Water Baptism Plus More
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Romans 10:10a (Holman) One believes with the heart, resulting in
Here again is the wonderful word “righteousness”. It denotes being righty related to God. It cannot be conjured up as a result of our own good works, but has to be received by faith as a gift from God.
Believing with the heart is not merely intellectual assent, but an embracing of all that Christ is, a yielded receiving of Him as Master. Faith requires a total commitment of our inner person to Jesus. This results in a righteousness that Christ bestows on us. No righteousness is inherent within us by nature. It is a gift we must receive.
I read of a Pastor Weaver who once took a poor beggar to the parsonage and let him pick out a suit to wear. The beggar took off his ragged clothes, put on the suit, and asked, “What do you think of me now?”
The preacher replied, “I think you look very respectable.”
Caught by surprise, the beggar said, “But sir, it’s not me; I am not respectable, it’s your clothes that are respectable.”
This illustrates what Jesus did for us. He found us covered with the tattered rags of sin, but then chose to clothe us with His righteousness.
When we ask, “Lord, how do I look now?” He says, “You are lovely, precious in my sight.” But we have to confess, “It is not me, Jesus, it is your righteousness that is lovely. I appear attractive because you are attractive. I am beautiful because you have covered my ugliness with your beauty.” This salvation can belong to anyone who believes “with the heart”.
Romans 10:10b … and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in
When this inner belief occurs, there will be an outer confirmation of it. When people have Jesus in their heart, they won’t be ashamed to admit it. A lack of courage to confess with the mouth hints lack of belief in the heart.
Jesus promised us, “Everyone who will acknowledge Me before men, I will also acknowledge him before My Father in heaven” (Matthew 10:32). This is the good news. Jesus also warned us, “Whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory and that of the Father and the holy angels” (Luke 9:26).
This outward, public confession essentially begins with water baptism. My Grandpa Marshall often said, “You don’t have to be baptized to be saved; but if you’re saved, you will be baptized.”
Water immersion is the God-ordained first step of confession, but not the last. Confession embraces all of life. Don’t limit its meaning to baptism.
“One tree does not a forest make”; one dip in the water does not make confession complete. Confession is the life-long business of every believer.
This does not mean we walk around with a foghorn yelling, “I am a Christian!” It means all who live and work around us should know we have identified ourselves as being submitted to the Lordship of Christ.
An emperor is known by his crown, and a policeman always carries his badge. Even so, a Christian has a distinguishing adornment, an identifying emblem. Believers are to always bear their confession. The world cannot know what we are in our heart until we verbally confess it.
Victorinus, a famous teacher of rhetoric in Rome, went one day to a meeting-place of Christians and whispered in the ear of their leader, Simplicianus, “I am a Christian.” The holy man answered, “I will not believe it, nor count you so, till I see you among the Christians in church.”
Victorinus laughed, “Do these walls make a Christian?” and left. But as time went by, he became convicted about his being ashamed of Christ. He returned to Simplicianus and said, “Let us go to the church; I will now in earnest be a Christian.” Before the congregation, he who had given his life to teaching, professed himself a follower of the Master-Teacher, Jesus Christ.
It is not enough for God to be the only One who knows we love Christ. Salvation is not meant to be a secret shared by two. Others must know it. We must reveal which side we are on.
Erasmus, a famous translator of Scripture, knew in his heart Luther was right and the Pope was wrong, but tried to steer a safe middle course between the two. He said he was not made of the right stuff to be a martyr.
Due to his indecision, some Catholic priests pictured Erasmus as hanging between Heaven and Hell. Their theology was wrong, but I cannot argue with their reasoning. It is despicable to be non-committal in the things of God.
If for no other reason, we ought to confess Christ simply due to gratitude. A thankful heart would make confession much easier.
At the battle of Williamsburg a soldier had his arm severed by a fragment of a shell. Fast bleeding to death, he cried out for help. A surgeon who was passing by came to his aid, and soon had the bleeding stopped. As the doctor began to leave, the fainting soldier asked, “What is your name?”
The doctor replied, “That doesn’t matter.”
“But, doctor, I want to tell my wife and children who saved me.” We who are brothers and sisters in Christ should go tell the world who saved us.
Romans 10:11 Now the Scripture says, Everyone who believes on Him
will not be put to shame,
No believer in Jesus will ever face the embarrassment of divine rejection. God will never disappoint anyone who places trust in Christ.
Believers are secure from future mockery due to failure. Our hopes will never be dashed to bits. All who choose the way of works will someday be terribly embarrassed and disappointed, but faith placed in Jesus will never prove to have been in vain. “Believing” is God’s way. Thus, it can never be the wrong response to make.