Salvation 2.0: Part 6.5: Why Faith Must be Confessed

grace5Sixth point: For some reason, God wants his converts baptized in water. There’s not the least hint of water baptism in the OT. It was introduced by John the Baptist as a sign associated with the coming Kingdom and adopted by the followers of Jesus at Pentecost.

Rarely does anyone pause to ask why? Well, people need rituals. God doesn’t so much, but people do.

Love

Consider a young couple. The young man embraces his girl friend and for the first time says, “I love you.” She hugs him, smiles, kisses him passionately, and the evening ends.

Later he discusses the evening with a friend over coffee. The friend says, “Wow, it’s great that you have a girlfriend who is so affectionate! Can’t you see in her eyes how much she loves you?”

“Yes, I know she loves me,” the young man says, “but I need her to say that she loves me. In fact, if she won’t say it, I don’t think I can continue in this relationship.”

Is he right to consider her reluctance to express her feelings a barrier to their relationship? Why not travel on her body language and behavior? Why are the words so important?

And, you know, the words really are important — not because of tradition or his inability to perceive her emotions. They are important because his girlfriend has to make a decision. She may feel love for him very much, but saying that she loves him changes their relationship and it changes her. It forces her to admit to herself that this is how she feels — and once she admits that, it changes her life. As soon as she admits her love, she has to make a commitment and be willing to make sacrifices.

Moreover, once he hears her words, he’ll behave differently. He’ll see her as a companion. No more will they just be dating. They’ll be bound to one another in a way that’s radically different from before. The words matter. And if she never says the words, their relationship will not progress much at all. In fact, it will end.

So when did she fall in love her boyfriend? When she first felt those feelings? When she started imagining what it would be like to be married? When she found her dreams filled with him? When she says the words?

Well, she fell in love over time. For some, it takes a few weeks. For others, it takes years. But true love is never at first sight. It always takes some time.

When did their relationship change? Well, it changed incrementally, a bit here and a bit there. They were strangers, and then two people on a date, and then they were a couple, and then they were a couple in love.

When did they become a couple in love? Well, not until they admitted it to themselves and then to each other. The words matter. The words change everything. The words change both lives forever.

But, of course, many couples say, “I love you” and don’t mean it. The words only matter as between honest people. Lies happen.

And then there are some couples, not many, who fall in love, get married, have children, and grow old together never having said, “I love you.”

Is it essential that you tell your boyfriend that you love him if you want to one day be married? Yes. Well, almost. Relationships don’t always follow the rules, but the rules are the rules for a reason. They matter.

And this is why Tevye eventually insisted his wife avow her love.

Confession of faith

It’s become popular to argue that faith is a process, and it is — obviously. But there has to be a moment when the first inklings of faith mature to saving faith. When does that happen? Well, not before I’m willing to confess my faith. It’s not that confession is a magic sacramental thing that empowers (or forces) God to save me.

Rather, it’s more that faith isn’t really faith until the believer is willing to confess it. If the believer won’t even tell the church that he believes, it’s just not enough faith to save. It’s not really what the Bible calls “faith.”

(Rom 10:10 ESV) For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

Now, if we avoid the sacramental, Plan of Salvation understanding and, instead, see confession as the moment when faith becomes real — real both to the church and the believer — Paul’s teaching makes perfect sense.

(Luk 12:8 ESV) “And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God … .”

Words matter. A willingness to say the words, to admit to yourselves and others that you’ve made the decision to be a believer, takes faith from a possibility to a reality.

(And as I said already, the words aren’t enough. They aren’t so much sacramental as a necessary consequence of actual saving faith.)

Profile photo of Jay Guin

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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26 Responses to Salvation 2.0: Part 6.5: Why Faith Must be Confessed

  1. Charles Millson says:

    I don’t know that I’d say it was “introduced” by John the Baptist. It was already a Jewish tradition, certainly, as a purification ceremony. Are you saying that John introduced it as a Christian ritual?

    And John baptizes on the other side of the Jordan to send converts into the promised land as a ceremonial/metaphorical retaking of it.

  2. Mark says:

    Ever since the time of Aaron was washing with water commanded especially on Yom Kippur. Also, Aaron and his sons were to be washed with water as recorded in Exodus and Leviticus. Given that John was a prophet, it sounds like he was washing people in the manner that Aaron and his sons were.

