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The Relationship of Grace and Baptism

by Frank Chesser

Salvation by grace, through blood appropriated to one's soul in the obedience of faith, includes baptism. Jesus joined baptism with faith as a part of Gospel obedience essential to salvation (Mark 16:16). He put water in the new birth, and man has been trying to remove it ever since (John 3:5). Peter joined repentance and baptism, and he declared to be "for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38). Preaching Christ involves preaching baptism in water (Acts 8:35,36).

As a penitent believer, Saul was instructed to "arise and be baptized and wash away thy sins" (Acts 22:16). Baptism is an integral part of the salvation process (1 Peter 3:21). Salvation is in Christ and "as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ (Galatians 3:27). Jesus shed His blood in His death (John 19:34), and Paul specified baptism as the consummating act of Gospel obedience that puts man into the death of Christ so as to be cleansed by His blood (Romans 6:3,4). Newness of life, and freedom from sin by grace and blood, come after one has been baptized into Christ, not before (Romans 3:6,7).

There is not a single verse in the New Testament, in which baptism and salvation are both mentioned, where salvation comes before baptism. In every example of conversion, those deserving salvation were baptized immediately. Thus, we read of baptisms "that same day" (Acts 2:36-41); on a deserted road (Acts 8:26-40); on Saturday (Acts 16:13-16); and at midnight (Acts 16:25-34).

In baptism a work of merit that nullifies grace and transforms salvation from being a gift into a divine debt? God forbid! Baptism is an act of faith that appeals to God's grace and the blood of Christ for salvation. Baptism is faith at work; faith complying with God's instructions; faith entreating God for salvation through grace and blood.

Biblical baptism is irrevocably tied to the cross of Christ. It is a symbolic reenactment of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ (Romans 6:3-5), which is the very heart of the Gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Baptism is an integral part of the obedience of faith whereby man appropriates to his soul the provisions of divine grace.

"...upon this rock I will build My church..." Matt.16:18

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