Vol.II No.III Pg.3
April 1965

"Dear Baptist Friends ---"

Robert F. Turner

Hiscox's "Standard Manual for Baptist Churches" contains, with a few verbal changes, The New Hampshire Confession of Faith. Here, Article V, on "Justification", says that justification is bestowed "solely through faith in Christ; by means of which faith" -- "every other blessing needful for time and eternity" is secured.

Note -- "solely" through faith, i.e. by faith alone -- every other blessing needful for time and eternity is secured (P.62)

But on page 20, note 8, we read: "Baptism is not essential to salvation, for our churches utterly repudiate the dogma of "baptismal regeneration"; but it is essential to obedience, since Christ has commanded it. It is also essential to a public confession of Christ before the world, and to membership in the church which is his body. And no true lover of his Lord will refuse these acts of obedience and tokens of affection"

It seems our Baptist friends have such an aversion to "water salvation" -- which need we equally advocate -- that they meet themselves in violent contradiction.

They say Baptism is essential to: (1) Obedience to Christ; (2) public confession of Christ; (3) membership in His body, the church; (4) to be a true lover of the Lord. If this be true -- and the scriptures prove it to be so -- then how can faith only (solely) secure all blessings needful for time and eternity?

Truth of the matter is that the scriptures do not teach salvation by merit. The "works" repudiated in ROM.4:1-8 refers to a system of law, whereby one seeks justification by a claim to such perfectness that no sin can be charged. Since "all sin" (ROM.3:23) to plead such a case is to lose it (study GAL.3:10-14).

Our only hope is to put our trust (faith) in Christ, who will forgive all who obey Him (HEB.5:9). Our hope lies not in a system of works wherein there was no permanent forgiveness; (cf. HEB.10:1-4) but in the system of faith where forgiveness is possible through the sacrifice of Christ (ROM.4:6-8). This system of faith (trust) and faith only, or "solely through faith", are poles apart.

There is no saving power in the act of baptism, per se; nor, in this sense is there saving power in faith. Faith is as much a "work" as baptism; (JOH.6:28-29) for no amount of quibbling can remove the fact that man does the believing. We are saved by faith (EPH.2:8) and we are saved by baptism; (1PE.3:21) but both acts must look to Christ as the efficacious means of our redemption.

Our Baptist friends can't get into the body of Christ, of which He is Saviour (EPH.5:23) without baptism. They can't publicly confess Christ without it (see MAT.10:32-33). They can't obey Christ, or truly love Him without baptism -- all by their own admission. Isn't it time to acknowledge that baptism is a part of the faith that saves??