ESV - 16 And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.
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Without obeying Scripture, there's no salvation. The bible clearly and directly teaches that without baptism, and the general obedience that follows hearing the Word, there is no salvation. Mark 16:16, "He that believeth AND is baptized shall be saved;" Acts 2:38, "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, AND be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost" Eph 4:4-6, "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are 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." Mat 3:15, "And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him." Jesus travelled about 40km to get to John for baptism, so that He could leave us an example. There is the case of the thief on the cross - he was saved because of two principles at work. One, he had no time to be baptized, but you and I have. Two, God is Sovereign, He's not answerable to man or to any being, animate or inanimate. And He exercised that Sovereignty in the case of the thief. He has also commanded that we baptize all who believe - that's the bible's teaching. Matt 28:18-19 There's no single case in the bible where anyone accepted the teaching of the apostles, then went without being baptized as a saved person. None whatsoever. EVERYONE who believed was baptized - by full immersion in water. A. Acts 8:38, "And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him." B. Acts 10:46-48, "For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, 47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord." C. Acts 2:41, "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized:" D. Acts 8:12, "But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women." E. Acts 9:18, "And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized." (Paul himself was baptized, after Jesus was resurrected). I could go on and on. Yet there's no single incident where anyone was accepted into the faith any other way other than through baptism. Bless.
Although there were instances in the Bible that the Holy Spirit was given prior to baptism, it does not follow that it is no longer essential to salvation. We are saved by GRACE, and through FAITH - make no mistake about that; But - there are conditions! Notice the very beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Mark 1:15). Jesus said, "REPENT ye, and BELIEVE the Gospel." The very first words he proclaimed, at the very beginning of his Gospel, were to command the TWO CONDITIONS to becoming a Christian: REPENTANCE, and FAITH. Those are the two things we must do! Repentance is toward God. Faith is toward Christ. Repentance means to quit sinning, and sin is the transgression of God's spiritual Law. So repentance means to begin living according to God's commandments! And Jesus said, "believe the Gospel." And the Gospel is the good news of the kingdom of God (Mark 1:14) which is to come. After Jesus had completed his earthly ministry, had paid the penalty of your sins, had risen from the dead and ascended to heaven, the Holy Spirit was sent on the day of Pentecost. The Spirit of God came upon, and into the disciples. Many found themselves in awe and wonder at the majestic spectacle and Peter then preached the first inspired sermon of this Christian dispensation. Many were convicted in their hearts. They realized their lost condition. They realized Christ was indeed Messiah - Saviour! "What shall we do?" they cried out to Peter and the disciples. "How shall we be saved?" Peter's answer came straight and direct! "REPENT! and be BAPTIZED, everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit"! (Acts 2:38) So there are the conditions - just two - the same as Jesus gave them at the very beginning of his Gospel - REPENT, and BELIEVE! For one cannot rightly be baptized except he believe (Acts 8:37). Baptism is an ordinance symbolizing FAITH in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. In baptism, our old self (sinful human nature) dies, and is buried, and as we are raised up in that watery grave, we become a new man (a new creation) and to walk with Christ as we go along this life's path. That's what baptism signifies in the Christian life! Once these conditions are complied with, God stands bound by a PROMISE to put within the repentant believer his Spirit- which means his Love, faith, understanding, gentleness and goodness, power, etc. - his attitude of mind - the Spirit of a sound mind - his very life - the impregnation and begettal of eternal life, and the very character of God! The Holy Spirit in one changes one! "For the PROMISE is unto you, and to your children...even as many as The Lord God shall call" (Acts 2:39). *Water baptism, then, is a required part of the way of salvation!* Jesus in all things set us an example, that we should follow his steps. He was the example for Christian living for the individual, and also the living example for his ministers. Jesus, though he had committed no sin to be remitted, was baptized, setting the example for us (Matt 3:13-17). In being baptized, Jesus was immersed in water (not sprinkled or poured upon) because "Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water." After his resurrection, Jesus gave the final GOSPEL COMMISSION for this age, and in it he commanded baptism as an obligatory ordinance for this Gospel dispensation (Mark 16:15-16).
