12 Feb 2009

Re-Baptism: Where Does the Slippery Slope End?

Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: Baptism, Church, Church History, Grace, Ministry, Patternism, Preaching, Restoration History, Sectarianism, Unity

Where does it end? James A. Harding opined that no human since the time of Christ had understood the “design of baptism” when she/he submitted to it. Of course by design Harding meant more than Acts 2.38 … as our recent post makes clear. All that was biblically required was submissive faith in Jesus as the Messiah the Son of God. J.W. McGarvey argued, convincingly, that God requires simply faith and repentance for biblical baptism. Because baptism “belongs to God and not man.”

Some demand that a candidate must must know her baptism is specifically to obtain “the remission of sins” at the moment of immersion, though there is not a single text that makes such a demand, including Acts 2.38.

But once we start “adding to” God’s list of requirements necessary for baptism where does the “slippery slope” end??

Barry Grider, for example, wrote in the “Forest Hill News” (vol 27.9) of the Forest Hill Church of Christ on February 27, 2001 an article called “Scriptural Baptism.” If my memory serves correctly this is the home of Memphis School of Preaching. Grider makes some pretty hefty demands on the part of the candidate.

1) Must have the correct mode. That is it must be immersion under all circumstances.

2) It must be done for its one, and only one, scriptural purpose. “If someone is baptized for some reason other than the remission of sins, such a person has not been scripturally baptized.” My emphasis.

3) Baptism must be preceded by repentance. This is applied to folks divorced and remarried “unbiblically,”they are to be refused baptism if they don’t repent. “[A]n administrator of baptism should not baptize a person who refuses to repent” that is of their “adulterous relationship.”

4) The candidate must not only be baptized for one and only reason (remission of sins) this person must “understand the concept of the New Testament church.” “A few denominational churches baptize for the remission of sins, yet the individuals baptized are not added to the one true church.”

The Slippery Slope

I scratch my head folks! I see no such demands in the NT placed on any candidate. I hate to say it but it is sectarianism in the extreme but where does the slippery slope of adding unbiblical demands end?

There are many, not a single, biblical reasons to be baptized. And how many folks out there understood the “the concept of the New Testament church” at their baptism? I would say there is misunderstanding present in Barry’s own article on this very point … he declares that the church is the kingdom and this is not so. Once we have decided to cut ourselves off of anyone else new conditions have to be added to keep us “distinct” …

So where does the hedging end? How many conditions are there before a person can respond to the “grace” of God offered in his Son Jesus Christ? How many conditions before he or she can simply believe he is the promised Messiah and be baptized into his Name? The old King James Version was right about one thing. When the Ethiopian heard the message about “Jesus,” the only condition for his being baptized by Philip was “do you believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God” (Acts 8.37, KJV).  That was the only condition, not a series of entrance exams to satisfy some sectarian agenda.

Legalism is a slippy slope.  Once you find yourself on it you find yourself erecting more and more barriers that we ourselves do not even keep.

Shalom,
Bobby Valentine

41 Responses to “Re-Baptism: Where Does the Slippery Slope End?”

  1. Chris Gallagher Says:

    Interesting thoughts. I have dealt with situations of re-baptism before and always find out it depends on each person and the circumstances.

    Great thoughts!

  2. Frank Bellizzi Says:

    Bobby, the last time I was at Freed-Hardeman, I heard a man say–in public and without being questioned that I know of–that members of the Independent Christian Churches did not have valid baptisms because they had been baptized into the wrong system!

  3. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:

    Chris,

    I think “re” baptism can be justified in only the rarest of cases. Baptism is NOT about what you or I know or understand. Baptism is about what God has done and is doing. It is God’s means of grace … not ours. You cannot “obey” a promise or a blessing. You can only receive it. Alexander Campbell wrote to the Baptist Andrew Broaddus,

    “Baptism is no where proposed as an expiatory rite. He that regards it as such–he who goes to the water as a Jew to the altar, and is baptized MERELY {sic} to obtain the remission of sins, mistakes the whole matter”

    That quote directly address #2 in the post. But Campbell says more.

    “I know some will say that the cadidates which they immersed a second time did not rightly understand baptism the first time. Well, I am persuaded they did not understand it the second time; and shall they be baptized a third time!” (“Rebaptism” MH vol 2#11 {November 1831}, 481-485 for the whole article)

    So under what condition would AC say a “rebaptism” is justified??

    “Let me once more say, that the only thing that can justify reimmersion into the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, is a confession on the part of the candidate that he did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God–that he died for our sins, was buried, and rose again the third day, at the time of the first immersion–that he now BELIEVS {sic} the testimony of the Apostles concerning him, and desires to be buried and rise with Christ in faith of a resurrection to eternal life. The instant that re-baptism is preached and practised on any other ground than that now stated–such as deficient knowledge, weak faith, a change of views–then have we contradicted in some way and made void the word of the Lord–“He who will believe and be immersed shall be saved”–then have we abandoned the principles of the present reformation…” (“Re-Immersion and Brother Thomas” MH [Feb 1836], 63)

    Campbell was pretty adamant about rebaptism. It is a denial of the word of God and a denial of the principles of the reformation. Or so AC thought.

