I came across a blog by a Baptist blogger dealing with the Church of Christ position on baptism. I’m interested to know if you folks think his arguments are sound.
Acts 2:38 is a verse commonly misunderstood by most people. A lot of people, like the Church of Christ, believe this verse teaches baptism is required for salvation but that is not what this verse is saying.
“38Then 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.”
A large reason why this verse is misunderstood is because of our lack of knowledge of basic grammar. The part in italics is set off by commas so this makes it a separate statement. A similar example would be Andy Stanley, son of Charles Stanley, is a preacher. The commas could also be thought of as parenthesis. 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. So the statement in parenthesis or part set off by commas can be taken out and it will not affect the rest of the sentence. Repent and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. So the first thing we notice is when a person repents they receive the Holy Ghost. What about the part in italics?
The statement inside the commas says and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. The natural reaction people have is “See, when a person is baptized their sins are forgiven.” Let’s look at 2 other sentences. Take 2 Tylenol for a headache. He is on trial for murder. In the first example the person is taking Tylenol because they have a headache. They are not taking Tylenol to get a headache. In the 2nd example a person is on trial because they committed murder. They are not on trial to get murder. Likewise, a person gets baptized because of the remission of sins and not to get the remission of sins. Therefore, when a person’s sins have already been forgiven they get baptized. They do not get baptized to get their sins forgiven.
One may argue “Well I understand the word for can mean because of, but how do you know it means that in this case. Well if baptism did forgive sins which it doesn’t then Acts 2:38 is teaching us repenting gives us the Holy Ghost and water baptism forgives our sins. That would not make the slightest bit of sense. To my knowledge every person who teaches baptismal salvation believes repenting forgives sins and baptism gives us the Holy Ghost or both repentance and baptism are required to get either one. Repenting does give a person the Holy Ghost because once a person repents their sins are washed away and they receive the Holy Ghost.
Note: If you have a Bible that has a comma after baptized(Repent and be baptized,) instead of after (Repent,) then you have a serious heretical error. In this verse your Bible is teaching repent and be baptized is what results in receiving the Holy Ghost as opposed to repenting being what results in receiving the Holy Ghost. If that’s the case I’d suggest reading the King James because God doesn’t want you reading a book that teaches Jesus + baptism. It’s Jesus alone not Jesus + anything.