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Topic: The Gospel

Righteousness by Baptism

by Darrel Cline

We have been asking What is the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ? (207) In another article (211) we noted that the Bible says that we can become possessors of the righteousness of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). In other words we can be as righteousness in the eyes of God as Christ is. But we also noted that the kicker in this whole issue is the debate on how this can take place. That it can take place is clear. This is the core of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God requires absolute perfection of those He allows into His eternal kingdom. This requirement is met when people receive the righteous standing before God that Jesus Christ possesses. This is Gospel truth.

As we have said, though, the problem is "How?". The answers of men are myriad. But God only gives one. His answer is by faith. There are literally dozens of places in the Bible where God's answer of by faith is given. The earliest clear record is Genesis 15:6 where Abraham believes God and God accounts that act of faith to him as righteousness. But, in the confusion of men, this clear answer is dramatically distorted. For example, a huge number of people in what is called Christendom are taught and believe that they are made righteous before God when they are baptized. This is a heavy duty deception where the fruit is confused with the root. Baptism can have all kinds of motivations; but the plain fact is that baptism has motivations. This means that baptism cannot be the way to a righteous standing before God because He never ignores the motives and He never assigns saving merit to actions. Romans 10:10 says that righteousness comes as a consequence of a heart attitude. This means that it does not come as a consequence of an overt action. Because God goes on motive and not resultant actions, salvation is not by works but by the faith of the heart (Ephesians 2:8-9). Only the numbest among us would claim that God ignores the heart and is satisfied by the overt action that has a good appearance. So, righteousness before God does not come from baptism.

Worse is the deception that people have a right standing before God as the result of their baptism as infants. Baptism confuses fruit for root; infant baptism is an even greater delusion because the infant can neither believe, nor give consent to baptism. This means that the infant cannot be credited with either the root or the fruit. Since God looks at both the root attitude and the fruit that springs from it, when He looks at an infant being baptized, what does He see? He sees a religious deceiver practicing baptism upon an infant who cannot know what is happening; He sees parents who have been deluded by their religious leaders into thinking that they are doing their infant some eternal good; and He sees a baby who neither believes, nor does, anything.

God says He will justify those who believe Him; men say He will justify those who believe them. Amazing.

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This is article #212.
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