Okay, it’s been a while…

I have been remiss in writing any posts here for quite some time, but I’m thinking it’s time to tackle some things I’ve been thinking about since I quit posting. Mind you, I do not know it all, nor do I consider myself the epitome of a Christ follower. But, it bothers me (perhaps too much) that people claiming to be Christians believe things the bible absolutely does not support.

Since I last posted, I have parted ways with the theology of the churches of Christ as regards their human ideals about forbidding music in worship, making communion mandatory each Sunday, and declaring a person unsaved prior to baptism. I have not changed my mind about the necessity for any believer to obey the commandment to be baptized and that it involves immersion. What I disagree with is the emphasis on baptism being the exact moment a person is forgiven of their sins and born again.

I used to emphasize the words of Jesus in John 3, when He told Nicodemus that “unless a man is born of water and spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven”. However, I noticed recently that Jesus reiterates the emphasis is on the Spirit and not the water in the next few verses. Especially, Jesus declares, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

If the water part truly refers to baptism, and baptism to being born again, why doesn’t Christ reiterate that in verse 8?

I like Spurgeon’s answer the best to the question of “Should I be baptized?” He simply said, “You mean creature! So you will do nothing that Christ commands, if you can be saved without doing it? You are hardly worth saving at all!” The point is that baptism must follow conversion or the conversion is false.

Note, too, that while Jesus was forgiving sins of people He met and interacted with during His sojourn on earth, not once do we have a record of Him directing that person to be baptized. And we know that His disciples were baptizing, at least at the beginning of His ministry. I’m not saying this excludes the possibility it occurred, but I do find it strange that after His conversation with Nicodemus this was not emphasized at any of the recorded conversions of people who came to Jesus and were pronounced clean, forgiven, etc.

A good reason for my re-examination of this is the work being done (from afar) to convert Muslims to Christianity, yet requiring these Muslims be baptized and no one can be found in that part of the world willing to perform this sacrament. Very troubling for me.

I’d like to know if anyone else has thoughts on this who felt baptism was essentially when a person was truly “born again”.

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4 responses to this post.

  1. Yes, Steve I am with you. Baptism is a command of Christ and should be obeyed just as all the other commands. Christ said we must forgive our enemies, but is that contingent to our salvation? No! But as the word becomes alive to us we must assuredly forgive our enemies as He commanded or we cannot be children of God.

  2. You had me worried with the first line about forgiveness. I am glad you clarified it with the last line. It is clear that we cannot be forgiven if we are unwilling to forgive others…period. If we are not able to be forgivng, we are not a sheep of Christ’s flock.

  3. I have understood (and experienced) that the new birth comes first, and is followed by baptism as a testimony and sign of commitment.

    There is a similarity to the rite of circumcision. The argument in Romans 4:11 is that Abraham was “righteous by faith” first, and then after adopted the sign of circumcision.

    I’m not saying that circumcision was the Old Testament equivalent of baptism…actually the Passover would be closer to that. Circumcision was a sign of putting away the works of the flesh, “my own efforts to save myself”. It’s the first step in conversion, but the Passover had more steps that followed before there was deliverance from bondage.

    Also, I was brought up as a Catholic, and so was “baptized” (sprinkled) as a baby. I can testify that this did not make me holy, not at all! It is idolatry to give to a rite or ceremony, the power that only comes through Christ by faith.

  4. Well said, Frank! Good to see something from you, too.
    Regarding what Genesis records was counted as righteousness, follows Paul’s point that Abraham was not righteous

      because he obeyed

    and circumcised all his male servants and himself that same day. He was credited with being just because he believed God and circumcision was just evidence of that. So, too, is baptism.

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