Thursday, November 23, 2017

Baptism in Acts

Baptism is the initiation rite of the church.  Throughout the Book of Acts baptism occurs immediately after belief.  In no case does baptism occur before belief. 

Just consider a couple examples.

Acts 2:41 says, “So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.”  The Scripture is clear, those who received the word were baptized.

Acts 8:21 says, “But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike.”  In this case, the Samaritan men and women who believed the gospel were baptized. 

Acts 8:35-38 says, “Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, 'Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?'  [And Philip said, 'If you believe with all your heart, you may.' And he answered and said, 'I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.']  And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him.”  Once again, baptism follows belief.

Acts 16:14,15 says, “A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.  And when she and her household had been baptized, she urged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and stay.’ And she prevailed upon us.” The Lord opened her heart to respond to the gospel, then Lydia was baptized.

Later in Acts 16, the Philippian jailer was baptized after he believed.  In Acts 18, Crispus and the Corinthians were also baptized after they believed. 

The clear teaching of Scripture is that baptism follows belief.  Thus believers, not infants, are the proper subjects of baptism.  

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Baptism in the Gospels

Please keep in mind this is a blog. And generally it is a short blog.  A more indepth study can be found in Mark Dever and Jonathan Leeman’s Baptist Foundations.

In the days of the New Testament, the Qumran community (of Dead Sea Scroll fame) practiced a form of baptism or ritual washing.  During this era other Jewish settings also had ceremonial washings. Many of these washings were done in tubs of water. 

In Mark 1:4,5 (and the parallel passage in Luke 3), John’s baptism is tied to repentance and forgiveness.  “John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mark 1:4).  The idea of repentance and forgiveness points to a certain level of maturity that would be absent from an infant.  Now, Jesus was baptized by John to prefigure and anticipate his death as the Servant of the Lord. 

When the Gospel of John mentions John’s baptism, the writer tells us that John was baptizing in Aenon near Salim because there was much water there (John 3:22-24).  And certainly much water is needed for immersion. 

In Matthew 28:18-20, we are commanded to make disciples.  Jesus commissions us saying, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).  The disciples we make are to be baptized. The sign of discipleship is baptism.  In a real sense, until a person has been baptized, he or she has not received the mark of Christianity. 

We submit to baptism because Jesus commands us to do so.  Further, we baptize those who have been discipled because Jesus commands us to baptize such people.  This is one of the reasons that Baptists (and other credo-baptists) disagree with paedobaptists.  It is difficult to consider an infant a disciple.  As with repentance, the idea of discipleship suggests a certain level of understanding. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Baptism – The Basics

Allow me to begin with a disclaimer. I am a convinced, committed Baptist. I am a Baptist by conviction. 

I was reared in a Baptist Church – Good Shepherd Baptist Church.  When I was 9 years old I professed faith in Jesus Christ.  I was then baptized by immersion. I had never thought of being baptized in any other way.  Of course at that point in my life, the only other Baptism that I was familiar with was that of the Roman Catholic Church. 
When I went to college, I left Ohio so that I could attend a college that was associated with the Southern Baptist Convention. I went to Mississippi College. One day one of my professors asked the class whether we were Baptists by conviction or if we were just Baptists because our parents had been Baptists.  At that time, I was only a Baptist because that is how I was raised. 

After college I attended Reformed Theological Seminary.  A Presbyterian Seminary.  It was there that I was introduced to covenant theology. I heard strong (and almost convincing) arguments for a clear continuity between circumcision and baptism. 

My church history professor, a committed paedobaptist and Presbyterian, pointed me to the Baptism debates of the 1600s which took place around London.  In addition to reading those debates, I began to learn and study Greek – though I am a long way from being a linguist.

Through these studies I became the convinced Baptist that I am today. 

It may be helpful to clarify two terms – translation and transliteration.  A translation occurs when a word is used in a second language to express the same idea as the word from the first language.  A transliteration occurs when the word of the first language is taken into the second language. 

For instance, the Hebrew word ruach is translated wind, breath or spirit.  While the Hebrew word amen is transliterated amen.  The Greek Word eucharisteo is translated, “I give thanks.  Through transliteration, eucharisteo provides us with the word, “The Eucharist.” 

Baptism is a word that has been transliterated into English. Basically we have taken a Greek word and anglicized it.  The primary meaning of the Greek word baptizo, if we were to translate it, is to immerse or dip.  There is another Greek word that means to sprinkle (rhantizo).