Freed to live through the death of another.

Tag: Baptism

Are We Suffocating Christian Children?

Are We Asking the Wrong Question?

Last week Tim posted an interesting collection of articles relating to the issue of baptism. Specifically, the issue being debated was, ‘At what age should we baptize?’ That in itself is an interesting question, because it is one that the Bible never asks or answers. Age is never given as a prerequisite for baptism, nor is it listed as even being a hindrance to baptism. It’s simply a non-issue.

The wrong question is, ‘What age?’ The right question is, ‘Does this person make profession of repentance and faith?’

What Are We Afraid of?

Nevertheless, wisdom and pastoral experience must be brought to bear on an issue that has certainly brought some level of difficulty and pain into the lives of many people. Right?

In all of the discussions I’ve read over the years on this topic, one of the nagging questions that keeps coming back to me is this: ‘What are we afraid of?’ I think that the answer is sadly, not a biblical one. Oftentimes it appears that we’re just afraid of being wrong. We think, ‘What if we baptize someone who ends up not really being converted? Then what?’¬†Our minds turn then to problems of ‘re-baptism’ and giving false assurance.

Isn’t This a Healthy Fear?

But we ought not be afraid of this, I think, for at least two reasons.

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Grace Chapel’s Baptisms!

Yesterday we were tremendously blessed as a church family to go and be a part of the first ever baptism service of Grace Chapel, in Markham. Pastor Habib Sakr preached the word, several gave testimonies to God’s saving grace in their lives, and twenty-four were baptized! Amazing!

Below are the videos I took of the baptism portion of the service.


Thoughts on Baptism

In the life of our church, there is no greater highlight (in my mind) than when we celebrate baptisms. The baptism of a believer is the rite of inauguration into the church of Jesus Christ. When we celebrate baptism, we celebrate that one more soul has been delivered from the domain of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of Christ, in whom there is true redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Col 1.13-14).

Over the years our Lord has continued to save people at Grace Fellowship Church, and we absolutely glory in that! As I prepare to meet in the near future with some of these individuals who are preparing to be baptised, I have had opportunity to study the doctrine of baptism from Scripture all over again.

What did I find this time? I found that it’s even more glorious than I remember. Here are three things that impressed me this morning as I studied baptism.

  1. The ultimate importance of baptism.
  2. In the book of Acts, I was amazed to see where baptism is placed, and how careful Luke is to include it wherever the gospel is preached. What I found really amazing this morning is the connection of baptism with the growth of the church.

    Most people are familiar with the fact that the book of Acts is recorded as the fulfilment of Acts 1.8, where Jesus says that ‘you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.’ Acts, then, proceeds to show how the church does in fact spread through all those places.

    What I noticed this morning, however, is that wherever the church spreads in accord with this promise, baptism figures prominently. In Acts 2.37-42, Peter preaches to the Jews in Jerusalem and when they ask how to be saved, he says, ‘Repent and be baptized!’ In Acts 8, when Philip preaches the gospel in Samaria, and many there believe, Luke records that ‘when they believed … they were baptized, both men and women.’ Then, finally, in Acts 10 when Peter brings the gospel to the Gentiles (representative for the rest of the non-Jewish world, i.e. ‘to the ends of the earth’), he sees that they do believe, and once they are converted he declares, ‘Who can withhold water for baptism?’ From Jerusalem to Samaria, to the ends of the earth, where the church goes forth, so does baptism of believers. That is seriously important!

  3. The intimate connection of baptism with salvation.
  4. Baptism in the New Testament is intimately connected with salvation / regeneration / conversion / belief / the work of the Holy Spirit. This is seen first in the proclamation of Peter in the first New Covenant gospel presentation, where he openly declares that to be saved, the Jews must ‘Repent and be baptized.’ This does not mean that baptism is a work that must be done to be saved, but rather it shows that in Peter’s mind the ‘repentance and belief’ (the phrase that is used through the rest of the book) is so inextricably tied up with baptism, that he conceives of the two as being inseparable.

    We see this not just with Peter’s preaching on Pentecost, but also in 1 Peter 3.18-22. Here Peter speaks of ‘baptism … which saves you.’ In the context we see that Peter is speaking of the whole process of being delivered from judgement through identification with Christ by faith–but in his mind, baptism, the symbol of this salvation, is so intimately connected with the salvation process that he can speak of this baptism as the deliverance from the ‘waters of judgement’ (i.e. God’s wrath).

    To speak of turning to Christ in faith for salvation from the judgement of God is to speak of the salvation process which involves baptism of believers–the two are intimately connected.

  5. The profound symbolism of baptism.
  6. In the 1 Peter passage above, there is a profound symbolism associated with baptism (Noah and the ark passing through the waters of God’s judgement). Elsewhere in the NT there is other profound symbolism associated with baptism as well. For example, in Romans 6 Paul teaches that our physical descent into the water, submersion under the water, and then rising up from being underneath the water symbolizes Christ’s death and resurrection. As we descend under the water, and ascend from out of the water our unification with Christ in his death and resurrection is symbolized. Just like he died to sin and was made alive to God, so are all who have faith in him.

    Colossians 2 uses similar imagery. Verse 12 says that we have ‘been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.’ In other words, in baptism, we are giving public testimony to the reality that we have died and been born again by the powerful working of God. The same power has worked in us as was worked on Christ, when he was raised from the dead, and this we bear witness to when we are baptised. Just as he has been raised, so also we will be raised.

    Now that is some profound symbolism.

I can’t help but think that in too many churches, the importance of baptism is underrated. If it was this important for the early church and meant this much to the inspired apostles, we should make it our aim to value it no less than they did!

For further study on the doctrine of baptism, feel free to download and use our ‘Preparation for Baptism Worksheet.’

Who’s In Your Church?

The Kerux has had quite an interesting conversation emerging on his blog lately about the issue of baptism and church membership. These are issues I’ve thought about for some time, but I confess, I have not come to a firm view.

The arguments against having paedobaptists as members are legion, but I think that most (all?) of them fall short. Here’s one of the arguments against it that drives me nuts:

Paedobaptists have aberrant theological views. We should not allow people with aberrant theological views into church membership. Therefore, paedobaptists should not be allowed to be members in baptist churches.

Some even extend this logic to the issue of who we allow to partake of the Lord’s Supper. That just doesn’t make any sense to me! Does that not seem unbiblical to anyone else?

It seems to me that when I examine the New Testament evidence, there is no theological quiz given before the Lord’s Supper. Believers were not required to jump through theological hoops to be considered ‘valid church members.’ Membership in the local church was based on identification with Christ–which, granted, included baptism.

But paedobaptists believe they have been baptised, and if they are believers, have identified themselves with Christ. So why do we exclude them? Because they believe an ‘aberrant theological view.’

But don’t you hold ‘aberrant theological views’ too? I’m certain that I do.

So whether we like it or not, we’re either (a) saying that we hold no aberrant views on any secondary issues, or else (b) what we’ve already done is drawn a line in the sand, saying that there are certain aberrant views we will accept and others that we won’t.

Why draw that line at baptism? What if someone in our church is a dispensational premillenial (gasp)? What if someone is a continuationist rather than a cessationist? What if–God forbid–one of our people should be Arminian? Do we say ‘Get out of our church!’ or, ‘There’s no bread for your types around here!’?

I think not! If someone were to start picking apart my systematics with such a fine-toothed comb, I would think it would not be long before I would be barred from the Table!

Let me pose this question to all who are concerned for the preaching of doctrinal truth from our pulpits: Who do you want in your church?

I want people who love my Lord Jesus and are committed to loving him with heart, soul, mind, and strength. I want paedobaptists in my church because they’ll hear me preach on baptism. I want Arminians in my church because they’ll hear us teach on God’s sovereign saving grace. I want egalitarians in my church because they’ll hear the truth about gender distinctions in the church and in the home. I want charismatics and cessationists in my church because these are secondary issues and we love and serve the same Lord and we all have much to teach each other!

Where else will all of us with ‘aberrant theological views’ go to hear the truth, if not to our local church?

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