What Must Happen BEFORE Baptism?

Because I have no ability to read a person’s heart, I’m very careful to ascertain what a person understands before baptizing them.

It would be a tragedy to baptize someone who doesn’t understand it properly and they go through life, and possibly death, without having truly obeyed the gospel.

We know that it is important from an account found in Acts 19. There were some disciples of John the baptizer who didn’t know about Jesus and needed to be ‘re-baptized.’ (there’s really no such thing as ‘re-baptized.’ You either were or you weren’t.)

When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” [19:5] 

We know that denominationalism practices baptism incorrectly; they utilize the wrong mode & often the wrong reason. Even when they do practice it by immersion, it’s usually NOT for the reason God commanded it. It’s a tragedy that some are walking around with a false hope of Salvation. It’s for this reason we ask the question…What happens BEFORE baptism?

Paul asks a few questions about obeying the gospel in Romans 10. He writes, “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not BELIEVED?” [Romans 10:14a; cr. Acts 22:16 calling on the name of the Lord is connected to baptism]. Before anyone can obey the gospel, there must be BELIEF. This simple concept eliminates babies & young children from being eligible for baptism.  

He writes in the same verse about something that precedes belief, “and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? We see then that the candidate for true baptism must have EARS TO HEAR. [cf. Mr 7:16] This is describing understanding the word of God. Mockers accuse us of baptism only salvation. There’s nothing of the sort. A person must HEAR & BELIEVE, but are those the only requirements?

In the first gospel sermon at Pentecost, Peter said, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…” [Acts 2:38a]. “FOR the remission of sins must be understood that baptism is the moment our sins are washed away. Some would try to confuse you by saying, ‘you’re baptized BECAUSE your sins are remitted.’ This false doctrine is easily proven by the Apostle Paul’s own retelling of his conversion. “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” [Acts 22:16] Peter would later write about baptism, “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:” [1Peter 3:21]. The eligible candidate is baptized to remove their sins, ‘FOR the remission of sins.’

While we’re on this subject, what if you’re immersed when there’s no sin being imputed toward the person? Babies & young children are NOT being charged with sin by God [Mark 10:13-16]. Youth baptisms need to be done with great care. If God is NOT imputing sin toward them, then they are not being baptized FOR the remission of sin.

The eligible candidate must obey the gospel in its proper ORDER. As we’ve already seen, HEARING comes first, which brings about BELIEF about Jesus. Some would say that one is saved at the moment of belief, placing salvation in the wrong ORDER. Belief is essential, but salvation is NOT BY FAITH ALONE. [James 2:24] Being saved comes after baptism [Acts 2:40]

There are 4 essentials that precede true baptism. They are in order; HEARING, BELIEVING, REPENTING & CONFESSION. Jesus commanded, “except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” [Luke 13:3]. Peter preached REPENTANCE at Pentecost [Acts 2:38]. Likewise, one must CONFESS that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. We see the Ethiopian confessing just prior to being baptized by Philip. [Acts 8:37-38; cf. Mat 10:32]

Lastly, some teach that you can never lose your salvation. This too is false. Therefore, the eligible candidate for true baptism must sit down and count the cost of being Christ’s disciple. [Luke 14:25-33]. The eligible candidate must know that Christ EXPECTS him to remain faithful until death, that he can so sin as to lose his salvation. [Rev 3:10; Jas 2:24; Luke 6:46]

Justified by Faith

THE FAITH ONLY crowd will “prove” their belief by quoting Romans 4:5. “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” They may even go further and include Romans 3:28, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” Then, if you press them, they will quote Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

Let me say here and now that I believe each of these passages, just not how THEY believe them. Their problem is that these passages are quoted out of context and interpreted without that context. They come to the conclusion that a person is justified (saved) by FAITH ALONE.

What do these passages mean?

When one studies the bible, one rule that is often overlooked but must always be applied is the rule of context. A passage needs to be interpreted in the light of its context. Another consideration is that the bible harmonizes with other similar texts.