    Shalom,
    Bobby Valentine

  4. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:

    Frank,

    That is one of the saddest things I can imagine hearing. But it does not surprise me.

    May the Lord have mercy upon us.

    Seeking Shalom,
    Bobby V

  5. Chuck Webster Says:

    Interesting thoughts, Bobby. Would you agree with Barry’s first point (i.e., the “mode”)? I’m assuming you believe that a person who had submitted to sprinkling or pouring as a believer in Christ would need to be immersed, but I couldn’t tell from your post.

    Thanks!

  6. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:

    Chuck,

    I believe that baptism is immersion. For those who have misunderstood that point are not necessarily lost. I do not believe that Martin Luther or John Newton are consigned to hell because they were not immersed. But I do believe that norma/normative biblical baptism is the immersion of adults in the name of Jesus.

    Now do you believe that a person has to understand the “concept of the New Testament church” to be biblically baptized? Who knew that when baptized? There are plenty who still don’t many years later. Some still, mistakinly, conflate the kingdom and the church (as does Barry himself) … does this undo their (or his!) baptism?

    Where does the slippery slope of sectarianism end? Who gave him or anyone else to add to the conditions that God made?

    Shalom,
    Bobby Valentine

  7. Anonymous Says:

    It does not surprise me that there are some individuals who do not believe independant Christian Churches baptize people into the proper system, but this begs the question, what is the proper system?

    I was baptized in the Independant Chriatian Churches(i.e., ICC). In the process leading up to my baptism, I knew that I was a sinner, I repented in my heart to God, I went forward before the congregation and confessed that Jesus was the Christ The Son of the living God , where upon I was baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.

    Since then I have learned that my sins have been forgiven, The old man that I was had been buried, I had, of my own free will, put on Christ, and I can stand before God in good conscience,because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ of which I had an opportunity to participate in through baptism.

    I don’t know what system I need to be a part of. I did not join a church, and my bible assures me that it was God Himself that added me to His church(cf., Acts 2:41).

    I hope that we can continue to grow beyond this ignorance and unite in Christ to be the people He expects us to be- ONE!

    Respectfully,
    BrianN

    Major Kudos To Frank and Bobby’s response.

  8. wjcsydney Says:

    Bobby, it’s this kind of sectarian thinking that I encountered on my journey to baptism and which actually kept me from baptism for a while. How was I going to “get it right”? If I was baptised with faulty understanding, then I was lost, I was told. While I didn’t believe that, it did hinder me from pursuing baptism, as I could not identify with that mindset. Praise God I found people who taught otherwise!

  9. JoeBama Says:

    The baptism of the New Testament is not for just any reason, but it is “in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins”. (Acts 2:38)

    The phrase “in the name of Jesus Christ” means according to his authority. To do something according to his authority, you must know what he authorized (instructed) .

    Jesus said, “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved.” (Mark 16:16)

    Many say that someone believes and is saved and then should be baptized. This is not the same thing our Lord authorized. It is not in the same order. This is not baptism “in the name of Jesus Christ”.

    What would Jesus have said if he had meant, “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved.” Our Lord placed baptism as a requirement for salvation.

    To be baptized for other reasons (because you believe you are already saved, to join a church, etc.) is to follow a man-made doctrine. This is to follow the authority of men and not being baptized in the name of Christ.

    Those “teaching as doctrine the commandments of men” have a form of worship that is “vain” or useless in God’s eyes. (Matthew 15:9)

    Let’s look again at what Jesus authorized. To do something in his name, one must know what he taught.

    In Luke 24:47, Jesus said, “repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His (Christ’s) name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”

    In Acts 2, verse 5 said men were gathered in Jerusalem from all nations. Verse 38 says that Peter told them to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of sins. This is exactly as Christ had instructed.

    Christ placed baptism as part of the plan of salvation. How can we say that a person can be scripturally baptized and saved if he has not been taught God’s plan for redeeming man – including baptism into Christ?

    I believe the scriptures show that every convert in the book of Acts understood the role of baptism in salvation. This explains why none of them ate, drank or slept until they had been baptized. It was always immediate!

    Joe Dukes

  10. Steve Puckett Says:

    Good thoughts bro and some good discussion. My thoughts have been for quite some time that God does what he does at baptism whether a candidate knows all the details or not. Just because someone does not know all the blessings or benefits association with baptism does not mean that God withholds them.

