Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Series 14 Logos since 31 July 2017 . Believer's Baptism

. Believer's Baptism


 

 

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As a pastor, there are few things that bring me greater joy than to see an individual follow Jesus into the waters of baptism. It is a joyous occasion because the individual being baptized is publicly proclaiming that Jesus is Lord of lords and King of their life; and they want everyone to know it! Baptism is a public profession of an existing faith in Jesus Christ. We are identifying with Christ’s death and resurrection and putting a stake in the ground that we will stand with Christ. Jesus commanded his disciples to baptise others; therefore, baptism is an act of obedience on our behalf.

 

 

 

 

THE BAPTISM PROCESS


Firstly, an understanding of the gospel.

For a person to be baptised he must understand:


1. That man is sinful. The Bible states that sin is missing the mark, a transgression against God, unrighteousness, lawlessness, depravity, and evil. Sin is living in opposition to God and his ways. The very identity of a sinner is defined by sin. For this reason, Paul states that the old man must die and a new man must be born (Romans 6:6-8).

Those who sin will die and deserve the wrath of God (Romans 1:32 and Ephesians 2:3). Because of our sin, God will repay all for what they have done (Matthew 16:27) through eternal, unending punishment in hell (Matthew 22:13).

2. God is holy. Sin is most visible in contrast to the holiness of God, revealed in Jesus Christ. To be Holy means to be set apart or unique. The Hebrew word for Holy means “cut off” or “withdrawn from common, ordinary use.” In the Old Testament objects in the temple were called holy because they were set apart for worship of God. People are called holy because they are set apart or withdrawn to God alone.

3. Jesus became our substitute. God himself, in Jesus Christ, decided to suffer “the wages of sin” that his own holiness demands. He paid the penalty for our sin by shedding his own blood (Heb. 9:22). He took the punishment each of us deserves. God placed our sin on Christ so that he might place his righteousness on us! This is how an all holy God dealt with sin. Jesus became an atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 4:10), took our penalty, and satisfied God’s holy requirement that no sin go unpunished.

4. Salvation is received by faith in Jesus. God forgives those who repent of sins. Our relationship with God and our eternal destiny depend on the cross and our response to Jesus. Faith is God’s work in us and the way we benefit from what Jesus did for us. Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith.” Faith is a response to God’s work in our heart. Faith includes knowledge about the total depravity of our soul and the person and work of Jesus Christ on our behalf. The key is that we must respond by faith otherwise we are still dead in our sin.

Paul describes the way to salvation like this, “That if you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9).

The Gospel in a very small nutshell: We are saved from the wrath of God through the death and resurrection of Jesus for the glory of God by faith in Jesus Christ.


Secondly: A willingness to affirm your faith.

It is important that you affirm your love for Jesus and understand what is being asked in baptism. It is of critical importance that you follow and obey Christ, as one day you will stand before God and be judged based on individual choices (Rom. 14:10). Salvation in Christ is not a result of one’s blood line, nationality or church, but our own personal faith in Jesus. You cannot be baptised unless you embrace Christ as your Lord and Saviour as baptism simply verifies this truth.

For hundreds of years throughout church history candidates for baptism have been asked three questions. They are:

1. Do you believe in or know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Saviour?

2. Do you renounce sin, the devil and all his work?

3. Do you promise, God helping you, to serve him in the fellowship of his church for the rest of your life?

We don’t do that at Logos, as the mere fact that you desire to be baptised is an affirmation of that.

 

Thirdly: WHY is baptism important?

Baptism is often down-played as an optional choice for the Christian. It is frequently misunderstood and often administered poorly. Some believers view baptism as a minor addition to faith, yet the New Testament speaks of baptism as a major milestone that each believer in Jesus Christ is to experience.

Baptism is important for four reasons:

1. Jesus was baptized and commands the church to baptise (Matt 3:15-16; Matt. 28:18-20). That which is important to Jesus and commanded by him must be followed by his disciples. Baptism is indispensable for believers. Since baptism was ordained by Jesus it is properly understood as an ordinance, rather than a sacrament as it does not bring about any change in the person baptised.

