Charles E. Burch


After hearing a discussion some time ago, I realized that there was some confusion on the purpose of baptism. Even by some who believe in baptism. In order for baptism to wash away sins, there are certain prerequisites. One must believe in Christ or have faith in Christ (which are the same). One must repent of his sins. One must confess his faith in Christ, as the Son of God. The prerequisite most misunderstood is repentance. To repent of a sin, means to cease committing that sin. Without ceasing there is no repentance.


Certainly the Bible teaches the necessity of baptism for the remission of sins. The apostle Peter answered the question asked by saying: "...Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins..." (Acts 2:38). Peter plainly stated that baptism was for the remission of sins. Ananias told Saul, "...Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins ..." (Acts 22:16).


There is no other way to receive forgiveness, except one be baptized into Christ. Yet, baptism can't remove every sin! The only sins which baptism can wash away are those repented of. This simply means that in order to get forgiveness, one must cease to sin and turn from it.


Lets notice an example. If one is a car thief and he walks down the isle, before baptism can wash away his sins, he must return the car to its  legal owner. Once  restitution is made and he ceases to steal, his sins can be washed away, This example is not hard to understand.


There  is a similar  example that many have problems with, yet the biblical requirements are the same. Jesus stated. "Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery" (Matthew 19:9). Here Christ said there is one reason for divorce and one only, where the innocent party may marry someone else. The guilty party cannot marry another without living in sin. The one reason given was fornication, on the part of one of the marriage partners. A divorce for any other reason does not allow either one to marry another.


Here is the problem! Some divorce for what ever reason and marry another, without the exception that Christ gave. Then later they come thinking that baptism will wash away every sin. BAPTISM WILL ONLY WASH AWAY A SIN IF THAT SIN IS REPENTED OF. A car thief cannot get forgiveness and keep the car. Neither can a person living in an unscriptural marriage. Even if it is legal by our civil laws.


Yes, there are sins that baptism can't remove. To receive forgiveness one must repent which means to cease sinning. Married couples must work to solve their problems, divorce is not the answer.

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