I have studied the issue of baptism with many people over the years. There is one thing that ends up happening most of the time that makes it impossible for people to accept the view that I hold on baptism, and as I am discussing this issue with many people, I see this error many times. The error is this: Even though we may be discussing the subject of water baptism, the majority of the time, the person I am debating instead wants to change the subject from baptism to the subjects of faith and grace.
You may be asking why this is a problem? Here is the main reason: we are trying to find God's will about baptism, not faith and grace. What so often happens in these discussions is that the person I am talking to finds it impossible to accept what the passages say about baptism (or even retranslate the passages) because they are looking at all of the passages through the lens of their "faith alone" beliefs. This is a dangerous way to study scripture! (This approach is also logically fallacious. The ‘red herring fallacy’ is committed in this instance.)
Whenever you want to learn what the Bible teaches on the subject of the Lord's Supper, do we look at all of the verses on other subjects? Whenever you want to learn what the Bible teaches on the subject of repentance, should we look at the verses dealing with confessing Christ? No, instead, if we want to know what God's word teaches on a certain subject, we study what the Bible says on that specific subject! If we want to know what repentance is, we need to first discuss all of the passages that talk about repentance. If we want to discuss or debate the subject of faith, we need to examine all of the passages that talk about faith. And if we want to discuss the topic of baptism, we need to deal with the specific passage that mention or allude to water baptism.
Only after we do this, then we should try to harmonize what the Bible teaches about faith and grace and baptism. We should not allow the passages on one subject to lead us to retranslate the passages on another subject to mean the opposite of what they currently say in all of our translations unless we have first studied those passages and made sure that there is no possible way to harmonize them. We do this with any other supposed contradiction in scripture, why not do it on this subject also? Why assume that if scripture says baptism is the point our sins are remitted that this contradicts the idea of being saved by grace through faith?
At times, when we study the Bible, we are way too quick to assume that the Bible cannot mean what it says on some subjects. In my opinion, this is commonly the case regarding the subject of water baptism. When the passages are taken at face value, they do exalt God's work in baptism way above what the majority evangelical Christians believe about the issue.
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