I have been reading about the church of Christ and the issue of baptism. If baptism is required for salvation, what happens to people who die without being baptized?
What happens to a person who disobeys God?
"Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment" (John 5:28-29).
What happens to a person who doesn't believe God?
"For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power" (II Thessalonians 1:6-9).
What happens to a person who never changes his life?
"I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3, 5).
What happens when a person neglects to do good?
"Then He will answer them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.' These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life" (Matthew 25:45-46).
It is God who stated that people are to be baptized to enter into His covenant. Perhaps you think God can be ignored, but I don't.
"And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, 'All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age'" (Matthew 28:18-20).
"And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned" (Mark 16:15-16).
"Peter 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. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself." And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation!" So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls" (Acts 2:38-41).
"Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name" (Acts 22:16).
Without being saved from your sinful past, you won't reach heaven and the only other alternative is hell.
"Corresponding 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" (I Peter 3:21).
Thank you for your reply. However, I am not sure I understand how a person achieves salvation if he died before being baptized, which is a basic part of salvation. Could you elaborate?
And I too am puzzled because nothing in my answer indicated that there is a way to be saved without baptism. I don't know how you are concluding this from the Scriptures. There is only one way to be saved and that is God's way, which includes a requirement to be baptized.
I think I remain confused. If the doctrinal position from the New Testament of the church of Christ is that baptism is a part of salvation, then how does someone who died before his baptism achieve his salvation? If baptism is intrinsic to salvation, doesn't that exclude all people who die before knowing about it or performing it? Or even people who die but who may have learned about it later in life?
Thanks for the link. I'll read it.
I guess there's also the question about the fate of a person after death if there is no heaven and hell. Why worry about salvation until the resurrection?
"And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6).
There are two essential things required for belief: a belief that God exists and a belief that God rewards the faithful. If you don't think there is a heaven or hell, then there is nothing to be saved from.
Faith comes from the Bible (Romans 10:17) and the Bible comes from the Holy Spirit (II Peter 1:20-21). Through His words, the Holy Spirit convicts people of three things. "And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment" (John 16:18). Until people are convinced that they are in the wrong, there is no need to change. If it isn't shown that they can live pleasing to God, no one will try to change. If they are not convinced that it makes a difference, people won't change.
The reason we talk about salvation now is that this is the only time you have to make a decision. "For He says, "At the acceptable time I listened to you, and on the day of salvation I helped you." Behold, now is "the acceptable time," behold, now is "the day of salvation" " (II Corinthians 6:2). Once you've passed on from this world, it will be too late to make any changes. "And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). This is one thing that you can't procrastinate.
So how is it you are so confident about what does or does not exist after death that you don't accept what Jesus said? "These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life" (Matthew 25:46).