“Not Baptized to be Saved — But Saved to be Baptized”

There is a common view of baptism expressed as, “We are not baptized to be saved; we are saved to be baptized.” That represents the attitude of the major portion of Protestant denominationalism. If it reflects the way you view baptism, please stay tuned, for I intend, from what the Bible teaches, to do everything I can to change your mind. Such a sentiment expresses the exact opposite of what the Bible says in plain language.

The declaration, “We are not baptized to be saved; we are saved to be baptized,” amounts to a denial of plain passages of Scripture. One passage is 1 Peter 3:21.

The King James Version: The like figure whereunto even baptism cloth 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:

The New King James Version: There is also an antitype which now saves us; baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The American Standard Version: Which also after a true likeness cloth now save you, (even) baptism, not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the interrogation of a good conscience toward God, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The New International Version: And this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also -- not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The New English Bible: Which was a symbol pointing to baptism, which now saves you. It is not the washing off of bodily dirt, but the promise made to God from a good conscience. It saves you through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Peter’s words help us understand the purpose of baptism by the Old Testament record of the deliverance of Noah and his family. God saw the wicked world was on a downward direction to depravity. He promised to destroy it, but because Noah was a good man, one on whom God bestowed favor, He delivered this man and his family from destruction. Water was the means by which Noah and his family was saved. The water of the flood was the means by which the ark, built by Noah, was transported from a world of destruction to a new world of safety. The ark was the only thing appropriate to float in and deliver Noah, his family, and the animals from destruction to safety.

Peter says this was a type or a “true likeness” of how sinners are saved from the terrible destruction of sin Each of the translations we just read say, “baptism now saves you.” Denominational preachers say the opposite. They say, “We are not baptized to be saved; we are saved to be baptized.” What they tell you is a plain denial of the divine revelation.

Men say: Baptism does not save -

Divine revelation says: Baptism now saves you.

The difference in wording is slight. Actually, there is only one letter different. It is the letter “T”. If you change what the text of Scripture says from N O W to N O T you change only one letter. The change of one letter changes the entire meaning of the passage. Notice the similarity to an event all should remember.

“Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die” (Gen. 3:13).

God said to Adam and Eve: “If you eat fruit from the tree in the midst of the garden you shall die.” The devil changed that to “you shall not die.” When God says: “Baptism doth now saves you” and men say “Baptism does not save you,” they follow Satan’s tactics. Satan adopted this strategy from the very beginning. When God says something good for man, the devil says the opposite. When men today say the very opposite of what God plainly says, they are using satanic strategy.

Just as Noah and his family were delivered from destruction by means of the flood waters, Peter says there is a true likeness in the salvation God says comes by being baptized. The term “like figure” of the King James Version is translated as antitype in the New King James. Strong’s Dictionary says the word means a counterpart. W.E. Vine offers the following application of the word: “A corresponding type, (1 Pet. 3:21), said of baptism; the circumstances of the flood, the ark and its occupants, formed a type, and baptism forms ‘a corresponding type’ . . . each setting forth the spiritual realities of the death, burial, and resurrection of believers in their identification with Christ.” - Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words.

Peter also clarified a possible misconception. He says it is not the washing away of body filth. Rather it is an earnest appeal to God Almighty for a clean and good conscience. That earnest appeal is a personal pledge and promise to God by one who believes in His Son and is baptized. It is offered not in words but in the act of obedience to God. Baptism is a command that must be obeyed if a sinner is ever saved. This is substantiated by the scholarly work of W.E. Vine. He wrote: “Eperotema, (1 Pet. 3:21), is not, as in the KJV, an ‘answer.’ It was used by the Greeks in a legal sense, as a ‘demand or appeal.’ Baptism is therefore the ground of an ‘appeal’ by a good conscience against wrong doing.”

A person who truly believes in God fully believes He sent His only begotten Son into the world to die for the sins of man. Such a believer has very little he can even offer to God. Try as he may, man is helpless, hapless, and hopeless without God Almighty. His sole recourse is to do what the Almighty tells him to do. Through the divinely revealed and infallible word God says those who believe in His Son must obey.

As Jesus was about to ascend to the right hand of God, He gave these orders: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:15-16). Please observe that it is not the one who believes who is saved, nor is it the one who is baptized that is saved. The one who is saved is the believer who is baptized. Denominational preachers and pastors contend that the believer is saved without being baptized. Remember, they say, “We are not baptized to be saved; we are saved to be baptized.” That amounts to another reversal of what is divinely revealed. Notice:

Divine revelation says: He that believes and is baptized shall be saved.

Denominational pastors say: “He that believes and is not baptized shall be saved.

The difference is ever so slight; just one word is different. That word is the word not. It is the same word Satan used on Eve. There is no difference in what Satan did to God’s word to Eve and what denominational pastors, preachers, and evangelists do to the words of Jesus Christ to sinners now. It was no more dangerous for Eve to believe Satan then than it is for any of us to believe anyone who changes the word of God today. Those who change the now to not in l Peter 3:21 and who add the word not to Mark 16:16 are not using divine revelation as their guide. They do not speak as the oracles of God (1 Peter 4:11) but speak as the oracles of Satan.

Baptism is required for salvation. We are baptized to be saved; not saved to be baptized. Never in the Bible is a saved person told to be baptized. If there is an exception to that, will some good man or woman who may be reading this, please furnish me with the book, chapter, and verse?

Those on the day of Pentecost were not saved to be baptized. Peter told them to, “Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins: and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). If they were saved to be baptized, why would Peter have said every one of them had to be baptized unto the remission of sins? That little preposition “unto” means in the forward direction of something. That something was the remission of their sins. They were not saved before baptism, unless a sinner can be saved without having sins remitted. Nobody can believe that and be right.

If sinners are not baptized to be saved, but saved to be baptized, why would Ananias, a man who had come directly from Jesus Christ, say to Saul of Tarsus, “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on his name” (Acts 22:16)? Saul of Tarsus was told to be baptized to have his sins washed away How could it be said that he was already saved so he could later be baptized? Such is utterly unthinkable and impossible unless one is saved before having past sins washed away. Sins are washed away by the precious blood of Jesus (Rev. 1:5). But if one is saved to be baptized, and sins are washed away when one is baptized, then one is saved before coming into contact with the blood of Christ. Who can honestly believe it?

If sinners are not baptized to be saved, but saved to be baptized, why is it that Paul shows that one becomes a child of God through baptism? Listen carefully “For ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ” (Gal. 3:26-27). Notice the expression “for as many of you as.” That means just that many, no more and no less. It says that many, no more and no less, who are baptized into Christ are the sons of God. Affirming that we are not baptized to be saved but we are saved to be baptized is the same as saying that one may be a child of God without obeying God. God has no children who have not been baptized into Christ.

Please do not accept man’s word; accept only the word of God. That is especially true of preachers and especially true of this writer. I dare not ask anyone to accept my word on a matter that affects salvation. I ask that you take your own Bible, study it, believe it, and above all, obey it.

Men are often bold to say, “We are not baptized to be saved; we are saved to be baptized” when there is a captive audience. It is very unlikely they would be willing to defend that in public debate.

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