Symbolic or Necessary?
While the “Faith Alone” doctrine was primarily born in the 16th century, fathered by Jacques Lafevre and Martin Luther, it wasn’t until the mass evangelism tent crusades of the 19th and 20th century that baptism became deemed an unnecessary part ofconversion. With mass numbers of converts, it became too problematic to host mass baptism ceremonies, thereby creating our modern separation from the antiquated connection of baptism and salvation.
Billy Sunday: It has been written that only one baptism was performed by Billy Sunday.*
D.L. Moody: He was baptized by sprinkling as an infant.
John Wesley: Practiced infant baptism. **
Georgy Whitfield: Practiced infant baptism. ***
Billy Graham: Billy Graham is quoted to have said, “To one who has received Christ, baptism is a necessary and meaningful experience. But, I must say with Paul: ‘Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel’ (1 Corinthians 1:17)... You may know that we urge immediate and extensive Bible study for each convert. As the Scripture is reviewed, the place of baptism will surely be discovered. If baptism were a requirement for salvation, we would certainly say that.”****
Taking these examples of mass evangelism patriarchs of our times, we must evaluate the necessity of baptism. We must disenfranchise the validity of Mark 16:16’s command to baptize, or stop to ponder our current crisis in Christendom. We can hold to modern patriarchy, or, we can examine their beliefs and compare them to the word of God, understanding that there are many false prophets in our world today, according to Matthew 7:15
15“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16“You will know them by their fruits. … 20“So then, you will know them by their fruits. 21“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22“Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23“And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’
The following scriptures speak for themselves concerning the truth of the necessity of baptism.
1 Peter 3:21
21Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
16‘Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.’
15And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16“He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved;
37Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” 38Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
5He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,
...How shall we who died to sin still live in it? 3Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7for he who has died is freed from sin.