Monday, November 2, 2015

The Gospel of Ananias

Whatever happened to baptism? I remember, when I was 6 or so, hearing my friend had been baptized at the local Christian camp. It made me so excited! And I remember this being prevalent when I was a kid: hearing about kids my age being baptized right and left.... but not anymore. What happened? 

Suddenly, I look around, and probably a good quarter of my adult friends haven't been baptized, let alone their kids. My question is... why?

Baptism is a commandment. Both baptize and be baptized. 

Do you know that, with the way the Greek is formed in the Great Commission, an American would read it "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations: baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all I have commanded you." What I mean by that is Jesus said is to go and make disciples by baptizing and teaching. That is how we are commanded to make disciples. We are commanded to bring the Gospel to the nations, baptize the nations, and teach the nations. Not just evangelize. Not even just mentor. We're commanded to baptize, too. If we refrain from doing any of these things, we are not only disobeying a direct commandment, but we are restraining our mentorees from doing as they are commanded to do. 

Be Baptized: 
"Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned." -Mark 16:16 
"Repent and be baptized every one of you in name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins" -Acts 2:38
"And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ." -Acts 10:48
"And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on His name." -Acts 22:16

And what about the enthusiasm to be baptized? Where did that go? The Ethiopian eunuch begged to be baptized right then and there! Paul baptized the jailer "that same hour", him and his entire household! When people were brought into the fold, they jumped on the opportunity to be baptized! Now people are waiting till they're 30 or 40. What's up with that?

Maybe it's because people don't realize the benefits of baptism. No, I'm not going into baptismal regeneration right now. For the sake of peace, I'm just talking about those who are saved considering baptism. What does the Bible say about those who have been baptized?

"Do you not know that those of us who were 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."-Romans 6:3-4
Meaning: Baptism joins us with the death of Jesus Christ and also to His resurrection, and enables us to walk in newness of life. Why turn that down?

"For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit."-1 Corinthians 12:13
Meaning: Baptism unites us and brings us closer to God and the Holy Spirit. Also, the verses following this one go on to speak of the body of Christ and how He has made us all to do different things for His glory; how we are all a necessary part. But it begins with this verse, showing that this unity and purpose are only given to those who are baptized. Have you ever felt that you don't know what your purpose is in the Church, that you don't fit in? Maybe it's because you haven't been baptized, so this gift of unifying purpose hasn't been given to you yet.... Ever wondered why there are so many divisions in the Church? Maybe it's because the gift of unity is absent from many of the believers... This point can be emphasized the other time Paul talks about being part of a body, where the unifying bond of peace is found in believing "one Lord, one faith, one baptism". Kinda hard to find peace in baptism when you haven't been baptized.

"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." 
Meaning: Baptism acts as an appeal to the Lord for a good conscience. This is very understandable, since baptism is just as much a commandment as not lusting after a women, getting drunk, or any other commandment in the New Testament. To directly and purposefully disobey the commandments of God, especially to convince yourself and others that it is okay, is the definition of grieving the Holy Spirit, which the Bible says is the only way to lose your salvation... not a very smart way to have a good conscience. Additionally, whether or not you agree with baptismal regeneration, as we have seen, baptism does contain promises from God which act as a bolster for a threatened conscience. 

"What about those who are saved, but not baptized? Do they go to Heaven?" The Bible simply does not say, because the Bible simply should not have to. That's like asking, "what about those who are saved, but are practicing homosexuals?" or "what about those who are saved, but regularly steal from the supermarket?" Answer is simple: 1. there is no way of knowing the condition of other people's hearts, so don't go telling them they're not saved. This is a question you should only be asking of yourself. 2. If you are asking this question of yourself, there is a simple solution. Be baptized!

"What if someone was saved on their deathbed and died before they were baptized?" 1. Why do we always have to argue over hypotheticals? Really? Unless this happened to someone you know, why is this even relevant? 2. "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned." -Mark 16:16 Although I can't say for certain, I take this verse to be that person's hope. The latter half does not say "whoever does not believe AND not baptized will be condemned", no, it just says "does not believe." The Bible does command us to do a lot of things, but I don't think God condemns us if we die before we have a chance to do them all. It would be the same to ask, "if a person is saved on their deathbed, but died before they had a chance to attend Church, are they saved?" Isn't that a kinda of ridiculous question?

But to take Mark 16:16 backwards and say, "Well, I don't really have to be baptized to be saved...." Do you have to go to Church? Do you have to partake in communion? Do you have to love your neighbor? Of course you do. To shun any of these things or baptism would be to shun the Lord, and therefore He will deny thee in Heaven. Not cool.

If you are a Christian, you are commanded to both baptize and be baptized. As Ananias said, "And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on His name." -Acts 22:16