And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 20, Number
In this issue:
There are right reasons (Bible-revealed reasons) and there are wrong reasons (human-devised reasons) for being baptized in water. From time to time someone questions their baptism: “Was it for the right reason?”, or, “Did I know what I was doing when I was baptized?” We cannot answer that question for them. But, in considering such a subject, I would offer for your consideration that when a person seriously questions his baptism he is potentially casting doubt on his original faith, on his original confession of faith in Christ, and on his repentance (all of which are prerequisite to being baptized into Christ). This is not always so, but the possibility is real. To see why this may be so, please read Acts 19:4-5, where those who had been baptized into John’s baptism heard the gospel of Jesus. This generated new faith within them, leading to their subsequent baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus. If one’s baptism is suspect, then it is possible one’s faith, confession and repentance also need review. After all, water baptism without proper faith, confession and repentance, is merely getting wet.
So, why were you baptized?
Were you baptized as an action of faith, to be saved and forgiven of your sins by Christ? This is the Bible-revealed reason for being baptized. “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mk. 16:16; cf. 1 Pet. 3:21). “Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?’ Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’” (Acts 2:37-38). “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). In each of these passages, faith in Jesus as the Christ, a conviction of sin, and a fear of God prompted sinners to be baptized in obedience to Christ. Christ’s command to be baptized is obeyed to correct past sins and to begin a new life in Christ: “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:3-4). These are among the Bible reasons to be baptized.
There are other reasons, though, that persuade people to be baptized – man-invented, man-endorsed, man-persuaded, and man-defended reasons. These are among the reasons which call into question one’s faith at the time of one’s baptism. One’s faith for being baptized must be addressed in order to correct these man-made reasons (cf. Acts 19:4-5).
Many are baptized because they thought they were already saved. This is the common practice of Protestant denominations. They baptize people after convincing them they are saved (before and without water baptism). To so do violates the Scriptures (already noted in this article) which plainly show sins are not removed and washed away until the sinner is baptized into the death of Jesus. Christians are not baptized; lost, repentant believers are baptized (Acts 2:37-41). Water baptism is the moment when God works by His power to cut away the sins of the flesh and to raise sinners out of spiritual death into newness of life (Col. 2:11-12). Those who believe they were saved before and without water baptism are still lost, for they have not obeyed the command to be baptized to be saved (Acts 10:48; 22:16). Plus, it is those who obey Jesus who receive eternal salvation from Him (Heb. 5:8-9).
Many are baptized to join a church. That is, to join the church of their choice. This too is predicated on the erroneous view that one is saved (a Christian) before and without water baptism. Furthermore, it reveals an unbiblical view of the church. The Bible teaches the very opposite of this. In Acts 2:40-41, sinners who believed the gospel were baptized, and then those baptized believers (now saved from their sins) were “added together.” Sinners were baptized, and the Lord added them to His church because they were saved (Acts 2:47). The church of Christ is not the sum of the many different and competing denominations around the world. There is no Bible passage that commands, commends and defends the division of believers by creeds, confessions and culture. Nonetheless, when one accepts this error it becomes incumbent to recruit people to join their particular brand of Christianity. And so, through the centuries, baptism has morphed from the Biblical purpose of putting on Christ, to that of putting on (being added to) a denomination (Gal. 3:27; 1 Cor. 12:13). If this is why you were baptized, then you do indeed need to be baptized scripturally, for as yet you have not done so. You remain lost in your sins.
