Thursday, November 13, 2008

Baptism as a Gift

A dear friend of mine writes:
Baptism is not something we do to get saved. Baptism is a gift from God to save those who believe. We receive baptism from God and everything that He gives with it.
I find it to be a statement worth considering.

17 comments:

Popcorn-Paul said...

I hear people make comments like this more often than I like...concerning Baptism being a gift, or that Baptism is a mere public announcement or declaration of one's faith. Yet they never seem to back these understandings with a direct scripture.
Whereas I do believe Baptism to be an act of obedience to scripture as a necessary component of walking into Salvation based on multiple and very poignant scriptures such as:

John 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

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.

Mark 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

I see water Baptism as an act of obedience to these and other scriptures...not as a gift, and certainly not as a work.

I have even encountered individuals that say that when they were in their mother's womb, they were immersed in water, and consider this to be their Baptism in water.
However Acts 10:44-48 STRONGLY negates this erroneous assumption. It is the account of the Gentiles first receiving the Baptism of the Holy Ghost.
44While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.
45And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.
46For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,
47Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?
48And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.

I always bring up the fact that Peter "Commanded" them to be baptized. (I even looked this word up to verify that it had not been incorrectly translated.)
You'd be the man to verify this...is the word "Commanded" the best choice of wording for this translation?
If so, if the act of Baptism was little more than a simple gift or a mere public affirmation of one's faith, why would Peter COMMAND them to be Baptized?

Sorry for the long comment, but this also brings me to another puzzling scripture for people who Baptize in the Titles: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Acts 4:12 says,
Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

You are a learned man of scripture...Tell me, how --specifically-- can/do we acquire Salvation through the "Name" of God/JESUS?

What other scriptures in the New Testament outline a manner in which Salvation comes about through the Name of God.

And what of scriptures like Col 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

Here again the name of God/JESUS seems to bear a strong connotation.

One final note...This is one I bring up when I go out on the streets and am soliciting people to teach them Bible Studies.
I ask people that confess they believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior:
1) Do you believe the entire Bible is the Holy Ghost inspired Word of God? "Yes"
2) Then you would agree that the whole Bible is True? "Yes"
3) And if it is True, then it cannot or will not contradict itself. "Yes"

I then have them read Matt 28:19-20
And then ask them to read Acts 2:38
I point out to them, and ask them whether at first glance these scriptures don't seem to contradict each other. I say in Matthew Jesus says that we are to Baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
And yet in Acts Peter says to Baptize in JESUS name.

You are a scholarly man...in what manner could one Baptize a person and do so in accordance with ALL the scriptures that have been identified in this comment?

Chyntt said...

I appreciate you taking the time to comment on this post.

I'm a little taken-aback by your repeated indications that I have the answers: "You'd be the man to verify this"; "You are a learned man of scripture"; "You are a scholarly man".

Whereas those claims are flattering to my ego, I must object that although I like to explore ideas, especially those which cause us to look at things from a different angle than that to which we're accustomed, and whereas I often present my thinking as "this is the way it is", I recognize that I'm really pretty ignorant in the ultimate end: I may think I know what I'm talking about, and present myself that way, but I'm no expert in the things of God.

Chyntt said...

Concerning the blog post itself, it's been long enough that I don't recall my thinking when I posted it. But I was able to search my email and find the reference, along with a reply to it. I responded:

I'm really glad you've included me on your list. I very much enjoy reading your random thoughts. I find the way you've put the start of this one -- "Baptism is not something we do to get saved..." -- forces one to look at the issue from a different angle, like standing on your desk at school just to get a different perspective from the usual. It's intriguing.

Combined with my statement in the actual post, that "I find it to be a statement worth considering," I think perhaps I was neither agreeing nor disagreeing with the sentiment, but rather merely finding it worth thinking about.

I'm glad it spurred you to think about it.

Like you, I do not consider baptism to be a mere public announcement or declaration of one's faith, but rather an act of obedience. Perhaps unlike you, I consider a failure to be "properly" baptized to be covered by the baptism undergone by Jesus, one which was for the purpose of "fulfilling all right-ness", so that his right-ness, even if I get it wrong, is given to me, as a free gift, based on my heart's condition. It's not the washing that causes baptism to save us, but rather the answer of a clean consciousness toward God (1 Peter 3:21): "I've obeyed God in this command."

