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Baptism

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Baptism

 

The major cause for division in the Dispensation of Grace

 

Baptism – Baptize

Baptism is one of the most divisive issues in Christendom today. We will explore the reason why.

Definitions

The noun baptism in Strong’s Concordance is the Greek word baptisma. It is found 22 times in the New Testament and is defined as:

  1) immersion, submersion

     a) of calamities and afflictions with which one is quite overwhelmed

     b) of John’s baptism, that purification rite by which men on confessing their sins were bound to spiritual reformation, obtained the pardon of their past sins and became qualified for the benefits of the Messiah’s kingdom soon to be set up. This was valid Christian baptism, as this was the only baptism the apostles received and it is not recorded anywhere that they were ever re-baptized after Pentecost.

     c) of Christian baptism; a rite of immersion in water as commanded by Christ, by which one after confessing his sins and professing his faith in Christ, having been born again by the Holy Spirit unto a new life, identifies publicly with the fellowship of Christ and the church.”

The Greek verb for baptized is baptizo and is found 80 times in the New Testament and is defined by Strong’s as:

1) to dip repeatedly, to immerse, to submerge (of vessels sunk)

2) to cleanse by dipping or submerging, to wash, to make clean with water, to wash one’s self, bathe

3) to overwhelm

The Greek Word baptismo is found four times and is translated “washing” in Mark 7:4, 8; Hebrews 9:10.  It is translated baptism in Hebrews 6:2.

In the Old Testament the Hebrew word tabal is translated dipped and is found 20 times in the Old Testament.  It is the same word for baptize in the New Testament.

In the New Testament there are three references to Old Testament baptism: 1 Peter 3:21; 1 Corinthians 10:2 and Hebrews 9:10.

There is no doubt that baptized or baptism means immersion.

In the American Heritage Dictionary, baptism is defined as:

  1. A Christian statement marked by the symbolic use of water to cleanse the recipient of original sin and resulting in admission unto Christianity.
  2. A ceremony, trial, or experience by which one is initiated, purified, or given a name.
  3. In Christian Science, a submergence in Spirit or purification by Spirit.

I will not be discussing the baptism with the Holy Ghost or the baptism with fire in this booklet. I will be discussing the baptism with water only.

 

Baptism in the Gospels and Acts

In the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as well as in the early chapters of the book of Acts, we see that baptism was associated with the remission of sins.

In Matthew 28:19-20 the Lord Jesus Christ tells his disciples to: Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

     What does the verse tell us? Jesus instructs the 12 to evangelize the world and to baptize all converts in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

The most widely used passage concerning baptism for salvation is found in Acts 2:38: Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Look at what the verse says:

1)      A person must repent

2)      Then they must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.

Question, what are they to be baptized for? They are to be baptized for the remission of sins. Then, once they were baptized they would receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

But look at the rest of the Pentecostal address delivered by Peter. This is found in Acts 3:19-21: Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.

You will notice that even though one received remission of sins once they were baptized, those sins would not be blotted out (removed) until Christ returned to earth in the millennial reign. (Acts 3:19-21).

This is not the program for today!

 

Biblical Reasons for Baptism

■ In the Old Testament, they dipped (baptized) the sacrificial offering as an act of cleansing.

■ In the Old Testament, a person entering into the priesthood was baptized (cleansed) before assuming that position.

■ Baptism is a rite of purification or initiation throughout the Bible

■ In all the books of the New Testament, except Romans-Philemon, a person was baptized for remission of sins.

The Baptism of Jesus

Matthew 3:13-17:

13 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.

14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?

15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.

16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:

17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (Underlining added)

I have a question for you, “Why was Jesus Baptized?”  It wasn’t for the remission of sins, because He had no sin. So, I ask the question once more, why was Jesus baptized?

According to verse 15 above, Jesus was baptized to fulfill all righteousness. This baptism was the anointing of Jesus as Messiah and High Priest, and the anointing of a priest was always accompanied by washing or immersion. (Ex. 29:4-7; 40:12; Lev. 8:6)

Exodus 29:4: And Aaron and his sons thou shalt bring unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shalt wash them with water.

     Leviticus 8:6: And Moses brought Aaron and his sons, and washed them with water.

     In both Exodus and Leviticus, Moses was instructed to have Aaron, who represents the priesthood, washed or baptized, and the same washing was done for Aaron’s sons.

That is why Jesus was baptized, to fulfill the righteousness of the priesthood.

Now look at John 1:29: The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

John made this announcement before Jesus died on the cross.  Had he seen a vision about Christ dying on the cross for our sins? No! Because he, like the twelve disciples, had been blinded from this truth, look at Mark 8:31-33; 9:9-10; 9:30-32.

So to what future event does “behold the lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” speak? It is in reference to the second coming of Christ. Let me remind you of a passage we have already seen.

Acts 3:19-21: Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.

From this passage and the one in Acts 2:38, we have seen that water baptism was for remission of sins but those sins would not be blotted out until Christ returned the second time to earth. It is at that time, the second coming, that Israel’s sins will be blotted out because of what the Lamb did many years before.

