Baptism to Preach
February 27th, 1955 @ 7:30 PM
1 Corinthians 1:10-17
BAPTISM TO PREACH
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Corinthians 1:10-17
2-27-55 7:30 p.m.
Now, in your Bible, turn to the first Corinthian letter – the first Corinthian letter, the first chapter; and all of us, we’re going to read the passage together from the tenth verse through the seventeenth. First Corinthians, the first chapter, the tenth verse through the seventeenth. You’ll come to a name down there, Chloe, and Apollos, Cephas, and Gaius, Crispus, Stephanas – they’re all very simple names. All right, are you ready? This is 1 Corinthians, the first chapter, and I’m preaching from the tenth through the seventeenth verses tonight. Now let’s read it together:
Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.
Now this I say, that every one of you saith, "I am of Paul," and "I of Apollos," and "I of Cephas," and "I of Christ."
Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
I thank God that I baptized none of you but Crispus and Gaius,
Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name.
And I baptized also the household of Stephanas. Besides, I know not whether I baptized any other.
For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.
[1 Corinthians 1:10-17]
And now the next time I preach, we’ll pick up there, and I’ll preach on the cross of Christ; but tonight I’m preaching on baptism in contradistinction to the gospel. I did not make that distinction; God made it here in the Bible, in the Word, and you’ve just read it: "I thank God that I baptized none of you but Crispus and Gaius . . . No, wait a minute. I also baptized Stephanas, but I can’t remember anybody else that I baptized. For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel" [1 Corinthians 1:14, 16-17]. He makes a distinction between the two.
"Ahh!" said one of the brethren who was trying to convince me that the Bible taught baptismal regeneration – that in baptism our sins are washed away and that without baptism no one is saved. I quoted to him that verse. He now evilly replied, "That has nothing to do with this doctrinal subject because all Paul meant was that he didn’t baptize. Timothy did it, or Silas did it, or somebody else did it."
All right, then Paul makes a distinction between Timothy’s baptism and the gospel or Silas’ baptism and the gospel. However you want to say it, in the Word of God, in my text for tonight, Paul, the inspired apostle of Jesus Christ, makes a distinction between baptism and the gospel of Christ.
Now if baptism saves us, then the gospel is something else – maybe an impertinence, maybe an addendum, maybe an appendix, maybe an afterthought. What we ought to do is to baptize if that saves us. If the gospel saves us, then baptism is something else, and it has a rightful place and a rightful meaning; but it ought to be carefully presented, and the ordinance faithfully observed, according to the Word of God. So tonight, I say, we’re going to look at the ordinance of baptism.
Now, there are two kinds of people who preach this Book. There are some who make baptism all important. The great denominations that I could name, one of them the biggest in the world, baptism all important. You’re not saved without it. If you die without being baptized, even a child, according to some of those tremendously numerically powerful denominations, if a child dies unbaptized, it goes to hell. If a mother dies and an unborn babe is in her womb and the fetus is not baptized, that babe, the unborn, goes to hell. The teaching of the church is – it’s beyond my thinking – rip open the mother, take out the fetus, baptize it lest the child unborn go to hell. I can’t conceive of it, but there are millions who believe that, and it’s faithfully practiced here in their hospital in the city of Dallas.
Then I say, there are other denominations that make no store by it at all. Baptism is nothing; the Lord’s Supper is nothing. There are no reasons particularly for observing the ordinances at all; so they don’t observe them. There are denominations who have no ordinances in their churches at all. They are merely nothing. Then practically all of them change them around and do according as is convenient or is in keeping with the tradition and the historical antecedents of the church.
Well, how about us? Proudly do I say – proudly – do we try earnestly as the people and as a church of God to administer these commandments and these ordinances exactly as they are here in the Word. And so my task tonight is to present the truth of the ordinance of baptism as it is in God’s revealed Book.
