Questions About Baptism and Babies

 

  TEXT:  Romans 6:3-6

      AIM:  To deal with issues surrounding baptism of infants.

INTRODUCTION:

Christian baptism, according to the Bible, is an outward testimony of what has occurred inwardly in a believer’s life. It identifies one with Christ and depicts salvation—dying with Christ and being raised to eternal life with Him. Therefore, Christian baptism illustrates the Gospel identifying the believer with Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection.

 

In contrast to sprinkling or pouring water, N.T., water baptism of a believer ALWAYS means immersion in water. The action of being immersed in the water pictures being buried with Christ and the action of coming out of the water pictures Christ’s resurrection.

 

In Jn. 3:23 John the Baptist was baptizing needed much water for baptism. The early Christians baptized by going down into the water. In Acts 8:38 – Philip “commanded the chariot to stand still” and both he and the eunuch went down both into the water baptizing him by putting him down and bring him up out of the water. The word baptism means immersion i.e. submerge, dip, plunge and is called “burial” in Rom. 6:4 and Col. 2:12.

 

There is no N.T. support for the practice of sprinkling or pouring.

Both of these practices corrupt the proper symbolism of the ordinance.

 

Water baptism is a picture and public testimony of spiritual realities.

It is called a “figure” in 1 Pet. 3:21. John the Baptist’s baptism was a public testimony of repentance and identification with his message (Mt. 3:1-10). Likewise, Christian baptism is a testimony of faith in Christ (Acts 8:34-38; 16:30-34) and repentance (Acts 2:37-38).

 

In N.T. baptism, there should be three requirements before a person is baptized:

(1)     The person being baptized must have repented of sin and trusted in Jesus Christ as Saviour,

(2)     The person must understand what baptism signifies, and

(3)     The person’s life must publicly evidence the professed repentance.

 

In Acts 26:20 Paul preached to the Gentiles “that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.”

 

When John the Baptist “saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism,” in Mat 3:7-8 “he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance.” He like Paul expected that authentic salvation resulted from genuine faith and repentance evidenced by the fruit of a changed life.

 

If a person has come to know the Lord Jesus as Saviour, understands that Christian baptism is a step of obedience in publicly proclaiming his faith in Christ, and desires to be baptized in obedience to His command – then there is no reason to prevent the believer from being baptized.

 

According to the Bible, believer’s baptism is simply a step of obedience, a public proclamation of one’s faith in Christ alone for salvation. Christian baptism is important because it is a step of obedience – publicly declaring faith in Christ and commitment to Him, and identification with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection.

Age has no limit on obedience. If a child is old enough to know they are a sinner and is in need of salvation, then they are old enough to request baptism.

In Acts 2:41-42 baptism is seen as a door into the local church. Typically, N.T. Baptist churches, in following the pattern of the Jerusalem church, receive members upon their public profession of faith and scriptural baptism. It is no different with us.

 

There are a number of issues and questions around and about the doctrine and topic of baptism that I would like to address. Some of the questions would easily make a sermon or Bible study all on their merit, but I am going to try to give short answers, yet comprehensive ones.

I.          Question: “Is baptism necessary for salvation?
What is baptismal regeneration?”

Both questions can be answered in dealing with the subject of baptismal regeneration.

A.       Baptismal regeneration is the belief that a person must be baptized in order to be saved.

1.        Baptism is an important step of obedience for a Christian, but Scripture adamantly rejects baptism as being required for salvation.

2.        The Scriptures strongly teach that each and every Christian should be baptized by immersion in water AFTER salvation.

a.        Baptism illustrates a believer’s identification with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection in Romans 6:3-4 NOT the reverse!

b.        The action of being immersed in the water illustrates burial with Christ, while the action of coming out of the water pictures Christ’s resurrection.

3.        Anything in addition to faith in Jesus Christ as being required for salvation is a works-based salvation. To add ANYTHING to the Gospel is to say that Jesus’ death on the cross was not sufficient to purchase our salvation.

4.        To say we must be baptized in order to be saved, is to say that we must add our own good works and obedience to Christ’s death, in order to make it sufficient for salvation.

a.        Jesus’ death alone paid for our sins

Rom. 5:8 – “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

2Cor. 5:21 – For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”

b.        Jesus’ payment for our sins is appropriated to our “account” by faith alone.

John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Acts 16:31 – “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”

Eph. 2:8-9 – “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works…”

c.         Therefore, baptism is an important step of obedience after salvation, BUT cannot be a requirement for salvation.