I would like to answer the question regarding whether or not baptism is required for salvation. The question was posted, "Does Acts 22:16 teach that baptism is necessary for salvation?" The answer is No. Baptism is not required to be saved. The most "famous" verse in the New Testament could be this: John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life." It is very clear that God's gift to mankind was His Son Jesus, whose atoning suffering and death paid our sin debt. Whoever truly believes this and accepts this free gift of salvation will have eternal life with God. No where does it say you have to perform some act or do some physical thing such as be baptized to be saved. Read Ephesians 2:8,9 where Paul says, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift from God v.9) not of works, lest anyone should boast." Hopefully, you can see what Paul is saying, which is if man could do something by himself to score points with God to earn his own salvation, God knows man would boast about it. Man has a way of thinking that good works themselves gets them into Heaven. There is not a single thing you or I or anyone can do (or has to do) to add to simply accepting God's gift of salvation by believing in His Son Jesus Christ and what His suffering, death, resurrection has done for him and all who believe. There are many Scripture verses that also show clearly how to be saved. Paul again states in Romans 10:9 "If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved." I would like to suggest readers to investigate by Bible study key words to understand what our belief in Jesus Christ's atoning death did for us. We are made righteous by the blood of Jesus and believing in what His shed blood did for us. We could never be made righteous by any kind of "good work" or activity. I want you to think about the thief who was hanging on the cross next to Jesus. At the very last moments of his life, the thief said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom," and what did Jesus tell him? "Assuredly, today you will be with Me in paradise." Luke 23:42, 43. Was that thief on the cross told he had to be baptized? Did he have to do anything more except believe in his heart that what Jesus told him was true and receive it in faith? Not at all. There was nothing else to do but to believe. Baptism symbolized the washing away of past sins. It is an "admittance" that the person is a believer starting a new life in Christ. The action itself is not what saves a person.
Does Acts 22:16 teach that baptism is necessary for salvation? Dear friend; Yes. If baptism was not necessary, The Lord Jesus Christ would have not recommended it. The Lord Jesus Christ who gave this recommendation was himself baptised by John the Baptist who hesitated to baptise Him; but The Lord Jesus said to Him: Let's accomplish (do) what is right. Matt 3:13-17. In the gospel according to Mark 16:15-16 He did emphasise it too. All who had believed in the First Church got/were baptised or even re-baptised; (like the 12 young men in the Acts). When we truly believe, we must be baptised to fulfill the recommendation given by (our) the same Saviour who gave His life that we may live. Theological arguments sometimes stray preachers or believers away. Let us not be wise to our own EYES and thoughts lest we make The Lord’s requirement void (That would be ALTERATION!). We seem lately to become more wise or intelligent that we try to make the Scriptures go our way than the Way of God. He, indeed very well said that we preach the gospel and baptise those who will believe and that they will be saved. The reversal for those who will not believe and be baptised is PERISH. Believing with no works of faith, is not believing at all… Demons believe too but they tremble in fear. (They do not do (My comment)). Any true repentance is followed by baptism. This is the order of things. Also we should remember that faith with no works is dead as Brother James says it: Please read: James 2:18-26 King James Version (KJV) 18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. 19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? 22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? 23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. 24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. 25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? 26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. Conclusion: Answer The Lord’s call—Repent—Be baptised—Receive the Holy Spirit—Grow in faith—Fight the good fight of faith till His return. Amen If any one doest not love The Lord, Maran'ata. Stay blessed.
This is always a hotly debated question. All we can offer is opinions as there are two sides to the question and both sides feel like they are biblically based. If both sides are biblically based, then they must both be correct. How can that be? There are two Greek words that are translated baptized in the Bible. (I think the words are baptidzo and Baptizmo but right now I can't remember for sure nor which us which) An explanation that I liked for the difference between the two comes from an Egyptian recipe for making pickles which uses both words. The first word means to dip in hot water. (hotbath for you canning folks). The other word means to submerge in vinegar and leave in until the cucumbers change into something else. A Pickle. It is this definition that I believe is applicable to this question. In my opinion, being submerged in water is a symbolic act for the nessasary act of being changed into a new thing. I do not believe the dipping in water is nessasary (but is a good thing) but the process of changing is. So both sides are correct. It just depends on how you look at the word baptism.
I think the term "necessary" is too strong and limits God's power to offer grace to any person in any circumstance. I know this is opinion, but I can't accept that God would deny salvation to someone who truly believes and trusts Jesus just because they have not progressed far enough in their understanding of scripture or because they were led to Christ and taught by someone who does not put that level of emphasis on Baptism. On the other hand I would make two points: First, Baptism in not a work, it is a submission. The person being Baptized does not do anything. He allows his life to be put in the hands of someone who would have the power to end his life by drowning him. He is submitting physically to trust a human being as a type or symbol of his spiritual submission to and trust in Jesus. Second, every example of conversion given in any detail in the New Testament includes the immediate baptism of the subject, most likely by immersion. The correct practice should be baptism immediately at conversion and confession of Christ, but whether "necessary" or 'essential" needs to be left in the hands of God.