Now, it is easy to become hipped on anything, anything. You can get crazy about anything. I tell you, some of the things that some people are hipped on are the screwiest things that you ever heard of and have ever seen or thought for. There are some people, when you get around them, all they can talk about are some of those things they’re hipped on. Well, there are people who are hipped on baptism, and preachers that are hipped on baptism. I cannot remember when I did not hear that story of the preacher who preached on it all the time. And in order to get his mind off of it, they gave him Genesis 1:1 as a text; and he started out, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth; and the earth is three-fourths water, and that meant He meant for us to baptize."
Now, now those things are characteristic; and I say it is a marvelous balance to be able to take the Word of God and place, according to the will of God, things in their direct proportion and in their correct emphasis. Now, when we teach that in baptismal regeneration we’re saved, our sins are washed away, we become children of God in the act of baptism, it is essential to salvation. When we do that, when we teach that doctrine, when we’re persuaded of it, we bring a tremendous self-contradiction into this Bible. It becomes a book of vast inconsistencies for the Bible presents salvation on moral and spiritual terms; and when we change that presentation of our salvation from moral and spiritual terms and begin to delineate it in terms of mechanics, in terms of ceremonies, in terms of rites and rituals and ordinances, you go into an altogether different world. For, I say, the Bible presents our salvation, inevitably and without exception, in terms of moral and spiritual regeneration. It has never varied in that.
For example, in the first and fiftieth Psalm, David, who had broken fellowship with God, David cried, saying:
Thou desirest not sacrifice, else would I give it; Thou delightest not in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.
In other words, if I’m saved from my sin, I could offer all the burnt offerings in the world. It wouldn’t suffice to wash my sin away; nor could I offer rivers of oil for the cleansing of my soul, nor even a firstborn for the fruit of my, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul – my firstborn that I might be saved – for the condition of salvation is always inward. It is always spiritual. It is never mechanical and outward.
Take once again in the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah and the sixth verse, "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, unto his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all." The first chapter of Isaiah, "ʹCome, ye, and let us reason together,’ saith the Lord. ‘Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool’" [Isaiah 1:18].
Now there is no difference, I say, in the New Testament. Never is our salvation in the New Testament presented as a thing mechanical and ritualistic and ceremonial, but our salvation is always spiritually conditioned. Listen to it. Listen to it. John 1:12:
He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He the right to become the children of God, even to them that trust in His name.
Or, Mark 1:15:
And Jesus came preaching . . . and saying, "Repent, ye, and believe the gospel."
Or John 3:14-15:
As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so the Son of Man, lifted up, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
And then John 3:16 which is the gospel in a sentence; or carry on through the Book: in Acts 10:43: "To Him did all the prophets witness that . . . whosoever believeth in Him should receive remission of sins." Or Romans 10:9-10: "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and shalt believe in thine heart that He was raised from the dead," that He liveth, "thou shalt be saved" [Romans 10:9].
There’s no exception. All of these great passages that present how a man is saved, all of them present a great moral and spiritual regeneration in the power of God. It is something inward. It is something of the soul. It is something of the heart; and it is never something physical of a baptistery, or of a pond, or of a running creek.
Now, you listen to me for a minute. One of the glories of Jesus Christ – listen to me for a minute. One of the glories of Jesus Christ is this: that He did His work separate and apart from incantation and cabalistic words and voodoo and chicanery and ritual and ceremony. One of the glories of Jesus Christ is this: that He did His work by the power of the Holy Spirit inside of Him. Look. Look and see.
There came to Jesus four who were bearing one paralytic, and Jesus looking upon that paralytic man said, "Thy sins be forgiven thee" [Matthew 9:1-2; Mark 2:1-5; Luke 5:18-20]; no incantations, no mysterious cabalistic words, no voodoo, no hoc est enim corpus [meum]. No rite, and no ritual, and no ceremony; just by His own innate spiritual power and authority, Jesus said, "Thy sins be forgiven thee."
And those who stood by hearing Him said, "Why, the man blasphemes! Who can forgive sins but God?" [Matthew 9:3; Mark 2:6-7; Luke 5:21] And Jesus, knowing their blasphemy, said, "Is it easier to say, ‘Pick up thy bed and walk,’ or to say, ‘Thy sins be forgiven thee’?" [Matthew 9:4-5; Mark 2:8-9; Luke 5:22-23] You might try it. Find the man who’s paralyzed and has been thus all of his life, and go to him and say, "Rise, pick up your bed, and walk!" Try it and see whether it’s easy or not. Is it easier to say, "Thy sins be forgiven thee," or "Rise, pick up your bed, and walk"? Either one’s impossible to any but God.
