The Instigator
mifind
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
thewiseguy
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

(Christianity) Baptism is the point at which you are saved.

Do you like this debate?NoYes+0
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 0 votes the winner is...
It's a Tie!
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/31/2014 Category: Religion
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 405 times Debate No: 44989
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (0)
Votes (0)

 

mifind

Pro

I'd like to open a debate with anybody who believes that baptism is not an essential part of salvation. This includes

1) Believing that baptism is commanded for us to do, but is not when we are saved.
2) Believing that baptism is optional.

Let me also point out that baptism as a baby does not count. I'm arguing that once you know what baptism is about and get baptized, then you are saved.

I'd like to structure the debate this way:

Round 1: Acceptance
Round 2: Arguments
Round 3: 1st Rebuttal
Round 4: 2nd Rebuttal
Round 5: Closing Statements

I want this debate to specifically focus on scripture, meaning we don't tie personal experiences into the debate. Let's keep it civil and scholarly. I look forward to debating my opponent.
thewiseguy

Con

The answer is a simple, "No, water baptism is not necessary for salvation." But you might ask, "If the answer is no, then why are there verses that say things like '...baptism that now saves you...' (1 Pet. 3:21) and '...Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins...' (Acts 2:38)?" These are good questions and they deserve a good answer, so we will look at these verses later. But for now, the reason baptism is not necessary for salvation is because we are justified by faith (Rom. 5:1; Eph. 2:8), not by faith and a ceremony (Rom. 4:1-11). You see, a religious ceremony is a set of activities or forms peformed by someone. In the Bible circumcision was a ceremony where one person performed a religious rite on another person. Likewise, baptism is also a ceremony where one person performs a religious rite on another person. But, we are saved by faith alone and anything else we do, including ceremonies, will not help.

If we are saved by faith, then we are saved by faith when we believe, not when we get baptized, otherwise we are not saved by faith. Furthermore, if baptism is necessary for salvation then anyone who receives Christ on his deathbed in a hospital and who also believes Jesus is God in the flesh, who died and rose from the dead for his sins, etc., would go to hell if he doesn't get baptized before he died. This would mean that we were not justified by faith because if we were, then the person would be saved. Also, if baptism is necessary for salvation, then all babies who die go to hell since they weren't baptized. Remember, when someone says that baptism is necessary, there can be no exceptions -- otherwise it isn't necessary.

Now, in order to more thoroughly look at this issue, I need to lay a foundation of proper theology, and then I'll address some of those verses that are commonly used to support the idea that baptism is necessary for salvation.

God Works Covenantally

First, you need to understand that God works covenantally. A covenant is a pact or agreement between two or more parties. The New Testament and Old Testament are New and Old Covenants. The word "testament" comes from the Latin testamentum which means covenant. So, the Bible is a covenant document. If you do not understand covenant you cannot understand, in totality, the issue of baptism because baptism is a covenant sign.

If you do not think that God works covenantally then look at Hebrews 13:20 which says, "Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,..." The Eternal Covenant is the covenant between the Father and the Son before the creation of the world, whereby the Father would give to the Son those whom the Father had chosen. That is why Jesus says things like, "All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away," (John 6:37). And, "And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day," (John 6:39). And, "I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours," (John 17:9).

If you fail to understand that God works covenantally and that He uses signs as manifestations of his covenants (rainbow, circumcision, communion, etc.) then you will not be able to understand where baptism fits in God's covenant system.

Second, you need to know what baptism is. It is a ceremony that represents an outward representation of an inward reality. For example, it represents the reality of the inward washing of Christ's blood upon the soul. That is why it is used in different ways. It is said to represent the death of the person (Rom. 6:3-5), the union of that person with Christ (Gal. 3:27), the cleansing of that person's sins (Acts 22:16), the identification with the one "baptized into" as when the Israelites were baptized into Moses (1 Cor. 10:2), and being united in one church (1 Cor. 12:13). Also, baptism is one of the signs and seals of the Covenant of Grace that was instituted by Jesus.

The Covenant of Grace is the covenant between God and Mankind where God promises to Mankind eternal life. It is based upon the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and the condition is faith in Jesus Christ. As the Communion Supper replaced Passover, baptism, in like manner, replaces circumcision. "They represent the same spiritual blessings that were symbolized by circumcision and Passover in the old dispensation" (Berkhoff, Lewis, Systematic Theology, 1988, p. 620). Circumcision was the initiatory rite into the Abrahamic covenant; it did not save. A covenant is a pact or agreement between two or more parties and that is exactly what the Abrahamic covenant was. God said to Abraham, "I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you," (Genesis 17:7). God later instructed Abraham to circumcise not only every adult male, but also eight day old male infants as a sign of the covenant (Gen. 17:9-13). If the children were not circumcised, they were not considered to be under the promissory Abrahamic covenant. This is why Moses' wife circumcised her son and threw the foreskin at Moses' feet (Ex. 4:24-25). She knew the importance of the covenant between God and her children. But at the same time we must understand that circumcision did not guarantee salvation to all who received it. It was a rite meant only for the people of God, who were born into the family of God (who were then the Jews).

An important question here is how is it possible for an infant to be entered into a covenant with God. There could be a lot of different answers given but the point remains: it was done; infants were entered into a covenant relationship with God -- through their parents.

