New Testament Church Proliferation Digest


Spreading the Gospel via House Churches


NT Church Proliferation Digest Monday, October 28 2002 Volume 02 : Number 190
[NTCP] What exactly is baptism?
Re: [NTCP] What exactly is baptism?
Re: [NTCP] What exactly is baptism?
Re: [NTCP] What exactly is baptism?
Re: [NTCP] What exactly is baptism?
Re: [NTCP] His walk, our walk
[NTCP] Two post per day limit
RE: [NTCP] The Bible's Place in the Church
Re: [NTCP] What exactly is baptism?
RE: [NTCP]: Question -- What's the Water?

Date: Sat, 26 Oct 2002 11:06:34 -0700 (PDT)
From: John Henneberger <jchenn1213 * yahoo>
Subject: [NTCP] What exactly is baptism?

I want to start a discussion on baptism that is
slightly peripheral to the one that is currently going
on. And what I'd like to focus on is the nature of
baptism. My main intention is to explore whether
baptism has any metaphysical component or whether it
is merely a symbol; that is, does something actually
occur spiritually when one is baptised?

Now, I'd like to add a caveat or two to this question
in order to narrow the focus a bit and avoid certain
kinds of discussions. I want to add an assumption
here that a person has actually believed in Christ and
repented just prior to this baptism. And now, in
obediance, this new believer is baptised. So what do
you think? Any mystery involved here -- or is our new
believer just going through a ceremony?

I welcome any thoughts along these lines.


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Date: Sat, 26 Oct 2002 15:03:48 EDT
From: Steffasong Subject: Re: [NTCP] What exactly is baptism?
In a message dated 10/26/2002 2:07:41 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
jchenn1213 * writes:
> And now, in
> obediance, this new believer is baptised. So what do
> you think? Any mystery involved here --

It is much like the symbol or sign of circumcision, don't you think so?

It is an outward sign of an inward grace. A public 'saying' ... a display of
where our loyalties may be found.

The fact that some expressions of Christianity include it as a part of
initiation into the community of faith is interesting. (Same as
circumcision; it happens prior to conversion. ) I don't like the
ramifications of a pre-decision baptism, but I do like that it points to
personal faith being nurtured within the context of the community of faith.

Non comprehensive answer, of course, ... just a few thoughts to stir the pot.
In the Lamb,
Stephanie

Stephanie Bennett
Creative Services & Consulting

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he
hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however
measured or far away.

Henry David Thoreau, Walden, Conclusion, 1854


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Date: Sat, 26 Oct 2002 13:55:34 -0700 (PDT)
From: John Henneberger <jchenn1213 * >
Subject: Re: [NTCP] What exactly is baptism?

I'm very inclined to think that there is a grace
involved -- and I think scripture bears that out as
well. But I wonder, does this grace have a particular
shape? That is, what is the nature of this grace that
is bestowed? Or is it just some generic grace with no
tangible effect?

On another note, I find it very interesting that God
would bind a grace to a physical ritual, though it
seems quite clear with baptism that he has. And even
more interesting to me is human reaction to God's
ritualistic requests (like baptism). It's
reminiscient I think of Naaman who complained when the
prophet asked him to bathe in the Jordan in order to
receive healing. Insulted by the form of the ritual
component, he quite nearly walked away without
healing. Fortunately for Naaman, his servant stopped
him, asking:

"My father, if the prophet had told you to do
something great, would you not have done it? How much
more then when he says to you, 'Wash, and be clean'?"
2 Kings 5:13 NKJV

And so it seems to me with baptism in the current day.
God is willing and wants to confer a blessing in
baptism. Yet for strange reasons we either avoid or
ignore it.

Just some thoughts.


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Date: Sat, 26 Oct 2002 17:19:29 EDT
From: Steffasong * aol
Subject: Re: [NTCP] What exactly is baptism?

In a message dated 10/26/2002 4:56:56 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
jchenn1213 * yahoo writes:
>
> And so it seems to me with baptism in the current day.
> God is willing and wants to confer a blessing in
> baptism. Yet for strange reasons we either avoid or
> ignore it.
>

John,
You seem to know many people who ignore or avoid it. The Lord says, "Be
baptized," -- that's good enough reason for me!

In considering your thoughts, however, I must say that we can emphasize
baptism (as one sect definitely does by it's very name) or we can emphasize
the saving work, the grace of God through Jesus Christ that makes up new
creatures. Baptism should not be about ignoring or obeying at all.

