The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

Does the Bible teach that a purpose of water baptism is to obtain the remission of sins?

Do you like this debate?NoYes+1
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: Judge Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/8/2017 Category: Religion
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,772 times Debate No: 97649
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (63)
Votes (0)




Welcome to this debate on the purpose of baptism! Is the purpose of baptism to obtain or declare salvation? According to the Bible, is baptism performed to become saved, or is it to declare that you already are saved?


1. By “the Bible,” I refer to the 39 Old Testament books Genesis–Malachi (the books of the Apocrypha, for example, are excluded) and the 27 New Testament books Matthew–Revelation.

2. It will be assumed by both myself and Con that the books mentioned above do not contradict each other in teaching.

3. By “teaches,” I'm saying that the Bible's teachings indicate in some way “that water baptism's purpose is to obtain the remission of sins.” It may teach such explicitly or implicitly.

4. By “a purpose of water baptism,” I refer to a purpose which water baptism serves. Whether or not other purposes exist (e.g., to join in Christ’s death) does not affect whether the proposition is true.

5. By “water baptism,” I refer to the noun form of the Greek verb baptizó (which means “I dip, submerge …”),[1] performed with water, particularly as practiced in the New Testament after the time of Jesus’ resurrection. (This particular debate is not over whether water baptism can include sprinkling or pouring, although I believe such to be the case and have debated on the subject.[2])

6. By “to obtain the remission of sins,” I mean to have one’s sins forgiven.

7. Thus, the proposition is over whether baptism serves to have one’s sins forgiven.

8. The debate’s judges shall vote according to the Official Op-in Voting Standards, whose document can be accessed here:

9. The burden of proof is shared. I must show that the proposition is true, while my opponent must show it to be false.

10. All extrabiblical sources must be freely accessible via the Internet.

11. The first round is for acceptance

12. Rebuttals are permitted to occur as early as in Round 2 or in Round 3, whichever Con chooses; there are not strict rules concerning rebuttals.

13. The proposition and these rules (including this one) will be based upon my interpretation of them.

Reason for discussion

This debate isn’t academic; though not part of the debate itself, there are significant implications regarding which position is right. For the sake of explanation, assume that my position is correct. What then if you’ve been baptized, but your baptism’s purpose was opposed to the purpose of Bible baptism? Would this make your baptism different from the true one, and thus invalid?

Consider Acts 19. In it, the apostle Paul finds people who were baptized into John’s baptism (v. 3). In the next verse, verse 4, Paul explains that John’s baptism is obsolete: “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.” Since John’s baptism—which was for the period of time before Jesus’ crucifixion—was different than baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus, their baptism was invalid. “When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19:5).

What if you have been baptized with a baptism other than the baptism of the Bible? We read that John's baptism was invalid because its design and purpose differs from that of the Lord's baptism. In the same way, it's not unreasonable that a baptism whose design and purpose is to proclaim you were already saved, would also qualify as a different baptism; after all, the position I'm defending is in complete opposition to a baptism proclaiming you already have been saved. At the very least, it would be risky to stay with a baptism intended to proclaim you were already saved. Therefore, if my position is correct, you likely will need to be baptized again. So, let’s diligently study baptism's purpose together and weigh both sides.



[2] See

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved. This applies for all Scripture
in this debate by Pro unless otherwise noted.



I accept this challenge. I will show that forgiveness of sins is not a purpose of water baptism
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you for accepting, Con! I will now introduce three passages that show a purpose of baptism being to obtain the remission of sins.

Mark 16:16

In Mark 16:15–18, Jesus gives what’s been termed the Great Commission. In verse 16, chronologically the first statement about baptism after Jesus’ crucifixion, He tells the apostles, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” This statement isn’t hard to understand. If you believe and are baptized, you will be saved as a result. If it still isn’t clear, we’ll quickly look at the original Koine Greek language in which Mark was written. In the Greek, “believes” and “is baptized” are aorist participles, while “will be saved” is the leading verb. This just means that belief and baptism occur before, not after, the time in which you “will be saved.”[1] Thus, no one will be saved before he is baptized. Also, consider these four he’s:

1. He who believes and is baptized

2. He who believes and is not baptized

3. He who does not believe and is baptized

4. He who does not believe and is not baptized

Everyone will stand on Judgement Day in one of these four categories. The law of excluded middle, a law of logic, demands that either you believe or you do not believe; either you’re baptized or you’re not baptized. We know the first he, he #1, will be saved, because Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved.” On the other hand, #3 and #4 will not be saved, because “he who does not believe will be condemned,” and these two he’s “[do] not believe.” But what about he #2? Some argue, “Well, what if he’s #1 and #2 both could be saved?” (Note: For reference, the phrase negative inference fallacy sometimes comes up here.)

Such a view is problematic. If he who believes and is baptized will be saved as well as he who believes and is not baptized, then baptism has nothing to do with whether you “will be saved.” If baptism has nothing to do with whether you “will be saved,” then why didn’t Jesus just say, “He who believes will be saved”? Why did He add, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved”? If phrases like “and is baptized” could be added without becoming conditions, then Jesus could just as well have said, “He who believes and eats Krispy Kreme doughnuts will be saved”! Clearly, the pure, natural reading of this verse is that baptism, as well as belief, is conditional for salvation.

However, some deny that Mark 16:16 is even part of the Bible in the first place! They point out that some fourth-century manuscripts of the Bible lack verses 9–20 (and thus v. 16) of Mark 16. Opponents claim that these are the manuscripts that reflect the original, first-century Book of Mark. Now, it’s true that these manuscripts are old. However, we have even older manuscripts that do contain verses 9–20—manuscripts from the third and even second centuries. In addition, virtually all extrabiblical sources around the time testify to the passage’s authenticity. The following chart details the early manuscripts. Each column after “Century” represents 1) the manuscripts of the Bible that are in the original Greek language, 2) the manuscripts of the Bible translated in other languages, and 3) extrabiblical writings that quote from Mark 16:9–20, respectively.[2]

Quite clearly, both the early manuscripts and the vast majority of manuscripts favor Mark 16:9–20. A significant figure on the chart is Irenaeus, who heard the preaching of Polycarp, who in turn was a disciple of the apostle John himself! Does it really seem realistic that someone like Irenaeus could have been deceived when he quoted from this passage?

The foregoing confirms that Mark 16:16, a part of the Bible, teaches that baptism is a condition for the remission of sins.

Acts 2:38

After recording the Great Commission, Mark ends: “So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen” (Mark 16:19–20). In Acts 2, we read of the first of these sermons.

The apostles conclude in verse 36, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” The Jews who heard the sermon asked in their guilt, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (v. 37). Peter replied, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (v. 38). Why be baptized? “For [to obtain] the remission of sins,” says Peter.

Many claim that instead of being baptized to obtain salvation, we are baptized to declare or symbolize the salvation we allegedly already had before baptism. These people claim that “for” in this verse means “because of,” as in “Wanted for [because of] murder.” As a criminal is wanted because he already had committed murder beforehand, so these men would be baptized because they already had the remission of sins, it’s argued.

However, while the English word for can also mean “because of,” the original Greek word used in Acts is not so ambiguous. The word used is eis. Scholarly consensus is against eis meaning “because of.” For example, Thayer's Greek Lexicon says that eis aphesin hamartion (the phrase translated “for the remission of sins”) means, “to obtain the remission of sins.”[3] In the words of Baptist scholar J. W. Wilmarth, “‘In order to declare’ or ‘symbolize’ would be a monstrous translation of ‘eis.’”[4] Here are a few translations of Acts 2:38:

• “be baptized … unto the remission of your sins” (American Standard Version)

• “be baptized … so that your sins may be forgiven” (New Revised Standard Version)

• “be baptized … to remission of sins” (Young's Literal Translation)

• “be baptized … that you may have your sins forgiven” (Charles B. William's Translation)[5]

• “[be baptized] in order to the forgiveness of sins” (American Baptist Commentary)[5]

• “be immersed … unto remission of your sins” (Southern Baptist Theological Seminary)[5]

More translations could be given. The first three of the above translations are standard, accepted translations, while the latter three are the result of Baptist scholarship. If eis aphesin hamartion means “because of the remission of sins,” why did these Baptist scholars translate the phrase against their denomination’s teaching? If the meaning of “for the remission of sins” is ambiguous, can Con cite translations of my bias who translate eis aphesin hamartion as “because of the remission of sins”?

Furthermore, if “for” meant “because of” in Acts 2:38, then we are to repent “because of” the remission of sins as well! Acts 2:38 says to repent, as well as be baptized, “for the remission of sins.” As said by the American Baptist Commentary (mentioned earlier), for the remission of sins is “connect[ed] naturally with both the preceding verbs.”[4][5] (The “preceding verbs” are “repent” and “be baptized.”) Also again, the Baptist scholar J. W. Wilmarth agrees, saying “the natural construction connects [for the remission of sins] with both the preceding verbs [repent and be baptized]. It enforces the entire exhortation, not one part of it to the exclusion of the other, as Hackett says.” Many more sources could be cited,[4] but such should be sufficient.

Thus, Acts 2:38 teaches baptism as resulting in salvation, not the other way around.

1 Peter 3:21

Acts 2:38 wouldn’t be the last time Peter taught baptism’s purpose. In 1 Peter 3:20, we read that “in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared,” eight people (i.e., Noah and his family [Gen. 7:7]) were saved through the floodwater. This was a type of what saves us now. Peter continues, “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” (v. 21).

How baptism is an antitype (that which the type corresponds to) of what we read in verse 20 has been the subject of debate. It seems to me that the type-antitype correlation is in the sense that Noah and his family were saved from the influence of sin when the floodwaters separated them from “the wickedness of man” (Gen. 6:5–7). In the same way, we’re separated from sin when we’re baptized in water (c.f. Rom 6:1–7).

Regardless of how one interprets the correlation between verse 20 and verse 21, it’s very clear that baptism “now saves us” (v. 21); it didn’t save back in the time of Noah, but it “now saves us.” Some may object, saying we’re saved by Christ’s sacrifice for man (c.f. 1 Cor. 15:3), not baptism. In reality, however, we’re saved by Christ’s sacrifice for man by baptism. Notice that Peter does not say, “There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism, PERIOD.” Rather, Peter says, “There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism …, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (emphasis added). It’s “through” Christ’s resurrection that baptism saves, not through “the removal of the filth of the flesh.” Water doesn’t provide salvation. Rather, baptism accesses “the resurrection of Jesus Christ,” which in turn saves us (c.f. Rom 6:1–7).

Thus, baptism saves, and the method by which it saves is through Christ—reconciling salvation through Christ with salvation by baptism.


These passages confirm that the proposition is true. However, the first person you hear isn’t always right (c.f., Prov. 18:17). Whether you heard my case first or have already heard an opposing case previously, you can’t let preconceived ideas get in the way. Thanks to debating, however, you will get to consider both my case and my opponent’s case and weigh the evidence intelligently. Thank you.


[1], under “The Meaning of Tense in the Participle”



[4], pgs. 167–168, 190




The Bible is very clear that salvation is by faith alone in not by works. The Bible is also clear that the same method of salvation that applies to believers after the cross also applied before Jesus was crucified. The Bible says "a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ." (Gal 2:16) To explain how we are saved, it gives the example of how Abraham was justified by faith in Galatians 3:6-14. If we are saved in the same way Abraham was, and Abraham wasn"t baptized, then a person doesn"t need to baptized to be saved. In fact, none of the Old Testament saints were baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as we are today, but they all found salvation, right? This ought to make us at least suspicious of claims that all of a sudden baptism is needed for salvation.

Baptism is a ritual, a ceremony, just like circumcision was a ceremonial ritual. It is a work done by man"s hands. To claim that this work, this ritualistic ceremony is needed for salvation, is to claim that we can be saved by works, which would contradict Romans 3:28.

1 John 1:7 says it"s the blood of Jesus that cleanses us from sin, so to claim baptism is needed for salvation is an insult to Jesus, because it means that his blood isn"t good enough to save us. After all he suffered on the cross, after all our repentance and acceptance of Jesus as our saviour, none of this can save us without going under water? Really? I would like to ask, what power does the water at a beach have in it to save, that the blood of Jesus doesn"t already have?

Let"s look at some evidence that baptism plays no role in salvation at all. It is clearly the gospel that saves us, but what exactly is the gospel? The gospel is defined in 1 Cor. 15:1-4: "Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures." The gospel is defined as the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus for our sins. Baptism is not mentioned here. Would would he exclude baptism from his explanation of the gospel that saves us if it played an important role in salvation?

Paul said that he came to preach the gospel--not to baptize: "I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized into my name. (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don't remember if I baptized anyone else). For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel." (1 Cor. 1:14-17). If baptism is necessary for salvation, then why did Paul downplay it and even exclude it from the description of what is required for salvation? It is because baptism is not necessary for salvation. Paul explicitly said he was not sent to baptize, therefore baptism cannot save from sin, for Paul"s ministry was about bringing salvation to the Gentiles.

Here is a case where people were saved before they were baptized. Acts 10:44-48 says, "While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, "Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.' So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days." These people were saved. The gift of the Holy Spirit was on the Gentiles, and they were speaking in tongues. This is significant because tongues is a gift given only to believers (see 1 Cor. 14:1-5). The Holy Spirit is only given to the sons of God. (Gal 4:4-7) Also, unbelievers do not praise God. They cannot because praise to the true God is a deeply spiritual matter that is foreign to the unsaved (1 Cor. 2:14). Therefore, the ones in Acts 10 who are speaking in tongues and praising God are definitely saved, and they are saved before they are baptized.

Let"s not forget the thief on the cross was saved, he got into paradise without being baptized. (Luke 23:38-43)

Let's suppose that a person, under the conviction of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8), believed in Jesus as his savior (Rom. 10:9-10; Titus 2:13), and has received Christ (John 1:12) as Savior. Is that person saved? Of course, he is. Let's further suppose that this person confesses his sinfulness, cries out in repentance to the Lord, and receives Jesus as Savior and then walks across the street to get baptized at a local church. In the middle of the road, he gets hit by a car and is killed. Does he go to heaven or hell? If he goes to heaven, then baptism is not necessary for salvation. If he goes to hell, then trusting in Jesus, by faith, is not enough for salvation. Doesn't that go against the Scriptures that say that salvation is a free gift (Rom. 6:23) received by faith (Eph. 2:8-9)?

The thing we are being saved from is sin. (Matt 1:21) But look how many people get baptized and go back to the same sinful ways. Getting submerged in water doesn"t stop people from fornicating or lying. You will find in any church people who are baptized and are still living a sinful life. But when a person has genuine faith, it means they truly believe and are willing to let the Holy Spirit empower them to obey God. It is easy to see how faith turns a person"s life around, for believing can move us to act, but it"s hard to see how getting water on our skin changes the hearts of men. It can"t. If you believe a hurricane is coming, you will buy flash lights, secure your home, etc, so believing produces action. But how does getting baptize prepare you for the storm? Faith in Jesus is a good weapon against sin, baptism isn"t.

Now, to response to some of my opponents arguments:

Mark 16:16 says "whoever believes and is baptized WILL BE SAVED." A statement with parallel sentence structure is found at Matthew 24:13 "but he who stands firm till the end WILL BE SAVED." Both of these verses are telling what will be some of the characteristics of those who will be saved, but none of these verses are trying to say what you have to do to initially get saved. For example, does a person have to endure to the end of their life before they can be saved? No, even my opponent would agree that believers are saved before "the end" of their lives or of this world. Similarly, being baptized is not what we have to do initially to get saved. Just like enduring to the end, this too describes in general (though there can be exceptions) what saved people do. They get baptized, they endure to the end, they keep believing. But these verses are not discussing how a person is saved. When asked directly, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" Paul and Silas replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved." (Acts 16:29-31) Why didn"t they add baptism to that formula?

Mark 16:18 says that the believers will pick up snakes and drink poison. It claims these things won"t hurt them. If my opponent believes this passage is genuinely part of God"s Word, I invite him to prove it by drinking some poison and picking up a snake, and see if this isn"t just false. It should be obvious that drinking poison is not something a believer should do. What makes me sick is that drinking poison is places here alongside speaking in tongues and casting out demons as the signs that would accompany believers. Where does my opponent see this being fulfilled is a mystery to me.

Most scholars agree that Mark 16:9-20 was not written by Mark but is a spurious addition, and it"s safe to say that there is great uncertainty concerning its validity. But if its genuine, it doesn"t prove baptism saves from sin.

Acts 2:38 "Peter replied, "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.""
This verse is often used to say that baptism is part of salvation, but we know from other scriptures that it is not, lest there be a contradiction. What is going on here is simply that repentance and forgiveness of sins are connected. In the Greek, "repent" is in the plural and so is "your" of "your sins." They are meant to be understood as being related to each other. It is like saying, "All of you repent, each of you get baptized, and all of you will receive forgiveness." Repentance is a mark of salvation because it is granted by God (2 Tim. 2:25) and is given to believers only. In this context, only the regenerated, repentant person is to be baptized. Baptism is the manifestation of the repentance, that gift from God, that is the sign of the circumcised heart. That is why it says, "repent and be baptized."

