Baptism

Last week at East Point, I preached on baptism.  The New Testament writers, led by the Holy Spirit, describe baptism as the time and place that we are united to Christ by God’s grace.  Here are my sermon notes.  If you have additional questions about baptism and how we submit to God, please contact me.  God bless!

 

Baptized

Jadyn’s “No, I don’t wanna get baptized!” statement in the swimming pool….

She knew that the word “baptize” means going under the water.  Our English word “baptism” is an anglicized version of the Greek work baptisma which does mean to immerse, to dip, to plunge, but the practice of baptism in Christ’s church involves a lot more than someone simply getting wet.

Christendom at large has taken a rather simple, straightforward practice and really muddied the waters, and there are all sorts of misunderstandings taught in various churches today about what baptism is, what it means, what it does, and who it’s for.

I want to take our time this morning to give what I hope will be a clear overview of what baptism really is.  I’ve wrestled all week with how to present this material, and I’ve settled on a pretty simple approach.  I’m going to read to you a number of NT passages about baptism, and I want you to listen and think about what they mean.  And as we look at these, I’ll put a list up on the screen summarizing what these Scriptures tell us about baptism.

As I go, at the risk of distracting myself, I’m going to invite you to text your questions to me (200-7780) or to write them on the back of a white card in front of you so I can read them later.  And I want you to come and talk to me if you have additional questions or want to study more about this critical element of coming to faith in Jesus.

  • I’m actually going to begin with the kinds of things you will often hear me say about baptism:

Baptism is something we submit to in faith because Jesus did it and he specifically commands us to be baptized to become his disciples.  Baptism is a work of God that, through His mercy and grace, indentifies us with the death and resurrection of Jesus, cleanses us from our sins, seals us with His Spirit, and joins us to His bride—the  church.

  • Matthew 3, Mark 1, and Luke 3 all say that Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan River.
  • Matthew 28:18-20… Baptism is commanded for all who would be Jesus’ disciples
  • Titus 3:4-7 and Colossians 2:11-12… Baptism is not a human work that earns salvation!  We put our faith in “his own mercy” and in “the powerful working of God”!
  • Romans 6:3-11; Colossians 2:11-14… Baptism is an identification with and a joining with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus
  • Galatians 3:26-27… Baptism is putting on Christ through faith
  • 1 Peter 3:20-21… Baptism is a vehicle which saves us through the resurrection of Jesus Christ
  • 1 Corinthians 6:11… Baptism results in sanctification (God makes us holy, purified, consecrated) and justification (God declares us free and renders a favorable verdict)
  • Acts 2:1-41… Baptism is for the forgiveness of sins and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit
  • Acts 22:6-16… Paul was told to wash away his sins in baptism, calling on the name of the Lord
  • Acts 19:1-6… Baptism must accompany our belief in Jesus in order to receive the Holy Spirit
  • Ephesians 4:1-6; 1 Corinthians 12:12-13… Baptism is a marker of our unity in the body of Christ.
    • notice Peter’s application of Joel’s prophecy about “calling on the name of the Lord”
    • even John’s baptism was one of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3)!

But, some will object based on Ephesians 2 and Romans 10.  Let’s see what Paul, who himself was baptized for the forgiveness of his sins, said in his letters.

  • Ephesians 2:1-10… I fully agree and preach that we are saved by grace through faith as a gift of God.  But as I’ve already said, being baptized is not a work.  It is not something I do to earn my salvation.  It is a passive act of faithful obedience.  God does the work, I just allow myself to be buried in and then raised up out of the water.
  • Romans 10:5-13… notice that this is the same letter where Paul already said that we are united with Christ and receive his grace in baptism.  Here in chapters 9, 10, and 11, Paul is emphasizing that we do not earn our salvation according to works of the law.  His emphasis is on belief and confession that come from the heart rather than simple law-keeping.  But Paul would never say that obedience is unimportant.  And belief/faith must be active to be real according to James 2.  And even Jesus said that those who love him will keep his commandments!  And what did Jesus command just before he left the earth to join his Father in heaven?  To “go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that [he commanded us]” (Matt. 28:19-20).

I know that there are others who focus on Romans 10 or Ephesians 2, but they sadly fail to recognize that overwhelming evidence that even Paul who wrote those passages was himself baptized and himself taught that baptism is what unites us to Christ.

I don’t agree with only a part of what Paul said.  I agree with all of it.  We are saved by grace through faith.  But we don’t receive God’s gracious forgiveness of sins until we’re in Christ.  And the way into Christ is to join him in his death, burial, and resurrection.  And the way we do that, according to Scripture, is by being baptized in water.

The time comes when every one of us has to respond to God in faith–not the faith of our fathers or mothers or grandparents, but our own faith based on our own reading and understanding of Scripture.  If you have questions, please ask so we can study this together.  We’re talking about salvation.

And if you’re ready now having heard the truth from God’s own word, then come and repent of your sins, confess Jesus as Son of God, and be baptized into him for the forgiveness of your sins.

 What does the Bible say about baptism?

