Baptism – how the conversation could go

A fictional episode of one of the local CofC programs. Also a primer on one way to approach their doctrine concerning baptism.

Fictonal CofC TV host:

“Have you been baptized for the remission of sins”?”

Fictional CofC TV caller:


CofC host:

“Are you sure, we can call your pastor and see if he agrees, what church do you attend?”

CofC caller:

“I attend First Baptist Church of Neddlyville”

CofC host:

“ ok, but were you baptized FOR the remission of sins, I don’t know of any Baptist preacher that baptizes FOR the remission of sins”

CofC caller:

“Well, I believed and was baptized…”

CofC host:

“Yeah, but you were baptized into the Baptist church and not into Christ!”

CofC caller:

“but I repented of my sins and was baptized…”

CofC host:

“Okay, but you thought you were being baptized BECAUSE you were forgiven, right?”

CofC caller:


CofC host:

“Exactly! You were not baptized for the forgiveness of sins, but because you thought you were forgiven!”

CofC caller:

“Doesn’t Col. 2:12 state that God does the work at baptism per your interpretation ?”

CofC host:


CofC caller:

“Are you saying God at work in baptism hinges upon my understanding that it’s FOR the remission of sins, even though I still follow Jesus command in Mark 16:16?”

[uncomfortable pause]

CofC host:

“Er… do you know that the Lords supper must be taken each Sunday?”

(thanks to Randy for this fictional episode…)



26 thoughts on “Baptism – how the conversation could go


  2. I think the expected response would more likely be that if we do not understand what we did, then how can it be an act of faith blessed by God? Then the episode of the re-baptized Ephesians would be brought into play. If this is parody, forgive me for intruding! However, if this purports to be real, then I think that your Mark 16:16 remark would not faze the speakers you are addressing.

    Myself … I do not adhere to the idea that we must know everything when we are baptized in order for it to take effect, but I can understand where you’re going.

  3. Thanks, John, for your input.

    It’s pseudo-parody. It’s also pseudo-educational, to help people understand how to engage these TV hosts, so your input is greatly appreciated!

  4. Hi Amy,

    We’re just trying to have a conversation about things that are taught on television in our community by a trio of Church of Christ leaders. One of the biggies is what they teach regarding baptism, that we are saved through our baptism, and not because of our faith.

    We will be bringing up things that they teach quite a bit in the coming weeks, so please return, and participate!

    And, by the way, when you come, PLEASE DON’T USE ALL CAPS because in the blogosphere, that means you are yelling.


  5. …having studied with these men, I can say John is right about what they will say. This is one reason I left the door open… for remarks/comments. Would a person be baptized if he lacked faith?? I think some out of pressure do this in the church of Christ. This is one thing that bothered me when I attended with these men. Repenting seemed to take a back-burner to baptism. And my fear is that some havent truly repented an were just dunked in water. But, I think most are baptized because they do have faith in Christ. The group of Ephesians didnt know Christ had died for their sins, but once they knew He died for sins and was raised, then in faith they were baptized. Today, we look back at the finished work of Christ and in faith turn to him and are added to the church by God. Acts 2;38-41/Col.2:12/Gal.3:27. I know there is much more that can be added. Thanks John for your input and I hope you can add more. Men like you and Al Maxey are helping people like myself better understand the church of Christ.

  6. Oh, boy. You have opened up the door is an understatement. I suggest you have all of your ducks in a row on this one. I too, take the view as John, but many of our brethern do not. I suggest you might want to study the greek in Acts 2:38 and be prepared for grammer classes:)

  7. Hi David,

    No worries. I actually aced Greek class in seminary, and so I’m looking forward to it. 😉

    Although, if past blog postings are any indicator, none of the men to whom we are addressing will be participating in this one either. ’tis a pity!

    At least, we can hope that the arguments we make here will make it onto their program when others from the community hear and call in!

    The link above is a great commentary on this passage.

    Johnny, Norm, or James – any thoughts?

  8. Interesting! But your TV guys most likely have this all covered. I’m not taking sides, but they have a rebutal for each statement made on the URL you attached. I do suggest you look at some arguments on some of the Church of Christ web-sites regarding the Greek text. I can already see many questions they could ask:

    * Where does scripture state that baptism is the thing which we receive, in order to publicly identify ourselves completely and totally with Christ as a manifestation of the inward work God has done within us?

    * Matthew 26:28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. Does eis mean “because of” here??

    Most Greek Lexicons on Acts 2:38 have eis meaning ” in order to…

    My friend, I could go on and on with this. We may never agree on this, but I still can count you as a brother.

  9. And that’s one of the reasons I started this blog, because the three men we have on TV here would not count me as a brother, and their stubbornness in this regard simply blows me away, not to mention that they presume to speak for God.

    Did you see the quote I gave where Norm Fields said, “To oppose what we’re saying is to oppose the Word of God”?!? No thought at all to the possibilities of misinterpretation on their part, no humility, no grace.

