Baptism: What, Who, When, Where, and Why Part 2

By Jeremy Weaver

I started writing on Baptism over a month ago, then got interrupted by life, and now I want to post other stuff.  I’m going to try not to commit myself to any series of posts in the future, since it seems I never get the time to finish them.

So here is the long anticipated ‘Part 2’. This has been so long coming I’m going to cut it short and get on with the blog.

We have already looked at what baptism is. Baptism is the physical act of immersing in water (the word is never used with any other sense in Scripture), and the spiritual act of immersing into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit by the command of Christ, in order to symbolize our union with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection.

This then leads us to four more questions. Who is a candidate for Baptism?, When should they be Baptized?, Where should Baptism occur?, and Why be Baptized?

Who is a candidate for Baptism?

When we confine ourselves to the text of Scripture, I think that it is very clear that the proper subjects, or candidates, for Baptism are those who have evidenced faith and repentance. Jesus sent out His Apostles with these words; “…All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Mat 28:18-20 ESV) Notice the place of ‘make disciples’ in relation to ‘baptizing them’. We are to make disciples and then baptize those disciples. That is contrasted with the old Catholic way of making disciples by baptism. More sensible Paedo-baptists will argue the fact that their children are being discipled. But I think there is a marked difference between being discipled and being a disciple.

For instance, I have met many seminary students who have been taught Greek, Hebrew, Theology, etc. and yet I would not call them ‘students of Theology, Greek, or Hebrew’. They studied and passed the required classes, not for the knowledge but for the degree. A student of Theology would persist in the study of Theology for the love of Theology. A disciple of Christ persists as a disciple of Christ for the love of Christ. Discipleship is not me hammering facts about Christ into my son’s head, but discipleship begins when, after hammering facts about Christ into his head, my son sees Christ for who He is and loves and follows Him. Disciples are the proper recipients of Baptism.

When should they be Baptized?

After conversion. Philip tells the Ethiopian Eunuch, “If you believe…” (Acts 8:37)

Where should Baptism occur?

Baptism is an ordinance given to the Church by Christ.  Therefore, the place of Baptism is wherever the Church is gathered together.

Why be Baptized?

It is commanded by Christ.  He commands His disciples to be baptized, and He commands His Church to baptize disciples.

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5 Comments

Filed under Baptism, baptist

5 responses to “Baptism: What, Who, When, Where, and Why Part 2

  1. Jeremy,

    I’m afraid you take a bit of liberty with the example of the Ethiopian Eunuch. There is no way to determine from that portion of scripture when the conversion actually took place. The intimation is more that it was at the same time, approximately, as the act of baptism, because only afterwards was the Eunuch said to be rejoicing. And only after the baptism was concluded was Philip “snatched away” by the Spirit. Kind of telling wouldn’t you say?

    While I am still trying to figure out the precise systemic of baptism, it is very clear throughout the book of Acts that baptism was part and parcel of EVERY conversion. There is no exception. The early church would never have accepted someone as a believer who was not baptized.

    While I struggle with the idea that baptism is regenerative, we still have Titus saying “he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, (Titus 3:5 ESV) The washing and renewal of the Spirit seem pointedly a pairing of separate spiritual acts rather than representing the exact same thing.

    Your other points are well taken but one could also make a pointed argument about the difference between a disciple (Luke 14:33) and a believer (1 Tim 4:12).

    I appreciate you returning to this subject, in light of the fact we don’t completely agree on what baptism does, but do agree on it’s being an imperative.

  2. Well, I think you’re reading something into that verse again. The passage isn’t speaking to the paedobaptist/credobaptist debate.

    Remember–before a believer’s child can be baptized there have to be baptized believers! They were starting from scratch, so to speak. So of course the earliest disciples wouldn’t have been baptized as children–you have to start somewhere.

    Also note Jesus doesn’t make this command exclusive–as in only baptize disciples. The first point is more to the point, but this applies as well.

  3. You’re right, because there was no Paedo/Credo debate. In fact there were no Paedobaptists around to debate.

    And I’m all for believers baptizing their children…after they have believed.

    Finally, Jesus here clearly commands that His disciples should be baptized. There is no such command anywhere in Scripture that applies to the children of disciples, unless they themselves also become disciples.

  4. You don’t really address my point–it still stands.

    Before you can baptize a believer’s child you need a baptized believer. There were few baptized believers at that time.

  5. You are assuming, of course, that the children of believers are to be baptized before conversion. And I think my point that there is no Scripture that commands such a baptism still stands.

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