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Archive for Saturday, October 27, 2007

Faith Forum: Is baptism necessary for salvation?

October 27, 2007

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Other roads also lead to salvation

The Rev. Tom Brady, senior pastor, First United Methodist Church, 946 Vt. and 867 Highway 40:

The safest response to this question is, "I don't know." There are certain mysteries of faith. Who gets saved, when life comes to an end, is a matter determined by God's love and grace and is not in the realm of human knowledge.

However, salvation is more than a hoped-for reality that follows death. The Bible also speaks about salvation in the present. Luke 19:1-10 tells the story of Zaccheus who oppressed people by collecting excessive taxes. He was a sinner. After meeting Jesus and changing his ways, Jesus said to Zaccheus, "Today, salvation has come to this house." Zaccheus experienced salvation, and there was no mention of baptism.

Another story that helps address this question happened when Jesus was being crucified. One of the criminals being crucified next to Jesus acknowledged Jesus as the Savior of the world. Just before his death, Jesus said to this man, "Today you will be with me in paradise." He was saved, not by baptism, but by the grace of God received through faith in Jesus Christ.

One final Scripture that supports salvation coming regardless of baptism is offered in Ephesians 2:8, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God."

Baptism is an important step in one's journey of faith, and it represents one's initiation into Christ's Holy Church, but it is not necessary for salvation.

- Send e-mail to Tom Brady at tom@fumclawrence.org.

Question is not if, but how soon

Rod Hinkle, pastor, North Lawrence Christian Church, 647 Elm St.:

Suppose Bill Gates said to you, "Meet me at your bank at 2 p.m. I'll put a billion dollars in your account." Would you say, "Do I have to?"

You see, friend, baptism is a direct command of the Creator, our loving Savior. He said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:19,20). Faithful to his command, at the conclusion of the first gospel message after Christ's ascension, Peter declared, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38).

The apostle Paul was commanded, "And what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name" (Acts 22:16). And then this same apostle wrote to the Christians at Rome, "We are therefore buried with him through baptism in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life" (Romans 6:4).

"Is baptism necessary for salvation?" Could that be, friend, the wrong question? Could it be a diversion causing division among us? Wouldn't the better question be, "How soon can I meet you in baptism, my Lord, God, Savior and Redeemer?"

- Send e-mail to Rod Hinkle at preachrod45@aol.com.

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