Friday, August 13, 2010

Simply Christian, Part 3

Peter’s discourse (Acts 2:38) follows Jesus’ command from Mark 16:16. Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” No mention that failure to be baptized condemns. Everyone who believes is saved; so it is logical also to simply say everyone who believes and is baptized is saved. I fail to see why the emphasis falls on baptism rather than faith. Jesus never baptized anyone, John 4:2; a strange practice if water baptism was necessary. Peter preached, “Repent, and let everyone of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit,” Acts 2:38.

Peter’s discourse (Acts 2:38) follows Jesus’ command from Mark 16:16. Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.”No mention that failure to be baptized condemns. Everyone who believes is saved; so it is logical also to simply say everyone who believes and is baptized is saved. I fail to see why the emphasis falls on baptism rather than faith. Jesus never baptized anyone, John 4:2; a strange practice if water baptism was necessary. Peter preached, “Repent, and let everyone of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit,” Acts 2:38. Apparently the grammar in the Greek has the command to “repent…and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” in the plural; an overarching point Peter was making. The middle of the verse, “let everyone of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins,” is singular, showing that it is parenthetical.

We receive the promise of the Holy Spirit through faith, Galatians 3:14; we are made partakers of God’s promise in Christ through the gospel, Ephesians 3:6. The promise by faith in Christ is given to those that believe, Galatians 3:22. No such promises hinge on the ordinances Jesus ordained; though He commanded them. Paul wrote that it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe (1st Corinthians 1:21) and that the gospel is the power of salvation unto all who believe, Romans 1:16. To include baptism is to preach another gospel, since one would apparently make the fallacious assertion that water baptism is the power of God unto salvation; a statement which has NO scriptural support.

Peter later states in Acts 10:43-47, “’To Him (Jesus) all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.’ While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon those who heard the word. And those who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, ‘Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” Cornelius and his household were saved, yet without the supposed necessity of baptism; instead through personal faith in Christ.

Let’s return to Mark 16:16-17 again. Jesus said anyone who believed and was baptized would be saved, while unbelief condemned, verse 16. One sign following anyone who believed unto salvation, according to verse 17, was speaking in tongues. Cornelius and his family were saved before being baptized. God does not make exceptions; more evidence that water baptism is not a requisite for salvation. A desire to please Christ would compel a new-born Christian to be baptized. The Gentiles were saved by faith alone; the Spirit had been given to them without water baptism. More importantly, the gospel that saves summed up by Paul in 1st Corinthians 15:1-4, received by direct revelation from the risen Lord Jesus, does not include baptism. Yet this was the gospel Paul preached which one must believe to be saved, and the one accepted by the first century church. No Scripture states that failure to be baptized condemns; many passages tell us that unbelief condemns. The gospel and water baptism, according to Paul, are two separate issues.

The Gospel of Salvation (1st Corinthians 15:1-4)
1. Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.
2. He was buried.
3. He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.

Baptism is a symbol: “In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism (immersion, symbolizing His burial), in which also you were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead,” Colossians 2:11-12. Does this passage teach that anyone baptized receives regeneration by the grace inherent in water baptism? Verse 11 is clearly referring to being born of the Spirit. Water baptism is given by the command of our Lord, but it is not considered a means of salvation. Rather, according to Colossians 2:11-12 and 1st Peter 3:21 the physical act of baptism is not efficacious of itself; it is the identification with Christ’s death that is meaningful.

In Romans 4 Paul was using circumcision to make a point that outward rituals and sacraments do not convey salvation. Yet circumcision was commanded by God in the Old Testament; even Moses was in danger of being killed by God for not circumcising his child, Exodus 4:24-26. Anyone uncircumcised would be "cut off from his people," Genesis 17:14. Yet Paul writes, "And [Abraham] received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed to them also." The scripture states: "Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness," Romans 4:3. Circumcision seemed necessary then, yet many were circumcised in their flesh only. Water baptism seems necessary today for many, yet they are cleansed in their flesh only. Why? They are trusting in water baptism to do what faith in Christ alone is capable of: regeneration.

Since we know the plan of God regarding our salvation is unchanging, we must come to the conclusion that neither circumcision, water baptism, nor the Lord’s Supper is essential for salvation. Do we in the age of grace have to do more to be saved than the saints of the Old Testament? Is this grace? The patriarchs prior to the Flood were saved without any of these; the Old Testament saints were saved without water baptism or the Lord’s Supper. If water baptism was truly necessary to be saved it would have been instituted when Adam and Eve transgressed. Yet there was only faith in God from the first, Hebrews 11.
To be Continued.

3 comments:

  1. "He that believeth AND is baptized shall be saved"
    How can anyone mis-inturpret 9 simple little easy to understand words?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Everyone who believes is saved; so it is logical also to simply say everyone who believes and is baptized is saved. I fail to see why the emphasis falls on baptism rather than faith.
    The gospel is the power of salvation unto all who believe, Romans 1:16. God saves those who believe by the foolishness of preaching, 1st Corinthians 1:21. We are born again by the word of God, 1st Peter 1:23. He who believes in Jesus has everlasting life; anyone who does not believe is condemned, John 3:36. Baptism is strangely absent from so much doctrine concerning salvation in the New Testament that it would be odd for it to be necessary for eternal life. The focus is removed from our Savior and given to a symbol or sign of His covenant with the church; like the covenant with Abraham (circumcision) and Noah (the rainbow). God makes covenants with His people, and leaves visible signs or tokens of said covenants; baptism is such a token. To add it to the gospel puts people in danger of placing their trust where such trust is due.

    ReplyDelete
  3. In Christian love let me say...Thousands of long sermons have been preached, millions of books have been written, volumes upon volumes of words have been published trying to explain away "baptism" in those 9 easy to understand words that Jesus spoke...As for me and my house...we'll stick with Jesus.

    I'm not a catholic...I'm not a protestant...I'm not denominational...I'm a Christian and only a Christian. That's all I've ever wanted to be and that's all I'm ever going to call or allow myself to be called.
    Christian=Christ follower. If He says it...I'm going to believe it.
    I have no more to say on the subject as I'll probably not change your mind and you'll not change mine.

    ReplyDelete

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