Some are baptized to strengthen their personal relationship with another person. Some are tempted to be baptized to secure their relationship with a boyfriend or girlfriend. Others may do so to please a husband or a wife. These are real possibilities and temptations that must be avoided through faith in the solid Bible teaching that one’s allegiance must be to Christ before anyone else (Lk. 14:26). One’s faithfulness to Christ remains strong when faith is solidly in Jesus Christ, regardless of what becomes of other relationships. We cannot afford the spiritual cost of placing our faith in another person. That is essentially what happens when one is baptized for the sake of a personal relationship. When one builds their faith upon a personal relationship, when that relationship fails (as they sometimes will), faith also fails. But, when one’s faith is built on Christ and His word, the outcome of personal relationships will not define one’s faithfulness to the Lord. We should greatly appreciate the influence of a friend or a spouse who helps bring us to Christ. But, our faith cannot be built on that relationship. If it is, that is not the faith that properly precedes baptism into Christ for remission of sins.
Some are baptized to go along with what others are doing. The desire to be accepted can be a real (though inadequate) reason for becoming a Christian. We see this happen particularly among young people, as the enthusiasm of faith plus the desire to be included congeal to persuade some to be baptized. When this happens, it is not a strong conviction for truth, sin and salvation that compels conversion, it is the impulse not to be left out. Mature Christians should take care to warn against this temptation as they teach young people the gospel. This is not to deny or throttle the enthusiasm of youth, but instead, it is to channel that enthusiasm into a deep and abiding commitment to Christ and His truth. We must love Christ because it is our abiding faith, not because others are being baptized. Your faith must be your own, not someone else’s faith. When it is, you are ready to be baptized for the right reason.
Some are baptized because it is expected of them. This is also peer pressure. Wanting to please others (like parents, family, friends) is not a bad thing when the conduct is godly. But, pleasing others is not the reason to be baptized. Pressuring people to be baptized will not produce strong Christians. The decision to be baptized into Christ is an action of faith in Christ, not an act of allegiance to others.
Water baptism saves when it is prompted by faith in Christ (Acts 16:30-33). Lesser reasons do not please the Lord.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Psalm 132:13-18
predicted a king ruling an insurmountable kingdom: Psa. 2:6-7; 110:1-3; Isa.
9:6-7; Dan. 2:44.
I. THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM, Lk. 4:43-44
A. We Must
Preach the Kingdom, Lk. 9:60 (2, 11); Acts 8:4-5, 12; Rom. 1:16; 1 Pet.
II. THE CITIZENS OF THE KINGDOM.
Delivered from Satan’s Kingdom and Conveyed (Transferred) into the Kingdom
of the Son, Col. 1:13.
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
A Gallop poll from October 2017 said 64% of Americans support legalizing pot. Last week “Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer introduced legislation that would decriminalize possession of marijuana across America and remove Drug Enforcement Administration scheduling of cannabis as a Category 1 drug” (“Washington Governor Jay Inslee boasts ‘We've got the best weed’ as pot support blossoms,” Joel Connelly, seattlepi.com). Governor Inslee says Washington has the best weed in the country. But, California Rep. Ted Lieu says the weed in his state is “awesome,” “amazing” and “wonderful” (Ibid). It seems the politicians are in a war of words over weed.
The Bible tells Christians not to let sin “reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts,” because our bodies are to be presented to God as “instruments of righteousness” (Rom. 6:12-13). Therefore, we teach that to misuse, mistreat and harm the body is to sin against God (read 1 Cor. 6:18-20). The fact that a majority of Americans say pot should be legalized does not validate its use any more than the legality of alcohol makes its consumption harmless.
Does marijuana harm the body? Yes. Here are some things that happen when marijuana enters the blood stream: Impaired judgment, memory problems, presents trouble for developing brains (pregnant women are told not to smoke pot, jrp), bronchitis, phlegmy cough, lung irritation, increased lung cancer risk, weakened immune system, and slowed reaction time (“The Effects of Marijuana on Your Body,” Pietrangelo and Cherney, healthline.com).
Christians, do not be deceived by the push to normalize marijuana. It does not honor your body, it harms it. It does not promote righteousness, it hinders it. “Come out and be separate” is more than a slogan. It is God’s will for those who intend to perfect holiness in their lives (2 Cor. 6:17-7:1).
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 04/29/2018
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA