BAPTISM

BAPTISM

Throughout the New Testament, Christians have participated in the act of baptism, the outward symbol of an inward change from the power of God. Just like those early believers, we too have the opportunity to new life through the grace of Jesus Christ, and we're commanded to publicly express this in baptism. Please contact the church office if you would like to be a candidate for baptism.


Here's some information from a recent conversation that I (Pastor Pete) had to help clear up some misconceptions:

The clear teaching books/ didactic books like Romans 10:9, 10 and Ephesians 2:8-9 teach that salvation is by grace from God. It is a gift of God-period. Salvation is not because you get baptized or even conjure enough belief. It is completely an act and gift of God. If you affirm baptism as a requirement for salvation, then you are going against the rest of what clear Scripture teaches in the didactic books. Here’s some other examples as well: Rom. 4:1-17, 11:6, Eph. 2:8-9, Gal. 3:8-9 (and what Jesus taught in the Gospel of John 3:16, 37).


Acts 2:38 can be a difficult and controversial verse for baptism:

“And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’”


The Believer's Study Bible points out, the word “repent” is second person imperative, indicating a command for all people to repent. Repentance is necessary to be a Christian, and it is the kindness of God that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). 

“Be baptized” is third person passive imperative, stressing individual responsibility to obey. Baptism is an important part of the Christian life in obedience, but follows justification and not essential for salvation. To say it another way, baptism is part of sanctification (growing in Christ) and not justification (the moment you become a Christian). 

Acts 10:47 also shows the indwelling of the Holy Spirit prior and necessary for baptism. Possession of the Holy Spirit is possible only for Christians, therefore, people are saved (justified) without baptism. There are many other Bible verses  to look at and examples; such as, the thief on the cross  (Luke 23:43).


Keep in mind the same speaker in Acts promised forgiveness of sins on the basis of faith alone (total reliance or trust on the grace of God)-See Acts 5:31, 10:43, 13:38, 26:18.


Also, not only consider the genre  of Acts (type of book Acts is) -history and not teaching doctrine/ not didactic like the epistles-consider the larger context of the verses and chapters in Acts.  

In Acts 2:37, they asked what they should do

Well, technically, we know all the clear teachings on salvation in the Bible tell us,  you don't do anything for salvation!  God does it all!

But they are asking Peter what salvation looks like, what are the evidences of receiving the gift of God's salvation? 

The answer Peter responded with here in Acts, gels with the rest of the Bible. Salvation looks like/ what you do in response to God's grace and forgiveness, is you should "repent," and you should "be baptized.. in Jesus’ name" as we read in Acts 2:38. That's what you do; things you can point to as signs for yourself in being a new Christian.

Toussaint suggests three interpretations of Acts 2:38 that I’ll comment on as well:

  • 1.       Both repentance and baptism result in the remission (forgiveness) of sins; this means baptism is essential for salvation (justification and regenerated from sin). Some churches may refer to this as baptismal regeneration. We do not hold this view. The problem with this view is the Bible teaches elsewhere that forgiveness of sins is based on faith in the grace of God (see the above mentioned bible verses). Also, the same speaker in Acts (Peter) later promises in Acts that forgiveness of sins on the basis of only faith (in God's grace), not baptism (Acts 5:31; 10:43; 13:38; 26:18).
  • 2.       The second view translates “be baptized…on the basis of the remission of your sins.” The preposition used here is eis which, with the accusative case, may mean “on account of, on the basis of, because of.” It is used in this way in Matthew 3:11; 12:41; and Mark 1:4. This is a possible translation (“on the basis of” or "because of"). So you could translate the verse, be baptized because of the remission of sins. This is not, however, the normal meaning of eis with the accusative case , which usually describes purpose or direction instead of “on account of, on the basis of, because of.”
  • 3.       The third interpretation takes the clause “and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ” as parenthetical. Several factors support this view.        The verb makes a distinction between singular and plural verbs and nouns. The verb “repent” is plural, and so in the pronoun “your” in the clause "so that your sins may be forgiven." The verb repent must go with the purpose of forgiveness of sins. On the other hand, the imperative “be baptized” is singular, setting it off from the rest of the sentence. This parenthetical idea fits with Peter’s proclamation in Acts 10:43, where we see the same expression, “sins may be forgiven.” In Acts 10:43, forgiveness of sins is given by faith  in God's grace without baptism. Also in Luke 24:47 and Acts 5:31 the same writer, Luke, shows that repentance from receiving the grace of God by faith results in remission of sins, without baptism.

Please go to our Resources section on this website and listen to the sermon "What do We Believe About Baptism" on February 11, 2018.