    “The” single most distinguishing mark of those who come to God seeking his forgiveness is the condition of the heart. Luke 18:9-14 stands as a convicting testimony to anyone who comes to the table thinking their “righteous” system will win them God’s favor while condemning others.

    The standard by which we will be judged is not whether we understood baptism properly or were baptized in the correct mode, but God’s grace through Jesus at the cross. At judgment the variations in belief systems of those coming before God will be many, but the same criteria will judge them all who have been saved by grace through faith–the merciful grace of God.

    You are totally right about the slippery slope . . . when false brothers “spy out our liberty which we have in Christ” only damnable gospels with sectarian barbs come as a result–Galatians 1–2. Our own restoration movement is a testimony to this fact

    Peace.

  11. Frank Bellizzi Says:

    Brother Joe,

    You didn’t finish Acts 2:38.

    On any number of occasions Jimmy Allen has asked members of the Churches of Christ if they understood at the time of their baptism that they received the Holy Spirit. Many, often the majority, will indicate that this was not their understanding.

    The point makes itself. If not knowing the purposes of baptism invalidates baptism, then folks in the Churches of Christ who didn’t understand about the gift of the Spirit were never truly baptized, were they? According to McGary-ite re-baptism standards, many members of the Churches of Christ (perhaps the majority) do not have valid baptisms.

  12. johnmarkhicks Says:

    That is a long way from the original Restoration Plea that a simple confession that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God is sufficient for baptism. I think it so sad, my friend.

    There is no demand to understand baptism in the New Testament but only to trust in the work of God when we are baptized.

  13. Mitchell Says:

    Bobby,

    I first encountered the idea of the “proper understanding of the church” as a requirement for baptism when I was in my early 20s and before I started preaching. A retired minister I knew was studying with a man for about a month. This man had been attending church with his mother for years. I inquired how the study was going and was told, Oh he thinks he is ready to be baptized but he doesn’t know enough about the church yet to be baptized. I was floored to say the very least! I then began to question whether he believed my baptism was valid because I was only eleven when I was baptized and am quite sure this man knew more about the church than I did at that time.

    Without rambling any more, Great post and as always you cause people to think and refocus. So many people are surprised to learn that re-baptism is a relatively new teaching.

  14. Ben Overby Says:

    This issue was perhaps the single greatest challenge to my faith for several years. I grappled with it. It was important for me to know who was “in” and who was “out.” Reducing salvation to a fistful of steps culminating in a particular act performed in a particular way for only a particular reason was simple and mathmatic. It made it easy to know who was in and who was out and since I was in it was in my self-interest to keep the system pure. After all if everyone else was in then wouldn’t I lose worth, just like the Jews of old who were having their identity threatened when “in” no longer meant simply eating the right things or enduring a sharp blade to the penis?

    This issue strikes at the heart of our identity. It isn’t just about the theoloigical or doctrinal arguments. It’s about social identity and worldviews. One needs a healthy appetite for truth, and faithfulness to our King, as the anticedent to all that follows. We are easily blinded by a subconscious appetite for adherence to the truth of our “system,” and faithfulness to our social network. If your anticedent changes (finally and with much pain), you get different answers and you become as useful to the sectarian group as foreskin to a Jewish penis. You will find yourself cut off and thrown away like so much trash.

    This is an electric subject and will produce light in some and fry others. I’ve experienced my share of both.

    Christ is King. Faith in Him is the one unifying theme of the whole gospel.

    Final thought. Remember the little rhyme, “This is the church, this is the steeple, open the door and see all the people;” you know, the one where you open your hands and see all the fingers sticking up and wiggling around. It looks like we’ve stuck our hands in a sausage grinder and then attempted the rhyme. The people who are left are either victimized by the saw-blades, or those who operate the machine and it’s a mangled mess. If little kids learning the rhyme could see the horror of what’s transpired summed up in the fingers, chances are they’d not sleep well for many nights! It has been brutal.

    ben
    seca.pm@gmail.com

  15. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:

    Joe,

    Harding deconstructs your argument quite effectively. You can read his views just a few posts down from this current one.

    The folks in Acts 2 are commanded to “repent” and “be baptized.” That is what THEY do (human side to use the lingo). “Remission of sins” and “gift of the Spirit” is what GOD does (the divine side to use the lingo). Your argument, in my opinion, simply cannot be sustained.

    Shalom,
    Bobby Valentine

  16. kingdomseeking Says:

    It is amazing how the social-religous context of the late 19th and 20th century has moved us to unknowingly take a phrase from one particular verse and remove it from its historical and canonical context, attach new meanings to that phrase, reinsert that prase back into scripture with the new meanings attached, and then read that verse (and others like it) with those new meanings as if those new meaning were the original intent. Though this did not happen for any malicious reasons, it has produced a sickness called secterianism. It is a sickness that at best, cutts us off from the larger body of Christ. But in its worst form, that sickness cutts one off from the Living God because the Living God is one who saves by grace through faith and the god of this sort of secterian sickness is a god whose salvation is based on what a person is able to know and do rather than what God does.

