Author: dansbritton (page 2 of 2)

Baptism Defined and How It Applies to Salvation

While at Summit Colorado this summer, I engaged in a discussion with a bright young student on the issue of baptism. The discussion centered around two question, the first of which had to do with the definition of baptism and whether it always implied a water baptism by full immersion. The second question was regarding baptism as a requirement for salvation. While not exhaustive, this should help clarify those questions.

Baptism defined:Attendees-Photo

The root of baptism in Greek is “bapt” and there are many cognates of the word found in Scripture. In brief, it can mean immersion, washing or sprinkling, trouble (Jesus referring to a “baptism” he must undergo in Luke 12:50, suggesting a difficulty or trouble), a pouring out, this one often associated with the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Strong’s Greek 907 – baptidzo, baptize (Matt. 3:6, Mark 1:5, Luke 3:7, John 1:25, Acts 2:38, Rom. 6:3) means dip, submerge, but specifically of ceremonial dipping. A cognate of this word (baptizontes) appears in Matthew 28:19

Strong’s Greek 908 – baptisma, baptism (Matt. 3:7, Mark 1:4, Luke 12:50, Acts 1:22, Eph. 4:5, Col. 2:12) means the rite or ceremony of baptism.

Strong’s Greek 909 – baptismois, washings (Heb. 9:10) means dipping or ceremonial washing.

Strong’s Greek 910 – baptistas, baptist (Matt. 3:1, 14:2, Luke 7:20, 9:19) is a noun indicating a formal title. Used in scripture only with John the Baptizer.

Baptism as a requirement for salvation:

Baptism in the ANE (Ancient Near East) often was associated with someone converting from one religion to another. This idea leads some to believe that baptism is a requirement for salvation, but the Word clearly contradicts this idea. Admittedly, there are some verses that would suggest baptism as a requirement for salvation. John 3:5 is often cited where Jesus tells Nicodemus he must be “born of water” to enter the kingdom of God. This “born of water” can have multiple meanings:

  1. The water of the amniotic sack surrounding a baby in the womb.
  2. The ritual baptism of repentance practiced by Jews as part of their faith.
  3. The immersion of a new believer in Christ (our traditional view of baptism).
  4. A spiritual washing of the soul (cf. Deut. 30:6, Jer 31:31-34, Ezek. 11:18-20), signifying a new birth that cleanses and renews.

The first meaning is clearly not intended because it is physically impossible for a grown person to re-enter the womb, miracles notwithstanding. While the second may be possible, it is unlikely that Jesus intended this as He came to proclaim a New Kingdom, not the one the Jews were in at the time. Also important to note that even if Jesus intended this definition, He followed the “born of water” with a requirement to also be “born of the Spirit.” The third is also not likely as this form of baptism did not yet exist and it was only after Jesus’ death that this became a common practice.

That leaves us with the last option, of which Nicodemus would have been familiar. This option was the option Jesus was advocating. Further, in looking at the Greek, the word “and” is the Greek word kai, and can be translated either “and” or “even.” If it’s translated “even,” it casts a whole different light on the issue and supports the idea that “born of water even the Spirit” means the spiritual regeneration that comes from repentance. “Water” and “Spirit” are often synonymous in the Old Testament.

Acts 2:38 is also used by those that claim baptism is a requirement for salvation. This also fails the context test when studying the Greek. Here the word “for” is examined and found to have several possible definitions including “in order to be,” “because of, as the result of,” or “with regard to.” Most scholars agree the proper interpretation of this passage should read “because of” or “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ because of the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Also, both John 3:5 and Acts 2:38 must align with other scriptures that clearly fail to demonstrate water baptism as a requirement for salvation.

The Bible tells us that salvation is by faith alone (see John 3:16, Ephesians 2:8-9, Titus 3:5 to name a few verses in support of this). If baptism is a requirement for salvation, Paul is remiss in his failure to insist on it in multiple verses throughout his writings.

Lastly, baptism as a requirement for salvation is contrary to the nature of God. Consider two examples.

The first is the thief on the cross we read about in Luke 23:32-43 with Jesus saying to him “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” Clearly the thief was not baptized, yet he would enter the Kingdom with Jesus. Some would argue the thief died under the OT law (before the NT) but this logic fails when we consider the salvation of the apostle Paul on the road to Damascus.

Second is an objection that contradicts the idea that God is love. Consider a scenario whereby a person truly receives Christ as their Lord and Savior, say perhaps on a Saturday night service and has plans to be baptized the next day in church. They are killed in a car accident on the way home that evening, never making it to church the next day. Would a loving God consign that person to hell for failure to complete the act of receiving Jesus? This is completely contrary to His nature.

For a further discussion of this issue, I recommend D. A. Carson’s commentary, The Gospel According to John.

A Review of Relational Apologetics by Mike Sherrard

downloadAs I began this book, I had high expectations due to the title. Apologists can be somewhat aloof and non-relational, which can be detrimental to sharing the knowledge they possess. I’ve long believed that often times we, as apologists, miss the last part of 1 Peter 3:15 that we are to be prepared to give an answer with gentleness and respect. This implies we first and foremost engage in our craft relationally.

Mike Sherrard gets it. His book flows from identifying who we are, what we do, what we know and where we should go. At times, it is not an easy read and I would be inclined to give it four stars because of that fact. That was until I got to chapter fourteen.

Mike’s first words in this chapter is “Will you go?” The name of our ministry is I Will Go Ministries, based on Isaiah 6:8, so naturally, I was drawn more closely to the topic of the chapter. In this chapter, Mike encourages us to go. He models his call after the acts of the apostle Paul in Acts 17. Paul went. He eventually found his way to Athens, the heart of intelligentsia in the ANE. “Many came to believe” was the result of Paul’s reasoning with them where he met them as he went. Mike continues in the remaining chapters addressing the importance of going to the home and the church. How do you “go” to your home and the church? Read the book. Because of the wisdom and excellent manner in which Mike presents the arguments that we must go to defend the faith, and not merely wait for opportunities, this book is a must read for anyone interested in reaching those with shaky faith or even no faith. Buy the book. Five stars.

Meanwhile, at Summit…

It was a divine appointment. The staff were told that they must wait until the students had eaten before they went through the serving line. So, today about 20 minutes after the start of lunch I went into the dining hall to get lunch. I sat across the table from a young man attending Summit who had just completed his first year at the university.

Summit advertises (loosely) that they make world leaders. When you see where their graduates serve, it becomes clear this is not an empty claim. The student I enjoyed spending an hour with at lunch is clearly one of these world leaders in the making.

Gunner shared an account of a required class at his university called “First Year Experience.” It was a required course (more about that later) which sought to help students navigate their way through their first year of college. Gunner was not so kind when he said it was nothing more than indoctrination. The first warning sign came with a questionnaire the students were required to fill out which was reminiscent of the scene in God’s Not Dead, where the professor encourages (requires?) the students to fill out a blank piece of paper with the words “God is dead.” This questionnaire asked the students various worldview questions and Gunner dutifully filled it out with his answers as someone coming from a Christian worldview. Sadly, he found out that several questions regarding sexuality and other similar topics did not allow for “no” answers and his grade was reduced accordingly. When he challenged the professor, she told him he could pick up his grade later.

It got worse. Next on the schedule was how to reduce stress in a college environment. This was done by inviting a guru to come in and teach transcendental meditation while chanting a few names of the various Hindu gods. Gunner was outgunned (pun intended) again when he asked when they would have a Christian come in to speak. No plans to bring in a Christian. No plans to bring in anyone else, for that matter.

It got worse. But in the interest of time, let me share what this young man did. While most of us may have been inclined to suck it up and move on, this was not an option for Gunner. Another professor, his English professor, had a writing assignment where the student could write on the topic of his or her choice. With his professor’s encouragement and permission, Gunner wrote on why the “First Year Experience” class should 1.) Be modified to become less biased toward one particular worldview and 2.) No longer be a required course for underclassmen. His professor told him if he did a good job on the paper, she would present it to the board. When his paper was returned, he received a grade of 105%.

It got better. Because of Gunner’s boldness and tenacity, upon the presentation of his paper to the university’s governing board, the content of the course was changed and it was no longer a required course. May every one of us have the conviction and boldness to change the world like Gunner. Amen.

Why apologetics is an important spiritual discipline for the church.

Here is an article by Dr. Alex McFarland that articulates the case for apologetics in the church. He states “Christian thinker G. K. Chesterton observed in 1933 that while it is important to win the unsaved to Christianity, leaders must increasingly endeavor to “convert the Christians to Christianity. Chesterton’s remark was a timeless reminder that the church must be ever dedicated in its duty to pass on biblical truth to rising generations.” The entire article can be read here.

Live!

We have finally made the switch to our new site and have shuttered our old site. While all of the information has not been added to this site, we expect to have this completed by the end of summer. We’ll have all of our resources and article on this new site by then. Thank you for your patience as we’ve made this switch!

Our new WordPress website!

Welcome to the new I Will Go Ministries website, the ministry home of Dan and Leonora Britton. Dan is a Christian apologist/teacher and Leonora is a pastor/teacher.

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Dan and Leonora Britton

1 Peter 3:15 –  but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.

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