Amazing Grace: What If We Fail to Convince Others Regarding Baptism?

Henry Kriete asked an important question in a comment a few days ago —

Dear Jay

Thanks for this article. Some great insights, especially on the character of God. My question is: when we strive to teach the truth about baptism after someone was erroneously taught at the outset and they reject the new truth (for whatever reason, pride, sentimentality, subjective experiences, traditions, etc…) do they move to a state of disobedience leading to no salvation? Will God withdraw his Spirit from them? At that point do we ‘withdraw fellowship’?

For readers new to the discussion. I’ve advocated for a long time that (a) the traditional Church of Christ position on baptism is correct in that the scriptural design is for believers to be baptized by immersion into the forgiveness of sins, but (b) we’ve been incorrect to deny the salvation of genuinely penitent believers who were imperfectly baptized in honest error. And I know of no one who has refused baptism out of a rebellious heart, choosing to ignore God’s will and yet having a genuine faith.

The argument is summarized at this post and explained in detail in my e-book Born of Water.

We’ve been commanded to baptize those we convert.

(Mat 28:19-20a)  “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

And the command to baptize is separate from the command to teach obedience to the commands to Jesus. Of course, those who are converted must be taught to baptize those they convert.

I therefore conclude that we are to teach baptism. And so I would baptize those who’ve been imperfectly baptized, particularly those baptized as infants.

However, because I don’t believe those who’ve been baptized imperfectly are lost for this reason, I treat them as fellow Christians. They are believers. And the scriptures are plain that believers are saved.

(John 3:18)  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

(John 6:40)  For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

(John 6:47)  I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life.

(Rom 10:9-11)  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. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. 11 As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts [believes] in him will never be put to shame.”

So what about someone who has been imperfectly baptized and who is nonetheless saved. What if we teach that person God’s will for baptism and they refuse obedience? What happens?

The answer is simple enough, I think. Just replace “imperfectly baptized” with whatever sin you wish. Consider —

So what about someone who lives with imperfect generosity and who is nonetheless saved. What if we teach that person God’s will for generosity and they refuse obedience? What happens?

So what about someone who lives with imperfect anger management and who is nonetheless saved. What if we teach that person God’s will for controlling one’s anger and they refuse obedience? What happens?

What about the married man who stares too long at pretty girls? Or the woman who refuses to forgive the husband who divorced her for no good reason? Or the man who can’t find it in his heart to love the man who abused him when he was a child? Or those who hate Muslims or illegal immigrants? Or those who don’t pray as they should? Or who skip Sunday school class? What about judgmentalism, legalism, or arrogance?

It’s not really that easy to answer, is it? Some will want to sniff that all true believers will make an effort to get everything right, but it’s just not true. We are all weak and broken people. And we all have our pet sins.

Does that excuse not making the effort? No. Does it justify the sin? No. But —

(John 8:7)  When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

Jesus’ attitude toward sin is not to excuse sin or to encourage sin, but to forgive sin. He forgave the woman taken in adultery before she repented.

(John 8:10-11)  Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

11 “No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

He didn’t ask for a confession or a declaration of penitence. He just forgave her and then told her to change her life — assuming that his grace would be sufficient motivation, although the grace preceded the command.

Our God is astonishing in his generosity to us!

In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, notice this part —

(Luke 15:20-21)  So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

Again, the Father’s kisses preceded the son’s confession. The son didn’t even ask to be restored to his family. He just wanted a job. The Father gave him more than he dared ask for.

And so we start with the character of God, especially as explained by Jesus. God is more generous than we are willing to ask for. God is more forgiving than we deserve.

From there, we ask what the Bible says particularly about how we fall from grace. Now Todd Deaver and I considered this question at great length at GraceConversation, and I’ll not repeat all that we said there. But the lessons all apply whether we’re talking about smoking, breaking promises, being judgmental, or imperfect baptism. God is the same God.

Instead, let’s just focus on 1 John, because John wrote this letter just so we’d know that we’re saved. He gives the test as detailed in this post and the next post.

