4. HOW CAN A SOUL BE CLEAN BEFORE IT IS WASHED?
Although I hold no ill will against them personally, denominational preachers (or anyone else) who tell people that they can be saved by faith in Christ and then later be baptized are preaching false doctrine! They're preaching a "Dry Clean Only" salvation. They're perverting the gospel and they are cursed before God unless they repent. How have they perverted the gospel? They pronounce souls "clean" before they are washed (and we've already shown the Biblical importance of being "washed").
So, how can a soul be cleaned before it is washed? The answer is: it can't! Jesus commanded the apostles to "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16:15,16).
See the difference? If Jesus had intended to teach salvation by "faith only," He would not have uttered what He did in Mark 16:15,16!
The refusal to be scripturally baptized is like disregarding the care-instruction tag on clothing, except the difference is that the disregard for baptism leads to the utter ruin of the soul and not some replaceable garment. Yes, water is involved in the denominational "after-thought concept" of baptism, but what assurance do we have that one's sins are washed away when the Lord's directions are ignored or changed significantly? If the one being baptized in a denomination thinks he is already saved, is he washing away his sins while being immersed? I think not. Our denominational friends may think they are cleansed of sin before they are washed in the blood of Christ by means of baptism, but such is impossible! When they submit to their perverted form of baptism, they're not doing it for soul-cleansing, they're just getting wet--period! A man-made plan of salvation can never remove sin (cf. Gal. 1:11).
Ask any Baptist preacher is he thinks baptism is essential to salvation. Most likely he will say that a "saved believer" should be baptized since Jesus commanded it. Press the point and ask if he thinks a "saved believer" will still be saved if he is never baptized. A typical Baptist preacher will say this person would still have the hope of heaven, thereby proving that Baptist preachers generally do not believe that baptism is essential for salvation. Their answer also reveals their disregard for the commands of Christ! Even though the Bible clearly teaches that salvation is only for those who obey God and His Son, Baptist doctrine makes obedience optional for salvation (cf. Matt. 7:21-23; Heb. 5:8,9; II Thess. 1:7-9). God's word still says - "baptism does also now save us" (I Pet. 3:21).
Anyone who claims that baptism comes after one is saved is guilty of teaching soul-damning doctrine. I despise the teaching that affirms one can be saved without Bible baptism!
Now, I don't want you to think that I'm picking on Baptists in this series or that I loathe them; I'm preaching the truth and trying to do so in a loving way. Let me digress here a little. I've heard Christians try to argue in the past that no gospel preacher should speak in such a way that might offend those listening, even if he is only preaching the truth. I wonder what these brethren think when they read Matthew 23? In that chapter, Jesus delivers a scathing rebuke to the Pharisees. He calls them names; He calls them hypocrites. Do you think all of the Pharisees were hypocrites? Perhaps not, but that isn't the point I want to make. The point is that some were definitely offended by what Jesus said. Perhaps even some who weren't Pharisees were offended by the words He spoke. Yet that didn't stop Jesus from speaking! The truth sometimes offends those who are dull of hearing (cf. Matt. 13:15). And what about Mark 8:15? In that verse Jesus warns His apostles to beware of the Pharisees and their doctrine. Can we not do the same today? Can we not warn Christians about the dangers of the denominations and their false doctrines? Indeed we can and must. Similar conclusions can be drawn when considering Revelation 2:6,15. There Jesus states that He hates the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. If Jesus can affirm that He hates a particular false doctrine, then surely we can say that we hate the "faith only" doctrine the Baptists teach. Surely one can state that he hates a doctrine that will condemn souls to hell if followed!
We will conclude these thoughts in our next lesson.