Is remission of sins received before or after baptism?

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By BibleAsk Team


Baptism for the Remission of Sins

The question of when remission of sins is received—before or after baptism—is a topic that has been the subject of theological debate within Christian circles for centuries. Some hold the belief that remission of sins occurs before baptism, through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, while others argue that it is received through baptism itself. In this essay, we will delve into the biblical evidence surrounding this issue, examining key passages in the New Testament, particularly in the context of baptism, to gain clarity on this important aspect of Christian doctrine.

Understanding Remission of Sins:

Before delving into the specific question of whether remission of sins occurs before or after baptism, it is crucial to establish a clear understanding of what remission of sins entails. Remission of sins, also referred to as forgiveness of sins, is a central concept in Christian theology, emphasizing the removal of guilt and the reconciliation of the sinner with God. It is through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the cross that believers receive forgiveness of sins, as articulated in numerous passages throughout the New Testament (Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14; 1 John 1:9).

Repentance and Faith:

One perspective on the timing of remission of sins is that it occurs before baptism, through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Repentance involves a turning away from sin and a sincere desire to live in obedience to God’s will (Acts 3:19; 2 Corinthians 7:10). Faith, on the other hand, entails trust and reliance on Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 3:22). According to this view, individuals receive forgiveness of sins the moment they repent and place their faith in Christ, independent of the act of baptism.

Baptism as a Symbol of Remission of Sins:

Another perspective posits that remission of sins is received through baptism, serving as a visible sign and seal of God’s forgiveness. In Acts 2:38, Peter declares, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (NKJV). This verse is often cited as evidence that baptism is linked to the forgiveness of sins. Baptism symbolizes the believer’s identification with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6:3-4), signifying a spiritual cleansing and regeneration (Titus 3:5).

The Apostle Paul’s Teachings on Baptism:

The Apostle Paul provides further insight into the relationship between baptism and the remission of sins in his letters to the early Christian communities. In Romans 6:3-4, Paul writes, “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (NKJV). Paul emphasizes the transformative nature of baptism, highlighting its role in the believer’s participation in Christ’s death and resurrection.

The Ethiopian Eunuch’s Baptism:

A narrative in the book of Acts provides a compelling example of baptism’s connection to the remission of sins. In Acts 8:26-40, Philip encounters an Ethiopian eunuch who is reading from the book of Isaiah. Philip explains the passage to him, proclaiming the good news about Jesus Christ. As they travel together, they come to some water, and the eunuch asks to be baptized. Philip responds, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” The eunuch declares his faith in Jesus Christ and is baptized. This account illustrates the immediate correlation between belief, baptism, and the remission of sins.

Cornelius and His Household:

Another significant episode recorded in Acts sheds light on the relationship between repentance, faith, and baptism. In Acts 10, we encounter Cornelius, a devout Gentile centurion, who receives a vision from God instructing him to send for Peter. As Peter shares the gospel with Cornelius and his household, the Holy Spirit falls upon them, confirming their inclusion in God’s plan of salvation. Peter then commands them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 10:48). This account underscores the interconnectedness of repentance, faith, and baptism in the reception of forgiveness of sins.

The Conversion of Saul:

The conversion of Saul, later known as the Apostle Paul, provides another compelling example of the relationship between baptism and the remission of sins. In Acts 9, Saul encounters the risen Christ on the road to Damascus and is blinded by the light of his glory. After being led to Damascus, Saul spends three days fasting and praying. Ananias, a disciple of Jesus, is sent by God to minister to Saul. He tells Saul, “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16, NKJV). This verse highlights the connection between baptism and the washing away of sins.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, the question of whether remission of sins is received before or after baptism is multifaceted and nuanced, drawing upon various biblical passages and theological perspectives. While some emphasize repentance and faith as the primary means of receiving forgiveness of sins, others emphasize the role of baptism as a visible sign and seal of God’s grace. Ultimately, both repentance and baptism are integral components of the believer’s journey of salvation, working together to bring about the forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with God. As followers of Christ, we are called to embrace the fullness of God’s redemptive work, acknowledging the significance of both inward transformation and outward expression in our Christian walk.

References:

  1. New King James Version (NKJV) Bible.
  2. Acts 2:38; Romans 6:3-4; Acts 8:26-40; Acts 10; Acts 22:16.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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