Therefore, in John’s way of thinking, there are only two kinds of people –

Saved Lost
Walk in the light Walk in darkness
Faith in Jesus Deny Jesus
Admit sinfulness Deny sinfulness
Obey God’s command Don’t obey God’s command
Love others Hate others
Do righteousness Don’t do righteousness
Possess the Spirit Without the Spirit
Purify themselves Continue to sin
Acknowledge the authority of the apostles Reject the authority of the apostles

That’s it. The hard part to the modern, Western mind is seeing everything in the left column as neither disjunctive or conjunctive (connected by “or” or by “and”) but as necessarily going together. In other words, you cannot have faith in Jesus and also hate others. You cannot have the Spirit and continue in sin. John’s way of putting things forces us to think hard about these matters.

A legalistic mindset simply won’t do. If I see someone who is a believer and who loves others but who is messing up in some area of his life, well, I have to put him in the left column. You see, John never, ever says that you must do A and B and C and D. Rather, each of the items in the left column is explicitly said to be enough to demonstrate your saved state. But it’s also subtly implicit in 1 John that he can’t imagine anyone having one aspect of the left column and not having another.

Of course, not a one of us obeys God’s commands perfectly. Ever. And not a one of us is in perfect submission to apostolic authority (if you doubt me, go read the Sermon on the Mount one more time). Indeed, John expects us to admit our sinfulness AND obey God AND submit to the apostles AND purify ourselves. These sub-tests are not inconsistent. Not in John’s mind. Yes, we can be sinful and submissive to the scriptures all at once.

Therefore, the test isn’t whether I’ve obeyed a particular command perfectly. Rather, the test is whether I admit my sinfulness and, in faith, turn my life toward obedience. And therefore we cannot insist on any one command as a test of salvation or fellowship. That’s not how it works.

Nonetheless, a believer, a man who possesses the Spirit, a man who purifies himself — such a man will submit to apostolic instruction. John says so. But he may well disagree with my interpretation of what the apostles wrote. Within very wide boundaries, salvation is a test of penitence, loyalty, and faithfulness, not theological expertise. Right? If we disagree about the 5 points of the Synod of Dort (Calvinism), but agree about Jesus as Messiah and Lord, we are brothers — and like brothers in the flesh, we’ll likely want to argue about it. But we’ll argue as brothers, not as enemies. That’s what Alexander Campbell taught, and I imagine that he’d read 1 John, too.

Now I pick on 5-point Calvinism because, to me, the whole Calvinistic atonement scheme makes no sense. It just amazes me that people with much more theological education than I have and who’ve done vastly more for the kingdom than I have disagree with me — some even disagree after they hear my oh-so-brilliant arguments. It just amazes me how obstinant those Calvinists can be. But they’re my brothers, even though they misconstrue passage after passage. The fact that I fail to persuade them does not damn them. After all, it just might be my fault!

And so this is how I approach the baptism question. If someone refuses a less imperfect baptism but nonetheless is truly a believer, possesses the Spirit, loves others, admits his sinfulness … well, he’s saved. I’d have to deny the authority of John to conclude otherwise, wouldn’t I?

On the other hand, someone can live a remarkably moral life and be baptized 20 times by the greatest baptismal scholars the Churches of Christ have ever produced, and yet if they don’t love others, don’t do righteousness, and only admit their sinfulness for rhetorical purposes rather than out of a genuine awareness of how sinful they are, they won’t be saved.

The test isn’t baptism. It’s not knowing the answers to the Great True-False Test in the Sky. It’s what John said.

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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20 Responses to Amazing Grace: What If We Fail to Convince Others Regarding Baptism?

  1. Tim Perkins says:

    To me, this is may be the knottiest question facing contemporary CofC members…because it's one we confront on such a frequent basis.

    Thanks for shedding light on this difficult conundrum.

  2. A couple of things about this topic really jump out at me.

    There is an underlying presumption, that somehow, we are to be the judge of a person's salvation. That somehow we have the insight and wisdom to know what a person's relationship with God really is.

    Admittedly, many do not profess any relationship with God; but many do, and as I read the Text, my obligation is to "accept them" as Jesus accepts me.

    Many believers seem to struggle with the idea of "hating the sin" but "loving the sinner." It's a cliche, but still very accurate.

    Your post is more complete and thoughtful. Well written — again.