In the New Testament, circumcision is mentioned many times. But with respect to this topic it is specifically mentioned in Col. 2:11-12: "In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead." In these verses, baptism and circumcision are related. Baptism replaces the Old Testament circumcision because 1) there was a New Covenant in the communion supper (Luke 22:20), and 2) in circumcision there was the shedding of blood, but in baptism no blood is shed. This is because the blood of Christ has been shed and circcumcision, which ultimately represented the shed blood of Christ in his covenant work of redemption, was a foreshadowing of Christ's work.

If you understand that baptism is a covenant sign, then you can see that it is a representation of the reality of Christ circumcising our hearts (Rom. 2:29; Col. 2:11-12). It is our outward proclamation of the inward spiritual blessing of regeneration. It comes after faith which is a gift of God (Rom. 12:3) and the work of God (John 6:28).

Third, the Bible says that it is the gospel that saves. "By this gospel you are saved..." (1 Cor. 15:2). Also, Rom. 1:16 says, "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile." Neither of these verses, which tell us what saves us, includes any mention of baptism.
Debate Round No. 1
mifind

Pro

First off let me start by saying that it is an honor to be debating with somebody who is truly studying the word. That said, let me point some things out in your argument before presenting mine.

First and foremost, I'd like to stick to scripture. Asking about people on their deathbeds and infants is not something that can be answered for either side bibically, therefore it is not part of the topic. We can not put ourselves in God's shoes. We can try, but ultimiately, without scripture, we can only speculate what will happen to these people.

I think Psalm 119:160 is one of the most important verses to meditate when it comes to studying the word of God. It reads, "The sum of your word is truth and everyone of your righteous rules endures forever."

When we read the word of God, we need to be careful when we say "Well, this verse does not mention baptism as part of salvation, so it can't be part of it." For example, John 3:16 only mentions belief as a part of salvation. Is that all we need to do? Of course not. Luke 13:3 reads, "No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." John 3:16 makes no mention of repentance, however, surely you would agree that repentance is a part of being saved. Likewise with Romans 10:9. Romans 10:9 adds that we must confess Jesus as our Lord to be saved. Neither of the previous verses mentioned that type of confession. In fact, correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe Romans 10:9 is literally the only verse that speaks of us being required to confess Jesus as Lord with our mouth. That does not mean it isn't a part of salvation.

Interestingly enough, Colossians 2:11-12 is a scripture I point out for the exact opposite of what you pointed out. You're saying that Paul makes the point that baptism is related to circumcision here. I'd argue the exact opposite point in that Paul specifically says, "In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead."

Taking note of this, he is saying that baptism is not like circumcision because God works in your baptism. See, baptism is not a work of man, but a work of God. It is a circumcision made without hands. It is in baptism that we are buried with Christ and raised with him through faith. Both elements are important here. Baptism means nothing without faith, otherwise we would be baptized everytime we take a bath. I believe Romans 6:3-4 is telling us what exactly is happening during our baptism. Is is exactly then that we "get into Christ" and then can walk in newness of life.

Let us remember what it means to be justified by faith. Those verses point to the story of Abraham. Abraham's faith was an obedient faith. He believed the LORD and did as he was commanded. Kind of a side point, but it basically falls into the idea of what James speaks that faith without works is dead.

My argument however is that baptism is not a work of man, but a work of a God. Therefore it's all part of that grace. Of course we know no matter what we do, we do not deserve the grace that God has given us. But that grace still entitles us to do something about it. Believing, repenting, confessing Jesus as Lord, and being baptized is all a part of accepting the gift that God has given us. It's God's work within baptism that cleanses us of our sin.

Please let me know if I failed to touch on any other points you made, for now I will be moving on to my argument.

Let us not forget what Jesus told Peter in Matthew 16:19, "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

From what I understand, this means that Peter will open the way for us to be able to get into the kingdom of heaven. That could literally be heaven, or as in most cases, mean God's church. I hope that you would agree with me that God's church includes only the people that are saved. Therefore Peter will open the way for us to know how we can be saved so that we can enter into this kingdom of God's people.

This is the argument for Acts 2:38. Peter has opened the way. We need to repent and be baptized (note the people already believed as they were cut to the heart and asked Peter what they needed to do). At baptism we receive the forgiveness of sins and the Holy Spirit. I say this becuase it must come after believing, confessing, and repenting. Of course, all of these continue after being baptized as well. Throughout Acts we then see people believing and then getting baptized. A "proper" baptism is that of which when you realize that you are being baptized for the forgiveness of sins and to receive the Holy Spirit.

I'd like to make a point about the Holy Spirit, however I won't get into my full argument about that yet. The point being that there is a different between the Holy Spirit being with us and the Holy Spirit being in us. That distinction is made in John 14:17 as it reads, "even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with and will be in you." This distinction is very important for the argument of baptism. So I end my argument with the following question: Do you agree that there is a difference between the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the "pouring out on all flesh" of the Holy Spirit?
thewiseguy

Con

thewiseguy forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
mifind

Pro

mifind forfeited this round.
thewiseguy

Con

thewiseguy forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
mifind

Pro

mifind forfeited this round.
thewiseguy

Con

thewiseguy forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
mifind

Pro

mifind forfeited this round.
thewiseguy

Con

thewiseguy forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
No comments have been posted on this debate.
No votes have been placed for this debate.