  • Matthew 3, Mark 1, Luke 3
  • Matthew 28:18-20
  • Titus 3:4-7 and Colossians 2:11-14
  • Romans 6:3-11
  • Galatians 3:26-27
  • 1 Peter 3:20-21
  • 1 Corinthians 6:11
  • Acts 2:1-41
  • Acts 22:6-16
  • Acts 19:1-6
  • Ephesians 4:1-6 and 1 Corinthians 12:12-13
  • Ephesians 2:1-10
  • Romans 10:5-13

What do you say? 

Should you be baptized into Jesus Christ according to the Scriptures?

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About PatrickBarber

Preaching Minister East Point Church of Christ Wichita, Kansas
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19 Responses to Baptism

  1. Marc Taylor says:

    The Gentiles were saved when they received the Holy Spirit before their water baptism (Acts 10). This is when their hearts were cleaned (Acts 15:8,9)

    • Hello, Marc. Thank you for the post. As I understand the episode in Acts 10 with Cornelius (and Peter’s recounting of it in Acts 15), the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on the Gentiles there was the way God chose to show that Gentiles were welcome in his kingdom. The Cornelius events were in many ways a copy of the Acts 2 Pentecost events, where God poured out the Holy Spirit on the Jewish apostles. Peter, on that occasion, said that this outpouring served as a sign to the people that the prophecy of Joel 2:28ff was being fulfilled. Even Peter, however, didn’t realize at that point that the promise of the Holy Spirit was also given to the Gentiles. We know this because of how he speaks about them in Acts 10. It wasn’t until the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon Cornelius and his household that Peter realized they were acceptable to God–just as the Jews were. Peter, in Acts 15:8 says that God “bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us.” The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Gentiles was the needed sign to show Peter and the other Jewish Christians that Gentiles were welcomed by God into the kingdom. That was an exceptional event.

      There are a number of scenarios that can be raised to ask what happens to people who have good hearts and who believe in Jesus but who never have or take the chance to be baptized. I don’t claim to pronounce judgment on those people or those cases. It isn’t my job to save or condemn. My role is to study the bible the best that I can in order to try and help myself and others know God better so that we can glorify him with our lives. As I read the New Testament and see the examples of the early Christians, I see time and time again where baptism is practiced, commanded, and spoken of as the necessary way we who believe are united with Christ. I wouldn’t let an exceptional event like the one in Acts 10 wipe out all those other passages, like the ones I list in my original post. Now, God can save whoever he wants by whatever means he chooses. I’m not limiting him. But, I’m also not undervaluing the overwhelming evidence that he gives us in Scripture.

  2. Marc Taylor says:

    Hello Patrick,
    In Acts 15:8 it reads that these Gentiles were “given” the Holy Spirit. 1 John 3:24 and 4:13 teach that if one has been “given” the Holy Spirit they abide in God – which of course describes a saved person.
    Furthermore, I don’t see any reason why the “believe” in Acts 15:7 is to be understood any differently than describing a saved person/people.

    • Hello, Marc. I always enjoy and learn from discussions like this, but I’m not sure what your driving at. I assume there’s something in my original post that you don’t agree with. I also assume that you’re taking issue with the point that baptism is what unites us with Christ, brings us into contact with God’s saving grace, and is the moment we receive the Holy Spirit. If I’m misunderstanding you, please correct me. I’m not sure that you’ve really addressed any of the passages I listed in the original post, but I’ll continue to respond to yours, if that’s helpful.

      The point in Acts 15:8 and 1 John 3:24; 4:13 is that we know we are bound up in a relationship with God (saved) because he has given us his Holy Spirit. I don’t disagree with you there at all. My point remains from my earlier comment, however, that the reception of the Holy Spirit by Cornelius and the other Gentiles in Acts 15 represented an exceptional event which was to mimic Pentecost so that Peter and the other Jewish Christians would not deny fellowship to Gentiles. If we hold that the Acts 15 event is the normal way we’re saved, then must we also claim that speaking in tongues is THE evidence that we’ve received the Holy Spirit? That’s what happened in Acts 10:46. But Paul would later tell the Corinthians that it’s obvious that not everyone in the body of Christ has the gift of speaking in tongues (1 Cor. 12:30). I think you’re giving far too much weight to the special occasion in Acts 10. A much clearer text is Acts 2:38, where Peter specifically says that forgiveness and the gift of the Holy Spirit come in response to our being baptized. (Even in Acts 10 Peter “commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.”)

      And if we’re going to pinpoint what John says about abiding in God, then also note that in 1 John 4:15, he writes that “whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.” So if we took this verse alone, we’d say that it’s our confession of Jesus as the Son of God that causes us to abide in God. Or if we look at 1 John 4:16, we’d have to say that “whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” You see, we cannot claim that belief is being held up as the sole requirement for belonging to God, abiding in God, being saved by God–not if, by “belief,” we mean basic mental ascent or agreement with a concept.

      The biblical writers often refer to our being saved through the rhetorical device of metonymy. So, we might say (as Paul and others sometimes do) that we are saved by grace, or we are saved by faith, or we are saved by belief, or we are saved by confessing Christ, or we are saved by baptism. These are all part of the process of coming to God through Christ. To pick one of these and exclude any of the others is not to follow the teachings of the New Testament. I’m not excluding any of them in my teaching.

      Am I addressing your questions or issues, or am I missing your point? Again, I appreciate the conversation.

  3. Marc Taylor says:

    Hi Patrick,
    Yes you are correct that I am saying that water baptism takes place for these Gentiles after they were already saved. What took place in Acts 2:38 would be the exceptional event. No Gentile was ever commanded to be water baptized in the name of the Lord for the forgiveness of sins and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Luke makes Acts 10 the only clear cut case of the timing of the reception of the Spirit by the Gentiles. I agree that they were commanded to be water baptized – but this command was given to them as saved people.
    I agree that one must confess to abide in God/ be saved (Romans 10:9, 10). True saving belief encompasses not only that but also repentance (Acts 20:21). It is a synecdoche.
    You are correct in understanding my points.
    Yes, thank you for discussing this with me.

    • You still haven’t explained how you understand the texts I shared in my original post. We obviously have a different view of baptism and the timing of the reception of the Spirit as well as forgiveness of sins. But we’ve got considerable common ground—which is good! I know there are a lot of texts that I used originally, but I would be very interested to hear how you explain them.

      Near the end of your last post, you agreed that confession and repentance are necessary to be saved. How, then, is baptism different when it is commanded in the same way and spoken of as saving us? Some people see baptism as a work and deny the necessity of it, because they deny that we are saved in any way by any work that we do. Is that your point-of-view? If so, please understand that baptism is a work, but it is a work of God. It is an act of submission on our part. In fact, it is a very submissive, even passive, act. We don’t baptize ourselves. We are baptized by another.

      Regarding who received the command to be baptized for the forgiveness of sins in Acts 2:38, it sounds like you’re acknowledging that those Jews at Pentecost were commanded to be baptized in order to be forgiven and to receive the Holy Spirit. We would then agree on that point. I am fine with your suggestion that those who hear those words were Jews. Peter does refer to them as “Men of Israel” in Acts 2:22. Peter does seem to apply the promises and presumably the method of attaining (being blessed by) those promises to “all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself” (v. 39). That would surely include the Gentiles. Even in Acts 15:11, when Peter is explaining that God gave the Holy Spirit to Gentiles, he still says that “we believe that we [Jews] will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.” So, the Jews and Gentiles are saved in the same way. Why would Jews need to be baptized first but not the Gentiles?

      On another note about the reception of the Holy Spirit… In Acts 5:32, Peter is speaking, and he says the Holy Spirit is given by God “to those who obey him.” The last command Jesus gave to his Apostles before his ascension into heaven is recorded in Matthew 28:19-20. There he commands them to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Becoming a disciple is surely synonymous with being saved. And the process that involves, at least in Jesus’ instructions here, is (1) to be baptized and (2) to observe, which involves the idea of following/obeying all the other things he had commanded the apostles. Again, this doesn’t discount belief or confession or repentance. It doesn’t in any way diminish God’s grace or deny the necessity of faith. But neither can baptism be denied. And why should it? It’s such an easy thing and such an incredibly powerful display of our reliance on God for new birth.

      Your suggestion that Gentiles were never commanded to be baptized to be saved is incorrect. In Acts 8, the story is recorded of Philip teaching an Ethiopian the gospel, and upon hearing the gospel, the Ethiopian comes upon water and immediately wants to be baptized (Acts 8:36, 38). Why would anyone choose to get baptized at a moment like that unless it was in response to the gospel message he had just heard from Philip? Another likely case is Paul’s conversion of the Philippian jailor in Acts 16:25-34. I can’t prove that he was a Gentile, but I’m not aware of anyone who argues otherwise. Paul told him to believe in order to be saved, so he was immediately baptized, and then he rejoiced that he had believed. Being baptized is parallel to believing in this text, and the same could be said of other texts as well (see Acts 18:8 for one example). I don’t see why some make such a huge distinction and divorce baptism from our journey of faith to Christ.

      Finally (at least for this post!), we also have the interesting account of Paul re-baptizing those in Ephesus who had previously only been baptized “into John’s baptism” (Acts 19:3). They were told about Jesus, baptized, and then Paul laid his hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. This may be another exceptional case. But it doesn’t seem to follow the Acts 10 example, which you seem to hold as normative for Gentiles.

