The Relative Significance of Baptism

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by Dr. Walter, Aug 22, 2010.

  1. Dr. Walter

    Dr. Walter
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    Although baptism is but a "figure" or symbol through which the believer publicly identifies with Christ as an expression of his faith, it has far more reaching significance.

    In the Great Commission as recorded in Matthew 28:19-20 those authorized to administer baptism are those who preach the right gospel and are capable of instructing the baptized beleiver in observing all things whatsoever Christ has commanded. Baptism is stuck right between going to preach the gospel (Mk. 16:15; Acts 2:41 "as many as received the word") and instructing the baptized believer in apostolic doctrine and practice (Mt. 28:20; Acts 2:42).

    Why in such a position? Simply because baptism is designed by God to be a compendum of theology.

    1. Soteriology as it must visibly express the gospel, internal washing externally expressed (Tit. 3:5) progressive sanctification ("walk in newness of life").

    2. Theology proper "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost"

    3. Harmatology - "for the remission of sins" - Acts 2:38

    4. Ecclesiology - "were baptized and added unto them" - there are no such churches in the New Testament of unbaptized believers. - I Cor. 12:13

    5. Eschatology - the believers "resurrection" illustrated in the mode - I Cor. 15:29

    John was predicted by Old Testament prophets (Isa. 40; Mal. 4) and God had purposed his ministry (Lk. 1:17) and sent him to baptize (Jn. 1:30-33) and before he administered baptism he was designated by the use of a definite PROPER noun "The Baptist" (Mt. 3:1). The Holy Spirit did not choose an adjective to modify his person. The Holy Spirit did not choose a verb to describe an action. The Holy Spirit did not choose a participle (verbal adjective).

    God designated him "The Baptist" because scriptural baptism was "the counsel of God" (Lk. 7:29-30) and was the compendum of New Testament Theology and that is precisely why it is placed right between the gospel and instructing them how to observe all things commanded by Christ.

    It is the visible standard, ensign, of New Testament doctrine and practice. Only those already discipled in the proper gospel and instructed in the faith once delivered are authorized to administer it. They are the "ye" of the Great Commission while all other human beings on planet earth fall into one of two categories:

    1. "all nations" - unbelievers
    2. "Them" believers not yet baptized (v. 19) or unassembled, untaught baptized believers (v. 20).

    It is the ensign of the faith once delivered and it is easy to prove. Suppose the Lord saved you and you were told that baptism is the next step in obeying the Lord's commission. So you go to the first church on the corner, a Methodist church and ask to be baptize. The minister sets a date and you go invite all your friends to come and watch. On that day, your friends are watching as you get sprinkled and as soon as it is over you turn to your friends and loudly proclaim, I have been baptized and am now a baptized Lutheran!!! or "Nazerine"! or "Mormon"! Or etc.

    How would they respond? They would say you were nuts! Why? Because YOU CHOSE to submit to a Methodist minister, not a Lutheran, Nazerine or Mormon!

    What kind of administrator you publicly identify yourself with in Baptism IDENTIFIES YOU DOCTRINALLY!

    This is why Jesus placed baptism between the RIGHT GOSPEL and THE RIGHT FAITH AND ORDER and authorized only those who fit that criteria to administer baptism because Jesus wanted his followers to publicly identify with HIS GOSPEL and HIS FAITH and ORDER by HIS CHURCHES.
     
  2. billwald

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    >Suppose the Lord saved you and you were told that baptism is the next step in obeying the Lord's commission. So you go to the first church on the corner, a Methodist church and ask to be baptize. The minister sets a date and you go invite all your friends to come and watch. On that day, your friends are watching as you get sprinkled and as soon as it is over you turn to your friends and loudly proclaim, I have been baptized and am now a baptized Lutheran!!! or "Nazerine"! or "Mormon"! Or etc.

    Neither would the Methodist minister say that the person was a baptized Methodist. The joining the Methodist church or the Lutheran church would be the NEXT step in his spiritual life.

