"...but try the spirits whether they are of God..." (1 Jno. 4:1)


Volume One, Number Two Spring 1991


McDonald First Affirmative

The proposition I affirm says: "The New Testament; scriptures teach that baptism (immersion) in water, for, or unto, the remission of sins is, the completion of conversion."

The Proposition Defined

By the term, "The New Testament scriptures...~ I mean the inspired and inerrant word of God and specifically the new covenant between God and man." By the word, "...teach..." I mean to impart knowledge. This impartation of knowledge is done in one or more of the following three ways: [1] by explicit statements which involve both commands and direct statements. [2] by implicit statements, and [3] by accounts of approved action or Example. The Bible authorizes in these three ways as well as by expediency, but since expediency has nothing to do with this debate we shall leave it out. By the term, "...baptism (immersion) in water..." I mean being totally immersed in water. By the term, "...for, or unto, the remission of sins..." I mean that this is done for the purpose of having sins remitted. By the term, ...completion of conversion. I mean the consummation of one's coming to Christ from the state of being an alien sinner.

My Obligation

My obligation in this debate is simple. I am to make an argument in favor of my proposition. This argument must be valid. That is, it must be correct in form. This argument must be logically sound. That is, its premises must be true and the conclusion must follow from them. When I produce this argument, and Biblically sustain it, I will have produced an argument that sustains my proposition.

In making this argument, I am obligated to show that one must be immersed in water for the purpose of having his/her sins remitted and that such action completes that person's obligations in becoming (notice that I said: "...in becoming...") a child of God. With this set aside let us proceed to the task at hand.

The Argument

Major Premise: All total situations, the constituent elements of which are scriptural are total situations which are scriptural.

Minor Premise: The total situation described by my proposition is a total situation, the constituent elements of which are scriptural.

Conclusion: Therefore, the total situation described by my proposition is a total situation which is scriptural.

Now all this argument says is that if all of the parts are scriptural, then my argument, as a whole is scriptural. This is an axiom that no one can deny. Now having given the argument, it becomes my duty to prove the argument. In others words, I must prove that the second premise: "The total situation described by my proposition is a total situation, the constituent elements of which are scriptural." When I prove this premise, I will prove my argument which will prove my proposition. Is the second premise true? Let us find out!

ELEMENT NUMBER ONE: "The New Testament scriptures teach that one must be baptized for the purpose of having his/her sins remitted."

(1) In Acts 22:16 we have Ananias commanding Saul of Tarsus to, "...arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins....". Now Mr. Ross might object to this by pointing to the fact that it is the blood of Christ which washes away sins, and of course he would be right, except for the fact that it is in baptism that one makes contact with the blood of Christ. Jesus shed his blood in his death, "But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water." John 19:34) We are baptized into his death, "Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?" (Romans 6:3) Therefore, in baptism one comes into contact with the blood of Jesus Christ and in baptism his sins are forgiven.

(2) In Mark 16:16 we have Jesus making a direct statement to his apostles that: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." Now even Mr. Ross will not deny that baptism is required for salvation, except he believes that it is required only for eternal salvation. Notice his statement in his debate with Bill Jackson: "I have never taken the position that he that believeth and is baptized, in Mark 16:16, has reference merely to present salvation; it has reference to final salivation." (The Jackson-Ross Debate, Ross' Second Negative on the second night). From this statement, we can see that even Mr. Ross believes that baptism is essential for salvation; though he thinks that it refers to eternal salvation, he still believes it is necessary. Now let us notice the following. Mr. Ross believes that baptism is essential for eternal salvation, and he takes this position based upon the assumption that the word "damned in the King James Version means eternal damnation. The fact is, when one is not a Christian, that person is in a damned condition. That is to what it has reference. Now granted, if that person dies in that lost (or damned) condition, that person will be damned (or lost) eternally. However, that person is in a damned condition already, until he comes into contact with the Blood of Christ through baptism. Otherwise one does not need baptism. If one needs baptism to go to heaven, one needs baptism to become a Christian because one, now living, (except babies, children under the age of accountability, and those mentally incompetent) cannot go to heaven without becoming a Christian. Thus we see that Bob's own belief on Mark 16:16 proves the proposition and denies his position.