      Okay. Enough for now. Sorry for the marathon post. 🙂

  4. Marc Taylor says:

    Hi Patrick,
    I didn’t respond to the texts in your first post because it would take a very long time for each one of them. Romans 6:3; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:27; Colossians 2:12 all refer to being baptized with the Holy Spirit. This is the “one baptism” of Ephesians 4:5. Shall I address all of them or do you want to start another thread for each/any/all of them?
    ———
    The case of the Gentiles (Acts 10) proves that their water baptism took place after they were saved. The “promise” in Acts 2:39 is the Holy Spirit Himself. Yes, in the NT church age all (Jew and Gentile) are able to receive Him.
    Since the Jews of that era were guilty of committing the “greater sin” (John 19:11) they were required to be water baptized in the Name they so hated for the forgiveness of sins. Notice as well this applied to Paul (a Jew) in Acts 22:16 – but not one clear cut case does it hold true for any Gentile.
    ————-
    In Acts 5:32 God “gives” (didwmi) the Holy Spirit to those who obey Him. The Gentiles did obey God before their water baptism because the Bible declares they were “given” (didwmi) the Holy Spirit (Acts 11:17; 15:8) proving their later obedience to the command to be water baptized took place after their salvation occurred.
    ——————-
    How do you know that the Ethiopian wasn’t a Jewish convert? He came to Jerusalem to worship. In terms of Acts 16 the jailor it records he was baptized. It doesn’t mean it was necessary for his salvation. Likewise with Acts 19 – no way of proving they were Gentiles. In fact, they were aware of John’s baptism (almost exclusively for the Jews). This is why I wrote Luke makes Acts 10 the only “clear cut” case of the timing of the reception of the Spirit by the Gentiles.
    ———————
    Besides Acts 2:4 Luke tells us specifically about the reception of the Holy Spirit in the following passages:
    Acts 2:38 – after water baptism
    Acts 8:15-18 – through the imposition of hands
    Acts 10:44-48 – before water baptism
    Acts 19:1-7 – through the imposition of hands
    Since Acts 2:4 is the beginning of the NT church that event can’t apply to us today. Acts 8 and 19 do not apply to us because there are no living original apostles today. So we are left with either Acts 2:38 or Acts 10:44-48.
    My contention is that it is Acts 10 that applies to us because there is not one clear cut case of anyone else being told that they needed to be water baptized in the name of the Lord for the forgiveness of sins and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

    • Hi Marc,
      I may not be able to reply again until next week, but here are a few thoughts in response to your latest comments. Again, I appreciate this discussion and the cordial tone of it.

      First, you are correct about the Acts 19 episode in Ephesus. While Paul did minister both to Jews and Greeks there, it is more likely that the “disciples” baptized there were Jews. It’s also possible that the Ethiopian was Jewish or at least a proselyte or God-fearer. So I assume you’re saying that he was baptized immediately because he was Jewish. But isn’t it odd, then, that so many Gentiles act in the same way as the Ethiopian? They rush to get baptized. That’s not a normal response if baptism isn’t pretty critical to one’s being buried and raised with Christ. Our own observations make that case. Typically, in churches where baptism isn’t taught as a necessary element of one’s coming to Christ (being saved), people do not rush to get baptized. They wait and do it on certain days scheduled and prescribed by their church, or they schedule it for a later more convenient time. I don’t at all mean that everyone handles it that way, but rushing into the water is not the normal response for people who don’t believe baptism is the time and place that they receive forgiveness and the Holy Spirit. And yet, we have examples in the NT of both Jews and Gentiles going immediately–even in the middle of the night–to get baptized.

      Regarding your view of Paul’s references to baptism in the first paragraph of your response, I don’t differentiate between someone being baptized in water from being baptized in/with/by the Holy Spirit. The two go together if they are done in faith in order to be united with Christ. Again, I believe we receive the Holy Spirit when we are baptized (in water). Romans 6 and Colossians 2 include imagery that very much sounds like what happens when a person is immersed (baptized) in water.

      Regarding the “greater sin” of John 19:11, there is nothing explicit in that text that says who Jesus is talking about. Was it Judas? Was it Annas and/or Caiaphas? Was it the Jewish leaders? Was it the Jews as an ethnic group? Your comments suggest that you can work with the Greek text, so you can see that the participial phrase John/Jesus uses is masculine singular. It is unlikely that Jesus is referring to all the Jews as a whole. In fact, taking Jesus’ statement as a judgment against all the ethnic Jews is the least likely meaning. Even if you are correct, however, there isn’t anything specific in any text that says that Jews were the only ones expected to be baptized into the name of Jesus. If this was some sort of punishment or humiliation, wouldn’t their confession of Jesus as their Lord and Christ have sufficed?

      Take one example from Paul’s ministry: in Acts 18 he is in Corinth teaching Jews and Gentiles. As he is converting some from both ethnic groups, would the Gentiles really demonstrate the receipt of the Holy Spirit as soon as they had the cognition that Jesus was the Christ but the Jews wouldn’t demonstrate the receipt of the Holy Spirit until after they’d been baptized? I don’t think this particular part of your argument has merit.

      To return again to the Acts 10 events, we can see in v. 43 that Peter makes no mention of different rites for different ethnic groups. And, you’ve already heard me say that “believe” is a broad term that would include obedient actions such as repenting, confessing, and being baptized. You’ve said that the Jews were baptized into the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins, according to Acts 2:38, and I agree with you. But look at what Peter says to the Jews in Jerusalem in Acts 11:17. He describes his/their (Jews) reception of the Holy Spirit as “when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ.” He uses the word “believed,” but we know that baptism was part of that process. This use of synecdoche is incredibly common in the text.

