In Post 7, we learned that Ephesians 2:8-9 and Titus 3:4-7 use the Greek noun ergon, which the NASB95 translates as “works” and “deeds,” respectively. Greek-English lexicons and commentaries reveal that ergon encompasses any human physical activity.
Post 8 considers if water baptism falls within the scope of the Greek noun ergon.
IS WATER BAPTISM ergon?
One background resource discusses water baptism:
The origin of Christian baptism seems closely connected with the Jewish custom of baptizing proselytes, which was based on the wide-spread idea of attaining ritual purity by ablutions, found in practically all the ancient religions. Whether Christian baptism be founded on a specific command of Christ or not (see above, I, 1), there is no doubt that it soon became a universal Christian custom. If there had been no other reason, it would have seemed obviously fitting, in the interest both of the community and of the new converts, that their entrance should be marked by a special rite
Jackson, S. M., ed. (1908–1914). In The new Schaff-Herzog encyclopedia of religious knowledge: embracing Biblical, historical, doctrinal, and practical theology and Biblical, theological, and ecclesiastical biography from the earliest times to the present day (Vol. 1, p. 440). Funk & Wagnalls.
A new convert had to take some physical action, i.e., ergon, to be baptized in or with water. For example, Acts 8:36-38 (NASB95) describes the action (i.e., physical activity) taken by the Ethiopian eunuch to be baptized:
36 As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 37 And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” 38 And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him.
Taking some physical activity is consistent with the meaning of baptism in the following passages commonly cited in support of baptismal regeneration: Mark 16:16; Acts 2:37-41; Acts 8:35-39; Acts 22:16; Romans 6:3-4; I Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:27; Colossians 2:11-12; and 1 Peter 3:21. These passages use one of three words, i.e., baptizō, baptismos, or baptisma, in reference to baptism. Louw et al. define these words as meaning the same “53.41 βαπτίζωb; βάπτισμα, τος n; βαπτισμόςb, οῦ m: to employ water in a religious ceremony designed to symbolize purification and initiation on the basis of repentance—‘to baptize, baptism.’” See Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). In Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 536). United Bible Societies.
Finally, Matthew 3:13–17 (NASB95) describes baptism as a work of righteousness:
13 Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. 14 But John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?” 15 But Jesus answering said to him, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he permitted Him. 16 After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, 17 and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”
Dr. Norman Geisler writes on page 497 of Volume 3 of his Systematic Theology (Bethany House, Minneapolis, MN) [italics in the original]:
Third, Jesus called baptism a work of righteousness (Matt. 3:15), and Scripture emphatically rejects any work of righteousness as a condition for salvation (cf. Titus 3:5; Eph. 2:8-9). Water baptism is clearly a work we perform in obedience to God; hence, baptism (like any other work of righteousness) is not a soteriological mandate.
To deny that water baptism is within the scope of ergon is to ignore the physical activity surrounding water baptism. Each one of baptizō, baptismos, or baptisma requires human physical activity to accomplish. Therefore, it is biblically correct to say that water baptism falls within the scope of ergon so that it is a “work” or “deed” in the context of Ephesians 2:8-9 or Titus 3:4-7, respectively.
IF YOU ARE UNSURE ABOUT YOUR SALVATION
If you are unsure about your salvation, you need to check out my book The Salvation Meter: Biblical Self-Diagnostic Tests to Examine Your Salvation and Spiritual Growth (book link at Xulon Press: https://www.xulonpress.com/bookstore/bookdetail.php?PB_ISBN=9781662828638 ). At Amazon the book link is https://www.amazon.com/Salavation-Meter-Biblical-Self-Diagnostic-Spiritual/dp/1662828632 . I also have a website in which I am updating the content in the book. The link to my website for the book is https://thesalvationmeter.com .
IF YOU ARE NOT A CHRISTIAN
… please (1) read through “God’s Plan of Salvation” so you can understand what God did for you through His only unique Son, Jesus Christ, and (2), from the bottom of your heart, pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” meaning every word. If you do, you will be reconciled to God – saved – through Jesus Christ.
God’s Plan of Salvation
In the beginning, God, who is holy, created the entire universe. As a part of His creative actions, He made humans in His image to know Him. For a while, everything was right between God and our ancestors, Adam and Eve. But Adam sinned, and his sin was passed down to all of humankind whereby we became separated from God. Nothing we could do on our own could bridge that separation so that without God’s intervention, hell would be our eternal destination.
Fortunately for us, in His great love and mercy God provided humankind with the only means of salvation, which is through Jesus Christ who is God’s only unique Son. While retaining His deity, God the Son became a man in Jesus, lived a perfect life, and died on the cross, thus fulfilling the law Himself and taking on Himself the punishment for the sins of all those who would ever repent and trust in Him for their salvation. Jesus rose from the dead, showing that God the Father accepted Christ’s sacrifice and that God’s wrath against us has been exhausted. He now calls us to repent of our sins and trust alone in what Christ did to save us.
If we repent of our sins and completely trust in Christ alone that He died for our sins and rose to life from the dead, we are born again into a new life, an eternal life with God.
Scripture References: Genesis 1:1, 27, 31; Habakkuk 1:13; Genesis 2:7, 18, 21-25; Genesis 3:1-7, 23-24; Isaiah 59:2; Romans 3:19-20, 23; 5:17-19; Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 6:23; John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Corinthians 15:3; 1 John 4:10; John 3:16-18; Mark 1:15; Romans 1:4; 4:25; John 3:5-8; 1 Peter 1:3.
Lord, Jesus Christ, the only unique Son of God, thank You for Your free gift of eternal life. I know I’m a sinner who cannot save myself no matter what I do, and I deserve to spend eternity in hell. But, I know that because You loved me so much, You voluntarily died on the cross for me taking my sins upon Yourself, and You physically bodily rose from the grave showing that Your sacrificial death was sufficient payment to give me eternal life in Heaven. I now repent of my sins and trust alone in what You did for my eternal salvation. Please take control of my life as I now receive You as my Lord and Savior. Thank You so much for saving me. I am now Yours forever! (Scripture references: John 1:1-4, 11-14; John 3:16; Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 3:21-26; Isaiah 53:4-6; Mark 1:15; Acts 16:31; Acts 4:12; Romans 10:9-10, 13; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; John 10:27-29).
Upon your salvation, you must find a spiritually solid Bible-believing church that (1) teaches that the sixty-six books of the Bible are the inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word of God, (2) believes in the doctrine of the Trinity, which means that there is one God who eternally exists as three distinct Persons — the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – and each Person is fully God, and (3) teaches that salvation is by grace through faith and not by works (e.g., water baptism by immersion).
ONE CAUTIONARY POINT. Please do not make the mistake of thinking that once you become a Christian, your life will become easy. Most likely, it will become more difficult. God’s blessing of salvation and life’s difficulties are not mutually exclusive. Jesus told His disciples, “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.” John 15:18 (NLT). Always keep in mind that you have an eternal home in heaven waiting for you per John 14:2–4 (NLT):
2 There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.”
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