Home > Baptism > Many are saved, though they never were baptized

Many are saved, though they never were baptized

Spurgeon 1This much also I must say, that it is not possible that there can be anything saving in the baptism itself. The act of applying water in any way whatsoever cannot wash away a single sin. That would be going back to the old covenant of works, the old ceremonies of the Mosaic law; all the washings under the law — and they were very many never washed one sin away; nor can any washing in water take away the sin of any man. Even the tears of Christ are never spoken of as putting away sin; it is his precious blood alone that cleanses away the sin of men. In my text, while it says, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved,” yet, when the condemnation is announced, it is simply, “He that believeth not shall be damned,” and the matter of baptism is not mentioned, for there are many who believe, but who are not baptized, and who cannot be, as the dying thief, for instance, yet are they assuredly saved. Nevertheless, here stands my text, and I cannot alter it, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.”

Charles H. Spurgeon-Baptism Essential to Obedience-Metropolitan Tabernacle-Lord’s Evening-Oct. 13, 1889

  1. Truth2Freedom
    September 23, 2013 at 3:51 am

    Reblogged this on Truth2Freedom's Blog.

  2. September 23, 2013 at 8:40 am

    Reblogged this on My Delight and My Counsellors.

  3. September 23, 2013 at 9:05 am

    I’ve written on this question recently. There is still a good bit of Scripture I still need to address, but a couple of things I noticed in particular: No one in the Book of Acts is saved without having been baptized, such that the two were considered inseparable parts of the same act of faith; and Paul presumes that all of his readers are already baptized Christians who “have been saved by faith” or “are being saved by faith.” So it seems that Baptism was an essential component of being “saved by faith.”

    • September 23, 2013 at 11:30 am

      I agree that one needs to be baptized, nevertheless salvation is not dependent upon being dipped in water, but upon being regenerated by the Spirit. This is why Mark 16: 16 states: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be damned.

      Notice the essential element, namely believing is missing from those who are damned.

      The thief on the cross was never baptized, yet he was still saved. Many, for one reason or another, have never been baptized, yet they were saved. Some might have died before baptism could be administered to them. We cannot say that they were not saved if they had the essential element of Mark 16:16 and that is they ‘believed.’

      Among the early church fathers baptism wasn’t administered until the one who made a profession of faith was catechized or learned the doctrines of the Christian faith. Some of these could have passed away before being baptized.

      • September 23, 2013 at 2:13 pm

        Yes, absolutely it’s the regeneration by the Spirit through faith that saves, not the literal, physical washing with water (cf. 1 Peter 3:21). But the regeneration and the washing are essentially connected (cf. 3:5, “washing of regeneration”), such that nobody in Scripture ever did one without the other. It’s quite funny that you would cite the practice of the Church Fathers to me over the word of Scripture. 😉

        And yes, the thief on the cross is an exception to that rule, but he is the only exception, and certainly he was exceptional, being saved at the very divine fiat of Christ! I wrote about that a bit more here. One exception against an otherwise absolute rule makes for weak evidence at best.

        And Mark 16:16 is a little more complicated than the English would suggest. “He who believes” is not directly negated by “he who does not believe” — there is actually no “not” in the Greek that you can presume Jesus only meant to apply to “not” believing. There are two different Greek verbs: pisteuo and apisteo — “he who believes” and “he who disbelieves or refuses to believe.” Certainly somebody who disbelieves would not be baptized either! Jesus connects “believing” and “being baptized,” as it’s connected four other times (Acts 8:12-13, 16:15, 18:8, 19:4). Jesus also declares the necessity of Baptism in John 3:5.

        And as for the Fathers: yes, there was (and still is) the practice of delaying Baptism during a catechumenate — but that’s not evidence to suggest that the Fathers didn’t believe in baptismal regeneration, any more than it is evidence that Catholics don’t believe in that today (we do). And yes, especially from the third and fourth centuries onward, the custom developed of delaying Baptism until late in life or even to one’s deathbed — but this is still not evidence of a lack of belief in baptismal regeneration. Those who did delay Baptism understood they were taking a dangerous gamble.

        And to your point about those who died before they could receive Baptism: The Catholic Church absolutely agrees and always has. From the earliest times, the Church has taught that God has mercy upon and can still save those who desired to be baptized but were unable to receive it during life. I <a href="typed up an excerpt from St. Ambrose’s funeral oration on the death of the emperor Valerian II, who is a case in point. He had delayed his Baptism, and explicitly requested it, but was murdered before he could receive it. Ambrose shows both the Church’s firm belief in baptismal regeneration and the necessity of Baptism, and her belief that God can still save those who desired but did not receive Baptism, by a “Baptism of desire.”

