Baptists/Questions on Baptist Doctrine
QUESTION: There are a lot of things that I agree with on the Baptist Church. Yes, I know that Jesus was without sin and got Baptized to proclaim to the world that he was the messiah. I also know that by faith through grace we are saved. But one thing confuses me. If Jesus was without sin and got baptized, then he died on the cross to wash away our sins which is what created God's grace, why do the Apostles tell us to believe and be baptized for the repentance of our sins if we don't have any? Most of the time the bible says, believe+baptize=saved.
ANSWER: Hi Dylan,
Thank you for your question. You have grasped the principles of the Gospel well. The confusion is in assuming that the death of Jesus brings us salvation regardless of our response. Until we respond in repentance and faith, although the death of Jesus covers our sins in principle, it is not personally applied. In other words a reposne of faith (which includes repentance) is needed before the forgiveness offered through the blood of Jesus becomes applied to our own individual lives.
I hope this is helpful.
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QUESTION: Alright, and I have another question. I agree with how the baptists say that baptism is not necessary for salvation. I mean, what if a baby or a person died before they got baptized? This puts an error on infant baptism. But if baptism is not necessary for salvation, what of faith? The bible mentioned how grace can be taken away because of evil doings. Which brings us back to repentance of our sins to be saved. What are your thoughts?
ANSWER: Hello Dylan,
Thank you for your question. What you are touching on was very much at the root of the Reformation in the time of Martin Luther. For the Roman Catholic grace comes through the sacrament, initially infant baptism and then the Mass. Martin Luther and many others were concerned that this took personal faith, and spiritual regeneration by the Holy Spirit out of things. Ephesians 2:1-10 points out that we are saved by grace through faith. This faith is not a 'work' that earns salvation but is itself a gift from God. Faith essentially is taking God at His word and agreeing with His verdict. So by faith we see that outside of Christ we are hopeless sinners and hell bound but by faith we see the suffciency of Christ's sacrifice and realise that in Him we are forgiven and accepted. Repentance (although it can be accompanied by emotion) is the turning from trusting our own way to trusting God's. As we trust in Him the Spirit of God enters our lives and makes us regenerate (born again).
As for baptism although I don't see it as a work necessary to salvation I do see it as a clear command of Jesus and therefore something to be entered into rather than simply debated.
God bless you in your continued study.
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QUESTION: Look at these two verses: James2:24-26 "You see then that a man is justified by works and not by faith only. For as the body without spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also."
I pointed this out to the Baptist pastor who spoke to me and he explained: we look at faith because if you are a Christian you would act like one. From what he says, good works is included.
And that verse I mentioned about grace is Galatians5:4 "You have become enstranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by the law, you have fallen from grace."
Grace CAN be taken away if one is being evil. These two verses prove it. I don't know why you would think that good works is not included in faith. I mean, what if a criminal, who was very evil his whole life, and was at his deathbed to say "I accept Jesus as Lord and Savior." Do you see something wrong here?
Good to hear from you again. The two passages you refer to at face value are in contradiction. In Galatians Paul is fighting off the ideas of the Judaisers who proclaimed that faith in Jesus and obedience to the law (the Jewish law) were both necessary to salvation. Paul is consistent in his theology that legalsim always destroys but grace gives life. However, he strongly believes in good works as he points out in Ephesians 2:10 that once we have responded in faith we can begin to operate in the good works for which we have been created. Faith is not simply making a statement like 'I accept Jesus as my Lord and Saviour', it is a life changing commitment that will manifest itself in good works. James is right too. A faith which does not manifest itself in a changed life is no faith at all.
However, only God knows the heart. The dying thief did not get a chance to demonstrate a changed life after his plea for mercy yet his accpetance was affirmed. If God does not accept real, deathbed repentance then grace means nothing. Only God knows the genuineness of that repentance and only He knows whether or not it would have resulted in a changed life. If your point is that a declaration of faith that does not show itself in the good fruit of a changed life is inadequate, I could not agree more. But it is the changed life that demonstrates the life of the Spirit within. It does not in itself earn salvation which is always a gift. The genuineness of conversion, however, is revealed in the fruit that comes from it. In the end only God can finally judge that.
I ought to point out that I am a Baptist Pastor in England. My commitment to Baptist doctrine only goes as far as where it agrees with scripture. I am not a denominationalist and have some reservations about some areas of Baptist Doctrine, not least concerning church government. If you want a perspective from a US based Baptist you had better seek the opinion of one of the other 'experts'.