COLLEGE OF THE OPEN BIBLE
Baptism and Salvation. The Facts.
Acts 2:38 is one of the most miss-understood verses in the Bible. With a proper view of rightly dividing God's Word, it is plain to see that it does not teach baptismal regeneration.
Rarely is doctrine ever formed from a single verse. We need to look at all of what God's words says about a given subject in order to accurately and rightly divide the Word of truth.
Acts 2:38 is not stating that you must be baptized in order to be saved. It is declaring that baptism is the outward representation of one's identification with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. It is not the act of baptism that saves us, but what Christ did that saves us. It is the reality of His death which we receive by faith (Rom. 5:1). This is consistent with the acts of the apostles and the facts (doctrine) given by the apostles.
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It was the apostle Peter who is quoted in Acts 2:38, and yet in his first epistle he stated the reality of salvation apart from any mention of water baptism (1 Peter 3:21). It would be inconsistent with doctrinal teaching to suggest that one would receive the Holy Spirit through the act of water baptism. Ephesians 1:13 is very clear on how the Holy Spirit is received. Obtaining salvation is never by do's and don'ts... salvation is DONE. Salvation cannot be achieved by a religious performance... it can only be received by faith (John 1:12).
The act of baptism is not our salvation. It is not even a part of salvation. It is something someone does who is already saved. Acts 2:38 accompanied by other verses on baptism emphasize the importance of believer's baptism. Anyone who professes to know and follow Jesus Christ would want to give testimony by baptism of what Christ Jesus has done for them by virtue of the gospel (death, burial, resurrection). Thank God salvation is by grace through faith alone.
Sincerely, Dr. Arthur Belanger