      • September 24, 2013 at 9:04 am

        The point I want to deal with at the moment is the part of your statement that said that you think it funny that I would cite to you the church fathers over scripture.

        First it was you who continued to harp on the church fathers in our last discussion. So I suppose that you are either deceitful or doubleminded when you accuse me of giving an example from them.

        Secondly, I did not cite the church fathers over scripture. I merely pointed out an example of individuals who might have passed away before receiving water baptism. There is a complete and total difference of referring to something extra-biblical, as an example, and actually citing from it in order to claim it authoritative over scripture.

        This is what Roman Catholics do, not Protestants.

      • September 24, 2013 at 9:20 am

        Hey man, why the hostility? We disagree, profoundly, but can’t we be friendly? I have done my best to be friendly to you. I referred to your mention of the Church Fathers jokingly, as a joke, hence the wink — not accusingly or polemically as your tone to me suggests. You did, in fact, refer to the Church Fathers, to suggest that somehow the practice of deferring Baptism was evidence against the clear scriptural testimony of the necessity of Baptism. Your comment directly followed and was certainly related to your rejection of my reading of Mark 16:16, and was plainly meant as evidence in that same vein. I do not think for a minute that you meant your reference to entail what it did. But you are actually drawing quite a very fine distinction between citing the Church Fathers as an example against Scripture, and citing them as an authority. In either case, you sought to use your reference as evidence for your argument.

        And no, the Church Fathers are not and cannot be authoritative over Scripture, not even for Catholics.

      • September 24, 2013 at 9:28 am

        I am not trying to be hostile. As I have told you in times past I am on mobile most of the time, hence that is maybe why I missed the wink.

        Therefore most of my answers are directly to the point. I do not try to type out large responses to large comments.

        As for citing church fathers, I never did. I merely was referring to the fact that many have probably died without receiving baptism. I certainly would never claim the fathers authoritative, nor over scripture. I do believe that this has been Rome’s position, since the Reformation; that namely tradition is equal with scripture.

      • September 24, 2013 at 9:45 am

        I do have to apologize if you thought I was hostile. I have found the (wink). I haven’t a clue about a lot of the abreviated things within the digital world today. I see lol or btw or something similar. I do not know what half this stuff refers to, but I do see it as a sign of laziness among those who interchange comments within the realm of the world wide web.

      • September 24, 2013 at 10:42 am

        Here you state that the Roman Catholic Church agrees that if someone dies without baptism, then they are saved by God’s mercy because they did desire baptism.

        If this is your position, then why the objection against Spurgeon’s quote about some who were saved, though they were not baptized. It seems that you agree with what you are objecting too.

      • September 23, 2013 at 2:14 pm

        Ack! you probably know this already, but the second citation for the “washing of regeneration” is from Titus 3:5.

      • September 24, 2013 at 9:18 am

        This would merely be a matter of hermeneutics: Rome’s perverted views, in order to prove their doctrines of baptismal regeneration, versus a particular baptist view

        by the washing of regeneration ,and renewing of the Holy Ghost; by the former is meant, not the ordinance of water baptism; for that is never expressed by washing, nor is it the cause or means of regeneration; the cause being the Spirit of God, and the means the word of God: and besides, persons ought to be regenerated before they are baptized; and they may be baptized, and yet not regenerated, as Simon Magus; nor is it a saving ordinance, or a point of salvation; nor can it be opposed to works of righteousness, as this washing is; for that itself is a work of righteousness; see Mat 3:15 and if persons were saved by that, they would be saved by a work of righteousness, contrary to the text itself: but regenerating grace is meant, or a being born of water, and of the Spirit; that is, of the grace of the Spirit, comparable to water for its purity and cleansing virtue: hence such who are regenerated and sanctified, are said to be washed and cleansed, having their hearts purified by faith, and their consciences purged from sin by the blood of Christ: by the latter, the renewing of the Holy

        John Gill-Particular Baptist

      • September 24, 2013 at 9:43 am

        Hmm, you say that I “harp” on the Church Fathers; suggest that I am “deceitful or doubleminded” and that I “accuse” you. In my lexicon this is hostile language.

        I will drop the bit about your reference to the Church Fathers. I do not think it was as non sequitur to your previous scriptural reference as you suggest, but in any case, I thought it was funny that it looked like you were citing the Church Fathers over Scripture. Funny as in amusing, not as in funny I was mocking you. I am sorry for the offense.

        And regarding the Catholic position on Tradition and the Church Fathers: I actually wrote a pretty lengthy (but I hope worthwhile) post on that recently, trying to clear up some misconceptions. Even if you don’t want to read it, you might want to read the bullet-points; I placed the main points in headings. No, Tradition is not “equal” to Scripture. The two have quite different characters and practically speaking, Scripture must always trump Tradition.

