A gracEmail subscriber writes: "What you say are Bible truths but they are not all of the truth. In addition to belief, immersion is necessary for salvation. To preach a half truth is to preach a lie. I am sorry for all the elders who invite you into their flock. I pray for those who will be subjected to your false teaching. There comes a time when a man needs to be rebuked and reproved. I am trying to do that in a spirit of love and concern as your very soul is at risk." * * * I do appreciate your concern for me and your desire to speak in a spirit of love. However, I fear that you are … [Read more...]
IF SAVED, WHY BE BAPTIZED?
A preacher in the Churches of Christ, among whom and from which I also serve God in his universal church, asks why the Gentiles at Cornelius' house were commanded to be baptized (Acts 10:48) if they already were saved. Their baptism could not be "for remission of sins" (Acts 2:38), he says, if they already had been forgiven. * * * Three reasons spring immediately to mind why Peter commanded these folks to be baptized. First, because Jesus commanded those who preach the gospel to baptize hearers who believe it (Matt. 28:19). As an obedient apostle, Peter did what Jesus ordained. Second, … [Read more...]
BAPTISM & SALVATION
A preacher friend and gracEmail subscriber writes: "Edward, From your commercial message for the Billy Graham Crusade I see that you once again are hinting that baptism has nothing much to do with salvation. Am I correct? Yes or no?" * * * No. I am not hinting that water baptism has nothing much to do with salvation. It has very much "to do with" salvation, although it is no part of the work which sets us right with God. That was the perfect doing and dying of Jesus Christ our representative. It is the very news of Christ's saving work to which a believer responds by being baptized. What … [Read more...]
WHY BAPTISTS BAPTIZE
Baptists do not baptize converts scripturally 'for the remission of sins,'" complains a preacher who is not of that denomination. "The Baptists I know baptize only to join their local church." * * * I don't know what your Baptist neighbors do, but Baptist brethren of my acquaintance (whether Southern, American, National, Conservative, General Association, Free-Will, Missionary, Hard-shell, Seventh-day or Reformed) baptize for various biblical reasons, including: (1) Baptism follows Jesus' own example. (2) Baptism obeys Jesus' command for his disciples to baptize new converts. (3) … [Read more...]
BAPTISM — WATERED DOWN?
A long-time friend who preaches for a Church of Christ responds to my expressed convictions that gospel baptism is by immersion and for believers, but that I accept as brothers and sisters those who trust Christ for salvation and follow him as Lord, although their conclusions and consciences concerning baptism differ from mine. He calls the popular "sinner's prayer" a "false take," asking whether I "so desperately want more to be saved" that I "water down" gospel teaching. "We won't save souls by diluting the obedience that saves us," he cautions, but "will only make matters worse." * * … [Read more...]
EVANGELICALS AND WATER BAPTISM
A preacher from my own faith heritage of Churches of Christ asks, "What about those who actually and deliberately give false directives, such as the evangelicals who deny that baptism is essential?" * * * We should take care not to misrepresent other Christians in this matter. With the exception of Quakers (Society of Friends), Salvationists (The Salvation Army), and certain Pauline dispensationalists, all evangelicals of whom I know believe, teach and practice the Great Commission as Jesus himself gave it. They neither actually nor deliberately give "false directives," and they certainly do … [Read more...]
CORRECT BAPTISM AND FELLOWSHIP
A gracEmail subscriber in the Far East writes, "My study convinces me that the doctrine of baptism 'for the remission of sins' is biblical (Acts 2:38). Yet when someone hears the gospel of Christ in many evangelistic campaigns and responds by praying to receive Jesus into his heart, he is declared saved. Should I congratulate him as a brother or should I say to him, 'Wait a minute, don't be happy so soon. You've not yet been saved?'" * * * If Acts 2:38 were the only text in Acts that mentioned baptism in a larger sequence of events, or if all other texts had the same sequence, we might … [Read more...]
BAPTISM AND CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP
A gracEmail subscriber asks, "How can you teach baptism by immersion for believers, yet enjoy Christian fellowship with those who were baptized as infants or by sprinkling or pouring?" * * * I always instruct new believers to express their repentance and faith by being baptized, in obedience to Jesus Christ himself (Matt. 28:18-20). And, based on my personal study of the Greek language, of early Christian history, and of New Testament teaching concerning baptism's meaning and significance, I always baptize by immersion. That said, I must also respect the individual … [Read more...]
FELLOWSHIP, BAPTISM & CONSCIENCE
Two couples who were baptized as infants by sprinkling wish to join a congregation that baptizes only believers and always by immersion. The congregation's preacher, a gracEmail subscriber, regards these people as fully Christian and wonders if he can rightly refuse them fellowship although they have not been immersed. * * * Part 1 Let me respond to this in three gracEmails. I begin in this gracEmail with some undisputed observations, specifically about the various understandings of baptism that exist within the universal church. Those differences involve the action or form of baptism, … [Read more...]
CAN A NON-CHRISTIAN NURSE BAPTIZE A BABY?
A sister on the West Coast writes that 40 years ago, as a practicing nurse, she witnessed the spontaneous delivery of a baby, and the infant died within minutes. Sensing the situation, she reached for a cup of water and poured it over the baby's head to baptize it before it died. Was that baptism valid, she wonders, since it was not immersion and since she did not consider herself a Christian at the time? *** Since you then were not a Christian yourself, I am curious why you even thought to do what you did. Was the motive superstitious or mere cultural impulse? Or was it related in your mind … [Read more...]