I recently received an email from a gentleman from this area. It was centered around his particular religious experience that leads him to believe he is saved. The overall point of the email was to prove to me that he was saved without being baptized. I found it pretty interesting and worth sharing because in subsequent emails he let me know “this is baptist country”. I believe that this gentleman represents a lot of individuals in “baptist country”.
The Email read as follows:
“Pastor(what is a pastor?) I was saved December 7th 1969 and I KNOW I WAS SAVED. When I came up from the altar that Sunday night I was a new creature in Christ. I was baptized the next Sunday night to show the world I was a new creature. Had I died between the two Sundays I know where I would have gone-Heaven.
There are many people who get saved while they are sick with many being physically unable to be baptized. Many are saved on their death bed so to speak. My Bible tells me if you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and ask Him to come into your heart you shall be saved. Jesus Christ did it all. He paid my sin debt in full. It wasn’t washed away in a baptismal, creek river or pool.”
I appreciate this person sharing their experience with me. I know that there are many people reading this who may be able to identify with his words, and others may identify with certain parts. I welcome anyone who feels compelled to share their experience.
I don’t doubt any of the feelings and passion about anyones experience. But one thing that is important to think about is why is his experience different than mine? We both believe we are saved, but our experiences are at odds with each other. Now we can go back and forth all day about what I did versus what he did. We can argue about how much stronger we feel towards our salvation. But that will never solve anything. We have to have some standard to compare to.
Arguing about my experience of salvation and his experience of salvation without a standard, is like two carpenters arguing about who cut their board at 48 inches when neither one of them has a tape measure.
So let’s look at some of the aspects of his salvation experience and see if that is what the Bible teaches.
First, there was an altar. It will be tough to find an altar call or mourners bench in the New Testament because it is simply not there. The mourners bench is no older than 200 years or so. Certainly not found in the New Testament
He said he came up from the altar a new creature. Again, there is no altar in the New Testament that we can compare this to. So this experience while generating a lot of feelings, does not include any biblical corroboration.
In the Bible, one becomes a new creature as they rise from the waters of baptism, not rise up from the altar (Romans 6:4). One is “born again”, by water and the Spirit (John 3:3-5). The Bible explains itself perfectly in showing us that we are born by the Spirit’s revealed word convicting us to belief and repentance (1 Pet 1:22-23), and then being baptized to walk in newness of life. Mark 16:15-16 summarizes this process in a few simple terms. Believing the Gospel and being baptized saves a person.
His baptism was for show. This is an interesting idea. A lot of people believe that baptism is an outward sign of an inward change. I don’t know that I can argue with the idea that it is something that is outwardly seen. But that is not the extent of baptism. Baptism does “also now save you” (1 Peter 3:21). It puts one in Christ (Gal 3:27). It is for the remission of our sins (Acts 2:38). It puts one into the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:13). Baptism never takes place “after” someone is saved. It always precedes salvation.
He “strengthened” his position by making the case that many people have been saved on their deathbeds without having been baptized. But those are not biblical examples. They are just other people telling about their own experiences. If we discussed it more he might bring up the thief on the cross as a proof of someone saved without baptism. That person was saved under a different law than us. Hebrews 9:17 says that a new will doesn’t go into effect until after the testator has died. And while Jesus was alive, he forgave sins as he saw fit (Matt 9:6). Today we must obey the gospel! (2 Thess 1:8).
“My Bible tells me…” This gentleman said that his bible tells him, “if you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and ask Him to come into your heart you shall be saved”. That is actually nowhere to be found in the Bible. It is something that has been regurgitated so many times that people accept it as truth, but nowhere in the Bible are you told to “ask Jesus into your heart”. It is heartbreaking that people will accept non-scripture as truth, and then turn around and reject the simple words of Christ “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved”.
He said his sin was not washed away in water. Paul’s were, “And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.” (Acts 22:16).
Every person should sit down and write out the story of their conversion experience and then sit down with their bible and check it out. Don’t let your sincerity and feelings blind you. Be like the noble Bereans and study the scriptures to see whether the things you have learned are the truth (Acts 17:11).