    The Methodist Church would accept a Baptist baptism as valid but not the other way around.
     
  3. Salty

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    Should a Baptist church accept the Methodist baptism, if he were immersed?
     
  4. Dr. Walter

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    Would the Methodist even agree to baptize that person without any committment to the church? What is catechism all about???
     
  5. Dr. Walter

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    If baptism identifies you with the doctrine of the administrator as it certainly does in the giving and order in the Great Commission then should a Baptist church recognize and accept that such an immersion is anything more than having got wet?
     
  6. StefanM

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    Only if you assume a Christian=Baptist perspective.
     
  7. Paul3144

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    Yes, and if the Baptist church refuses to accept it and "re-baptizes" the person, then the Baptist church is committing an act that makes a mockery of baptism.
     
  8. Dr. Walter

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    This does not require a "Christian = Baptist perspective" as Baptists do not believe that perspective! Baptists refuse baptism to non-Christians.

    Can you find any church in the pages of the New Testament consisting of unbaptized believers?

    The Great Commission demands it from any denominational perspective. All humanity is found under three classifications in Matthew 28:19-20.

    1. "ye" - "disciples" - vv. 16,19
    2. "all nations" - v. 19
    3. "them" - vv. 19-20

    Those identified as "ye" already "have" (v. 20) been through this three step process (gospel conversion, baptism, assembled for instruction) as Acts 1:21-22 clearly demonstrates. These are baptized believers who have been habitually assembling together with Christ from the time of John's baptism.

    Those identified as "all nations" are the objects of this mission. They are lost, unbaptized, untaught persons.

    Those identified as "them" are those out of "all nations" which have responded to the gospel (Mk. 16:15) and are candidates first for baptism and then second for assembling together to be instructed how to observe all things commanded.

    The only ones authorized by Christ among these three are "ye" or baptized believers who "have" already been assembled and instructed how to observe all things commanded.

    From the time Jesus gave this commission in Matthew 28:19-20 until the churches recorded in Revelation 2-3 can you find any admistrator of baptism that was not such a "disciple" (baptized believing church member)????

    The very order and tenses used in the commission rule out all pedobaptists as qualified to be the authorized "ye". The participle "go" in Matthew 28:19 is Aorist tense while the other two participles "baptizing" and "teaching" are present tense. The main verb is Aorist. This means that going with the gospel (Mk. 16:15) is a completed action prior to administering baptism - that rules out pedobaptists as authorized administrators.
    The lost world certainly cannot qualify to be the "ye"
    Those identified as "them" stand in need of the very things administered by the "ye" and so they are not authorized by Christ to administer baptism.
     
    #8 Dr. Walter, Aug 22, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 22, 2010
  9. glfredrick

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    This gets to be a very sticky issue in short order, for the next item on the agenda list is to decide which of the church traditions is the "apostolic successor" to the original 12. Many have tried, many have failed, including Roman Catholics, in their attempt to document or otherwise make a case for being that successor.

    We, after 2000 years of Christianity, have failed to even be on the same page regarding the practice of baptism, much less who does it in an official capacity. Is it of infants 8 days old mimicking the OT covenant of circumcision or is it the new covenant model of the NT of believers (first) by immersion? The answer to that question ought to be plain by the text of Scripture, but we yet have many divisions in the Church (universal) that bears the name of Christ depending on the tradition (Tradition) or theology of the body in question.

    Many words have been spilled and much blood as well over this issue. Had the Reformers taken the next step and had the courage of the Ana-baptists to baptize regenerate believers (immersion came a bit later) things would be very different today in the Protestant/Evangelical world. But alas, for pragmatic reasons, the Reformers stood their ground with the Roman Catholic Tradition (capital T in their case, as Tradition is co-equal with Scripture in RC theology) because to tell the multitudes that their baptism by sprinkling under the word of others would have led to war and the end of their system of reforms. Those that took the NT Scriptural road were persecuted for their efforts, but they have prevailed and today we can baptize freely in the biblical manner (as was once the case in the universal church).

