Archives For baptism

The apostle Paul wrote quite a bit about baptism in his letters, but his letters weren’t written to non-Christians needing to be persuaded to be baptized. His letters were written to Christians, people who had already been baptized. So why would Paul teach already baptized people about baptism? He was admonishing them to live out their baptisms, or the implications of their baptism, in their daily life. What does that mean and how do we “live out” our baptism? Here are a few thoughts to consider.

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Wes was recently invited to join Presbyterian minister, Randy Booth on the Moody Radio program, “Up For Debate” to discuss the issue of infant baptism. So in this episode of the CrossTalk podcast, Wes, Sam, and James discussed some of the points of that debate. The discussion of debating baptism led to a more in-depth discussion about disagreements in general. How ought we to disagree with one another? What ought to be the goal of our disagreements? Those are some of things we covered in this discussion and we hope it proves edifying to you.

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I previously wrote an article on why it’s not biblical to baptize an infant. Because of that article, I was invited to join Presbyterian minister, Randy Booth on the Moody Radio program, Up For Debate to discuss the issue of infant baptism. After accepting this invitation, I took some time to educate myself about Booth’s position. I was actually surprised to learn I was mistaken in my assumptions about why many denominations baptize infants.

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I believe we often baptize people before they’ve been properly taught. But then again, it’s often hard to determine what a person should know before they are baptized. Since baptism is only the beginning point, it is only necessary those who are baptized have a basic understanding of Christian theology, doctrine, and practice. But what exactly constitutes a “basic understanding”? What do people need to know before being baptized? I’m certain I can’t give an exhaustive answer to that question, but perhaps this post will help you as you think through this question.

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When the Bible talks about baptism, it almost always talks about it in connection with forgiveness, salvation, and the washing away of sins. But this confuses many people, because the Bible clearly teaches that man is saved by grace, through faith (Ephesians 2:8). So what, if anything, does baptism have to do with salvation? Let’s see what the Bible really teaches.

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Welcome to Radically Christian Q&A, the two-minute show where we answer your tough Bible questions with honest Bible answers. This show is brought to you by RadicallyChristian.com and Baker Heights church of Christ. Our question today is, “Does a person have to be baptized to be saved? Or is a person baptized because he or she is already saved?”

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I cringe when I hear people talk about whether or not we are saved like the criminal, or the thief, on the cross. As you probably know, there were two men crucified beside Jesus. To one of the men, Jesus said, “Today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). Many have tried to use this as an argument against the necessity of baptism. But as ridiculous as that argument is, sometimes the counter-arguments seem to me just as ridiculous. There is a sense in which our salvation is much like the thief’s salvation and a sense in which it is gloriously different.

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We talk a lot about baptism. And with good reason, baptism is the moment at which a repentant believer’s sins are washed away by the blood of Christ (Acts 2:38; 22:16; Romans 6:1-7; 1 Peter 3:21). But, often we fail to help people understand that being baptized is more than just being forgiven. Being baptized means accepting Christ’s invitation into a very radical lifestyle – the lifestyle of a disciple.

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1 Peter 3:21 says, “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” (ESV). But, does that mean what it seems to mean? Does baptism really “save you”? I hope this video will help you to have a little bit better understanding about baptism.

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I love you and God loves,

Wes McAdams

 

How to be Saved

Wes  —  February 29, 2012

The greatest truth is this, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). The Son of God wrapped Himself in human flesh, suffered, bled, and died that man might be reconciled to the Father through Him. He conquered death through His resurrection, and gave man the hope of eternal life. It is truly Good News!

But how does one receive the salvation that is offered in Christ Jesus? There is too much confusion over this all important subject. So, try and forget all you’ve ever heard about how to be saved, and just listen to the Word of God:

1. Sin is the Reason Salvation is Needed – We have all committed sin (Romans 3:23). Sin is literally “missing the mark” that God has set for us. We weren’t born with sins (Ezekiel 18:20), we chose to sin. And the sin we chose to do separated us from God (Isaiah 59:2). The consequences of sin is death (Romans 6:23); it is what each of us deserves. We deserve to die and spend eternity in hell, separated from God. That’s the bad news.