If the tip of my nose fails to go under, is my baptism "valid"? If I know about it, it may not be, if it violates my conscience. If I don't know about it, yes, it's valid, because Jesus did it right, and his right-ness is given to me because I've obeyed to the point where my conscience does not condemn me.

But the point remains: if my nose-tip fails to be immersed, I have failed to "keep the commandment", even though I've been obedient according to my understanding. So is salvation dependent on commandment-keeping, or on obedience to the best of one's ability?

Chyntt said...

I believe it's unconscionable that anyone would proclaim that a person can be a Christian without undergoing immersion: that's clearly not what the text teaches, as you eloquently pointed out. It's at the point of immersion (a more accurate word than 'baptism") that "the rule-book" specifies one as becoming a Christian. In this way, it's like signing a contract. As soon as you decide to sign the contract, it's binding in your heart, but it's not "legal" until you actually sign. This is the same principle Jesus taught when he spoke about adultery: as soon as you decide to go after the married woman who is not your wife, you've bound yourself to being an adulterer. In other words, the "reality" occurs when the decision is made, but the "legality" is that no human can condemn you until the action actually occurs.

Likewise, it may be that when a person decides to submit to Jesus, that God sees that as the "reality", but as far as the "legality" goes, you simply can not claim to be a Christian until the point in time when you come up out of the waters of immersion. It's the difference between the "reality" of coming home from the job interview exulting to your spouse that you got the job, and the "legality" of being processed by Human Resources the next Monday morning, officially making you a job-holder. You don't get the benefits of being an employee until the legalities are handled (except and unless, the hiring company makes exceptions, which is dependent on their grace, and doesn't leave you a legal leg to stand on).

I think the conflict between those who insist on immersion as essential to salvation and those who say it's a mere sign boils down to the viewpoint of looking at the "reality" verses the "legality".

"Legally", one is not a Christian until immersion, and those who proclaim Christianity prior to immersion are claiming it prior to when Christians in the New Testament did.

My friend's statement, that "Baptism is a gift from God to save those who believe," may be true: a person becomes a believer, and decides to follow Jesus. God, seeing the "reality" of the heart-change, gives us the gift of baptism to "legally" save that believer.

But you're right; I have no direct scripture to support this statement, and I would not hold too tightly to it as being right or wrong. I do think it's worth considering.

Chyntt said...

Concerning Acts 10:48 -- "...is the word 'Commanded' the best choice of wording for this translation?" -- I'm no expert, but I think it's an adequate word. I might would use "prescribed", but "commanded" is good, and seems to be the consensus amongst professional interpreters.

Concerning your questions about baptizing in the name of Jesus vs in the names of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, I'm not really comprehending what you're getting at. I'm a little confused as to why you're asking me, as if I've made comments on the issue (I don't recall having done so). I'm also a little confused what exactly you're asking: "What is the method for acquiring salvation through the 'name' of Someone"? "What is the method for acquiring salvation 'through' the name of Someone"? "'Who' is the Someone through whom we acquire salvation?" Other?

Again, thanks for the comment.

Popcorn-Paul said...

Re: I'm a little taken-aback by your repeated indications that I have the answers: "You'd be the man to verify this"; "You are a learned man of scripture"; "You are a scholarly man".
Whereas those claims are flattering to my ego, I must object that although I like to explore ideas, especially those which cause us to look at things from a different angle than that to which we're accustomed...

You'll have to excuse me...I am new to this (blog-style) forum. --So pardon my ignorance...these references were in no way intended in a derogatory, or clandestine undertone.
I was under the impression...based upon how I entered your blog in the first place, that you were learned a man who had studied both Hebrew, and Ancient Greek and knew them extensively.
I suppose I gained this misperception via having read other articles within your blog in which you correct/respond to the comments of others with a --seemingly-- authoritative prose.
For example: In your piece entitled, "God is One."
You had one anonymous individual offer their 2 cents concerning this article. In a portion of your response to their comment you stated, "If God meant to convey the idea of absolute 'oneness' rather than a unity, the word 'yachid' would have been a clearer choice.

Just in case you were not aware, most people do not have this sort of ready-reference knowledge of the Hebrew language withing their grasp.
As an individual who had just entered your blog for the first time, and read a few of your articles, I walked away with the impression that you were a scholar...hence the references of, "You'd be the man to verify this"; "You are a learned man of scripture"; "You are a scholarly man".

Popcorn-Paul said...

Re: Perhaps unlike you, I consider a failure to be "properly" baptized to be covered by the baptism undergone by Jesus, one which was for the purpose of "fulfilling all right-ness", so that his right-ness, even if I get it wrong, is given to me, as a free gift, based on my heart's condition. It's not the washing that causes baptism to save us, but rather the answer of a clean consciousness toward God (1 Peter 3:21): "I've obeyed God in this command."

Especially focusing on this statement, "...Fulfilling all right-ness", so that his right-ness, even if I get it wrong, is given to me, as a free gift, based on my heart's condition...."

~~Not trying to pick apart and be scrutinous of every little word or phrase~~
Assuming you are a proponent of the understanding that all of scripture is the inspired word of God, and that if we say that we believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior, and that in-so-doing we look to the Word of God to be our sole guide and resource into how we live our lives; I ask you for a scriptural reference to back your understanding that even if you get "it" wrong, Jesus' --having gotten it right-- nullifies your error.

Hosea 4:6 ...My people perish from a lack of knowledge.

John 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

Prov 3:5-8 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.

These scripture tell me that I need to search a matter out, and NOT rely on the teachings of men, or not to rely on my own human understanding.

I don't think ignorance is going to be a reasonable defense for anyone when they stand before the judgement seat of the LORD. As you said, if the tip of my nose is not fully immersed in the waters of Baptism, and I have knowledge of it, then I believe in good conscience that I would need to make certain it was done right as opposed to hoping rely on Jesus having gotten it right for me. (Not saying this is your stance...but know this, as a teacher, we will be held to a much higher standard.)

Popcorn-Paul said...

Re: Concerning your questions about baptizing in the name of Jesus vs in the names of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, I'm not really comprehending what you're getting at. I'm a little confused as to why you're asking me, as if I've made comments on the issue (I don't recall having done so). I'm also a little confused what exactly you're asking: "What is the method for acquiring salvation through the 'name' of Someone"? "What is the method for acquiring salvation 'through' the name of Someone"? "'Who' is the Someone through whom we acquire salvation?" Other?


I apologize for your confusion...I will attempt to answer the last confusion first...surrounding "the name." In all of these latter comments surrounding baptism, I was merely challenging you to consider how in light of Acts 4:12 which says,
Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

I was asking you how the "Name" of Jesus saves us --per the 2 verses preceding this verse imply?
Or put another way, I am asking you to consider this passage of scripture within the context of applying it to your own entrance into salvation...how would Jesus Name play a role in your salvation?

Regarding your initial confusion:
Believe it or not...even if you are not a learned man of the Ancient Greek Language or a learned man of the Hebrew language, I respect the fact that you search things out. I was VERY (if I could bold that word and make it bigger I would) impressed with your article on "God is One."
Dare I say-- I covet your Jewish resource...I wish I had such a man to inquire of a few things I have questions about in the old testament.
I enjoy your writings and your writing style/personality.
So I guess the reason I was asking these questions of you had more to do with the respect I had for you (as a man that studies matter out) than it did having anything to do with you having broached the subject in the first place.
I apologize if this was not appropriate to do on a blog page...like I stated earlier...yours was the first time I'd even responded to a blog.
{Until you made reference to having written these articles so long ago, I did not even know that I was speaking to articles written in 2008...it was only after having to go back into them that I came to this realization.}

Chyntt said...

Oh, I didn't take them as derogatory or negative in any way. I took them as highly flattering. Just not deservedly so. I ain't "all that".

But it sure felt good to hear it. :-)

Chyntt said...

Scrutiny is good; "as iron sharpens iron".... I appreciate you challenging my thinking; I need that.

When I said I was "taken aback", that doesn't mean your comments were inappropriate in any way; it just means I'm surprised to be considered so learned. I'm no expert, and just wanted to make sure you understood I'm not to be considered an authority.

Chyntt said...

I bless Yah that two people can see the same passage in two different lights, so that iron-sharpening can occur. I want to share with you my views of the passages you cited, but first I want to answer your request for a scriptural reference to back my understanding that even if I get "it" wrong, Jesus' having gotten it right, nullifies my error.

