ARE ALL WHO ARE BAPTIZED CHRISTIANS?
In every example of New Testament conversion people were baptized for remission of sins. "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38) One cannot be a Christian without being baptized but not all who have been baptized are Christians. Why would this be true?
Many that have been baptized have not been baptized as accountable people. Baptism is an act of submission that must come from the heart. "But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered." (Romans 6:17) Baptizing babies is no more Bible baptism than it would be for several strong men to baptize adults against their will. Babies have no sin and therefore do not need baptism and certainly could not be baptized as a voluntary act of obedience.
Many that have been baptized have not been baptized like the Bible teaches. Bible baptism is a burial in water and it is for the remission of sins. Both the reason for which baptism is done and the way in which it is done are important. Bible baptism is a burial. "Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." (Romans 6:4) Bible baptism is never sprinkling or pouring. Bible baptism is essential to our salvation. The Bible is plain in teaching that: (1) Baptism comes before salvation (Mark 16:16), (2) Baptism is for remission of sins (Acts 2:38), (3) Baptism washes away sins (Acts 22:16), (4) Baptism comes before being a child of God (Galatians 3:26-27), and (5) Baptism puts one into Christ. (Romans 6:3-4) In view of such plain Bible teaching how can the Southern Baptist Church (and most other churches) teach that, "Baptism does not help a person to be saved or to become a Christian?"
Many that have been baptized scripturally have not remained faithful. They have not grown in faith. They have stopped following Christ and are in a worse condition than before they obeyed the gospel. 2 Peter 2:20-22 says “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.
But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.” Jesus said, "...If you continue in My word, then are you My disciples indeed." (John 8:31.) All accountable people must be baptized for remission of sins and must remain faithful to God. But, not all who have been baptized are Christians!
By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, P.O. Box 551, Greenville, Alabama 36037 USA