    Who can baptize? Big question. How many people are on the board here? That's about how many different answers one will get to that question...
     
  10. Dr. Walter

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    The Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20 also demands reproduction after it own kind.

    1. It is given to baptized believers who have been assemblying together under Christ since the baptism of John - Acts 1:21-22 = disciples (Mt. 28:16 "disciples").

    2. The commission literally reads "make disciples of all nations"

    3. This command is given a form or process to follow in making disciples:
    a. "go" with the gospel - (Mk. 16:15)
    b. "baptizing" those who receive the gospel (Acts 2:41)
    c. "teaching them to observe all things whatosever I have commanded"

    4. Disciples making disciples in this prescribed manner is a natural cycle of reproduction after its own kind.

    5. The very term "disciple" means a "follower" or "learner" of another. This denies inovation but rather demands conformation to a pattern set by the Master - hence - reproduction after its own knd.

    6. If someone preaches "another gospel" they are accursed rather than disciples. There is no record of any churches consisting of unbaptized believers. Those who do not observe the faith once delivered depart from it (1 Tim. 4:1).

    7. This three fold process is impossible to administer wthout organic contact between the administrator and convert. Hence, it is an organic reproduction after its own kind.

    8. This three fold reproduction cycle is guaranteed success by the promise of Christ "and lo, I will be with YOU all the days until the end of the age."

    9. The apostles as individuals died, as an office it ceased with the last eye witness of the resurrected Christ (Acts 1:21-23). It was given to merely "believers" or "them" but to those who have been through this threefold process "ye...you".

    10. This is in very pratical and organic terms the promise by Christ that there will be assemblies of baptized believers observing His commands until he comes again by reproducing after their own kind.
     
  11. Dr. Walter

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    The answer is very simple. The New Testament church can administer baptism and the Great Commission provides four clear marks to identify her among others. She cannot be a pedobaptist assembly as the aorist tense "go" demands gospel conversion BEFORE administration of baptism - not merely an option but a command. Therefore, the proper administrator preaches the proper gospel and it is not the baptismal regeneration gospel of pedobaptists. That alone eliminates a good 80% of professed Christianity.

    Second, it is those who administer the only baptism existing when Jesus gave this commission - John's baptism. Immersion of repentant believers (Mt. 3:6-8). That eliminates all but Baptistic evangelicals.

    Third, it is orthodox in all other teachings (v. 20).

    Fourth, they are historical and reproductive in a hands on reproduction of like kind from the time of the New Testament as Jesus promised PRACTICAL and ORGANIC means to reproduce essential New Testament assemblies in the Great Commission. Is it possible to administer baptism without organic contact between the administrator and the candidate for baptism? Is it possible to teach others how to observe all things without physically assembling together for instruction?
     
    #11 Dr. Walter, Aug 22, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 22, 2010
  12. Tom Butler

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    Originally Posted by Salty [​IMG]
    Should a Baptist church accept the Methodist baptism, if he were immersed?

    On the contrary, it is exhibiting a deep respect for baptism, and the requirement for a proper administrator. Jesus traveled many miles to seek out John the Baptist. Anyone could have dunked Jesus in the Jordan River, by Jesus sought out a proper administrator.

    This view says nothing about one's salvation. I know many Methodists, Presbyterians and others who give evidence of true conversion. But I would accept the baptism only of a congregation of like faith and order.

    Jesus gave the ordinances to local churches, whose responsibility is to guard their integrity.

    I just noticed Dr. Walter's post right above this one. Good points.
     
    #12 Tom Butler, Aug 22, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 22, 2010
  13. glfredrick

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    No disagreement from me...
     
  14. Tom Butler

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    Because we Baptists consider baptism symbolic and not sacramental, there is always a danger that we will attach lesser significance to it than it deserves.

