The "Urgency" of Baptism

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by rlvaughn, Jan 4, 2002.

  1. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn
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    Most Baptist churches tend to put off baptism. Certain circumstances may have made us consider this a good option. But I believe that command, precept, and example is in favor of baptism following conversion as soon as possible.

    EXAMPLE
    When we examine the biblical account, there is surprising consistency - sinners were saved and then baptized. [1] The day of Pentecost - about 3000 were saved and baptized the same day (Acts 2:41); [2] Following Pentecost - people were being saved and added to the church daily (Acts 2:47); [3] In Samaria - when they believed, they were baptized (Acts 8:12); [4] Eunuch of Ethiopia - believed and was then baptized (Acts 8:36,37); Cornelius' gathering - believed and were commanded to be baptized (Acts 10:44-48); [5] Lydia - heard the truth and was baptized (Acts 16:14,15); [6] Philippian jailer - baptized the very night he was saved, didn't even seem to wait until morning (Acts 16:31-33); [7] The Corinthians - were baptized when they believed (Acts 18:8); [8] Twelve Ephesians - heard the truth and were baptized (Acts 19:1-7); [9] Paul - seems to be a possible exception, but notice that on the road to Damascus there was evidently none who could baptize him and when the Lord sent Ananias to tell him what to do, he was immediately baptized (Acts 9:5,9,18).

    PRECEPT
    One precept is identity. Baptism identifies us with Christ in His baptism and testifies that we are following Christ. This identification should not be delayed. Our obedience and identification prepare us to walk in newness of life. Raised out of a watery grave, we are pictorially raised to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4). Death to sin, burial of the old man, and resurrection to new life are officially announced. A second precept is gospel order. The gospel order is - received the word, baptized, added to the church, continuing in doctrine and fellowship, and breaking of bread (Acts 2:41,42). The Lord was adding to the Jerusalem church daily - they were being saved, then baptized (or else not added to the church daily), Acts 2:47. To preach the duty and necessity of church membership, the necessity of baptism to precede church membership, and then postpone baptism, is to deny in practice the truth we preach.

    COMMAND
    Baptism is a command of God to the convert (e.g. Acts 2:38; 10:48) and to the church (Matt. 28:18-20). Should we put off obeying God? Is not a church guilty when it encourages sloth, even inadvertently, about obeying one of God's commands? Baptism is the first act of obedience required by God of the believer. Obedience should not be delayed.

    It seems that the evidence is heavily weighted in favor of baptisms sooner rather than later. I understand some of the reasons raised in favor of delaying baptism. And I strenously object to the easy-believism methods that are often associated with "quick" baptisms. Nevertheless, I see our reasons as invalid in light of New Testament command, precept, and example.

    [ June 03, 2002, 02:39 PM: Message edited by: rlvaughn ]
     
  2. Clint Kritzer

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    Good evening, Brother Robert,

    I see the validity of your point about immediate baptism being cited in scripture but speaking as a spoiled, modern American, the water source is not usually available at the time of the altar call. Personally, I believe that the CONFESSION and PUBLIC ADMISSION are the key elements which bring salvation.
    The New Testament converts were in an arid, hot area with warm water in their rivers. We use a heated baptismal pool that requires a few hours to fill and heat. There is also the logistics of clothing to consider.
    I always think of the thief on the cross whom Christ promised "Paradise" when I hear debates on Baptism.
    Again, I see your point, but if one were to come forward this coming Sunday, we would have to break the ice to submerge them.

    May God bless you, sir

    - Clint
     
  3. rlvaughn

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Clint: ...but if one were to come forward this coming Sunday, we would have to break the ice to submerge them.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>It wouldn't be the first time! [​IMG] But, to the point, I believe our practical considerations should give way to scriptural ones, and I'm sure there are a number of ways that the command could be carried out - break the ice, keep the baptistry filled and warmed on meeting days, etc. And if it took 15 or 20 minutes to break the ice, or a couple of hours to fill the baptistry, that would not violate the principle. The idea is not if one professes faith at 11:55 that he must be in the water by 12:00. The idea is more that once one has professed faith, what scriptural hindrance is there between that and their baptism? The eunuch said, "What doth hinder me to be baptized?" How did Philip answer: "There are too many logistical problems, we'll have to put it off for awhile?" or "After you've had a few classes on Baptist doctrine, I'll get back to you?" No, it was "if thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest." Again, Philip could not baptize the eunuch until they arrived at the body of water, but when they were there, and there was a legitimate profession, there was NOTHING else that stood in the way of his baptism. If that's not a good Bible principle I don't think I'm capable of seeing one. [​IMG]
     
  4. Dr. Bob

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    Every Biblical NT example of baptism was immediately after salvation. No long period of catechism; no "testing" to see if they meant it. Saved? Then get baptized asap!