  3. One Cup Man says:

    One Cup Man here. Jesus was baptized to obey the Father's will. Some brethren have 24 reasons for being immersed. Jesus was baptized for one reason, to obey the Father's will. Who could have a better reason for being baptized than Jesus did?? When a person is baptized to obey the Father's will they have been baptized for the right reason !! They may not understand all the other reasons for baptism but most Church of Christ members do not have a complete understanding of all the baptismal passages. That brings up a question, If a CofCer didn't understand all the reasons for baptism and they came to a better understanding of Romans 6 would they need to be re-baptized?? If a person had to be re-baptized every-time they learned something new about baptism the preachers would stay busy re-baptizing the members!! One day a member the next day they are not because they learned something new about baptism. I can't believe anyone would accept such a silly view but I could be wrong. God Bless!!

  4. Alan says:

    Most people we teach are not Greek scholars. In fact, most actually have less than stellar reading interpretive skills in English. And most have limited knowledge and understanding of the Bible. They are not experts in theology. These people hear us teach them something that contradicts what they were taught by their parents, or by their preacher, or by some famous preacher on television. They are not equipped to discern which teaching is correct biblical theology. Instead, they are quite likely to decide what to believe based on whom they trust the most. And in most cases, whom they trust the most will be the ones they have known the longest — those who have taught them from childhood.

    There is nothing evil nor rebellious about that choice. In fact it is quite reasonable. It is probably what we would want our children to do if they encountered a strange new teaching.

    So often we act like it's incomprehensible that someone wouldn't accept our brilliant exegesis of scripture. After all, we know so much! We studied so long! All our peers at church are convinced by those arguments. So we must be right! And so we decide that those who reject our wise words are rejecting the authority of God and the scriptures. That's pretty arrogant on our part.

  5. John Grant says:

    Wow, this will create a storm I imagine.

    I agree, and have experience with limited access to baptism for believers and we had to obey the best we could. I totally believe God in his grace understood.

    Side note: when we list sins from not obeying the law or commandments its usually smoking, drinking, not proper baptism, women, but never do I see Gluttony. Maybe because so many posters are fat! Easier to point at others than ourselves huh. Cast the first stone comes to mind!!! Just an observation.

  6. stan says:

    Lots of good things in this post. You probably don't expect me to say that. I agree with most of it.

    I believe agree that the scriptures teach that God has asked for believer's baptism and that we should accept the baptism of every believer. In other words, anyone who believes in Jesus as the Son of God and is then baptized is my brother. Their baptism is an expression of faith, even though there are different thoughts about what is significant about the baptism. Theirs can be an "imperfect baptism", but theirs is a believer's baptism.

    But I don't believe God has asked those who who have believed and expressed their faith by being baptized to accept . . . as brothers and sisters . . . those who have not expressed their faith as he asked. The baptisms don't have to be perfect, but it has to be THEIR baptism. It has to be THEIR expression of faith. If it's not THEIR expression of faith . . . then what is it?

    "Infant baptism" isn't an imperfect baptism in the Christian sense. "Infant baptism" isn't an expression of faith at all. It isn't what God asked for. There is nothing going on between the infant and the Creator. And coming back later in life and saying . . ."I confirm" . . . doesn't substitute (as far as scripture tells us) for the baptism God asked for.

    Our authority is to teach believer's baptism. We are not God, and we have no authority to say that believer's don't need to be baptized. But that is what I see in your blog. Since "infant baptism" isn't the baptism God asked for, what I see in your blog is the teaching that believer's don't need to be baptized. If you follow your thoughts to their logical conclusion . . . that is.

    As an example, what if some people in our congregation began saying they wanted their children sprinkled and confirmed at a latter date? Such teaching and practice is not from God. It is evil. I would exhaust myself by lovingly teaching them about what God has asked for. If they will not conform to believer's baptism and insist on sprinling their children, I will not fellowship with them. My family will not attend any Sunday School class such people may lead or be involved in. We will not associate with them. They have become the work of Satan. They would have to be disfellowshiped. It seems to me that you are saying I should get over it. Wrong! If I have to accept those who sprinkle who worship elsewhere, I would also have to accept as brothers those who want to practice infant baptism right in my own congregation. Nope.

