Being politically correct is a sign of our times—a way of life, and, sadly it has crept into religion. Some go out of their way to avoid anything that has the scent of controversy. Admittedly, coming up with any doctrine that results in a “party spirit” or outright division is contrary to New Testament teaching. However, things that have to do with the forgiveness of past sins as well as ones eternal salvation must be broached. These pages have concerned themselves with such subjects. In this short series and at other times the subject of baptism has been addressed because it has to do with the point at which one is saved. If perchance you have not read Part I and/or Part II it can be forwarded to you, as a perusal of the subject is continued here.
THERE IS ONE BAPTISM
“There is…one baptism” (Eph. 4:3-4). There are several baptisms mentioned in scripture, such as the baptism of Moses in the cloud and the sea, the baptism of John, the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Ghost), and the baptism of the great commission just to name some. When the Apostle wrote to the church at Ephesus the baptism unto Moses, the baptism of John as well as the baptism of the Holy Spirit had fulfilled their purposes and were no longer relevant as there then was only one baptism preached and submitted to by sinners to obtain the remission of sins enabling them to enjoy a covenant relationship with the Lord. In addition, it was particularly pertinent that the Apostle made that statement to the Ephesian Church. A great preacher “eloquent and mighty in the scriptures” named Apollos preached in Ephesus on the subject of baptism. The problem was, he knew only “the baptism of John.” John was sent of God to “prepare the way of the Lord” by pointing the Jews to His imminent coming demanding that they ready themselves by “repentance and baptism.” When each Jew “should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus” he was to “confess his sins” and then submit to baptism (Acts 19:4, Mk. 1:5). Jesus death and resurrection spelled the end of John’s baptism, as the Disciples of the Lord were to preach the baptism of Christ for the remission of sins, to all men (not the Jews only). Two Disciples of Christ encountered Apollos and after hearing him preach took him home with them ”and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.” Apollos then went to Corinth preaching Christ unto the people. In the mean time Paul arrived in Ephesus and encountered certain disciples whom he determined were baptized unto John’s baptism. He explained that John’s preaching (and baptism) pointed to the coming of Christ. Since Christ had already come, John’s baptism as Apollos had been preaching and his baptism was ineffective. These then “were baptized in the name of the Lord.” (Acts 18:24-19:7). When Paul wrote the epistle to the Ephesians some of their number had been baptized with two baptisms—John’s at the hands of Apollos and Christ’s at the hands of Paul. The baptism commanded by Christ is necessary and effective, while the baptism God had commissioned John to administer had passed away as it did not and could not accomplish the purpose that is accomplished by the baptism administered under the authority of Christ. Therefore, Paul assures them that there is now one and only one baptism. A truth that must be taught and learned over and over as more than one baptism is widely accepted until this very day. One baptism means exactly that—that there is one, but at the same time there is not a multiplicity. It is the baptism administered by the authority of Jesus Christ granting one the remission of sins and putting him into a relationship with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. When performed the Lord adds the baptized believer to the number of disciples making up the body or church of Christ. It is preceded in each person by repentance of sin and a confession of faith in Jesus Christ as the only begotten Son of God. It is followed by a reformed life where the fruit of repentance is obvious, in good works and a gathering each first day of the week with fellow Christians to worship God by honoring Jesus Christ. The one baptism is honored in others who are thus baptized by all who were previously baptized according to scripture. At the same time any and all other baptisms are not recognized and are not considered beneficial.
I have been contacted recently by two people separated by several states inquiring about two situations that are similar, if not identical. The people are Christians, were married then for whatever reason removed themselves from fellowship with the Lord and communion with the church. While in this state they divorced (one or more times), and have remarried. Deciding that they needed the Lord, came back to the local church and requested baptism, so that their sin would be removed and they now “being new creatures” could remain with their present marriage partners with the Lord’s blessings. I have been asked “is their marriage state acceptable to God.” Before proceeding, the answer is NO.
