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Monday, January 25, 2010

Can baptism save a dead person?

Alicia is a Mormon who posted this comment on Jesus the Messiah, Refuting Doubt - Part 1: "I found this blog through Bubalita. I noticed the counter on the side of this blog that says the vast number of people who die are going to hell. The new testament (sic) talks about "baptism for the dead"...I testify that there is redeption (sic) for those who have never had the chance to learn of Jesus Christ. God is a merciful God and provides a way for all to be redeemed."

My response:

Alicia,
You are referring to a passage in the first book of Corinthians. The Corinthian church was a troubled church. They had allowed all sorts of confusion, including pagan doctrine and practices, to seep into the church. Paul was addressing issue after issue, exposing and dispelling those problems: chapters 1-4 - division over church leaders, 5-6 - immorality, 7 - marriage, 8-10 - meat sacrificed to idols, 11 - abuse of the Lord's Supper, 12-14 - abuse of spiritual gifts, 15 - the misunderstanding of the resurrection.

In the midst of speaking to these confused believers about the reality of the resurrection of the dead, Paul asked why they bothered to baptize for the dead if they didn't believe in the resurrection. Using this argument was logical. If they didn't believe there was an afterlife for people, why would they bother to baptize for them when they were already dead? In mentioning it in this way, Paul neither condemned nor condoned the practice and he certainly didn't imply that it should be done. The notion that a person can live his entire life in sin, die without repenting and then have someone else come along and baptize him by proxy, gaining him salvation is contrary to the clear teaching of Scripture.

Water baptism can't save living people, let alone dead ones. Addressing Christians, Paul wrote, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, {it is} the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9). It is by God's grace through faith, given to a person by Him, that brings about salvation.

Salvation by water baptism would constitute a work; a work cannot save. Instead, believers are to be baptized by water after becoming believers as an act of obedience to the Lord, Who commands it. It also affords an opportunity to make a public declaration of this newfound faith in Jesus Christ (see many examples of people coming to faith and being baptized in Acts 2:38, 41; Act's 8:12-13, 16, 38-39). See Colossians 2:12 for an explanation of the symbolism of the act of immersion in water during baptism.

Salvation takes place when the Holy Spirit brings a person to an understanding of his sinful condition, the impossibility of doing anything to save himself, and the realization that Christ has paid the debt for him - making the way for eternal life. A dead person cannot come to that realization, because he is dead. When a person dies in his sin, it is because he has utterly rejected Jesus Christ, to Whom he owes his allegiance. Christ is Lord of all and all need to acknowledge and obey him. He declared this in His commission to the church in Matthew 28:18-20 when He said that He had been given all authority in heaven and on earth. In that commission, Jesus says to make disciples and then to baptize them.

This happens while a person is alive, not after he dies. There is no second chance available once a person dies. God is sovereign and perfectly able to see that His truth is presented to everyone who needs to hear it, as can be seen in Hebrews 9:24-28, "once to die and then the judgment". Not after he dies, Alicia, at that point, he is without excuse.

"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so they are without excuse" (Romans 1:18-20; I encourage you to read to the end of that chapter).

The bottom line in this is that a person must come to the truth of Jesus Christ while he is alive, or he will not come at all and it is essential that the Jesus Christ he embraces is the God of the Bible, not a make-believe god, not an antichrist.

6 comments:

Alicia said...

Wow so billions and billions of people that have never even heard the name Jesus Christ are going to hell. They never even had the chance in this life to hear about Him... all of them going to hell. I just don't believe in a God like that.

I agree that it is only through Christ we are saved, we can do nothing of ourselves but the Savior himself taught, "be ye doers of the word and not hearers only." And you are absolutely right that the physical baptism does not save if it is not accomanied with a spiritual rebirth. It is like a pair of scissors both temporal and spiritual side must work together to come unto Christ. Christ also said that "blessed is He who heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them." It's kind of a walk the walk and talk the talk sort of thing.

Jesus Christ was and is completely perfect but even He was baptized "to fullfil the law" as He said. He did it to show complete obedience to the Father.

It's ok if you don't agree with me. I know what I have shared with you is true. And when it comes to religion I can respect others beliefs and I appreciate your love of Christ. May the Lord bless you in your endevor to show devotion and love to Him. I know He lives and that He is my Redeemer.

One of my favorite scriptures in the Book of Mormon is this:

"There is no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ the Lord Omnipotent." - Mosiah 3:17

God bless you.

Jenn Marshall said...

Alicia,

I, too, don't believe in that god, either - because that god doesn't exist.

God is sovereign and He already knows and has ordained who will be saved and who will go to Hell before the beginning of time (Rom. 8:29-30). And since God is indeed sovereign, if someone in the middle of nowhere was meant to hear the gospel and be saved, He would send a missionary there to share the gospel with that person. It may seem unfair to us that someone who's never heard the gospel would go to Hell, but as Scripture states, it was not in God's plan for that person to be saved to begin with. Their judgement, considerably less than those who right-out reject the truth, is still considered just. We are, by nature, children of wrath (Eph. 2:3). Not one of us is good by God's standards (Ps. 53:3). We are all sinners from the womb and are already condemned (Ps. 51:5). It is only just that a lawbreaker be punished and since it's God's law that we have broken, our just punishment is Hell (Rev. 21:8). Would it be justice to say that those who did not hear of Christ are somehow excluded from the righteous judgment of God upon them for their sin? Would that be justice? If that is so, then why did Jesus need to die? By our sinful nature alone, we are condemned to Hell and we're in desparate need of a savior from the start.

