Three Times Wet–Part 1

            One evening we entertained some Christian friends, and among other things the subject of baptism came up.  It prompted me to share a few key points on this topic with you.  It can be confusing, so a brief Bible study seemed like a good idea..

            First, let’s be very plain about one thing.  Baptism will not save anyone.  Do you see baptism listed in Eph. 2:8-9?  It’s a definitive passage on salvation.  “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”  How about in I Jn. 3:23?  It reduces the Christian life to its simplest form.  “”And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.”  See if baptism fits into Heb. 9:14, 22 on forgiveness of sin.  “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?….And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.”  Blood had to be spilled for forgiveness of sin in both the Old and New Testaments.  Christ was the ultimate, final sacrifice.  We can each trust in His shed blood as sufficient for salvation.

            What about Acts 2:38-39?  Many of the Jews Peter preached to on the Day of Pentecost were convicted in their hearts and wondered what to do next.  “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. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call.”  Peter spoke in terms his Jewish audience could understand.  They likely already knew baptism wasn’t for salvation, but it was instead an act of a believer in God, who wanted to identify himself/herself with the Messiah.  For perspective on this, consider the ministry of John the Baptist.  “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.” (Jn. 1:6-8).  Portions of Matt. 3:1-8 tell us his message.  “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight….Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:”  Notice his emphasis was on repentance, which can’t happen unless a person already has the Holy Spirit working within, making one want to confess sins and please God (Jn. 16:8-11).  Also notice John’s different, even hostile message to the religious leaders, notorious for their hatred of Christ.

            What about Jesus’ words to Nicodemus?  “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. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”  Because of that second sentence, some teach this refers to the water required at physical birth.  I’ll share more about baptism in my next post.

Explore posts in the same categories: Bible Study, Salvation, Thoughts from John

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