Recently, while listening to a well known radio evangelist, I heard him make the following statement: "We are baptized…not to be saved…but to obey the command of God." How do you feel about this statement? Does it make sense? How does it stand up when compared to the word of God, our standard for all matters of faith and practice?
Perhaps what he is actually saying can be clarified and better understood by breaking down his statement into two separate parts: (1) We are not baptized to be saved; (2) We are baptized to obey the command of God. The problem with this proposition is that one part of his sentence clearly contradicts the other!
We would wholeheartedly agree with the second part of this statement. We are baptized to obey the command of God. Jesus himself commanded us to be baptized (Matthew 28:19). And this same Jesus said: "He who believes and is baptized shall be saved (Mark 16:16).
Is Jesus saying here that we are baptized to be saved? If he is not saying this, what is he saying? So, if Jesus is saying that we are baptized to be saved, how can this guy on the radio say that we are not baptized to be saved? Is he not openly contradicting what is plainly taught in Scripture?
I wonder how he would explain Peter's statement: "this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you…." (1 Peter 3:21). How does his statement, "We are baptized…not to be saved…" harmonize with this verse? The fact is – it doesn't! It teaches the direct opposite of what God's word teaches. And we have a major problem!
This man is a popular and highly respected denominational preacher. Much of what he has to say is very good and harmonizes with the teachings of God's word. But we in the Lord's church must be careful to search the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things are so! (Acts 17:11). And when we find something that does not harmonize with the truth of God’s word, we must reject it as false.
Furthermore, with God's help and by His strength, we need to stand for what is true (1 Corinthians 15:1-2; 2 John 4), defend the gospel (Philippians 1:16; 2 Timothy 1:13-14), and "contend earnestly for the faith!" (Jude 3; 1 Timothy 6:12).