Then the Lord says, "But that ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins," then He said to the sick and the palsied, "I say unto thee, ‘Arise! Pick up thy bed, and walk!’" [Matthew 9:6-8; Mark 2:10-12; Luke 5:24-26] He had power to forgive sin innately, inherently, spiritually under God, without any ceremony, without any ritual, just in Himself.
Take again the story of the woman sinful, sitting in the house of the Pharisee, breaking bread. In that day, leaning on the couch, His feet stretched out there to the side, she came and bathed His feet with her tears and dried them with the hair of her head [Luke 7:36-38]. And then the Pharisee said, "Look at Jesus. Look at Him. If he were a prophet, he’d know what kind of a character that is that washes His feet with her tears. She’s a harlot; and He’d know it, and He’d know it" [Luke 7:39]. Jesus said, and then after the parable, said to her, "Her sins, which are many, are forgiven. And He said to the sinful woman, ‘I say unto thee thy faith hath saved thee. Arise, go in peace’" [Luke 7:47-48]. No ceremony, no ritual, no works, no voodoo, no incantation, no nothing; just the power of the Son of God. That’s not good English, but, brother, it’s the gospel truth.
The thief on the cross is the same way. Nailed there, turning to the Lord Jesus, "Lord, when Thou comest into Thy kingdom, remember me; remember me" [Luke 23:39-42]. He didn’t need a ceremony. He didn’t need a rite. He didn’t need a ritual. The Lord turned to him, and because the Son of Man has power to save, He said, "Today thou shalt be with Me in paradise" [Luke 23:43]. No baptism, no anything – just saved in the power of God; and there’s no exception to it.
This passage that I quoted in the tenth of the Book of Acts is a glorious passage:
And while Simon Peter preached these words . . . "to Him give all the prophets witness that, through His name, whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins." While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all them which heard the words.
[Acts 10:34, 43-44]
They were saved. Why? How? Just because through the gospel message of Christ – what is the text? "Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel" [1 Corinthians 1:17]. Simon Peter there preaching the gospel; the Holy Spirit fell on all them that believed, and they were marvelously saved [Acts 10:44].
All right, Preacher, that’s enough of that. Now what about those passages in the Bible that say you got to be baptized in order to be saved? Well, they don’t say that. They don’t say that. There are four of them that look as though they might turn in that direction, but if you look at them, they don’t contradict the Bible. The Bible is not a self-contradicting book. The Bible has one message. The Bible has one plan. These things are spiritual. They are of God. They are never earthly. They are never mechanical. And when we look at these passages, four of them, I say, just four. Isn’t that funny that a people would base a whole system of theology – out of the thousands and thousands and thousands of texts in the Bible, they choose four, and pull it out of its context, and build a whole system of theology on four texts? All right, we’re going to look at them. The first text is Mark 16:15-16.
And He said unto them, "Go preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be damned.
Now, a man came to me and said, "You ought not to tell the people – you ought not to tell the people that from the ninth verse of the sixteenth chapter of Mark it’s not the Bible: ‘Somebody wrote that in the years after whose name has been lost. We don’t know.’" Well, I’m not saying that. I’m not saying that. I’m just telling you that that’s the truth, but I’m not mentioning it. I’m not referring to that. From the ninth verse on to the end, somebody wrote that; and I don’t know who it was, and it doesn’t matter. It is not a part of the Bible, but I’m not telling you that. I’m not referring to that. I’m not saying that. I know that’s the truth, but I’m not saying that. You never heard me say that.
