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What the Church of Christ Believes About Baptism

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Radio transcript for the week of March 11, 2012

Todd Clippard preaches on "What the church of Christ believes about Baptism on Seeking the Lost - International Radio.

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Our study today continues our new series under the theme, â??What do churches of Christ believe?â? Our first lesson was, â??What do Churches of Christ Believe about the Old Testament?â? The others were, â??What Does the Church of Christ Believe about Grace?â?, and â??What Does the Church of Christ Believe About the Security of the Believer?â?. These lessons can be read or heard on the Seeking the Lost website.

This weekâ??s study answers the question, â??What Do Churches of Christ Believe About Baptism?â?. At the outset, let me reaffirm that I am not a spokesman for all members of the churches of Christ, or even one congregation. However, I do believe that what I here provide represents the general beliefs and thinking of most members of the churches of Christ. With that in mind...

First, members of the churches of Christ believe that baptism is only for those who hear and believe the gospel. In Mark 16:15-16, Jesus told the apostles, â??Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be condemned.â?

A point of clarification is needed. When the Bible speaks of the need to hear, it implies the ability to understand coupled with a desire to obey what is heard. This is why a similar statement concerning baptism is found as recorded in Matthew 28:19, â??Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.â?

So we see that those who would be proper candidates for baptism are those who have the ability to understand the gospel message and desire to obey it. This would necessarily exclude infants and children. It would also exclude the mentally deficient. That is, those without the mental capacity to take control of their own spiritual welfare.

Second, members of the church of Christ believe baptism is by immersion only. For anyone familiar with Greek, the language in whihc the New Testament was first written, this statement sounds silly, since the word baptism literally means to submerge or immerse. Many mistakenly believe that baptism can be interpreted to mean sprinkling, or pouring, or immersion. This is just not the case. The Greeks had a completely separate word for sprinkling (cf Heb 9:13, 19) as well as a separate word for pouring (Acts 2:17; Rev 16:8-17). In fact, it is redundant to use the phrase, â??baptism by immersion.â?

Third, members of the church of Christ believe baptism is for the remission of sins. In Acts 2:38 Peter commanded those who had heard and believed the gospel to â??repent, and be baptized for the remission of your sins.â? In using the word â??for,â? Peter was speaking prospectively, that is, looking forward. Baptism was for the purpose of obtaining the remission of sins. Baptism was not looking backward at sins already forgiven, or because sins were already forgiven. Some attempt to apply this meaning to the word translated â??for,â? as in â??He was put in jail for breaking the law.â? Again, the Greek language had a word meaning â??because of,â? and it isnâ??t the same word as appears here. Instead, one can find this word used in Mark 15:10, where Pilate was said to know that the Jews had delivered Jesus â??for (because of) envy.â?

There are a number of other texts that directly link baptism with the forgiveness of sins and salvation. Among them are:

  • Mark 16:16, which we have already discussed, but it bears repeating here - â??He who believes (the gospel, v 15 - TC) and is baptized shall be saved.â?

  • 1 Peter 3:21 - â??Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.â? ESV

  • Acts 22:16 - â??And now, why are you waiting? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling of the name of the Lord.â?

Finally, members of the church of Christ believe baptism is necessary to be a child of God and to be a Christian. In Galatians 3:26-27, the apostle Paul said to the church at Galatia, â??For you are all the sons of God through the faith which is in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.â? Verse 29 goes on to note that only those who are Christâ??s are Abrahamâ??s seed and heirs according to the promise. The only was to be Christâ??s is to be baptized into Christ.

Concerning the necessity of baptism to be a Christian, Matthew 28:19 teaches us that disciples are made by baptizing believers into the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is not until Acts 11:26 that we see the name Christian conferred upon believers, as the text says, â??And the disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.â? One cannot be a Christian without being a disciple, and one cannot be a disciple of Christ without baptism.

The religious world teaches numerous, confusing, and conflicting doctrines in regard to baptism. We plead with you, and with all men everywhere, to believe, embrace, and obey what the Bible teaches about the subject of baptism.

Jesus asked in Luke 6:46, â??Why do you call me â??Lord, Lordâ? and do not do the things I say?â? Hebrews 5:9 says Jesus is the author of eternal salvation to all who obey him.

We are born again though belief in and obedience to the gospel. He who believes the gospel and is baptized shall be saved â?? Mark 16:15-16. We obey the gospel by:

  1. Believing in Jesusâ?? Deity, his death for our sins and his resurrection (John 8:24; 1 Cor 15:1-4)
  2. Repenting of our sins (Luke 13:3, 5; Acts 17:30)
  3. Confessing Christ as the Lord (Romans 10:9-10)
  4. Being baptized, that is immersed, in water to receive remission of sins (Acts 2:38)
  5. Living faithful to the Lord until the end (Matthew 10:22; Revelation 2:10)

If you have any questions or comments about anything you have heard on this program, or have any questions of a biblical nature, please contact us.

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