    That doesn't work. "Infant baptism" isn't baptism at all.
    In the churches, all who have expressed faith in Jesus . . . and have been baptized to obey the Lord should be treated and loved as brothers an sisters. All others should be loved as we are to love all . . . but they are not brothers and sisters.

  7. Jerry Starling says:


    Another though-provoking post! One-cup-man is right in saying that the most important reason to be baptized is to obey Jesus as a consequence of faith in Him. However, I have known people who wanted to be baptized again every time they learned something new about baptism. This was one of the cardinal doctrines of the "Boston Movement," aka The International Church of Christ.

    I'm still trying to process Stan's comment about infant baptism. I suppose he would also apply it to believer's baptism if that was by something other than immersion?

    The real question I would have for Stan is to what extent all mis-conceptions previously taught must be corrected before we can "fellowship" them. In the beginning of John's first epistle, he wrote of his desire to have fellowship with us, but added "Our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ." My understanding is that if I have fellowship with God, I have fellowship with all others who have fellowship with Him – even I do not realize that I do. I guess there are some things that I will just have to leave for God to judge.

    In the meantime, I will do the best I can to follow Him. As Jay pointed out, we need to begin with the character of God Himself. Consider 2 Samuel 14:14, where the wise woman of Tekoa advises David about his estrangement with Absalom.

    "Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him.

    Our reconciliation is through Jesus as we turn from sin and find faith in Him. We are then commanded to be baptized. That part is simple. The difficult part in this discussion is how are we to regard the imperfectly baptized or the non-baptized who are not rebellious but are confused by imperfect prior teaching.


  8. Roger says:


    I think a healthy church will have a solid doctrinal position on adult immersion. Also, it is more than fair for a church to expect it's members to remain silent on areas of disagreement. But, how we treat those who disagree seems to be the crux of the matter.

    For example, you have a believer(Joe) who was baptized as an infant raised as a Catholic, etc.. Joe decides to attend a healthy church. After awhile it becomes clear to him what the church's position is on baptism. At first he's not convinced, for whatever reason. So how should we treat him? I don't think we need to tell him he is saved, or not saved. We can accept him as a fellow believer, worship with him, fellowship with him, etc.. BUT, we can expect him to not teach against the church's position on matters such as baptism. If he refuses, then we must gently ask him to stop causing division or go fellowship elsewhere.

    Also, I don't think the mature in Christ need to accept Joe as a brother, but rather as a future brother, much like we accept our teens who have not been baptized. We don't try to tell them every day, that they aren't saved, they aren't truly our brothers, they aren't going to heaven. In fact we don't berate them, we gently love them and accept them.

  9. Alan says:

    Jerry wrote:

    However, I have known people who wanted to be baptized again every time they learned something new about baptism. This was one of the cardinal doctrines of the “Boston Movement,” aka The International Church of Christ.

    What concerns me about this and other recent comments about the ICOC is that some of the comments seem designed to separate and to build walls rather than to unite. I know that people only know what they've seen or what they've been told, and many have neither seen nor heard much about the current situation in the ICOC. In some cases, what people have heard does not reflect reality in these churches today.

    I'd just like to make an appeal to all of us to open our minds to the possibility that the people on the other side of those walls may be their brothers and sisters in Christ. Today I believe there is a real potential for a better relationship between progressive churches of Christ and ICOC congregations. In some places those relationships are already happening, and have been growing for a few years.

    We should be making every effort toward unity. Maybe a good step would be to get to know people in a nearby ICOC congregation a little better. You might be surprised.

  10. Roger says:


    I agree with what "David P Himes" wrote:
    There is an underlying presumption, that somehow, we are to be the judge of a person’s salvation. That somehow we have the insight and wisdom to know what a person’s relationship with God really is.

    I really don't think we need to judge. We should teach/preach correctly. We should gently instruct, but at the end of the day we have to surrender. We have to let God do the judging. In the ICOC I was trained to walk around 24/7 judging almost every person I met as lost, feeling a constant pressure to convert them. It took a few years, but now, I just feel a pressure to love people, regardless of their salvation status. Two different burdens, one extremely heavy, the other light and easy.

