The Gospel And Water Baptism: Another Look At Acts 2:38, With A New Afterword -- By: Lanny Thomas Tanton

Journal: Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Volume: JOTGES 25:49 (Autumn 2012)
Article: The Gospel And Water Baptism: Another Look At Acts 2:38, With A New Afterword
Author: Lanny Thomas Tanton

The Gospel And Water Baptism:
Another Look At Acts 2:38, With A New Afterword1

Lanny Thomas Tanton

Teaching Elder
Lone Star Bible Church
Eureka Springs, AR

I. Prologue

Is the demand for baptism (i.e., immersion in water) a part of the gospel? Should every evangelistic sermon and every gospel tract, in order to be Biblical, include a demand for baptism? Should the unbeliever hear in clear and forceful terms that unless he is baptized he cannot be saved, cannot receive eternal life, cannot have the forgiveness of sins? There are many who believe that baptism is essential for salvation and is of the essence of the gospel. Many of these same people point to Acts 2:38, 22:16, and 1 Pet 3:21 (along with other verses) to support their belief.

Many who maintain that baptism is part of the gospel are sincere, thoughtful, Bible-loving, Bible-believing people. In fact, other than their demand for baptism, many of these same people could be considered fundamentalists. I know this for a fact because for years I was taught, and believed, and even preached that baptism was necessary for salvation. I was a minister in a denomination that proclaimed this position.

I no longer hold this position and I have left that denomination in which I proclaimed this false gospel. However, I bear no ill will toward any members of my former denomination. I left it long enough ago that I can now look back and evaluate my experience with them with objectivity, love, and humor. Nor do

I have feelings of superiority in my present church. I remember all too well ministers of other churches who failed to answer squarely my questions regarding Acts 2:38, 22:16, and 1 Pet 3:21. They would cite Ephesians 2 or Romans 4 to prove that salvation was by grace through faith alone. However, when I asked them about those passages which seemed to teach that baptism was necessary, I was told that they were “problem passages” and that they were “unclear” and that one did not build a theology on passages of that nature. I eventually came to see that the problem was that they did not know what to do with these verses. To dismiss them, sometimes in a cavalier manner, was their way of ignoring a crack in their theological system. (Denial is an oft-used method when applying the Word of God to our lives and theology—despite our denials to the co...

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