    This is an EXAMPLE not a MANDATE. Just because that was the practice then does not force us to follow that same practice today.

    Times have changed. The new believers in the early church were 90% Jews, coming out of intense indoctrination in God, Scripture, doctrine, sacrifices, etc.

    Places where the Gentiles were the majority were often the recipients of letters by the Apostles trying to correct their false beliefs. (i.e., letters to Corinth)

    Today we are seeing folks saved who come right out of the abyss of hell. Drugs, adultery, abuse, no knowledge of ANYTHING holy. Praise God they get saved, but they need instruction in the Word to "take root downward".

    We treat baptism on a case-by-case basis. Some need to be baptized asap. Some need weeks or months to grow.
     
  5. rlvaughn

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    Bob, when I read your first paragraph I was jumping up and down thinking the Baptist Board Member of the Year agrees with ME! :D But then it all went to the dogs. :(
    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>This is an EXAMPLE not a MANDATE. Just because that was the practice then does not force us to follow that same practice today.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>Remember I gave a threefold cord that is not easily broken - not only example, but also command and precept. On the day of Pentecost Peter told the people, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you..." That was a command. Not a culturally-based command, but the command equal in number to the number of those that repented. At Cornelius' place Peter commanded the people (Gentiles, not Jews) to be baptized. Jesus commanded the church to baptize those who were evangelized believers. We have no command to wait for some other circumstances to become true as well. Also the meaning and meaningfulness of baptism is best suited when it follows closely on the heels of belief. Again, I am not just dealing with example, but also precept and command. <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Times have changed. The new believers in the early church were 90% Jews, coming out of intense indoctrination in God, Scripture, doctrine, sacrifices, etc.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE> I cannot see that the apostles varied their practice concerning baptism one iota based on such a principle - same for Jews and proselytes at Jerusalem as it was for the Samaritans as it was for the Gentiles. Whatever percent you might suggest, it is a fact that some of all three of these groups are represented in the examples given above.
    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Places where the Gentiles were the majority were often the recipients of letters by the Apostles trying to correct their false beliefs. (i.e., letters to Corinth)<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>This is a better argument for my side than yours, seeing that in spite of this the apostle did not wait to baptize them (Acts 18:8) and though we might have waited on Simon the Sorcerer to be indoctrinated, Philip baptized him after he believed. Even though Simon caused problems, and even though Peter rebuked him, Peter did not rebuke Philip for baptizing him.
    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Today we are seeing folks saved who come right out of the abyss of hell. Drugs, adultery, abuse, no knowledge of ANYTHING holy. Praise God they get saved, but they need instruction in the Word to "take root downward".<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>A sorcerer probably comes out of the abyss of hell, but Philip didn't delay his baptism for instruction. In fact, the order of the commission would seem to be evangelism, then baptism, then instruction (Matt. 28:18-20). <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>We treat baptism on a case-by-case basis. Some need to be baptized asap. Some need weeks or months to grow.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>A number of churches do this, but there is no biblical evidence that New Testament preachers subscribed to this philosophy.
     
  6. SaggyWoman

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    This is all well and good, but in some cultures it is hard to do this. When I was in Ukraine, they had some salvations during the winter. Most churches in Ukraine do not have indoor heated pools of water. Many baptize in rivers. And no, you don't baptize in the river in Ukraine in the winter. You will lose a lot of church members that way. They wait til summer and baptize.

    I am all for baptizing immediately, but sometimes you can't.
     
  7. Chris Temple

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    The reason many churches postpone baptism until after catechization or discipleship training is with the best of intents, (to make sure true believers enter into church membership) but it is an errant practice nonetheless. Nowhere in the NT does the church examine the baptismal candidate, but rather it is a self-inspection prior to baptism. Baptism is not synonymous with church membership. Baptism is to occur shortly after conversion.

    But grace is always allowed. No need to create Ukranian popsicles! ;)
    (Of course, even Ukranians may have access to an indoor bathtub!) This is also a case for alternate modes :eek:
     
  8. TomVols

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    As I posted on another thread, Acts sometimes states that a Baptism was immediate. Sometimes the baptism came days later. Other times, there seems to be no clear indication of the time between conversion and baptism. So to dogmatically say that there must be immediate baptism is not being faithful to the text. However, we shouldn't wait forever. But we should examine every new convert and take every pain necessary to see that the church is indeed about to baptise a redeemed person. How can this not be a valid practice?
     