  11. Roger says:

    Hey Alan,

    I think your concerns are valid. But I do think the ball is really in the court of each individual ICOC member or congregation. Not all congregations are getting healthier. Not all want to fellowship with the COC, let alone any other denomination.

    Also, every COC(and Conservative Christian church), that I have visited, has welcomed my wife and I with open arms. No study series, no questioning my baptism, etc.)

    In my opinion, the COC members don't need to visit the ICOC. It's the ICOC members that need to go visit other congregations, starting with the their brothers and sisters in the COC. Secondly, if they want to be taken serious about it, they need to start preaching about it to their congregations, not just at COC seminars, etc.. I'm not sure you could find a link to even one Sunday message where this is thoroughly addressed. On the flip side, I've heard hundreds on how the ICOC was the only true church.
    Alan, I'm sorry for being so harsh, but honestly, this issue has not been fully addressed by the ICOC as a whole. For the most part it has been silently swept under the carpet.

  12. Jay Guin says:


    Amen and amen.

  13. Jay Guin says:


    That's the coolest quotation! Thanks. God is looking for ways to save us, not ways to foot fault us.

  14. Alan says:


    I agree in principle that ICOC members should reach out. Some of us have, and continue to do so. More would be better. I'm just suggesting that "make every effort" goes both ways. I'm not waiting for someone in the COC to reach out to me. Likewise, COC members shouldn't wait for someone from the ICOC to reach out to them. If more of us on both sides start doing it, maybe it will leaven the lump, so to speak.

  15. chris says:

    A City, a Tower, and a Fig Tree.

    Humans by nature miss the good God has intended by failing to grasp it. Instead we try to grasp things on our own and by our own merit. In doing so we forfeit the provisions of God by stepping outside of the marriage which God intended for us.
    In Genesis 9:1 God's plans with Noah was that he and his sons would fill the earth.
    Genesis 11:1-4
    [City – an inhabited place of more importance and larger than a town.]
    [Tower – a tall structure built upon a larger structure. (To tower is to reach or rise to great heights.)]
    So what was wrong about wanting to build a city with a tower in it and why did God oppose them? Their desires were simply ungodly. Biblically, to travel east is to leave the land of (God's) blessings. Within a nation/world which God himself has created they wanted to erect for themselves a city and a building which they choose to live in apart from God. The focus had been reduced from God's "worldly" perspective to a smaller scale.
    The purpose of wanting to build a city was to make a name for themselves and not have to be scattered. Inadvertently, they did make a name for themselves and became known all over the world for generations to come. What they had set out to do was accomplished, albeit only on God's terms.
    We as Christians must be careful then, that we no longer build a "city" for ourselves apart from Eden (the Lord's blessings) nor erect a tower. Previously we (me formally an ICOC’er) had proclaimed "we are the one true church" and sought to make a name for ourselves. We dwelled within a city known as the ICOC which we built with our own hands.
    In each place we went into we erected our own building (tower) upon which people were invited to come but where we had refused to leave. As a result our focus has been truly scaled down. Had we become the modern day Babel? Failing to carry out the commission which God entrusted to Noah, his sons and their descendants the people of Babel had decided to reject the plans of God and to build a city for themselves without realizing that it is God who scatters.
    Genesis 11:5-9
    Be as it may, God also wants diversity. He would be unable to accomplish his goals with a people who remain stubborn and refuse to leave the city which they had built. Being the creator of languages, God has the power to allow us to communicate with others regardless of any barriers.
    Matthew 11:12-14
    What connection does the fig tree have with the tower and the church? Like the tower, the fig tree is also the church. The fig tree withered because it made a show of itself that promised fruit (and caught Jesus' attention) yet bore none.
    The city of Babel also made a show of itself wanting to stand apart from God's will and "make a name" for itself and gather those who refuse to be scattered.
    Aren't we all looking for blessings? God promises us spiritual blessings. But in order for us to receive his blessings we must first consider what we hold onto in place of him.
    Isaiah 59:1-2 says that sin separates us from God. True! But how we view this verse needs to be revisited and possibly changed. If God shows unfailing love to us and if he promises never to leave our side, how can we think that when we sin that he alienates us? What then really happens?
    Isaiah 59:12-14
    "… justice is driven back." God doesn't turn away from us, instead we drive him away. Like a child who rebels against his parents and pushes them away turning his back against them and thus separates himself by refusing their love. But as a loving parent, God holds out his arms in love; but in our rebellion we push them away and step back from his embrace. God doesn't turn from us we turn from him.
    Hebrews 10:23-25
    In light of all that has happened whether inside or outside the ICOC, we should never forget that Jesus is Lord. Hebrews 10:25 "Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing…" Habits are acquired by frequent repetition. The more time we spend away from God, the easier it will become to stay away from him. In the same way, the more time we spend away from those who have been united with Christ, the easier it will become to separate ourselves altogether.
    The Bible certainly is clear about the need for Christians to fellowship with each other. (Rom 12:10, 1 Cor 1:10, Gal 5:13)