      • September 24, 2013 at 9:50 am

        Of course, I shall read it. But I want to add that your position, at times, doesn’t seem to be in harmony with the Roman Catholic Church. Matter fact, it has been discovered that the first draft of the Council of Trent included the phrase that God’s truth was to be found partly in tradition and partly in scripture. Two of Trent’s Bishops objected to this phrase and it was left out.

      • September 24, 2013 at 10:05 am

        I do always try to present the orthodox Catholic position. I tend to think many Protestants have a mistaken understanding of Catholic positions — so if you ever think I am not presently a position correctly, let me know and I’ll support it with official teachings of the Church.

        I do affirm that Scripture and Tradition both form the same deposit of faith, and come from the same source, which is the mouth of Jesus Christ. It may seem a fine distinction I am making, when I say that the two are not “equal,” but I hope you will understand when you read the post.

        I have heard that about the first draft of the Tridentine decree concerning the Scriptures, reading James White’s The Roman Catholic Controversy. I mention that briefly here. (I think it was my last post on that book before I tore my clothes and gave up. 😀 I still mean to finish it one of these days.)

      • September 24, 2013 at 11:43 am

        No problem. Apology accepted. 🙂 I think this thing does a disservice by changing the emoticons to little smileys. It is easy to miss. I need to get on the road to Mississippi, so one more reply to your most recent replies:

        Here you state that the Roman Catholic Church agrees that if someone dies without baptism, then they are saved by God’s mercy because they did desire baptism.
        If this is your position, then why the objection against Spurgeon’s quote about some who were saved, though they were not baptized. It seems that you agree with what you are objecting too.

        The essential difference is this: We don’t say that they are saved, but that they can be saved. Catholics are not in the habit of ever saying, really, who isn’t saved. God is ultimately our judge and He is infinitely merciful. We abide by the what the Word of God says we must do to be saved (being baptized one of those things). When someone passes to the next life having done those things and living in His grace, we trust and hope that they have been saved. When somebody passes to the next life not having done those things (such as the person not being baptized), we don’t presume that they’re damned. We nonetheless trust and hope in God who judges the hearts of men. The point is this: to Protestants who charge that for Catholics to say that Baptism is necessary is legalistic and “works’ righteousness” — this shows that it is clearly not. We say Baptism is necessary because Jesus says Baptism is necessary. But we trust in His mercy and love above all things.

        Also, I didn’t immediately object to the quote. My first comment was sort of agreeing with him, at least the part about those who hadn’t been baptized being saved. I do object to his language that “applying water doesn’t wash away sins” and that is part of a “covenant of works.” Yes, the application of water itself only gets one wet — which is all would happen if a priest grabbed somebody kicking and screaming from the street, who had no faith in Christ and had not repented of his sins, and tried to baptize him. But in the application of water, with the Word of God, through the faith and repentance of the believer, God does give us the grace of Baptism.

        I dont believe that Gill falsely assumes anything. I can provide numerous Protestant commentaries that state what Gill has said, that namely regeneration is the primary focus in the verse; though the sign is pointed to.

        I should probably read more Protestant commentaries on the matter.

        Nevertheless, the sign does not save. Many in the Old Testament received circumcision and yet they never were elect or regenerate.

        Another distinction Catholics make regarding Baptism: Baptism doesn’t “save” either, in the sense of automatically guaranteeing someone eternal salvation. The person is saved from their sins and regenerated and reborn into the life of Christ, but they then have to live that life, and they can fall away. The baptized sinner is grafted into Christ through Baptism (cf. Romans 6:3, Galatians 3:27), much as the Jew was grafted into Israel through circumcision; but then he has to abide in Christ.

        Therefore it is necessary to distinguish between what a sign represents and what God wrought in the heart by the Spirit. Outward washing of the flesh will do nothing, but make one clean on the outside. But the washing of regeneration, done by the Holy Spirit, actually cleanses one’s being or soul.

        I agree with every bit of that wholeheartedly but the first part, that it is necessary to distinguish between the sign and what it represents. As with many things when it comes to disputes between Catholics and Protestants, it’s not a case of either the outward sign or the inward grace, but both happening at the same time: God using the outward sign to represent what is happening inwardly and spiritually.

        Therefore to teach baptismal regeneration is to teach a heretical concept that will not do anything for an unbeliever. He can be dunked a thousand times, but unless God regenerates that person, he will be lost.

        Again, I agree about 90%, with everything but the “heretical” part. It is God who regenerates the believer, through his faith, by the Holy Spirit. Dunking an unbeliever a thousands times, even saying “I baptize you” a thousand times, will only get him very wet.

