Once in a while you may hear that members of the church of Christ believe in “water salvation.” In other words, some say we believe that the power of salvation is in the water, that we trust in an act accomplished by us to redeem our souls. IT IS NOT TRUE.
First, we believe through the grace of God He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for our sins: “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities” (Jn. 3:16; Titus 2:11-14; Isa. 53:5). The blood of Christ is what saves a man from his sins. “Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Pet. 1:18-19). “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light…and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). We affirm, “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:4-5).
Second, what if we were to accuse those who believe repentance is necessary to salvation (maybe call it “self-will salvation”) of depending upon their actions to save them? What if we said that those who teach that faith is essential to salvation (maybe call it “mental salvation”) of depending upon the conviction of their heart to save them? These would be erroneous charges. The Bible does teach that one must repent to have sins blotted out (Acts 3:19). The word of God does say that one must believe unto righteousness (Rom. 10:10). Similarly, the Holy Spirit revealed that one must be baptized to have their sins washed away (Acts 2:38; 22:16). The point is, we view baptism like others view faith and repentance. We simply accept the fact that faith, repentance, confession, AND immersion in water are what God requires of one who wishes to enter Christ (Mk. 16:16; Lk. 13:3; Rom. 10:9-10; 6:3-4).
Finally, we say, with Paul, “by the grace of God” we are what we are (1 Cor. 15:10). Baptism by immersion in water is simply what God commanded and therefore we do not ridicule it, but obey unto the saving of our souls (cp. Acts 8:36-38). “And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Heb. 5:9).
Steven F. Deaton