    What ever happened to saying “I believe” and then being baptized trusting in God to do even what we cannot begin to imagine in its fullness?

    I do not know what the entire cure for such a sickness as this sort of secterianism is. Some people want to be cured and other enjoy being sick. But I do know that I still hear (and read) a lot of discussion on baptism that speaks about what “we” do. We need to recover the talk about what “God” is doing in baptism, since in Acts 2.38 (as well as passages like Rom 6.3-4, Gal 3.38) our part in baptism is in the passive tense which means the work of baptism is not ours but Gods. I am thankful that the book “Down to the River to Pray” speaks of baptism as God’s work rather than ours. This is a very huge step forward in the right direction. We preachers and teachers in the local church need to pay careful attention to the language we use regarding baptism.

    Thanks for this post and also to everyone for the great discussion.

    Grace and peace,

    Rex

  17. Anonymous Says:

    Some viewpoints cannot allow baptism to be valid based upon a simple confession and submission.

    Why?

    Because that would mean they/we are no longer the only saved group of people.

    It would let in the Baptists, the Christian church, lots of pentecostals and who knows who else!

    We may have too much vested in the idea that there is only one church to allow for saved people any where else.

    Of course, this is inconsistent with our practice. We allow for saved people to be in non-institutional churches, in churches with praise teams, and more.

    Perhaps it is surprising that a requirement has not been introduced to require a candidate for baptism to understand the argument from silence.

  18. JoeBama Says:

    Show me a Biblical example of someone who was baptized and did not know the purpose of baptism.

    The only one I can think of is in Acts 19:1-5 and when they were taught properly, they were baptized again. When they were taught properly, they obeyed properly. This time they were baptized “in the name of Jesus Christ”.

    It is impossible for someone to be taught wrong to obey properly. You cannot obey if you have not been taught it.

    The baptism Jesus commanded is “into (Greek “eis”) the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:20), “unto the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38).

    How can you obey Jesus who clearly taught the necessity of baptism for salvation if you believe it is for something else? If you are baptized for another reason, you are following the doctrine of someone else. Jesus is “the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him.” (Hebrews 5:9)

    I am not saying that a person must know everything about the Bible before they can become a Christian, but before they become a Christian they must know how one becomes a Christian. The Gospel of Christ is the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. (1 Cor. 15:1-4) Part of teaching of that gospel must be the teaching of how one contacts that death where the saving blood was shed, and how your sins are washed away. (Romans 6:3-4, Acts 22:16)

    Can someone obey the plan if they don’t know it? I think not.

    If I am wrong, show me the Biblical example.

    Joe

  19. ben Says:

    Joe,

    The thing a person needs to know is not how to become a “Christian” but how to become a follower of Christ. Obviously the two don’t necessarily mean the same thing any longer. The one thing Jesus always emphasized was trust, or trusting obedience. If a person learned that God had come in the flesh inviting men out of a broken life and into a new Adam-like saved life, and that person heard Paul say that we are to be baptized into Christ (or out of the Adam identity and into the new Adam identity), and such a person was immediately baptized, are you seriously suggesting that he wouldn’t know enough for his baptism to be valid?

    Man’s plan (the 5 step invention) is simply a way for the gatekeepers to stand at the door of the kingdom, refusing to go in, and refusing others entrance as well.

    Ben Overby
    http://hopefulliving.wordpress.com
    (new blog)

  20. Anonymous Says:

    I would recommend Jimmy Allen’s book-“Rebaptism”. Excellent study that highlights much of what many Restoration Movement leaders believed.

  21. Keith Brenton Says:

    Discussions like these always seem to focus on baptism as the only thing God wants for us.

    Did Jesus not also counsel us to sell our possessions and give to the poor (Luke 12:33)? to turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39)? to not judge others (Luke 6:37)?

    Why do we insist that baptism is essential to our salvation, yet feel free to ignore other instructions Jesus gave us to help us work out our own salvation with fear and trembling – recognizing that God is at work in us (Philippians 2:12-3)?

  22. JoeBama Says:

    Show me a Biblical example of someone who was baptized and did not know the purpose of baptism.

    Ben,

    If Paul had told them to be “baptized into Christ” then they would have known that baptism was involved in moving from being out of Christ to being “in Christ”.

    You said that Jesus emphasized “trusting obedience”. That’s true. In fact, it is a focal point of my reasoning. If “trusting obedience” is required for salvation, you must know what is commanded, or else there is no way you can obey it.