      I don’t see the need for another “clear cut case of anyone else being told that they needed to be water baptized in the name of the Lord for the forgiveness of sins and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” As I’ve said, Peter said just that in Acts 2:38, I don’t see any evidence that Jews and Gentiles were given two different paths into Christ, and the overwhelming evidence is that people who believed were immediately baptized–whether they were Jews or Gentiles. I understand that we may not come out of this discussion in complete agreement. But I’m curious as to how you understand the practical applications of all this. When you teach people the gospel and lead them to Christ, do you teach them to be baptized? If so, why? If not, why not?

      God bless

  5. Marc Taylor says:

    Hello again Patrick,
    I think with false professions being so pervasive it would be better to hold off on water baptizing people right away. During the beginning of the church age they were much better at discerning the spirits (1 Corinthians 12:10) – particularly the apostles. During this age of miracles Peter was even able to see the hearts of certain people (Acts 5) which doesn’t happen today.
    Delivering (paradidwmi) Christ up to Pilate is what constitutes the “greater sin” (John 19:11). Peter spoke to the Jews as a whole and said they delivered (paradidwmi) Christ up to Pilate (Acts 3:13).
    Other are to be water baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus but not for the forgiveness of sins. In terms of Acts 18 why couldn’t this be the time (or earlier?) when this condition is no longer necessary to receive the forgiveness of sins? We know it was true for the Jews in Acts 2:38 and up to and including Paul (Acts 9) but after that the Scripture is silent.
    Why couldn’t believe include confessing, repenting and water baptism for the Jews but only cover confessing and repenting for these Gentiles? In fact, those in Acts 2:38 had to be water baptized in order to attain the Holy Spirit but we see in Acts 10 they clearly did not.
    F.F Bruce writes: The sequence of the component elements in Christian initiation varies from one occasion to another in Acts. Peter’s hearers in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost repent, are baptized, and receive the Spirit (2:38, 41); the Samaritans evangelized by Philip believed and are baptized “into the name of the Lord Jesus”, but do not receive the Spirit until apostolic hands are laid on them (8:12, 14-17); Cornelius and his household receive the Spirit while they are still listening to the message and are then baptized (Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free, F.F. Bruce, page 280, chapter 25, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper in Pauline Thought).
    Just as the Gentiles were saved then were water baptized I also teach saved people that they are to be water baptized. The baptism with the Holy Spirit is God’s way of saving people while water baptism is our way to show others what God has done.

    • Hello again, Marc. This will be quick. I’m working on a graduate course right now. But I was looking back over my previous comments, and I think I agreed with one of your points when I shouldn’t have. We were talking about the example of the Ethiopian, and I believe you suggested he was probably Jewish. I then agreed that he might have been Jewish or at least a proselyte. Now, I think that was unlikely. In D.A. Carson’s The Gospel According to John in the Pillar New Testament Commentary Series, he is writing on page 436 about John 12:20. He writes about those Gentiles who wanted to see Jesus:

      It is possible that they were proselytes, i.e. fully fledged converts to Judaism who would have been permitted to worship with Jews, but this cannot be inferred from the text, since other Gentiles who are said to have gone up to worship could not possibly be proselytes (e.g. the Ethiopian eunuch, Acts 8:27; cf. Jos., Bel. vi. 427). Like Cornelius (Acts 10) or the centurion who loved the Jews and built them a synagogue (Lk. 7:5), such Greeks admired much that they saw in Judaism without becoming official converts, and sometimes attended the great Jewish festivals in Jerusalem, where they were admitted to the court of the Gentiles.

      So I believe that the evidence supports my earlier suggestion that the Ethiopian eunuch was a Gentile who didn’t wait to be baptized.

      Let me also ask two quick questions based on your recent post:

      1) Could you explain more what you mean by your first sentence and it being “better” not to baptize people in water right away? What danger are you concerned about?
      2) In your last sentence, you say that water baptism is our way to show others what God has done. I’ve heard some people make that claim before, but I don’t remember hearing them share scriptural support for that claim. I’ve shared a number of passages that make direct claims about the purpose of baptism, such as Romans 6. But are there passages you are aware of that say our baptism is intended to be a way to show others what God has done?

  6. Marc Taylor says:

    Hello Patrick,
    Again it is still not a clear-cut case concerning the Ethiopian. However, Luke is clear concerning the fact they were indeed Gentiles in Acts 10.

    In answer to your questions:
    1. False confessions. Just to get people water baptized without them having a more concrete awareness of what it means is dangerous.
    2. Acts 10:44-48. These Gentiles were saved before their water baptism. For them to posses the Holy Spirit and to be lost is contrary to what the Bible teaches.
    Romans 6 refers to the baptism with the Holy Spirit. It is this baptism that places a person into the body of Christ. This holds true with these Gentiles (Acts 10) and with anyone else who is a Christian.

    • Hi Marc,
      How do you know that Romans 6 refers to Holy Spirit baptism (without water baptism)? There is a classic book by G. R. Beasley-Murray called _Baptism in the New Testament_ and a newer expansion on the topic by Everett Ferguson called _Baptism in the Early Church: History, Theology, and Liturgy in the First Five Centuries_. These are very detailed studies of the issue that you might find helpful. I have found them to be very helpful.

