church study

Baptism and Big Problems

In our last post we touched on a few things. Namely, that
before Christianity there were ceremonial baptisms, or washings, of the Old
Testament and the baptism of John. We looked at John’s purpose in baptism and
we looked at what the people did as they went to get baptized. We also mentioned
some baptisms brought by Christ—one with the Holy Spirit and one with fire. Lastly,
we managed to begin to see what role water played in the giving of the Holy
Spirit in the book of Acts. Today, we start to encounter problems…

The Baptism of Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ did a couple of things in this baptism which
are said explicitly in the text. One, this procedure was submitted to for the
purpose of fulfilling all righteousness—no repentance of sin mentioned ({{Matt
3:13-15}}). Two this baptism told John that the person he was looking for was
here ({{John 1:22-36}}). Three, it typifies the baptism he was to undergo, by
submitting to the will of the Father by going to the cross ({{Luke 12:50}}). This
may be harder to establish when not stated outright so you can slap that one
under another heresy if you so wish, although I’m sure a full personal study
may reveal the correlation between baptism and His death.

The Baptism for the Dead
A much debated text mentioned only in {{1 Cor 15:29}}. Some
have said that it refers to a (wrong) practice that was being practiced in Corinth and would be even
more stupid if there were no resurrection of the dead. Some say that it means
that people, dead in trespasses and sin (now regenerate), when being baptized
are showing forth the image of death, burial and resurrection ({{Romans 6}})…but
without Christ’s resurrection the picture of baptism is useless. Other’s say
that the punctuation is “off” in the verse. Others say that the illustration is
of an army and the replenishing of the ranks. The Mormons have said that this
is an actual baptism of the dead which can be done by proxy and have
subsequently built a doctrine around this verse. That’s another error which
will work its way out after studying the general teaching of Scripture.

The Baptism of Believers
Although we see some form of baptism done during Jesus’
lifetime performed by His disciples ({{John 3:22; 4:1,2}}), I’m not going to
outright say that this is the baptism he commanded in {{Matthew 28:19}}
although  I guess you can argue the
point. Obviously it deals with water as seen by those disciples performing it
during Jesus’ day, but also seeing the action performed throughout the book of

As in our last post sometimes we would see the Holy Spirit
poured out on folk that were already baptized with water ({{Acts 2, 19}})
sometimes we would see the Holy Spirit poured out on folk before they were
baptized with water ({{Acts 10}}) and sometimes we would see the Holy Spirit
ignoring the baptism by water and waiting until a couple of Jews showed up on
the scene ({{Acts 8}}). Obviously we start having a problem with how the
baptism of Christ with the Holy Spirit which seems to tie in with what is being
said in {{Ephesians 4}} has to do with water if it doesn’t seem to happen
exclusively with water.

Stepping back a bit, the resurrected Jesus Christ told His
disciples that they were to go, make disciples of all the nations, and baptize
them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit ({{Matt 28:19}}).
He tells them that those people who have believed and been baptized shall be
saved…but those who haven’t believed will be condemned ({{Mark 16:15, 16}}).

What can we learn from these verses by themselves?

Firstly it was the responsibility of the disciples to go,
make disciples and baptize those disciples. Later we’ll see some other text of it
being the responsibility of the new believer as well…but first a word of
encouragement. It is your responsibility preachers, teachers; disciples to make
sure those new believers get baptized.

Secondly the verse {{Matt 28:19}} isn’t saying “make
disciples by baptizing them”. If water baptism was to result in salvation the
verse should at least state the method of making sure these folk were disciples
was to baptize them.

Thirdly, baptism is done under the name of the triune God.
It does not say “names” as in different persons nor does it say “the
name of
God” or any singular person in the Godhead—it says name and may I
suggest that
its meaning may deal with authority as in {{John 16}}. This would
important if someone were to think “because X person baptized me, I am
definitely saved”. Salvation is not based on the work of man—be it your
work or the work of the baptizer but of the only One who has done the
work who
baptizes with the Spirit and with Fire, the One who Sent Him and the
One who currently convicts the world of sin. Salvation by that One’s

Lastly we see that Mark seems to make baptism a condition
for salvation. Believe plus baptized equals saved. Unfortunately the context
doesn’t seem to support that since the second half of the verse tells us that
unbelief results in condemnation…not belief sans water or unbelief plus
water…just unbelief. If water had an effective role in salvation this would
have been a good point to state the cause of condemnation

Now someone may offer up {{Acts 2:38}} as support that belief
plus baptism is what is actually meant in the Mark passage. Peter, after all,
told those Jews that they were to 1) Repent, 2) be baptized in the name of
Jesus Christ for the 3) forgiveness of sins and then they would 4) receive the
gift of the Holy Spirit.

We encounter a wall then and as promised our questions have
gotten bigger…Rory’s arguement is proving strong for Peter seems to be demanding baptism for salvation but our study
thus far doesn’t seem to demand it. What then? “Anathema, Peter, you preach another
gospel”? or Is baptism really necessary for salvation? Is the baptism spoken of
in {{Ephesians 4}} the baptism mentioned here which results in the gift of the Holy
Spirit? And in all this, what about infant baptism—why wasn’t it mentioned?

A brief note of apology for my method in this study. I normally spend
more time looking at the context of the passage to support a proper
defense but this subject is so immense that it warrants a
book…thankfully several hundred good ones have been written. I’ve
enjoyed "Christian Baptism" by AP Gibbs although sometimes he makes
conclusions that should’ve been further explained. Indeed, most of
these arguments could be refuted simply by looking at the context of
each passage but I wanted to get the breadth of the topic (with the
context) and then look at possible solutions.

The Full Series
1. Baptism Necessary for Salvation?
2. One Baptism Versus the Many?
3. Baptism and Big Problems
4. Baptismal Regeneration (Acts 2:28)
5. Deluge of Baptism Questions (Acts 1-22)
6. Baptism and Romans (Rom 6:1-11)
7. Noah and Baptism (2 Peter 3:20,21)
8. Paul On Baptism (1 Cor 1:14-18)

9. The Error of Infant Baptism

10. Remember Your Baptism (Rom 6:1-11)


Russ On Baptism

Baptism of Linkage
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