Baptism & The Church

Discussions on ecclesiology such as the nature, constitution and functions of the church.
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Baptism & The Church

#1

Post by Anonymous » Wed Jan 19, 2005 11:43 pm

I've never been baptized and I always assumed it wasn't a requirement for salvation, but lately I've been reading conflicting reports. Essentially I'm wondering if anyone has a definitive answer to this question?

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#2

Post by RGeeB » Thu Jan 20, 2005 2:20 am

If you are to accept apostolic practice, then immersion baptism following faith in Christ is the norm, without exception. As regards to whether it is necessary for salvation; I would ask - Would you consider partaking in the Lord's Supper as necessary to salvation? Would you refuse to take part if you were able to? I would also ask - If you are able to be baptised, why won't you?
Maranatha!

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#3

Post by Jac3510 » Thu Jan 20, 2005 6:53 am

Baptism isn't required for salvation. If something is required that means that the absence of its presence necessitates incompletion. Thus, if baptism is required, then if one is not baptized, then one cannot be saved.

Let me just say broadly that there are many biblical instances of people being saved that have not experienced baptism. That in itself refutes the argument. Further, when Paul outlines doctrinally the method of salvation in Romans 10:9-10, baptism isn't mentioned. We believe unto righteousness. We confess unto salvation.

With that said, RGB asks a very good question with reference to the Lord's Supper. Jesus clearly commanded it. Should we do it? Of course, but is it necessary for salvation? Catholics would argue that it is, but, of course, protestants would disagree. The same goes with church attendance (see Hebrews 10:25). Baptism is something believers should do. It is representative of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, by which you were joined at conversion to the Body of Christ (read, the Church). It is a profession of faith among other believers.

That's about as definitive as I can get, I think. It is not required for salvation, but it is required by God in the same sense the Lord's Supper or good works or any other "Christian" acts are required. It was ordained by our Lord, and as such, it is an act of obedience to do it. Equally, then, it is an act of disobedience not to.
Last edited by Jac3510 on Thu Jan 20, 2005 7:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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#4

Post by Anonymous » Thu Jan 20, 2005 6:06 pm

Couldn't I baptize myself and conduct the Lord's Supper as well?
I rarely go to church and its been a while since i've had communion.

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#5

Post by Jac3510 » Thu Jan 20, 2005 7:38 pm

vvart wrote:Couldn't I baptize myself and conduct the Lord's Supper as well?
Only if you believe that God has not called men into special service (i.e., pastors/overseers/elders/bishops . . . whatever title you prefer). Besides that, remember that both baptism and the Lord's Supper are ordained by God for the edification of the church (notice the lower case 'c'). That is, these are designed and were instituted to keep the local body of believers "on track," you might say.

Therefore, we see that these things are done for the benefit of the community. If, though, you do these things yourself, then there is no community, and you are therefore not contributing to the edification of the body. The action would then become a mere ritual, and God is most certainly not interested in rituals! (see Isaiah 1:10-20 and Hosea 6:6).

For what it's worth, I would highly encourage you to find a local church to join. For all her faults, the church is still the ordained institution by which God has chosen to spread His gospel. As previously noted, we are commanded to attend, for lack of a better word. I am trying not to be blunt about this, but may I ask you to consider what it is you are actually saying to God when you are not a member of any sort of local body of believers? You are saying, in effect, that you do not need His institution for your own spiritual growth. You are saying that you do not need to praise Him in the company of other believers. You are saying that you do not feel the need to minister the gift(s) he has given you to any local body of believers, and that your own comfort is more important than the growth of His church.

You may not have thought about it this way. I would bet that you have not. But, please consider that the entire NT, after the gospels, is composed of letters to churches for the edification of churches. Individuals grow because of their relationship to them. Jesus, in His revelation to John, wrote no letters to individuals. Rather, He addressed seven churches. Hope this helps.