Involved here are actually two doctrinal errors. This question is a legitimate one based upon another situation that is accepted by many people. More than fifty years ago an older preacher taught me that “God does not recognize nor dis-recognize the marriage of sinners.” He then concluded that “a sinner can marry, divorce and remarry as many times as he wishes and when he becomes a Christian he may keep and stay with his present partner. God recognizes only that marriage.” Although there are many that are not bold enough to state it just that way, they teach others the same thing. Let pause here to say, the recent decision by the US Supreme Court allowing “same-sex” marriage has put a crimp in the style of those advocating this, since to be consistent, if two people are married of the same-sex and desire baptism and admission into fellowship of the church they must receive them. “But,” say they, such a union is morally wrong!” Exactly, and so is adultery morally wrong. Remember the Lord said, “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” (Mt. 19:4-6). Jesus recognized that there are two Divine institutions: the home, and the church, a fact that many have forgotten. We can no more disassemble and reorganize the home than we can the church. Men have attempted to reorganize the church creating mongrel institutions (denominations). While members of the church repudiate these, there is a turning around to accept the dissolution of the home. Jesus gave one, and only one, reason for a person to divorce and remarry. Said He, “I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.” (Mt. 19:9). If Jesus is correct—of course He is—a person in an improper marriage is an adulterer. But, considering what is preached, as stated above, former marriage ties are done away with. It must be admitted that ”Baptism removes sin” yet, it does not take away sin—any sin—that one continues in. If the marriage is adulterous, it remains adulterous after baptism. As a young preacher and elderly brother said to me: “my girlfriend and I were not members of any church when I asked her to marry me. In a sort time we were married. She later went into the Baptist church. I soon also went into that church. Then I heard the Gospel and was added to the church of Christ. She later obeyed the Gospel and was added to the church. Now, when did we become married.” Good question indeed. I have never heard of a preacher demanding that a couple have another marriage ceremony after they were baptized. Some may ask, “Doesn’t baptism forgive all sin, including adultery?” Absolutely!!! But in such cases as we are discussing that is begging the question. Paul writing to the Corinthians named several sins then said, “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” (I Cor. 6:11). All agree that the thief did not continue to steal, the drunkard did not continue to drink, yet, some declare that the adulterer can continue to commit adultery. The legs of the lame are not equal. The present dilemma about a fallen Christian wishing to renew fellowship with God and communion with the church would have never surfaced were it not for the practice referred to as advocated by some regarding aliens.
The fact is “there is one baptism” not two nor two dozen. One must be baptized to secure remission of sins, but we are not (once becoming a Christian), to re-baptized again every time we commit a sin (See I Jn. 1:6-10). There is one baptism and one properly baptized only gets wet if baptized a second or more times. It does not erase any sin.
EARLY CHRISTIANS DID NOT STRESS BAPTISM AS THEY TAUGHT OTHERS
This or equivalent statements are often made by well-meaning people. It therefore will serve us well to investigate a little concerning this matter to glean the information the New Testament affords us. By “Early Christians” in the above caption I mean those other than Apostles. The first of these that we have knowledge of is Stephen. We will never know what he would have taught on the subject of Baptism as the Jews stopped him before he could finish his first sermon.
The next was Philip. Going to Samaria he “preached Christ unto them.” We are given an outline of his preaching when we are told, “when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.” In addition Simon “was baptized.” All of these “were baptized in the name of the Lord.” (Acts 8:5, 12-13 & 16). As noted before from Acts 2:38 when one is baptized “in the name of the Lord,” they are Baptized “for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). The conclusion: the people were baptized upon hearing Philip because he preached Baptism for the remission of sins.
Ananias was directed by the Lord to approach Saul of Tarsus, who believed on Jesus whom he had seen in route to Damascus three days earlier and confessed Him as Lord. In these days he spent repenting of his former way of life. When Ananias came before Saul he said, “And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” (Acts 22:16). Saul had faith, had repented, and had confessed Christ, but, yet, had not been cleansed of sins. He lacked obeying the very thing that would “wash away his sins.” What was lacking? We need not guess as inspiration tells us what men of our age complain about—Baptism. He was baptized “in the name of (by the authority of) the Lord” or, for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). “Early Christians did not stress Baptism as they taught others” is not true.
WATER—A LOT OF WATER OR A LITTLE BIT OF WATER—DOES NOT SAVE
This contention misses the point of Baptism entirely. Baptism is not “so much water,” it is an act of obedience that must take place in water. When we step out into a rainstorm we never say, “I am stepping out into baptism.” As to the amount of water, the word baptism means “immersion” when correctly translated, therefore it is necessary to have enough water to be immersed. A small cruse of water does not allow one to obey the Lord by being immersed. We read of the preacher
Philip opening the understanding of a certain nobleman as to the identity of the Christ. “Then Philip opened his mouth…and preached unto him Jesus.” Can anyone preach Jesus without presenting the evidence to prove Him to be Christ enabling the hearer to believe the truth respecting Him? Can anyone preach Jesus without declaring the command or commandments one is to obey to separate the hearers from the remained of the human race? Philip preached exactly what the Savior wanted him to preach, the very thing he preached to multitudes in Samara, he preached to this individual. Remember what Jesus commissioned His disciples to preach? Mark reveals it, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” (Mk. 16:15-16). Going along the road “they came unto certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?” Recall the words of Jesus, “he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved,” Philip knowing that both “belief and baptism” are necessary would not baptize a man that did not believe, so, we are told “Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.” The response of the sinner is quite wonderful, he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God…and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.” (Acts 8:35-39). The point here that we cannot overlook is they came unto a certain water which they could see and which they both went down into—enough water to immerse the eunuch. He rendered obedience to Christ in water. That is the Baptism we are to teach, the Baptism men upon hearing are to believe, the Baptism believing sinners are to obey in water to be saved. Barney Owens 1511
The difference between gossip and news often depends upon whether you heard it or told it