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Water Baptism

        by Joe Slowiaczek
        Ro:6:4"Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."

        Four Views:

        Roman Catholic
        The Roman Catholic view of Baptism is that it is a “Means of saving grace”. The view is that Baptism awakens or strengthens faith, it effects the washing of regeneration. They believe that this occurs by the working of the element itself. Faith does not have to be present. The Baptism eradicates both original sin and any venial sins. It infuses sanctifying grace into the recipient. This cannot be. Faith must be present in salvation. “For by grace you have been saved through faith…” (Eph 2:8) “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Heb 11:6)

        The Lutheran view of Baptism is that it is “Imparting saving grace on the one exercising true faith”. The view is that Baptism is effectual in imparting saving grace on those who first have faith. Without the faith, the baptism is ineffectual. This, however, again implies a power within the element itself. It adds to the grace spoken of in Ephesians 2:8 by adding the ‘work’ of baptism. This need for baptism or the securing of grace by baptizing is not taught anywhere in the Scriptures.

        The Reformed view of Baptism is that it is “The sign and seal of the covenant”. The view is that Baptism is an outward sign and seal of an inward reality. Baptism is the act of faith by which we are brought into the covenant and hence experience its benefits. Baptism is an initiation into the covenant and a sign of salvation. To the Reformers baptism replaces circumcision. There are two problems with this view. One, it does not say anywhere in the Scriptures that Baptism replaced circumcision as a sign and seal of the covenant. In fact, the Scripture states that the physical circumcision that males of Israel underwent would be an everlasting covenant and replaced by the circumcision of the heart. “I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant to be God to you and your descendants after you. Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. And God said to Abraham: ‘As for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised; and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of our foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you.” (Gen 17: 7-11) “For he is not a Jew who is one inwardly; nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.” (Ro 2: 28-29)
        Two, there is no magical power in baptism to bring us into the benefits of covenant. Our regeneration by the Holy Spirit, where our hearts are changed, automatically makes us benefits of the covenant. “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Sprit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God. I will deliver you from all your uncleanesses. I will call for the grain and multiply it, and bring no famine upon you. And I will multiply the fruit of your trees and the increase of your fields, so that you need never again bear the reproach of famine among the nations. To the glory and praise of God.” (Ezek 36:26-30)

        The Baptist view of Baptism is that it is “a token of salvation”. The view is that Baptism is simply a testimony, the first profession of faith that the believer makes. The rite shows the community that the individual is now identified with Christ. Baptism is a symbol of an inward reality. This view is the Scriptural view.

        Scripture makes the pattern clear. We are given the gift of faith (Eph.2:8) to believe and then are baptized. (Stephen’s ministry, Acts 8:12; the eunuch, Acts 8:36-38; Paul’s conversion, Acts 9; Cornelius, Acts 10:34-38; Lyddia in Philippi, Acts 16:14-15; Philippian jailer, Acts 16:31-33; and Corinthians, Acts 18:8). Baptism is not necessary for salvation, note the thief on the cross (Lk 23:40-43). However, we are commanded by God to be baptized (Matt 28:20).
        For the believer, professing one’s faith through baptism, signifies one’s death to sin and the resurrection of a new nature in life through Christ. “Therefore, we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Ro 6:4)

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