  9. rlvaughn

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    SaggyWoman <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>...And no, you don't baptize in the river in Ukraine in the winter...<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>I am not so impractical as to understand circumstances may delay a person's baptism. Even churches that baptize ASAP may have to get the candidate to the creek or into the pool, etc. This is not really about the number of tics off the clock between the time a person is converted or expresses faith until they are baptized; nor is it a race to see who can get them under the fastest. Philip could not baptize the eunuch in a desert area until they arrived at an oasis or pool of water. But the point is, when he did arrive there, he baptized rather than delayed baptism. What I am opposed to is developing an extra-biblical theological construct that deliberately teaches that baptism should be later rather than sooner.

    TomVols: <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>...Acts sometimes states that a Baptism was immediate. Sometimes the baptism came days later. Other times, there seems to be no clear indication of the time between conversion and baptism. So to dogmatically say that there must be immediate baptism is not being faithful to the text.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>Brother Tom, I have in my first post nine accounts of baptisms recorded in the book of Acts. Though I may have missed some, I believe that pretty well exhausts the record. Though one might argue that some are not explicit, I see no evidence that any of these baptisms were delayed for days, unless you refer to the 3 days in Paul's case. Perhaps if you would give specific cases in which you see the delay, we could discuss them.

    TomVols <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>But we should examine every new convert and take every pain necessary to see that the church is indeed about to baptise a redeemed person. How can this not be a valid practice?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>To want to be sure the church is baptizing a truly redeemed person is a worthy goal. In fact, if you are willing to agree with me on this next statement we have no real disagreement. Implicit in postponing a person's baptism is this statement - we do not regard your conversion as genuine. But I doubt in actual practice churches are willing to explicitly state this to people.

    I am NOT saying that a person's baptism is not valid because it is delayed. I am saying that our reason for delaying is not valid. Maybe this will succinctly sum up my position - If a church accepts a person's conversion as genuine, there is no Biblical nor doctrinal reason to delay baptizing that person.

    [ January 05, 2002: Message edited by: rlvaughn ]
     
  10. TomVols

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    I have posted the Scriptures which speak to each point on the other thread.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>To want to be sure the church is baptizing a truly redeemed person is a worthy goal. In fact, if you are willing to agree with me on this next statement we have no real disagreement. Implicit in postponing a person's baptism is this statement - we do not regard your conversion as genuine. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    And no, we don't essentially disagree on the point at hand. Except it would probably be said thusly "In order for you to make your calling and election sure, we're going to go take these steps so that you may have full assurance..." You get the idea, I'm sure.
     
  11. rlvaughn

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>I have posted the Scriptures which speak to each point on the other thread.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>I looked over on the other thread and copied the following: <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Not all cases of conversions in Acts mention an immediate baptism after conversion. Some do (Acts 8:38; 16:33). In some cases, the text states such (Cf. Paul's conversion) or the text makes no time distinction (Cf. Acts 2:41; 8:13, et. al.).<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>In the case of Paul's conversion we see that as soon as he was commanded, he was baptized. Neither he nor Ananias delayed. Acts 2:41 - I think since they were baptized the same day and added to the church (on the day of Pentecost) that this one is pretty clear. The church did not delay for new member classes. Acts 8:13, taken in light of the previous verse 12, seems fairly clear that when they believed they were baptized. The et.al. (10:44-48; 16:14,15; 18:8; 19:1-7) I believe I have shown in the first post why those verses favor my position. <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>"In order for you to make your calling and election sure, we're going to go take these steps so that you may have full assurance..."<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>I guess I see a difference in procedure here. We probably agree in principle but not in practice.

    [ January 06, 2002: Message edited by: rlvaughn ]
     
  12. SeaFlower

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    Hi All,
    I was baptized about 3 1/2months after I was saved. It was very important to me to make a public testimony because I have bad stage fright...I felt God really wanted me be baptized right away, he kept leading me to verses on baptism while I kept going..."but.." :D
    And even though my chin quivered like jello all while I told my testimony, I made it through! :D ;) :D

    The time of baptism is decided by God for his saved people. Some are immediate, while others wait years...My sister was baptized years after her salvation, while 6mos. pregnant, baptized by her husband's grandfather...it was a wonderful time that truly seemed was planned by God. It also helped another lady who was being baptized that same day, who was absolutely terrified of water. She said watching Heather be baptized, a tiny 5'1' pregnant girl, who came out of the water laughing...just filled her spirit and gave her that last bit of courage she needed. [​IMG]

    There is a lot of prayer, and being in tune with God, required of the men of God to help them with these decisions of baptism...and many others.

