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.
“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.
Upon reading through the Book of Judges one of the themes that would unfold before your eyes is the “Canaanization of Israel.” You may not initially define what you read as that, but nonetheless, it’s there, definitive, and progressive. The phrase itself deals with the land the children of Israel were commanded to conquer and what happened because they didn’t conquer it the way the LORD had commanded them to. When the children of Israel went into the land of Canaan under the leadership of Joshua, they didn’t have to ‘wing it’, they were given specific instructions to possess the land and expel the inhabitants. Deuteronomy 7 lays this out very clearly: