Andrew Strom has recently posted articles on his Revival School site about the importance of baptism in relation to salvation. They have inspired an “interesting” series of comments disagreeing with his teaching.
The main arguments against seem to be based on the absence of references to baptism in selected verses, while ignoring all of those parts of scripture that DO refer to baptism.
This stands as a prime example of why beliefs should not be based on texts taken in isolation. Every individual bible verse does not contain all truth. The whole picture is given across the breadth of scripture.
In addition to that selectively blinkered attitude to scripture, some very old arguments are also trotted out: the examples of the thief on the cross, deathbed conversions, or conversions in a waterless desert are cited to argue against the need for baptism.
I’m quite confident however, that those making the arguments are NOT hanging on a cross, are NOT on their deathbed, and are NOT miles from any water; so really their arguments have no practical validity and are offered merely as a way of excuse.
Others opposing Strom accuse him of promoting baptismal regeneration. That accusation not only misconstrues what Strom has said, it also shows up the accusers’ ignorance of what “baptismal regeneration” is about: that is the act of baptism itself is the sole means by which salvation is attained.
That false doctrine is the reason why infant baptism came to be practiced; ensuring babies are made acceptable to heaven as soon as possible in case they die in infancy. That is NOTHING like what Strom is teaching.
I think a major reason for the misunderstanding is the way people think of salvation. They see it as a matter of crossing a line from unsaved to “saved” – and if they’ve crossed the line then everything else (such as baptism) isn’t important.
I believe a more accurate view to take is that salvation is a life’s journey during which, through faith IN Him and obedience TO Him, we are equipped and strengthened for service and to remain steadfast as believers. It’s not starting the race that’s important; it’s whether we keep running until the finish line; and in that we need all the help we can get.
The real issue is not whether baptism is needed for salvation – but whether baptism equips us for ongoing effective lives of discipleship until our race has been run.
To illustrate: we don’t need to have eaten food to enter this world alive as a new born baby – but our ongoing survival and efficiency as a living person depends on our consumption of food after our birth.