Article - Beyond the Waters: Perspectives on Baptism

I know, I know. The title does seem a little odd doesn’t it? Allow me just a moment to explain. Recently, it was reported that a certain religious group has changed their views on baptism to accept believers of all faiths. They reported that after a study on the subject of baptism, they believed their church should accept people of all faiths without making them be baptized again. It was with great interest and amazement that I read this article. There are several things about it I would like for you to consider with me.

Voting, Church By-Laws, & Human Tradition. Let me begin by asking, “How in the world does a group of men have the right to vote on Bible doctrines and make church laws concerning them?” The Bible says that God’s Word is already settled in Heaven (Psalm 119:89). Jesus is the final authority on religious matters, and we must take what He said and obey it (Matthew 28:18; Colossians 3:17). Instead of voting on church doctrine to see if we like or approve of it, we need to just simply obey what the Bible says (Hebrews 5:8-9). By the way, where does God give any church the right to make “by-laws”? The Bible says that God’s word is our law today (James 1:25). It is the Word of God that will judge us on the last day (John 12:48). How foolish and prideful of us to think that God needs us to make laws for His church today! Dear friend, we need to realize that the Bible is God’s law book for the church (Revelation 22:18-19). The problem with this whole issue is that of human tradition. If we would get away from our “tradition” and ask “what does the Bible say” we could easily know and do God’s will (Jeremiah 37:17; Romans 5:4).

Baptism & the Bible. One thing that stood out in my mind as I read the article was there was not one reference to what the Bible says on baptism. If I were going to change the way I believed on a biblical subject I would do this. I would be sure what the Bible taught and then I would say “Here is where it is at in the Bible and this is why were changing our beliefs”. There was not one citation of Scripture to prove why they changed their views on baptism. Doesn’t that seem just a little odd? What does the Bible actually teach about baptism? The Bible teaches that baptism is essential to salvation (Acts 2:38; Mark 16:16; Galatians 3:27). The only type of baptism we see in the New Testament is immersion (Mark 1:9-10; John 3:23; Rom.6 :1-4; Acts 8:38ff). All reputable Greek lexicons will affirm that the Greek word for baptism exclusively means to submerge or immerse. The Bible also teaches that after one is baptized, the Lord adds them to the church (Acts 2:38; 47). And, yes the Bible does teach that baptism is what puts a person into the church or family of God (1 Corinthians 12:13). If baptism is by immersion and that is how one gets into the church of the New Testament, then what is wrong with teaching people do what the Bible says they should do????

The Root Problem. As I read this article on baptism, I identified the root problem in a lot of religion today. Several times I found references to we did this because it “reflects a change of the times” and “it makes us feel better”. The root problem is that we want religion to make us feel good and make everybody else happy. We don’t want to offend anybody, nor do we want to believe or hear anything that might make us feel bad. We have failed to realize that telling people the truth does not make us their enemy (Galatians 4:16). If we change what the Bible says to make us feel better and to fit with the times are we pleasing God or men (Galatians 1:10)? The Bible is such a book that it doesn’t need us to come along and change it every so often to fit with the times (2 Peter 1:3). May God help us to repent when we reach a point in our religion that we actually make statements like, “the baptism requirement was perhaps outdated and irrelevant.” The commands of God that we find in the Bible are just as fresh and powerful as they were 2000 years ago and may we never try to change them (Hebrews 4:12)!!

Dear friends, it is not my intent to be combative or argumentative over these matters. However, it does get my ire up when people begin to play God and change laws about His church and the Bible that God has not authorized. Instead of going “beyond the waters” we need to go “back to the Bible” and do what the Lord tells us to! Like the prophet Jeremiah, we need to ask for the old paths where the good way is and then we will find rest for our souls (Jeremiah 6:16).

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