Most of us thought that the denial of the necessity of baptism for salvation on Lucado's radio program in December of 1996 was sufficient to mark him as a false teacher. After all, when someone says that a person should be baptized because he is saved and not in order to become saved, most people with any experience in the English language can comprehend the meaning.
But some could not; so they wrote or called the congregation in San Antonio, with which Max is associated. We can only imagine that the conversation went something like this: "Say, this isn't true about what Max said on his radio show, is it?"
"No, of course not. You know Max believes in baptism, and so do we here at Oak Hills. We'll send you some material in the mail."
"Okay. I didn't think there was any truth to those rumors. I'll just never understand why people want to vilify such a great Christian leader."
No one is vilifying Max as a person, but he is a false teacher. Sure, he and Oak Hills may say they teach baptism for the remission of sins; so do a lot of people. All of Max's devotees ought to be asking some very simple questions. These three questions were posed to a member of Max's congregation. He never commented on them though they were asked repeatedly.
1. Is a person saved before baptism?
2. Is a person who has been baptized, but not for the forgiveness of sins, nevertheless saved?
3. Can a Christian have spiritual fellowship with the unsaved?
Answering these three questions will reveal how much a person understands the phrase for the forgiveness of sins. Anyone who answers that a person is saved before baptism does not understand that the blood of Jesus washes away sins during baptism. Answering number two (above) in the affirmative indicates that a person does not need to know WHY he is being baptized (and therefore he is not being set free by the Truth--John 8:31-32). One can only have spiritual fellowship (number 3) with one who is a member of the body of Christ. To fellowship spiritually those not baptized for the forgiveness of their sins is to say that they must be considered Christians anyway. It is to repudiate Acts 2:38.
Besides the radio broadcast, Max's book And the Angels Were Silent also teaches salvation apart from baptism. While it is true that he mentions that "public confession and baptism came" naturally for him (191), he does not describe them as requirements to salvation.
In fact, other comments in the book make it clear that he believes baptism is not needed. Consider the questions that are submitted as a study guide for this book. Whether or not Max wrote them is beside the point; they are in his book. Consider them carefully.
Question 4b: "Read John 1:12. How does John say Jesus becomes our personal Savior?" (225).
Question 4c: "Read John 20:31. Why did John write his gospel? How do we receive eternal life, according to this verse?" (233).
Question 3b: "Read Romans 10:9. How do you give your life to God, according to this verse?" (251).
Brethren, what more evidence could an honest person need? According to the implied answers of these questions, Jesus becomes our personal Savior, we can receive eternal life, and we give our lives to God--all without even a hint of baptism (Acts 8:35-39).
Max's devotees ought to face the truth--he does not believe that baptism is essential for salvation. He thinks that a person can be saved before and without baptism for the remission of sins. He is preaching a false, albeit popular "gospel," for which he will be accursed.
*Send comments or questions concerning this article to Gary Summers. Please refer to this article as: "LUCADO AND BAPTISM (AGAIN) (8/16/98)."