Probably the biggest point of disagreement I find between my friends & myself is that of the necessity of baptism. Us “church of Christ-ers” are seen as unrelenting on this point. There is a reason. Many verses tell us why. I’ll share one verse that lets us know how important it is. You’ll find it in 1 Peter 3:18-22.
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. 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, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.
I bring this up, not as a point to debate, but IN LOVE. I want everyone to reach the goal of heaven. As I would tell my friends who are openly living contrary to the Word, if I didn’t care about you, I would not share my beliefs with you.
As I’m walking down your street and I see your house on fire, I’m going to stop and say, “HEY! Your house is on fire you need to get out! Can I help you?”
This may not change your mind, but if all it does is to cause you to study your Bible, not relying on what any man will tell you (including me), then that will make me happy.
I love you and I want you to know the wonderful love and plan of salvation that Jesus Christ came to give us. God bless you in your studies. Pray for wisdom and understanding, and he is faithful to give it to you.
Until I can complete my thoughts, I’ll share with you the post of one of my most favorite people (and preachers). Check out his blog for some great thoughts!
Baptism and Obedience by Bryant Evans
Baptism and Obedience
by BRYANT EVANS on SEPTEMBER 1, 2010
That baptism was a part of original Christianity is beyond question. Today it is present in just about every Christ-believing religious tradition although not always in the same way as the Bible teaches. On August 15th, a preacher in Canada offered a sermon from Romans 6:1-6. Here is the text:
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.
This is one of several discussions of baptism in the Bible but it is one of the “classic” explanations of immersion. The preacher at the Peoples Church of Montreal, Brian Guinness, reached a couple of erroneous, but common conclusions. Let me address a few of them.
He lists two mistakes people make about baptism. The first mistake, he says, is that baptism is necessary for salvation. Shortly after that statement he says, “And while baptism isn’t necessary for salvation, it is necessary to obedience, and obedience is necessary to joy, fruitfulness, and happiness in the Christian life.”
We have addressed the first statement, that baptism is not essential for salvation, in four articles:
Is Baptism A Work?
Forgiveness of Sins Comes at Baptism – Not Before (Part One)
Forgiveness of Sins Comes at Baptism – Not Before (Part Two)
We have not yet directly addressed the second comment which is that baptism is“necessary to obedience.” Is it accurate to say that if preacher Guinness is correct that he must also conclude that obedience is not necessary to salvation? And can we go even further and say that even disobedience has no effect on salvation? Can I be disobedient and still be saved? This is the natural progression of his thinking.
This is a rather hardcore Calvinist position. Boice and Rykin in Doctrines of Gracequote Boettner approvingly when he says, “God acts as a sovereign in saving some and passing by others who are left to the just recompense of their sins” (pg. 92). They say later than when a man is “called” by God, he cannot resist “effectively” (pg. 135). In other words he cannot be disobedient!
The idea that disobedience cannot happen is even more surprising than the idea that disobedience would have no impact in salvation. Indeed, this is the crux of the debate. Does a man have a free choice or not?
Revelation 14:7 for your consideration:
“The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. “
“The one who desires” seems to be a person with a choice.
John 1:7 speaks of John the Baptist and his mission:
“He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him.”
Unless John was mistaken it is both possible and desirable that all might believe. Belief is not restricted to a few chosen but potentially to every person.
Acts 17:30 has Paul speaking in Athens to a crowd of pagan, unbelivers.
“The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent…”
Are we to understand that God has given a command which is impossible for “all people” to keep? Certainly not.
Two verses for comparison. Romans 5:12
“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.”
“Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.“
Both passages above reference “all men.” Calvinists that all men are dead because of sin but argue that all men cannot be justified. It’s rather convoluted and difficult to understand how the same phrase in the same context can mean two very different things.
Maybe a better conclusion here is that men do actually have a choice. Free will makes sense Biblically and in our understanding of every day life. Of course it does not fit the Calvinist model and is therefore rejected with great twists and turns. In reality all men make choices. Some choose to come to God through his divine offer of salvation and others reject it. But that choice to come to God and accept his call involves and is predicated upon obedience.
One cannot be saved unless one obeys.
Baptism does save but not alone. Faith, grace and mercy are all essentials in the beautiful story of redemption. Let’s simply take the Bible and obey the Lord’s commands. After all, Jesus himself linked out obedience to a love for him (John 14:15)