Why make baptism necessary for church membership?

January 30, 2007

This is part 4 in a four part series. The first 3 can be viewed here: The first two parts are: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

I pastor a church that requires members to undergo believer’s baptism. We require this even if the person was baptized as an infant. Why? Does this requirement needlessly divide the church? Would it not be better to agree to disagree for the sake of unity?

This is a question that I have wrestled with for many hours. I have many brothers and sisters in Christ, whom I dearly love and respect, who do not believe in believer’s baptism. I do not question their faith or the sincerity of their convictions. But, while they would be welcome at our church, they could not become members because they do not agree with the teaching of believer’s baptism.

We insist on believer’s baptism because Jesus did. It is not an issue of salvation, but we believe it is an issue of obedience. Baptism is the public symbol of identification with Jesus and His church. To refuse to obey is a significant issue. As a church, we would be disobeying our Lord, if we allowed people to join the church while continuing to disobey a command from Jesus to be baptized.

All churches unite around Biblical beliefs. Some are essential to salvation and some are not. While it is unfortunate that we cannot unite around a common understanding regarding baptism, we do more honor to the Scriptures by forming church communities that are clearly defined and stand boldly for truth. While we love our brothers and sisters in Christ who believe otherwise, we cannot compromise what we believe is clearly taught in Scripture.

P.S. I apologize for the font problems.  I don’t know why it is happening and can’t seem to fix it.

Advertisements

Marriage and the Glory of God

January 29, 2007

Here is a link to a must read, listen or watch sermon on marraige!

John Piper on Marriage.


Who should be baptized?

January 29, 2007

This is part 3 in a series. The first two parts are: Part 1, Part 2.

When you read the New Testament, there is no question that believers should be baptized. Baptism was consistently offered to those who turned to Jesus in repentance and faith. The real question is should infants be baptized or just adult believers.

I believe the Bible clearly teaches believer’s baptism. This means that only adult believers, and not infants, should be baptized.

In the Bible, baptism is performed on those who confess, repent and believe in Jesus Christ. In Acts 2:38-41, Peter urges his listeners to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. The story concludes with the statement “So those who received his word were baptized” (2:41). This indicates that the ones baptized were the ones who were capable of understanding the message and responding to it. In Colossians 2:12 we are taught that baptism joins us to the work of Christ through faith. In 1 Peter 3:20-21, baptism is called an appeal to God for a clean conscience. That is another way of saying calling upon God. All of these texts indicate a conscious response of faith and belief on the person being baptized.

The reason we should not baptize infants is that they are incapable of making this profession of faith. They have neither experienced nor expressed the reality that baptism signifies. Furthermore, there is no direct evidence in the Bible that infants were baptized. Many have appealed to the passages that refer to entire households being baptized in an effort to read infant baptism into the Bible. The problem is that this is an argument from silence. There is no evidence that there were or were not infants or young children in those households. Furthermore, in two of the three instances where household baptisms are mentioned, there is evidence that all in the household were converted and believed. Acts 16:34 indicates the entire household believed. 1 Corinthians 16:15 implies that the entire household of Stephanas (baptized in 1 Corinthians 1:16) was converted and ministering on behalf of the Lord. This implies that all who were baptized were old enough to understand the message, be converted and begin serving.

Baptizing infants leads to a number of problems. First, it gives people a false assurance of faith based on their baptism. Second, it robs people of the Biblical means of identifying with the church when they do become believers. Third, it robs baptism of its rich symbolism of identification with the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Based on the requirements of belief and repentance that consistently accompany baptism, the intention and symbolism of baptism, and the lack of direct evidence of infants being baptized, it seems best to hold to the practice of believer’s baptism.


What is Baptism?

January 26, 2007

This is part 2 of a series on baptism.

What is Baptism?

Baptism is immersion. The word is used to speak of washing, plunging, sinking, drenching, and soaking. It is used of clothes that were put in dye. It was used of items put in brine to pickle them. The word simply does not suggest pouring or sprinkling.

The examples of baptism we see in the Bible also support the idea of immersion. John the Baptizer specifically chose an area where there was much water (John 3:33). Why would he do this if he was only sprinkling or pouring water? When Jesus was baptized He went into the Jordan and came up out of the water (Mark 1:9-10). Philip took the Ethiopian eunuch into and out of the water (Acts 8:38-39).

I understand that there are many godly, sincere Christians that believe baptism should be done by pouring or sprinkling. However the Bible indicates that unless you are immersed, you simply got wet.


Why should I be baptized?