B.       Are not there some verses that seem to indicate baptism as a necessary requirement for salvation?

1.        A superficial reading may give that impression, however, since the Bible so clearly tells us that salvation is received by faith alone as in John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9 and as in Titus 3:5 were is says, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us…” there must be an incorrect interpretation of those verses to think we are saved by baptism as Scripture does not contradict Scripture.

2.        In Bible times, when a person who converted from a false religion to Christ was baptized it identified them with their conversion to a saving faith in Christ.

a.        Baptism was the means of making a decision public.

b.        Those who refused to be baptized were saying they did not truly believe.
So, in the minds of the apostles and early disciples, the idea of an un-baptized believer was unheard of.

c.         When a person claimed to believe in Christ, yet was ashamed to proclaim his faith in public, it indicated that he did not have true faith.

3.        If baptism were necessary for salvation, the Apostle Paul made some strange contradictory statements.

a.        1 Cor. 1:14 – “I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius”

b.        1 Cor. 1:17 – “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.”

1)        Granted, in this verses Paul is arguing against the divisions that plagued the Corinthian church. However, how could Paul possibly say, “I thank God that I baptized none of you…” or “For Christ sent me not to baptize…” if baptism were necessary for salvation?
2)        If baptism is necessary for salvation, Paul would literally be saying, “I am thankful that you were not saved…” and “For Christ did not send me to save…” That would be an unbelievably ridiculous statement for Paul to make.

c.         When Paul gave a detailed outline of the Gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 he neglect to mention baptism. If baptism is a requirement for salvation, how could any presentation of the Gospel lack a mentioning of baptism?

4.        Other point to Acts 2:38; Mark 16:16; 1 Peter 3:21 and John 3:5 as teaching that baptism is necessary for salvation. BUT lets remember some basic truths concerning interpretation.

a.        A clear truth or doctrine understood through out Scripture is not nullified by verses whose meanings are obscure or unclear. We always start from the known and move to the unknown.

b.        The writers of Scripture are communicating their thoughts in words, and their goal is to communicate thoughts in the clearest possible way.

1)        The writers are not trying to confuse us. God is not the author of confusion—confusion is a tactic of Satan.
2)        Therefore the meaning, which is clearest and most evident, is to be understood as what is being said.

c.         The Bible is its own interpreter, i.e. the Scripture interprets Scripture.

5.        Baptismal regeneration is not a Biblical concept. Baptism DOES NOT save from sin, BUT from a bad conscience. Peter clearly taught that baptism was not a ceremonial act of physical purification, but the pledge of a good conscience toward God in 1Pet. 3:21.

a.        Baptism is the symbol of what has already occurred in the heart and life of one who has trusted Christ as Saviour.

Rom. 6:3-5 – “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his 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. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:”

Gal. 3:27 – “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

Colossians 2:12 – “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God…”

b.        To make the source of salvation perfectly clear, Peter added, “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1Pet. 1:3).

c.         Baptism is an important step of obedience that every Christian should take. Baptism cannot be a requirement for salvation. To make it such is an attack on the sufficiency of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

II.        Question: “What does the Bible say about infant baptism?”

A.       There is much confusion about baptism in the various Christian denominations.

1.        However, the confusion about baptism is not a result of the Bible presenting a confusing message on baptism.

2.        The Bible is abundantly clear of what baptism is, whom it is for, and what it accomplishes.

a.        In the Bible, ONLY repentant believers who had placed their faith in Christ were baptized—as a public testimony of their faith and identification with Him.

b.        Water baptism by immersion is a step of obedience after faith in Christ. It is a proclamation of faith in Christ, a statement of submission to Him, and an identification with His death, burial, and resurrection as seen in our text in Romans 6:3-4.

3.        When folks were brought under the conviction of their sin in Acts 2:38 – “Peter said unto them, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…’ << TURN

a.        The word repent means “to change one’s mind.” Here, as though out Scripture, one aspect of conversion is commonly used to represent all aspects: believing and calling as well as repenting.

b.        The grammatical name for the figure of speech that allows part of something to represent the whole or vice versa is called syn•ec•do•che, as in Arsenal won by four goals (meaning “Arsenal’s football team”).

4.        Repentance is something a person MUST DO! In Acts 17:30 Paul in forms us that God has “now commandeth ALL men EVERY where to repent.”

