IT SEEMS THATsome people have a problem accepting what the Bible has to say about baptism (Mark 16:15,16; John 3:5; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Romans 6:1-6; Galatians 3:27; I Peter 3:21; etc.). We dealt with that in an article in the last issue of this paper. The problem doesnít seem to be in understanding the wording of the Scriptures as much as it is in actually taking them at their face value. The real problem involves hypothetical cases, or actual cases, where people have died without being baptized, although they were believing, or even religious, people. This is hard for them to handle. How are we to deal with it? 
Here are some of these cases. What about those "believers who were apprehended and martyred before baptism" in the early centuries of the church? What about someone in an airplane "accepting" Christ, and then the plane crashes before he can be baptized? What about the person believing on his deathbed who is not baptized? And then what about these situations where there are whole religious denominations who do not practice baptism (baptism in the New Testament sense as to mode and purpose)? Yes, what about these cases? 
First, let us say that we are not God. We did not write the New Testament, nor are we the Judge. Christ, who declared that he had "all authority," gave the Great Commission which included baptism (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15,16). The gospel was to be preached. Believers were to be baptized, then taught to observe "all things" that Christ had commanded. Only in doing this could they claim the promise, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world [age]." The early church carried out this commission faithfully. For those who believed and repented, baptism was for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16). It was part of Godís plan of salvation by grace through faith. And faith not only involves believing in the person of Christ, but believing what that person said (Luke 6:46; John 3:5; Mark 16:16). The apostle Paul said, "We have this treasure [the gospel] in earthen vessels [human messengers]... " (II Corinthians 4:7). As messengers of God, the only thing that we can do is to deliver the message that we have been given (we are only the containers that carry it). If people do not accept it, that is between them and God; that is their problem. In no sense of the word do we have the authority or right to alter the message. God gave the message; He knows all and His judgment will be according to truth and righteousness. That is His department, not ours. He knows all of the extenuating circumstances, and we gladly leave it in His hands. No one will question the perfect judgment of God in that day. Let us not play the part of God now. Letís deliver Godís message.
However, we will say this. The degree of responsibility and accountability is different between those who know and those who do not know the will of God. The apostle Paul, writing about himself, said, "I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief... " (I Timothy 1:12-16). Christ said in a parable, "And that servant, which knew his lordís will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more" (Luke 12:47,48). We do not know all that is involved here, and leave it in Godís hands. But we do know that the people who know what the Bible says about baptism, and then wonít accept and practice it, will be held doubly responsible. Therefore, we humbly and lovingly admonish you. Donít reject Godís Word. Accept it. (VOL. 33, NO. 4, 1995) 
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