    As for confessing, a life-long member of the cofC will only have confessed once in his/her life.

  3. And that one confession mark speaks of is before a friendly audience. Many rarely, if ever, confess other than that.

  4. Dwight says:

    Cleansing by water wasn’t introduced by John, but by God, for purity and cleansing as noted by Mark and due to being unclean. And then water baptism was reintroduced, before John, by the Jews who converted the gentiles to Judaism.
    John and God took up the concept, because it was a good concept.
    It was something they understood from many different aspects.
    Indeed words matter and even more than just speaking, but an expression of the inward heart.
    Jesus said it isn’t what goes into the mouth, but that which comes out of the mouth that exposes the heart.
    Words form a level of commitment.

  5. laymond says:

    Jay said, “Rather, it’s more that faith isn’t really faith until the believer is willing to confess it. If the believer won’t even tell the church that he believes, it’s just not enough faith to save. It’s not really what the Bible calls “faith.” ”
    Is the whole of the congregation supposed to judge whether or not one has “saving faith” or just the elders.?

    (Rom 10:10 ESV) For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
    Are you saying that those who can’t speak, have no salvation? What happened to God seeing our heart?

  6. Ellen says:

    https://www.rightnow.org/Content/Series/1127#1
    I don’t know if this link will work, but I was trying to share a video by Mart De Haan. This explains the origins of baptism and what it meant to the Jewish people. It wasn’t a new thing.

  7. Dwight says:

    I guess the Ethiopian eunuch was doomed since it was just him and Peter and oh yes, God. When we pray we offer up our selves to God, sometimes in a confession of sin. The irony is that if it takes the faith of confessing in the presence of others to save one, then why doesn’t it take the faith of baptism to save one. We are now judging faith by what we see, but as happened in the NT, not all confessions and baptism were in the presence of a church or group. We dedicate ourselves to God and create a covenant with God. Others are optional to hear and see.

  8. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Ellen,

    The link works but evidently requires a subscription.

    Ceremonial washings go back in Jewish practice to the Torah. Mikvehs (mikvehim) were common in Jesus’ day as pools for this purpose. It would have been easy to find pools to baptize 3,000 converts at Pentecost, because the Temple was surrounded by them.

    But there were at least two important distinctions —

    * Mikveh washings were for ceremonial purity not atonement. There was no association with forgiveness of sins that historians can trace until the Essenes — who evidently used mikveh washings in lieu of sacrifices, having rejected the priesthood (as of Hasmonean rather than Zadokian descent) and therefore the Temple, and so they formed an alternative Israelite community in the desert.

    * Mikveh washings were solo, whereas the Christians were baptized by another person. Hence, one washes oneself but one is baptized by another. There is surely significance in this change in practice.

    Now, in the conversion of a proselyte, it was virtually certain that they underwent a mikveh washing, because they would have been ceremonially unclean as “gentile” before conversion. And since the washing would be concurrent with conversion to Judaism, it would have been atoning — or concurrent with atonement — which would be very comparable to Christianity. Scholars disagree as to whether proselyte baptism dates back to Jesus’ day. The Talmud was written around 500 AD, making the dating of its commands very challenging. NT Wright thinks Christian baptism derives from proselyte washing — which has a lot of logical and symbolic appeal — but Beasley-Murray in his nearly definitive work on Baptism disagrees.

    But none of this establishes a basis for baptism in the First Testament. Rather, historically, the best arguments are that it was adopted from human modifications and additions to Judaism, not from the Torah itself. And wouldn’t that be interesting — that baptism is built on human additions to silences in the OT. After all, the OT is silent about how a Gentile becomes a proselyte!

    And in perfect parallel, the wine of the Lord’s Supper is clearly taken from the cups of wine taken at Passover, which is another human addition. The scriptures are silent as to wine being consumed as Passover.

    So maybe silence isn’t really a prohibition but space within which the Spirit can move?

  9. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Dwight,

    Jesus said,

    (Matt. 10:32 NAS) “Everyone therefore who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven.”

    As I just noted in my comment to Ellen, Christian baptism differed from Jewish mikveh washings in that Jews washed themselves. It was a solo action. Baptism is always in the passive voice. It’s a gift received, as Luther taught. And every recorded baptism is by someone else, that is, by a Christian.

    Why? Why did the practice change? Why didn’t people just walk down into the pool and then walk back out, as the Jews did? Why was it routine that Christian baptisms were immersions by someone else? What does the second person add to the practice?

    Well, we aren’t told, but we know that to the Eastern mind, baptism was an enacted parable. (Read the first few chapters of Ezekiel and you’ll see what I mean.) It’s a story told, not a law obeyed.

    So what part of the story is told by adding a baptizer?

    Oh, and in Acts, the baptismal ceremony seems to have routinely ended with hands being laid on the convert. Again, what parable is told by laying hands on the convert? What is the story being enacted by adding a second person — a Christian — and laying hands?

    Well, the most likely explanation is that the laying of hands was a commissioning into mission, as missionaries in Acts were charged with their tasks by laying on of hands. But hands requires people with hands — that the baptism be among people who can lay hands on the convert.

    But it’s not a law or rule or series of formulaic, unchangeable steps. When we reduce it to rules then we start damning people who don’t get the rules right. But when we see the story — the art, the narrative, the drama — then we understand that the story will sometimes be told in different ways. Sometimes, there will only be one Christian around and that will have to do. Sometimes there will be an entire congregation and their elders will be there and the elders can lay hands on the convert. Or sometimes the elders aren’t around but family and friends can lay hands. Or all can lay hands. We’re not given a rule — but we are shown examples of how to tell the story, of how to communicate through deeply symbolic action what is going on in heaven.

    And one thing that is going on is this convert is being welcomed into the family of God — and being embraced by the angelic hosts above just as he or she is being embraced on earth by his or her church. And that can be symbolized by one or one hundred other Christians.

    And I suppose that if someone on a desert island reads the Bible and baptizes himself, he’ll be saved. No doubt, really. But what a lonely and sad way to find Jesus that would be. Far better to confess Jesus before joyous throngs, to arise in celebration, to be embraced, and to be commissioned as a disciple of Jesus with the laying on of holy hands. Isn’t that optimal? Desirable? Acts 2?

    That’s my reading of Acts and several other passages.

  10. Mark says:

    Jerry,
    Most cofC members have forgotten that many were and still are martyred for that confession.

  11. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Charles M,

    See my earlier response to Ellen. And, yes, I agree that the Jordan was deeply symbolic. Just kind of thinking outloud about other possibilities —

    * Symbolic of re-entering the Promised Land, that is, passing from the desert into salvation, from Exile to Blessed Existence.
    * Symbolic of the work of Elijah, who was active in the same area and dressed the same way — which just might symbolize that the current Jewish rulers were no better than Ahab and Jezebel and that most of the Jews were lost – except for a remnant (see Rom 11!) as in Elijah’s time. Very harsh, but the acted out message was as important as the words spoken in that culture.
    * Also the Jordan was the shift from Moses to Joshua (same name as Jesus in Hebrew).

    Thanks for mentioning John the Baptist’s symbolic message.

  12. Monty says:

    Regarding the Mikveh: “Jewish life is marked by the notion of Havdalah — separation and distinction. On Saturday night, as the Shabbat departs and the new week begins, Jews are reminded of the borders that delineate every aspect of life. Over a cup of sanctified wine, the Jew blesses G-d who “separates between the holy and the mundane, between light and darkness, between Israel and the nations, between the seventh day and six days of labor….”

    In fact, the literal definition of the Hebrew word kodesh — most often translated as “holy” — is that which is separated; segregated from the rest for a unique purpose, for consecration.

    In many ways mikvah is the threshold separating the unholy from the holy, but it is even more. Simply put, immersion in a mikvah signals a change in status — more correctly, an elevation in status. Its unparalleled function lies in its power of transformation, its ability to effect metamorphosis.