  7. Marc Taylor says:

    Hello Patrick,
    Yes I have read quite a bit from Beasley-Murray. The same holds true concerning James Dunn. Whereas Murray sees water baptism Dunn leans more to the operation of the Holy Spirit.
    Concerning Romans 6:3 this saving baptism results in the Christian no longer being “slaves to sin” (Romans 6:6). This “spirit of slavery” is cancelled because the Christian has received the “Spirit of adoption” (Romans 8:15). The Gentiles are said to have “received” this Spirit before their water baptism (Acts 10:44-47).

    • Marc, my friend, the Acts 10 text really is your anchor point, isn’t it. 🙂 I just don’t see that it’s nearly as clear cut as you do. We may not be able to find agreement on that point.

      Luke is summarizing things in many of the accounts in Acts. Even in Acts 11 where Peter relates the Cornelius event to the “circumcision party” in Jerusalem, his words could be read as contradictory if we wanted to be nitpicky. Compare Acts 10:44 with 11:15. The first account makes it sound like Peter preached at least for awhile before the Holy Spirit fell on Cornelius and those with him. But in Peter’s retelling in Acts 11, he says that the Holy Spirit fell on them as he began to speak. Now, I don’t think those are two contradictory statements, but someone could make the argument that they are if they highlight a word here and a word there. We have to look at the larger context.

      Another example in Acts 11 comes in verse 17. Peter says that “God gave the same gift to them” (ostensibly the Holy Spirit) “as he gave to us” (the Jews who had been baptized) “when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ.” But is that fully accurate at face value? You and I have both already agreed that the Jews received the Holy Spirit only after they had been baptized. So is Peter being inconsistent here? No, not at all. Baptism and belief go together. They are aspects of the same process. Even in the next verse the Jews who heard Peter characterize the Gentiles’ path to salvation (“life”) as “repentance,” which is another aspect of the same process.

      Regarding your response to my question about Romans 6, I agree that the “spirit of slavery” is replaced by a “Spirit of adoption.” The imagery within the context of Romans 6 sure sounds a lot more like water baptism than simple reception of the Holy Spirit. Whenever people received the Holy Spirit apart from water baptism, the language and imagery surrounding those events are typically described as the person/people being filled with the Spirit or the Spirit being poured out upon them.

      Paul, however, in Romans 6, chose to use the imagery of burial and resurrection which is beautifully depicted by being immersed into and raised up out of water. And Romans 6 isn’t the only place he uses such imagery. In Colossians 2 Paul says that we’ve been “buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith.” Now, Paul doesn’t mention the Holy Spirit in that part of Colossians at all, but that doesn’t mean I deny that the Holy Spirit is a critical element in our being raised up and united with Christ. Paul doesn’t have to mention every part or element of the process for us to get his point. But the imagery strongly points toward being baptized in water–an image that would not have been at all foreign to those in the first century, whether they were Jews or Gentiles.

      I’m afraid we’re starting to be overly repetitious.

  8. Marc Taylor says:

    Hello Patrick,
    As properly defined the words of Acts 10 (as well as Acts 11, 15 and others) clearly demonstrate these Gentiles were saved before their water baptism.

    In terms of Acts 11:15 one just needs to read Acts 15:7 to know that these Gentiles did indeed hear the words of the gospel before receiving the Holy Spirit. Began (archomai) is used to emphasize what the Holy Spirit accomplished.
    1. Abbot-Smith: (a) absol.,…(b) relatively -> included is Acts 11:15 (A Manuel Greek Lexicon of the New Testament, arxee, page 62).
    2. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: Often used also, not for the absolute beginning, but, relatively, for the starting-point of some important movement (1 John 2:7, 24; Acts 11:15; Philippians 4:15, Begin, H.E. Jacobs).
    3. Ernst Haenchen: Luke presents it in this way because then the coming of the Spirit has even more unexpected and decisive effect. The speech in Chapter 11 is comprehensible only to the readers of the book, not to Peter’s audience in Jerusalem (The Acts of the Apostles, Ernst Haenchen, page 355)
    4. If my preacher was describing a previous sermon by saying, “As I began to preach the Holy Spirit convicted the congregation” it would be perfectly plausible to believe that he was emphasizing the abruptness of the Holy Spirit’s conviction. What my preacher said during his sermon was secondary. He wanted to underscore what the Holy Spirit did more than what he preached on. The same holds true with Luke’s record of Peter’s defense in Acts 11. Luke does not repeat everything that Peter said in Acts 10 but instead he focused on what the Holy Spirit accomplished. -> “He rests his defence, not on what he said, but in what God did” (Robertson, Wo quoting Furneaux in Robertson’s New Testament Word Studies, Acts 11:15).

    Peter and those with him did not receive the Holy Spirit in or upon their water baptism (Acts 2:4).

