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Is Baptism A Work?

baptism a work

Is baptism a work which results in salvation? The answer is an emphatic “YES!” Some of you are no doubt about to die of apoplexy after reading the last sentence. Please read on to see why I’d say this. 

Most Protestants denounce the idea of a works based salvation and they are right to take this position. In fact, there are no works or tasks that we can perform that will put God in debt to us. Simply put, there is nothing we can do on our own (including baptism) which will fix our sin problem. God had to fix this problem for us and it is the reason Jesus had to die (1 Tim 1:15, Heb 9:28). 

Ideas inherited from the Reformers

Much modern Protestant thought has been inherited from the 16th century reformers. These men were reacting to the doctrinal positions of the Catholic Church and in their zeal to distance themselves from anything that might resemble “earned salvation,” they lumped baptism into the works category. 

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Posted by Eddie Lawrence in Baptism

Baptism Matters

Baptism matters

Baptism matters because we humans need something visible and tangible to cement in our minds that God’s promises are true. Consider Abram in Genesis 15. God had promised him a child and in Abram’s extreme old age God speaks to Abram to reconfirm His intentions. He also reiterated the land promise, but Abram asked, “LORD, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?” (Gen. 15:8 NIV)  In response, God made a blood covenant with Abram (vv. 15-18) to reassure him. 

Humans need assurance

You see, we humans need assurance. We believe the gospel and repent, but God knows that like Abram, we need a sign or rite to solidify the promises in our minds. And, the rite changes everything; people need rituals. The following illustration by Jay Guin helps to understand the process of becoming a Christian.

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Posted by Eddie Lawrence in Baptism

Why Was The Spirit Not Given At Baptism?, Part 2

baptism

In the last post we looked at two exceptions in the book of Acts where the Spirit’s indwelling did not conincide with baptism. The story of the twelve disciples in Ephesus is a head scratcher. No matter your view of baptism and the indwelling of the Spirit, it poses an interesting interpretive challenge.

1 While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples 2 and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied. 4 Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. 7 There were about twelve men in all.  (Acts 19:1-7 NIV)

Paul had these men re-immersed because there was something about their first baptism that was evidently deficient. We can only speculate about why Paul thought they needed to be baptized again. I suggest that it had to do with their lack of knowledge about Jesus. 

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Posted by Eddie Lawrence in Baptism

Why Was The Spirit Not Given At Baptism?, Part 1

Spirit

In the accounts of conversion recorded by Luke in the book of Acts, there are three times when receiving the Spirit did not coincide with immersion. These were the Samaritans, Cornelius and his household, and the twelve disciples in Ephesus. This post will focus on the first two.

The Samaritans

“14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 8:14–17 ESV)

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Posted by Eddie Lawrence in Baptism

Baptism: Calling On His Name

calling on his name

Ananias said to Saul, “And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name” (Acts 22:16 ESV). What does it mean to “call on His name,” and what does it have to do with baptism? Does this mean that during baptism we are to call out to God in prayer? Let’s see what Peter had to say about this.

Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 3:21 ESV)

Peter specifically says that immersion is involved in our salvation. As the KJV puts it, “baptism doth also now save us.” We know this is an immersion in water because Peter makes it clear that this isn’t a bath to remove dirt from our body. Instead it is a request, or appeal, to God for a good conscience. It is “calling on His name.”

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Posted by Eddie Lawrence in Baptism