by Herbert W. Armstrong
Is WATER baptism essential to salvation? What about the “thief on the cross”? Was he saved without it?
What is the proper form, or mode sprinkling, pouring or immersion?
Should babies and children be baptized?
Suppose you were baptized by a minister you have since lost confidence in. Should you be baptized over again?
Suppose you were baptized “in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost [Spirit].” Should you be baptized again “in the name of Jesus” only?
Should one be baptized IMMEDIATELY, or only “after a six months’ probation”? Must the ordinance be performed by an ordained minister?
E ARE saved by GRACE, and through FAITH make no mistake about that; but there are conditions!
And millions are being deceived, misled into thinking they are saved, when they are not!
People have been taught, falsely, that “Christ completed the Plan of Salvation on the Cross” when actually it was only begun there. The popular denominations have taught, “Just BELIEVE that’s all there is to it; believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you are that instant saved!”
That teaching is false! And because of deception because the TRUE GOSPEL of Jesus Christ has been all but blotted out, lo these 1900 years by the preaching of a false gospel about the Person of Christ and often a false Christ at that millions today WORSHIP CHRIST and all in vain! “In vain do they worship me,” said Jesus, “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Mark 7:6-9).
Man is mortal. Man has no immortality inherent within himself. Christ Jesus, only, of all men who have lived, has immortality (I Tim. 6:16). The penalty of sin is DEATH the second, or eternal, death, from which there will be no resurrection. And ALL have sinned and come under this sentence. Only GOD has eternal life inherent in Himself (John 5:26) only GOD has eternal life to give. And as the Father has life in inherent in Himself, so has He given to the Son, Christ, to have immortal life inherent within Himself. And through Christ, God gives it to us (I John 5:11-12) and whoever has not Christ has not eternal life. Eternal life is a GIFT no man has until he receives it as GOD’S GIFT (Rom. 6:23).
The BLOOD of Christ does not finally save any man. The death of Christ did pay the penalty of sin in our stead it wipes the slate clean of past sins it saves us merely from the DEATH PENALTY it removes that which separated us from God and reconciles us to God.
But we are SAVED that is, given immortal life by Christ’s LIFE, not by His death (Rom. 5:10). Christ is a living Saviour! He is not dead He rose from the dead! We could never be saved by His blood alone, if He had not risen from the dead (I Cor. 15:17-18).
We are mortal, without immortal life inherent in us, under penalty of eternal DEATH from sin unless saved. To be saved, we must be born of God, who is a Spirit. We were born of human parents, and therefore we are human flesh dust of the earth, earthy (John 3:3, 6; Gen. 2:7; 3:19; I Cor. 15:47-49). To be born of God, we must, first, now in this life, receive the impregnating LIFE the Holy Spirit from God. We are then merely begotten, spiritually comparing to an unborn human babe still in its mother’s womb not yet really BORN. We then become merely HEIRS of the Kingdom not yet inheritors.
Becoming converted means being CHANGED. When one receives the Holy Spirit of God, his whole viewpoint, his outlook, his purposes, goals, ways of thought everything becomes CHANGED! It is a renewing of the MIND the Spirit of a sound mind. But he is as yet merely begotten. And, as the unborn babe must be fed, through the mother, and must develop and grow physically before it can be born, so the converted human, now spiritually begotten, must be fed on the spiritual food of GOD’S WORD, and must GROW SPIRITUALLY must grow in grace and the knowledge of Christ as He reveals His knowledge through His Word (II Peter 3:18). He must OVERCOME the down-pull of his human nature and achieve self-discipline. He must learn PATIENCE, must grow in LOVE, FAITH, and UNDERSTANDING. He must do the WORKS of Christ; and, in this spiritual growth this life of active service he must ENDURE persecutions and afflictions and trials UNTO THE END.
It is only those who, during this Christian Spirit-begotten life, have grown in knowledge and grace, have overcome, have developed spiritually, done the works of Christ, and endured unto the end, who shall finally be given IMMORTALITY finally changed from mortal to IMMORTAL at the time of the second coming of Christ (I Cor. 15:53-54).
So, being, as we say, converted receiving the Holy Spirit of God is merely the beginning! Then begins a lifetime of LIVING under the GOVERNMENT OF GOD by God’s laws which express His will, instead of by self-will and desire.
A PERSON IS NOT EVEN BEGOTTEN OF GOD UNLESS HE IS CHRIST’S (I John 5:12). AND HE IS NOT CHRIST’S UNLESS HE HAS RECEIVED THE HOLY SPIRIT (Rom. 8:9). One is not even converted spiritually begotten not even STARTED on the way to final salvation, unless and until he RECEIVES THE HOLY SPIRIT FROM GOD!
The question, then how to make the first BEGINNING of becoming a Christian how to START on the Christian life which leads to eternal life is how to thus be CHANGED and receive God’s Holy Spirit!