 

Six Divisions caused by Baptism

 

Division Number 1

There are those who say you must be baptized to be saved while others say baptism is not necessary for salvation.

Division Number 2

One group baptizes children and other groups do not.

Division Number 3

One group says you must be immersed and another says you need to be sprinkled.

Division Number 4

And then there are those that say baptism, while not necessary for salvation, is an act of obedience unto the Lord and is necessary to become a member of that particular denomination.

Division Number 5

Matthew 28:19-20 says to baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. But Acts 2:38 says to baptize in the name of Jesus Christ.

Division Number 6

Peter was sent to baptize, but Paul was not sent to baptize.

Let’s look at number six in detail.

Galatians 2:7-9: But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.

Here we find that Peter was the apostle of the circumcision. In other words, Peter was the apostle to the Jews. In Acts 2:38, Peter tells a group of Jews, who are gathered at Jerusalem for the Jewish feast day of Pentecost; “Repent and be baptized for the remission of sins.

But Paul, the apostle of the uncircumcision, (Gentiles) tells the Corinthians this in 1 Corinthians 1:17: For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

You can click on my  booklet, Paul and Peter, and see where I compared the gospel Peter preached with the gospel Paul preached. But in this booklet I want to discuss why Peter baptized and Paul did not.

It is assumed by many that since Peter received his instructions to baptize from Jesus while the Lord was on the earth, that this instruction is more significant than that given to Paul.

Hold on! Paul also received his instructions from the Lord, but it was to not baptize. Look: “Christ sent me not to baptize.” (1 Cor. 1:17).

So, why did the Lord tell one apostle one thing and another apostle a completely different thing concerning baptism?

My answer will not sit well with most fundamentalists who do not “rightly divide the Word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). My answer to the question above is simple.

Peter’s command from God to preach baptism for the remission of sins was issued under the Dispensation of the Law, and it was directed specifically to the Jews. Baptism was a temporal work for remission of sins that had to be performed before their sins could be blotted out.  The blotting out of sins will come for Israel when the Lord returns to earth the 2nd time.

Fact: Baptism is a work and works used to be necessary for salvation under the Law.

Paul’s command from God to not baptize was issued under the Dispensation of Grace and was directed primarily to the Gentiles. Paul’s message was: “Christ died for our sins,” whereas Peter’s message was: baptism was for remission of sins.

Remission of sins in this present dispensation is not by a work of righteousness which man can perform, such as baptism.

Look at Titus 3:5: Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

Baptism is a Work

I just lost some of you, but let me encourage you to see my reasons for saying this by asking you a few questions.

  1. What happens, physically, when you are baptized?A person either sprinkles you or immerses you, right? That’s a work performed by someone.When you get saved, who decides whether you would be baptized?
  2. You do! And you agree to allow someone to sprinkle or immerse you. It is a work that must be performed or otherwise you stay dry.

People living in the dispensation of the grace of God (Eph. 3:2) cannot work for their salvation. It is a dispensation in which God gave us a gift in lieu of works, such as water baptism.

Look at Ephesians 2:8-9: For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Notice the words “and that not of yourselves.” In this dispensation you cannot do a work that will guarantee your sins are forgiven because Christ did the work (died) for you on Calvary. Our boasting must be in Christ and not anything you or I do.

When the Lord told Paul he was not sent to baptize, He was on the verge of setting Israel aside. And the command to teach “repent and be baptized for the remission of sins.” would soon be set aside also.

At some point in time Israel was declared – Not my People. (Lo-ammi/Lo-Ami) (Hosea 1:9) It was prophesied by the prophets of old that there would come a day when God would set the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob aside.

Hosea prophesied that Israel would: 1) be scattered, 2) not receive mercy, and 3) not be His people (Look at Hosea 1:5-9, and verse 9 in particular). Then said God, Call his name Loammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God.

Biblically, that day happened around Acts 28:25-28 as Isaiah 6:9-10 foretold. Israel is Lo-Ami (Loammi) today. Israel is a non-entity today. As far as being the chosen of God, Israel does not have that distinction today. The Body of Christ has that distinction.

The religious world has been hoodwinked by religious leaders who do not rightly divide the Word of truth. You need to know that Israel has been set aside, and the command from the Lord to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins has been set aside, too.

God set them aside in order to save Gentiles who had no hope. Look at Romans 11:11-12: I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?

The Greater Commission

If Matthew 28:19-20 was called the great commission, 2 Corinthians 5:14-21 should be called the greater commission. Paul states that we have a ministry of reconciliation. In verse 16 he tells us to forget about the things Jesus did in the flesh.

Why? We are to concentrate on the things He did after His resurrection, for it is in resurrection that the greater power has been achieved – life from the grave. The ministry of reconciliation is a ministry without works, without baptism for the remission of sins.

In this reconciliation time period we are to simply trust in the finished work of Christ. We are to forget about doing things ourselves and receive the gift that God gave us – the Lord Jesus Christ.

I am reminded of a great song, words and music are anonymous:

 

He paid a debt He did not owe,

I owed a debt I could not pay,

I needed someone to wash my sin away

And now I sing that brand new song: Amazing Grace

For Jesus paid the debt that I could never pay

Why do Churches Baptize Today?

The following quotes are what people said about baptism:

1.      Baptism (by full immersion as taught in the Bible) is an act of obedience that should be an immediate part of our acceptance of the gift of grace offered by Jesus Christ… In short, Jesus Christ commands baptism for His followers. Although the act of baptism does not cause eternal salvation, it seems that any believer who refuses baptism should truly examine his or her conversion.

(Remember, baptism was a requirement for remission of sins at one time; but, if one thinks he is baptized for remission of sins today one should question their conversion experience.)

2.    Water baptism is a symbolic burial, by which the new Christian publicly declares they have died, and are now beginning a new life, in Christ. Water baptism is a sign of repentance — repentance means change — a change so drastic that the old person is “buried.” Water baptism outwardly demonstrates what has happened inwardly.

(Baptism was not symbolic of anything, it was performed for remission of sins as God instructed, and repentance was necessary before baptism could be performed.)

3.    Water baptism is not a personal choice, but a command for believers.  Jesus established water baptism as an ordinance when He gave the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:16).

(The key word here is ordinance.  Since we are not under the law (ordinances) this person’s reasoning is way off base.)

4.    Water baptism is a public, outward testimony that indicates a personal, inward  faith.  It gives evidence of the inner change that has already occurred in the believer’s life when he or she was “born again” through faith in Jesus Christ.

      (What an appalling statement this is. How does one assume that being baptized means the person has gone through any change whatsoever? He may or he may not have changed, but I am sure he was not born again because of being dipped in water.)

5.    Baptism, the biblically demanded act designed to manifest true faith, is necessary for the forgiveness of sins.

(Then I ask you, why did Jesus die?)

I did not post these words to make fun of other peoples’ belief.  I posted them to show you the various reasons people give to justify baptism in the Age of Grace.

Whether or not you believe you need to be baptized is not the issue here. You should want to know why there was a command to be baptized and why it became unnecessary to baptize later.

The examples of 1-4 listed above basically say the same thing. I have made a few brief comments on each of them. Most of the people who made those first four statements do not believe baptism is for remission of sins, but the words of number 5 are heretical. Look at what he or she says: Baptism is necessary for the forgiveness of sins.

Whoa! What ever happened to the blood of Jesus being for forgiveness of sins?

The writer of those words cannot mean what he said or he has been blindsided by a denominational belief that refuses to alter their doctrinal position because it would nullify their faith.

Quit listening to what preachers or teachers or writers say, start reading the Word of God yourself and see what it really says. If you are still reading this booklet you should not believe a word of what I have written if I have not backed up those words with the Word of God. You will find that the King James Bible is the Word of God.

Be a Berean, Acts 17:11: These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

Baptism does not bring about forgiveness of sins in this Dispensation of Grace. The blood of Jesus Christ is what remits sin. Those who propose otherwise have taken the work Christ did on Calvary and replaced it with something they can do themselves. This is a disgrace!  This is an abomination likened unto the abomination of desolation mentioned by Daniel (Daniel 12:9; Mark 13:14).

Did Paul Baptize?

     Yes he did! Early in his ministry he was going to Jews and Gentiles alike and baptized a few people. But when he received further revelations from the Lord, and once Israel had become Lo-ammi, he ceased baptizing and declared the cessations of sign gifts also. (Compare 1 Corinthians 12 with Ephesians 4)

I have listed six things about baptism that cause divisions, now I want to discuss another item that causes divisions:

Number 7: Denominationalism.

Baptism is divisive but so are denominational creeds or doctrinal statements. I grew up attending a Southern Baptist church. There are approximately 80 Baptist associations around the world.  Why so many?

I hate to oversimplify, but I must for the sake of space. There are many Baptist denominations because one group of people did not like all of what another group believed so they simply started their own separate “Baptist” denomination.

And Baptists are not the only group that has done that. The Churches of Christ and the Christian Churches were the same until one group wanted to have musical instruments in the building and the other did not.

The reasons for church splits are numerous and most are ridiculous. Truth is there are no denominations mentioned in the Bible and there will not be denominations in heaven. We are so wrapped up in defending our denominational belief we have no time to fight the devil, which started the fight in the first place.

Early in my ministry I would welcome the challenge by those who wanted to debate whether or not we should baptize. Today I will not waste my time.  I teach what I believe about baptism but there is no need or desire to argue about it.

I tell people who attend my Bible classes if they want to be baptized, be baptized.  But all it will do is get you wet.  Baptism will not save you.  Water baptism will not wash away your sins; Christ blood did that over 2,000 years ago.

If you subscribe to the position that baptism is for remission of sins today, then you have prostituted the grace of God. Think about it! Search the Scriptures whether these things are true.

If you keep stating that 2+2 is five, sooner or later you are going to be adamant that it is; however that does not alter the truth: 2+2 = 4.

If you keep on insisting that baptism is for remission of sins you will be adamant about that too.  However that does not alter the truth that Christ’s blood is for remission of sins.

Matthew 7:15: Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

Do not be like the Galatians, who knew the truth but refused to believe it. Look at Galatians 1:6-7: I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.

Believe God’s Word, not the words of men or the creed of denominations.