I wouldn't say it nullifies my error; it is still an error. It's just that the error is forgiven, and his right-ness is given to me in place of my error.

As you're aware, all of us are under sin, and "there is no one righteous, not even one" (Rom 3:9b-10). The Bible often talks about righteous people, about being righteous, but at the bottom line, no one but Yeshua is righteous, not even one. I believe this is, for lack of a better term, phenomenological language, which speaks of the phenomenon as seen from a human viewpoint, like the sun rising or setting or moving across the sky, which it doesn't actually do but only appears to do from the human viewpoint. Likewise, a man can appear righteous from a human viewpoint, but from God's viewpoint, even our best righteousnesses are as filthy as a menstrual pad (Isa 64:6, and yes, that's the meaning behind the phrase "filthy rags").

So try as we might, be as right as we can be, and we're still filthy before God. We simply are not, and can not be, righteous. The only way we can be righteous (in a full sense, not a "phenomenological" sense, both of which are Biblical uses of the term) is for righteousness to come from somewhere other than ourselves. That right-ness comes from Jesus.

Romans 1:17 says that the righteous person will live by faith. This is at the beginning of his explanation which ends with the above Rom 3:9-10 quotation that both Jew and Gentile are unrighteous, that not one person is righteous. Between these two book-ends, he explains that God is against unrighteousness, and He gave the Gentiles who didn't want to do righteousness over to that unrighteousness (Rom 1:21ff). However, the Gentiles who do the righteousness which is instinctively in their hearts will be excused by their consciences:

14 So, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, instinctively do what the law demands, they are a law to themselves even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts. Their consciences testify in support of this, and their competing thoughts either accuse or excuse them 16 on the day when God judges.... (Rom 2:14-16a).

Chyntt said...

Paul also points out between these two book-ends that although the Jews have the Law, they still fail, being just as guilty as the law-less Gentiles (2:1; 2:17ff). He points out that there are advantages to being a Jew, but being righteous is not one of them (3:1-11). Note particularly verse 9: "What then? Are we any better? Not at all!"

A couple of other points from within these two book-ends:

* Eternal life is granted to those who "by patiently doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality" (2:7). It's the seeking, the effort, that is rewarded, not the exactitude of performance.

* Keeping the "law's requirements", even if the most basic step (of circumcision) is missed, is what matters (2:24-29). It's the inward condition, not the outward condition, which matters.

So, if we can't be righteous (in the full sense), and right-ness must come from an outside source, and if it's based on an inward condition rather than an outward condition, what is that inward condition?

Romans 3:21 through chapter 4 answers this. I'm rewording and paraphrasing it here, but I encourage you to compare my rewording with the version of your choice:

Now, apart from law-keeping, God's right-ness has been revealed, a right-ness through faith in Christ Jesus, to all who believe. They are justified freely by His grace through the "buy-back provision" that is in Christ Jesus, whom God presented as a "make it right between God and Man" transaction, through faith in his blood. This demonstrates His right-ness. God presented Christ to demonstrate His right-ness at the present time, so that He would be righteous and declare as righteous the person who has faith in Jesus. We conclude that a person is made righteous by faith, not by works of the law. And this is exactly how Abraham was made righteous. Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as right-ness. Unlike working, where you get paid for doing the job instead of getting paid simply as a gift, the person who believes on Him who declares the ungodly as righteous, is considered as righteous because of his faith. Those who believe, but aren't circumcised, are credited with right-ness, just as was Abraham, who has thus become their father.

Then in chapter 5 we have the wrap-up: "through the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous" (v. 19).

That's a lot of text, but the take-home message is that a believer is given the right-ness of Jesus' obedience.

Chyntt said...

Now, to look at:

John 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

An alternative rendering is, "You search the scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life...". I'm unsure which is the more accurate rendering, but it's something to be aware of.


Prov 3:5-8 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.

These scripture tell me that I need to search a matter out, and NOT rely on the teachings of men, or not to rely on my own human understanding.



You are so correct; we are not to rely on our own understanding. I used to believe I was saved because I had/believed/obeyed the correct doctrine. Then I learned that my understanding is very fallible (and often wrong/changing). Now I trust Yeshua to save me, whether I have the correct doctrine or not. I try the best I can to have the correct doctrine, but I no longer trust that I'm saved because I've gotten it all right -- that's what "self-rightness" is.

