Baptism is a Bible subject. Baptism is a subject that has something to do with Christianity. Baptism is practiced by every church or organization claiming to follow Christ known to this writer, save one. Baptism is a much-discussed subject among those who aver that they follow Christ. Baptism is a subject people are divided about. Jesus the acknowledged only begotten Son of God was baptized. Baptism is an act or action that has to do with water. Baptism requires another to administer it upon or to a subject.
These things being true it behooves us to learn everything we can regarding Bible (especially New Testament), teaching upon the subject. Once enlightened it is our responsibility to broadcast what we have learned to our friends, relatives and neighbors. If one becomes our enemy because we speak upon the subject then so be it. However, at all times with this, as with any other subject we should strive to have the mind of Christ and the attitude of the Apostles. This writer has found this at times to be difficult, when others attribute to me things that I do not believe or speak. I encourage all to always remember gaining the victory should never be our goal. Winning one to the truth should be our consistent aim. Sometimes and under some circumstances silence is better than speaking. Jesus before His accusers taught this valuable lesson. When nothing is to be achieved “study to be quiet…as we commanded you.” (I These. 4:11). I promise you—your heart will not explode if you refrain from speaking. Let’s notice some things advocated by individuals and churches that claim they know the purpose of baptism.
BAPTISM HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE FORGIVENESS OF AN ALIEN’S SINS
First, it should be said that alien has nothing to do with where one resides, national origin or race physically speaking. An alien in this discussion speaks of those who are not in a covenant relationship with God, those apart from Jesus Christ who are not in the family or church the Savior died for. Such was the state of all Gentiles before Christ descended to earth. “That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenant of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.” (Eph. 2:12).
Next, notice First Peter three twenty and twenty-one. “Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now saved us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” Most are acquainted with the means of salvation utilized by Noah and his family as revealed in Genesis chapters six through nine. Peter alludes to their salvation “by water” to show us the importance of baptism in God’s scheme to redeem sinners in this age of the world. I direct your attention to the phrase “the like figure.” In the American Standard Version it is translated “after a true likeness.” The writer affirms that the salvation of Noah and his family securely in the Ark was a pattern of our salvation by water in baptism. How is there a likeness between the two? Perhaps some questions will be helpful in understanding and applying it.
1st Was not the Ark borne up by the waters of the flood to saved those inside from the destruction experienced by the population of the world at that time?
2nd Was it not the waters of the flood that drew a line between those who were saved and those who were drowned?
3rd Was not the evil that God saw engulfing the whole world destroyed allowing the occupants of the Ark to come forth and enjoy a new world to exist in?
In a true figure or likeness the waters of baptism is the means chosen by God to effect our salvation. A few more questions demonstrate this for the most candid reader.
1st Is not baptism presented as the final condition that one must comply with in order to escape the condemnation of the lost? “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” (Mk. 16:16).
2nd Is there not a line between the saved and those lost in sin? Is that line not clearly revealed to be baptism? “…Baptism doth also now saved us…” (I Pet. 3:21).
3rd Is it not in baptism that the old evil man of sin dies? Is it not from the waters of baptism that this man arises to live in a new existence? “We are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so also we should walk in newness of life.” (Rom. 6:4).
We may hear of a person we have never before seen. As that person is spoken of we may form various mental images of him. Someone then shows us a picture of that individual and we seeing that likeness realize that he is not at all like we supposed. With that likeness (picture), in mind, when we see that person we are able to immediately recognize him. People have many conceptions about what is accomplished in baptism. God drew a picture of what baptism does in the long ago by saving Noah. With this picture or likeness in mind we are able to see how baptism is connected with the forgiveness of alien sinners.