If baptism would save us, then Jesus died in vain. It is Jesus work on the cross that saves us, not baptism. Acts 11:16 Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how he said, John indeed baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 1:13. In whom ye also trusted, after ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; In whom also after ye believed were sealed by that Holy Spirit of promise. Paul said he came to preach Christ and Him crucified, not to baptize. Baptizm is an outward expression of belief in Christ for salvation, but has nothing to do with salvation which was completed by Christ finished work on the cross. Jesus plus nothing is salvation by grace.
Here is my most 'simplistic' straight forward answer that I think really makes for ease of understanding this highly debated subject concerning each of our "eternal destination"! (1). Salvation CANNOT BE EARNED! "Jesus Christ, the one and only begotten Son of GOD,...Eternally paid for ALL OUR SINS ON THAT CROSS AT CALVARY A LITTLE OVER 2000 YEARS AGO! JOHN 3:16 gives us each the most simplistic pathway to become a Child of God! No works involved, no tasks or errands to run; no duties to perform, etc., etc., etc.! (2). The best example I can think of is the many, many, many....'just before death conversions that have happened over the years...!' *Salvation is by Faith Alone asking God, The Father asking to be forgiven for eternity ALL OUR SINS, IN THE NAME OF HIS SON, JESUS CHRIST AND PUTTING YOUR FAITH IN HIM AND HIM ALONE!* "For it is by faith and faith alone in Jesus Christ alone that your sins have been washed away as far as the east is from the west; not anything that you can do or work for to achieve lest any one should boast"! "Praise God that He provided a Savior! And, His name is JESUS CHRIST!" -Andy-
Acts 2:21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ That's all that's needed to be saved, just the calling upon the name of the Lord. Baptism has nothing to do with it. Now I was baptized as a baby in my church at the time. Did that save me? No! It was not until I believed for myself the wonderful good news that Jesus died and rose for me, that I was saved.
Baptism washes our sins away symbolically. Jesus washed them away with His death and resurrection, so we are immersed in a symbolic picture of His burial and resurrection to show how our sins were washed away. Baptism washes our sins away symbolically. Baptism is not necessary or salvation would quickly become a product of works.
LUKE 23 should answer the question. Straight from Jesus. 26 Now as they led Him away, they laid hold of a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian, who was coming from the country, and on him they laid the cross that he might bear it after Jesus. 27 And a great multitude of the people followed Him, and women who also mourned and lamented Him. 28 But Jesus, turning to them, said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 "For indeed the days are coming in which they will say, 'Blessed are the barren, wombs that never bore, and breasts which never nursed!' 30 "Then they will begin 'to say to the mountains, "Fall on us!" and to the hills, "Cover us!" ' 31 "For if they do these things in the green wood, what will be done in the dry?" 32 There were also two others, criminals, led with Him to be put to death. 33 And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left. 34 Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do." And they divided His garments and cast lots. 35 And the people stood looking on. But even the rulers with them sneered, saying, "He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is the Christ, the chosen of God." 36 The soldiers also mocked Him, coming and offering Him sour wine, 37 and saying, "If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself." 38 And an inscription also was written over Him in letters of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. 39 Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, "If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us." 40 But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, "Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? 41 "And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong." 42 Then he said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom." 43 And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."
Well most importantly when looking at baptism being necessary to salvation we must start with Jesus at the great commission in Matthew 28:19 he said Go into all the world teaching all nations and baptizing them! This is what Jesus commissioned his disciples to do, and of course the bible is the best source to look at to explain the bible so we go to the book of Acts and see how the Apostles interpreted the command from Jesus and they did baptize everybody in water and in the name of Jesus Christ, and don't miss this part, Peter said this water baptism is for the remission of sins, forgiveness, pardoning, removal ect.. Then we have Luke's account of Jesus's great commission to the Apostles in Luke 24:47 telling them that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations; here again we move to the book of Acts and the very same verse of scripture Acts 2:38 where Peter told them all to repent and be baptized in Jesus's name FOR the remission of sins. So far according to the word of God water baptism is necessary for the remission of sins and must be done after repentance. Here is one more verse of scripture to prove this to be true and biblical: 1 Peter 3:20-21 (KJV) Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: Peter says outright that water baptism saves us not by cleaning the dirt from our bodies as was done in the Aaronic priesthood when Aaron and his son's approached God in the holy place, but water baptism is a cleansing of the conscience due to the forgiveness of sins. It's all right here in the word of God and all I can say after this is that I wouldn't want to be the one who didn't get baptized in Jesus's name and cross over into the next life.
YES, baptism is required! Everyone, after the death and resurrection of Jesus, who is given the Gospel is told to Repent and be Baptized (Acts 2:38) "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." For those that tell you that "Faith Only" saves you does not read James 2:24, "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only." If you read Romans it will tell you what baptism does Romans 6:3-10, "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 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. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: 6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7 For he that is dead is freed from sin. 8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: 9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. 10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. 11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord." If you look at Saul's (Paul) conversion in Acts 9, Jesus tells Paul after Paul calls him Lord to go into Damascus and find out what he needed to do. Acts 9:5-6, " 5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. 6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do."
Salvation itself is not always public but it is a spiritual act that only the Holy Spirit can perform, with or without the direct assistance of man. It can take place publicly or privately. The proof of that salvation will always be public throughout life, and should be first experienced by the one being saved to the extent that they should and will desire to declare it to many throughout life publicly. Water baptism is a public display, declaration and celebration that is public and witnessed by many, especially the church. The eunuch of Candace in the book of acts was not very public as far as we know, although I'm sure the eunuch was not alone in his travels when he received the water baptism from Philip after receiving the good news of salvation by the way of Jesus Christ. Although during water baptism infillings, aka anointings, of the Holy Spirit may occur. My sister's baptism after her salvation was blessed with the infilling of the gift of tongues as the spirit gave her the utterance for the first time in her life coming up out of that water. The book of Acts is filled with many spiritual manifestations of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in use if one only has eyes to see. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. God says that he changes not. Once he implements a new covenant, it changes not. As in the book of Acts the spiritual gifts received are both public and private, but their manifestation can also be private and public. Of course their operation should always be orderly and understood by the parties involved. I have operated in the word of knowledge many times without knowing when, where or concerning who. When it happens, this foreknowledge always comes true and after speaking it I am wondering, "Where did that come from?" Then I just smile and realize, the Holy spirit indwells me and sometimes he just has his way as I surrender to him. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are spiritually discerned. The carnal man can not and will not surrender to the will of the Holy Spirit, but quench it. The more time spent with God allows the Holy Spirit access to easily flow through us all. This includes fellowship with other believers, prayer, fasting, study of the scriptures and praise and worship. Oh, and let's not forget thankfulness for the good and the bad. Because our Lord always turns the bad into good for us in some way, even death. Where, oh death, where is thy sting? Where is thy victory? Selah! Joyful, Worshipper, Son of Thunder
Water baptism, with the belief that it is a requirement for salvation, would then be a 'work in the flesh' that some believe THEY must do prior to their death, adding then to the work that CHRIST FINISHED for us on the cross. Something we claim that WE DID for salvation puts us into debt with God (Romans 4:4), as we could then boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). The requirement is belief that Jesus did EVERYTHING for us, thus why HE is our savior. You can see someone DO, but you can't see their belief. Do you want to please man or God (1 Thessalonians 2:4)? Israel's requirement to prepare for the receiving of their promised King and earthly kingdom was absolutely to be water baptized, but to first have faith in who Christ was, their Messiah. They had to repent (change their mind) about who He was, and have faith in HIS NAME (John 2:23, Acts 3:16, Acts 10:43, John 3:16). Yes, Cornelius (a Gentile who believed in Christ through Israel) was also water baptized, but only because Peter believed that Israel's kingdom was still close at hand (Acts 2:38, Acts 1:7). He was doing what Israel was supposed to be doing as the called nation of God, to be a kingdom of priests and God's ambassadors to the world (Exodus 19:6). They however rejected the promised Messiah at His first coming nationally, and yet again at their additional chance offered by the holy Spirit at the stoning death of Stephen (Acts 8:1). Notice also in Acts 11:19 who they were preaching THEIR good news of their kingdom to (Jews only). The delivery of their kingdom was then not granted, as this blaspheme of the holy Spirit was their unpardonable sin. How then would the world come to the knowledge of God and salvation if it would not be through God's kingdom of priests? A NEW gospel of God's GRACE and CHRIST CRUCIFIED (1 Corinthians 15:1-4, 1 Corinthians 1:23), not the kingdom gospels found in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, was revealed to Paul for us (Gentiles, outsiders of Israel) as the result of their national rejection of Christ. Peter was not yet made aware of the gospel of God's grace given to Paul for us, from the