ELEMENT NUMBER TWO: "The New Testament scriptures teach one must be baptized in order to become a child of God."

(1) In Romans 6:3-5 we have the direct statement of Paul, "Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore. we are buried with him by baptism into death, that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection." implying that baptism is essential in becoming a Christian. How? Simply this! [1] We are baptized into Christ's death. We are buried with him by baptism into his death. We are raised (like he was) in our coming up out of baptism to walk a new life. If we have been planted, in going down into the water, in the likeness of his death, we shall also be raised, in coming up out of the water, in the likeness of his resurrection. [2] These passages mention the death. the burial, and the resurrection of Christ. These are three things that must have happened to Christ before we could become Christians. [3] Since we are buried and raised with him in baptism and since these three things are essential for us to become Christians. Then I submit that baptism is essential for us to become Christians. What man could become a Christian without the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ?

(2) In Acts 17:30-33 we have the conversion of the Philippian jailer implying that baptism is necessary for one to become a child of God. And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe only...?" No?! It did not say that? What did it say? "...Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and believed...?" No?! It did not say that? What did it say? "...and was baptized, (Mr. Ross) he and all his straightway." This shows that baptism is essential because it says that the same hour of the night he and his house were baptized. It must have been essential for his salvation because he did it with such urgency. The same hour of the night!

ELEMENT NUMBER THREE: "The New Testament Scriptures teach that one must be baptized (immersed) in water."

(1) In Acts 8:36-39 we have an example of the conversion of the Ethiopian Eunich. "And as they went on their way! they came unto a certain water: and the Eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?" And Phillip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down into the water (Mr. Ross), both Phillip and the Eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they came up out of the water (Mr. Ross), the spirit of the Lord caught away Phillip, and the Eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing. The word for "baptized" in this verse is the word "eBaptidzen" which means: "to dip, immerse... (The Analytical Greek Lexicon Revised, p.65)

(2) Ephesians 2:26 says, "That he (Christ jdm) might sanctify and cleanse it (the church jdm) by the washing of water by the word." Now, here we have clear implicit teaching that baptism in water is necessary. How else could Christ cleanse those in the church by water, except it be baptism? Alford said: " ..., and the washing cannot be separated from the introductory rite of baptism..." (Alford's Greek New Testaments, Vol. 111, p.l37) A. T. Robertson said: "The reference here seems to be the baptismal bath (immersion) of water..." (Word Pictures of the New Testament, Vol. IV, p.545) Now since we are sanctified by baptism (immersion in water) then we see that it is necessary because we will not have our sins remitted and we will not make it to heaven without being sanctified.

I have proven that the Bible teaches that one must be baptized (immersed) in water for, or unto the remission of sins by explicit statements, implicit statements and accounts of approved action. However, no debate on baptism would be complete without a discussion of Acts 2:38. "...Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins..." The Greek word for "for" in this verse is the word "eis". This word is translated "into" 517 times in the N.T., "unto" 203 times. It is translated "towards" 32 times, and "for" 87 times. It is translated "for this purpose" twice, and "for this cause" twice. Yet, not once is it ever translated "because of".

The wording in the Greek in this verse "eir aphesin hamartion" is the exact same wording "eis aphesin hamartion" in Matthew 26:26 where Christ speaks of his blood being shed for the remission of sins. Now whatever it means in Matthew 26:28, it will have the same meaning in Acts 2:38. Christ shed his blood for the purpose of remitting our sins. We are baptized for the purpose of remitting our sins.

Questions: 1. Do you believe that Mark 16:16 teaches that baptism is essential to eternal salvation? 2. Do you believe that Acts 2:38 teaches that baptism is for, or unto, the remission of sins. 3. Do you believe that the phrase: "for the remission of sins" means because one's sins have been forgiven?" Now please pay close attention to Mr. Ross. jdm


CHALLENGE is published quarterly by Challenge Publications.
Jerry D. McDonald, Editor; Michael P. Hughes, Associate Editor.


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