5.        There are several reason’s why “be baptised” in Acts 2:38 SHOULD NOT be joined with for the remission of sins” to teach baptismal regeneration.

a.        The context of this passage demonstrates that ONLY the repentance is connected with the removal of sin at salvation SEE >> Vs. 21.

b.        Peter’s next recorded sermon states in Acts 3:19 Repent…be converted, that your sins maybe blotted out…” A change of mind about sin, self and Jesus as the Saviour results in a change of action. To be “converted” by faith one turns from sin to God.

c.         Through out Acts men demonstrated their faith and salvation prior to baptism – SEE >>Acts 10:43-47.

d.       Salvation passages throughout the NT do not include water baptism in the salvation experience.

John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever BELIEVETH in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Acts 16:31 – “…BELIEVE on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…”

Rom. 4:4 – “…Abraham BELIEVED God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.”

1Pet. 1:18-19 – “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19] But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:”

e.        TURN back to Acts 2:38 which can rightly read, “Repent for the remission of sins, and you will receive the gift which is the Holy Spirit; and let each of you be baptized in the name of Christ.” Through water baptism does not save or wash away sins, it is a command that needs to be obeyed speedily after conversion. Jesus commanded it – Acts 2:41.

Mat. 28:19-20 “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20] Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

B.       With this understanding of Scripture, we need to realise that infant baptism is not a Biblical practice.

1.        An infant cannot place his or her faith in Christ—i.e. trust Christ – Eph. 1:12-13

a.        It is unconscious as to who is its mother no less as to who Christ is.

b.        In is incapable to know it is a sinner to make a conscious decision to obey Christ for salvation.

c.         An infant cannot understand the need of the gospel no less what water baptism symbolizes.

d.       Therefore it is impossible for the infant to inherit the Holy Spirit the seal of redemption.

2.        The Bible DOES NOT record any infants being baptized.

a.        Infant baptism is the sprinkling, pouring or immersion of infants for the purpose of imparting to them spiritual blessing of some sort.

b.        The exact purpose of baptising infants differs from group to group, but almost always it implies that the child thereby receives some special spiritual blessing, if not full salvation.

c.         For those who don’t immerse, the method of infant baptism fails to agree with the Bible. How does pouring or sprinkling illustrate the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ?

3.        Infant baptism uses the wrong mode—sprinkling or pouring and uses the wrong subject—infants unable to believe and be born again. The Bible teaches repeatedly that one must first believe before being baptized.

C.       Who practices infant baptism?

1.        Infant baptism is practiced by the Roman Catholic Church, the various groups representing Eastern Orthodoxy, as well as by most of the denominations that withdrew from Rome during the Protestant Reformation, including Lutheran, Anglican, Presbyterian, and Methodist. These denominations baptize infants and confess that the children are thereby imparted certain spiritual blessings.

2.        ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH: “By Baptism all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin. …The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are ‘reborn of water and the Spirit.’ God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism…Baptism not only purifies from all sins, but also makes the neophyte ‘a new creature,’ an adopted son of God, who has become a ‘partaker of the divine nature,’ member of Christ and co-heir with him, and a temple of the Holy Spirit. …From the baptismal fonts is born the one People of God of the New Covenant” (The New Catholic Catechism, 1994, # 1263,1257,1265,1267).

3.        EASTERN ORTHODOX: “We confess one baptism for the remission of sins” (Constantinopolitan [or Nicene] Creed, 381). “Our sacraments, however, not only contain grace, but also confer it on those who receive them worthily…Through baptism we are spiritually reborn” (Council of Florence, 1438-45). “When one asserts his faith in the Son of God, the Son of the Ever Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, he accepts first of all the words of faith into his heart, confesses them orally, sincerely repents for his former sins and washes them away in the sacrament of Baptism. Then God the Word enters the baptized one, as though into the womb of the Blessed Virgin and remains in him like a seed” (The Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate, Russian Orthodox Church, Issue No. 4, 1980). “Sacraments…are not simply symbols of divine grace, but sure agents and means of its transmission. …[through baptism one] becomes a member of the church of Christ, being liberated from the controlling power of sin, and being reborn in the new creation in Christ” (International Eastern Orthodox-Old Catholic Theological Dialogue Commission, 1985).