    Keith,

    We all realize that baptism is not the only thing required to become a Christian, or to live faithfully. We all know faith, godly living, etc. are necessary. There is no dispute there, but there is apparently a dispute about if someone must be baptized as Christ has instructed in order to be saved.

    Again, if anyone after the Great Commission was ever saved without being taught that they should be baptized for the remission of sins and their obeying that command, show me the Biblical example!

    Joe

  23. Keith Brenton Says:

    Joe – seriously – show me an example in scripture, post-Pentecost, where any specific person is explicitly described as “saved.” Baptized or not.

  24. kingdomseeking Says:

    Joe,

    We all agree on the necessity of trusting obedience (faith) in the role of salvation (God’s grace). The question is whether we trust in God to do what he promises even if we do not understand when or how, or do we trust in our intellectual ability to get it all right? The former view places the burden of salvation upon God whereas the later view places the burden on the human intellect. The problem is that in scripture, salvation is always portrayed as God’s work, not human work nor a co-operative effort between God and man.

    Further, if salvation is dependent upon our ability to understand Acts 2.38 (or any other passage) correctly, then what if we do have it wrong? Though I am pre convinced that the little preposition “eis” should be understood as anticipating or looking forward to the remission of sins rather understanding forgiveness as something already received, humility MUST move us to acknowledge that we could possibly be wrong either in part or in whole. So, my question is what if we are wrong? Those who insist that baptism depends upon being intellectually correct better hope they are not wrong or else, according to their argument, they too are lost.

    Well, we may not agree with each other after this post discussion but I do appreciate the gracious manner in which you have expressed your disagreement. I hope my objection to your view will come off with the same spirit of Christian love as you have showed.

    Grace and peace,

    K. Rex Butts

  25. ben overby Says:

    Joe,

    You want an example of someone being baptized who didn’t know the purpose. Will you tell us what is THE purpose? There are all sorts of motivations for baptism, but is any motive better than simply to obey Jesus even if one doesn’t understand everything you understand about the act? There is no THE purpose. There are several purposes.

    BTW, I was about to baptize a young soldier at Ft. Benning a few years ago. The young man expressed his excitement by indicating that he couldn’t wait to get home, to tell his grandma about his baptism, and to visit church with her. One of the several conservative men with me asked “which church.” The young man indicated it was a baptist church. Those guys put the breaks on, starting lecturing the fellow, questioning if he knew enough to be baptized. Obviously I baptized the guy. The next week the men brought copies of “Why I’m a Member of the Churches of Christ,” insisting that men who wanted to be baptized should be forced to study the book and know the nature of the “one true church.”

    I thought about it for about 2 seconds before banishing those men from ever studying with any of soldiers again. They were welcome in the assembly, but they weren’t welcome to peel back the pages of their bible in order to yank passages out of context and force trusting believers to adhere to their sectarian garbage.

    There is one king and one baptism. The thing that validates baptism is trust, not the right answer to foolish questions.

    ben overby

  26. kingdomseeking Says:

    Ben,

    I had a similar experience at the in a local jail ministry. Believing people needed to hear who Jesus is, I wanted to read through the gospels with them. Someone else wanted to insist that I teach them lessons from the same exact book you mentioned so that when they left jail they would know which local church they should attend. I refused, insisting that if I would teach them who Jesus is and win them to Jesus then they would be the right church (I had an undergraduate prof. who always said “what we win them with is what we win them too”). I persisted and was allowed to continue in the ministry, reading through the gospels with them.

    Grace and peace,

    Rex

  27. Frank Bellizzi Says:

    Once again, Brother Joe, you should read the rest of the text. In Acts 19, when people stood in need of being baptized “right,” even before that baptism, Luke refers to them as “disciples” (Acts 19:1) which is remarkable since these people didn’t have any “sort” of Christian baptism at the time. What was defective about their baptism was not that they had been baptized into Christ “wrong.” They had not received Christian baptism at all, which is a vast difference from so-called rebaptism today.

  28. JoeBama Says:

    I mentioned those in Acts 19 who were baptized under the wrong authority and then they were taught correctly so they were then baptized correctly.

    One person correctly pointed out that they were called “disciples” before they were “baptized in the name of Jesus Christ”.

    My question is this. They were disciples, but disciples of whom?

    Jesus said, ““If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.” (John 8:31)

    These people, however, were not baptized according to the instructions of Christ. Instead they had been baptized according to “John’s baptism”.

    They were following the word of John, therefore they were John’s disciples. They had been baptized according to John’s doctrine at a time when John’s baptism was no longer valid. The baptism of the Great Commission (Mark 16:16) is the “one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5).

    Does salvation come through obedience to John the Baptist? Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)

    Can we be saved by following the doctrine of men? (See Matthew 15:9 and Hebrews 5:9) Jesus has “all authority” and the apostles were told to teach people to observe all that He had commanded. (Matthew 28:18-20)

    If we are following a man’s doctrine, then we are following his authority and Christ no longer has “all authority” in our lives.