    In terms of Romans 6 the authors of the Bible do not need to repeat the same terms every time the Holy Spirit is received. The following terms synonymously describe what the Holy Spirit does only once to a person upon being saved/entering the NT Church (the filling of the Holy Spirit can occur again, Acts 9:17; Acts 13:9). Those in Acts 2:4 were already saved but it was this event that placed them into the NT Church.
    a. Fell (Acts 8:16; 10:44; 11:15)
    b. Poured (Acts 10:45; Titus 3:6)
    c. Received (Acts 2:38; 8:17; 10:47)
    d. Baptized (Acts 1:5; 11:16)
    e. Filled (11:17; 15:8 cf. Acts 2:4)
    f. Given (Acts 8:18; 11:17; 15:8)
    g. Came (Acts 19:6)
    h. Sealed (Ephesians 1:13)

    You mentioned Colossians 2:12. All who have undergone this baptism have at the same time experienced the “circumcision of Christ” (Colossians 2:11). The “true circumcision” (i.e., Christians) “worship in the Spirit” (Philippians 3:3). Since the Gentiles possessed the Holy Spirit and were worshipping in the Spirit (Acts 10:46) means they were the “true circumcision”/Christians before their water baptism.

  9. Marc,

    I really appreciate your comments. Even when we’re disagreeing about points, you’re clearly trying to show through references in Scripture and scholarly writings why you believe what you believe. I respect that.

    I’m afraid my previous post may have come across the wrong way, based on your lengthy reply about (archomai). I wasn’t meaning to suggest that the Gentiles of Acts 10 didn’t hear the gospel and believe it. I was making a different point about how we can latch onto single words or short phrases, patch them together without their contexts, and build arguments that may not hold up under their own weight. But maybe that’s not worth developing further at this point.

    I do want to address this comment of yours: “Peter and those with him did not receive the Holy Spirit in or upon their water baptism (Acts 2:4).”

    The bible doesn’t say whether Peter and the remaining Apostles were baptized or not. An argument from silence isn’t very strong, but it seems safe enough to infer that they had been baptized at one point or another. Whether by John the Baptist or some other time; I don’t know. But the Holy Spirit that filled Peter and those with him (presumably the Apostles, based on the context of Acts 1:26) was in fulfillment not only of the prophecy from Joel 2 but also of the promise made to the Apostles by Jesus in Luke 24:45-49 and Acts 1:5, 8. This example in Acts 2:4 is not normative for anyone other than those original Apostles who received the promise and instructions from Jesus prior to his ascension. In all likelihood, they had been baptized previously. I don’t accept the premise that Peter and the other Apostles were not saved until the Holy Spirit came upon them in Acts 2. But whatever the precise process was that brought them into Christ, none of us find ourselves in their position–walking around with Jesus and living both before and after his death and resurrection. So we don’t have to specify how they were saved or added to the church.

    It makes more sense to listen to the instructions of the Apostles who were taught by Christ, and the Apostles tell people to be baptized for the forgiveness of sin and to receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). Our difference is that you apply that only to the Jews of the first generation church, and you apply the example of Acts 10 to Gentiles, while I see Acts 8 (gospel going into Samaria) and Acts 10 (gospel going to Gentiles) as exceptional events that were necessary for everyone (Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles) to understand that God was accepting all of them into one church. I think that’s why the Apostles had to go to Samaria in Acts 8. Apostolic involvement and affirmation (in a non technical sense) was important to give validity to the Samaritans entering the church. The Samaritans’ reception of the Holy Spirit through the laying on of the Apostles’ hands provided that validity. In Acts 10, we see the gospel continuing to spread–this time to Gentiles. This seems to be Luke’s way of showing the progression of the gospel according to the pattern/geographical progression Jesus had earlier described in Acts 1:8.

    I’m happy to continue sharing ideas and responding to yours. I do think it’s hard to have the kind of discussion we’re trying to have through posts like these. At times it feels like we’re talking around each other. If I seem to avoid or ignore a point you make or a question you ask, I apologize. It isn’t intentional. My goal is always to be open to the truths of Scripture even if they are new to me. I do not claim to have all the answers. But I do believe my understanding of the evidence regarding baptism, the reception of the Holy Spirit, the forgiveness of sins, etc. does a good job of making sense of the picture of salvation we find in the NT. Granted, there are cases in Acts that I have to hold as exceptional, but it was an exceptional time in the history of the world!

    So, on another point, you have access to a lot of info about me if you look around on this blog, but I know very little about you. And we’ve conversed so much here, I’m curious to have a better idea of who you are and what you do. Would you mind sharing a little information about yourself just to satisfy my curiosity? You don’t have to publish it here. You can share as much or as little as you like directly to my email address (pgbarber@gmail.com). If you do, I won’t share it or use it for anything other than to get to know you a little better. It’s always nice to make new friends with people who are serious about trying to make sense of the word of God.