        And, to say that baptismal regeneration is heretical, you are calling every Christian from the first century to the sixteenth heretical, including Martin Luther and his followers, and I would argue is taught by Scripture. “Heresy” means to choose a doctrine or opinion for oneself, contrary to what is established — and baptismal regeneration is what was established.

        It’s been an interesting conversation. God bless you and His peace be with you.

      • September 24, 2013 at 11:57 am

        Very interesting conversation indeed.

    • September 24, 2013 at 10:48 am

      One more thing I wanted to reply to, your quote from John Gill: not to dispute it directly, but to point out all the unproven assumptions he is making:

      By the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; by the former is meant, not the ordinance of water baptism; for that is never expressed by washing

      Why does he presume that Baptism is “never expressed by washing”? In fact, I can pick out as least four or five times in which Baptism is expressed as “washing,” one of them quite explicit and unambiguous: Ananias said to Paul, “And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name” (Acts 22:16). He cannot conclude that “Baptism is never expressed by washing” by presuming that “Baptism is never expressed by washing.”

      nor is it the cause or means of regeneration; the cause being the Spirit of God, and the means the word of God:

      The only time the word “regeneration” is used in Scripture in reference to the regeneration of a sinner is this single verse! This assumption builds on his first one, that Baptism is not meant.

      and besides, persons ought to be regenerated before they are baptized; and they may be baptized, and yet not regenerated, as Simon Magus;

      Who says Simon Magus wasn’t regenerated? He was a sinner. Regenerated people sin all the time. And he repented!

      nor is it a saving ordinance, or a point of salvation;

      I hope he aims to support all this elsewhere? These are not arguments against this verse, but assumptions.

      nor can it be opposed to works of righteousness, as this washing is; for that itself is a work of righteousness; see Mat 3:15 and if persons were saved by that, they would be saved by a work of righteousness, contrary to the text itself:

      How is this opposed to “works of righteousness”? And what does Matthew 3:15 have to do with “works of righteousness” (John baptizing Jesus to “fulfill all righteousness”)?

      but regenerating grace is meant, or a being born of water, and of the Spirit; that is, of the grace of the Spirit,

      He presumes “being born of water and of the Spirit” doesn’t refer to Baptism?

      comparable to water for its purity and cleansing virtue:

      And that brings him back to his very first assumption: references to “washing” and “cleansing” do not refer to Baptism, because they do not refer to Baptism, but are only comparable to water? The text says “washing.” He seems to presume all of this is only symbolic by presuming that it is only symbolic.

      Also, again, for what it’s worth: the literal, physical washing with water accomplishes nothing. It is only, I fully agree with him, the spirit of God, by the word of God, through faith, that accomplishes regeneration. The Baptist position seems to presume from the get-go that Baptism is only a physical action and a human “work.” But the whole idea of a sacrament is that God uses the physical action as a visible sign of the grace that He is working spiritually. And the two are not separable under ordinary circumstances. And this view is entirely consistent with Scripture.

      • September 24, 2013 at 10:59 am

        I dont believe that Gill falsely assumes anything. I can provide numerous Protestant commentaries that state what Gill has said, that namely regeneration is the primary focus in the verse; though the sign is pointed to. Nevertheless, the sign does not save. Many in the Old Testament received circumcision and yet they never were elect or regenerate. Therefore it is necessary to distinguish between what a sign represents and what God wroughts in the heart by the Spirit. Outward washing of the flesh will do nothing, but make one clean on the outside. But the washing of regeneration, done by the Holy Spirit, actually cleanses one’s being or soul. Therefore to teach baptismal regeneration is to teach a heretical concept that will not do anything for an unbeliever. He can be dunked a thousand times, but unless God regenerates that person, he will be lost.

    • September 24, 2013 at 11:48 am

      And ack! Misplaced clause there. Contrary to what it seems I’m suggesting, Scripture does not teach that Martin Luther and his followers were heretics or that baptismal regeneration is heretical. 🙂

  4. September 23, 2013 at 11:41 am

    Amen

  5. September 23, 2013 at 9:40 pm

    So amazing! Many think that we (as Baptists) focus on the baptism as a means, or at least essential of salvation, and we are “focused” on baptism. While I do think it is essential, I think there is many things “essential” in the Christian faith. However, faith in Christ is the only salvation there is. However, this faith is a gift from God, as is the grace bestowed upon us. Monergism rocks! Thank you!

    • September 24, 2013 at 8:58 am

      I agree absolutely. Thanks for your comment.

      • September 25, 2013 at 12:35 am

        Youre very welcome. Ive followed, so Ill be in and out of here as much as possible. Thank you!

      • September 25, 2013 at 3:22 am

        Thanks for following.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: