Why Not Try This? …Clarify To Yourself And Your Members The Real Meaning Of Bible Baptism

Whenever God has given His people a huge blessing, we can be sure that Satan will always try to distort the meaning and devalue the experience of the blessing. This is true of the Sabbath. This is also true of baptism.

The world is full of substitutes for true Bible baptism, such as sprinkling, pouring, rose petals, multiple re-baptisms without renewal and reformation, baptisms for dead people and the idea that water baptism is only the first step toward so-called “baptism of the Holy Spirit.” In recent times there have been more subtle substitutes for true Bible baptism, such as being baptized into Jesus but not joining the church, being baptized without an understanding of the cost of discipleship, and being baptized without being ready to participate actively in the Gospel Commission.

Sometimes these philosophies find their way into the Seventh-day Adventist Church. As a result we see people who begin their Christian life without the power, vision, fellowship and conviction they need to grow strong for Jesus in these last days. Ordained Ministers play a key role in helping new believers properly prepare for baptism.

Too often a newly baptized person is considered to be an “active member” if they are still attending church six months after they are baptized. Perhaps a better test of active membership is if the newly baptized member is actively sharing their faith with others and if they help prepare someone else for baptism and church membership within their first twelve months after being baptized. Ellen White pictured it this way: “When souls are converted, set them to work at once. And as they labor according to their ability, they will grow stronger.” “One truly converted soul will reach out in faith to save another and still another.” {Evangelism p. 355}

To clear away the misunderstanding about true Bible baptism it is important to go back to what the Bible actually teaches about the tremendous blessings of baptism.

Eight blessings of proper Bible baptism. Bible baptism means that…

1. I have decided to be a lifelong disciple of Jesus Christ, and that He will always be with me.

NIV Matthew 28:19-20 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 …And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

2. I want to be a part of a movement that will teach the world (“all nations”, cf. “every creature” Mark 16:16) “to observe all things” taught by Jesus in the Bible.

NIV Matthew 28:19-20 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you…

3. I repent of my sinful life and accept new life in Jesus through the Holy Spirit’s indwelling.

NIV Acts 2:38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

4. I am uniting with God’s organized church. Everyone baptized in the book of Acts either joined a church (Pentecost- Acts 2; Ephesus– Acts 19, etc.) or helped plant a church (Ethiopian eunuch & the Coptic church- Acts 8; Jailer & the Philippian church- Acts 16). Jesus is the Head and the church is His body. Nowhere in the New Testament do we find the idea of someone being baptized into a decapitated Head. Baptizing someone without bringing them immediately into the church is like saving them from drowning but leaving them in the middle of the ocean alone in a life raft. A believer without a church family is like a baby without a family.

KJV Acts 2:41, 47 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls… Praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

NKJ 1 Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free – and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. NKJ

5. I am joining a movement that obeys all God’s commandments and has the faith of Jesus. The church that the early believers joined obeyed all God’s commandments and had the faith of Jesus. Baptism in the last days should unite a person with God’s church that keeps His commandments and has the faith of Jesus (Revelation 12:17; 14:12). When a person is baptized they show their desire to unite with Jesus and His church. When the church votes that person into membership they show they are willing to welcome and integrate that person into the life, mission and ministry of that congregation of the world church. When a person who has been baptized by immersion learns new life-changing truth from the Bible, rebaptism, though not required, is very appropriate (Acts 19:1-5).

Revelation 12:17 And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

NKJ Revelation 14:12 Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.

6. I believe the Bible is the final authority for all truth.

KJV Acts 8:36-37 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? 37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. [This belief was based on a comprehensive study of the Book of Isaiah.]

7. I identify with Jesus’ death, His rest in the tomb and His resurrection. This gives me a spirit of sacrifice, a peace that passes understanding, and the power to find victory when tempted. Foot washing is like a miniature rebaptism when my feet have strayed from Christ but I have not abandoned my relationship with Him.

NIV Romans 6:3-4 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

NIV John 13:8-10 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” 9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” 10 Jesus answered, “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.”

8. I am ready to use my spiritual gifts in ministry, to build up the church, the body of Christ, and to work cooperatively with other members of the body to enlarge God’s church on earth.

NIV 1 Corinthians 12:20-22, 25 As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.

NIV Ephesians 4:11-12 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.

As we teach these principles to new believers and to long term members we will see more and more life in the church, and more and more members finding their role in sharing Jesus and Bible truths with their neighbors and friends. We will see the church body grow in both faith and numbers (Acts 16:5). We will see new members rapidly find their place in advancing God’s cause. We will see the Adventist message take giant strides forward. We will see this counsel become a reality in our own ministries-

“Place after place is to be visited; church after church is to be raised up. Those who take their stand for the truth are to be organized into churches, and then the minister is to pass on to other equally important fields.

“Just as soon as a church is organized, let the minister set the members at work. They will need to be taught how to labor successfully. . . .

“The power of the gospel is to come upon the companies raised up, fitting them for service. Some of the new converts will be so filled with the power of God that they will at once enter the work. They will labor so diligently that they will have neither time nor disposition to weaken the hands of their brethren by unkind criticism. Their one desire will be to carry the truth to the regions beyond.”{Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7, p. 20. (1902)}

Blessings to you,

Dan Serns

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