Dad, a minister of the Gospel for many years, commented in his lesson on the Holy Spirit,
“I DON’T BELIEVE IN BAPTISM, I BELIEVE IN JESUS… HE COMMANDED IT, SO I DO IT!” Having said that (and hopefully gotten your attention), Mike Kellett mentioned 7 things for studying the Scriptures which I like. In short they are:
1. Context is king (It really IS KING when studying the Scriptures. Just think about how taking something out of context can give something a totally different idea.)
2. Establish “What it (the passage) meant then (when written or said) and there (i.e. how the audience received it in their time and culture), before trying to determine and APPLY what it means and how it applies here and now. (This especially is important re the researching of the cultural history.) (Consider Romans 16:16 and the “holy kiss!”)
3. Scriptures have a “center of gravity”. (All Scripture is inspired of God, but not all Scripture are equally important.) (Seek BALANCE and don’t pit one Scripture against another.) This means consider the total Bible Story. Our interpretation and application of Scriptures cannot create contradiction with the Story and CG (center of gravity) of Scriptures. (For example: GRACE. Grace is a theme which flows throughout Scriptures. (For example: Inserting legalism into the Gospel destroys the CG of the Gospel.)
4. Must strive to be “full of grace and truth.” (Truth not only involves “Truth”, but also “Genuineness. So Jesus brought truth for certain, but was also GENUINE.) Interpreting Scriptures in accord with principle #5 (below) and with genuineness, is vital to understanding it.
5. Look for harmony with other texts. Take a moment and consider Matthew 12:1-7. Jesus respected the Law of Moses, but understood, that the more important principle of “mercy,” was more important than legalistically pushing LAW. (This will take some time, but worth while in studying.)
6, Must involve the Holy spirit, and be humble (in searching the Scriptures.) Pride in the heart hinders searching the Scriptures. The elder brother in Luke 15:11-32, was “obedient,” and did everything he was told to do, but was FULL OF PRIDE and missed the father’s blessings. Neither was he willing to extend mercy. Too bad!
7. Parallel (contributing) Scriptures must be considered. Sometimes passages are difficult… like BAPTISM… It is important to gather all or many passages on this topic and compare them. IS BAPTISM ESSENTIAL TO SALVATION? Good question. Pride will not accept what the Bible teaches. Emotions will get upset at what the Bible teaches. One must come to the Bible with an open heart, just wanting to find out, and do what the Bible teaches.
There is no doubt as to the meaning of “Baptism” in New Testament times, as well as what it’s purpose was. Over the centuries that have passed, man has gotten away from this. “Restore” it, by “understanding what it meant then and there, before teaching it here and now.” Maintain the CG of Scriptures by understanding the meaning and importance of GRACE, and the part “Baptism” plays in it. Faith finds it power in the object. I don’t believe in “repentance,” “confession,” or in “baptism”… I BELIEVE IN (a person) JESUS CHRIST. Question is, will we do what He says?
According to Scriptures you cannot separate “baptism” from faith, grace, remission of sins, nor the Spirit. These don’t contradict each other, they “work” together. “We have heard the glorious sound, JESUS SAVES, JESUS SAVES…” Don’t forget it!
The word “baptism” is transliterated or taken from the Greek word “baptizo”. It is “from “bapto,” to dip. Immerse, submerge for a religious purpose, (John 1:25).” (The Complete Word Study Dictionary New Testament” by Spiros Zodiates). It was understood then, and it should be understood now, to mean the same thing. Substitutes like “sprinkling,” “pouring,” would be viewed in New Testament times with questions. The purpose is made clear in Acts 2:38, “Repent and be baptized, everyone of you in the name (into possession of) Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” So what does this mean? Well, look at passages like Mark 16:15-16; Acts has several verses on those who were “baptized,” Romans 6:3-6; Galatians 3:26-27; I Peter 3:21 etc… Do the work… find the answers… Let your search be your own, and thus your decision be your own.
(Back to Dad.) He went somewhere to preach and he noticed the banner above the baptistery which proclaimed only the first part of Acts 2:38 (“Repent and be baptized etc…). The banner had omitted the part about the Holy Spirit. He got up and said, “What happened to the rest of the verse? Don’t you believe that too?” Pretty tough! Not many preachers would do that. The point is, we tend to over emphasize “baptism” we leave people thinking that we believe in “water regeneration,” which we DO NOT! However, if you push any truth to an extreme or over-emphasize it, you will end up with false ideas. BALANCE! Jesus taught in John 3:5 “I tell you the truth, NO ONE can enter the kingdom of God (be saved) UNLESS he is born of water and the Spirit.” Seeking balance and harmony in Scriptures force me to the understanding of ONE BIRTH, with TWO ELEMENTS. I can only baptize in water, but I cannot give the Holy Spirit. You cannot put one before the other, but then you cannot separate them. Jesus is the Giver. Restoring “baptism” involves two elements in the ONE BAPTISM (Ephesians 4). “A Spiritless water birth is no more beneficial than a waterless Spirit birth.” As Dad put it, “water without the Spirit gets one wet, without the life giving power of God.
Yes, restore BAPTISM! Restore the truth of the NEW BIRTH!
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