ascended Christ in glory, at the time of the baptism of Cornelius. He then had no idea that water baptism would soon not be a requirement, at least not a requirement for Gentiles. Paul even THANKED GOD that he had not baptized anyone else other than a few (1 Corinthians 1:14), because even he didn't know better until Christ at some point later revealed to him that it was no longer required for salvation. He thanked God because this would have been something that took away from the significance of the cross and Christ's death (1 Corinthians 1:17). Paul clearly states Jesus did not send him to baptize which is HUGELY important (1 Corinthians 1:14-17). Paul emphasizes that it is the meaning of THE CROSS, the shed blood of Christ FOR US that matters, not anything that WE do in the flesh. This is what it means to place your trust/faith/belief in Christ, and not anything of yourself. We are still baptized, but it's spiritually into the body of Christ (Romans 6:3, 1 Corinthians 12:13, Galatians 3:27), when it is upon our BELIEF that we are sealed with the holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13). This is not carnally with water, which would prove nothing to man or God. It is our FAITH in Christ that He wants to see today (Romans 1:17, Romans 3:27, Romans 3:28, Romans 3:30, Romans 4:16, Galatians 3:11, Ephesians 2:8-9). Believe the gospel of your salvation (Ephesians 1:13) below: 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:" All KJV
For all of those out their that continue to mention the "Thief on the Cross", I have a question for you. Was the thief under the new law or the old law? When did the new law start? The thief was under the old law and was still subject to it. Also, Jesus has all authority on earth and heaven. If he wanted to save the thief He has the authority even if the thief was under the new law but he wasn't. When did the new law or the Church begin? It began, after Christ died and the "veil of the temp was rent". This means that the most holy place was now available to everyone. So to all of you that believe since the thief was not baptized, we are not required to be baptized. Please remember that he was under the old law. Also, if you want to use, "What if a person dies on their way to get baptized?" I have to believe that God grace and love will take care of that. It is not for me to judge a person. Please don't believe anything and everything other tell you. Read and study for yourselves and know what the Word of God says.
The thief on the cross was an example of those that repent without opportunity to have baptism, it is the exception not the rule, by grace are you saved through faith, not works, that includes baptism, which is an outward sign of an inner faith. Many Anglicans have infant baptism which like the Galatians is for them and there family until the child is of age and then they have confirmation, neither baptism as an infant or adult immersion saves. "The Biblical Basis for Infant Baptism James W. Scott Many evangelical, Bible-believing Christians believe that baptism should be reserved for those who make a profession of faith. They point to the clear teaching in the Bible that converts should be baptized (see, for example, Matt. 28:19; Acts 2:37–38; 8:12; 18:8). The baptism warranted in the Bible by precept and example, they say, is believer’s baptism. But wait a minute! The ordinary practice in baptistic churches has no more direct biblical support than the practice in churches that baptize infants. In both groups of churches, those who are converted from outside the church are baptized as new believers. That kind of “believers’ baptism” is not at issue. What is at issue is what to do with those who are born and raised within the church. Should they be baptized as infants or should their baptism be withheld until they make their own profession of faith? Neither practice has explicit biblical support. There is no example of anyone born to Christian parents being baptized in the New Testament at any age, and no precept addresses their specific situation. The time and circumstances that are appropriate for baptizing such children must be inferred from general biblical teaching concerning baptism. Let us once and for all disabuse ourselves of the notion that what goes on in baptistic churches has direct biblical warrant. It is only inferred from Scripture, as is our practice. (The question of immersion—the “mode” of baptism—is treated in an earlier article and will not be discussed here, though it is equally important in baptistic thinking.) The Baptistic View of Baptism Those who advocate believer’s baptism insist that infant baptism is not baptism at all (even if the infant is immersed). This is because they have a different understanding of baptism. In their view, baptism is principally a testimony given by the person baptized, first in word and then symbolically in water. Since an infant cannot give a testimony, a genuine infant baptism is an impossibility. However, the Bible nowhere portrays baptism as the testimony of the person baptized. Passages that link faith to baptism (such as Acts 8:12; 18:8) simply show that faith, publicly professed, is a necessary condition for baptism. Indeed, it is appropriate to include a statement of faith in the baptismal ceremony. However, a baptism itself (the application of water, with accompanying words) is a statement by God (through the church) to and about the person being baptized, not a statement by that person. The person baptized is the recipient of baptism from a minister of Jesus Christ, acting in his name (Matt. 28:18–20; cf. Acts 2:37–42; 8:16; 35–38). Once we recognize that faith is a condition for baptism, and that baptism itself is not a demonstration of faith by the person baptized, the question can be asked, Whose faith is required? As we look now at the relevant