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The “When” of Baptism

When it comes to the when of Baptism oftentimes people have this notion that baptism is akin to “Christianity 301”, and before one participates in Christianity 301 they need to have completed Christianity 101 and 201. Thus, baptism becomes something a person works up to. In other cases, someone may have such a high view of justification-by-faith-alone that they diminish baptism’s significance because it isn’t an instrument through which God grants a sinner pardon. We want to avoid both errors. We don’t want to make baptism something that a person works up to with the proper training, nor do we want to suggest that it’s something that could be put on the side till someone feels like it. The bible paints a picture that clearly suggests that baptism is part of Christianity 101. That it’s something you do immediately after believing as a foundational act of obedience.

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The “Why” of Baptism

Since Baptism is not considered a meritorious work that justifies and reconciles a man or woman to God, it’s possible that someone, either intentionally or inadvertently, can make too little of it. So while there are those whose view of baptism is so ‘high’, so much so that they trade in the true Gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone for a false gospel of faith plus works, there are those whose view of baptism is so low that they don’t really see any urgent need for a new believer to do it and they don’t think it’s too much of a problem if a professing believer indefinitely puts it off. So then, to be sure that our minds are properly aligned with our God, we will consider the primary why of Baptism.

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Five Amazing Truths Portrayed in Baptism

Is baptism an outward expression of an inward change? Yes it is. However, in our modern-day Christian culture it’s as though that has become the standard reply to the question, “What is Baptism?” While baptism is an outward expression of an inward change it represents and symbolizes so much more – Biblically speaking.

With that being said, I’m going to make an assumption – I’m going to assume that the overwhelming majority of people who are reading this have some level of familiarity with baptism. Therefore, details concerning immersion versus sprinkling, believer’s baptism versus covenant baptism, orthodox views of baptism versus heretical views of baptism, will be set aside for the moment. Instead we will consider the glorious arrow that believer’s baptism by immersion is, as it depicts the spiritual reality/ spiritual baptism that happened upon conversion.

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Does Acts 2:38 Teach Salvation by Baptism?

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.” (Acts 2:38)

First, let’s notice what the people had asked Peter that provoked his response in verse thirty-eight: “What must we do?” (vs.37b). Their question appears akin to the Philippian jailer’s question in chapter sixteen, “What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30b). To which Paul responded by saying, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” (vs.31). For starters, we shouldn’t think that Luke was unaware of this contrast when he comprised this volume. Although the language Peter used in Acts 2:38 is different than that of Paul in Acts 16:31, I would argue that both are saying the same thing using different language in different contexts.

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Does Mark 16:16 Teach Salvation By Baptism?

“He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:16)

 

First, and this is an important preliminary statement, this portion of Mark 16, particularly verses 9 through 20, is not found in the earliest manuscripts we have of Mark’s Gospel. So, if we were teaching through this text verse-by-verse I would spend an extended amount of time dealing with the textual issue we’re presented with here, as well as the likelihood that this section was not in Mark’s original writing. But putting that aside, you can see that within the verse itself it is not the absence of baptism that condemns, it is the absence of faith – “he who does not believe will be condemned” (vs.16b). This would make sense seeing the abundant scriptural testimony of salvation by grace through faith.

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