The Gospel And Water Baptism: A Study Of Acts 22:16 -- By: Lanny Thomas Tanton

Journal: Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Volume: JOTGES 04:1 (Spring 1991)
Article: The Gospel And Water Baptism: A Study Of Acts 22:16
Author: Lanny Thomas Tanton

The Gospel And Water Baptism:
A Study Of Acts 22:16

Lanny Thomas Tanton1

Editorial Board
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Pastor, First Baptist Church
Lincoln Park, MI


To best introduce the study of Acts 22:16, let me relate the following story.

When I was in the Churches of Christ, I was told—and through experience was tempted to believe—that “evangelical Christians” would deny the necessity of baptism for salvation, even when they could not explain those passages which teach it; that the average Baptist or Bible Church preacher could not “get around” the obvious and natural meaning of such passages as Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16, and 1 Pet 3:21. They were, I was told, like the Jews in the first century, in that even with a plain message of Scripture before them, they would deliberately shut their eyes to the truth and refuse to believe it and be saved.

Do you believe this was unfair?

With that as a background, let me share with you one of the most amazing confessions I have ever heard.

One day I was sitting in the office of a president of a Baptist college. The man had an earned Ph.D. in theology and is someone for whom I have a deep respect. No doubt he made this confession to me because he did not perceive me as an “enemy” from the Churches of Christ.

He told me that he had publicly debated with Churches of Christ preachers. He respected their general “fundamentalism,” but in matters of salvation he abhorred their theology. He believed and defended the doctrine of justification by grace through faith alone. However, he was not totally satisfied with his own interpretation of Acts 22:16 and 1 Pet 3:21. Acts 2:38, another Churches of Christ fortress, he could easily handle. However, Acts 22:16 was “very difficult” and 1 Pet 3:21 was,

quoting Winston Churchill, a “mystery wrapped in a riddle and shrouded in an enigma.”

This confession still shocks me—especially coming as it did from a man of great learning and deep piety.

Was it confirmation of what I had always been told? Was this respect...

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