Friday, April 13, 2012

Baptism Story 1: Pentecost

In Acts chapter 2, we find the first post-resurrection baptisms mentioned in the Bible.  Here is the story:  It is Pentecost.  Peter is giving a sermon on Jesus, the resurrection, and that Jesus is the promised Christ, the Jewish messiah. 

Upon hearing the sermon, the crowd is “pricked in their heart” and they ask Peter and the other apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”

What does Peter say?

Does he say, “Accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior and you will be saved”?  Does he say, “Make a decision to accept Christ, pray the “Sinner’s Prayer”, and you will be saved”?

No, he doesn’t.  So what does he say?

Peter says, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.  For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are far off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.”

“Then they that gladly received his word were baptized:  and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.”

Baptists and evangelicals take great pride in stating that they believe in the literal interpretation of the Bible, but verse 38 of Acts chapter 2, as just copied verbatim from the King James Bible, really bothers a lot of them.  In fact, this is the only verse in the Bible, that I know of, of which many Baptists and evangelicals will accuse the translators of God’s Holy Word of making a mistake!

Baptists will say that the original Greek for the word translated as “for” should have been translated “because of”.  So the “correct” translation of this verse would read:

“Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ because of the remission of sins…”

That small word change makes a huge change in the meaning of that verse, doesn’t it!  Baptism is now completely stripped of any potential involvement in the remission or forgiveness of sins.  Now, baptism is performed because we have already received the remission or forgiveness of sins.

My, my, my!  I’m sure God is very appreciative of them correcting his sovereign Word!

But wait, let’s look a little closer.  Peter tells the crowd to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for/because of the remission sins and then what…?

“and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

So, if Baptists are right, that the sole purpose of baptism is our public profession of faith, because our sins have already been forgiven, then why is Peter promising the gift of the Holy Spirit after baptism??

If the Baptist view of Baptism is correct, wouldn’t Peter have said the following:

“Repent (and accept Christ as your Savior) and you will receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.  Then, you should be baptized.”

Acts chapter 2 gives no support to the Baptist doctrine that baptism is OUR act of a public profession of faith.  In fact, the literal interpretation of God’s Holy Word sounds exactly the opposite.  It certainly sounds much more likely that God is the one doing something in baptism!

Another point to notice in this passage:  It is very interesting that Peter includes the promise of salvation to the Jews, to their children, and to those who are “far off” (the Gentiles), dependent upon who God “shall call”.

God makes the decision regarding who he will call, who he will be save, not man by his free will.

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