In our previous study "Why should all believers be baptized? Part One we spoke of no part of God's word (the Bible) ever contradicting another part of God's word. The Holy Spirit of God is the assurance that though some Scriptures may present challenges, they in no way contradict other Scriptures. In our second part of our study on "Why should all believers be baptized?" we will focus on the chief argument against baptism's role in salvation. This argument is that baptism is a "work of man" and therefore cannot save or contribute to our salvation.
This doctrine never surfaced until some 1500 years after Peter offered the first invitation to be saved in the name of Jesus Christ and stated clearly to those who responded to his message on Pentecost, "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." It was Huldreich Zwingli who first put forth this doctrine of salvation by faith only.
Surprisingly, Zwingli's German counterpart, Martin Luther who is highly regarded by most denominations differed with Zwingli, taking the historical view that baptism is a "saving work of God". In fact, Luther states, "Through baptism man is saved." ( Small Catechism IV:6)
Zwingli's main contention is based on what Paul states in Eph. 2:8,9, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast." Zwingli's assumption is that anything which a man does to receive salvation is a "work of man." This would certainly seem to contradict what Paul clearly states here in Eph. 2: 8,9.
But there is a key question that must be asked here. That question is: "Can someone other than God perform a work of God?" Look at John 6:27-29. Here Jesus has just fed 5,000 people and they are now determined to make Him their King. And for good reason;p Jesus could feed the whole nation of Israel with the most insignificant amount of food. Now Jesus is determined to shift their focus from the temporary needs of this earthly life to the eternal need of every man. The need of salvation.
"Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal upon Him. Then they said to Him, "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?" Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent."
Here Jesus makes it clear that there is a "work of God" that MAN MUST DO in order to have "everlasting life". That work is "to believe in Jesus".
This "work of God" is faith, just as Paul stated in Eph. 2:8,9. But what manner of work is this? Is it not an act of obedience? Bear in mind this faith that Paul speaks of in Eph. 2:8,9 is not "the gift of God", grace is. Neither here in John 6:29 is this faith (believe) a gift. It is said by Jesus to be "the work of God". So obviously, this type of work, though said to be a "work of God", MUST BE DONE BY MAN.
So it should logically follow that any acts of obedience that the Bible tells us we need to do to receive salvation should fall under the category of a "work of God." Therefore, when Peter commanded those who cried out for salvation from the wrath of God and the penalty of their sins on the day of Pentecost, that they "Repent, and let everyone 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." (Acts 2:38) he was telling them to do these acts of obedience because they are "works of God." When viewed properly as "doing the works of God" baptism is kept in the same role in which it was practiced by the Apostles and subsequent generations of the Church for the first 1,500 years of it's existence. And is in no way in conflict with what Paul writes in Eph. 2: 8,9.
As always, if you desire to speak with me on this subject or others, feel free to send me an e-mail through our contact page at this website. Until next time, God bless you richly.