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Matt. 7:21-23 says there are many people who think they are doing wonderful works in Jesus' name, but they will be surprised in the judgment when He rejects them! What about you and me? Will we be among that number? What must we do to be sure this does not happen to us? Jesus answers this question in verse 21. We must do the will of the Father.
What does the Father require us to do to be forgiven of sins? Jesus said all people must be taught the gospel, and "he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" (Mark 16:15,16). To be sure we are saved, then, we must hear the gospel, believe it, and be baptized. Notice that baptism, according to God's word, does not come after salvation, but is an essential step in order to receive salvation.
Later, in Acts 2:38, Peter preached about Jesus, then he commanded: "Repent, and be baptized ... for the remission of sins..." This shows that hearing, repentance, and baptism are essential to forgiveness. Again we note that remission is a result that follows from baptism. It does not come before baptism.
Finally, Romans 6:3,4 says we are buried by baptism into Jesus' death. Now Jesus' death is what provides forgiveness, and this passage says we contact that death in baptism, not before. Furthermore, the passage teaches that baptism is a burial or immersion, not a sprinkling or pouring. And since people must hear the gospel, believe, and repent before they are baptized, it follows that baptism is not for babies.
What about you? Have you done the will of the Father, or will you be one of the many people who will find out too late that God is not pleased with them? Have you heard the gospel, believed it, repented of your sins, and been Scripturally baptized? Was your baptism an immersion in water, and did you do it for the purpose of receiving forgiveness of sins?
(c) Copyright David E. Pratte, 2005; www.gospelway.com
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Scripture quotations are generally from the New King James Version (NKJV), copyright 1982, 1988 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. used by permission. All rights reserved.