BAPTISM ALONE IS INEFFECTIVE IN OBTAINING FORGIVENESS
As important as baptism is, it is negated if the prerequisites are missing. Some have their children baptized to abolish “original sin” (a subject we will not presently consider). A child that does not and can not understand what is taking place. Facts is, rather than enjoy the ordinance, the child rebels with all its might—screaming and kicking as loudly as possible. That IS NOT BAPTISM as presented in scripture. When a passage is isolated to the exclusion of what is stated elsewhere in the Word of God false doctrines are always the results. When Saul of Tarsus was told to “arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins” that does not means that he had not done things previous necessary to his forgiveness. We must search out other passages and put all things stating the requirements to be forgiven together. Often, persistence is necessary to be able to “rightly divide the word of truth” (II Tim. 2:15). A case in point is seen in the eighth chapter of Acts. Philip was preaching Jesus to a nobleman, “And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?” The preacher could have said something like, “absolutely nothing, as baptism is the only thing that must be done for you to be forgiven.” However, that was not the case, rather, “And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.” Clearly belief in the Jesus Philip had preached unto him was a necessity to salvation. Baptism alone would not accomplish the forgiveness the man was seeking. Believing in his heart in addition to baptism was likewise ineffective, as Philip had to have evidence of his believing. “And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the on of God.” At that point, “they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.” (Acts 8:36-38). Believing and confessing Christ are necessary before one is baptized. “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” (Rom. 10:9). In addition to baptism repentance is a requirement for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). From the teaching of the Word of God we must concluded that baptism alone will not obtain forgiveness for the alien sinner.
BAPTISM IS NOT NECESSARY TO WEAR THE NAME OF CHRIST
The church to which First and Second Corinthians were written was established by the Apostle Paul’s preaching. There arose many and sundry problems within that congregation. There is never rejoicing over problems in any church at any time. There is a glimmer of light however over the problems in congregations when the Apostles were alive because these at least serve us with the solutions inspiration has provided. One problem that arose had the do with wearing various names religiously. The practice escalated to the point of dividing the brethren into little parties. When this information reached the Apostle he dealt with the matter. “Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.” (I Cor. 1:12). He proceeded to show how erroneous the practice was (is,) by asking some questions. It is in these questions that we are benefited respecting out present subject. “Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? (I Cor. 1:13).
Is Christ divided? They knew He was not divided as Christ came into the world to break down the wall of separation between Jew and Gentile effecting “one new man” (see Eph. 2:14-17). There is in Christ one body, yet they by wearing various human names—no matter how grand were the men—served the Devil’s purpose of dividing the body (church Eph. 1:22-23). Why do men and women fail to grasp this lesson today as human institutions gather to worship wearing human names rather than the name of Christ? At any rate, Paul sought to correct the situation at Corinth, by showing them the requirements that must be met if one is authorized to wear a name religiously. One of these requirements is Divine and one is human. They are stated for us.
Was Paul crucified for you? Was this not absurd and horrifying to their eyes upon reading these words? Of course, Paul was not crucified for them. They knew Christ was assigned by the Father to taste death for every man” (Heb. 2:9). By wearing the name of Paul (or any other), they were testifying to the world that he was the means of their salvation, that his death could and did effect their salvation. Jesus Christ alone accomplished this for all people “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name; That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of the Father.” (Phil. 2:9-11). It is a tragic thing to take upon oneself the name of any other than Christ. Dear Reader, take note of the fact that to wear a name means that person was crucified for you.
Were ye baptized in the name of Paul? If it was correct for them to wear the name of Paul that means they had to be baptized in Paul’s name or by his authority. Jesus gave the authority to baptize when He issued the Great Commission (Mt. 28:18-19; Mk. 16:15-16; Lk. 24:46-47). It is true that Paul preached the necessity of baptism and that he did baptize people, but it was not on his own authority. He as well as all the Apostles and early preachers of the gospel baptized in the name of Christ enabling those immersed to receive the remission of their sins. This puts baptism in a place that few people have recognized. If people today would accept what the Apostle is arguing here their view of baptism would be greatly altered.
TO WEAR A NAME RELIGIOUSLY TWO THINGS MUST BE TRUE
One: someone must be crucified to take away sin. Jesus died for all of us upon the tree of crucifixion. Two: one must be baptized by that person’s (the one crucified), authority. Putting it in focus, we have the following.
To wear the name of Paul:
- Paul must be crucified for us.
- We must submit to baptism to accomplish the purpose Paul has authorized.
- Therefore, it would then be right to wear the name of Paul.
But, the facts are:
- Paul was not crucified for us.
- We cannot be baptized in his name.
- Therefore, it is sinful to wear the name of Paul (or any other man) religiously.
On the other hand:
- Jesus Christ was crucified for us.
- Jesus authorized us to be baptized in His name.
- Therefore, it is right for those baptized in His name to wear the name of Christ.
But, the fact is:
To wear the name of Christ without being baptized is sinful.
Barney Owens 1509
Friendship is a responsibility, not an opportunity