural baptism. I have heard people when asked if they were saved mention baptism the very first thing. If that is what you think of when asked about salvation, then you are probably lost. The main verse used by some religious groups to prove baptismal regeneration is Acts 2:38. These false teachers deny the Trinity of the God Head. What do the words “baptized for the remission of sins” really mean? The first thing we must realize is who Peter was talking to in Acts 2:38. The Jews had crucified Jesus, and Peter was saying to them you must repent and be baptized in the very name of the one you just crucified. This did not overturn Matt. 28:19 where the ordinance of baptism was given. These Jews already believed in God the Father and the Holy Spirit. They did not, however, believe this man was Jesus Christ. So we see this verse means after sins are remitted through repentance and faith then we should be baptized. In Acts 10:47, Peter asked who could forbid these to be baptized since they had already received the Holy Ghost.
Now, let’s go back to our text verses, 1 Peter 3:20-21. Verse 21 says in the like figure baptism saves us. To understand this verse, we must look back to verse 20. This verse says that Noah and his family were saved by water, our baptism is a picture and a figure of this. They were not literally saved by the water. The ark was a type of Christ and was pitched from without and within as a sign of the sealing power of God. Noah and his family were in the ark just as believers are in Christ. Noah and his family were not touched with one drop of rain. They sat in the ark for several days before it ever rained. The crowd in the water drowned and went to Hell, but the ones in the ark were saved. So why does the Bible say the water saved them? First, it showed the ark was what Noah claimed it to be. Noah no doubt told people that this ark would float and not leak. The water was an outward demonstration of the ark’s durability. So is our baptism. It is a symbol or figure of what we claim has happened on the inside. The ark was totally immersed in the water. Baptism should only be by immersion. Sprinkling and infant baptism are pagan teachings. Baptism comes from the Greek word “baptismos” meaning to immerse. The water did not literally save them, but it did show the ark was for real. So is our baptism, it shows us to the world as dying to sin and being raised again to walk in the newness of life.
Baptism can not put away the filth of the flesh, but we must do it for a good conscience toward God. We are justified not by the water but by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Romans 4:24 says Christ was raised again for our justification.
1 Corinthians 1:15– For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel.
Baptism is not the gospel, it is only a figure from it. Amen.