Also, please notice that there is no mention of faith in Acts 2:38. If this verse is a description of what is necessary for salvation, then why is faith not mentioned? Simply saying it is implied isn't good enough. Peter is not teaching a formula for salvation but for covenant obedience, which is why the next verse says that the promise is for their children as well.

I will respond to 1 Peter 3:21 in more detail next round, but this verse clearly explains what it means by baptism; not the putting away of the filth of the flesh (water submerging) but the request made to God for a good conscience. That's not literal water baptism.
Debate Round No. 2


Now, I will first answer my opponent’s arguments against baptism saving, and then I will answer his objections to my case.

Faith and works

Con pointed out that we’re saved by faith, not by works. I consider this to be the strongest argument against the proposition, so I’ll be spending most of my space on it. In fact, after I'm done, I won't have enough space to answer everything Con said. I’m sure it all will be addressed later, though.

The problem is that Con failed to accurately define how Paul uses the words faith and works. In Galatians 3:6, reference by Con, Paul quotes from Genesis 15:6; then Paul concludes in verse 7 “that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.” Yet James also quotes from the same exact verse—Genesis 15:6—in James 2:23; his conclusion on the verse is much different than Paul’s: “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only” (v. 24). In fact, James is arguing that Genesis 15:6 “was fulfilled” by works—Abraham offering “Isaac his son on the altar” (vv. 21–23).

There’s no contradiction, however. We must recognize that Paul and James use the words faith and works differently; their definitions differ. My opponent uses faith and works like James does—faith meaning only belief and works meaning obedience to God—not how Paul uses the terms. This is the problem of Con’s opening statement. To show baptism is included in Paul’s definition of faith, I submit the following four passages:

Colossians 2:11–12

In the book of Colossians, Paul says in the second chapter: “In [Christ] you were … circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead” (vv. 11–12). Spiritual circumcision—the “circumcision made without hands”—is when we put off our old, previous person of sin in baptism.

But this is where it gets interesting. Paul tells us that baptism, in which we're buried and raised with Christ, is “through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead” (v. 12, emphasis added). Notice the connection: “buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God [which is grace] …” Grace, faith, and baptism are not enemies but rather interconnected.

Consider. Con and I likely agree that salvation by grace and salvation by faith aren’t contradictory, because salvation by grace is “through faith” (Eph. 2:8)—faith being how we obtain the benefits of God’s grace. In a similar connection, salvation by baptism and salvation by faith aren’t contradictory, because salvation by baptism is “through faith” (Col. 2:12)—our faith being necessary for baptism to be any more than us getting wet. If we can see the connection between grace and faith, we should be able to see the connection between baptism and faith.

Thus, Colossians 2:11–12 shows us how closely knit grace, faith, and baptism are, such that salvation by grace, salvation by faith, and salvation by baptism are the same thing.

Galatians 3:26–27

As already discussed, Galatians 3 is a chapter in which Paul teaches that we’re saved by faith. He tells us in verse 26, “[You] are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” Con and I agree. What we disagree over is when this is true. Con believes it’s the point you believe; I believe it’s the point in which you are baptized. But what does the Bible teach? Verse 27 begins with the word for (Greek, gar; different word than eis in Acts 2:38). “It adduces the Cause or gives the Reason of a preceding statement or opinion.”[1] In this case, Paul explains in verse 27 why verse 26 is true: “For [emphasis added] as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”

Paul is actually telling the Galatians that the reason they’re “sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus” is because “as many of [them] as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” You can’t have saving faith without baptism. “[Putting] on Christ” in baptism is the reason Christians are “sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.”

Thus, Galatians 3:26–27 also provides a link between salvation through faith and salvation through baptism.

Titus 3:5

In Titus 3:5, we’re told, “[We are] not [saved] by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to [God’s] mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.” How does God save us “according to His mercy”? The answer given is that we’re saved “through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.” What is “the washing of regeneration”? While few positions are shared without any opposition, virtually all commentaries agree that it’s baptism. Here is what one such commentator, Patrick Fairbairn, has said on the phrase “washing of regeneration”:

Some have taken it in an altogether figurative sense, as emblematically representing the spiritual change; some, again of the Holy Spirit, or of the word--the one as the efficient, the other as the instrumental cause of regeneration. But these cannot be termed quite natural explanations; and neither here nor in Eph. v. 26 do they seem to have occurred to the ancient interpreters. They all apply the expression to the baptismal ordinance.[2]

Now what does this indicate? That we’re not saved by works but rather by baptism! Baptism then is not a work (at least not how Paul tends to use the term work). Rather, it is “according to [God’s] mercy.” Let’s read the verse again, this time with “the washing of regeneration” replaced with “baptism”: “[We are] not [saved] by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through baptism …”

The claim that baptism is a work that cannot save is proven false by Titus 3:5.


Jericho is also worth consideration. Joshua 6:2 reads, “And the LORD said to Joshua: ‘See! I have given [emphasis mine] Jericho into your hand …’” Nothing that the Israelites did had the power in and of itself to make the walls of Jericho fall, so it was God’s gift. But does this mean that the children of Israel didn’t have to do anything to get it? No (vv. 3–5)!

Now, was Jericho obtained by faith or by works? The author of Hebrews tells us, “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days” (Heb. 11:30, emphasis added). Notice that the walls were obtained by faith, but they didn’t fall until “after they were encircled for seven days.”

Thus, something (in this case, Jericho) can be a gift obtained through faith, yet depend on conditional actions. Notice the following chart:

Notice that Jericho and salvation are each 1) a gift, 2) obtained by faith, and 3) dependent on conditional actions. Regarding salvation, Con cannot argue that because #1 is true and #2 is true, then #3 must be false. Why? Because the same logic would mean that #3 is false for Jericho—that it was not dependent on conditional actions—since it also is a gift and obtained by faith. The only difference is what’s being obtained. If #1 and #2 stop #3 for salvation, then they stop #3 for Jericho as well—which would be absurd!

Thus, if Con is to claim baptism doesn’t save, then arguing from faith and works, simply won’t work (no pun intended).

Paul not sent to baptize

My opponent claims that Paul “downplayed” baptism in 1 Cor. 1:14–17. The context, however, is about Paul being the one to physically perform the baptisms. It might not be good for someone as prominent as an apostle to be the one baptizing.

Salvation the same before the cross?

My opponent claims that salvation was the same before the cross as it is now. Con, however, showed this to be true only to the extent that salvation is by faith. We’ve seen this that this doesn’t contradict salvation by baptism.

Mark 16:16

Now on to my arguments. Con claims that Mark 16:16 only refers to characteristics of the saved. However, I’ve shown using the Greek grammar and the argument of the four he’s that regardless of when it occurs, “shall be saved” is a result of belief and baptism and can’t describe someone until he both “believes and is baptized.” Thus, a purpose of baptism is to obtain the remission of sins.

My opponent also questions the genuineness of Mark 16:9–20 because verse 18 speaks of Jesus’ followers picking up snakes and drinking poison without harm. However, these were “signs” (evidence) for confirming Christianity, no different from casting out demons or speaking in tongues (v. 17). After the Bible was completed, all these signs would cease (1 Cor. 13:8–12). Also, Con hasn’t addressed any of my arguments in favor of the passage’s genuineness, and so I extend them here.

Acts 2:38

My opponent argues that the phrase “for the remission of sins” only applies to repentance, not baptism. However, as I’ve already shown, even the American Baptist Commentary admits against Baptist doctrine that “for the remission of sins” is “connect[ed] naturally [emphasis added] with both the preceding verbs.” Thus, the natural interpretation is that both “repent” and “be baptized” are “for the remission of sins.” My opponent, however, argues we shouldn’t go by the natural interpretation. Why? He argues such “lest there be a contradiction.” However, no contradiction exists, as I’ve already shown. Salvation by grace/Jesus’ blood, faith, and baptism are different ways of saying the same thing.

Con asks why Peter didn’t tell the people to believe. Considering that they already believed, I wouldn’t think Peter would need to be redundant.

1 Peter 3:21

My opponent is about to give a more detailed rebuttal of 1 Peter 3:21. I will wait until then to respond.


I hope I brought up points those on the other side haven’t considered. May the truth prevail and shine brightly as this debate continues!






