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Baptism - Appendix I

Comments on Seven Reasons for Believer's Baptism by F.B.Meyer B.A.,D.D.

The booklet commented on sets out Baptist views as to why Christians should be baptised. On page 3 the thought is put out that Christian people should obey the Lord's command to be baptised. No scripture is quoted to show that the Lord commanded Christians to be baptised. The Lord's command was to his disciples to baptise others. He never commanded them to be baptised. It is very likely that the twelve had received John's baptism, though there is no record that they did. Christ submitted to John's baptism, but that was different from Christian baptism as is clear from Acts 19:1-7, for those who had received John's baptism had to be baptised again. Christ himself never received Christian baptism.

The statement in the second paragraph on page 3 that the rite of baptism is a personal matter between the Lord and the individual believer is wrong. As well as the person being baptised there has to be a baptiser. A person does not baptise himself. In Scripture someone does the baptising e.g. Acts 8:38.

The statement on page 4 that the one baptised must be a believer is dubious. The writer quotes: "He that believeth and is baptised" (Mark 16:16). What the passage quoted says is: " He that believes and is baptised shall be saved" (Mark 16:16). The writer of the booklet stops at the word baptised. The reason no doubt is that he does not like the idea that baptism (as well as faith) is necessary for salvation. The question is: "What does salvation involve ?", but that is something rather beyond the scope of this appendix. It should be mentioned that Mark 16:9-20 is by many not considered genuine and for this reason it is not wise to rely on the statements in that passage on their own to support a point of view.

Sprinkling babes to which reference is made at the end of page 4 is not something based on passages of Scripture relating to baptism. It possibly stems from Old Testament practices (e.g. Numbers 8:7). The form is wrong though the intention may be right. Immersion would seem to be the correct mode of baptism, though it is not specifically laid down in Scripture. The writer of the booklet points out that this method gives in form the idea of burial as spoken of in Romans 6. However, there are other passages which indicate that pouring water on the head of the person being baptised is an acceptable mode of baptism. Sometimes it is not practical to immerse sick or handicapped persons and in these cases the alternative method may be preferred. It is clear that there is a correspondence between water baptism and the baptism of the Spirit for John himself says: " I indeed baptise you with water... but... he shall baptise you with [the] Holy Spirit and fire" (Matthew 3:11). This was fulfilled at the beginning of Acts (see Acts 1:5 and Acts 2) It is clear from these passages that the baptism of the Spirit was the outpouring of the Spirit (Acts 2:16-18). See also Acts 11:15-16.

On page 6 it is said: "Of course, baptism does not save". However this statement is in direct contradiction to Scripture, for Peter says: "which figure also now saves you, [even] baptism" (1 Peter 3:21). The question here again is what is meant by salvation.

The seven reasons suggested for Believer's Baptism are as follows:-


(1)
"Believers should be Baptised, because the Lord Jesus was Baptised". This statement is completely invalid because what Christ submitted to was John's baptism; quite a different thing from Christian baptism as we have seen already (Acts 19:1-7).

(2)
"Believers should be Baptised, Christ commanded it". Christ did not command persons to be baptised; he commanded his disciples to baptise persons. The command was to baptise not to be baptised. This is what is commanded in Matthew 28:19 which the writer quotes. Unless there is a baptiser a person cannot be baptised. The act is that of the baptiser; there is no idea in Scripture of a person baptising himself.

(3)
"Believers should be Baptised, the Apostles practised it". Actually there is no evidence that the Apostles themselves received Christian baptism, so they cannot be quoted as examples of believers being baptised. What they did was to baptise others.

(4)
"Believers should be Baptised, it is a beautiful symbol of the forgiveness of sin". In any case sin is not forgiven; it is condemned (Romans 8:3/4). Sins are forgiven (Romans 4:7/8). The writer to support his case then goes back again to John's baptism, which is an irrelevance. There is no statement in Scripture that Christian baptism is a symbol of the forgiveness of sins. Peter also says it is "not a putting away of [the] filth of flesh" (1 Peter 3:21) so that all that the writer says as to the body being made clean by being plunged into the crystal bath is irrelevant. Is he confusing baptism with the Old Testament priests washing in the laver ? And what is the relevance of the repetition he speaks of ? Surely faith is adequate. We do not need to make doubly sure of our cleansing ? The waters of baptism seem to be confused here with the washing in the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:14).

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