Is Baptism a Work?
Is Baptism a Work?
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” Titus 3:5
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:9 Not of works, lest any man should boast". Ephesians 2:8-9
The above Scriptures clearly depicts that salvation is not something a person can obtain through laborous work as giving to the poor, cleaning the church, or any other work that can be defined as charitbale, good, and holy. In fact, Isaiah (6:4) expresses that our righteousness is considered as filthy rags. Additionally, such Scriptures are used to contest the necessity of baptism in the life of a believer; particularly, the born-again expeirence that is unto salvation.
However, baptism is not a work liken to the paying of tithes, giving alms, praying for others, or doing any other charitable activity. Yet, there are many denominations and individual “Christians’ who place baptism in the same category such as these. Works of righteousness are on going works that are completed daily. We should never stop praying for each other, lending a helping hand, being a cheerful giver, and being good to people. On the other hand, baptism is a work of faith that is done once and is part of the born-again experience (John 3; Acts 2; Rom. 6). Once an individual is baptized and receives the baptism of the Holy Spirit with evidence of speaking in tongues as the Spirit of God gives the utterance. Acts 2:2-2:38) they are in covenant relationship with God. The definition of covenant is an agreement between two parties. When we believe, and submit to God by being baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, it is an act of faith on the new believer’s part. God then gives the new believer the gift of the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ as a sign of our new covenant with Him. Part of this covenant consist of having sins washed away, being engrafted into the body of Christ, being buried with Christ, and will rising in His likeness (Rom. 6). When baptism occurs, a person does not have to be baptized again as an ongoing work for the remission of sins. Once in covenant the Bible says to confess our sins and He (Jesus) is faithful to forgive us holding up His end of the covenant.
Baptism is not a work completed by the hands of man, but as the Apostle Paul explains it is an “operation of God” in Colossians 2:12. The actual work was completed by Jesus Christ on Calvary. He carried the burden, completed the labor, and paid the price for the New Covenant. He is the Great Physician who performs the operation as a masterful surgeon on the heart of man. The work in baptism is a work of mercy completed by God Himself. It is He that was crucified on the cross and it is He that washes away our sins in the baptismal waters. And it is He who fills and renews us with the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:38). Just as one who needs surgery must report to the hospital for the surgeon to perform the operation we to must report to the waters of baptism for the Great Physician to do His work.
James speaks of faith and works being intertwined to manifest our relationship with Jesus Christ. He poses the rhetorical question in James 2:14, “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save himThis question was given to confront those who in his day continued to say they are of the faith but never displayed any works which would prove their faith. In verse 17 of James chapter 2 answers the question, “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.”
We are saved by faith. For without faith it is impossible to please God. It is this faith that causes us to respond to God’s Word and obey His commands. Faith tells us that Christ was the perfect sacrifice for our sins, died, and rose again. It is our belief in God’s Word that we are sinners and we must repent. Faith is the catalyst that unction’s us to obey the command of the Lord and wash in the waters of baptism to have our sins remitted. Faiths without works are dead and so is works without faith.