    Utensils that could heretofore not be used can, after immersion, be utilized in the holy act of eating as a Jew. A woman, who from the onset of her menses was in a state of niddut, separated from her husband, may after immersion be reunited with him in the ultimate holiness of married intimacy. Men or women in Temple times, who were precluded from services because of ritual defilement, could, after immersion, alight the Temple Mount, enter the House of G-d and involve themselves in sacrificial offerings and the like. The case of the convert is most dramatic. The individual who descends into the mikvah as a gentile emerges from beneath its waters as a Jew.” http://www.chabad.org/theJewishWoman/article…/The-Mikvah.htm

    Another article I read called the Gentile conversion to being a Jew as a “rebirth.” It reminds me of Jesus questioning Nicodemus about being a teacher and not understanding the concept of being born again. He(Nicodemus) would have commanded Mikveh for any Gentile who desired to become a Jew, they were said to be “born again.” Interesting

    From the same article: Immersion in the mikvah has offered a gateway to purity ever since the creation of man. The Midrash relates that after being banished from Eden, Adam sat in a river that flowed from the garden. This was an integral part of his teshuvah (repentance) process, of his attempt at return to his original perfection.

    Before the revelation at Sinai, all Jews were commanded to immerse themselves in preparation for coming face to face with G-d.

    Immersion in the mikvah has offered a gateway to purity ever since the creation of man

    In the desert, the famed “well of Miriam” served as a mikvah. And Aaron and his sons’ induction into the priesthood was marked by immersion in the mikvah.

    In Temple times, the priests as well as each Jew who wished entry into the House of G-d had first to immerse in a mikvah.

    On Yom Kippur, the holiest of all days, the High Priest was allowed entrance into the Holy of Holies, the innermost chamber of the Temple, into which no other mortal could enter. This was the zenith of a day that involved an ascending order of services, each of which was preceded by immersion in the mikvah.

    The primary uses of mikvah today are delineated in Jewish Law and date back to the dawn of Jewish history. They cover many elements of Jewish life. Mikvah is an integral part of conversion to Judaism. Mikvah is used, though less widely known, for the immersion of new pots, dishes, and utensils before they are used by a Jew. The mikvah concept is also the focal point of the taharah, the purification rite of a Jew before the person is laid to rest and the soul ascends on high. The manual pouring of water in a highly specific manner over the entire body of the deceased serves this purpose.

  13. Dwight says:

    I am not arguing that confession before men is bad thing and it is a good thing, but Matt.10:32 “Everyone therefore who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven.” offers no connection to baptism, conversion, etc. and in fact it could have to do with a person who is being called to deny Christ or even preaching, which is the context of the chapter. As noted in the story of the eunuch there were at least two people present, others aren’t presented, nor are they needed. Now the baptizer might qualify as a hearer of the confession, but it isn’t a group as what we would find in a congregation.
    Often we try to tie coming to Christ in confession and baptism to the congregation as the environment, but that is hardly the case and it limits what can be done and where it can be done.
    As noted in Acts God adds to the body or the congregation of those who are converted to Christ and then this creates a fellowship with others who are also in Christ.
    Having said all of that…confession should be a part of the saints life from the beginning of their life in Christ.

  14. Mark says:

    Try telling long-time “faithful” members of the cofC that the confession will be said next Sunday. That would cause a loss of franchise and a riot worse than changing the paint color in the fellowship hall (not connected to the building as per the franchise agreement).

  15. Dwight says:

    Mark, this might be a great exercise that probably would impact us very deeply…if we, each of us, were to get up before the congregation and declare God and what God means to us. This would not only inspire others, but it would make it real to us in just expression before others.
    Then the biggest step would be to do this in front of those who we don’t know. This might be the biggest way to convert others. Why should we ask others to believe that which we won’t express.

  16. Charles Millson says:

    Thanks, JG. Agreed.

  17. Mark says:

    Dwight, This sounds like Baptist testimony. I’m not sure some Christians could explain what God means to them. I was thinking the Apostles’ or Nicene creed.

  18. Dwight says:

    Mark, Isn’t this what singing is all about…expressing what God means to us in song written by others. This was what the psalms were about.
    Now then why not try to use our own words?
    If we are to express God to others we wish to share the Gospel with we better be able to express why God is important to us on a personal level. I’m not against the Apostles or Nicene Creed as an an expression, but as a creed no. We can say it as long as we don’t force it on others or use it to define what we believe without further expression. After all an “I love God, because He loves me.”, might be enough for someone.

