Category Archives: Baptism

Saved Like Naaman

Naaman had a serious need that he could not take care of himself (2 Kings 5:10-14). He was a leper. Leprosy was a terrible disease that had dreadful effects. Surely if Naaman could have relieved himself of this problem he would have done it.

He heard some good news! His wife’s Hebrew maid told them of a prophet in Israel that could help. So off he went to seek help from the Israelites of all people, the enemy. After a brief interlude with the King of Israel, a messenger was sent from one of God’s prophets, telling Naaman: “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean” (2 Kings 5:10). God was the only one who could take care of his need.

Sadly, this leper was at first unwilling to put away his pride and just submit to the clear instructions that had been given him. Looking to his own wisdom, he questioned why it had to be done that way (v. 11). He wondered why “water” would have to be part of the plan. If he did have to wash in water, why would it have to be the waters of the Jordan River?

Eventually, Naaman was persuaded to be humble enough to submit to the very simple instructions that had been given through the messenger of God (v. 13). “So he went down and dipped seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean” (v. 14).

Naaman was saved by grace through faith. Grace is “unmerited favor.” No one of sound mind would conclude that this leper “merited” his cleansing by performing a good work about which he could boast. His cleansing was not of himself (didn’t come from his own power). It was the gift of God. This, no one can doubt.

The case of the sinner:

We have a serious need that we cannot take care of by ourselves. We are sinners. Sin is likened in Scripture to a terrible disease and it has dreadful effects (Psalms 38; Matthew 9:11-12). Surely, if we could relieve ourselves of this problem we would do it.

We’ve heard the gospel (“good news”)!  A messenger (Ananias) was sent from one of God’s men telling Saul of Tarsus: “Go and wash!” Acts 22:16 says, “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” God is the only one (through the blood of Jesus) who can provide for our need.

Sadly, some are unwilling to put away their pride and just submit to the clear instructions. Looking to their own wisdom, they question why it has to be done that way. They wonder why water would have to be part of the plan.

Others are humble enough to submit to the very simple instructions that have been given through the messengers of God. What was Saul’s response when he was instructed to “arise and be baptized, and wash…”? “He arose and was baptized” (Acts 9:18).

Sinners are saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8-9). No one of sound mind would conclude that this sinner (Saul) merited his cleansing by performing a good work about which he could boast. His cleansing was not himself (of his own power). It was the gift of God. This, no one should doubt.

By Mike Pittman

Sky-Diving and Mark 16:16

A sky-diving instructor looked out over his class and said, “He who wears a parachute and opens it will live; but he who does not wear a parachute will die.”

Can we understand what one needs to do to survive sky-diving based on this statement?  Does this statement make opening the parachute any less essential to surviving sky-diving than wearing the parachute?  Is it necessary (and does it make any sense) to add “and does not open it” to the second phrase so it would read “he who does not wear a parachute and does not open it will die?”  Is opening the parachute even possible on the part of the sky-diver if he or she is not wearing one?

How easy these questions are to answer – so why do people complicate it when it comes to the scriptures?  Mark 16:16 “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.”

Yet, here is a statement from an article given to me by a believer to explain why baptism is not essential to salvation:  Mark 16:16, a verse often quoted to prove baptism is necessary for salvation, is actually a proof of the opposite. Notice that the basis for condemnation in that verse is not the failure to be baptized, but only the failure to believe. (From “Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation?” by John MacArthur)

Can you see the fallacy in that statement?  The condemnation does not have to include baptism because true baptism is dependent on belief.  If you don’t believe, you might get dunked in water-but you aren’t going to be baptized any more than someone without a parachute can open one.  A failure to believe of necessity mandates a failure to be baptized-because you can’t perform the second action (baptism) without the first (belief).  Immersion in water (baptism) for the remission of sins can only occur with repentant believers (Acts 2:38).

But just like wearing the parachute alone isn’t enough, believing alone isn’t enough.  “He who believes and is baptized will be saved.”  So it really comes down to this:  do you want to be saved or condemned?  Believe and be baptized, as Jesus commanded, and be saved.