Now, taking this thing that some man wrote – who he is, I do not know; what he wrote, I do not care. There are millions of books in the world. I don’t care what’s in those books. What I want to know is, "What did God say?" Well, God ended Mark at the eighth verse. It was chopped off there. It was lost – the ending is lost – and we don’t know how Mark ended. God did that, and why I don’t understand; and whoever picked up the pen and started at the ninth verse and wrote, I do not know. All I know, he was a superstitious sort of a fellow for he said there in the eighteenth verse, "They shall take up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them" [Mark 16:18].
I, but that’s all right; that’s all right. Whoever wrote that I don’t know, and I’m not interested, and I don’t care. I’m just not going to pick up any snakes, and I’m not drinking any strychnine. I’m just not going to do it now. I believe that guy is superstitious, whoever wrote that, but that doesn’t matter. Well anyway, in the thing that he did write, he said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; and he that believeth not shall be damned" [Mark 16:16].
All right, it doesn’t say – even this fellow here, as superstitious as he was, and as mechanically minded as he was, and as earthly minded as he wrote – he didn’t say I’d be damned if I wasn’t baptized for the thing that turns my salvation is faith; it’s belief. "He that believeth not shall be damned" [Mark 16:16]. There’s not a passage in the Bible that says if I’m not baptized I’ll be lost. No such thing. The great turning is faith.
He that believeth and observes the Lord’s Supper will be saved; he that believeth and joins the church will be saved; he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; he that believeth and loves his brother shall be saved; he that believeth and publicly confesses his faith shall be saved: those things are true, that’s right. You can emphasize anything in a sentence like that – he that believeth and will come down the aisle and shake my hand will be saved; he that believeth and cries shall be saved – you can emphasize anything – but the thing that damns us is not to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Selah.
Now let’s go to the second one. We could stay here all night long, stay all night long. We gotta go home so we can come back the next time. If we don’t go home, we can’t come back the next time. We gotta go home to come back.
Now, the second one. The second of these verses, I say, all right, is in the third chapter of John and the fifth verse: "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." And so they say, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit;" they say that means, "Except a man be baptized and be born of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God."
Now that’s far-fetched. That passage there has no reference to baptism unless you make it refer to it, but it’s you doing it. It’s not there in the text. "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit." Why, I know exactly what He means there. I think I do. The Bible has a marvelously beautiful presentation of the gospel which is the Word of God. In Ephesians 5:26, it goes like this: "We are cleansed – we are sanctified – by the washing, with the washing, of water by the Word." You are sanctified, you are cleansed, by the washing of water with the Word; and in the third chapter of Titus, he refers to the "washing of regeneration" [Titus 3:5]. That is, the Holy Spirit uses the gospel of Christ. And what’s my text? "Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel!" [1 Corinthians 1:17]. Ephesians 5:26, and Titus 3 and, oh it’s 6 or 5 or something. Why didn’t I call that to mind?
Anyway, in the third chapter of Titus [Titus 3:5] and in Ephesians 5:26, the Bible says that we are cleansed, we are sanctified, with the washing of water by the Word – the washing of regeneration. That is, the Holy Spirit takes the gospel message of Christ – the words of God, the revelation of God – the Holy Spirit takes the gospel message of Christ, and He cleanses us. He regenerates us. We are born again. He recreates us by the Word of God, by the gospel of the Son of God. It’s the instrument by which Christ saves us [Romans 1:16], and that’s what He means here: "Except a man be born of water" – that’s the washing of regeneration; that’s the cleansing, sanctifying of the Word – "Except a man be born of the Word and of the Spirit, ye cannot enter into the kingdom of God" [John 3:5]. Now that’s what that means. That’s Selah a second time.
Now let’s take another one; let’s take another one. We got two more to go. Here’s one over here in Acts 2:38. Then Peter said unto them when they asked, "Men and brethren, what shall we do? What shall we do?" [Acts 2:37] Acts 2:38 – out of these thousands of texts in the Bible, they just choose four and base a whole theology upon it. Now let’s take this one: "Then Peter said unto them, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost’" [Acts 2:38].
Now you look at that carefully; you look at that carefully. Most every language has words in it that can mean several things, several things, several things. I got the grip; well, I got an infection in my pulmonary system. I got the grip. No, I got the grip; I got it in my hand. I’m carrying it for you off the train. Man, what a grip you’ve got! Good night, look at that grip! Ooh, you just go crazy in language and words.
Well, you got one here: e-i-s, eis, translated "for." And the same dual meaning that’s in Greek is here in English. For example, I read in the paper where a man is electrocuted for murder, for murder. He’s electrocuted for murder. Well, don’t look at me like that. That’s just good English! It is good English. He was electrocuted for murder. What does "for" mean there? "Because of" – because he’s a murderer. He was electrocuted because he’s a murderer. He wasn’t electrocuted "in order to" but "because of."
Well you got the same thing there: "Then Peter said unto them, ‘Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ because of the remission of your sins – for the remission of your sins.’" You use that same word, and I say it’s in Greek that way. It’s a dual meaning in Greek. There are places where that word eis is used in Greek "because of." Well, you can’t translate it any other way.
Now for one – I haven’t got time, but we’ll just take one of them – over here in the twelfth chapter of the Book of Matthew and the forty-first verse: "The men of Nineveh shall arise in judgment with this generation and shall condemn it, because they [repented] eis the preaching of Jonah; and behold a greater than Jonas is here." Now, how would you translate eis there? You have to translate it "because of." They repented because of the preaching of Jonah. That’s why they repented – not "in order to the preaching of Jonah," but "because of the preaching of Jonah":eis.
That’s the same thing over here in Acts 2:38: "In the name of Jesus Christ, be baptized because your sins are washed away." And that’s a picture there in the baptistery. What we do in our souls is pictured up here in the baptistery – "because of the remission of your sins."
All right, got one more; I got one more. There’s only one more, and that’s all. Now you turn to the twenty-second chapter of the Book of Acts, and the sixteenth verse; and this is the only other one. And Ananias came to Paul, and he said to him: "And now why tarriest thou? Arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." Well, you’d think – "Arise, be baptized, wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord" – now, the Bible says a whole lot of things that you’ve got to have sense when you read it; got to have sense when you read it.
You know it’s the funniest thing about language. In French, in French, if you are in love with a girl, you will call her "my little cabbage;" and that sounds so funny to me – "my little cabbage." Isn’t that a sight: "my little cabbage"? Well, in English we say, "My precious little honey pot, honey pot; my darling apple pie; my sweetheart." Oh, if I had time, we’d just say lots of things we say in English tonight, but you know what you mean. She’s not any actual honey pot. She’s a vinegar jug? No, she’s a honey pot. We know what you mean.
Jesus says, "I am the door" [John 10:7, 9]. Why, I know what He means. Jesus says, "I am the vine, ye are the branches" [John 15:5]. Why, you know what He means. Jesus says, "I am the good shepherd" [John 10:11, 14]. You know what He means. He says, "I am the way" [John 14:6]. He’s a road – well, not an actual road. You know what He means.
So here. Now you look at this thing in Greek, very plain and simple there: "Anastas baptisai." Now you recognize that word baptisai. "Anastas baptisai kai apolousai tas amartias sou epikalesamenos to onoma tou kuriou." Now let me translate it: "Arising," participle; "be baptized," imperative. Kalesamenos, "Calling on the name of the Lord." Apolousai, "wash." Tas amartias sou, "thy sins away." You got two participles and two imperatives. "And now why tarriest thou? Arising, be baptized, calling on the name of the Lord, wash thy sins away" [Acts 22:16].
All right, you can do what you please. You can tie on the "washing of the sins away" to being baptized, or you can tie on the "washing of the sins away" to the Lord – "calling on the name of the Lord." Which do you want to do? You have your choice there in that text. I would say, when the entire Bible says that we ought to tie it onto the Lord, I say it is a breach of logic – downright, sheer common sense – to tie it onto baptism. "Arising, be baptized, and calling on the name of the Lord, wash thy sins away" [Acts 22:16]. That’s it. It’s the Lord that washes our sins away, and baptism is but a picture of the cleansing. What is my text? "For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel" [1 Corinthians 1:17] – saved by the power of God in Christ Jesus.