When we teach about salvation from scripture, we need to deliver, “all the counsel of God.” [Acts 20:27]

In Romans chapter 4, Paul is making a case regarding salvation that includes gentiles (those folks who were not Jews). Abrahams justification is given PRIOR to his becoming circumcised which became part of the Law of Moses [Leviticus 12:3] . Paul asks then answers, “How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.” [Romans 4:10]

The faith only folks want you to believe that Abraham did NOTHING prior to his JUSTIFICATION. This simply is not true. When Paul said in Romans 4 that Abraham was justified, he is referring to Genesis 15:6. However, by that time, Abraham had already OBEYED God by leaving his homeland in Gen 11:31-12:3.

It is this OBEDIENT FAITH on the part of Abraham that the Hebrew writer acknowledges in the HALL OF FAITH in Hebrews 11:8. “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.”

It is true that Abraham was justified without the deeds of the law, which according to the context refers to the Law of Moses. Nowhere does the Scripture teach that a person is justified (saved) without works.

What about Ephesians 2:8-9?

For this passage we need to apply the same rules, context & harmony. Let us read verse 10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Once again, the context teaches us something about works.

There are 2 kinds of works, works of man & works of God. Ephesian 2:10 teaches that there are works that God has prepared. Works that God commands. Please understand what I am saying, a person is never justified by works when he places his trust in JUST the works. We are justified when we put our trust in God WHILE DOING THE WORKS HE HAS COMMANDED.

This harmonizes with the rest of the scriptures. Look at James 2, another passage that quotes this same Justification of Abraham from Genesis 15:6, “And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”

But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” [James 2:20-24]

Let’s look again at that HALL OF FAITH in Hebrews 11…By faith…
  • Abel OFFERED vs4
  • Enoch WALKED vs5; Gen 5:24
  • Noah PREPARED vs7
  • Abraham OBEYED & SOJOURNED vs8-9
  • Moses parents HID Moses vs23
  • Moses REFUSED, CHOSE, FORSOOK vs24-27
  • Israel PASSED through vs 29
  • Rahab RECEIVED vs30
  • Others SUBDUED kingdoms, WROUGHT righteousness, OBTAINED promises, STOPPED the mouths of lions, vs33

To follow their example, people today must obey the word of the Lord. He said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” [Mark 16:16] The faith alone people, “make an error, not knowing the scriptures.”  [Matthew 22:29] When you weigh ALL the evidence, harmonize the scriptures and read the context then you will know the truth, and this truth shall set you free. [John 8:32]

Judge not, for God loves me

judge not

ARE YOU AWARE of the most commonly used Bible verse? It’s usually quoted this way; Someone takes note that a sin exists in another’s life and to stop the rebuke this one will say, “Judge not, for God so loved the world that He gave His only son.

It’s as if to say, “You can’t judge me, God loves me just as I am.” They quote this verse in defense of sin, assuming the belief that the Bible condemns judging others because we’re saved by God regardless of our behaviors.

In the hybrid verse, “Judge not, for God loves me,” a new meaning emerges which is so very different from the meaning which can be easily understood if one will study the context of these verses.

In actuality, these are two separate verses, not one, which are, “Judge not, that ye be not judged” and “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” [Matthew 7:1; John 3:16]

In Matthew 7:1, Jesus is teaching about making false or poor judgements hypocritically. We know this because of verse 2 & 3, “For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”

Making judgements, determinations, is not condemned in scripture. The condemnation comes when we judge according to non-biblical or hypocritical standards. We must first begin with ourselves, looking at God’s standards, then we can look at others. If we were not allowed to make judgments, how then could we ever determine if somebody needed to hear the gospel to be saved?

The second half of this hybrid verse is also abused when it’s removed from its context. Yes, God does love us, all of us. It’s from this love that we even have a savior, [Romans 5:8]. To suggest that God’s love excuses un-repented sin is contrary to so many other verses in scripture. [Rom 6:1; Acts 2:38; 8:22]

Look closely at all of John chapter 3. Verse 5 shows the need to be baptized. Verses 20-21 shows the need to change from doing evil. Speaking about belief, John 1:12 says, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the RIGHT to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” (emphasis mine)

When we believe in Jesus, the Christ, we have the RIGHT to become children of God. Belief alone never GIVES US salvation, just THE RIGHT to become saved. [James 2:24; Mark 16:26; Matthew 28:18-20] Belief is the reason we will obey the Gospel. Any reason short of believing that “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God” [Matthew 16:16], is inadequate for our salvation.