Barry Newman's Blog

January 25, 2010

Biblical Baptism Revisited (part IX)

Filed under: Baptism — barrynewman @ 9:14 pm

The Importance of the Baptismal Water Ceremony (continued)

What was meant by being baptised in the name of Jesus Christ or the Lord Jesus?  (The words, “Jesus Christ” may have been more suitable for Jews or those familiar with Jewish concepts while the words, “Lord Jesus” may have been more helpful for Gentile Christians.) In principle, a person baptised in his name was making some type of confession that they came under his governorship (see later). They were now attaching their lives to him.  Their lives were now focussed on him; their lives now, it was being acknowledged, depended on him. 

Just as one would give considerable thought before deciding not to have a ring as part of a marriage ceremony where that is the custom so presumably christians would think seriously before deciding not to urge new christians to be baptised.  This would be the case especially if the ceremony being considered genuinely symbolised cleansing and death to an old life, if it was associated with repentance and the forgiveness of sins and if it focussed on the person coming under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and provided that it did not seriously mislead.

Even though sometimes the Acts of the Apostles records a close association in time between the ceremony and the gracious work of God (Acts 2: 38; 8: 14 – 17; 9: 17, 18; 10: 44-48; 19: 5, 6), a tragic mistake that was made in the early days was to believe that the ceremony itself brought about what in fact God graciously gave and could give independently of any ceremony, That mistake is still made by some in our day.

One of course could decide that having people undergo a baptismal water ceremony is in certain circumstances to be avoided.  This could be the case, for instance, where such a ceremony would almost certainly be badly misunderstood, independently of any efforts to educate otherwise, either by those undergoing the ceremony, those witnessing it or both.  Our concern for the truth of the gospel should outweigh our concern for ceremonies.

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