— Reagan McClenny

Carla’s Pumpkin

Carla’s Pumpkins and Gospel Seed

My wife picked our pumpkins this past week–early.  Last Fall our pumpkin got pushed over into the flower bed to rot, where it was forgotten.  In the Spring we spaded the soil in the planter and set out flowers, not realizing that we were also planting pumpkin seeds.   Of course, we were intrigued when the vines sprang up, and even more so when we saw the pumpkins developing on the vine.  However, four months of growth is a lot for pumpkin vines, and they were getting unwieldly.  That’s the story behind our two pumpkins and their early harvest.

Jesus said that the seed of the kingdom is “the word of God” (Luke 8).  Like those pumpkin seeds, the word planted in the right heart will grow a Christian.  A person’s conversion might be a surprise to the one who planted the gospel, perhaps springing up in some unlikely place.

You may have heard of such conversions resulting from the simple gospel message presented in a tract left by a concerned Christian; the conversion that resulted from a short radio sermon; or a family conversion sprouting from a preacher’s invitation to the lady at the convenience store.  The sowing of the seed of God’s word is not in vain.

The following is from my old biology text book: “A dry seed is almost in a state of suspended animation.  Although it may appear to be dead, its metabolic processes continue at extremely slow rates.  Lotus seeds hundreds of years old, when exposed to the right environmental conditions, have germinated and produced healthy seedlings.” (The Nature of Life, p. 270, Koob & Boggs, Ad. – Wes., Reading, Mass.)God’s word is the same.  It may not appear to unbelievers to be alive, however, it is as alive and vigorous today as it was in the first Century, producing the same spiritual seedlings.

Furthermore, like kudzu which came from Asia and ravages the southern United States, God’s word will produce Christians in countries other than its native land.  Jesus’ commission to His disciples is to preach the gospel to all the nations (Mark 16:15; Matt 28:1-20).  However, as kudzu does not grow in colder climates, even so God’s word does not germinate in the wrong kinds of hearts–not that sinners have no choice in the matter, but rather that every person decides what he or she will allow to grow in the heart.

First, God’s word requires INFORMED HEARTS to bring forth fruit.  To be informed, one must hear the gospel.  Jesus said, “It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God’.  Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me” (John 6:45).  As locust seeds require moisture, heat, and oxygen to germinate, God’s word requires a listening heart free from prejudice, distraction, or apathy.  Searching the Scriptures produces “noble-minded” hearts because the listeners are simply informed (Acts 17:11).

Second, a BELIEVING HEART is required.  James explains the kind of faith which pleases God in James chapter 2.  He says that “the demons believe and tremble,” pointing out that proper faith moves one toward faithfulness to God, of which the demons were not.  “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (Jas 2:26).  When one asks the question, “What must I do to be saved” (Acts 16:30; 9:6; 2:37), one is showing his or her desire to have a believing heart in the gospel of Jesus Christ (Rom 1:16).

Third, only HUMBLE HEARTS produce Christians.  Jesus said, “Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 18:3).  Repentance–giving up sin and turning to spiritual service — requires humility.  The rich young ruler refused to give up his covetousness to follow Christ (Matt 19).  King Agrippa refused to accept the lowly cross of Christ (Matt 26).  The apostle Paul spoke of those “whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame — who set their mind on earthly things” (Phil 3:19).  God’s word has little place in proud, unyielding hearts.

Fourth, a BRAVE HEART is needed to make the good confession (Matt 16:15, 16; 1 Tim 6:12-13).  The teenager who walks away from his pot-smoking friends; or the former alcoholic who shuns his old drinking buddies, the converted fornicator who explains to his past associates that Christians cannot practice sin; all show the gravity of the Good Confession.  Brave hearts take a stand for right.

Fifth, obeying the gospel produces an UNCONDEMNED HEART.  “Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God” (1 John 3:21).  When one’s sins are forgiven he knows that he is justified before God, uncondemn-ed.  That forgiveness comes at baptism.  “Repent, and be baptized every one of you…for the remission of sins…” (Acts 2:38).  “Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16.  See also Rom 6:3, 4).

