Understanding Baptism

Understanding Baptism
By Dan L. Cox

As Apostolic believers we consider it of utmost importance to be “people of the Bible.” This means, of course, that we hold to a high view of Scripture, affirming its inspiration, inerrancy, infallibility,authority, and sufficiency. We frame our beliefs within the parameters of Scripture,considering it a sufficient source for our faith and practice. We do not take a position and then find Scripture to defend it. Rather, we allow the Scripture to define our theological positions.

Our doctrine (or systematic statement of foundational beliefs) is not born out of experience. We know that experience can be quite subjective. Who doesn’t know of someone, for instance, whose testimony is of an earlier “salvation experience” which, in fact, over time and with the conviction of the Holy Spirit, was proven to be less than authentic? Experience is essential for us all. However, given its subjective nature, it is not a trustworthy source for doctrine.

Our doctrine is not born out of human reason, which can often seem so wise one moment and so foolish the next. In this era of rapidly expanding church planting movements, major confrontations with cultures and religions antagonistic to the Christian Faith, government suppression, house churches, mega-churches, and a host of additional factors, one might suppose that we must go outside the parameters of Scripture to accomplish the mission of the Church. Sounds reasonable. Yet upon further thought we are confronted with the reality that this was precisely the setting in which the New Testament was birthed.
Perhaps it faced even more troubling issues!

Our doctrine of baptism in the name of Jesus Christ is not born out of some new revelation or prophetic word from God. Let’s look at the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is very simple; the Gospel is his Death, Burial, and Resurrection. Like Christ we also must go through a Death, Burial, And a Resurrection. Our Repentance is symbolic of Death, because we Die out to that sinful life style. Now once a Death occurs there has to be a Burial. Baptism is representative of a burial (look at Romans 6:1-6). Now that we have Died out to sin, been Buried by Baptism, we become ready for a Resurrection.

Our doctrine of baptism in the name of Jesus Christ is not born out of successful practice of others. Who among us is not aware of the subtle dangers of pragmatism? There has always been a tendency to adopt practices modeled after the successes of other religions. But what happens when these practices become so imbedded in our thinking that we begin to embrace them as doctrinal positions? As you might suppose, at least part of the rationale for sprinkling as opposed to immersion rests on the popularity of its inoffensive, less humbling, and convenient nature. Yet, it does not follow the apostles’ of the beginning of the New Testament church.

Here is the bottom line: In the unfolding plan of God for the Church, it is clear that we are neither the legislative nor the judiciary branch of His government. God has set the parameters for our beliefs, mission, and practice. And He is the Judge of all the earth. The Church might more aptly be considered the “executive branch” in the sense that we are given the responsibility of executing, or carrying out, His mission on earth within the parameters of the clear teachings and examples found in the Scriptures. “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38). “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among me, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

To understand baptism only take reading the Scripture, and then obey what it tells you to do!
From, Indiana Apostolic Trumpet / April 2009 page 15, By Dan L. Cox