    God bless

  10. Marc Taylor says:

    Hello Patrick,
    I believe that those whom the Spirit baptized in Acts 2:4 did receive John’s baptism but I do not think they were water baptized for the forgiveness of sins as we see in Acts 2:38.
    I see Acts 2:38 as the exception for us while Acts 10 (the receiving of the Spirit before water baptism) applying to us. The “Jerusalem Council” (Acts 15) did not view the reception of the Spirit prior to water baptism as exceptional in that it was the only time it took place this way.
    Thank you for your kindness to me in your posts. I have studied these issues (and others) for many years. Thank you for your email. I intend (Lord willing) to write to you soon.
    Kind Regards,
    Marc Taylor

  11. ACTS 2:38 FICTIONALIZED
    Why do men fictionalize Scriptures rather than reading them and believing them? I will let you reach your own conclusion as to the answer. What is is purpose of water baptism according to Acts 2:38?

    FOUR TRANSLATIONS OF THE BIBLE ACTS 2:38
    1. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, “Repent and each of you bebaptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (New American Standard Bible)

    2. Acts 2:38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, everyone of you, in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (The Thompson Chain-Reference Bible New International Version 1983)

    3. Acts 2:38 The Peter said unto them,Let each of of you repent and be immersed, in the name of Jesus Christ, in order to the remission of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. ) The Better Version of the New Testament by Chester Estes)

    4. Acts 2:38 Peter told them, “You must repent and every one of you must be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ, so that you may have your sins forgiven and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (The New Testament in Modern English by J.B. Phillips)

    THE FOLLOWING ARE FICTIONALIZED VERSIONS OF ACTS 2:38

    1. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized because your sins have already been forgiven. (Fictional Account)

    2. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized as a testimony of your faith. (Invented Version)

    3. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, Repent and be baptized as an act of obedience. (Fantasy Translation)

    4. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized because you were forgiven the minute you believed. (The Version of Unfounded Truth)

    5. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized with Holy Spirit baptism; because water baptism is not a New Covenant requirement. (The Version of Spurious and Erroneous Quotes)

    6. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, “Repent, for the forgiveness of sins; but water baptism is optional, because the thief on the cross was not baptized in water. (The Counterfeit Version of Truth)

    7. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, “Rent and be baptized in order to join denomination of your choice. (The Creed Bible By Men)

    8. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized as a symbolic jester, pointing to the fact that your sins were forgiven when you said “The Sinner’s Prayer.” ( The Book of Stuff Men made-up)

    9. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized to indicate the outward sign of the forgiveness you received the very minute you believed. ( The Fabricated Book of Fantasy Verses)

    10. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, “Repent and have your committed sins forgiven by faith only. And then be baptized to be forgiven of the sin Adam committed. (The Denominational Revision of Fictional Truth)

    .

    THE QUESTION IS WHY DO CERTAIN DENOMINATIONAL CHURCHES FICTIONALIZE BIBLICAL TRUTH? THE BIGGER QUESTION IS WHY DO PEOPLE BELIEVE FICTIONALIZED DOCTRINE RATHER THAN BIBLICAL TRUTH?

    YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY CHRISTIAN BLOG. Google search>>>>steve finnell a christian view

  12. gary says:

    Your comments reflect a major misconception that evangelicals and the Reformed have of orthodox Christians. Lutherans do not believe that baptism is necessary (mandatory) for salvation. Not even the Roman Catholic Church believes this. All the saints of the Old Testament, the thief on the cross, and thousand of martyrs down through the centuries have been saved without Baptism. Baptism is not the “how” of salvation!

    Lutherans believe that baptism is one of several “when”s of salvation, it is not the “how” of salvation. The “how” of salvation is and always has been the power of God’s Word/God’s declaration of righteousness.

    A sinner can be saved by the power of God’s Word when he hears the Word preached in a church, preached on TV or radio, reading a Gideon’s Bible in a hotel room, or reading a Gospel tract that contains the Word. Salvation is by God’s grace alone, through the power of his Word alone, received in faith alone. In each of these situations, the sinner is saved the instant he or she believes. Baptism is NOT mandatory for salvation to occur.

    However, the Bible in multiple passages, also states that God uses his Word to save at the time of Baptism.

    It is the work of the Holy Spirit, using the Word of God, that works salvation in the sinner’s spiritually dead soul, according to the second chapters of Ephesians and Colossians, and the third chapter of Romans. Your “decision for Christ” does not save you, neither does your decision to be baptized.

    God saves those whom he has elected, at the time and place of his choosing. Sometimes God saves them while hearing a sermon in church, sometimes at home reading the Word, and sometimes by the power of his Word spoken during Baptism.

    God does 100% of the saving. The sinner is a passive participant in his salvation. There is no passage in the New Testament that asks sinners to make a decision for Christ. The Bible states that God quickens sinners, gives them faith, and they believe and repent.

    The sinner does not decide to be saved. God decides to save the sinner!

    Baptism is not an automatic ticket into heaven. Although salvation is entirely God, there is no “decision” by man to be saved, sanctification requires the believer’s participation. God is not in heaven keeping track of our good deeds and our sins to decide whether or not to let us into heaven, but the Christian who turns his back on Christ by outright rejection (converting to Islam) or by ongoing willful sin/neglect of his faith, should be warned by the Church that he is “skating on thin ice”. He may wake up one day in hell to eternal damnation!

    No faith—>no salvation—>no eternal life

    Gary
    Luther, Baptists, and Evangelicals

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