God bless :)
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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#6

Post by Kurieuo » Thu Jan 20, 2005 8:36 pm

Jac3510 wrote:For what it's worth, I would highly encourage you to find a local church to join. For all her faults, the church is still the ordained institution by which God has chosen to spread His gospel. As previously noted, we are commanded to attend, for lack of a better word.
I'm interested in these statements, and I am not attacking churches as I feel they serve a very important purpose when run correctly. At the same time I've witnessed and heard of a lot of people being hurt by churches and those that lead them. Ordained? Only God can know who He has truly ordained, and quite frankly a believe a lot who run churches ordain themselves (or are ordained by friends or a close relationship other leaders, and so on and on). You can always tell by the fruits born out I suppose, whether a church really is safe or not, but generally such takes time. I certainly wouldn't advise someone to just go join their local church, especially not by themselves if possible. Those smaller ones usually have some of the worst legalists and gossipers, and can sometimes even be cults (as one friend of mine in the past experienced). Circles are often so tight, they just want you to nod to be let in. I am confident the Holy Spirit will always lead those who are His with or without attending church.

However, water baptism is right and appropriate. Your baptism will remain a predominant memory and symbol of your true baptism in Christ. It seems that in Scripture, people generally appear to be baptised by those who brought the gospel to them upon their acceptance. So perhaps you should look to the person who most impacted your life with Christianity?

Kurieuo.
"Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved." (Romans 10:13)

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#7

Post by Anonymous » Thu Jan 20, 2005 8:43 pm

How do you know the person who is Baptizing you or performing communion was called by God, any christian can become a pastor, priest etc. In fact some catholic priests clearly were not ordained by God if you know what i mean.

You make a good case, but can you explain to my why the church or community is so important when salvation starts at the individual level?
I mean yes John wrote letter's to the church, but that was as you stated to inform and educate them. The officials who recieved these letters would then be expected to inform everyone else. In the past, people didn't have the access that we now have with scripture, so of course people had to attend church, how else would they learn?

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#8

Post by Mastermind » Thu Jan 20, 2005 9:26 pm

I trust those reports on catholic church molestations just like I trust the Michael Jackson case. In other words, they're 99% BS. The fact that utter crap like that is not only highly advertised, but that people actually buy into it reminds me why I'm not a big fan of either democracy or free speech.

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#9

Post by Anonymous » Thu Jan 20, 2005 11:00 pm

Regardless you can't claim that not 1 of the molestation cases was correct and if even 1 was legimate then my point still stands. The fact is its clear the apostles were chosen by God, but there are SO many churches and christian organizations that it would be silly to claim that each pastor or priest was in fact ordained by God.

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#10

Post by RGeeB » Fri Jan 21, 2005 1:42 am

Kurieuo wrote:I am confident the Holy Spirit will always lead those who are His with or without attending church.
Church is just not about my own Christian growth, but also me contributing to the growth of other believers. Its overlooking others' shorthcomings with agape love and strive for unity which Jesus longs for. Like hinted before, its a place to physically manifest my Christianity by obedience. Its an opportunity to be a witness of the gospel of Christ.

As far as leaders are concerned, they could be called by God but ordained by men. God has given local churches the responsibility, authority and wisdom (if they seek it) to ordain their own leaders. However they are chosen, they have the priviledge of God allowing them to lead a local church. I believe the responsibility of the behaviour of the congregation also rests with them, but that's another issue.

If the regular meeting of Christians is not that important, why is it that regular attacks on Christians take place when they meet together (like in China and Pakistan)? Why is that persecuted Christians make it a priority to make public displays of their faith such as baptism and church meetings? Is it an attack by the enemy to disrupt something so crucial to Christian living?

All local churches are imperfect and that's good, because, none of us are perfect. So, we are ideally suited! Seriously, let us take imperfections in the church as lessons to challenge our own Christian outlook.
Maranatha!

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#11

Post by Kurieuo » Fri Jan 21, 2005 2:41 am

I don't think we'll see total eye-to-eye on this issue RGeeB, although I understand my position may seem like a major issue for some. However, I will respond briefly to some of your points.
RGeeB wrote:
Kurieuo wrote:I am confident the Holy Spirit will always lead those who are His with or without attending church.
Church is just not about my own Christian growth, but also me contributing to the growth of other believers. Its overlooking others' shorthcomings with agape love and strive for unity which Jesus longs for. Like hinted before, its a place to physically manifest my Christianity by obedience. Its an opportunity to be a witness of the gospel of Christ.
And contributing to growth of other believers (not just believers, but also non-believers to whom we are called), can be also accomplished outside a church.
RGeeB wrote:As far as leaders are concerned, they could be called by God but ordained by men.
And they could be called of man, thinking and portraying themselves as called by God. Undertaking theology, I've seen the drive behind some to be recognised within the church. Sadly, it seems there are quite a few more interested in running a church, than learning about God. I've even had one guy brazen enough to say there's good money to be made in a church, though I must admit he was one of the most eccentric. I certainly hope he never gets his claws into a church.

Perhaps we could agree that God obviously has his hand upon some, and others He most definately does not?
RGeeB wrote:God has given local churches the responsibility, authority and wisdom (if they seek it) to ordain their own leaders. However they are chosen, they have the priviledge of God allowing them to lead a local church. I believe the responsibility of the behaviour of the congregation also rests with them, but that's another issue.
That must be why there is often a lack of responsiblity or accountability of leaders to their congregation, a misuse of authority, and very little wisdom when responding to issues people have. As for the ordainment of leaders, a particular denomination generally decides where to spend money, where to setup a church, and who to get to run it. Are you not familiar with the structure of Christian denominations and how they are organised and operate? Now I'm not saying this is a bad thing, but God certainly can be divorced from the whole process. Church should never replace the Holy Spirit, and sadly most think church is meant to guide everyone and keep a tight reign on people or something. Such makes a mockery out of the role of the Holy Spirit in my opinion.
RGeeB wrote:If the regular meeting of Christians is not that important, why is it that regular attacks on Christians take place when they meet together (like in China and Pakistan)?
While I don't see that this means anything at all, I think you misunderstood something when I said, "I feel they [i.e., churches] serve a very important purpose when run correctly." Or maybe this was towards vvart?
RGeeB wrote:All local churches are imperfect and that's good, because, none of us are perfect. So, we are ideally suited! Seriously, let us take imperfections in the church as lessons to challenge our own Christian outlook.
When you get burnt, why stay and continue getting burnt? To the wife who gets beaten by her husband, would you tell her to take his imperfections as lessons to challenge her outlook? Of course not (at least I hope). And if she split from her husband, would you tell her to get another one straight away? No. People need time to heal if they have been hurt by a church, then it doesn't make sense for them to stay, or even find another one straight away.

Mind you none of this hurtfulness from chuch is relevant to me, as I've not been hurt by a church. However, I am very warey, having seen others who have been hurt, or left without help in a time of need.

Kurieuo.

PS. I have a great respect for the purpose churches serve. I just don't think Christians should delude themselves into thinking any church is appropriate or worthy to look after the body of Christ.
"Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved." (Romans 10:13)

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#12

Post by RGeeB » Fri Jan 21, 2005 6:35 am

I see your point K. What I think would be nice is to see a move towards organising local churches as recommended in the Bible. Not a move towards divorcing oneself from the concept of being involved in local chuches.

That might sound like wishful thinking, but I still suscribe in part to the great British evangelistic dream of local churches impacting communities with the Gospel (regardless of 'it gets worse in the end days' doctrines).

You misunderstood my statements about developing the Christian outlook. I was implying that God uses the shortcomings of churches as examples and warnings for us.

It is very easy to get led astray and hurt by doctrines in churches. It also applies when one is not part of a local church. I say that from personal experiences of friends of mine who have stopped attending services for the very purposes you state. Now they just seem more miserable and confused than before. I believe its because its very easy to be led astray by worldly doctrines, especailly for those who don't feed themselves spiritually, outside of the church.

ps. I am hoping to communicate to vvart as well. If you are in a position to do something which God wills for you to do, is it right to hold back obedience?
Maranatha!

