Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Is Water Baptism for the Body of Christ? - Part 1

The question that I have been struggling with since I moved away from an Acts 2 view of the birth of  the church is, "What about baptism?" Is that for us today? Where are we told in Scripture that we are to be baptized? Is it required for salvation as some say? Or is it just required for obedience as others say? 

There are two primary arguments made today to justify baptism. I once made them and practically every denomination does the same. The argument will inevitably start in the Gospel of Matthew with the ministry of John the Baptist. Matthew 3:1-12, "In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, (2)  And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (3)  For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. (4)  And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. (5)  Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, (6)  And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. (7)  But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? (8)  Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: (9)  And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. (10)  And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. (11)  I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: (12)  Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."

What should be immediately obvious in these verses is that there are actually three baptisms spoken of and only one of them involves actual water. John says that he was baptizing them with water, but one would come after him who would baptize them with the Holy Ghost and with fire. That is three baptisms and they are not all the same. 

So, who was John baptizing? Jews. His baptism was called the baptism of repentance. However, he also says that Jesus, the one who would come after him and mightier than he, was going to baptize them also, not with water, but with the Holy Ghost and with Fire. That begs the question, "When were they to be baptized with the Holy Ghost?" Well, that happened at Pentecost for those who believed. Well, "When were they to be baptized with fire?" The context makes it clear that the fire baptism that is was not a good thing and it is not the "fire" experience that many charismatics talk about today. Notice the colon at the end of verse 11? They are used before explanations or reasons. Therefore, verse 12 gives the explanation of the reason for this fire baptism. It is obviously about a judgment that was to come after the nation had repented, i.e. Tribulation. 

There is a fourth baptism mentioned in Luke 12:49-50 where our Lord said, "I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled? (50)  But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!"  This was a reference to when God the Father baptized his Son with the sins of the world on the cross. 

So, we have seen that there are four baptisms mentioned in the Bible: water, holy spirit, fire, and wrath. Water by John, Holy Spirit and Fire by Jesus, and Wrath by God. Which leaves the question, "Which of these baptisms are for the church?" The answer is simple, "Neither." 

Friday, December 11, 2020

Our Gospel

I am amazed that when I point out the obvious difference between the Gospel of the Kingdom and the Gospel of Grace, they get all befuddled and even defensive. Why? It is so obvious! 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 tells us that the Gospel that saves us is a belief in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. This could not have been taught in the Gospels because it had not happened yet. What is so hard to understand about that? Again, what was bad news to the Jew was good news to the Gentile. Romans 1:16 tells us that it is obtained simply by faith/belief with no works required. 1 Corinthians 1:18 tells us that that faith is in the completed work of Christ on the cross. Also, compare 1 Corinthians 1:23-24. Furthermore, Ephesians 2:1, 2:8-10, 11-13 tells us that no works are necessary under the Gospel of Grace at all. Only belief. That is the Gospel that Paul referred to in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4.