Further, when one continues in obedience, he has assurance of God’s favor.  “Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God” (1 John 3:9) not that he literally cannot sin (1 John 1:7-10), but rather that when a good heart knows God’s will it cannot conscientiously or habitually transgress.  Thus, the obedient, cleansed heart will be an uncondemned heart, producing a child of God.Now, different seeds produce different plants.  Jesus said, “Every plant which My Father hath not planted shall be rooted up” (Matt 15:13).  He said, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees”, their love of money (Luke 12:1).  Jesus said, “If anyone does not abide in me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned” (John 15:6).  Please, let every soul demand the simple word of God as the spiritual rule in life.  Unlike the creeds and traditions of men, only the gospel is unchanging, only the gospel is God’s power unto salvation (Rom 1:16, 17). – George Hutto, in Centerview Tidings, Vol. 17, No 32

Baptism, scriptural mode

Any word that plays a major role on the stage of religious controversy is a word which should interest and be understood by everyone.  Baptism is just such a word.  It is doubtful whether any word appearing in the New Testament has generated more discussion or caused more controversy in so many diverse doctrines than this word and its verb companion baptize.

What does it mean to be “baptized for the dead?” (1 Cor. 15:29)  What is the baptism of the “Holy Spirit and fire?” (Luke 3:16)  What is baptism “for the remission of sins?” (Acts 2:38)  Answers to the above questions can never be found without first knowing the meaning of the words used.

In Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary a word is defined as it is used currently and also as it was used originally.  Of the current meaning of baptize he says, “To dip or immerse in water, or to pour or sprinkle water upon…”  This is by common knowledge the use of the word in this twentieth century.  Our interest, however, is not in its current meaning, but what its meaning was in the time the New Testament was written.  In brackets, Webster states the original meaning of the word and traces changes in the word through French, Latin, and finally back to Greek.  Concerning this Greek word from which we read baptize in our Bibles today, Webster records, “to dip in water.”

In the Lexicons of E. A. Sophocles, who himself was a Greek, and J. Henry Thayer, who is referred to as the “dean of lexicographers,” baptize is defined, “to dip repeatedly, to immerse, submerge.”  W. E. Vine, in his detailed dictionary of New Testament words adds that, “baptism, consisting of the processes of immersion, submersion and emergence (from bapto, to dip)…” is the proper definition for the term.

THE BIBLE ITSELF HAS ALWAYS BEEN ITS OWN BEST INTERPRETER.  Notice what it says.  Mark 1:9-10 states that Jesus “was baptized of John in (eis) the Jordan.  And straightway coming up out of (ek) the water…” the Spirit came upon him. These two prepositions are precise and include entering into and coming out of the object.

Romans 6:4 reads, “We were buried therefore with him through baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we might walk in newness of life.”  Also, Colossians 2:12 repeats, “Buried with him in baptism wherein also ye are risen with him…”

These remarks might be noted by those who believe that sprinkling or pouring is included in the definition of baptize.  The Greeks, just as we today, had different words by which they designated what action they had in mind.  We have pour, sprinkle, and immerse.  Each means a different thing and is not used interchangeably with the others.  The Greeks had katacheo, rhantizo, and baptizo.  Each meant a different thing to them and likewise was not used interchangeably with the others.  The following chart shows the comparison:

English       Greek

sprinkle      rhantizo

pour              katacheo

immerse        baptizo

It is significant that each of these words appears in the New Testament numerous times.  Yet each time a word was used in connection with our salvation whether in the form of statements or commands, baptizo or baptism was used.  Never were the words meaning pour or sprinkle mentioned in any way

The Bible itself plainly states the act accompanying our entrance into Christ where salvation is enjoyed.

IT IS A BURIAL (IN WATER)!

There is no sufficient evidence to offset this inevitable conclusion that in the days when the New Testament was written baptize meant “to immerse.”  As you see, both secular and ecclesiastical scholars concur with the Bible definition.

Thus a burial must precede a new life with Christ; that burial is baptism.

(Apostolic Doctrine, February 1962) — By Norman Midgette

“After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He was spending time with them and baptizing. 23 John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there; and people were coming and were being baptized” (John 3:22-23).

Why Stop The Chariot? — A Cain Moment

Why Stop the Chariot?

By John Isaac Edwards

Acts 8:26-39 records the conversion of the Ethiopian treasurer. Verse 38 makes some things stand out: “And he commanded the chariot to stand still…” Has it occurred to you that if some things men today say are true, it would have been entirely unnecessary for this man to stop the chariot? Explore this with me.

Continue reading Why Stop The Chariot? — A Cain Moment