Sunday, January 20, 2008

Baptism Part 2

We agreed at the end of the last post that Christian baptism must be done in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This time, I want to look at a few verses and make sure we look at them in context and practice good hermeneutics. All to often, people will read a verse in light of something they already believe and not even realize the verses they read are not talking about their particular issue. Let's look at some verses that discuss baptism.

From Romans 6:
"3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?
4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection,
6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin;"
New American Standard Bible : 1995 Update, Ro 6:3-6 (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995).

From 1 Corinthians 12:
"13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit."
New American Standard Bible : 1995 Update, 1 Co 12:13 (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995).

From Galatians 3:
"27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus."
New American Standard Bible : 1995 Update, Ga 3:27-28 (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995).

From Colossians 2:
"11 and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ;
12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead."
New American Standard Bible : 1995 Update, Col 2:11-12 (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995).


Now, we must be honest as we ask the important hermeneutical questions about these passages. What is Paul talking about in these passages? Is he talking about baptism? No, he is not speaking about baptism here. He is speaking about our union with Christ. We cannot look to these passages and gain any knowledge of the mode or method of baptism. We can look to these and find out who is doing the work in baptism, though. Are we joining ourselves to Christ? Or are we being joined to Christ? It is clear that we are being joined to Christ in baptism, making the work of baptism a work of God not a work of ours. We see in Col. 2:12, we were buried with Him in baptism; we did not bury ourselves with Him. We were raised up with Him; we did not raise ourselves up with Him. Baptism is a work performed upon us, not a work we do. It is because we are all united to Christ in baptism that we are also united to one another. It is baptism that gives us a ground for fellowship. We have this in common so we are united as one family in Christ.

In coming to our lowest common denominator for this post I believe we should be able to agree that:

  1. Baptism is to be done in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

  2. Baptism is a work performed by God which is a sign and seal of the fact that we are joined to Christ and therefore to one another.

3 comments:

Deb said...

To your second point:
"Baptism is a work performed by God on us in which we are joined to Christ and therefore to one another."
I do not see that in the scriptures. The verses that you quoted contain qualifiers ("to those whom" "if you have been" etc) and as such are not necessarily all-inclusive. It is quite possible - especially in the case of infant baptism, but also in the case of 'supposed' believers' baptism - that the person who is baptised (by the church) is not saved.

A close reading of those scriptures does not indicate to me a guaranteed eternal union with Christ to every person who is baptized. And I also do not think that it is accurate to say that baptism is a work done by God in the case of every single baptism ever performed. However, perhaps I have misread you.

Alan said...

Deb,
I think you may misunderstand be slightly. My main point here is that baptism is a work of God, it is something God does. It is not a work of man. The point I will be getting to is the dichotomy between believer's baptism and infant baptism. Those endorsing believer's baptism seem to think baptism is a work we do to show we are a Christian. I am not saying baptism saves nor am I saying all that are baptized are saved. All that are truly baptized by God are saved, but not because of the baptism but because He chose them, He elected them of His own good pleasure. Does that help or just muddy the water more?

In Christ
Alan

Rhea said...

Alan, could you clarify something for me (and perhaps others who are reading this. You said:

"Baptism is a work performed by God on us in which we are joined to Christ and therefore to one another."

While I don't think that this is what you're trying to say/get across, I believe that this could be read to mean that we aren't/cannot be saved apart from baptism. I know that is not your view. Do you see though how I could read that statement and possibly think that's what you're trying to say? Could you perhaps "flesh this statement" out a little more? How is baptism, which you say joins us to Christ, different from salvation? (it seems that "salvation" is not the best word to use here, but I'm not sure what else to use...I hope that you understand what I'm trying to say).