Ministry of Love

The intention of this blog is to share Biblical messages at least on a weekly basis. Any response is appreciated. I do not expect everyone to agree with my interpretation of Biblical passages. I will try to respond with love and thoughtfulness.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Matthew 28:18-20,Why We Practice Believers' Baptism by John.

Why We Practice Believers' Baptism
Matthew 28:18-20

1. Notice in the text that we begin by making disciples and then we baptize them.
2. All Christian churches practice Baptism.
3. Our simplest reason for baptizing is that Jesus told us to baptize all believers in the name (not names) of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
4. Now, we could stop right there, and we would have said enough if it were not for all the different doctrines surrounding baptism.
5. Every church, and every Christian, has the right to translate the Scripture for themselves, and every individual has the right to interpret its meaning for himself.
6. I studied Greek and Hebrew in seminary in order to have a better understanding of what God told us.
7. I have no argument with anyone who sees things differently. They interpret the Scriptures by faith, and so do I.
8. Let's look at a few differences that have arisen and do arise among different groups of believers.

I. First, Let's Peek at the History of Baptism.

1. Many Christians think baptism started with Jesus, and of course, Christian baptism did, but baptism as a religious rite did not.
2. It's true that there is no mention of baptism in the Old Testament, but external history, history outside the Bible, tells us the Jews practiced baptism, and everyone knows the history of John the Baptist.
3. In reading about John the Baptist you may have noticed that no one expressed surprise, or questioned his motives or methods when he started baptizing people.
(1) The Pharisee spies asked him if he was the Messiah. He told them he was not.
(2) They asked him why he baptized then.
(3) Apparently, they thought only the Messiah was supposed to baptize, or perhaps they were just trying to build some kind of case against John.
4. John was the first baptizer mentioned in the Bible, but the Jews did practice baptism before John came on the human scene, or I believe they would have reacted strongly against John.
5. Infant baptism is not in the Bible at all, and I am aware of no record of a child or baby ever being baptized during the time the Canon of the Scripture was being formed. Only believers were baptized.
6. I've never seen any reason to change that.
7. Change did occur when ministers began teaching that people had to be baptized in water to be saved.
8. Sprinkling and pouring were the next natural steps in line with that teaching.
(1) Very old, sick, and seriously injured people could not be immersed in water without at least threatening their lives.
(2) Babies could choke and drown if put under water, and some thought baptism was required to get rid of original sin, so they sprinkled or poured.
(3) I know a few Baptists who teach that baptism in water gets rid of original sin.
a. Original sin is the sin of Adam and Eve passed down from parents to children according to some theologians.
b. Personally, I think we inherit a tendency to sin, but we are responsible only for our own sins!
c. Scripture that supports my belief, among others, is Ezekiel 18:2-4: God is speaking: "What do you people mean by quoting this proverb about the land of Israel; 'The fathers eat sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge'? As surely as I live, declares the sovereign Lord, you will no longer quote this proverb in Israel. For every living soul belongs to me, the father as well as the son--both alike belong to me. The soul who sins is the one who will die."
(4) Apparently no one paid attention to that in the early years of Christianity because sprinkling and pouring began, and they have been around ever since.
(5) A glance at any English dictionary will tell you that baptism is a rite that may be carried out by immersion, effusion, or sprinkling.
6. The earliest church buildings, by the way, contained baptismal pools big enough for dipping.
(1) In my own early years, I was taught that the pastor and the candidate walked together down into the pool where the pastor scooped up water in his hand and trickled it over the head of the candidate.
(2) You can buy that story if you like, but I can't and never could.
(3) The Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8:36 asked Phillip, "Why shouldn't I be baptized?"
(4) He was a brand new believer!
a. He wasn't asking to be baptized for "original sin" as far as we know.
b. The fact is, such a thing is never mentioned in the Bible!
c. What is mentioned is that the Eunuch believed in Jesus! And that's all that is needed.
d. When I was a Methodist, I baptized people by immersion.
e. A Baptist pastor told me the church gave him the authority to baptize and asked me where I got my
authority to "scripturally baptize" people?
f. I told him that I got it from God in the commission Jesus gave to all His apostles in Matthew 28:18-20.
g. It's an argument from silence, but nowhere is there a mention of Philip being ordained to baptize, nor is there any reference in Acts 8 to a church meeting where authority could be given.
(5) The NIV does not have Philip's answer to the Eunuch in 8:37. (If you have an NIV, you won't find v 37. They left it out because it is not contained in most early manuscripts.)
(6) I heard a minister explain that the eunuch reached under the seat of the carriage, pulled out a jug of water and said, "Here is water..." A friend of mine reminded him, "The King James says that Phillip and the Eunuch both went down into the water. How do you suppose the Eunuch and Phillip got down into that bottle?"

