Wrestling with Baptism

I’ve wrestled with the doctrine of baptism ever since I’ve been going to Lifebridge Church, which happens to be within the Missouri-Synod Lutheran denomination, on what they understand to be the purpose and meaning of water baptism, as compared to what I find in Scripture. I find my conscience being at odds with some of their troubling beliefs on baptism (found within their statement of beliefs, which is Luther’s Large Catechism), and as a result, I cannot stay. I don’t have too much time to go into it now (I’m preparing to write a series of blog posts on baptism verses, and beliefs on baptism that conflict with the gospel… Lord willing). But here are some of the statements within the Lutheran Large Catechism that are very troubling for me…

“Baptism is necessary to salvation, and that children are to be baptized, and that the baptism of children is not in vain, but is necessary and effectual to salvation.

Baptism “makes us God’s own, suppresses and takes away sin…”

Concerning baptism, “…what it promises and brings: victory over death and the devil, forgiveness of sins, the grace of God, the entire Christ, and the Holy Ghost with His gifts.

“Nevertheless, I am baptized; but if I am baptized, it is promised me that I shall be saved and have eternal life, both in soul and body.”

“it is most solemnly and strictly commanded that we must be baptized or we cannot be saved.

It also mentions that “… that you may receive in the water the promised salvation.

Contrary to what is taught in Scripture, these statements claim that water baptism (water + Word) brings us into the body of Christ, takes away sin, gives us the Holy Spirit and the grace of God, and if we are not baptized, we cannot be saved.

Ouch…

None of that is biblical…

All of the verses used to support those claims are taken waaaaayyy out of context, which I hope to demonstrate in future posts. If anyone understands the gospel, that we are saved by God’s grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, by virtue of His finished work on the cross and resurrection from the dead, you’ll understand and agree why these statements are so troubling, and why they go against every New Testament teaching on how we are saved by God and brought into Christ. How? How? How could you ever make those statements if you understand the gospel? I don’t know much, but I know that’s not the gospel.

As I was wrestling with God and praying for more clarification on baptism, I sent an email to David Platt, who wrote the book called “Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream”, asking him what he thought about the statements on baptism mentioned above within the Large Catechism. To my surprise, he replied to me, and said…

“Any view of salvation that involves anything but grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone is not gospel. So I would be wary on every level…

So, David Platt understands as well that if you’re pointing to anything other than faith alone in Christ alone as a means of grace for salvation (baptism, communion, going to church, fill in the blank…), then it’s not the gospel. He takes the same thing away from those statements above as I do. And so, I thought I’d post his video sermon on the purpose and meaning of baptism called Baptism: Identification With The New Covenant, in which he states that if you hold to baptism somehow giving someone grace for salvation, that you “undercut the grace of God.” And he’s right… you undercut the grace of God by pointing to anything else other than faith alone in Christ as a means of grace for salvation (Romans 5:1-2, just one of the many passages that exclude baptism, and which confirm in both the OT and NT that it is “by faith that we have our access into this grace in which we now stand”). Scripture simply does not teach it.

Instead of elaborating more on the troubling statements (which I don’t have time to do yet…), I’d like to post some audio sermons that give some great insight into the purpose and meaning of baptism, and more specifically related to why the church should not baptize infants, and how baptism corresponds to circumcision. I don’t consider this an essential issue, and have said before that I wouldn’t mind going to a church that baptizes infants as long as they’re not holding to baptismal regeneration, which is what the Lutheran church holds to. Nevertheless, it is important, and therefore, worthy of studying. All of these sermons were given by John Piper. Just like any preacher that I listen to, I don’t automatically take him at his word, but try to search the Scriptures to see if what he’s saying is actually true. And just because he takes the stance that he does, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s true, but only if it’s in agreement with the whole of Scripture. Well, all that to say, I’ve searched, and I can’t find anything that he’s saying in these sermons that contradict any part of Scripture…

And so here they are…

1. How Do Circumcision and Baptism Correspond?

2. I Baptize You With Water

3. Buried and Raised in Baptism Through Faith

4. What Baptism Portrays

I’m not mad at anyone at the church. No one has done me wrong. No one has been unloving towards me. I have no ill feelings towards anyone at Lifebridge. In fact, they are some of greatest people I’ve met. But for the sake of the gospel, and so that I don’t go against my conscience, I cannot stay at a church that would prevent me from telling anyone unreservedly and unashamed, whether in the church or outside the church, that they are not saved by their baptism, or as a result of their baptism.

Here’s my short little conclusion that I hope to expound upon later with Scripture…

1. We are not made God’s own through baptism; We are made God’s own through faith, by the regeneration of the Holy Spirit before baptism. – Galatians 3:26; John 1:12; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Acts 10:44

2. Our sins are not suppressed, washed away, or taken away by or through baptism; Our sins are washed away by the blood of Jesus Christ, who through faith justifies us by His blood, by His grace, whereby we now stand blameless before Him being given the righteousness of Christ – 2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 3:25; Romans 5:9; Revelation 1:5

3. Baptism doesn’t promise and bring the forgiveness of sins; Christ does through faith. – Acts 5:31; Acts 10:43; Acts 13:38-39; Acts 26:18; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14; Hebrews 9:22; Luke 24:47; Matthew 26:28

4. Baptism doesn’t promise and bring the grace of God; God’s grace for salvation comes through faith, apart from any work, including baptism. – Romans 5:1-2; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5; 2 Timothy 1:9; Romans 3:21-25;4:2-3, 9-11 (many, many more verses could be inserted here…)

5. Baptism doesn’t promise and bring the Holy Spirit; God baptizes us with the Holy Spirit, sealing us in Christ through faith – Acts 10:43-47; Ephesians 1:13-14; Galatians 3:5-6, 14;

Feel free to comment below…

This is not an attempt to divide my brothers or sisters in Christ, but an attempt to be unified under the clear teaching of the gospel in Scripture, and to drive away any confusion that comes from a misunderstanding that says that we can somehow be saved by our parent’s decision to baptize us as infants, or by being water baptized as an adult, or by participating in communion, or by anything else but through faith alone in Christ, which comes as a gift through the regeneration of the Holy Spirit, not through the administration, rite, or ritual of human hands, which although given and commanded by God, was never given as a means of grace for salvation. More on that later…

0 Comments , , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply