After much prayer and continued study, we continue our look at baptism. If you missed part one, you can read it here or just click on the tab at the top of this site.
Honestly, I thought Part One was a complete discussion on the matter with the exception of a few “loose ends” that commonly come up in these discussions. We’ll take a look at these loose ends here.
Let me just say to those of you that cannot seem to engage in a study on baptism without automatically assuming that its adherents are preaching works: I am not preaching works! I am in no way diminishing Christ’s shed blood on the cross. I am in no way saying that His blood is insufficient and we must do something within our own power to assist Him. We have not, can not, nor ever will be able to save ourselves through our own righteousness because we have no righteousness of our own. Got it? Please excuse me if I seem agitated. I am agitated because so many are so quick to gnash their teeth at the mention of baptism and I grow weary having to explain this to people who should know better. God gave you a brain, use it! Don’t let the enemy deceive you one second longer. Ask God to help you break free from the chains and mental blocks that bind you and seek the Truth. Let the Truth set you free. Free from sin and free from deception.
Now, before I continue, I want to address one reason that some people may be confused about that whole “baptism doesn’t save you” topic. Though I personally am unfamiliar with this, I am aware that some denominations engage in infant baptism or sprinkling. Having no personal experience with this, and having not studied it, I do not know why these denominations do this. I can tell you though, that in this case, you are correct: baptism does not save you. You see, baptism is more than simply getting wet. It is more than one’s parents having it done to you “in faith”. So much more. In fact, it isn’t something someone else can decide for you. You cannot have salvation forced upon you, nor can you “trick” God into taking away someone’s sins.
Baptism-and of course the Gospel as a whole- is a decision we all must make for ourselves. I have two young children: five and eleven. My eleven-year-old daughter is of a chronological age where a decision like this could be made and understood. However, her mental age and chronological age do not meet. Cognitively, she is as her five year old brother…in some cases, even younger. While we teach the Word to both children at home, take them to Sunday School, youth group, VBS, prayer meetings and regular services etc., this is something they have to come to terms with for themselves. Same as I did. Same as all of us do. Eventually, they will reach a time when they must recognize their need for a Savior and decide if they believe what we’ve been teaching them their whole lives. Now, my daughter may never reach that age of accountability. She may never comprehend abstracts such as sin and its wages, and God’s holiness and Jesus being the Lamb of God etc. As of now, she is extremely limited in her comprehension of abstract thought of any kind. She is a special girl, with a special purpose and I am confident her angels see the face of God at all times and she is safely under His wings. Right now, she says she wants to go to heaven so she can skip along its “yellow brick road” (streets of gold). Such an innocent mind will end up doing just that, I suspect. No doubt my son, though, will reach that level of understanding and having to make a choice. For himself. As much as we would love to, we cannot make that choice for him. Our influence and teaching will have a role, certainly, but it remains a choice he must make.
I say all of that to point out we all have some level of responsibility. I think everyone in the Christian circles would agree to that much: we all have a choice to make. We either choose Jesus or we don’t. Would that choice be considered a work? Would we boast that we saved ourselves because we chose to accept Jesus as Savior and Lord? No, I don’t think so!
We would vehemently declare that we are saved by grace through faith; and we’d be right. It is that grace that makes that faith possible. Without Jesus offering Himself up as the sacrificial Lamb, we’d have no faith. No choice. No hope.
Jesus tells us that to follow Him, we must die to ourselves and be born again. He also reminds us that to follow Him, to love Him, is to obey Him-and thus, the Father.
23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. Luke 9
24 Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. 25 He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor. John 12
31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8 (emphasis mine)
3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. John 3
Baptism is not an effort we make, as is a work, to earn salvation. It is stepping out in faith- a choice we make- to be buried with Christ in the watery grave and arising a new creation in Christ. When we are baptized, we are saying that we are dying to ourselves-to our sins-and rising out of the grave a new creation in Christ. This is made possible through Jesus’ work on the cross. This is abiding in His Word (as expressed throughout the Scriptures given in Part One). This dying to our selves is what separates our belief from that of the demons. (James 2) We are told that baptism-this watery grave-is a necessary expression of our faith, not a superficial one.
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6 (emphasis mine)
This brings me to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit cannot dwell where sin is. Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice for sin, allowing us the opportunity to join in His death-through baptism-to cleanse us of sin. It isn’t until our sin has been removed that the Holy Spirit will come dwell in us. Yeah, but what about Acts 10, you may say:
44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. 45 And those of the circumcision 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. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.Then Peter answered, 47 “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.
Isn’t the answer obvious?
17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10
The Holy Spirit fell upon those who heard the Word. It is the Holy Spirit that convicts and moves.
8 And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment John 16
The Holy Spirit is at work on everyone. It is by His nudging that people come to hear the word and believe it. He does not dwell in us until we are born again-having died to our old man and risen a new creature in Christ.
38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one 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
Again, I remind you of 1 John 5:
6 This is He who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth. 7 For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. 8 And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one.
I recently had someone tell me that the Holy Spirit represents water, that it is He that washes. The verse above lists the Holy Spirit and water, in addition to the blood. Three separate witnesses that agree as One. Just as the Father, Son (Word, John 1:1) and Holy Spirit agree as One.
Do you accept 1 John 5: 6-8 as being from God? You can try to argue against the obvious, the enemy certainly does.The choice is yours.
As for me, the issue is settled.
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. Ephesians 4