  19. Mark says:

    Dwight,
    There is a big difference in singing because one is told to and meaning what one is singing.

  20. Dwight says:

    I agree Mark. This can even be related to what we say. We can say things all of the time without truly deeply meaning it. The Pharisees said they cared about God, but showed differently.
    And yet that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t express it if we feel it.
    Now the “command to sing” to me is less of a command and more of an encouragement, after all in James we are told to sing if we have joy, which is dependent upon us. But the “command” severely limits us in our singing if we can’t sing unless we are joyful. Joyful is an example of a reason to sing. And what would we sing if joyful…of our joy in God.
    We should always follow the Horton motto, “I mean what I say and say what I meant, an elephant faithful 100%.”

  21. Monty says:

    Jay said,

    “There’s not the least hint of water baptism in the OT. It was introduced by John the Baptist as a sign associated with the coming Kingdom and adopted by the followers of Jesus at Pentecost.”

    Jay, I’m not sure what you’re saying. If you’re saying baptism isn’t specifically mentioned in the O.T. then I agree. If you are saying(appear to be) by saying there isn’t even a “hint” then I totally disagree. All the purification bathing rites for the priests, for women and their periods, men with nocturnal emissions, the Israelites baptized in the Red Sea, Namaan dipping 7 times in the Jordan, the Jewish mikvah, etc.

    God didn’t drop the concept of baptism and washing away sin on the 1st century folks out of nowhere. There isn’t even any instruction given to folks when John shows up and starts baptizing them. They already understood the concept. He didn’t have to explain it as some new teaching. As one Jewish author I read said, “even the Gentiles understood the concept of washings and purification rites when worshipping a pagan god.” It wasn’t a physical cleanliness but a spiritual one.

  22. Dwight says:

    I agree Monty, It appears the concept of baptism was based on God’s cleansing concepts, where one who was unclean, then bathed and then was clean. It was a transition from one state to another. The Jews simply borrowed that concept for the gentile to the Jew. Baptism for the gentile to become a Jew was not law, thus not commanded and thus not seen in the OT as such, but it was used by the Jews. It wasn’t the method for becoming a Jew, but rather another way of reflecting that change. It held no value to justify the same as John’s baptism didn’t justify Jesus who was sinless, but Jesus went through it because it had meaning and would have meaning associated with Him.

  23. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Dwight,

    Elephant sayings are always appreciated here in Tuscaloosa. And Dr. Seuss is all the better.

  24. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Monty,

    See my earlier response to Ellen’s comment: http://oneinjesus.info/2015/11/salvation-2-0-part-6-5-why-faith-must-be-confessed/#comment-160351

    Think of it this way. If your only source on how to be saved in the messianic age was the OT, would it occur to you to be baptized to be forgiven? The OT tells us a great deal about the life and death of the Messiah, about the coming Spirit, about the Kingdom, about the new heavens and new earth. There are many things in the NT prophesied and explained in the OT. But not baptism.

    There is nothing in the covenant with Abraham that remotely hints that one day water immersion will be associated with God crediting faith as righteousness.

    In the Mosaic covenant, there are washings, but not a one is for atonement or forgiveness. Sacrifice is associated with forgiveness very specifically in the Torah. Deu 30 calls on the Jews to repent and return to God to be forgiven. Not a word about water immersion.

    In Isaiah, the gospel is laid out beautifully in the Servant’s Song — Isa 40 – 66 — but no water immersion as the path to forgiveness. The death of the Servant on behalf of sinners is there. But not water baptism.

    Isaiah associates the Spirit with water poured out from heaven, but not with immersion — although I’ll admit this comes closest. But Isaiah never says that the immersed will receive the Spirit. Rather, he says that the redeemed will receive the outpouring of the Spirit.

    Ezekiel promises the Spirit to circumcise hearts (building on Deu 30:2), but nowhere suggests that water immersion will be required for God to change dry bones into living soldiers for God. He says the Spirit will do that.

    Jeremiah speaks of the “new covenant” and God changing hearts and forgiveness, but nowhere suggests that immersion in water will be required to be part of the new covenant.