Now, of baptism. Is there a passage in the Bible that tells us how to be saved and doesn’t mention baptism? Every one of them, except these four that I’ve just now read, every one of them, every single one of them. "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" [John 3:16]. And all of them are that way: saved by the moral, spiritual commitment of your life to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Is there a passage in the Bible that tells us we’ll be lost if we’re not baptized? Not a one; not a one. Is baptism a part of believing? No, sir. The Bible makes a clear distinction between believing and being baptized. In the Great Commission I quoted tonight, "All authority is given unto me . . . Go ye therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father" [Matthew 28:18-19]. To make a disciple is one thing; to baptize that disciple is another thing.
Could I take time just to read one more instance of that? Talking about Corinth, and we’re preaching in the letter to Corinth, in the eighteenth chapter of the Book of Acts, "And Crispus," this is the eighth verse, Acts 18:8, "And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized." To believe in the Lord Jesus Christ is one thing; to be baptized in the name of the Lord is another thing. Baptizing is in no sense a step in believing. The Bible makes a clear distinction between the two. To believe in the Lord is one thing; to be baptized is another thing.
Well then, Preacher, why this baptizing? Why this baptizing? It has a great meaning, and I haven’t time to speak of it tonight. It has a great meaning, and the Lord Jesus Christ gave it to us. And when the Lord submitted to it from the hands of John the Baptist, He took the ordinance of baptism and placed it in the heart of His church [Matthew 3:13-16; Mark 1:9-10; Luke 3:21; John 3:22, 4:1]. He submitted to it; and when He did there came a voice out of heaven saying that, "Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" [Matthew 3:17; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22]. John said he got this baptism from God, and Jesus submitted to it; thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness.
And He placed it in the heart of the Christian church; and when we observe it, we do the thing that pleases Him. We’re first born again; we’re first created; we’re first regenerated; we first are saved. Then, being born again – being regenerated, being saved – then we’re baptized in obedience to His command, and it pleases the Lord. And when you become a child of God – "For as many as received Him, to them gave He the right to become the children of God" [John 1:12] – when you become a child of God, first thing you want to do is to do the things that please the Lord. You’ve got that something on the inside of your heart that makes you want to do it. He saved you; and you love Him, and you want to please Him.
And one of the first things – and do you remember the story of the Ethiopian eunuch? [Acts 8:26-39]. As they rode along in the chariot together and Philip preached unto him Jesus, they came unto a certain water, and then he said, "Look, here’s water. What doth hinder me to be baptized? I want to be baptized. I want to be baptized!" And he commanded the chariot to stand still, and they went down, both into the water – both Philip and the eunuch – and he buried him in the likeness of the Lord’s death and raised him in the likeness of the Lord’s resurrection.
You want to be baptized. It pleases Him; but we’re baptized just in obedience to a command, in keeping with the will of our Savior, not in order to be saved – not at all; not at all.
May I tell you this one thing, and then we make our appeal to your heart tonight? I had a wonderful friend whose wife and children – had, oh, about two or three little girls, I can’t remember now, two or three little girls – and they were so faithful to that church, and he was a lost sinner. I don’t care what you did or how you tried, you couldn’t reach him. Well sometimes God has a way of reaching a man. Sometimes it’s terrible to fall into the hands of the living God. God has a way sometimes of reaching a man that hardens his heart against Christ.
And so this man, who was the treasurer of the county where I was pastor, this man was stricken; and he was taken to the veteran’s hospital in our little city. And his wife, of course so devout and so prayerful, had me go with her to see her husband; and I went many times. And as she prayed, and as I talked to her husband, he gave his heart to Jesus. He was wonderfully converted; and there in that hospital, everybody knew, every veteran that entered it. Everybody knew that he was a Christian.
The days passed, and he’d tell me when I’d visit him, he’d say, "Preacher, you know what I’m going to do? First thing I’m going to do, first thing I’m going to do when I get out of this hospital, first thing I’m going to do – I’m going down there to that church where you preach, and I’m going down that aisle. I’m going to give you my hand, and I’m going to say to the people that I’ve given my heart to God, and I want to be baptized and be in the church with my wife and with these precious children."