biblical teaching, we will see that the faith of parents fully suffices for the baptism of their children. Baptism and Discipleship When Jesus instituted Christian baptism, he instructed his disciples to “make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them... [and] teaching them to observe all that I commanded you” (Matt. 28:19–20). Baptism, then, begins the discipling process, which continues throughout one’s life. Everyone recognizes that the children of believers should be taught to observe the commandments of Jesus (see Eph. 6:1–3, 4). But this passage indicates that they should be baptized first. On the Day of Pentecost, those who were converted by the preaching of Peter “were baptized; and there were added [to the church] that day about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41). They then received instruction “in the apostles’ teaching” and participated fully in the life of the church (vs. 42). Again we see that baptism marks one’s entrance into the church, into the fellowship of the saints. But what about the children of these converts? Were they baptized and included in the church fellowship? Baptists want to leave children unbaptized but include them in the life of the church, but that is not the biblical pattern. Children of Abraham In order to understand the proper place of children in the church, it is necessary to understand that the church consists of those who have received the promise of spiritual blessing that was originally given to Abraham. The third chapter of Galatians spells this out carefully, concluding, “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (Gal. 3:29). This means that the covenant that God made with Abraham remains in effect today (in its “new covenant” form, of course). Otherwise, we could not be Abraham’s offspring, receiving what was promised to him and his descendants. The Abrahamic covenant (Gen. 12:1–3; 15:1–7; 17:1–14) was confirmed to his son Isaac (Gen. 26:1–5, 23–24) and his grandson Jacob (Gen. 28:10–15; cf. 48:15–16; 50:24). It continued with the nation of Israel (Ex. 2:24; 6:2–8), for whom the Law of Moses was added (as the Mosaic or “old” covenant) until the time of Christ (Gal. 3:17–19), in whom the promises given to Abraham were fulfilled (vss. 16, 22–28). After Abraham exercised faith in God’s covenant promises (Gen. 15:6), the Lord added the rite of circumcision to the covenant arrangement (Gen. 17:9–14). He received “the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he [already] had while uncircumcised” (Rom. 4:11). Because Abraham was righteous (his sins were forgiven) as the result of his faith, he was circumcised as a sign given by God that sealed that righteousness. Physical, outward circumcision signified spiritual, inward cleansing of the heart (Ezek. 44:7; Rom. 2:28–29), a spiritual reality for Abraham and all his true, believing descendants. Not only Abraham, but all males in his household, were to be circumcised. Henceforth, all males were to be circumcised as eight-day-old infants, throughout the generations of the covenant community (Gen. 17:12–13). Circumcision marked one’s entrance into the covenant community; without it, one was to be “cut off from his people” (vs. 14). This was God’s way of signifying that the promises given to faithful Abraham extended also to his children (and anyone else who came under and accepted his authority). Some of those, like his son Ishmael, left the covenant community and renounced the faith of Abraham. Others in Israel’s sorry history remained in the covenant community, but did not share the faith of Abraham. A remnant, however, by the grace of God, remained faithful. A New Covenant Sign Into the circumcised community was born Jesus, in whom the promise of spiritual blessing for all peoples of the world would be fulfilled (Gal. 3:8–9, 14). The line of physical descent from Abraham reached its climax in the person of Jesus (vss. 16, 19). After him, only spiritual descent mattered (vss. 7–9, 25–26). Converts would no longer be incorporated into the nation of Israel. Consequently, a covenant sign that focused on physical descent through the male line was no longer appropriate. A new sign of the covenant was needed—one that all people, whether Jew or Gentile, male or female, could receive. As we have seen, water baptism was instituted by Jesus as the new sign of entrance into the community of faith. Essentially, then, baptism replaced circumcision. The change from circumcision to baptism is reflected in Acts 8:12, where we read that Samaritans were being baptized, “men and women alike.” There is no reason to point out that people of both genders were now receiving the sign of the covenant, except to contrast it with the old sign of the covenant. Implied in this contrast is the fact that baptism had replaced circumcision. Spiritual Circumcision There were Judaizers in the church who wanted Gentile converts to be circumcised and to follow the whole Mosaic law. But in various epistles, Paul insisted that Christians not only had nothing to gain from circumcision and Judaism, but actually had everything to lose! Writing to the Colossians, he declared that Christians were complete in Christ and should not look to Judaism or any other religion to supplement their faith (Col. 2:8–23). His statements specifically about circumcision and baptism (vss. 11–12) deserve close attention. Christians have no need for physical circumcision, Paul indicates, because “in Him”—that is, as part of their spiritual union with Christ—they have already been “circumcised with a circumcision made without hands” (vs. 11). That is, they have already received that inward circumcision, that spiritual cleansing of the heart, that is effected by the Holy Spirit. In Romans 2:28–29, Paul refers to this as inward circumcision, “which is of the heart, by the Spirit.” This