The Value of Baptism (Part VI)

The Saving Power of Baptism

Over the course of this series, I have argued in various ways that baptism does not merely have symbolic value but that it actually does something significant. One of the critical things that baptism accomplishes according to the New Testament is salvation (Mark 16:16, 1 Peter 3:21, Acts 2:37-41.) Those who accept the Protestant doctrine of salvation through faith alone and not by any works find this difficult to accept. But as I explained in a previous post, if we understand faith to mean relational fidelity and enacted allegiance, as contemporary New Testament research suggests, then baptism is actually repositioned as integral to faith.

Continue reading “The Value of Baptism (Part VI)”

The Value of Baptism (Part V)

Calling on His Name

While today we tend to think of baptism as a uniquely Christian practice, historically speaking it was a practice that originated from the wider Jewish world. One of the defining features of Christian baptism was that it occurred in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now Jesus’ name obviously played a significant role in the baptismal process. It always appeared in baptismal formulae in the New Testament (Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 2:38, Ephesians 4:5.) Now by his name I do not simply mean what he is called. In the world of Scripture, a person’s name represented their status, reputation and personage. So as we shall soon see, the significance of the Lord’s name was not just a procedural matter.

The entire baptismal event occurred in Christ’s name, that is under his authority Continue reading “The Value of Baptism (Part V)”

The Value of Baptism (Part IV)

The Covenant of Baptism

In the previous post, I talked about the more neglected elements of the baptismal process in the New Testament. I talked about the confession of faith that started the initiation rite and the invocation of the Spirit by the laying of hands which concluded the rite. By focusing on these elements and their significance, I came to the perspective that baptism in the New Testament functioned as an enacted oath of allegiance where both parties exchanged pledges of fidelity to one another. Now in this post, instead of focusing on the different components of the process, I will be looking at baptism as a whole and the type of relationship it sets up. Continue reading “The Value of Baptism (Part IV)”

The Value of Baptism (Part III)

In the early parts of this series, I argued based on contemporary biblical scholarship that baptism was not merely a symbolic act but had inherent value and actually accomplished something. I explained that baptism in the New Testament was actually integral to Christian faith. Therefore, contrary to Protestant beliefs that have also been adopted by Pentecostals, baptism does actually save, just as Jesus himself said (Mark 16:16, John 3:5.) Rather than discussing the general purpose of baptism, in this post we will look at the different elements the baptismal act is comprised of.

Now baptism was fundamentally an initiation rite. As with any ritual, it was an entire process so there was certainly more to it than just being immersed in water. New Testament scholar [1]Matthew Bates identifies the three basic parts of the baptismal process. First, there was the public declaration of Jesus’ lordship by the baptizand. Second, the actual act of immersion in the name of the Lord Jesus. And finally, there was the invocation of the Spirit on the baptizand. (Romans 10:9-10, Acts 2:38, 19:1-6). Continue reading “The Value of Baptism (Part III)”

The Value of Baptism (Part II)

In the previous post, I demonstrated that a primarily symbolic understanding of baptism is simply not biblical. When the New Testament talks about baptism, in most instances it refers to the concrete act. Even when it talked about it symbolically or metaphorically, immersion in water was still implied or indirectly referenced. Since the notion that baptism only has symbolic value is not really biblical, the Protestant doctrine that led to the symbolic interpretation needs to be critically re-evaluated. Continue reading “The Value of Baptism (Part II)”