Longview church of Christ
1401 Eden Dr.
Longview, TX 75605-4104
The Washing Away of Sins
No person who believes the Bible would deny that there is a definite connection between the blood of Christ and our salvation. His blood was shed for the remission of sins. (Matt. 26: 28). We were redeemed with the pre¬cious blood of Christ. (1 Peter 1:18¬-19). We have redemption through his blood. (Eph. 1:7). The blood of God’s Son cleanseth us from all sin. (1 John 1:7). There is no remission apart from the shedding of blood. (Heb. 9:22).
Saul of Tarsus was told to “Arise and be baptized and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). We conclude from this that the sins of an alien sinner are washed away when he is baptized. But someone asks: “Do you really believe that when a person is baptized his sins are washed away?” Certainly, I believe that. Don’t you? This passage declares that very fact. Let us read it again: “rise and be baptized and wash away thy sins.” Yes, I believe that our sins are washed away when we are baptized. How could anyone believe God’s Word and not believe that?
But someone urges this objection: “I just can’t believe that water can wash away sins:” Well, I can’t believe that either. I am certainly not con¬tending that sins are washed away by water. This passage, Acts 22:16, does not say that water washes away sins. It merely says that sins are washed away when the person is bap¬tized. It does not say what washes sins away. It merely tells us when sins are washed away — when we are baptized. We must go to other passages to find what washes sins away.
Here is another significant state¬ment: “Unto him that loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood” (Rev. 1:5). Here we have the answer to the question of what washes sins away. Likewise, the many passages cited at the beginning tell us the same thing. The blood of Christ washes sins away. But while these passages all tell us what washes sins away, they do not tell us when sins are washed away. We must come back to Acts 22:16 for that. It teaches that sins are washed away when we are baptized. There is complete harmony between Acts 22:16 and Revelation 1:5. One tells when and the other tells what. The blood of Christ washes sins away when we obey the Lord in the act of baptism.
Naaman was told to wash in the river Jordan in order to be cured of his leprosy. He washed, according to the divine command, and was cleansed. But he did not praise the water. Instead he praised God. (2 Kings 5). It was not the water that took the leprosy away. It was God. But God had commanded Naaman to wash in water and God would not cleanse Naaman of his leprosy until he obeyed. God commands us to be baptized for the “remission of sins” (Mark 16:16 Acts 2:38). When we are baptized we realize that we are pardoned by the power of God. We know the water did not literally wash our sins away. We do not praise the water. We praise God. It was God who, through the blood of Jesus, washed our sins away. But since God commanded baptism as a means of appropriating the blood, we can¬not expect salvation until we have obeyed the command to be baptized.
Raymond C. Kelcy