Thursday, August 31, 2006

We Believe in Baptism

We believe that believers in Jesus must repent and be immersed in water for the forgiveness of sins.

When people are convinced that the good news about Jesus is true, they are called in scripture to respond to that faith by repenting of their sins and being baptized so that their sins will be forgiven.

By definition, baptism is an immersion. Acts 8 helps us understand that this immersion is in water. Acts 10 lets us know that even in the incredible event of someone being given the Holy Spirit so that they could speak in tongues; they were still responsible to the call to be baptized. Acts 19 explains that if someone had experienced the baptism of John, which was a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, but had not been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, they were subjects for baptism in the name of Jesus.[1]

Many people who profess the Christian Faith agree with what we believe regarding the Oneness of God, the deity of Jesus, the work the Holy Spirit, and the authority of Scripture; but do not believe what we believe about the significance and necessity of believer’s baptism. They contend that baptism is a work; and since salvation is by faith, not by works, baptism cannot be mandatory.

We believe that salvation is by faith, not by works. We believe that one must be baptized to be saved, too. Furthermore, we believe that those beliefs do not stand in contradiction to each other. Baptism is not a work by which we earn salvation – we have no reason to boast when we have been baptized. Baptism is our response of faith, and God does the forgiving and saving in that faith response, so the work is his, not ours. Baptism doesn’t save in a meritorious fashion, as if I’ve earned salvation. Baptism saves through the resurrection of Christ; once again, the work of God.

It cannot be denied that Peter preached that believers were to “repent and be baptized… for the forgiveness of sins” (Acts 2:38). Ananias did say to Paul, “Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name” (Acts 22:16). Whatever one believes about the meaning of “saved through faith,” it should reflect the significance of baptism, not dismiss it.

[1] Later in Acts 18, Apollos; who spoke about Jesus but only knew about the baptism of John, was instructed by Priscilla and Aquila regarding the information that he lacked. One would suppose that their instruction was about baptism, considering the context. There is no mention of Apollos’ baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus like there is regarding the disciples of John in Acts 19. We are only told that he was given fuller instruction, we are not told whether he was baptized on that occasion. We know that his response was positive enough to what he had learned that when he left he wanted to go to Achaia to continue teaching about Jesus and the disciples were told to welcome him there. I believe that he was baptized at that time.

1 comment:

Brian Rusher is Mad Crazy at Signifcation. said...

A lot of people consider baptism as merely "an outward symbol of an inward change." I agree that baptism is a symbol, but in Christianity (and Judaism) symbols are never mere (Chip Kooi said that last week at MRCC about the Lord's Supper). It is in baptism's symbolism that it's necessity is revealed. No other act connects the adherent to the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus as does baptism. What Jesus did in actuality, we re-enact through baptism. That's a POWERFUL symbol. A symbol so powerful that through participation in it, forgiveness is granted and we rise to a new life.

Also, I think it's funny that of all things we do (confess, repent,etc.), baptism is the one thing that you don't do yourself. That is, you don't baptise yourself, someone else baptises you. Somehow though that is considered a work and baptism is not.