What Does Baptism Have to Do with Salvation?

by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

Text: II Kings 5:1-14


I.         Leprosy is a terrible disease.

            A.        It is a bacterial infection that causes skin lesions and nerve damage

            B.        It has only been curable since the early 1980's.

            C.        So it is no wonder that a commander in Syria’s army would go great lengths to be cured.

            D.        Yet when Naaman came to Elisha, the man would not even come out to see him. Instead he sent a servant out and told him to dip seven times in the Jordan River

II.        What did the water of the Jordan have to do with Naaman’s cleansing?

            A.        In reality, it had nothing to do with his cleansing. Dipping in the Jordan before and since has never cured leprosy.

            B.        As Naaman pointed out, there were nicer rivers than the muddy Jordan. But if Naaman dipped in any other river, he would not have been cleansed

            C.        If he dipped only five times instead of seven, he would not have been cleansed

            D.        If he did not listen to his servants, decided the whole thing was unnecessary, he would not have been cleansed.

            E.        So what did the water have to with Naaman? It got him wet.

            F.        But what cured Naaman was God when Naaman managed to humbly obey the simple request of God.

                        1.         That is why Elisha did not come out to talk to the brilliant military commander of the Syrian army

                        2.         This is why God, through Elisha, told Naaman to dip seven times in an unimpressive, out of the way river

                        3.         Naaman had to demonstrate humble obedience, and by doing so God was glorified. His action proved his faith in God - James 2:18

                        4.         Naaman didn’t earn his cleansing. God didn’t owe it to him. But God was willing to give it to him when he swallowed his pride and put God first

III.       What does waters of baptism have to do with salvation?

            A.        In reality, it has nothing to do with salvation. Water cleans the surface of the body but not the soul - I Peter 3:21

                        1.         It is Jesus death and resurrection that gained our salvation.

            B.        But a person who will not humbly obey God’s simple request will not be saved.

                        1.         A refusal to be baptized proves a lack of faith in God

                        2.         That is why Peter said baptism was the answer of a good conscience

                                    a.         The Greek word behind “answer” is eperotema. It means an inquiry, demand, or a request.

                                    b.         Humble, willing submission to the command proves the good conscience with the person

                                    c.         Baptism is an inquiry into what kind of person are you

            C.        It doesn’t earn the person anything. Being baptized doesn’t mean God owes you salvation. But when a person does as God commands, God is willing to give salvation to the person - Ephesians 2:8-10

IV.      What gift is God offering for obedience to a simple command?

            A.        He is offering forgiveness of sins - Acts 2:38

                        1.         As a person comes up out of the water, his sins are washed away - Acts 22:16

                        2.         Again, not because of the water but because God gives this gift when a person humbly obeys

            B.        He is offering a new life - Romans 6:1-11

                        1.         It is a life freed from the shackles of past sins

                        2.         It is the start on the road to eternal life

            C.        He is offering a relationship with His Son and the rest of His children - Galatians 3:26-4:7

                        1.         We are Christ’s friend when we obey - John 15:14

                        2.         Our lives are now about Christ - Galatians 2:20

V.        Thus, we can say that baptism is an expression of our faith

            A.        It is an act that demonstrates that we believe God

            B.        But are we saved when we believe or when we act on that faith?

                        1.         Was Naaman cleansed when he believed that God’s prophet could heal him or when he dipped the seventh time in the Jordan?

                        2.         Consider Saul. He saw Jesus - Acts 9:3-6

                                    a.         For three days he fasted - Acts 9:8-9

                                    b.         He spent his time praying - Acts 9:11

                                    c.         But he still had his sins, until he washed them away - Acts 22:16

                        3.         Until he heard the command of God and acted on it, he had not yet demonstrated his faith and had not received the gift of salvation from God

            C.        Were you baptized because your humble obedience to God, showing your faith in God?

            D.        Do you trust that Jesus has the power to save you from your sins?

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