This is the only verse that says that baptism saves, but the NIV translation of the verse is unfortunate. A better translation is found in the NASB which says, "and corresponding to that, baptism now saves you." The key word in this section is the Greek antitupon. It means "copy," "type," "corresponding to," "a thing resembling another," "its counterpart," etc. Baptism is a representation, a copy, a type of something else. The question is "Of what is it a type?" or "Baptism corresponds to what?" The answer is found in the previous verse, verse 20: "who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. 21And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you." (NASB).

1 Peter 3:21
Some think that the baptism corresponds to the Ark because it was the Ark that saved them--not the floodwaters. This is a possibility, but one of the problems is that this interpretation does not seem to stand grammatically since the antecedent of Baptism is most probably in reference to the water--not the Ark.

But, water did not save Noah. This is why Peter excludes the issue of water baptism being the thing that saves us because he says, "not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God." Peter says that it is not the application of water that saves us but a pledge of the good conscience. Therefore, baptism here most probably represents the breaking away of the old sinful life and entrance into the new life with Christ--in the same way that the flood waters in Noah's time was the destruction of the sinful way and, once through it, known as entering into the new way. Also, Peter says that the baptism is an appeal of a good conscience before God. Notice that this is dealing with faith. It seems that Peter is defining real baptism as the act of faith.

In round two, my opponent said: "If phrases like "and is baptized" could be added without becoming conditions, then Jesus could just as well have said, "He who believes and eats Krispy Kreme doughnuts will be saved"!
Now, the fact is that it"s actually true that "He who believes and eats Krispy Kreme doughnuts will be saved"! The thief that was on the cross beside Jesus was saved, but had he eaten Krispy Kreme doughnuts, he would still be saved. So I could truthfully say that "he who believes and goes to church every Sunday will be saved," without claiming that going to church is a requirement for salvation. Just like "he who endures to the end will be saved" (Matt 24:13) without enduring to the end being a prerequisite for initial salvation. """

In round 3, Pro makes a strange argument that Paul"s definition of faith includes baptism. None of the 4 verses he gave actually attempt to define faith. Paul literally defines what faith is in Hebrews 11:1, and there, baptism isn"t mentioned, why? This would be the perfect place to include baptism if it was an important part of defining what faith is. "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." Hebrews 11:4 goes on to tell us how Abel made an offering by faith, but he wasn"t baptized. So baptism was a part of the definition of faith for him, yet, the same definition of faith is used for us, believers today in verse 3, showing that we understand how creation happened by faith. A person doesn"t have to get baptized to "understand that the universe was formed at God"s command," but this verse says that its by faith that we have such understanding, thus, baptism isn"t part of faith"s definition as falsely claimed by Pro.

Pro claims that "Spiritual circumcision"the "circumcision made without hands""is when we put off our old, previous person of sin in baptism." So, is he really trying to tell us, that we stop being sinful when we are baptized? I know of many people who got baptized and it didn"t change a thing for them. I"m sure many of you reading this do to. A bath in water cannot make anyone change. Only the Holy Spirit working in our hearts can. So I have to ask, what does the water bath do that the Holy Spirit in us can"t?

Let"s say that a man repents, accepts Jesus as his Saviour, and receives the Holy Spirit, but the church has his baptism planned three weeks from now. Can he not in those three weeks stop cheating on his wife? Stop holding someone in his heart and actually forgive? The Old Testament saints did it without baptism, but now it"s impossible? The heart of Cornelius in Acts 10 and the thief on the cross were changed before and without water baptism.

Yes, Colossians 2:11-12 says that baptism is done "through faith," but I don"t see how that makes baptism part of the definition of faith. It was "by faith" (which means, "through faith") that Abel brought a better offering to God than Cain. Does that make animal sacrifice part of the definition of faith just because it was done by/through faith? Lots of works are done through faith, but works are not part of faith. Rom. 4:5 says that he who believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness.

"Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off WHEN you were circumcised by[c] Christ (not when we were baptized, but when we were circumcised in heart), having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. (in other words, having publicly declaring this change to have taken place by getting baptized.)" (Col 2:11-12)

Our faith can"t give baptism the power to save anymore than it can give going to church or listening to a gospel CD the power to save. I don"t think Colossians 2:11-12 is saying that baptism actually circumcises our heart, but that it represents the circumcision of the heart. In Luke 22:19, Jesus "took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you." The bread was not his body, but represented his body. Baptism isn"t the circumcision of the heart, but represents the circumcision of heart.

Galatians 3:26-27 is simply saying that as many of you have been baptized into Christ have also put on Christ. It"s not trying to say that we "put on Christ" by getting baptized. Putting on Christ, that is, becoming like Him, is a process we engage in every day, and is not some on time event like baptism. Paul encouraged believers who were already baptized to put on or clothe themselves with Jesus in Romans 13:14. "Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh." How were they to clothe themselves with Christ? By getting baptized again? No! Ephesians 4:5 speaks of only one baptism. It means that we should put on the right qualities. "Put on then, as God"s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience." (Col 3:12) And this was written to people who were already baptized. Putting on Christ is to be like him in character, which proves we are sons of God according to 1 John 3:10. "This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother." If you didn"t love your brother before being baptized, getting water on your skin won"t make you love him. We don"t have to get it all right before we get saved, that would be salvation by works. Rather, we walk in obedience as sons of God because we are saved. Pro is confusing initial salvation and coming into God"s spiritual family as sons, with the daily process of sanctification in which we prove ourselves sons of God by righteous living, such as being peace makers. (Matt 5:9)

The New International Version, translated by over 100 Hebrew and Greek scholars, accurately renders Titus 3:5-6 "he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal BY the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on usgenerously through Jesus Christ our Savior." The washing of rebirth and renewal is an act that is done, according to these verses, BY THE HOLY SPIRIT. Not by a man who dips you underwater, but by the Spirit. This is nothing more than the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and even if all the commentaries Pro read agreed it was baptism, that wouldn"t prove they are right. Truth isn"t decided by majority vote. What if those same commentators agreed that baptism doesn"t save, will Pro agree with them?

It seems like Pro imagines the power to change is not present until a person is baptized. So a man is just evil, lying, stealing, smoking, etc, and suddenly, after coming out of the water, he suddenly becomes a good guy, but not before. I wonder what he does with the thousands of testimonies of people who have made positive change in their walk with God while still waiting on the date set by the church to perform baptism? Those changes came in their own strength? That wasn"t God? Hmmm" He says baptism isn"t a work. Clearly baptism is a ritual performed by the hands of men, so I don"t see how that isn"t a work just like circumcision was a work. Both are done in the flesh, not the heart. Water doesn"t" go into the heart when you are baptized.

So, Paul shouldn"t baptize because he was prominent? Where does the Bible say this? Nowhere, just Pro"s opinion. Paul says he wasn"t sent to baptize, thus, baptism can"t be necessary for salvation because saving souls was the focus of Paul"s ministry. Again, Pro hasn"t told us why would baptism be needed for salvation for us if it wasn"t needed for Old Testament saints who were saved by the same faith we are. Faith was good enough then, but it isn"t now? Why? Did faith loose its power to save that it needs the help of a water bath? Out of space, will respond to his remaining arguments next round.
Debate Round No. 3


Let’s diligently examine the Scriptures.

Holy Spirit baptism

If baptism is said to save, it must refer to water baptism. Holy Spirit baptism saving carries with it many problems:

1. Holy Spirit baptism was rare, not common. There are only two passages in the Bible that clearly speak of it: Acts 2 and Acts 10–11. In fact, Peter was surprised the second time it happened. Why? Because it reminded him of what the Spirit did “at the beginning” (11:15–16)—that is, the first time in Acts 2. Con seems to think Spirit baptism was a regularly occurring phenomenon. However, Peter tells us it was not. The Holy Spirit didnt fall on the Samaritians even when they “received the word of God” (Acts 8:1416).

2. Both accounts of Holy Spirit baptism involved its recipients speaking in tongues, meaning they could speak foreign languages without having to learn them (Acts 2:4–11; 10:44–46). If we’re saved by Holy Spirit baptism, shouldn’t we be able to speak in tongues as well?

3. If Holy Spirit baptism is what saves, then the apostles weren’t saved until Acts 2! Jesus told them in Acts 1:5, “for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” This occurred in Acts 2. Would Con have us to believe that the apostles weren’t saved until Acts 2?

Therefore, Holy Spirit baptism saving is not a biblical doctrine. And thus, the natural reading of passages that speak of baptism saving is that water baptism is under consideration.

Baptism and the gospel

1 Corinthians 15:1–4

My opponent has argued that since 1 Corinthians 15:1–4 doesn’t speak of baptism, then its not for salvation. However, the same logic says repentance of sins is not for salvation, as it's not mentioned either.