    Need I go on? Nowhere does the OT prophesy or suggest that forgiveness of sins will require water immersion in the messianic age — although the promise of forgiveness is written all over the prophets and Deuteronomy.

    The OT gives us the gospel, the Kingdom, the Messiah, the outpoured Spirit, John the Baptist as the Messiah’s forerunner, and on and on, but not baptism.

    And yet Paul tells us in no uncertain terms that we’re saved because of God’s promise to Abraham to treat faith as righteousness. Where is baptism in any of the OT covenants?

    Now, I would not dispute that baptism is something like washing in a mikveh, but the mikveh did not have anything to do with forgiving sins in the OT. It was about ceremonial uncleanness. Baptism is more prefigured by the language in the prophets that speak of the Spirit in terms an outpouring — although “outpour” is more like “wash” than “immerse.” And those passages that speak of forgiveness in terms of a fountain of water — although we think more of drinking from a fountain than being immersed. (Jesus used that very image in speaking with the Samaritan woman, where “living water” refers to the Spirit, not to water immersion.)

    So why did the people respond to John the Baptist as they did? Well, they realized that he was a prophet — and his use of water in association with forgiveness parallels the practices of the Essenes — who were a major religious movement active in those days.

    And the Pharisees had made mikveh washings into a much bigger deal in Jesus’ day than we read in the Torah. The mikvehs archaeologists find are from the Second (Herodian) Temple period, not earlier.

    The date of the first appearance of stepped-and-plastered mikva’ot is a matter still debated by scholars, but the general consensus of opinion is that this occurred in the Late Hellenistic (Hasmonean) period, at some point during the end of the second century B.C.E. or very early in the first century B.C.E. One thing is certain: only a handful of mikva’ot are known from the time of the Hasmoneans, whereas by contrast large numbers of mikva’ot are known dating from the time of Herod the Great (late first century B.C.E.) and up to the destruction of Jerusalem (70 C.E.). This, therefore, led Berlin to conclude that the appearance of mikva’ot cannot predate the mid-first century B.C.E., but there is sufficient evidence at Jerusalem, Jericho, Gezer, and elsewhere to support an earlier date than that. What there can be no doubt about is that the floruit in the use of mikva’ot was in the first century C.E.

    https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/mikveh.html#4

    So no mikvehs prior to the Hasmonean era (Maccabees) have been found, making them post-date Malachi by a couple of centuries at least.

    Evidently, the priests began the practice of washing before each Jewish festival — perhaps in an abundance of caution before entering the Temple – and the common people took up the practice, perhaps under the influence of the Pharisees. After all, perhaps a strong wind could blow dust from a corpse into the city and render a pilgrim unclean (a second century rabbi is quoted worrying about this very thing in the Talmud). And so the practice of mass washings in Jerusalem developed as many thousands of pilgrims came to Jerusalem to visit the Temple. So they washed — not for forgiveness but to be clean in God’s presence.

    The Essenes went a step further, rejected the Temple and the priesthood, and went to the desert to be pure and prepare for the Messiah to come. And so they washed three times a day — and the practice was associated with forgiveness, as they could not obtain forgiveness by sacrifice while rejecting the Temple.

    So the elements were there when John the Baptist appeared. The way had been prepared for the preparer of the way. But these are practices added by the Jews to the OT, not strictly biblical practices.

    The Torah does not require that you wash to enter the Temple, only that you be clean. It was likely around 150 to 100 BC that the Jews decided to worry about dust that might have touched a Gentile or a corpse — and the Pharisaical attitude of washing — just to be sure — became standard practice, leading to the construction of literally thousands of mikvehs when Herod’s Temple was built.

    But none of this traces back to Abraham, to the Torah, or to God’s covenant with David. Even the prophecies speaking of the “new covenant” in Jer 31 say nothing of water baptism. They do say quite a lot about repentance, forgiveness, the Spirit, and calling on the name of the Lord.

    Now, with all that in mind, notice this: The Torah added the entire sacrificial system described in Leviticus as a condition of forgiveness. Leviticus says to offer a sacrifice to be forgiven. And yet David writes,

    (Ps. 51:16-17 ESV) 16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

    Indeed, the Torah says there’s no sacrifice for a sin committed intentionally (with a high hand). And yet David was forgiven. Without sacrifice. What was supposedly impossible was possible for a man who had the Spirit of God and who approached God with faith and penitent heart. This is why God declares that the covenant with Abraham to save by faith remains in effect in the Christian era. It continued throughout the Mosaic era, despite Leviticus etc.