    Let us never forget that we are Baptists because that is the name given to us by those who would have rejoiced to see us wiped off the face of the earth. We were those hated baptizers, or re-baptizers.

    We were hated because we would not baptize infants, and we did immerse only those who gave a credible confession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Baptists and our spiritual forebears suffered and died precisely because of baptism.

    Because of that, do we dare say, ah, it's no big deal?
     
  15. StefanM

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    I think it is quite a stretch to use the baptism of Jesus to reinforce your point here. The relationship of Jesus and John was far more complex than that of simply pursuing a "proper administrator."
     
  16. DHK

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    Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in obedience and submission to the Heavenly Father, not because of any special relation that he may have had with John.
     
  17. Tom Butler

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    Not a stretch at all, IMO. Jesus went all the way from Galilee to Bethabara in Jordan to be baptized by John the Immerser. Just as Jesus did, those who are baptized should be immersed by one authorized by the proper administrator. That, of course, is the local New Testament Church. Read Baptist.

    That administrator is one commissioned by Jesus to do so, and all those NT churches which followed, even to this day.

    Baptists who make the administrator of baptism of minor significance are inconsistent, or they would accept the authority of Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses to baptize. Will anybody on this board do that?
     
  18. glfredrick

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    We Baptists rightly make a big deal about the administrator of baptism, but we also wrongly make a big deal out of it as well.

    In some cases, we chase down a "Trail of Tears" sort of apostolic succession to prove (hah!) that we "are" the right administrator, when that is virtually impossible historically and practically. In other cases, we have become so footloose and fancy free that anyone can dunk anyone for almost any reason, even at famous men's events...

    Perhaps a congregation, who recognizes a pastor/elder, in a rightly-constituted biblical church (which implies a regenerate membership), who practice baptism according to the NT model, is all the administration we need.

    Anything more is rather begging the question of how we prove succession and a "right" administrator when no real test for such seems to appear in the Word. Suggesting that John the Baptist was one of those "right administrators" is fine, only which "church" authorized his activity? To whom did he pass on his succession? I see God's actions in election and calling in John, and in congregations/pastors/elders at large in our day. Perhaps that is enough.
     
  19. Dr. Walter

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    Secular history is (1) uninspired and therefore not always accurate; (2) Incomplete due to limited human observation; (3) Incorrect due to human bias and intentional distortions.

    Nevertheless, even the most biased and incomplete secular history provided by our enemies attests to the presence of New Testament churches as the objects of persecution. What would an accurate and compelte and unbiased account of secular history provide?

    I rest upon God's Word and the inspired preveiw of what we should expect in the period between the conclusion of the New Testament canon and the return of Christ.

    1. The Gates of hell shall not prevail against them - Mt. 16:18; Eph. 3:21
    2. They will be objects of persecution and distortion by those who believe they are serving God - John 16:1-5; Acts 14:22-23; Rev. 17-18;
    3. False Christianity and religion will dominate that period - Mt. 13; 1 Tim. 4:1-5
    4. Departure from the faith will be so great that at His return there will be
    very few that stand faithful - Luke 18:8
    5. True churches will continue to reproduce after their own kind in a practical organic hands on method - Mt. 28:19-20.
     
  20. Tom Butler

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    One need not claim "The Trail of Blood" or any other kind of succession (although a case can be made) to claim the authority to baptize. John's authority came directly from God. The disciples authority came directly from Jesus. Jesus commissioned his inner circle twelve disciples during his earthly ministry (the first church) and repeated it to the eleven just prior to his ascension. Baptists claim kinship to the first church, because it holds to the truth about baptism, just as the first church. Those who hold to a different view of baptism (sacramental, regenerational, sprinkling, pedobaptism) cannot rightly claim such kinship.

    The commission to baptize was given to the local church, and not some nebulous, fanciful and error-ridden "universal" church.
     

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