spiritual circumcision, Paul continues, consists of “the removal of the body of the flesh” (Col. 2:11). But what is “the body of the flesh”? An important textual variant here reads “the body of the sins of the flesh” (NKJV). In either case, another contrast with circumcision is in view. Physical circumcision removes a small piece of flesh. But spiritual circumcision, figuratively speaking, removes or puts off the whole body of sinful flesh, that is, “our old self,” “our body of sin” that has been “done away with” (Rom. 6:6). When the Spirit cleanses the heart, the whole weight of sin is removed, and the sinful flesh is renounced. This spiritual cleansing, Paul continues, is effected by “the circumcision of Christ” (Col. 2:11). Since this verse has all along been speaking of the spiritual experience of the sinner, “the circumcision of Christ” must likewise be something in Christian experience, not something in the life of Jesus (i.e., his death, as baptistic writers suppose). It is the spiritual circumcising that belongs to Christ—“the circumcision done by Christ” (NIV) or simply “Christian circumcision.” The Judaizers were insisting on the physical circumcision set forth in the Law of Moses; Paul was upholding the spiritual circumcision of Christ. Paul’s opponents might well have agreed that an inward cleansing was in order. However, they would have insisted that this be signified by physical circumcision. But Paul indicates that that is not necessary, for the Christian has already been “buried with Him” [that is, Christ] in baptism (Col. 2:12; cf. Rom. 6:4–5). Physical circumcision has nothing to add. A new sign, baptism, has been received. Finally, Christians have been “raised up with Him through faith in the working of God” (Col. 2:12). “We have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead... we too might walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4). What do the Judaizers have to offer in comparison with that? We are already complete in Christ (Col. 2:10)! It is part of the teaching of Colossians 2:11–12, then, that baptism has replaced circumcision for the covenant community. The Abrahamic covenant is fulfilled in the new covenant, and circumcision has been replaced by baptism as the sign and seal of the righteousness of faith. Children in the Church Under the Abrahamic covenant, those who were born within the covenant community received the sign of the covenant as infants. Because the Abrahamic covenant remains in effect, but with the sign of it having been changed, it follows that those who are born within the covenant community should be baptized as infants, just as they were formerly circumcised as infants. They should be baptized at the start of the discipling process, as outlined by Jesus. If there are any doubts as to the “fitness” of infants to be raised as disciples of Jesus, he himself dispelled them. When children were brought to Jesus by their parents for his blessing, the disciples tried to brush them aside (Mark 10:13–16). But Jesus said, “Permit the children to come to Me... for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” These children included babies (Luke 18:15); Jesus “took them in His arms and began blessing them” (Mark 10:16). Some would say that Jesus welcomed them just to teach adults a lesson (see Luke 18:17). But if infants do not qualify for the kingdom of God, then how can adults qualify by being like them? There is no lesson for adults to learn unless Jesus welcomes the infants of believers into his kingdom. That kingdom, today, is essentially the church (Matt. 16:18–19). Since people are visibly received into the church by baptism, it follows that infants are to be received into the kingdom of God by baptism. Faith and Baptism As we have seen, circumcision under the Abrahamic covenant was applied to infants on the basis of parental faith (Gen. 17; Rom. 4:11). Since we today are part of that covenant through faith in Christ, the new sign of the covenant, water baptism, should likewise be applied to infants on the basis of parental faith. That theological conclusion is confirmed by the accounts in the book of Acts which reveal that whole households were commonly baptized on the basis of the faith of the head of the household. These accounts are examined in some detail in the article “Saving Faith and Infant Baptism,” in the April 1992 issue of New Horizons, but it will be helpful to summarize the argument here. The most detailed and informative account is that of the Philippian jailer (Acts 16:30–34). “Believe in the Lord Jesus,” he was told, “and you shall be saved, you and your household” (vs. 31; cf. 11:14). Accordingly, the gospel was preached “to him together with all who were in his house” (vs. 32). In response, he “believed in God with his whole household” (vs. 34), whereupon “he was baptized, he and all his household” (vs. 33). The key word in this passage is “with.” It signifies accompaniment. When Luke says that the jailer heard the gospel and believed with his household, the implication is that everyone in his household went along with him. Any older household members, such as his wife, evidently became believers, too. But any young children went along with their father, following his lead with whatever limited understanding that they had. This crucial distinction between “with” and “and” (regrettably obscured by some translations) is clear in similar passages in Acts: 1:14; 3:4; 4:27; 5:1; 10:2; 14:13; 15:22; 21:5. In each case, “with” introduces those who follow the lead of others and join with them in their activity, however actively or passively. In Acts 21:5, for example, Paul is escorted to the harbor by all the men in the church at Tyre, “with wives and children,” which no doubt included a number of small infants. In the household baptism passages, the head of the house always believes “with” his household, but he and they are baptized. Just as the heads of households escorted Paul to the harbor “with” infants who were only passive participants, so also heads of households were baptized “with” whatever infants were in their families. Some would argue that there may not have been any infants in these households mentioned in Acts. However, household baptism was evidently a common practice in the apostolic church (see also 1 Cor. 1:16). It must have happened thousands of times, often including infants. You and Your Children Paul’s promise to the Philippian jailer, that salvation would come to his whole house if he believed in Jesus, was no different from what Peter told three thousand adult converts at Pentecost. The promise of the Holy Spirit, Peter said, was “for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself” (Acts 2:39). These converts had just been called by the Lord into fellowship with himself, and many other adults (then “far off”) would be called in the future, but the children of these converts formed a third category: they were called into fellowship with Christ together with their parents (or even merely one parent: see 1 Cor. 7:14). Such is the grace of God to the children of believers! We can only infer that the children of the first Christian converts were baptized, brought up in the Christian faith (see Eph. 6:1–4; Col. 3:20–21), and, whenever it pleased the Lord, given the Holy Spirit promised to them. Conclusion When we look carefully at the teaching of Scripture, we see that the sign of the covenant was applied to infants prior to Christ, and presumably continued to be applied to them when Jesus changed it to baptism. And when we look closely at the household baptisms described in Acts, there can be little doubt but that infants were commonly baptized in the apostolic church. They were baptized then, and they should be baptized now, on the basis of God’s promise to bless the children of believers. The faith of a parent qualifies a child to be baptized and raised as a disciple of Jesus. He welcomed them into his kingdom, and so should we. The author is the managing editor of New Horizons. He quotes the NASB. Reprinted from New Horizons, July-August 2000."
“He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned." (Mark 16:16). Sometimes the Lord just comes right out and says things. Public water baptism is our way of 'sealing the deal' with GOD and formally accepting our free gift of salvation by grace through faith alone. Scripture does make clear that the water itself has no cleansing power or special saving properties, but that the public decision to announce to the spiritual 'powers that be' which side you now serve is VERY important: "Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water." (Hebrews 10:22). "Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal of a good conscience to God—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 3:21). This 'public confession,' open declaration of faith in Christ, and full symbolic recognition of your belief in His resurrection, (which is what the symbolism of baptism actually is), is so important to Christ that I believe scripture indicates that we are actually 'stopped at heaven's gates' until we can inspire a human 'proxy' to stand in for us here on earth to be baptized for us! "Otherwise, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them?" (1 Corinthians 15:29). If it wasn't an absolute divine requirement, this inspired Christian activity would be a little silly wouldn't it? So while GOD's gift of salvation is absolutely 100% free and requires absolutely 0% works from us, it is still a legal contract we are entering with GOD through Christ's new 'law of liberty.' We have to actually 'sign it.' That's how GOD knows for sure we mean it and aren't just going along with the crowd or being pressured or responding to Him from a place less 'deep' than our own heart, which MUST be the place from which we confess our belief, (Romans 10:9-10). Public water baptism is how we do that, even if we are physically dead! I do not believe that the process of salvation can be started for the dead, but scripture does make clear that it can be completed through 'proxy' baptism for the dead by being sensitive to the strong inspirations we receive from our deceased loved one who needs to 'seal the deal' with an open 'earthly' confession of their new belief in the Lord. If this sounds bizarre or contrary to established doctrine, consider that the scripture thread above in 1 Corinthians 15:29 is clearly referring to something important and not just an 'early doctrinal misunderstanding' about life in heaven and baptism that the Holy Spirit just included for historical reasons. If I am right, I will be able to find the 'two or three' scriptural 'witnesses' (Matthew 18:16), to confirm it. That is, no word of scripture is given without that independent confirmation elsewhere in GOD's holy book. So I will supply it here for clarification. “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:19). This represents independent confirmation that the activities of inspired people here on earth can either 'restrict' or 'release' activities of persons residing in heaven. So we can logically presume that some people are 'bound' from doing things and need to be 'released' by something that we do here on earth. I believe that one of those things is 'proxy' water baptism on behalf of a resident citizen in heaven, because the 'evil authorities' who need to see it are here on earth, not in heaven. I, myself, was 'twice baptized' while not even knowing which 'loved one' was involved. It was just strong conscience. Joshua 3:15-17 contains the symbolism for 'proxy' baptism as the priests alone courageously touched the water on behalf of the people.
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