4.        LUTHERAN: “Baptism effects forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and grants eternal salvation to all who believe, as the Word and promise of God declare. …It is not the water that produces these effects, but the Word of God connected with the water, and our faith which relies on the Word of God connected with the water” (Luther’s Small Catechism, 1529, IV). “It is taught among us that Baptism is necessary and that grace is offered through it. Children, too, should be baptized, for in Baptism they are committed to God and become acceptable to him. On this account the Anabaptists who teach that infant Baptism is not right are rejected” (The Augsburg Confession, 1530, IX). “Being by nature sinners, infants as well as adults, need to be baptized. Every child that is baptized is begotten anew of water and of the Spirit, is placed in covenant relation with God, and is made a child of God and an heir of his heavenly kingdom” (Baptism formula used by Lutheran pastors in baptizing infants, The New Analytical Bible and Dictionary of the Bible, Chicago: John A. Dickson Publishing Co., 1973).

5.        The August 2001 issue of The Berean Call contains the following warning from a reader of that publication: “Enclosed is my ‘Memento and Certificate of Baptism’ and my daughter’s ‘Certificate of Holy Baptism,’ both as babies into the Lutheran Church. As you can see, my certificate was printed by the Missouri Synod’s Concordia Publishing House and reads, ‘In Baptism full salvation has been given unto you; God has become your Father, and you have become His child.’ My daughter’s reads, ‘You are a child of God because God has made you His child through this act. All of God’s promises belong to you as you live under Him in His Kingdom.’ You must know that Luther’s Catechism, used in every Lutheran Synod, declares concerning the ‘Sacrament of Baptism,’ that ‘it works forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare.’ It also states regarding the ‘Sacrament of the Altar’ [the Lord’s Supper], ‘namely, that in the Sacrament forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation are given us through these words.’”

6.        ANGLICAN: “Baptism is a sign of Regeneration or New-Birth, whereby, as by an instrument, they that receive Baptism rightly are grafted into the Church; the promises of the forgiveness of sin, and of our adoption to be the sons of God by the Holy Ghost, are visibly signed and sealed. …The Baptism of young Children is in any wise to be retained in the Church, as most agreeable with the institution of Christ” (The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, XXV, XXVII).

7.        METHODIST: “Sacraments are…signs of grace…by the which he doth work invisibly in us, and doth not only quicken, but also strengthen and confirm our faith in him. …Baptism…is also a sign of regeneration, or the new birth. The baptism of young children is to be retained in the Church” (The Articles of Religion, 1784, XVI, XVII).

8.        REFORMED: “We condemn the Anabaptists, who deny that young infants, born of faithful parents, are to be baptized. …We therefore are not Anabaptists, neither do we agree with them in any point that is theirs” (The Second Helvetic Confession, 1566, chapter XX).

9.        PRESBYTERIAN: “Baptism…is a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his ingrafting into Christ, of regeneration, of remission of sins…Dipping of the person into the water is not necessary; but baptism is rightly administered by pouring or sprinkling water upon the person. Not only those that do actually profess faith in and obedience to Christ, but also the infants of one or both believing parents are to be baptized. …by the right use of this ordinance the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited and conferred by the Holy Ghost, to such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongeth unto, according to the counsel of God’s own will, in his appointed time” (The Westminster Confession of Faith, 1646, XXVIII).

10.    WORLD COUNCIL OF CHURCHES: “Through baptism, Christians are brought into union with Christ, with each other, and with the Church of every time and place. Our common baptism, which unites us to Christ in faith, is thus a basic bond of unity” (Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry, 1982).

D.       Many professed Christians who practice infant baptism do so because they understand infant baptism as the new covenant equivalent of circumcision.

1.        In this view, just as circumcision joined a Hebrew to the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants, so baptism joined a person to the New Covenant of salvation through Jesus Christ.

a.        This view is unbiblical. The New Testament nowhere describes baptism as the New Covenant replacement for Old Covenant circumcision.

b.        The NT nowhere describes baptism as a sign of the New Covenant.

1)        It is faith in Jesus Christ that enables a person to enjoy the blessings of the New Covenant.
2)        It is the Lord’s Supper—the cup is the new testament in Jesus’ blood that symbolises the New Covenant (1 Corinthians 11:25).

2.        Baptism does not save a person. It does not matter if you were baptized by immersion, pouring, or sprinkling—if you have not first trusted in Christ for salvation, baptism (no matter the method) is meaningless and useless.

a.        Water baptism by immersion is a step of obedience to be done after salvation as a public profession of faith in Christ and identification with Him.

b.        Infant baptism does not fit the Biblical definition of baptism or the Biblical method of baptism.

1)        If Christian parents wish to dedicate their child to Christ, then a baby dedication service is entirely appropriate.
2)        However, even if infants are dedicated to the Lord, when they grow up they will still have to make a personal decision to believe in Jesus Christ in order to be saved.