Baptism is an outward sign. If one calls upon the name of Jesus to be born
anew and then dies an hour later without the public display of baptism, will
he/she not be saved? Of course they will! Baptism is the outward sign of
being immersed in a new life, the old being washed away. I believe God calls
us to it to make a public witness, both for our own persuasion and sealing,
and for our witness to the world.

I'm trying to understand the point you are trying to make. Is there a
special blessing in baptism that you would like to share?

Please explain. :-)
In the Lamb,
Stephanie Bennett

Stephanie Bennett
Creative Services & Consulting

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he
hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however
measured or far away.

Henry David Thoreau, Walden, Conclusion, 1854


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Date: Sat, 26 Oct 2002 15:54:46 -0700 (PDT)
From: John Henneberger <jchenn1213 >
Subject: Re: [NTCP] What exactly is baptism?

Stephanie,

I have my own particular views about what baptism
means, but I wanted to "break out" a little bit from
my own thinking and invite the insights of others.
But to nudge things along, I'll offer the following
observances.

I think in the modern age that baptism is minimalized
- -- just an opinion. In one particular church I have
attended, new converts were only rarely
baptized...weeks, months, even years after conversion.
It's as though baptism was unimportant... and
afterthought perhaps. Yet when I read the gospels, I
see a completely different attitude. Consider the
following verse:

Matt 28:18-19
18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All
authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the
Son and of the Holy Spirit NKJV

In this verse Jesus makes known the extent of his
authority...his right to speak authoritatively. And
then he issues a clear command: "baptize them". I
cannot help but feel that this was no minor extra.
He's basically saying, "I'm the boss ... now go out
and disciple them... and baptize them.

Now, as the the "shape of the grace", to which I was
referring... consider the following verse:

1 Peter 3:20-21
God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark
was being built. In it only a few people, eight in
all, were saved through water, 21 and this water (the
flood) symbolizes baptism that now saves you also NIV

And so it seems that Peter is comparing the act of
being baptized to entering the ark during the time of
the flood. He says the great flood was a type, so to
speak, that was pointing forward to the ceremony of
baptism .... that "saves you".

One more reference:

Col 2:10-13
10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all
principality and power. 11 In Him you were also
circumcised with the circumcision made without hands,
by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by
the circumcision of Christ, 12 buried with Him in
baptism, in which you also were raised with Him
through faith in the working of God, who raised Him
from the dead. NKJV

I can't help but notice a common thread that often
runs through the whole subject of baptism. In each
case cited here, we see a strong reminder of Christ's
supreme authority. And when we look at the verses
surrounding baptism, we see some very specific verbage
describing the form this grace takes. Namely,
salvation, a putting off of the sin nature etc.

But, I've said enough for now I think. My main point
here was to invite conversation by others. Don't want
to start a monologue :)

Peace

John


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Date: Sat, 26 Oct 2002 22:50:58 -0400
From: David Anderson <david * housechurch>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] His walk, our walk

My brother in Christ wrote:

>Maybe I'm "tense" about tense, but I notice that most
>of your remarks are present tense. And there is such
>a tone of finality to it. But let's suppose I'm
>Jewish, and just happen to be reading what you
>wrote... so now I'm from an "evil" nation with "evil
>intentions", led by wicked and unmerciful Levites?
>Okay... cool... thanks for sharing. Wanna grab a cup
>of coffee?

John, there is thankfully no finality about the present spiritual state
of Israel. Yes, they will eventually acknowledge there Saviour. I hope I
live to see it. Until then, they and all others who do not acknowledge
the Saviour are without Him and without hope, regardless of background or
race.

>I'll duck out of the conversation here since I joined
>it late... and I guess I shouldn't have just jumped in
>and just started blurting stuff out. However, I
>really do think some of the language was inflammatory.
>I stand by that.

I am attempting to follow the hand of God in my understanding as revealed
in Scripture. Just delete everything else along with any unwarranted
inferences and pass me some coffee, please. Inflammation frequently
arises whenever the Jews are the topic of conversation, does it not?

I hope you have not encountered it but there is a mentality among some
Evangelicals that the Jews are in a suspended and perpetual state of
acceptance before God and are really OK. Some go as far as thinking that
they provide the best model for all things and should never be questioned.

Truly, their traditions are rich and their contributions to the world are
proportionately greater than their small numbers. Truly, there are great
promises of world blessings via Israel. I don't discount them in any way
nor would I advocate a tactless approach to leading them to their Messiah
one by one.

I would have thought that after his resurrection, things would have
snapped into focus and that the majority of the Jews people would have
responded and found their spiritual completion. Instead, the words of
another John still hold true: He came unto his own and his own received
him not...