Well the days passed. We thought he’d recover. I don’t know why. One of those heartbreaking things. Something happened on the inside, his heart, something – doctors, you dig language and words to describe these things – but something, he had some condition in his heart. And the doctor took the little wife aside and said, "He’s not going to get well, and I think we ought to tell him;" and she said, "Yes."
And so, I was there to try to minister again at one of those terrible places that just wring your heart. And there the little wife, and the little girls, and the doctor telling him that under no conditions – barring a miracle of God – he wasn’t going to get well; wasn’t going to get well. Well, you know what he said to me? He said, "Pastor, I’m not afraid to die, and I’m ready to go." He said, "You don’t know how it grieves me to leave my little girls and this precious wife." And he said, "Pastor, I won’t get to go down the aisle, will I, and tell the people that I’ve been saved? I won’t get to tell them, will I?"
Well, I went back to see him the last time; and he said, he said, "Pastor, when you have my service, you stand up there in the pulpit in that church and you tell those people, you tell them that I gave my heart to God: that I was saved, that God forgave me, and that I died a Christian. You tell them that. And then, Preacher, for me, you plead with them not to put it off like I did – not to wait till it’s too long, like I have. Plead with them that now they give their hearts to God."
And I tried to be faithful in the request. When the service was held in our church and the thing was jammed with people, I did my best to plead his cause. "Don’t be like he. Don’t be like him. Don’t be like he was. Don’t delay. Give your heart to Jesus; and do it now, and do it now."
All right, my doctrinal observation: what do you think about him? What do you think about him? He was never baptized. He was never baptized. He never got out of that bed; he never left that hospital; he was never baptized. What do you think about it? And the man on the cross turned toward Jesus and said, with his hands nailed to the tree, "Lord, when Thou comest into Thy kingdom, remember, remember me. And the Lord said, "This day, this day, you will be with Me in God’s paradise" [Luke 23:39-43]. That’s enough. That’s enough.
We ought to be baptized. We ought to be baptized, but it’s just out of obedience to a command and never in order to gain a salvation in the forgiveness of our sins.
Well, let’s sing our song. Let’s sing our song; and while we sing the song, and while we make appeal, while the Lord is here, while Christ is nigh, while the Spirit pleads with your heart, you come and stand by me.
NOT TO BAPTIZE BUT TO PREACH
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Corinthians 1:17
A. Paul makes distinction between baptism and the gospel
B. Two extremes
1. Baptism all important – necessary to salvation
2. Baptism not important at all
C. Our New Testament faith, a full revelation, a perfect balance
II. That baptism is all important
A. Preacher hipped on the subject – world is ¾ water meant for us to baptize
B. When we teach that we are saved in baptismal regeneration, it brings tremendous contradiction to the Bible
1. Bible presents salvation on moral and spiritual terms(Psalm 51:16-17, Isaiah 53:6, John 1:12, 3:14-16, Mark 1:14-15, Acts 10:43, Romans 10:9-10)
2. The power of Jesus to save apart from incantations, ceremony (Luke 5:20-24, 7:47, 23:42, Acts 10:43-44)
C. The passages used to support the doctrine
1. Mark 16:15-16 – not in original; disbelief only cause to be lost
2. John 3:5 – make "born of water" mean "baptized"
a. Bible says we are sanctified with washing of water by the Word(Ephesians 5:26, Titus 3:5)
3. Acts 2:38 – "for" means "because of", not "in order to"
4. Acts 22:16 – two participles, two imperatives
III. That baptism is not essential to salvation
A. Many passages tell how to be saved without mentioning baptism(John 3:16)
B. New Testament distinguishes between baptism and believing (Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 18:8)
IV. The place of baptism
A. The Lord gave us the ordinance (Mark 1:11)
B. Born again first, then baptized in obedience to His command
1. When you become a child of God you want to please the Lord(John 1:12, Acts 8:35-38)
2. Friend who was converted in hospital; died before he could be baptized
a. Thief on the cross was not baptized either(Luke 23:42-43)