III.      Question: “When should children be baptized and/or allowed to take the Lord’s Supper?”

A.       Baptismal candidates of all ages need instruction in the meaning of baptism.

1.        Children need instruction in doctrine and the meaning of the ordinances before being allowed to participate.

2.        Ideally, the instruction and preparation of the children should be given in the home and supplemented with formal instruction by the local church.

B.       Before taking communion, the main requirement for all children (as with all adults) is that they have received the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour.

1.        Even though some children make a salvation decision at an early age, being baptized and partaking of the Lord’s Supper should not be rushed into.

2.        The spiritual instruction of the children in all areas of life is the father’s responsibility and only falls to the mother or guardian in default.

3.        As a child matures in his faith and it is evident that he is truly born again, the father and/or mother should be perceptive as to when the child is ready to take on the responsibilities of a church member. We need to remember the spiritual maturity level of one child differs from that of another, even in the same family.

Although this is an OT story, the truth is still applicable.

In Nehemiah 8:1-8, we read the account of Ezra, the scribe, reading the Law to the people of Israel. He read it to the men and women and all who were able to understand – Vs. 2-3, 8.

From 10:28 we learn that these included their sons and daughters. And so it must be today!

It is most important that our children understand spiritual truths, and only wise Christian parents can discern when that time comes.

4.        When the parents of a child make it known to the pastor that he/she wants to be baptized, the pastor speaks with the child ensuring if he/she is ready.

a.        It is vitally important that a child understands that neither baptism nor communion saves him/her, but rather they are steps of obedience and remembrance of what Jesus did for us in providing for our salvation.

b.        1Cor. 11:24-25 Teach that bread of the communion table symbolise our Lord’s body and the cup is the new testament of His blood and BOTH are to be taken in remembrance of Him.

C.       Only regenerate persons, baptised on a profession of their faith in Christ, and living in a godly, Christian manner as members of a local church, have a right to, or can properly partake in the communion of the Lord’s Supper.

1.        This means that baptism and church membership are prerequisites to the Supper and the local church has the duty to judge the qualifications of those who enjoy its privileges.

2.        Where does the Bible teach this? – 1 Cor. 10:14-22

IV.     Question: “What does the Bible say about being a God-parent?”

A.       Traditionally, the godparents were counted informally responsible for ensuring that the child’s religious education was carried out, and for caring for the child should he/she be orphaned.

1.        Today, the word “godparent” may not have explicitly religious overtones.

2.        The (particularly) modern definition of a godparent is “an individual chosen by the parents to take a vested interest in raising a more complete human being.”

3.        Understand, a godparent is not a legal position, and should the parents seriously intend the godparents are to act as foster parents in case of their death, a will or solicitor must legally specify this such as.

B.       Godparenting is usually associated with a baptism or a christening ceremony in some Christian denominations.

1.        The term godparenting or godparents is not addressed in Scripture.

a.        Godparenting is entirely a tradition, neither condemned nor condoned in Scripture.

b.        It should be obvious that for one to be a spiritual guide as to parent a child for God, they need to be godly.

1)        This means they should be saved.
2)        They should be Bible-believers who practice the Scriptures.
3)        They themselves should be baptised by immersion.
4)        They should belong to a Bible-believing church and in good fellowship with it being faithful in attendance.

2.        In those circles where godparents are chosen, they are sometimes called “sponsors.” Since the baby or small child is not able to speak for himself, the sponsors may erroneously make the statement of faith in Jesus Christ for the baby or child.

a.        Biblical baptism requires an individual to have his/her own faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour.

b.        Baptism is a symbol of one’s trust in Jesus. It is a public declaration of believing in Christ and is a picture of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus and being raised to live for Him. Therefore, godparenting is NOT biblically in agreement with the baptism ordinance for believers.

c.         No one else can speak for a baby or small child as to his or her salvation.

1)        Salvation must be a personal decision, and the one making it must be old enough to understand what he/she is doing and its significance.
2)        To believe the Bible and it’s teaching on baptism, it is not possible for the concept of godparenting to be compatible with it.
3)        If, however, somehow serving as godparent could be connected with believer’s baptism, or separated from baptism entirely, as in a baby dedication, then godparenting could be appropriate and acceptable.

V.       Question: “What does the Bible say about confirmation?”

A.       Confirmation is defined as a sacrament, a ritual or a service performed by man.

1.        In some traditions, generally Catholic and Anglican, the sacrament of confirmation is the ritual by which a baptized person, esp. one baptized as an infant, affirms their belief the teachings of the denomination officially being admitted as a full member of the church.