Jesus scolded some Pharisees for having all the answers in John 9:41. They had asked if he was calling them blind, and he answered, "If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, 'We see,' your guilt remains." So it would seem that ignorance can be a reasonable defense....

I don't think ignorance is going to be a reasonable defense for anyone when they stand before the judgement seat of the LORD. As you said, if the tip of my nose is not fully immersed in the waters of Baptism, and I have knowledge of it, then I believe in good conscience that I would need to make certain it was done right as opposed to hoping rely on Jesus having gotten it right for me. (Not saying this is your stance...but know this, as a teacher, we will be held to a much higher standard.)

Chyntt said...

I was asking you how the "Name" of Jesus saves us --per the 2 verses preceding this verse imply? Or put another way, I am asking you to consider this passage of scripture within the context of applying it to your own entrance into salvation...how would Jesus Name play a role in your salvation?

I think that when the phrase "the name" is used in this context, the Scriptures are not concerned with the way certain human sounds are produced in order to provide a means of referring to a person. So if we call him Jesus, or Jehu, or Yeasuse, or Isaeous, or Yeshu, or Yahshua, or Joshua, or Christ, or Messhia, or ..., is of minor import.

I think what Peter, et al, are saying is that salvation is not found in Buddha, or in Caesar, or in Moses, or in Bar Kochba, or in Pharoah, or in Diana, or in Baal, etc. Salvation is only found in Jesus.

Chyntt said...

I appreciate you telling me that you were impressed with the "God is One" post.

Chyntt said...

And I especially appreciate you telling me you enjoy my writings/style.

I do, however, seem to have a flaw when I engage in two-way conversation: I come across somehow as harsh or over-bearing or ... something; I'm not quite sure how to describe it, but even in our short exchanges here, I think I've already made you feel like I was trying to correct you for the way you wrote. I apologize for that; it's not intended, and it seems to be a blind-spot of mine that I can't see until I've already offended. Forgive if I've offended you, please. I really appreciate your commenting.

Popcorn-Paul said...

RE: And I especially appreciate you telling me you enjoy my writings/style.

I do, however, seem to have a flaw when I engage in two-way conversation: I come across somehow as harsh or over-bearing or ... something; I'm not quite sure how to describe it, but even in our short exchanges here, I think I've already made you feel like I was trying to correct you for the way you wrote. I apologize for that; it's not intended, and it seems to be a blind-spot of mine that I can't see until I've already offended. Forgive if I've offended you, please. I really appreciate your commenting.

As I grow in the LORD, I have learned that if I have a positive thought about someone, it is my duty to point out that observation to them...especially if they are a child of God.

(Jas 4:17) Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

You did not offend me...I too have experienced what you have described, (i.e., people misinterpreting or misunderstanding my prose). There is a great deal to be said for communication face-to-face. As much as I enjoy communicating via the written word; it can be a hindrance as well, because it impedes those with whom we communicate from adding into the equation all we're attempting to communicate. Much can be delineated from the visual aspects of our communication as well as the audible presentation within our communication 1)our facial gestures, 2)our voice tone, 3)our voice inflection; all of which are tell-tell indicators of our prose.
I muse within because it would seem that in my effort to cover all my bases...just in case you were offended, you in turn believed you had misrepresented yourself as the result of my apologizing...does this make sense? (Remember...I too have have experienced the exact same problems in written dialog with others. It is because I value you as a resource, and possibly a new friend that I was working to cover all my bases...as it were.)
I have been strongly considering starting a blog myself...to discuss these and other areas of thought.
When communicating via email, text, and now blog...I have learned in my walk in the LORD to not allow my emotions to get the best of me...especially if what someone says insights a strong emotion within me. I have learned to write things out and hang onto them for a day or so, and re-read them and allow the Spirit to guide me. I have also learned one of the devil's greatest and most superlative offenses against us is to get us in a mode of anxiousness or make us feel as though responding to an email in the thrust of our emotions is imperative. Praise be to God for helping me to be aware of this offensive, and to carefully consider all that I write, do and, say. Are people still going to take me wrong? You bet!
I will pray that the LORD direct and guide you as He has, and continues to remind this mud-ball to be hasty in NOTHING, but in everything prayer and supplication.