    Can we be saved by following men or by following Christ?

    Jesus placed baptism as part of His plan of salvation. He said, “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved.”

    Basic grammar shows that “shall be” places “saved” after belief and baptism. Also the conjunction “and” joins the verbs “believes” and “is baptized” together. In a statement where two verbs are joined with “and”, both must be true for the statement to be true.

    Some religions place baptism after salvation. This is not what Jesus said. It is in the wrong order.

    What would Jesus have said if he had meant, ““He that believes and is baptized shall be saved.”

    Also, baptism is by immersion. If someone is not immersed, they have not been baptized.

    The Bible describes baptism and going down into and coming up out of the water. (Matthew 3:16-17, Acts 8:38-39) It requires “much water” (John 3:23) and it is a burial (Romans 6:3-4).

    Jesus said, “He that believes and is immersed…” The Greek word He used means to be immersed.

    Again, are we saved by following men or by following Christ?

    This is not having to know everything about the church or being a Bible scholar before becoming a Christian, but I believe a person must know that Jesus is the way to salvation. That He died, was buried, and rose again so that we could be saved.

    How can you tell someone the gospel (good news) that Jesus came to save them without telling them how He directed the salvation could be received? The plan of salvation is an integral part of preaching Jesus.

    When Jesus was preached to the eunuch, it obviously included teaching about baptism. When Jesus was preached to the jailor, he was baptized immediately, even though it was the middle of the night. Preaching about baptism is part of “preaching Jesus” and His gospel.

    Can a person be saved if he did not know about Jesus?

    Joe

  29. kingdomseeking Says:

    Joe,

    In Acts 19, Paul (and Luke, as the author) obviously recognized the 12 as disciples (one of Luke’s chosen words to ID those who belong to Jesus) of Jesus or else I am quite sure Paul would have began by teaching them who Jesus of Nazareth was, why he had died, that he was raised, and why he was the Lord and Messiah.

    Grace and peace,

    Rex

  30. JoeBama Says:

    It seems like this discussion boils down to this; can a person be saved in a state of ignorance about the plan of salvation that was established by Jesus?

    You will notice in Romans 10:1-3 there were some who were ignorant, but they still had a “zeal for God”. What was their condition? Paul said his prayer and hearts desire for them is that they might be saved. Zeal and desire alone are not sufficient.

    In John 4:24, Jesus said, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” Our worship must be spiritual, but it must also be according to truth.

    Paul spoke to some who were ignorantly worshiping “the unknown god”. In this context, Paul told them, “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent.” (Acts 17:30) Their ignorance was not a sufficient excuse.

    If people could be saved in a state of ignorance, then we would be doing them a disservice by teaching them.

    Notice the following that was written by Garland Elkins in his tract, “Come and See”.

    DOES HONESTY MAKE ERROR TRUTH?

    Since early childhood I have heard people say that it does not make any difference what we believe, that if we are honest and sincere about it, God will save us anyway. Have you ever made such a statement? Most likely you have heard your preacher say the same thing. If he has, ask him for the verse in the Bible. You may have made this kind of statement because you have heard preachers make it, and naturally you thought it must be so. But if your preacher has been making it, he must have some reason for it since he claims to be following and teaching the Bible. He should make such statements providing the Bible says so. And if the Bible does say so, he will know where to find it. So ask him to give you the book, chapter, and verse.
    Notice this scripture from II Thess. 2:11-12: “And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” This indeed is a very plain statement. It positively says that some would “believe a lie.” Certainly there is a vast difference between believing a lie and believing the truth. The truth is recorded in the word of God. If it is not taught in the word of God, it must be a lie.
    Does it make any difference which of these one believes? The general idea is that it does not matter, provided one is sincere. Of course, he could not believe anything unless he is sincere. A person might pretend to believe a thing and be insincere about it. But if he actually believes it, he must be sincere. So the Bible speaks of men who are sincere, for it actually says they will “believe a lie.” But what of their sincerity? Will that atone for their mistake? Will God save them anyway, just because they are honest about it? Is that what the Bible said? No, that is not the way it reads at all.
    Observe verse 12 again: “That they all might be damned who believed not the truth.” Notice the word “damned.” This means the very opposite of “saved.” Yet we are told that certain men would be damned. But who were to be damned? All those who believed a lie or believed not the truth. It does make quite a difference what a person believes! For if one is to be saved, he must believe the truth. To believe something else will result in damnation – regardless of how sincere a person might be.
    In II Timothy 2:5 we read this: “And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.” When people say it makes no difference what we believe, they often add: “We are all striving for the same place anyway.” And evidently this is true. We are striving to reach heaven at last. But is striving the only thing that is necessary in order to reach that glorious reward? This is all that would be necessary if it makes no difference what we believe.
    The Bible continues to tell us that striving alone is not sufficient – that a man may strive and still not be crowned, except he strive lawfully. The crowning referred to is the eternal reward in heaven – the crown of glory that fadeth not away. But yet a man may strive and still fail to receive the crown. Why? Because he may not strive lawfully. No person can reach that crown unless he strives lawfully! What does it mean to strive lawfully? It means to strive according to the law of the Lord. So if we strive contrary to that law we will not be crowned, regardless of how sincere we may be.
    The law of the Lord is revealed in the New Testament. If we strive to go to heaven by some other way, we are not striving lawfully, and will not reach the destination we desire. These truths in the Bible clearly indicate that it does make a difference what a person believes and practices in religion.