Paul not sent to baptize

Con also claims that Christ didn’t send Paul to get people baptized. No, Christ didn’t send Paul to physically perform baptisms. Con claimed this is just my opinion. Actually, that this was about getting people baptized is Con’s opinion, while physically performing the baptisms is the biblical context. If the apostle Paul himself would physically baptize people, they might think of him as having “baptized in [his] own name,” starting a Pauline faction (vv. 12–15). Jesus also abstained from physically performing baptisms (John 4:1–2). Furthermore, if Christ didn’t send Paul to persuade people to get baptized, then He sent Paul for something different than He sent the other apostles (Matt. 28:18–19). Moreover, although Paul himself only baptized a few in Corinth (1 Cor. 1:14–16), “many [emphasis added] of the Corinthians” who heard Paul not only “believed” but also “were baptized” (Acts 18:8). Therefore, those Paul converted in Corinth were baptized—just not by Paul himself.

Cornelius’ household saved by Holy Spirit baptism?

My opponent claims that Acts 10:44–48 shows that Holy Spirit baptism saves. Then, against the context, he insists that 1 Corinthians 14 speaks of Holy Spirit baptism. Has Con not read that tongue-speaking also came through the apostles laying their hands on Christians, and not exclusively through Spirit baptism (Acts 8:18; 19:6)?

Also, reading that the Holy Spirit falls on people (e.g., in Acts 10:44) isn’t equivalent to reading they were saved. After the people of “Samaria had received the word of God” (Acts 8:14) and were baptized (v. 12), two of the apostles actually had to come and lay their hands on them before the Holy Spirit would fall on them (8:14–17). The fact that the apostles had to come here from Jerusalem (v. 14) to do this, rather than having someone else like Philip do it, suggests that it only could be done by the apostles (see also v. 18), which would imply it no longer can happen today. There is “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph. 4:5). Con implies there to be two baptisms.

Rare scenarios determine general principles?

Con asks whether someone who dies on the way to being baptized will be saved. I will ask him about the person who does not yet have faith. He dies in a fatal car wreck on the way to hear preaching on evidence that would give him faith. Will he be saved?

Rather than using emotionally charged hypotheticals, let’s focus on the proposition at hand.

Baptism unable to keep from sinning

My opponent argued, “You will find in any church people who are baptized and are still living a sinful life.” Yet, you will find in the Scriptures a man who “believed” (Acts 8:13) and was later “poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity” (vv. 18–23)! If Con’s logic means baptism doesn’t save, it also means belief doesn’t save!

What about the thief on the cross?

The thief on the cross, was forgiven before Jesus died on the cross. Although he technically lived after Jesus died (right after, John 19:32–33), the point in time he was forgiven was obviously before Jesus died (Luke 23:42–43). The New Testament has been put in force after Jesus died (Heb. 9:15–17). Since this new covenant has been put in force, God “has made the first obsolete” (Heb. 8:13). This means we now are under “a new and living way,” through Christ’s sacrifice (Heb. 10:19–20).

Mark 16:16

Con didn’t bring up Mark 16:16’s authenticity this time but instead argues from the text itself. He says, “Now, the fact is that it’s actually true that ‘He who believes and eats Krispy Kreme doughnuts will be saved’!” However, it’s obvious that Jesus (or anyone for that matter) would not add a second part if it’s irrelevant. If “he who believes and is baptized will be saved” and “he who believes and is not baptized will be saved,” baptism’s irrelevant regarding salvation, and Jesus should just have said, “He who believes will be saved.” To tell a group of athletes that whoever runs the marathon the fastest wins a medal, I wouldn’t say, “Whoever runs the marathon the fastest and moves to Mexico for 2 years will win a medal.” The only reason someone would ever add a second condition, is if there is a second condition.

Con alleges a parallel between Mark 16:16 and verses like Matthew 10:22b: “But he who endures to the end will be saved.” However, it’s preferable to look at parallel accounts of the Great Commission to find an actual parallel passage. For example, Matthew (in 28:19) records baptism in the Great Commission, whereas Luke (in 24:47) records the remission of sins. More naturally then is that Mark 16:16 connects baptism with “the remission of sins,” which is what was preached by those commissioned (Acts 2:38).

As already discussed, the Greek grammar and the four he’s show that “will be saved” cannot describe you until you both believe and are baptized. Even if it referred to being saved at the end of time, “will be saved” can’t occur until baptism occurs.

Acts 2:38

As of last round, Con dropped Acts 2:38. Extending everything I’ve said, this teaches that one must both repent and be baptized to obtain the remission of sins.

1 Peter 3:21

Con argues that “not the removal of the filth of the flesh” in 1 Peter 3:21 means, “not water baptism.” However, the phrase means, “not by removing filth from your body.” The description is over how it saves. As one version renders it, “Baptism doesn’t save by removing dirt from the body. Rather, baptism is a request to God for a clear conscience” (GW). Water doesn’t in and of itself provide salvation, but water baptism “saves.”

Con says “baptism” means “the act of faith.” Peter says baptism is the antitype of the floodwaters, and thus water baptism is the natural reading. It saves “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” If by “the act of faith” Con refers Holy Spirit baptism, see “Holy Spirit baptism” above.

Faith and works

What Con called “a strange argument” is not so strange. Baptism isn’t part of a technical dictionary definition. Rather, true faith involves obeying God, which includes baptism. Hebrews 11:6 (the same chapter Con used) shows that faith isn’t just “[believing] that [God] is” but also “that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

Colossians 2:11–12

Regarding Colossians 2:11–12, Con says that baptism was done “through faith” and misses the point. Actually, Colossians is more specific, saying that being “raised with [Christ]” is what’s “through faith.” Baptism’s effect of being “raised with [Christ]” can’t happen without faith! Therefore, the phrase “raised with Him” isn’t just physical (and certainly not symbolic) but spiritual.

Thus, baptism changes your spiritual standing “through faith”!

Galatians 3:26–27

Con objects to Galatians 3:26–27 by saying Christians don’t put on Christ in baptism; such occurs every day, he argues. Regardless, Paul says here that if you’re baptized “into Christ,” you already “have put on Christ” (emphasis added).

Thus, the reason Christians are “sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus” is because they put on Christ in baptism.

Titus 3:5

Con argues from “over 100 Hebrew and Greek scholars”—no better than the New King James Version’s 130 translators—then states, “Truth isn’t decided by majority vote.” He dropped Patrick Fairbairn’s case (quoted in Round 3):

1. The “ancient interpreters”—who lived close to the time—“all apply” the phrase “washing of regeneration” to baptism

2. A natural parallel to Titus 3:5’s “washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” is Eph. 5:26’s “washing of water [emphasis added] by the word”

Thus, other interpretations “cannot be termed quite natural.” Also, see “Holy Spirit baptism” above.


I wish Con would have dealt with Jericho last round. It exposes his position:

Con can’t see that salvation by faith doesn’t contradict salvation by baptism. Israel obtained Jericho by faith (Heb. 11:30) through following conditions (Josh. 6:3–5); we obtain salvation by faith (Eph. 2:8) through following conditions (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 1 Peter 3:21). Just because something (Jericho for them, salvation for us) is a gift obtained by faith doesn’t mean it can’t be dependent on conditional actions (encircling the walls for them, being baptized for us).

Con’s entire position falls like the walls of Jericho!



In my fifth paragraph in round 3, I said " So baptism was a part of the definition of faith for him..." That should be " So baptism was [not] a part of the definition of faith for him." That was a typo.

Revelation 16:6 says God has "GIVEN them (his enemies) blood to drink as they deserve." Pro says because Jericho was GIVEN to Israel, then it was a gift; so is being given blood to drink a gift from God? No. It's a punishment. Just because it was given doesn"t prove it was a gift. Given is another way to say "gave," so if someone "gave me a hard time" that wouldn"t be a gift, would it? So Pro"s comparison of Salvation and Jericho is unwarranted and unfitting. Notice Hebrews 11 doesn"t say the walls fell BECAUSE they were encircled for seven days, but AFTER they were encircled for seven days. So it wasn"t the works, but the faith. If Pro thinks he can make a wall fall by walking around it seven days I invite him to try.

Pro doesn"t want to drink poison or handle snakes, so he has to conjure up a way to excuse himself from Mark 16:18. He claims that after the Bible is written those things would cease, but 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 says nothing at all about the finishing of the Bible, does it? Nor does it address drinking poison or handling snakes. Verse 12 tells us tongues will cease when that which is complete comes. It is when we will be known face to face. Seeing Jesus" face at his return, when we will be complete in Him. (1 John 3:1-3)

So, Pro says Peter didn"t tell them believe in Acts 2:38 because they already did, yet, Jesus told people who already believe to believe. (John 14:1)

"For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed...but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect." So wrote the Apostle Peter to the early Christians (1 Peter 1:18-19). It was not with perishable things, like the water, that we were redeemed, but only Jesus" blood.