    To me, baptism is very much like OT sacrifice. Required but not required. The terms of the covenant say sacrifice, but salvation was by faith. And therefore exceptions were made by God whenever someone did not sacrifice with a pure heart. Naaman was accepted without sacrifice. David’s sin was forgiven without sacrifice — it was too severe for sacrifice to suffice. Only grace would do.

    Just so, the story is told in —

    (2 Chr. 30:15-20 ESV) 15 And they slaughtered the Passover lamb on the fourteenth day of the second month. And the priests and the Levites were ashamed, so that they consecrated themselves and brought burnt offerings into the house of the LORD. 16 They took their accustomed posts according to the Law of Moses the man of God. The priests threw the blood that they received from the hand of the Levites. 17 For there were many in the assembly who had not consecrated themselves. Therefore the Levites had to slaughter the Passover lamb for everyone who was not clean, to consecrate it to the LORD. 18 For a majority of the people, many of them from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet they ate the Passover otherwise than as prescribed. For Hezekiah had prayed for them, saying, “May the good LORD pardon everyone 19 who sets his heart to seek God, the LORD, the God of his fathers, even though not according to the sanctuary’s rules of cleanness.” 20 And the LORD heard Hezekiah and healed the people.

    People took the Passover while unclean. They did not have time to go through the required washings and waiting under the Passover laws. The Torah prescribed death for such a violation. But God forgave their uncleanness because the people missed the deadline only because of the delay in notice of the Passover and travel time. They intended to honor God by taking the Passover for the first time in generations — and God accepted their worship despite their failure to be immersed in water. Their faith/faithfulness/trust sufficed.

    So the “logic” doesn’t fit into an Aristotelian syllogism. And I’m a logical sort of guy. A mathematician by training, and a lawyer. And yet none of this bothers me because it’s true to the heart of God as shown — not by wishful thinking — but by his actions. Not once in either testament does God reject someone who comes to him with a genuine faith and true repentance — even if they are Gentile, adulterers, murderers, or ritually unclean for lack of a ritual washing. He always honors his promise to credit faith as righteousness — even if it means being more generous than the terms of the then-current covenant system requires.

  25. Dwight says:

    Ironically the concept that Jesus placed forward was nothing the Jew would recognize from the Law stndpoint in that it was a sin to eat flesh or drink blood, which is what Jesus placed into the Lord’s Supper. But the concept of the unleavened bread and wine was an integral part of Jewish law. So while baptism might have been foreign the cleasning concept was established in Law, but they were doing the baptisms for conversion into Judaism before the coming of Jesus and John.

    On a side note- baptism was not commanded for conversion to anything (by Law) and should have been a sin for the Jews to do if the Law of Silence is to be believed, but it wasn’t, as they also did the circumcision as well.

  26. Monty says:

    Jay,

    The statement you made that I pointed out was that there wasn’t “even a hint” of baptism in the O.T. which I agreed with if you meant specifically mentioned or taught. It isn’t there. No one who lived during that time could have foreseen the baptism of JTB. There is no argument there. However, looking backwards post Pentecost and especially considering the teachings of Paul then we can see a “hint” of baptism in the O.T.. We can see a hint in certain ritual cleansings for purity, sometimes blood and water were mingled and sprinkled on the people, the story of Naaman obeying the prophet(there was nothing in the Jordan River itself that cured his leprosy but an obedient trust in the word of the prophet). If you can’t honestly see a “hint” of baptism in that, I don’t know what to say. Paul told the brethren in Corinth they had been all baptized unto Jesus as the Israelites were baptized unto Moses. Not a hint there? To argue for there being a “hint” of baptism as we read the O.T. doesn’t rule out salvation by faith in Messiah. I do not take exception to any of your teaching concerning faith and baptism. I am in agreement. Paul, calls baptism a spiritual circumcision of the heart, not that anyone who lived under the Law could have again foreseen such a thing, but looking back is there not even a hint, now that we know what we know?

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