On that note, here's a question for you - if were to die right now, would you qualify for the celestial kingdom? If you're like most Mormons, you're not sure. You try hard to be as good as possible, but you still don't know if you've done enough. If the Book of Mormon is really scripture, this hope will always alude you. Alma 11:37 says God cannot save you in your sins. Are all of your sins forgiven? Moroni 10:32 says you must be perfected in Christ, which can only be done by denying yourself of "all unrighteousness". Have you done that? Do you repent on a regular basis? If so, then it is clear that you sin on a regular basis, since only those who break commandments need to repent. 1 Nephi 3:7 states that you are able to keep His commandments. In fact, according to D&C 25:15, you are required to keep them continually! Since you haven't done this so far, why assume you will in the future? Of course, we should all try to be holy; but if you think that sinning less will qualify you to live in God's presence, you are mistaken (Gal. 3:1-11). The assumption that good works are required for forgiveness only cheapens Christ's atonement, making it nothing more than a partial payment. God chooses to justify us by faith. Jesus alone does the "perfecting" (Heb. 10:14). God gives peace to those who trust in Him alone. If you don't have this peace, it's probably because at least part of your trust is in yourself. What are you banking your eternity on - Jesus' one-time-for-all sacrifice on the cross or yourself?

Becky, slave of Christ said...

Wow so billions and billions of people that have never even heard the name Jesus Christ are going to hell. They never even had the chance in this life to hear about Him... all of them going to hell. I just don't believe in a God like that.

Alicia, you are ignoring the truth of Ephesians 2:8-9 as well as Romans 1 passage I quoted. You are also affirming that you do not believe in the God of the Bible and you are right, you don’t.

The God of the Bible, the only God (Deuteronomy 6:4), is holy and righteous and just. As Jenn said, He is sovereign; He is the sovereign Ruler of the Universe and He is righteous altogether. This means that He will be just when He casts unbelievers into the lake of fire at the end of things — after they have bowed the knee to Him, acknowledging His lordship (Romans 14:11). They will still be guilty and deserving of eternal punishment (Revelation 20:15; see also Revelation 22:11.

And you are absolutely right that the physical baptism does not save if it is not accomanied with a spiritual rebirth.

You are reading into my words. I did not say that physical baptism can save as long as it is accompanied by a spiritual rebirth. A physical baptism cannot and does not save. Ever. It is only by the blood of Jesus Christ that anyone can be saved.

These “salvation scissors” you speak of - requiring physical baptism and spiritual rebirth - cut through the eternal lifeline. It is impossible to obtain eternal life that way. You are saying that a work of man must be joined to the work of Christ. Just before Jesus Christ died on the cross He said, “It is finished.” He meant it. Nothing else must be done. His sacrifice was once for all (1 Peter 3:18; Hebrews 10:10-14). Baptism is not a part of the salvation process; it is done after a person is saved (see my original post for details).

The heart of this issue is your refusal to accept the One True God of the Bible, Alicia. The false Christ of Mormonism cannot save, because no matter what you have been told, he is not the brother of Lucifer, he is Lucifer. He is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44), up to his old tricks again (see Isaiah 14:12-15) and dragging a lot of people along with him. He is trying to keep you so preoccupied with working your way to heaven that you do not look up and see the One who can save you and give you rest, Jesus Christ (Matthew 11:28-30).

Satan is also a master at clothing his lies with bits of truth to make you believe him.

"And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)

"Therefore, (I am an ambassador) for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through (me); (I) beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God" (2 Corinthians 5:20).

I am praying for you, Alicia.

Alicia said...

Wow so in your eyes I'm going to hell too. That's amazing, you people are amazing!

Becky, slave of Christ said...

No Alicia, not in my eyes, in God's eyes. I keep quoting Scripture and you keep ignoring what it says.

If you were about to drive off of a cliff, but you were convinced that the road you were on was a smooth path to your destination, would it be best for me to be sweet and agree with you, so you could feel good about yourself and your opinion, or would it be better if I shouted, "I DON'T CARE WHAT IT DOES TO YOUR PRIDE, YOU NEED TO STOP YOUR CAR OR YOU WILL DIE!!!"?

It is not too late, Alicia - you can still turn to Jesus Christ. You need to set aside your Book of Mormon, open the Bible and pray that God would remove the veil of deception you are under and show you the truth.

God says, "I love those who love me; And those who diligently seek me will find me" (Proverbs 8:17).

The Wretch said...

Alicia,

What is more important, what you believe, or if what you believe is true? If you say that is is WHAT you believe is more important than you are acting like an ostrich and burying your head in the sand!

Please know that the only reason Becky and Jenn responded the way they have is because they CARE about you! "Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful." Proverbs 27:6 (King James Version)

Alicia, remember what Jesus said in Matthew 7:22-23, "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." There will be people who profess to know Christ and He will cast them into the lake of fire. Just because we CLAIM the name of Christ does not mean He claims us! Please consider what the apostle John wrote in 1 John 5:9-12 and in 2 John 1:9. He told us that if we do not have the correct Jesus and a correct understanding of Him that we do not have the Father either. If we do not have the Son we do not have Life.

Please consider the things that are being said, investigate them, don't just write it off as nonsense. Ask yourself and answer honestly, "Do I care more about what I believe or if what I believe is actually true?"