    Hugs,
    ~SeaFlower~
     
  13. Jaco

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    Although baptism certainly should not be pushed as a requirement for salvation, I still do not understand the philosophy of putting it off until one has a certain amount of training of various principles, ie discipleship, etc. What is so hard about understanding that baptism is a symbol of being buried and then being resurrected?
     
  14. janji

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    I pretty much have the same opinion as Brother Clint. I too cannot dismiss the thief on the cross next to Christ. Baptism is an important "display" of both obedience and witness, but it itself does not "save". It should be done if it can be done, and yes, as soon as possible. But in Christ's opinion as displayed on the cross when saving indeed the thief, Baptism was bypassed. Jan
     
  15. rlvaughn

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    janji, I don't think anyone involved in this discussion thinks that baptism saves, or that not being baptized will keep one out of heaven. The situation of the thief on the cross marvelously displays that salvation is by grace, not baptism. But the people of whom we are speaking are not on the cross and are able to be baptized. Should it be delayed, if it is an important display of obedience and witness? I think these are things that should not be delayed, but carried out as soon as possible.

    [ February 18, 2002: Message edited by: rlvaughn ]
     
  16. janji

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    RLVaughn posted a reply to my post as follows:

    Should it be delayed, if it is an important display of obedience and witness? I think these are things that should not be delayed, but carried out as soon as possible.

    No, it should be done as soon as possible, as I said in my (partial) original post as seen below:

    Baptism is an important "display" of both obedience and witness, but it itself does not "save". It should be done if it can be done, and yes, as soon as possible. But in Christ's opinion as displayed on the cross when saving indeed the thief, Baptism was bypassed. Jan

    ps.....I have only been here a (you know, I don't know if it has been an entire 24 hours yet) so I really don't know how convicted anyone is or isn't, but reading earlier today the nominations, (for BB member of the year) I know YOU certainly know baptism itself doesn't save anyone. Congrats on your many nominations!

    ;)
     
  17. PackerBacker

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Jaco:
    Although baptism certainly should not be pushed as a requirement for salvation, I still do not understand the philosophy of putting it off until one has a certain amount of training of various principles, ie discipleship, etc. What is so hard about understanding that baptism is a symbol of being buried and then being resurrected?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Jaco,

    Just some food for thought here. I just so happened I baptized a man yesterday who took months before he was ready to be baptized. While I would prefer baptism to be sooner than later, I allowed this man to determine when he was ready. I thought I’d pass on what this man told me for his reason of putting it off. While his comments are not equal to scripture, I’ll pass them along to at least answer your “why” question from the perspective of someone who did hold off.

    He told me he waited to make sure he really understood baptism before making the mistake of going through some religious motions again. He said now that he was convinced in his own mind about it, he did not want to put it off any longer.

    Why the need to be convinced? Why the comment about going through religious motions? Let me give a little back ground to explain. He is from a small ethnic group that considers themselves a “Christian” people. Not long after his birth he was baptized as a baby into his previous “Christian” religion. He was thought of as a Christian boy born to Christian parents, in a Christian nation. As he became a young man he participated in sins his religion would consider as non-Christian activities. He found himself needing to become a “Christian” again. After doing a little outward clean up job and promising to obey God’s Laws he was allowed to be a “Christian” again. He became a so-called Christian by not drinking, smoking, sleeping around, and signing his name to the church membership book. His way of staying a “Christian” was to stay clean from the things I mentioned already and by being faithful to all mandatory gatherings or requirements of his religion. To fail in these areas is to become a lost person again. Baptism for adults is seen and taught as a step or show of holiness. He freely shared with me that he never even considered an association with Christ in that 2nd “baptism” but only viewed it as an act of piety that set him on a higher plane with God than the non-baptized “Christians. If that’s not messed up enough, his previous “Christian” religion teaches that sprinkling is baptism.

    Any idea now why he would want to be as sure as the Berean’s, who checked out Paul’s message. He has been jerked around enough in his life about what salvation is and on a lesser issue, baptism. One of the differences between our day and the church in Acts is that the apostles were not starting over with people who previously though they were Christians by family name, nationality, or religious motions. They were not dealing with people who had been “baptized” one or two times already. It surly was not the confusing issue back then as it is now in a world that in many places is holding on to man’s substitute of Christianity. I wish the situations were ideal but unfortunately we live in day after Christianity, baptism, etc has been twisted, bent, contorted, and muddied up royally by man, for 2000 years. Perhaps this will shed some light on why baptism does not come so fast for some people, in our day of numerous “baptisms” and reasons for it.

    Hopes this helps.
     

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