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#13

Post by Jac3510 » Tue Jan 25, 2005 6:51 pm

Kurieuo wrote:I'm interested in these statements, and I am not attacking churches as I feel they serve a very important purpose when run correctly.
I'd agree, obviously . . . although you'd understand if I feel you have understated things a bit here. It would be rather comparable to saying that Jesus' death on the cross "served an important purpose." Well, yes, it did . . . but it is much more than that, isn't it? Granted, I also understand that you and I probably look at the church a little differently, anyway. But, from my perspective, and hopefully I can clear that up some, membership in the local church is nothing short of a commandment.
Kurieuo wrote:At the same time I've witnessed and heard of a lot of people being hurt by churches and those that lead them.
This is certainly true, but I wonder what it has to do with the Christian's responsibility to the church one way or the other.
Kurieuo wrote:Ordained? Only God can know who He has truly ordained, and quite frankly a believe a lot who run churches ordain themselves (or are ordained by friends or a close relationship other leaders, and so on and on).
Again, I agree on all accounts. But, again, I wonder what this has to do with the Christian's responsibility to the church one way or the other.
Kurieuo wrote:You can always tell by the fruits born out I suppose, whether a church really is safe or not, but generally such takes time. I certainly wouldn't advise someone to just go join their local church, especially not by themselves if possible. Those smaller ones usually have some of the worst legalists and gossipers, and can sometimes even be cults (as one friend of mine in the past experienced). Circles are often so tight, they just want you to nod to be let in.
This is, again, true, but I wonder . . .(you get the point ;)).

Yes, it is true that some small churches have terrible legalists. But, so do some large churches. And it is nearly impossible to get the proper one on one discipleship needed for solid Christian growth out of some larger churches. Of course, no church is perfect. Look at the church at Corinth, or the churches that Jesus addressed in the Revelation! Should all the believers have abandoned them? You and I would both agree that is not the solution. So what is? Proper teaching, exhortation, and discipline, of course.

Also, for what it is worth, when I say "local church," I absolutely do not mean the one closest to your home. I've heard it used that way, and I strongly oppose that idea. I use the term to refer to a particular group of believers that gather at a particular location (even if that location may change). In this way, you fulfill the previously mentioned mandate from Hebrews.
Kurieuo wrote:I am confident the Holy Spirit will always lead those who are His with or without attending church.
I am also confident that the HS will lead those who are His . . . but, again, what does this say about the church? You certainly cannot be suggesting that the HS does not use pastors/teachers to disciple His people. I can't believe you would suggest that "some just don't need it." Perhaps the correct view on this would be that all need it in the same way that we all need certain vitamins in our bodies. We can survive without them, but doing so makes us weak in some form or fashion.

I would ask you this: if the church, in its formal sense, is absolutely unnecessary--so much so that attendance and membership is merely "gravy" . . . "icing on the cake," so to speak--then why has God seen fit to call men into the service of pastoring? There WILL be a day when no one will need to be taught, because all men will know God. But, that day has not yet come. Until then, the overseer is called to equip the saints. Do you believe that some are just so special that they don't need equipping?

I recognize, in my view of ecclesiology, that "professional ministers" are just as much a part of the body of Christ as anyone else. As a part of the body, they have a function. That function is NOT to be the evangelists of the world. That's why we have evangelists! Equally, all Christians are called to share their faith. What, then, is their role? Quite simply, it is to teach and shepherd flocks of Christians in such a way that those Christians can go out into the world and do what they are called to do--be the salt and light of the world, thereby bringing people into the Kingdom of God.

Given this view, and I'd be surprised if anyone disagreed with it, I'm sure you can see how it follows that all Christians are to be, somehow, involved in the local church.

Also, for the record, as noted originally, you aren't commanded to go to church just to learn. The church has many functions, only one of which is to train up disciples of the Lord. Other, equally important, functions include corporate worship, encouragement, community outreach, and community (especially the in reference to the Christian community) support. To be a "lone" Christian--one not connected to a local body of believers--is to ignore all of these facets.

It is in this general context that I argue that attendance and membership with a local church is a necessary part of any pious Christian's life. It is as basic as any other part . . . Bible study, prayer, witnessing, etc.
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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#14

Post by Mastermind » Tue Jan 25, 2005 6:54 pm

I think that unless you're a saint, we all need the church. Then again, I do like ritualistic stuff.

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#15

Post by Jac3510 » Tue Jan 25, 2005 7:00 pm

Just to pick on your verbage, you do realize that all Christians are saints, right? ;)

I assume you mean it in the Catholic sense of the word . . . someone we might consider "super Christians." Oh, where that discussion can go :D
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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