David Anderson


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Date: Sat, 26 Oct 2002 23:09:15 -0400
From: "Link Hudson" <Linkh * mcdowell.main.nc.us>
Subject: [NTCP] Two post per day limit

Please remember to keep the number of posts, per individual, down to a
maximum of two per day.

Thank you,

Link Hudson
Forum Moderator.


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Date: Sun, 27 Oct 2002 12:32:11 +0000
From: goodwordusa * att
Subject: RE: [NTCP] The Bible's Place in the Church

Amen and amen, Scott.

Jim
>
> The Bible must be the foundation on which a Christian bases his faith. It
> has been attested by the early church, by history, and by its continued
> value as other works of mere literature have lost relevance due to the
> passage of time. All scripture is given by inspiration and is useful for
> doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for teaching.
>
> The Bible itself warns of 'seducing spirits' and false teachers and other
> dangers that create false doctrines that try to lead seekers and immature
> Christians astray.
>
> While I wholeheartedly believe in present-day prophets, apostles, and
> hearing the voice of God and being lead by the Spirit -- all those things
> _must_ align with the revealed and written Word of God.
>
> In fact, at the risk of being too radical for some... I have felt led to
> seek a prophetic anointing. I was praying, asking, searching - then God
> spoke to me. He said "You want to hear my voice, but you don't listen in
> the places where I've already spoken." He was telling me I was not spending
> enough time in the Word. I really hate it when God so directly hits me where
> I am. But the Bible says it is because He loves me (He disciplines those who
> are His).
>
> God has already revealed Himself (in Scripture). He has revealed His love
> and judgment. He has revealed the plan of salvation and told us of His
> coming Kingdom. He has given us a pattern for life and tools and rules to
> help our lives reflect His glory. There are things yet to be revealed to His
> children, but they build on the foundation already in place. Any revelation
> that violates the foundational principles already given is a false
> revelation. period.
>
>
> Scott


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Date: Sun, 27 Oct 2002 12:54:52 +0000
From: goodwordusa * att
Subject: Re: [NTCP] What exactly is baptism?

Hi, John.

Good questions, but I do not know if there can be a definitive answer.

It depends on how the Gospel is being presented, I think. If, as you say, the
person has already clearly submitted to Christ, and knows fully that they are
already trusting in Him -- because they have been helped and counseled in these
things after confessing Jesus Christ -- then the water may only be a symbol and
statement.

But if the Gospel presentation has culminated in a call to identify with Christ
in some way, then the water baptism becomes the big step of faith, the very act
of repentance and confession of sin. In this case, the believer will always
look back to the time when they were baptized, washing their sins away.

I do not believe in baptismal regeneration, if that's even the correct phrase.
But I do think that the Gospel can be presented in many ways, and that God
Himself leads us in giving a call to the unsaved to come to Christ.

Even the "Lord's Supper" or "Communion" can become a call to identify with
Christ Jesus. If the Gospel is given faithfully, explaining what Christ has
done for is the sacrifice of His blood and body, then unbelievers could be
invited to partake of the bread and wine (grape juice, whatever), and by doing
so to confess their need of Jesus and His death for their sins.

Many believers would shun the latter, out of concern for Paul's warning of
partaking unworthily (1 Cor 11:27-32). But what is more fitting than the brand
new realization that Jesus died for me? He suffered, He bled, He died -- and
it was all for me.

My point, then, is that any rite can be pure ritual and symbol, or it can be
filled with significant life -- all according to what is really taking place at
the time. All outward acts are nothing unless the heart is also acting in
response to God's own call. A "sinner's prayer" can be a dead recitation of
some words, or it can be the step a soul takes from darkness to light, if that
soul is bowed in humility before God.

That's how I see it, anyway.

Jim
> I want to start a discussion on baptism that is
> slightly peripheral to the one that is currently going
> on. And what I'd like to focus on is the nature of
> baptism. My main intention is to explore whether
> baptism has any metaphysical component or whether it
> is merely a symbol; that is, does something actually
> occur spiritually when one is baptised?
>
> Now, I'd like to add a caveat or two to this question
> in order to narrow the focus a bit and avoid certain
> kinds of discussions. I want to add an assumption
> here that a person has actually believed in Christ and
> repented just prior to this baptism. And now, in
> obediance, this new believer is baptised. So what do
> you think? Any mystery involved here -- or is our new
> believer just going through a ceremony?
>
> I welcome any thoughts along these lines.
>


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Date: Mon, 28 Oct 2002 09:51:08 +0200
From: "Deborah" <deborah.millier * juccampus>
Subject: RE: [NTCP]: Question -- What's the Water?

