A gracEmail subscriber asks point-blank, “Do you believe in baptism?”
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Let me answer directly, carefully and specifically. No, I do not “believe in” baptism. If I did, my faith would rest on flimsy grounds indeed, for baptism has no inherent power to do anything except perhaps relieve my body of an outermost coating of dust.
I “believe in” the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 3:16; Acts 16:31; Rom. 10:11). I “believe in” the Father who sent him into the world, who raised him from the dead, who exalted him to his own right hand in glory, who declares me righteous through trusting in what he has accomplished, who will receive me some day into his presence with exceeding joy (John 14:1; Rom. 4:24-25; 1 Pet. 1:20-21; Jude 24-25).
If you reframe the question to ask, “Do you baptize those who come to faith in Christ by your proclamation of the gospel?” I shall answer, “Without exception, for that is what Jesus commanded us to do” (Matt. 28:18-20). If you ask, “Do you teach those who trust in Jesus to express that faith by being baptized?” I shall also answer in the affirmative, and for the very same reason (Mk. 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; 10:48).
But “believe in baptism?” Do not scoff at this answer, friend, but consider it thoroughly and prayerfully. If you say (as I anticipate you will), “that is not what I meant,” I respond that we need to speak more biblically, to choose our words more carefully. We have often been careless in the past — at least in our language and, I fear, in our understanding as well. God has given us a new day in which to do better. Let us not fail to take advantage of it!