2. Man is Saved by Grace – Man is incapable of saving himself. Since man’s problem is sin, he must be saved from his sin problem. He must be forgiven of his sins. The bottom line is this, you cannot do anything to deserve the forgiveness of sins. You cannot merit your salvation. Ephesians 2:8-9 says that good works don’t earn salvation. You could do a million good things for others and for God, and those good works would never wash away sin. Only the blood of Jesus can wash away sins (Hebrews 9:22). That’s why salvation is by grace. Salvation is something you are given in spite of what you deserve.

3. Man is Saved through Faith – Ephesians 2:8-9 says that man is saved “by grace through faith.” We are told in Hebrews 11:6 that “without faith it is impossible to please [God].” God is spiritual, invisible, and unseen (John 4:24; Colossians 1:15). Therefore, since you cannot see God, faith is defined as being sure and convicted of things you cannot see (Hebrews 11:1). God, and the salvation He offers, is unseen. You must have faith that He is real and salvation is real. Receiving the salvation of God is not a matter of seeing, hearing, smelling, or feeling something. It is received “through faith.”

4. Faith Includes Belief – At the core of faith is a belief that God is who He says He is (Hebrews 11:6). Real faith believes that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and is present everywhere, because that is what Scripture says about Him. Real faith believes that Jesus is God’s Son, because that is what Scripture says about Him (Acts 8:37). Real faith believes Jesus died, was buried, and was resurrected (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), because that is what Scripture says about Him.

5. Faith Includes Trust – Belief is not the full extent of faith. After all, even the demons believe God is who He says He is (James 2:19). Faith also includes a profound trust in God. In order to receive salvation man must trust that God will do what He says He will do. In the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, multiple examples are given of men and women who were saved from peril when they trusted in God to keep His promises. Man cannot be saved from his sins if he does not trust God to forgive him.

6. Faith Includes Obedience – This is where some misunderstand “faith” and “grace.” Receiving grace through faith does not mean that obedience isn’t necessary. In fact, James says that without obedience, there really is no faith (James 2). As you read through the examples of faith in Hebrews 11, you will find they all obeyed whatever God told them to do in order to be saved. “By faith Noah…in reverent fear constructed an ark” (Hebrews 11:7). Therefore, if man is to receive God’s gift of salvation by faith, he must do whatever he is told to do to receive it.

Here is what God tells man to do to receive salvation:

  • Hear the Gospel – Since man is saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9) and faith comes from hearing God’s word (Romans 10:17), the first thing man must do is really listen to the Good News about Jesus Christ!
  • Believe – Believing God, as already discussed is a part of having faith. In fact, it is called a “work” by Jesus (John 6:29). Man must be obedient to God by believing Him.
  • Repent – Sin was the problem that God man into the situation where he need saving. In order to receive grace, man must die to sin (Romans 6:1-7). Repentance is about changing your mind, your heart, and your life from sin and turning fully toward God.
  • Confess – Scripture says that man’s faith in Him must be so great that he is willing to confess that faith, even if it were to cost him his life (Matthew 10:32-33; Acts 8:37; Romans 10:9-10).
  • Be Baptized – Baptism is not something that a Christian does in order to be obedient. Baptism is something a sinner does to become a Christian. We are told that it’s at the moment of baptism a person’s sins are washed away by the blood of Jesus (Romans 6:1-7; Acts 22:16), his sins are forgiven (Acts 2:38), he is clothed with Christ (Galatians 3:26-28), he is saved (1 Peter 3:21), he receives the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38), and he is added to the church (Acts 2:47).

Do not think that if you believe, trust, and obey what God has told you to do that you have some how earned your salvation and forgiveness. Again, man does not earn salvation, he receives it when he trusts and submits to God. Please, I beg you, take the time to search Scripture and see if these things are true (Acts 17:11). I want to leave you with one last verse:

“And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name” (Acts 22:16).

I love you and the God who gives salvation loves you,

Wes McAdams