II. Let's look for a moment at the word "Baptize."

1. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all reported Jesus using the Greek word, baptidzo, which became "baptize" in English. King James suggested to the translators that they transliterate the word so that they could give any meaning to it they wanted it to have!
2. Jesus could have used "proschusis" or "rhantismos." Both are in the New Testament in Hebrews and I Peter, and mean "sprinkle" or "sprinkling."
3. An argument from silence is a poor argument, but I am not doing that here.
4. Jesus was not silent about baptism, and He used the word "baptidzo!" Even the most liberal scholars admit that it meant, and means, to immerse or to plunge under.
5. As a matter of fact, some form of "baptidzo" is used 114 times in the New Testament and translated into English as Baptist, Baptism, Baptisms, Baptized, and Baptizing.
6. The words "proschusis" and "rhantismos" are used and translated as they should be, "sprinkling," in Hebrews and I Peter.
7. Now let's get down to the real meaning of baptism.

III. Water Baptism symbolizes Spiritual Baptism.

1. Would you doubt something John the Baptist said? In John 1:33,34, John the Baptist said, "I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.' I have seen and testify that this is the Son of God."
2. Water baptism symbolizes what happens when we place our lives in the hands of Jesus.
(1) He baptizes us with the Holy Spirit!
(2) Paul, in Ephesians 1: 13,14, said, "And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession--to the praise of his glory."
(3) Again, in Ephesians 4:30, Paul wrote: "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption."
3. By the way, being "sealed" with the Holy Spirit and being "filled" with the Holy Spirit are two different things.
(1) Being sealed is the baptism with the Holy Spirit. We are totally immersed in Him!
(2) Being filled with the Holy Spirit for most people happens when there is a special need to be filled, such as when Stephen was stoned to death, and when the apostles witnessed to all the people in Acts 2 on Pentecost.
(3) Some people may really live in the Spirit and perhaps they are filled with the Spirit all the time.
(1) One of those in the New Testament was Simeon who praised the Lord when he saw the baby Jesus in Luke 2:25.
(2) Another was the prophetess Anna the daughter of Phanuel in Luke 2:36.
(3) All of us should strive to live in the Spirit, but no one will tell you that it will be easy to do.
4. Before the resurrection of Jesus, God's Spirit was on very few people, but now all of God's people are immersed in the Holy Spirit, sealed to the day of redemption!

Conclusion:

1. We baptize believers only because the only ones baptized spiritually are those who believe in and follow Jesus! Mark 16:16 certainly is true when baptism is understood as spiritual, not physical.
2. If the sins of the fathers are not visited on the children, how can anyone accuse any of us of having the sin of Adam on us?
3. It's true, we like our fore-parents Adam and Eve, are sinners before we know what sin is, but there is
no indication that God judges us before we are convicted that we are sinners.
4. It is absolutely certain that all of us who trust Jesus and that includes committing our lives to
Him, were saved the moment we trusted Jesus, we are saved right now, and we will still be saved when we go to meet our Heavenly Father.
5. We have been spiritually baptized in the Holy Spirit of God. We are sealed to that day of redemption, and we will be completely ready to inherit the promise gift of heaven with our God!
6. Have you placed your life in the hands of our Lord Jesus? You can as we pray.

Emmanuel 4/15/2007

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