    So what is God’s love and grace capable of? Just read Psalm 18:1-20
    It is like the father who has fought long and hard to win his son, and who has battled with the Brazilian government. Here is what he says: “he is my son, he has only one father and that is me” and “I will never give up”. He knows that his son is in an unhealthy environment and that he must come home with him. Wow! This is Godly love. When we are in an unhealthy environment, the things that are thought will hold us captive, but it is awesome to know that our gracious God hears the groaning of the spirit; he parts the heavens and comes down from on high and takes hold of us and rescues us.


  16. Jerry Starling says:


    My experience with the young man I spoke of who wanted to be baptized frequently is not recent. It was about 20 years ago. I mentioned it only in response to one-cup-man's comment.

    My recent experience with former ICoC congregations has been good, but not extensive or deep. I have a very good friend, now widowed, whose husband worked with a merged congregation of ICoC and a main-line congregation with very good results. They were able to take the better points from each background and are a dynamic, mission-minded congregation. I know nothing of congregations that are still holding to the former ways.



  17. xray342 says:

    The ICOC church here in Cincinnati has had many opportunities to fellowship and interact with the (non-instrumental) Churches of Christ (including an annual area-wide worship service and worship with the church that had the Crossroads plant here in the 70's and 80's), but very little interaction has occurred. In addition, there have been opportunities to fellowship and interact with the Christian Churches, including the local seminary – Cincinnati Christian University. (The old evangelist here started his Master's there and there are at least three members there now pursuing their undergrad and graduate degrees.) The story is the same here too. The isolation continues primarily due to the influence of discipling.

    Other ICOC churches in the region (in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana) have been exhibiting the same behavior as well. I believe Toledo actually absorbed a tiny (less than 20 member?) Church of Christ a few years ago. Interaction outside of the congregations is directed to other ICOC churches only.

  18. chris says:


    i fully agree, having just left, the situation remains unchanged. it is a closed door interaction. icoc’ers only.

  19. Jerry Starling says:


    I just read your earlier post (12/23).

    What you wrote is also true of the "main-line" churches I grew up in. We also built our tower to which we invited others, but from which we never emerged.

    I am just now struggling to come out of that tower.


  20. Royce Ogle says:

    Jay, In this post you are at your best. I agree with your summation of who is saved and who is not.

    Absolutely we should baptize believers. And absolutely we should teach that immersion is the best way to reenact the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.

    The mistake we have traditionally made is this. We have taught baptism more and with more emphasis than faith in Christ. The horrible result is that many in our fellowship are depending on baptism for salvation rather than depending on Jesus.

    Baptism is important enough that we should get it right. Calling immersion "the new birth" is not right. It is precisely this rigid misunderstanding of baptism, primarily, that has historically isolated us from the rest of the believing family of God.

    Peter, who spoke the words of Acts 2:38 also said these words.

    "If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us WHEN WE BELIEVED in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?" (Acts 11:17)

    "And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, "Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit JUST AS HE DID TO US, 9and he made no distinction between us and them, having CLEANSED THEIR HEARTS BY FAITH" (Acts 15:7-9)

    Peter's own words make plain that salvation is by faith. Those who believe are to be baptized, ie Phillip's instruction to the Etheopian "If you believe with all your heart you may.

    Some of us teach we are baptising lost people and lost people are "unbelievers". We are to baptise "believers", and believers are not lost.


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