  31. JoeBama Says:

    I was reviewing this blog and I noticed I had not answered a question that was posed by Keith.

    He said, “show me an example in the scripture, post-Pentecost, where any specific person is explicity described as “saved”.”

    The example that comes to mind is Acts 2:47. This verse says, “And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” (NKJV)

    You might also consider Acts 16:31, Romans 5:9, Romans 8:24, 1 Cor 15:2, Eph. 2:5. and Eph 2:8 to name a few.

    I apologize, I did not intentionally ignore the question.

    Joe

  32. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:

    Joe,

    First a minor point. The quote from the NKJV is faulty. The word “church” is part of the original text as written by Luke.

    Second the issue is not whether a person is described as “saved” or not. At least not to me. I happen to believe one is saved through faith expressed in baptism. The issue is there is no teaching in the NT that implies that a person has to grasp the doctrine of baptism when they express that faith in obedient faith. God honors that faith. A person can and does grow in understanding … that does not imply their baptism was ineffective.

    Shalom,
    Bobby Valentine

  33. JoeBama Says:

    This is off topic, but while the Nestle-United Bible Societies Text does not have “church” in Acts 2:47, I thought there was other evidence that it should be there, including other manuscripts and Latin versions dating earlier than the N-U. but I will have to study further.

    Now, back to the topic of the article.

    As I have stated earlier, I believe that the evidence shows the converts in Acts knew that baptism was part of the plan of salvation, and therefore, they knew it was necessary for salvation.

    Among this evidence is verses where they were specifically told it was “for the remission of sins” and the fact that every convert was baptized immediately.

    If you have evidence or examples where they may not have known, I will surely consider it!

    In any case, this discussion has prompted additional study on the points that have been made.

    Also, the reason I mentioned the verses about people being “saved” is I was specifically asked that.

    Instead of saying someone is “saved” or “lost”, it may be more appropriate to say they are in a saved / lost condition (meaning that if they died or the Lord returned right now, that would be their state).

    I hope you have given some thought to the post I made about being sincere is not enough. Someone may be sincere about what they believe, but still lost. (see the scriptures previously referenced.)

    Thank you again for your thought provoking comments.

    Joe

  34. Keith Brenton Says:

    Apparently, my great-great grandfather Alfred Ellmore was one of the fellows who insisted that folks be re-baptized if not immersed for the forgiveness of sins – and wrote about it in the Gospel Advocate (March 21, 1901).

    So forgive me for returning to this post; I’ve got some bad karma vining up my family tree.

    Joe, not everyone will ever fully grasp what baptism means and is and does. How much does one have to understand in order to accept and be immersed in God’s grace? Did everyone at Pentecost fully comprehend it? Did they have a Pauline concept of salvific baptism before he wrote about it or preached about it or was even baptized himself?

    Why do we feel like we have to determine and enforce some lowest common denominator understanding of it? How can we be certain that God condemns those who just don’t fully “get” it? Folks with Down Syndrome, for instance; or Alzheimer’s Disease; or just slow minds like mine.

    ‘Cause I don’t understand the need to do that.

    Do we not trust God to be just, merciful, fair and good?

  35. Tom Meade Says:

    Food for thought
    Acts 2: 36-38
    “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” 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. (NKJV)
    1Peter 3:21 ¶ There is also an antitype which now saves us–baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer (appeal, pledge, interrogation, search- etc) of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, (NKJV)
    From the above scriptures one could know that guilt of sin gives you a bad conscience being separated from God, by sin, Isa 59:1-2.
    God gave us our conscience when He created us, and it sure will keep you awake all night if it is guilty of something that you know is truly wrong, in your life. When we toss & turn all night because we are guilty as one who is lost in sin is guilty, we may ask “what shall I do?” Like they had done in Acts 2:37 when those who were cut or pricked in their hearts from being guilty of their part in crucifying Christ.
    Now, this is a prime example that if one has a good conscience after baptism then it should be easy to figure out that they must have had a bad conscience before baptism like those in Acts 2:37 had had, they wanted to know how to correct it. Ah, maybe they knew something before baptism, hmmm, I wonder if they knew they were lost and needed to repent of their sins and have them washed away like in Acts 8:38; 22:16? Having guilt removed from our lives is surly an answer to a good conscience. I hope this helps and makes sense, I truly do.

    Because He Lives!

  36. Josh Says:

    This is how I see it. I don’t know everything there is to know about how my truck works. I just have faith that when I get in and turn they key that it will take me where I need to go. The same goes for baptism. If we approach the font with an obedient faith, it will get us where we need to go. That’s what baptism is, a key to start the vehicle, if you will.

  37. Wes Woodell Says:

    I see one demand based upon 1 Peter 3:21 – a person must be committing their life to Jesus Christ.

    That’s it.

  38. Russ Hicks Says:

    Funny how a baptized believer apparently isn’t allowed to be a babe in Christ, not even while still wet!

  39. Veto F. Roley Says:

    I strongly believe that all Christians should be baptized. Moreover, I believe that baptism is the marker point of our entry into covenant with God through the blood of Jesus shed on the cross. I believe this is one of the reasons God gave us baptism, as a grace to orient ourselves back to Him when we have went astray in our walk with Him. If we know where we started, we can, with His Spirit’s assistance, find our back to the path that we need to travel with Him.

    However, I also believe that we don’t need a full understanding of baptism, even of faith or the cross or our sin or our commitment to following God or a multitude of other items concerning our salvation, at the point of baptism in order to enter covenant with God through the cross – and I prefer the language of “entering covenant” rather than “saved/unsaved”. To say that we must have a full understanding of the purposes of baptism in order for it to be valid is going way beyond the Text. To single out one purpose of baptism and hold that purpose up as superior of all other purposes, likewise, is going beyond the Text and puts us in God’s seat determining which of God’s purposes is of primary importance and which are of minor importance. Moreover, even with the Bible’s strong teaching, and it is strong teaching, on baptism, I believe that we can not say Biblically that someone who is not baptized, but whose life exhibits the fruit of the Spirit and whose life exhibits the mark(s) of the Holy Spirit and who has shown his faith in many ways, is not in covenant with God. The Bible is completely silent about the believer who is unbaptized. This may be because the apostles were not faced with non-baptized believers, for all who believed were immediately baptized, with the separation between baptism and salvation taking place during the Reformation. However, if God is omniscient, both in subject knowledge and in future events, then there is no reason that He could not have had Paul, Peter, John, the Hebrews’ writer or another of the New Covenant scribes put in a sentence or two condemning a believer who would be in covenant without baptism. But there is, for whatever reason we may think of, no condemnation of the believer who is not baptized.

    I can tell you, Biblically, that without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). We not only have the positive command to believe in God in order to be saved, but we have, Biblically, the negative consequence, that is unless we have faith we can not please God. Likewise Jesus Himself tells us that if we don’t repent of our rebellion and sins against God and take His peace treaty that He will soon offer on the cross, we will perish (Luke 13:5). Again, there is not only a positive command to repent, but we also have the negative consequences of not repenting spelled out to us. Further, Jesus not only tells us that we must confess Him on earth, but He also says that if we deny Him that He will deny us in heaven (Matt. 10:32-33). And we know from 1 John 2:3-6 that if we don’t keep God’s commandments then we lie when we say we are in covenant with Him and the Truth is not with us. Aside from the fact that these four items are things we do both in entering covenant with Him and in continuing in covenant with Him, baptism is unique from these four items in that there is nothing in the Text that gives a negative consequence to the believer who is not baptized. And, I think this is significant.

    If we are going to be a people who speak as the Bible speaks and who are silent on those things that God has chosen silent about, then we need to understand that God is silent on those who believe and are not baptized. We continue to teach baptism and continue to impress on others the importance of baptism. I don’t believe we have the right to say that someone’s baptism is not right because they were not baptized for what we believe to be the most important reason for baptism. We don’t have that right because we really don’t have the right, Biblically, to say anything about the relationship the unbaptized believer…

  40. Anonymous Says:

    Bobby, I am interested to hear what you think on something. I’ve been reading through several of your posts on rebaptism and so far two things have popped up over and over: repentance and faith in Christ.
    That said, here’s my question: Suppose a person raised in the church is baptized as a child. They chose to be baptized and at the time they believed that Jesus is the Son of God and that He died and rose to life again. While they did not know much for sure, they did understand that baptism was a step they eventually needed to take. Howevever, assume that they did not have an understanding of repentance. By this I do not mean repentance connected to baptism, but repentance in general. They understood that there was right and wrong and had been taught to do right, but did not understand their personal need to be forgiven of wrong. They came to these conclusions later, but did not understand them at the time. Do you think that rebaptism is necessary in such an instance? Thanks.

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