Comparing Theology With What The Bible Actually Says
I want to ask you, with all due respect, have you been duped by religious theologians regarding the purpose of baptism? The line that follows may be familiar with you: salvation is by faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9), not as a result of being baptised. If you believe this to be true, then the scriptures the Holy Spirit moved men to write in the first century (II Peter 1:21) are at serious odds with this all too familiar statement. Please, with an open mind, consider the following scriptures:
Mark 16:16 “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Jesus said this is the “gospel” that must be preached (v.15). Parsing the text will reveal that faith i.e. “believeth” and full immersion in water i.e. “baptized” is not only a one time combined action but precedes the rescue from sin i.e. “saved”.
Who are you going to believe; the theologian or Jesus Christ?
Matthew 28:19 “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” Jesus leaves instructions on how one is to be taught in order to become a disciple of Christ, for Jesus said, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed” (John 8:31). Conversely, if one does not abide in the word of Christ but say in some other’s teaching they cannot be said to be in Christ (cf II John 9). The “twelve” at Ephesus found this out when they met the apostle Paul in Acts 19:1-7 and were consequently instructed to leave John the Baptist’s instructions for they had been superseded at the time the twelve obeyed them (cf Mark 1:4 John taught a “baptism of repentance for the remission of sins” applicable to the Jews prior to the cross upon which the instruction subsequently died along with the law and the prophets, Colossians 2:14). When the twelve “heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19:5). Wayne Jackson has well quoted Danker’s 2005 Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: the phrase “in the name of” signifies to “become the possession of and come under the dedicated protection of the one whose name they bear.” These men had faith in John which Paul said must change to faith in Jesus then be baptised into Christ if they are to be saved.
Now, whose word is authority regarding baptism; the theologian or Jesus Christ and His apostles?
Acts 2:38 “…Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…” The delinquents who had within the past 50 days done to “that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified” (v.36) been convicted by the Holy Spirit inspired sermon preached by Peter and realised their guilt. They wanted to know what they needed to do to be forgiven for doing such a heinous thing. Repent and be baptised and as I noted before it is a one time combined action that precedes forgiveness that God promised to bestow. Clearly, the theologian is at odds with the grammar and implications of this verse and will even go as far as to say so. A.T. Robertson, a well respected Baptist theological word scholar had this to say: “One will decide the use here according as he believes that baptism is essential to the remission of sins or not. My view is decidedly against the idea that Peter, Paul, or any one in the New Testament taught baptism as essential to the remission of sins or the means of securing such remission” (Robertson Word Pictures).
However, who would you much rather believe, the theologian with traditional bias or the apostle who was moved by the Holy Spirit whose promise was “when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come” (John 16:13)?
Acts 22:16 “…arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord”. Paul is here recalling the events that occurred to him on the road to Damascus (cf Acts 9:1-19). It is three days since his encounter with Jesus and he is busy “praying” (Acts 9:11). Here we see a picture of a believing man yet; clearly an unforgiven man for his sins had not yet been washed away. What is going to wash away his sins i.e. make him a saved disciple of Christ? Why it is baptism. In fact the verse says the act is to call upon the name of the Lord, “the answer of a good conscience toward God” says Peter in I Peter 3:21. For God to declare via Ananias that Paul needed to be baptised in order to be forgiven yet then have that same Paul, according to theologians, declare salvation is by faith without the need for baptism is “not being straightforward about the truth of the gospel” (Galatians 2:14) and smacks of hypocrisy and partiality both of which are condemned by God (cf Matthew 23 et al; Acts 10:34).
Who is more trustworthy in respect of the truth about baptism; the theologian or the scriptures themselves?
Romans 6:3-4 “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Clearly, baptism is a symbol of the grave that figures the death of the old man of sin and heralds the new man raised up, forgiven i.e. “newness of life”. Note: just as God raised up Jesus, so too, God raises up the forgiven but only after baptism.
To ignore the clear statement presented here is to take sides with the theologian rather than the plain, simple metaphor presented by God’s ambassador.
Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Salvation is a result of God’s grace and man’s faith. Paul also states in Ephesians 5:26 that salvation i.e. “cleanse” is a result of “the washing of water by the word”. The use of water is conceded by commentators including John Calvin, Thayer, Danker and even the Baptist theologian A.T. Robertson as referring to full immersion which is the proper rendition of the transliterated word, baptism. Besides, Ephesians 2:5 says Christians are those who “were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ”. The word “quickened” means “to be alive, have intelligence” and is therefore the opposite to being dead. This verse corresponds exactly with that which Paul mentioned to the church of Christ in Romans 6:3-4 and Colossians 2:12 where Christians are those who have been “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.”
Ask yourself the question, who is more reliable to give you the answer to what you must do to be saved; the theologian who cannot bear the thoughts of being wrong regarding his or her traditional thought on the matter or the Bible writers guided to write down the very thoughts of God Himself?
There prevails in so-called mainstream Christianity a theological bias that overwhelmingly denies the Holy Spirit moved men who spoke and wrote the word of God (II Peter 1:21) regarding the essential ingredient and purpose of biblical baptism. I implore you, dear reader, to shrug off this man made tradition that theologians have embraced and hold close those scriptures I have mentioned and many others that for brevity sake have not been mentioned.
When Jesus opposed the Devil in Matthew 4:1-11, He says Scripture speaks with loud authority over and above that of any theologian’s pen. Take a cue from the noble people of Berea (Acts 17:10-11) and examine and study the Scriptures I have presented to see if these things are so.
Graham Walker, Timaru 10 June 2010