2. In Scripture, baptism is regularly connected with belief and salvation. Baptism is important because it is tied to the Gospel and the saving work of Jesus on the cross. Baptism reveals a person’s entire theological framework since it tells us much about how one views the Gospel.

3. Baptism indicates a new lifestyle and a commitment to follow Christ. It is closely linked with the believer’s death to sin and new life in Christ (Rom. 6:3). Baptism provides the opportunity for the believer to testify publicly of God’s saving work in their life and their desire to follow and obey Jesus. The work of God in salvation should lead to a believer’s response in baptism.

4. Baptism is public. Christians are told by an unbelieving world that it is acceptable to believe what they want so long as they keep their faith to themselves. I think, Satan loves undercover Christians who are timid with their faith and quietly keep it to themselves. One of the values of baptism is that it is an opportunity for the believer to publicly proclaim Christ. God built in a means for every believer to state publicly that they are followers of Jesus Christ. This public proclamation is not meant to be a one-time action, but a daily lifestyle. The Christian is told to be salt, light, and not to be ashamed of the Gospel.

For Christians who lived at other periods in church history, baptism often meant persecution or martyrdom. The same is true today for Muslims who convert to Christianity. A public profession of faith through baptism is often the act that causes family and friends to ostracize or disown the new believer. For these individuals, baptism was no small matter.

 

Fourthly: WHAT is baptism?

It is critical that the candidate for baptism understands the meaning and significance of baptism.

Baptism was instituted by Christ and is to be administered in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. There is no saving power in baptism. It does not result in the remission of sins and is not a means of saving grace. It is a sign of already being cleansed from sin by faith alone in Christ alone (Romans 10:9). The power of baptism is not in water; it is in God himself. Baptism is for believers in Jesus Christ and signifies being adopted into the family of God and sanctified with the Holy Spirit. Baptism is an outward symbol of an already existing inward change.

 

Baptism is an:

1. Identification: Romans 6:1-5 explains the spiritual significance of the act of believer’s baptism. It is an identification with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Baptism is a summary of faith. It points us to the cross and the empty grave. When properly practiced, it differentiates believers from non-believers. It is Christianity in visible form. It is faith on display. It is an outward expression of an inward reality.

a. It symbolizes his death. As Jesus went down into death, so we go down into the waters of baptism.

b. It symbolizes his burial. As Jesus was buried for three days, so we are buried for a moment in the watery grave.

c. It symbolizes his resurrection. As Jesus arose, so we arise to live in newness of life.

2. Declaration: Why aren’t baptisms administered in private? A baptism is a declaration of commitment in the same way a marriage is. The candidate for baptism wants the world to know that he loves Jesus and wants to follow him. The individual being baptized is stating his intent. Baptism is a profession of faith in Jesus Christ. It is a confession that Jesus is Christ and Lord. Baptism more than anything else is a reminder of what Christ has already accomplished on the cross and done in the life of the individual being baptised. Baptism cannot be understood apart from Christ crucified.

3. Invitation: Those who observe a baptism are not passive observers. They are active participants. The church is to encourage, support, and exhort the individual being baptised to remain faithful and true to Christ Jesus.

4. Imitation: We are following the example of Jesus Christ who was baptised by immersion. Baptism is an essential aspect of discipleship. In Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus tells his followers to make disciples. This is the mission of the church. “Baptising” and “teaching” specify the way in which disciples are to be made. Discipleship includes the baptism of converts and teaching them to obey the commands of Jesus.

5. Incorporation: Baptism is an entry point into the body of Christ associated with faith in Jesus Christ. It is an initiatory rite – we are baptised into the name of Jesus Christ. Baptism maintains the unity of believers (Gal. 3:28; 1 Cor. 12:13). It is shared by those who belong to Christ and are now to be incorporated into the life of the church. Baptism in water and in Spirit is the signature event for all Christians, marking them as members of the people of God.

 

Fifthly: WHO can be baptized?

“According to Acts 8:12-13 and 35-38, what are the requirements to be baptized?”

Baptism is designed for believers in Christ who have repented of their sins and have placed their faith in Jesus Christ. Baptism is for those who have met the conditions for salvation: repentance and an active faith. A personal, conscious faith in Jesus Christ is the prerequisite to baptism. Therefore, baptism is often referred to as “believer’s baptism, not ‘adult baptism’ or ‘groot doop’.” To be baptised and then believe in Jesus would reverse the biblical order.