January 25, 2007

This is part 1 in a series on baptism I will be posting over the next few days.

Why should I be baptized?

People ask me this question with increasing frequency. Some ask because they were baptized as infants. Some ask because they have never been taught what the Bible teaches about baptism. Some ask because they have been professing Christians for a number of years and are embarrassed about being baptized so “late” in their Christian life.

I want to make one thing crystal clear from the beginning. Baptism does not save you. The Lord Jesus Christ saves you based on His death on the cross. He saves you completely by His grace, through no work of your own (Ephesians 2:8-9). There will be believers in heaven who have never been baptized (Luke 23:39-43). Baptism is not the most important issue in your Christian life, believing the gospel is (1 Corinthians 1:17). However, you should be baptized.

Baptism is directly commanded by the Lord Jesus Christ. It is an essential element of making disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). Baptism is an issue of obeying the Lord. Churches that do not require their members to be baptized are disobeying the Lord. Christians who refuse to be baptized are disobeying the Lord.

Baptism is also a beautiful symbol of our death and resurrection with Jesus Christ. When we are immersed into the water and raised up again, it is a visible picture of our spiritual union with Jesus in His death and resurrection (Romans 6:3-5).

Baptism is the visible means of entrance into the community of faith. In Jesus’ day, it was a sign of identification with a group. So, throughout the Bible, when men and women believed in Jesus, they were baptized to publicly proclaim their faith (Acts 2:41; 8:12-13, 36-38; 9:17-18; 10:47-48; 16:15, 33; 18:8; 19:3-5). I find it interesting that when the gospel first came to the Gentiles, Peter argued that the waters of baptism could not be withheld from those who so obviously had received the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:47). For the early church, baptism was expected, not avoided. I can only think of one individual who was not baptized after believing in Jesus – the thief on the cross (Luke 23:39-43). I suspect that if his circumstances would have permitted, he would have been baptized too!


Leagalized Murder

January 22, 2007

Twenty-four years ago, the United States began an era of legalized murder (abortion). Killing the defenseless unborn became a woman’s right. According to some of the websites I’ve viewed in the past few days, there are now an average of 4,000 children murdered every day in the United States. Over 40 million children have died because their mommy’s didn’t want them. Despite what you may think, the vast majority of abortions are not performed for health reasons, or because of rape or incest, but as a result of purely personal reasons.

On average, women give at least 3 reasons for choosing abortion: 3/4 say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or other responsibilities; about 2/3 say they cannot afford a child; and 1/2 say they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner (AGI). (Source)

By the way, I believe that murdering children conceived out of evil circumstances like rape or incest is still wrong. Two wrongs don’t make a right. There are other options even in difficult circumstances.

As a nation, we are sacrificing children on the altar of personal convenience and pleasure. I hope you long for the day when this holocaust will end. I hope you are praying and working for the day when it will end. I hope that you pray that God will have mercy on our blood-soaked nation.

If you are interested in more information about the murder of the unborn, I highly recommend visiting some of the links John Piper has put together (click here). I particularly recommend the S.L.E.D. acronym link. I will warn you the video link he provides is extremely graphic. I had to turn it off because it was making me feel sick.  Please use these resources to educate yourself and equip yourself to protect the defenseless unborn.

I do want to say a word to any readers who may have been personally involved in an abortion. What you did was murder. It is a great sin against God. But, there is hope. God sent His Son Jesus Christ to die as a substitute for your sin. Jesus rose again, proving that God was satisfied with His death and to rule and reign over God’s creation. He offers you forgiveness if you will repent and turn from your sin. If you have questions about this, I urge you to contact me or another Christian you trust.

In Christ

Pastor Mike


Be Different

January 12, 2007

We live in a world that values conformity. We face relentless pressure to be like the people around us, to fit in.

The Bible calls Christians to something very different. 1 John 3:1 tells Christians that they are children of God. It also tells them that the world will not recognize them. Why? Because it does not recognize Jesus (1 John 3:1). As a follower of Jesus, there should be something very different about your life.

If you continue reading 1 John 3 you will discover a few of these differences. You will characteristically practice righteousness (1 John 3:7). You will not characteristically practice sin (1 John 3:8). You will show love to your brother in tangible ways.

Ultimately, the world will hate you for this (1 John 3:13). Why? Because your deeds are righteous and the its are evil.

So, as you go about your day today, be different! Don’t blend in. Make people scratch their heads and even hate you as you do deeds of righteousness and love to others.

In Christ

Pastor Mike