I never said that Holy Spirit baptism saves anybody, what I said was that the baptism Peter was describing was not the removal of filth from the flesh (water baptism), but the act of faith, actually believing in Jesus and trusting in Him for salvation. People got saved by faith before they received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, so my opponent"s arguments against salvation by Holy Spirit baptism are pointless in this debate.

He goes on to claim that "Holy Spirit baptism saving is not a biblical doctrine. And thus, the natural reading of passages that speak of baptism saving is that water baptism is under consideration." That is based on the false assumption that there are only two options, but Peter already told us what the baptism is that he is referring to, not water baptism, but rather, "the pledge of a good conscience toward God." That"s the explanation he gives. I can make such a pledge of a good conscience only if I have repented and trusted in Jesus to save me. No amount of water can give you a good conscience.

In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul explains the gospel that saves without mentioning baptism. And yes, he does hint at repentance in verse 9 where he says he doesn"t deserve to be an apostle since he persecuted God"s church. He expressed remorse. I"ll let the voters decide if they think Paul"s leaving baptism out here is significant or not.

Con claimed in round 3, "The context, however, is about Paul being the one to physically perform the baptisms. It might not be good for someone as prominent as an apostle to be the one baptizing." I replied " So, Paul shouldn"t baptize because he was prominent? Where does the Bible say this? Nowhere, just Pro"s opinion." And I stand by that! It"s just his opinion that it"s not good for an apostle to baptize. The fact is, Paul did physically baptize some people, which he wouldn"t have done if it was bad for an apostle to do so. However, he points out that baptizing people wasn"t the focus of his mission. His mission was to get people saved. He is the one who said, "For CHRIST DID NOT SEND ME TO BAPTIZE, but to preach the gospel." (1 Cor. 1:14-17). If baptize was a requirement for salvation, he just couldn"t have said this, and I"ll just let the voters decide. Could you imagine Paul saying, "Christ did not send me to preach repentence"?

Pro says "My opponent claims that Acts 10:44"48 shows that Holy Spirit baptism saves."
No, I don"t claim that! My argument was that the fact that Cornelius and his household received the Holy Spirit and began speaking in tongues proves they were saved because the free gift of the Holy Spirit is only given to the saved. (Gal 4:4-7) Furthermore, tongues is not a gift given to the unsaved anywhere in the Bible. Notice all of this happened in Acts 10 BEFORE they were baptized.

Pro then asked, "Has Con not read that tongue-speaking also came through the apostles laying their hands ON CHRISTIANS, and not exclusively through Spirit baptism (Acts 8:18; 19:6)?" Laying their hands on whom? CHRISTIANS, on people who were ALREADY SAVED. That"s the point. The gift of tongues is only given to the saved, so for Cornelius to speak in tongues before his baptism he had to be saved before his baptism in water.

As for the Holy Spirit falling on people at the laying on of hands, he says "The fact that the apostles had to come here from Jerusalem (v. 14) to do this, rather than having someone else like Philip do it, suggests that it only could be done by the apostles (see also v. 18), which would imply it no longer can happen today." So here Pro is claiming there are no apostles today? Revelation 18 prophesies many end time events surrounding the fall of Babylon the Great. In verse 20, the people who are told to rejoice when she falls are mentioned. ""Rejoice over her, you heavens! Rejoice, you people of God! Rejoice, apostles and prophets!" So in the time of the end, not only will the heavens and the people of God in general exist, but among them, apostles and prophets will exist. I ask Pro to tell me when he believes the fall of Babylon in Revelation 18 is fulfilled. The Bible teaches there were more than 12 apostles. Jesus continued to appoint more apostles after the 12, after his ascension, such as Paul, Silas, Timothy and more.

Pro asked, "He dies in a fatal car wreck on the way to hear preaching on evidence that would give him faith. Will he be saved?" Answer, if you die in an unsaved state, you are not saved. The illustration is bogus because you cannot assume that the person would have gained faith if they had heard the preaching. Many who hear it don"t! Only God can know that, and if he sees fit, he can sustain that person long enough for them to hear the message and get saved.

In reply to my claim that baptism doesn"t stop people from sinning, he argues that "Yet, you will find in the Scriptures a man who "believed" (Acts 8:13) and was later "poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity" (vv. 18"23)" But I think he missed the point here. When he first believed, he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw. (Acts 8:13) He was obedient at first, but after Peter and John made a trip from Jerusalem to Samaria (vss 14-17), and who knows how long that trip took?, sin creeped up in this man"s heart. But he was doing well at first. Truly believing, true faith, moves people to righteous action, for faith without works is dead and wouldn"t be genuine faith. But look how many get baptized and even the same day it changes nothing in their hearts. Faith always brings a change, baptism doesn"t. In fact, the mere fact someone decides to get baptize proves that faith was already in action.

He replies to the thief on the cross getting saved without baptism by saying that Hebrews 10:19-20 provides a new way after the cross, but fails to mention verse 19 tells us that new way is by Jesus" blood, not baptism. Hebrews 10:1 makes clear that the contrast here isn"t between before and after baptism gets instituted, but between animal sacrifices that couldn"t save us and Jesus" blood. We get saved the same way the thief on the cross did, and he wasn"t baptized. Hebrews 10:4-14 shows the Old Testament saints were saved the same way we are, by faith in Jesus, yet none of them was baptized.

Pro claim that if baptism is irrelevant to salvation, Jesus wouldn"t include it in a statement about who would get saved. But in Matthew 24:13 Jesus says "the one who stands firm to the end will be saved." Enduring to the end of one"s life, or even to the end of this world, is irrelevant to initial salvation. Not even Pro will argue that we have to endure to the end to get saved initially. Surely he thinks he is saved, right? Has "the end" come? No! Yet, Jesus included this in a statement about who would be saved, just like he adds baptism to believing in Mark, assuming those are genuine words to Mark to begin with. Let"s not forget that Pro doesn"t agree with this same passage in Mark that he is using to prove baptism saves. Mark 16:17-18 tells him that the signs which will follow those who believe are to speak in tongues, which he says is not a sign that follows the believers but has been abolished. It also tells him to drink poison and handle serpents, which he doesn"t do. Nor is there any historical evidence to prove that Christian ever did drink poison to prove their faith, or that they were ever immune to poison. Had they been, Christians would all be famous. So the claim that if they drink any deadly thing it won"t hurt them is proven false by the many Christians that have been poisoned down the centuries.

In Titus 3:4-7 there is an explicit denial of human activity, as he has not saved us by works we have done in righteousness (which would include baptism). I challenge Pro to deny baptism is a physical work that we do in righteousness. I'm out of space, will finish my rebuttals next round.
Debate Round No. 4


Let’s honestly search the Scriptures over this important issue.

Mark 16:16


I refuse to pick up snakes or drink poison until Con casts out demons or speaks in tongues. All four signs are in verses 9–20. If my inability to survive snakes and poison somehow proves such never occurred, so Con’s inability to comply negates casting out demons and tongue-speaking. Also, I extend everything I’ve said in Round 2 favoring verses 9–20’s genuineness.

Con claims that “there [isn’t] any historical evidence to prove that Christian ever did drink poison to prove their faith.” Perhaps verse 18 is historical evidence. Also, tradition says that “Joseph called Barsabas” (Acts 1:23) survived “snake venom.”[1]


“[Enduring] to the end” (Matt. 10:22; 24:13; Mark 13:13) actually is relevant regarding the phrase “will be saved”; however, since endurance is “to the end,” salvation here can’t happen before “the end.” However, since belief and baptism in Mark 16:16 are not modified by “to the end,” this salvation (salvation from sin) can happen before “the end.” Also, as I explained (and Con dropped) in Round 4, Matthew (in 28:19) records baptism in the Great Commission and Luke (in 24:47) records the remission of sins. So, it’s natural that Mark 16:16 connects baptism with “the remission of sins,” which was preached by those commissioned (Acts 2:38).

Thus, if you believe and are baptized, you “will be saved,” in the sense of obtaining the remission of sins. (And even if “will be saved” referred to the end of times here, it still would be a result of baptism and couldn’t be obtained prior to baptism.)

Acts 2:38

Con’s only objection to Acts 2:38 last round was that Peter should also have told the people to believe as well, referencing John 14:1. This only struck down a strawman of my argument. I never said you can’t be redundant—telling a believer to believe; I said that Peter wouldn’t “need [emphasis added] to be redundant,” as Con claims.

Con dropped my arguments that belief and baptism both are “for the remission of sins.” I extend everything I’ve said, as this alone shows the proposition to be true.

1 Peter 3:21

Con clarified that “baptism” in 1 Peter 3:21 allegedly refers to faith itself; I’ve never heard this before. Con says, “I can make such a pledge of a good conscience only if I have repented and trusted in Jesus to save me.” Yet this doesn’t contradict 1 Peter 3:21 discussing water baptism. Assuming the NIV’s translation of the phrase is correct, it means that water baptism is a pledge you take out of having “a clear conscience toward God.” And certainly, I grant that you must first have faith and repentance, because it’s “through faith” that water baptism changes your spiritual standing (Col. 2:12).

Con dropped my argumentation supporting that “not the removal of the filth of the flesh” describes how baptism saves. I extend this.

Since baptism is an “antitype” of the floodwaters (vv. 20–21), water baptism is naturally what Peter’s listeners would have been thinking of. Then, as they continued and read that this baptism is “an appeal to God for a good conscience” (NASB), they would interpret this as meaning that water baptism is such.

My interpretation is natural and fits with verse 20; Con’s isn’t. Thus, the passage teaches that water baptism “now saves us.”

The blood

What about the thief on the cross?

Con says “that new way [in Hebrews 10:19–20] is by Jesus’ blood, not baptism.” Actually, salvation is by Jesus’ blood, by baptism. It accesses the blood, which in turn saves us (1 Pet. 3:21; c.f. Rom. 6:1–7). Also, Hebrews isn’t just declaring animal sacrifice obsolete, but the old covenant itself (Heb. 8:13; c.f. Rom. 7:4, noticing this “law” includes even the Ten Commandments, v. 7).

1 Peter 1:18–19

See “What about the thief on the cross?”

The Holy Spirit

Con says, “People got saved by faith before they received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.” Con never demonstrated this. Acts 10 discusses Spirit baptism but not salvation occurring before Spirit baptism. So, Con uses 1 Corinthians 14—which doesn’t even mention Spirit baptism. As for tongue-speaking in 1 Corinthians 14, Con can’t prove they got such from Holy Spirit baptism, as opposed to receiving the Spirit via the apostles’ laying of hands (e.g., Acts 8:18; 19:6). This—not Holy Spirit baptism—only happens to Christians.

This leaves Galatians 4:4–7, which also doesn’t discuss the Spirit giving the ability to do miracles like tongue-speaking but rather being sent into Christians’ hearts (v. 6). Christ also dwells in Christians’ hearts (Eph. 3:17; John 14:20), but this obviously is different from Holy Spirit baptism.

As for apostles living today, Con, have you not read Acts 1:15–26? Judas’ replacement had to be with Jesus from His baptism by John till His crucifixion, and would be “a witness … of His resurrection” (vv. 21–22). Even Paul—who was “as … one born out of due time [i.e., an exception to the rule]” (1 Cor. 15:7–9)—defends his apostleship via his witnessing of Jesus’ resurrection (9:1–2). Revelation 18:20 tells the apostles that “God has avenged [emphasis added] you on” Babylon (Rome). This is because she killed them. Regarding apostles mentioned after Paul, recognize that, in light of Acts 1:15–26, the word “apostle” (Gr., apostolos) is sometimes used “[in] a broader sense” for “other eminent Christian teachers.”[2] Do you know any apostles (in the official sense)? If so, how do you know they qualify?

Since Holy Spirit baptism doesn’t save, passages that speak of baptism saving naturally speak of water baptism. Con objects because there’s allegedly more than “only two options.” However, no other “baptism”—and certainly not “the act of faith,” which never is called a baptism in the Scriptures—is more natural than is water baptism.

1 Corinthians 15

Con argues that Paul “does hint at repentance in verse 9.” But Paul doesn’t say that repentance from “[persecuting] the church of God” (let alone from other sins, such as fornication and lying) is necessary for salvation. Rather, he says that doing such results in him “not [being] worthy to be called an apostle.”

Therefore, with Con’s logic, “The gospel is defined in 1 Cor. 15:1-4”; since it doesn’t mention repentance, repentance isn’t necessary for salvation.

Paul not sent to baptize

My opponent drops almost everything I’ve said regarding 1 Corinthians 1:14–17. He only asserts that if Paul shouldn’t physically baptize because he was prominent, he shouldn’t physically baptize at all. However, there are people who wouldn’t erroneously think “that [Paul] had baptized in [his] own name” (v. 15). Why couldn’t Paul physically baptize these people?

I extend everything I’ve said regarding John 4:1–2, Matthew 28:18–19, and Acts 18:8—all dropped by Con.

Rare scenarios determine general principles?

Con said if God “sees fit, he can sustain [a] person long enough for them to hear the message and get saved.” If this is true for hearing and faith, why can’t it be so with baptism?

Baptism unable to change a man’s heart

Con points out that being immersed in water doesn’t change a man’s heart. This is true, but Con hasn’t explained how this disproves the proposition. Does the Bible teach that if something doesn’t in and of itself change your heart, then it also doesn’t save you? If the answer cannot be demonstrated to be “Yes,” then this argument is irrelevant in disproving the proposition. Besides, since baptism changes your spiritual standing “through faith” (Col. 2:12), faith is already present in true baptism.

Faith and works

Paul uses Genesis 15:6 to show that he “who does not work but believes” will be justified (Rom. 4:2–5, emphasis added); James uses Genesis 15:6 to show that to be justified, one must have both faith and works (James 2:21–24). Save for a contradiction, it must be conceded that they use the terms differently.

Outside of James, “faith” commonly refers to believing not only “that [God] is” but also “that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6). “Works” commonly refer to performing an act to earn salvation, rather than being given it by believing and obeying God. This is the only way Paul could say that “to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt” (Rom. 4:4, emphasis added). When we work (in James 2’s sense), are our wages counted as debt, Con?

Colossians 2:12

Con dropped Colossians 2:12. I extend everything I’ve said.

Galatians 3:26–27

Con dropped Galatians 3:26–27. I extend everything I’ve said. Again, Paul’s definition of “faith” makes us sons because we put on Christ in baptism.

Titus 3:5

Con asserts that Paul saying we’re not saved “by works of righteousness which we have done” (Titus 3:4–7) demonstrates “an explicit denial of human activity.” I could just as easily assert that the phrase demonstrates that nothing righteous we do earns salvation. Who’s right? I extend all I’ve said concerning Paul’s definition of “faith” and “works,” as well as everything Con’s dropped about why “the washing of regeneration” is water baptism.

Thus, baptism is not a work!


If you get something good without having to earn it, of course it’s a gift. It’s as if my opponent fails to understand that getting Jericho was good—not punishment! Con says “it wasn’t the works, but the faith.” I challenge Con to take a city with faith alone. In fact, add marching. Still, no walls will fall. It must be given by God as well.

All three components were necessary. Even Con admits that when Israel was given Jericho and when Israel believed, Jericho still wasn’t obtained; it wasn’t until “after [the walls] were encircled for seven days” that they obtained Jericho (Heb. 11:30).

Thus, just because something (Jericho for them, salvation for us) is a gift obtained by faith doesn’t mean you’ll get it immediately when you have faith. You must obey the conditions first. Like Jericho’s walls falls Con’s position!


See “Reason for discussion” in Round 1.






My opponent has consistently argued in this debate that we are not saved by faith alone, but also by works. He refuses to acknowledge that baptism, though it is a physical ceremony performed by man"s hands, is a work, but shows just how much work it is by comparing it to walking around the walls of Jericho seven times. He says that "obedience" is required for salvation. I ask you, dear reader, obedience to what if not to the law of God? Yet, Scripture makes it plain that our obedience CANNOT save us. "Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law." (Rom 3:20) "A man is justified by faith apart from observing the law." (Rom 3:28) That means, that before a man has even begun to keep the laws against fornication, lying stealing, or to keep positive commands to read the Word, go to church, get baptized, and forgive others, he can be saved by simply doing what Paul and Silas said we have to do to get saved. "He then brought them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved."" (Acts 16:30-31) "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith (not through baptism as Pro argues, but through faith) " and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God " not by works, so that no one can boast." (Eph 2:8-9)

Pro refuses to pick up snakes or drink poison until I cast out demons or speaks in tongues. Well, I already do speak in tongues, and my Apostle casts out demons (I haven"t done that yet). But Scripture says that every single believer will be gifted the same way. (1 Cor 12:7-11, 28-28) This contradicts Mark 16:17-18 which claims that claims that all who believe will do these things, which just shows that passage isn"t authentic. Fact is, the Bible commands us to pursue such gifts of the Spirit. (1 Cor 14:1) Nowhere does it command us to drink poison or handle snakes.
Even if genuine, the basis for condemnation in Mark 16:16 is not the failure to be baptized, but only the failure to believe. Baptism is mentioned in the first part of the verse because it was the outward symbol that always accompanied the inward belief.

Pro cites a tradition that "Joseph called Barsabas" (Acts 1:23) survived "snake venom," but doesn"t back up this tradition with any actual proof. Who were the eyewitness to this? How many reliable witnesses testify to the historicity of this tradition? There is also a tradition that Mary ascended to heaven without dying. Traditions of men can be wrong. And many who were not believers in Jesus have survived snake bites, so one man surviving wouldn"t show some supernatural power keeping all believers immune to snake venom. Pro has been unable to show Biblical proof that the gifts of the Spirit would cease when the Bible is complete, thus, we have no reason to think such gifts are not still here as most Christians believe. And why should having a complete book prevent God from healing through his servants anyway? Jesus raised Lazarus to glorify God, not because the Bible wasn"t finished. (John 11:4, 40-45) Doesn"t God still want to be glorified? Miracles, thus, should still occur. Where then is his ability to drink poison and live? This spurious passage is no proof that baptism saves.

Titus 3:5 says directly, "He saved us, NOT BECAUSE OF RIGTEOUS THINGS WE HAVE DONE, but because of his mercy." Getting baptized is one of the righteous things we as believers have done, right? Well, God didn"t save us because of that. Therefore, we did not get saved because we were baptized. Therefore, "the washing of rebirth and renewal BY THE HOLY SPIRIT" (vs 6, NIV) cannot be water baptism. Both the washing and the rebirth are done BY the Holy Spirit, not by the minister who puts you under water, therefore, this isn"t a reference to physical baptism, but to spiritual cleansing and rebirth.

No reply to 1 Peter 1:18-19. It was not with perishable things like gold and silver (water is also a perishable thing), that we were redeemed. Thus, water baptism can"t redeem us. This still stands, and was never refuted by Pro, but in his double standard he keeps claiming that I dropped arguments. He knows quite well there isn"t enough word space to give much detail on all the arguments. When I am out of space, there is no more I can reply to.

Pro then claims that salvation before "the end" and salvation before "the end" are two different kinds of salvation. He offered no proof of this. I was the one who offered the explanation that one must endure to the end to remain saved. We can"t live in disobedience and still expect God favour. (1 Cor 6:9-10; Heb 6:4-8; 10:26-31) But one doesn"t have to endure to the end to get salvation initially. Pro is proposing two different kinds of salvation, something he never defended in this debate.

Luke 24:47 doesn"t mention baptism at all, so Pro"s use of it doesn"t help his case.

If baptism were necessary for salvation, it would have to be mentioned every time the disciples are telling unbelievers how to get saved. But that isn"t the case. Acts 3:19 says "Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out." No mention of baptism here. Why? There are people who were saved apart from baptism. The penitent woman (Luke 7:37-50), the paralytic man (Matthew 9:2), the publican (Luke 18:13-14), and the thief on the cross (Luke 23:39-43) all experienced forgiveness of sins apart from baptism. For that matter, we have no record of the apostles' being baptized, yet Jesus pronounced them clean of their sins (John 15:3--note that the Word of God, not baptism, is what cleansed them).
The Bible also gives us an example of people who were saved before being baptized. In Acts 10:44-48, Cornelius and those with him were converted through Peter's message. That they were saved before being baptized is evident from their reception of the Holy Spirit (v. 44) and the gifts of the Spirit (v. 46) before their baptism. Indeed, it is the fact that they had received the Holy Spirit (and hence were saved) that led Peter to baptize them (v. 47).

In Acts 2:38, Peter appears to link forgiveness of sins to baptism. But there are several plausible interpretations of this verse that do not connect forgiveness of sin with baptism. It is possible to translate the Greek preposition eis--"because of," or "on the basis of," instead of "for." It is used in that sense in Matthew 3:11; 12:41; and Luke 11:32.

It is also possible to take the clause "and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ" as parenthetical. Support for that interpretation comes from that fact that "repent" and "your" are plural, while "be baptized" is singular, thus setting it off from the rest of the sentence. If that interpretation is correct, the verse would read "Repent (and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ) for the forgiveness of your sins." Forgiveness is thus connected with repentance, not baptism, in keeping with the consistent teaching of the New Testament (cf. Luke 24:47; John 3:18; Acts 5:31; 10:43; 13:38; 26:18; Ephesians 5:26).

Water baptism does not seem to be what Peter has in view in 1 Peter 3:21. The English word "baptism" is simply a transliteration of the Greek word baptizo, which means "to immerse." Baptizo does not always refer to water baptism in the New Testament (cf. Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; 7:4; 10:38-39; Luke 3:16; 11:38; 12:50; John 1:33; Acts 1:5; 11:16; 1 Corinthians 10:2; 12:13).

So Peter is not talking about immersion in water, as the phrase "not the removal of dirt from the flesh" indicates. He is referring to immersion in Christ's death and resurrection through "an appeal to God for a good conscience," or repentance. Again, it is not the outward act that saves, but the internal reality of the Spirit's regenerating work (cf. Titus 3:4-8).

Pro thinks 1 Peter 3:21 must refer to water baptism because it follows an account of the flood in Noah"s day, but the flood didn"t save Noah, did it? So it can"t be water baptism that saves. Pro thinks that the phrase "not the removal of the filth of the flesh" describes how baptism saves. No, it doesn"t. It tells you what baptism IS NOT, followed by a definition of what baptism IS.

There is no verse which says baptism accesses Jesus" blood, that"s just Pro"s opinion. I leave it up to readers to see he found no such verse.

I bring forward all my arguments on the fact that the Holy Spirit and His gifts are not given to the unsaved. So for Cornelius to speak and tongues and be filled with the Holy Spirit before getting baptised in water in Acts 10, he had to be already saved. Acts 10:2 describes Cornelius as a devout man who feared God. Do the unsaved fear God? Are unbelievers devout to God? This is before he was baptized.

Acts 1:21-22 is not discussion the qualifications to be an apostle, but the requirements to be among the 12, for it says he must have been "with us the WHOLE TIME" Jesus was among them "beginning from John's baptism till the ascension." Paul was not with them for that period, but was an Apostle. (Gal 1:1) So were Silas and Timothy (1 Thess 1:1; 2:6) These don't fit the requirements of Acts 1:21-22. He claims without proof Babylon in Revelation 18 is Rome, but ALL who were killed on earth can't be in Rome. (Rev 18:24) I do know a real apostle because she has the SIGNS of an apostle, miracles. (2 Cor 12:12)

I stand by my arguments on Jericho. Out of space, thanks for a fun debate.
Debate Round No. 5
63 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Varrack 3 months ago
I don't have an account there, so I don't would depend on the debate and how interested I'd be in it. I find DDO's formatting easier to read.
Posted by Kilk1 3 months ago
Hey, Varrack, thanks for letting me know! I've also been doing debates on Edeb8. Should my next debate be on there, would you still be interested in voting?
Posted by Varrack 3 months ago
I'll be honest: this debate didn't particularly interest me. It was long, I was barely checking the site at all, and it was opt-in voting standards. However, that didn't excuse my inaction. I should have at least read through it, especially since I had neglected another one of Kilk's debates that I was nominated a judge on. For that, I'm sorry.

If you do do another debate, Kilk, I'll be happy to vote on it.
Posted by Kilk1 1 year ago
@PGA and @daley Yes, these rules are very strict and thorough, so that the outcome will be very objective. I think this is the reason that the judges have not submitted their votes yet. Regardless, the verdict will be final in 19 days.
Posted by PGA 1 year ago
I understand I'm not allowed to vote. I also read the rules on voting Daley. It would take an essay to fulfill them.

Posted by Kilk1 1 year ago
@daley Of course, they also could be busy in the process of reaching a verdict, etc. Either way, I'll contact them.
Posted by Kilk1 1 year ago
@daley It is strange. I'll contact them again.
Posted by daley 1 year ago
I guess nobody cares to vote
Posted by Kilk1 1 year ago
@daley I'm going to send a reminder to the judges Wednesday.
Posted by daley 1 year ago
I actually forgot we had selected judges. I wasn't in the choosing. So when can I expect to hear a vote from them?
No votes have been placed for this debate.