A great next step for those who are baptised is to become a member of the church. This is appropriate for young people as well as adults. At Logos you can become a member before being baptised as long as you do not reject what we teach. At Logos, we do have an open membership due to the cultural background in South Africa where so many have grown up being taught that infant baptism is Biblical. We do however want to encourage people to be baptised first. Open Membership simply means that we do not set baptism as a requirement for membership but faith in Christ. So, while at Logos, membership may come before Baptism, baptism may never precede belief or saving faith. That is one reason we do not baptise babies.

The book of Acts provides several examples that indicate belief comes before baptism:

Acts 8:12: “But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptised, both men and women.”

Acts 8:13: Simon himself believed and was baptized.

Acts 10:43-48: “All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name. While Peter was still speaking these words, … Then Peter said, “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” So, he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.”

Acts 16:14-15: “One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul's message. When she and the members of her household were baptised, she invited us to her home. "If you consider me a believer in the Lord," she said, "come and stay at my house."

Acts 16:31-33: They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved— you and your household." Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized”. Were there babies baptised? No, as he and his family were to believe and be saved.

Acts 18:8: “Crispus, the synagogue ruler, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptised.”

Acts 19:4-5: “And Paul said, “John baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptised into the name of the Lord Jesus.“

Believer’s baptism is the clear teaching of the New Testament. Only those who believe in Jesus as Lord and Saviour should be baptized.

1. Every Christian is to be baptised. An unbaptised Christian is not a state of existence that the Bible recognizes; nor should it be for Christians today. The natural progression for the Christian is to believe and then to be baptized.

2. Belief in Jesus is the only requirement for baptism. In the New Testament, nothing was required for baptism other than repentance of sins and belief in Jesus. A time of instruction prior to baptism is acceptable but should not be a hindrance to being baptised. In church history, there have been periods where candidates for baptism had to devote a significant amount of time, sometimes years, to studying the core doctrines of the faith before being baptised. While all individuals should rigorously study the foundations of the faith, this aspect of discipleship should not be a requirement for baptism as this is not the pattern of the New Testament.

3. Infants should not be baptised. Every New Testament instruction or command regarding baptism, and every clear instance of baptism that we see in the New Testament, relates to the baptism of those who have repented of sin (John’s baptism) and come to faith in Christ (baptisms from Pentecost forward). Such requirements mean that infants and very young children should not be baptized until they have been united with Christ through their own faith in him. We do not talk about adult baptism, or “groot doop”. It is Believer’s Baptism.

The foundational teaching of the Bible is that human beings are sinful and can be made right with God through faith in Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:1). Infant baptism compromises the Gospel by counting the faith of the parent as covering the child or in presumptive future regeneration of the child, which is wrong. A simple reading on the websites of those who practice infant baptism is that because babies cannot believe out of themselves, their salvation is by grace. This is a wrong understanding of grace. Grace is not because of your inability due to age, but because you do not deserve salvation, and yet receive it. Those who are baptised in the New Testament have already undergone a spiritual change of heart through the work of the Holy Spirit. The pattern of the New Testament is belief then baptism not baptism in hopes of future belief.

John 4:1-2 makes clear that Jesus, through his disciples, made and baptised more people than John the Baptist. Yet none of these baptisms are specified to be children. In fact, to be a disciple requires belief and repentance (Mark 1:15), something an infant is incapable of doing. Jesus took a special interest in children. He received them into his arms and blessed them. He did not baptise them.

If this argument is correct, then large portions of the church are living in disobedience to Christ when baptising an infant. If all the New Testament evidence shows baptism connected to those who profess faith in Jesus, the burden of proof rests on those who claim infant baptism is biblical.

It is sometimes assumed that infants were present in Cornelius’s home and that they were baptised with the rest of the family. However, the book of Acts tells us that those who were baptized in 10:48 and 11:17 “heard the word” (10:44), “received the Holy Spirit” (10:45), “spoke in tongues” (10:46), “believed in the Lord Jesus Christ” (11:17), and “repented” (11:18).9 Infants and very young children are not capable of these actions so it is safe to assume that Luke does not intend for his readers to believe that infants were involved in this household baptism. When Crispus’ household was baptised in Acts 18:8, we are told that Crispus with his entire household believed in the Lord. Very young children cannot believe; therefore they are excluded from those baptised in Acts 18.

The Bible provides no evidence for the baptism of infants. If belief is to precede baptism, then infants and very young children are incapable of that which is required to participate in this rite. Paul Jewett believes “to baptize infants apart from faith threatens the evangelical foundations of evangelicalism.” We have strong evidence to reject infant baptism and to focus on the biblical principle of believer’s baptism. Baptism should be practiced only by those who profess faith in Jesus and whose fruit is evident for all to see. The important question becomes, “Does this individual publicly display their faith?”

What about re-baptism? There is one instance of individuals being re-baptised in Scripture. In Acts 19:1-15 we read: “While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ They answered, ‘No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.’ So, Paul asked, ‘Then what baptism did you receive?’ ‘John’s baptism, ‘they replied. Paul said, ‘John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.’ On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.”

These individuals were baptised for a second time because they had not repented of sins and placed their faith in Jesus. The text is clear, the Ephesian disciples had not believed in Jesus prior to their first baptism, and as a result, Paul instructs them to be baptised again. It is important to note that Paul did not immediately baptize these individuals but told them to believe in Jesus. The same principle of Acts 19 can be applied to those who have been baptised as a baby. Because belief was not present before an infant baptism, it is appropriate to be baptised as a believer.

 

Sixthly: WHEN can an individual be baptized?

How old does a person need to be before they are ready to be baptised? When is one old enough? The nature of baptism clearly taught in scripture is that it is only for those who profess saving faith. The Bible provides no minimum age required for baptism, nor does the Bible give any command for immediate baptism or delay. As such, theologians hold differing views on this matter.

1. Immediate baptism. This position suggests that people should be baptised at the earliest possible time after conversion.

It is argued that this is the pattern of Scripture. The Philippian jailer, the apostle Paul, and the Ethiopian Eunuch were baptised soon after believing in Jesus (Acts 16:30-34 and Acts 9:18). Thus, it is encouraged that a person follows this pattern and be baptised as close to conversion as possible.

2. Delay for maturity and understanding. This position holds that the believers who are baptised in the Bible are adults and there is no clear instance of an adolescent being baptised. Waiting to baptise provides time for the child to understand the Gospel and articulate its meaning. Charles Spurgeon required his sons to wait until they were eighteen years old before they could be baptised.

At Logos Community Church we do not hold to any formal position as Scripture does not allow us to. I believe we should fall somewhere between the two views, and the younger a person is the more checks and balances should be adhered to so that we can determine that they are ready. At the end of the day, baptism is not merely administered on pragmatics that can be easily judged, but it is a heart issue. The key is to make sure the young person understands the Gospel and has placed his or her faith in Jesus Christ.

 

Seventhly: HOW is a believer baptised?

The way which individuals were baptised in the New Testament was through immersion. Individuals being baptised fully went under water rather than being sprinkled or having water poured over them. There is ample evidence that immersion was the mode of baptism.

Evidence for immersion:

1. The meaning of the word. Baptism is a transliteration of the Greek word “Baptizo” which means to “dip, immerse, submerge.” Another Greek word “Rhantizo”: meaning “to pour” or “to sprinkle” is never used to describe baptism.

2. Jesus was immersed by John (Mark 1:10). We are told that Jesus “came up immediately from the water” (Matt. 3:16). This description suggests immersion as Jesus would not need much water to be sprinkled with water.

3. John baptized “in the river Jordan” (Mark 1:5; Matt. 3:6) and at Aenon near Salim “because water was plentiful there” (John 3:23). Both descriptions suggest baptism by immersion as one does not need a river or a plentiful supply of water to be sprinkled.

4. The baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch suggests immersion, “Look, here is water!” (Acts 8:36) This would be an unusual comment unless the baptised involved immersion. If there be any doubt Luke further clarifies when he states, the Ethiopian eunuch “went down into the water” (Acts 8:38) and “came up out of the water” (Acts 8:39). He would in any case have carried water on his wagon in skin bags, based on the heat in that area. So, if he had to be sprinkled, water would have been available.

5. The imagery of Romans 6:1-4, being “buried with him in baptism,” fits best with immersion. To go under water suggests being buried with Christ while rising from the water suggests living a new life in Christ. This imagery is lost if a different mode is utilised.

 

Eighthly, Who can baptise?

Is it appropriate for a parent to baptise a child, or a friend to baptise a friend? While there is no Scriptural command restricting baptism to pastors or elders, this has been the normal mode of operation throughout church history.  I believe this the safest route otherwise it becomes a free for all and the meaning of baptism can become flippant.

 

Closing.

I have a much more detailed document on the subject if anybody wants to study this topic deeper. All that remains now with the above information is for you to determine in your heart if you need to follow the Lord Jesus in this step of obedience. Maybe the best way to end today’s study is with the words of Ananias to Paul in Acts 22:16 (ESV) 16 And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’”

 

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SOME INTERRESTING READING

 

“Finish the Reformation!” Those were the words of John MacArthur in a famous debate with his friend R. C. Sproul on baptism. And that was my cry when I saw that Ligonier Ministries had decided to promote the doctrine of infant baptism in about half of the daily devotional readings in the October 2017 issue of Tabletalk Magazine. In the month that marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, I had expected the devotions to celebrate the great doctrines of the gospel, but instead I found myself pulling the October edition out of the church foyer. Please don’t misunderstand—Tabletalk is still a great publication, and it will return in November. In its place this month you will find a booklet of daily devotionals I have written for you myself.

I had not planned to write about baptism here, but they made me do it, so here are five ways in which believer’s baptism by immersion is more Reformed than infant baptism.

1. Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone). The Protestant Reformation began for many reasons, but probably the greatest was that increased access to the Bible made it clear that the traditional teachings and practices of the Roman Catholic Church did not match what was found in Scripture. Believer’s baptism arose amidst the Reformation from the study of Scripture, whereas infant baptism merely retained and redefined a traditional Roman Catholic practice. Infant baptism is a longstanding tradition within Christianity dating back to around the third century, but it is nowhere to be found in the Bible. On the contrary, the Bible’s consistent presentation of baptism is that it is the immersion in water of a professing believer (Matt 3:16; 28:19; Acts 2:41; 8:39; 10:47-48; Gal 3:27). Nowhere in the Bible does baptism have any mode but immersion or any subject but professing believers. Sola Scriptura!

2. Sola gratia (grace alone). We are saved by God’s grace alone (Eph 2:8), not by any element of human merit, including the merit of family lineage. John the Baptist taught this doctrine as he turned away people with religious family lineage who had requested baptism: “And do not presume to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father,' for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham” (Matt 3:9). Whereas infant baptism teaches that human lineage bestows the right to be baptized into God’s royal family, believer’s baptism teaches that God will have mercy on whom he will have mercy regardless of ancestry (Rom 9:13-15). Sola gratia!

3. Sola fide (faith alone). We are saved through faith alone, not by any religious ceremonies or good works (Rom 4:5). Believer’s baptism is bestowed only upon those who profess faith in Christ (Acts 2:41), whereas infant baptism is bestowed upon those who have not professed faith and might never have any desire to do so. Sola fide!

4. Solus Christus (Christ alone). Saving faith is a faith that is in Christ alone, relying on nothing other than the finished work of our crucified and risen Savior for eternal life. The immersion of a believer is a picture of this reliance on Christ. As Paul explains in Romans 6:5-6, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” Sprinkling does not fit this God-given imagery of our union with Christ in his death, burial, and resurrection. Solus Christus!

5. Soli Deo gloria (to the glory of God alone). We are saved for the glory of God alone and not for the glory of mere human beings, whether ourselves or anyone else (Isaiah 48:9-11). In believer’s baptism, we give God alone the glory for washing sinners clean and bringing them into his kingdom. Infant baptism presumes that believing parents will bring their children into God’s kingdom, but believer’s baptism shows that no one may enter the kingdom except by the work of the Holy Spirit to give them new birth (John 3:3-8).

 

Soli Deo gloria!