2.        This sacrament sometimes includes the bestowal of a “confirmation name,” generally the name of a saint, which is often used as a second middle name.

a.        Those who practice confirmation believe it signals the initiation of the baptized into full church membership and a personal, mature acceptance of the faith.

b.        Catholics and Anglicans recognize confirmation as one of seven sacraments necessary for salvation.

3.        The Bible, however, is silent on the matter of such a ritual. The fact is—the idea that a person can “confirm” to another that he/she is in the faith is denied in Scripture.

B.       Each individual must determine the state of his/her soul based on several criteria.

1.        First, we are confirmed by the Holy Spirit who lives in our hearts. Rom. 8:16 –  “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:”

a.        The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.

b.        When we accept Christ as Lord and Saviour, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our hearts and gives us assurance that He is present and that we belong to Him.

c.         It is He who teaches and explains spiritual things to us (1 Cor. 2:13-14), thereby confirms that we are new creations in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).

2.        We are also confirmed in the faith by the evidence of our salvation.

a.        1John 1:5-10 tells us that the evidence of our salvation is manifested in our lives: “we walk in the Light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another.”

b.        Therefore, we do not habitually practice sin and when we do sin, we confess it to our “Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (2:1).

3.        James 2 makes it clear that the evidence of faith is the works we do. Our works does not save us, but our works are the evidence of the saving faith in us. Jesus said, “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” (Mt 7:20).

4.        The spiritual fruit produced in us by the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22) is the confirmation that He lives within us. Therefore, we are told to “examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (2 Cor. 13:5) i.e. you fail the test!

5.        In addition, Peter tells us to “give diligence to make your calling and election sure” so that we will receive an abundantly rich welcome “into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:10-11).

6.        The final “confirmation” of our salvation is, of course, in the future. Those who are true Christians, the Bible tells us, will persevere to the end, eagerly “waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall also confirm you unto the end” (1 Cor. 1:7-8).

7.        Having believed and trusted Christ as our Saviour, we “were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance [i.e. our guarantee] until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory” (Eph. 1:13-14).

This, then, is the true meaning of confirmation—our salvation was purchased by the blood of Christ in whom we have faith, which is evidenced by our walk with Him, and it is confirmed to us by the Holy Spirit within us.

Conclude with this Question: “What If I was baptized unbiblically. Do I need to be rebaptized?”

A.       The Bible is very clear about baptism.
There are two points we all need to understand.

1.        Baptism is to take place after a person has received Jesus Christ as Saviour, trusting in Him alone for salvation.

2.        Baptism is to be by immersion.

a.        The word baptize literally means to “immerse / submerge in water.”

b.        Baptism by immersion is the only method of baptism that adequately illustrates what baptism symbolizes—believers dying, being buried with Christ, and being raised to newness of life (Romans 6:3-4).

B.       With those two key points in mind, what about those who were baptized unbiblically?

1.        First instance: Someone who was baptized before he/she became a Christian.

a.        Common examples of this are those who were baptized as infants, or those who were baptized later in life, but did not truly know Jesus as Saviour when they were baptized.

b.        In these instances, yes, such a person definitely needs to be rebaptized. Again, the Bible states that baptism is post-salvation. The symbolism of baptism is lost if a person has not truly experienced salvation by faith in Jesus Christ.

2.        Second instance: Someone had a form of baptism after faith in Christ, but in a mode other than immersion, the issue comes down to the fact that such a person did not truly receive biblical baptism.

a.        If the method was sprinkling or pouring, it does not fit the definition of baptism. Again, the word baptize means “to submerge in water.”

b.        However, the Bible nowhere specifically addresses those who have been baptized but not immersed. Why, because there is no other mode than immersion.

3.        Third instance is covered more or less under the second where someone was baptised by the wrong authority. The mode was correct–by immersion and subject was correct–a saved believer, but authority is wrong–not by a local church.

4.        All these issues, then, are a matter of a believer’s personal relationship with God. A believer who has followed a church ritual or religious ceremony, having been baptized unbiblically, should immediately follow the Lord in believer’s baptism joining the church that baptises them.

5.        If the believer’s conscience is unsure in any detail, it would be best to go ahead and be rebaptized biblically to put the conscience at ease.

Rom. 14:23 – “He that doubteth is damned…for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”

 

 

 

30 Mar. 2008

 

 

 

 




SERMON OUTLINES