Here's the next step from my end of the peanut gallery for our NTCP
readership's consideration about "water" in Joh. 3:5. Tomorrow (God
willing) we can grill the Ante-Nicene writers to see if they're in fact
credible witnesses, worthy of our believing their *unanimous* agreement that
it refers to baptism. But right now, let's do a little comparison/contrast:
Jn. 3:3 vs. Jn. 3:5.

First of all, I'd like us to once again carefully look at Jn. 3:5:

Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water
and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God".

The question before us is "what's the water?" that "one" must be "born of"
in this passage. The evidence from the Ante-Nicene writers (those one
generation away from the Apostle John [... some-- Justin and Irenaeus--
having direct connection with, or even being disciples of the immediate
disciples of John, who himself died around 95 A.D. and who obviously wrote
this passage], up until the Nicene Council of 325 A.D) *unanimously*
maintained that the phrase "born of water" in Jn. 3:5 was referring to
baptism and was an integral part of being born again. Likewise, the
grammatical evidence we have examined supports the baptismal interpretation
while countering one popular but untenable Evangelical explanation that
"born of water" refers to "physical birth". So, if this truly is a
reference to baptism, as all avenues of evidence thus far seem to suggest,
then how do we deal with it's absolute language?

Jn. 3:5 then, in effect, states that water (with it's accompanying
Spirit ...) baptism is *necessary* to enter the kingdom of God. Do we
therefore seek to dilute it's impact with a slew of other biblical verses
which have a seemingly different slant? Pitting the Bible against itself?
That's what many Evangelicals with whom I've discussed this issue have tried
to do-- as if one inspired verse could somehow "counter" another inspired
verse!!! ... without their relationships to each other being clarified and
explained.

But perhaps there's a better way: to allow the Bible's message
(clarified by more objective grammatical and historical evidence) to hold
firmer sway in our minds and hearts than any of our presuppositions. Or
theologies. Then to re-adjust our thinking and practices accordingly.
Now I recognise the existence of hyperbole (calculated exaggeration
for a specific effect) in the Scriptures, even in the words of Christ
himself (Matt. 5:29, 30; 19:24). But the related verses in the same context
as Jn. 3:5, about the NEED to be born again (Jn. 3:3; 3:7), have
historically been interpreted by Evangelicals (and others) in absolute terms
without cries of "overstatement" ... and the need to do a biblical balancing
act. Why not Jn. 3:5?

Let's be logical. According to Christ's words in Jn. 3:3, is it
possible for a person to inherit God's kingdom without being born again?
That's a biblical absolute, right? Will a Bible-believing person find
him/herself on the opposite side of THAT proclamation, fighting for some
moderation? Or is it only when WATER enters the picture that the average
Evangelical person feels the need to look for some out? The construction
of Jn. 3:3 and Jn. 3:5 is identical (in the Greek as well as in most English
translations), with the only difference (other than "born ...") being the
second verse's use of the even clearer verb "enter" instead of "see". They
are talking about the same thing -- how to personally experience/enter the
kingdom of God-- with the same absolute force, the latter verse simply being
a clarification of the former. Please see so for yourself. I will
EMPHASIZE the only differences for easy reference:

"Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born AGAIN, he cannot SEE the
kingdom of God" (3:3 NKJ).

"Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born OF WATER AND THE SPIRIT,
he cannot ENTER the kingdom of God" (3:5 NKJ).

If we're going to muddy the waters for verse 5 then we might as well
do so for the 3rd verse too and admit to another possible route, other than
being born again, for experiencing ("see[ing]") the kingdom of God. And
then of course, the question: "What might such an alternate route(s) be?"
What is true for the one verse is true for the other. That much is
obvious from the way Jesus stated both of them, their proximity to each
other in John's narrative, their near-identical construction, etc. Right?
You *must* be born again. You *must* be born of water and Spirit. And ...
the best evidence so far solidly suggests that "water" in Jn. 3:5 refers to
water baptism. Therefore, it seems to me that people who believe "water" in
this passage to mean baptism should be consistent with their logic in both
verses, thus admitting the NECESSITY of baptism for a person to come under
God's reign. Otherwise logically they'll find themselves swimming WAY
upstream looking for some alternate means of salvation. Because "what's
good for the goose (Joh. 3:5) is good for the gander (Joh. 3:3)"!

Michael
Jerusalem

 


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