    But, back to the subject at hand…

  10. When you read Acts chapter 2, the men there heard Peter preach the Gospel and were hurt to their hearts, which clearly shows they had faith at this point in what Peter preached. But take note that they didnt think that their faith saved them. They ask Peter AFTER having faith in Christ–what shall we do?? Did Peter say, oh dont worry about it, you just need faith only and you have that already. No, Peter told them REPENT…..and be BAPTIZED. Not because they were already forgiven upon thier faith, but in order to be forgiven.

  11. Nathan, This is probably one doctrine that you and I will not agree on, but does this mean you or I are headed to hell because we disagree?? Could I not be wrong about what I believe regarding baptism?? YES! But, you know as I, that the men on TV here would condemn you to hell if you failed to understand baptism as they do. I honestly see a connection between baptism and remission of sins, but I don’t dare say you are headed to hell, if you dont. I might even be wrong with how I understand the doctrine of baptism. There does seem to be a lot a grey area as evidenced by the many teachings on baptism. I will not be so bold to claim I have a perfect understanding of this, because I dont.

  12. Agreed, Randy.

    Now, I do understand their point of view – they feel like I am not saved because of my interpretation of Scripture regarding baptism (among other things). They are coming on the air each week to plead with me (and others like me) because they honestly think I am going to hell.

    On the one hand, I appreciate their tenacity in broadcasting their point of view, and their compassion in wanting me to come to their point of view.

    On the other hand, thankfully, they aren’t the ones who make the decision of where I am heading. God is.

    In 1 Samuel 16:7, God says “for [the LORD seeth] not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.”

    And Romans 10:10-12 says, “…if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.”

    Sola Dei Gloria!
    Your brother in Christ,

  13. Does motive matter in baptism?

    I think we’d all agree it does. For example, if I’m immersed in water because it was a hot day and the pool looked inviting, I think we’d all agree it wasn’t the same as the scriptural model. Likewise, if someone is baptized to please a parent, spouse, or girlfriend/boyfriend, we’d all agree that doesn’t measure up to the Biblical standard.

    If motive matters, then it’s a matter of determining what the Bible says the proper motive is to be. Most of the usual verses seem to apply here. Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16, and especially I Peter 3:21 are among them.

  14. Our danger is to swing to one of two extremes: we make baptism either too important or too unimportant. Either we deify it or we trivialize it. One can see baptism as the essence of the gospel or as irrelevant to the gospel. Both sides are equally perilous (Baptism: The Demonstration of Devotion, p. 1). There is absolutely no question as to the importance of baptism to God’s plan of salvation for fallen man. It is an essential feature. It is vital. It should never be trivialized. However, neither should it be virtually deified as THE focus of God’s plan. It is an aspect of that plan, but I would no more characterize it as the pivotal point than I would confession or repentance. Each of these is critical, but the CENTER of God’s plan of salvation is JESUS CHRIST, with God’s grace and man’s faith being the two dominant characteristics that make this wondrous gift of salvation accessible to all.

  15. On the surface, at least, the stirring words of Peter seem fairly straightforward — “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”. What exactly is the gift of the Holy Spirit? Does it refer to the bestowing of spiritual gifts? Is it the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (which many ultra-conservative Church of Christ members, such as our TV guys here, as well as a few in other religious groups, vehemently deny)? Is this gift bestowed upon us even if we do not fully understand all its implications, or must we perceive the meaning perfectly before the promise will be bestowed? The men here on TV, for example, say one must understand the significance of baptism perfectly before it can be recognized as valid, and before forgiveness is conferred … thus, would this not also be true of the bestowal of the gift of the Spirit? Must one also be able to fully explain all aspects of the gift of the Spirit before one would be “qualified” to receive it? If not, why not?

  16. Hi again ( no caps this time, sorry bout that ) I was just reading over this and it seems that Randy and Jeff are in the church of Christ, but hold views on baptism a lil diff. I read Jeffs comment about a motive and thought, well he has them there, but then I read Randys and see where he explained that people don’t understand the gift of the Holy Spirit fully either and I must say, you shed some light on that. I noticed there isnt any more comments after that either…ttyl, AF

  17. I hadn’t replied because I wasn’t really sure what Randy was saying and wanted to give it some thought when I had time.

    There are (at least) three views I know of on what the gift of the HS in Acts 2:38 is.

    1) It’s talking about the miraculous gifts and applies specifically to the audience there in Jerusalem (since the miraculous gifts have ended – cf. I Cor. 13). These gifts appear to have been generally imparted through the apostles (Acts 8:14-17) with the exception of Cornelius, where it was a sign that Gentiles could become Christians as well as Jews (Acts 10:45, 11:17).

    2) It’s talking about some non-miraculous impartation of the Holy Spirit that comes at the point of salvation. See II Corinthians 1:22, Eph. 1:13, Eph. 4:30.

    3) It’s talking about the gift of (from) the Holy Spirit – salvation – not the HS itself as a gift, as with the miracles. This one seems problematic to me, since every other use of the word “gift” (and this exact phrase – cf. 10:45) in Acts refers to the miraculous outpouring.

    Since the miraculous gifts have ceased, there are really only two possibilities for that phrase: he was either talking specifically to the people at that time, or he was talking to everyone for all time about something other than the miraculous gifts. The former seems most likely to me, though I’m always willing to consider if I’ve missed something in my study.

  18. I’ve read the blogs and was confused at first as to what the discussion was about. Im a member of the church of Christ, so I thought that i should share the little wisdom that i do have. First, the gift of the Holy Spirit, as i applies to us now in the non miraculous age, is this according to Hebrews 10:15- which states that the Holy Ghost is witness of the promised made by God that our sins and iniquity will He remember no more. In the old testament times sins rolled over every year so the had to offer sacrafice for those sins. 2Tim. 1:9 says God gave us the Holy Spirit, and Eph 1:13 says we are sealed with the Holy Spirit ensuring the promised God made afore stated in Heb. That seal is alike the promise God Made With Noah, which He said that the rainbow is the symbol that He would not destroy the earth by water again. Now the discussion on baptism, im unsure about what the argument is. What are these preachers saying about baptism? I know We are commanded to be baptised Mrk 16:16, Baptism is a burrial Rom 6:3- With out baptism old sins are not forgiven. Revelation 1:5 says that Christ washed our sins away in his own blood1Peter 3:21 states that baptism saves. Salvation is God Grace towards us. If this is not what you guys ar talking about please enlighten me. Are these prechers teaching opinion or presenting scriptures?

  19. Acts 10:44-48
    44 Even as Peter was saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the message. 45 The Jewish believers[a] who came with Peter were amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles, too. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.

    Then Peter asked, 47 “Can anyone object to their being baptized, now that they have received the Holy Spirit just as we did?” 48 So he gave orders for them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Afterward Cornelius asked him to stay with them for several days.


    Can you receive the Holy Spirit before remission of sins (salvation)?

    If you have believe in Jesus, and repent of your sins, and have been baptized – are you a Christian?

  20. Hi Pamela,

    I will try to answer your questions to the best i can.

    To the first one, I would have to say no. What happened to Cornelius was a special event. That special event was that Gentiles now have the Holy Spirit. In chapter 2, the Jews first. Peter said exactly this (in Acts 11:15), when he reported back to Jerusalem. If such a sequence of events (i.e. receiving the Holy Spirit and then baptism) was normal, why did he not say, “just like everyone else”? Instead, he specified: “as on us AT THE BEGINNING”. Another example is Acts 19:1-7. We see some men who BELIEVED, but who had not yet received the Holy Spirit. they BELIEVED. They had FAITH. If salvation comes at the point of FAITH, then they SHOULD have been SAVED, right? But, something was obviously amiss. They DID have faith, but they DIDN’T have the Spirit. Paul immediately questions them with regard to the nature of their baptism. As soon as it was determined they had not yet been immersed into Christ Jesus, “they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus” (vs. 5). Paul THEN (not before) laid his hands upon them and they received the Holy Spirit.

    As to the second question. I would think they are.

    I hope i have helped clear up and not confused you. Feel free to post. God bless.

  21. Replying to Pamela.
    Only if you were baptized according to the scripture can you be a christian. Christ like. But, Christ only promised to build one church, His Matt 16:16, Eph 4:- mentions one church one baptism. Out side the faithfull church there is no salvation. Just because you wear the name of Christ does not mean you will be saved. I know churches of Christ that teach false doctrine. Acts 4:12 there is no other name under which we could be save. Now the scripture you mention is about Cornelius, the first Gentile to be saved. He received the Holy Spirit before baptism because it was part of God promise in the book of Joel in the old testament. Acts 2:38 and many others scriptures show that we receive the Holy Spirit after baptism. Before baptism you are not saved because you have not obey the gospel of Christ Mark16:16 1Pet3:21 Rom 6:3 Acts 2

  22. Manie, what does “according to the scripture” mean?

    Matt, thank you for clarifying the Holy Spirit question. About the second question, I already know the answer but there are some in the churches of Christ (some who have posted here) that insist that a person of any denomination other than theirs couldn’t be a Christian. For example, because I was baptized in a Southern Baptist church, I am not a Christian-even though I repented of my sins, prayed for God’s forgiving grace, got baptized (by immersion), and live a life that (I hope) reflects Jesus. I follow every command that Jesus gave, which is why I was baptized (because He commanded it). I do my best to carry out the Great Commission (I’m a bit shy). I serve the Lord in my church. I love Jesus more than anything. I don’t understand why some believe that where I attend church could possibly determine my relationship with God. Do I have to believe that the water in the baptismal washed away my sins? To me that is blaspheme. To me that would imply that the work Jesus did on the cross was not enough. Is baptism optional? NO! And there is no baptist church I know of that would teach such a ridiculous idea. As Christians we are to be obedient, that means being baptized, that means being obedient to everything He said. Can you find scriptures that say to believe and be baptized? YES. Can I find scriptures that say we are saved by faith only? YES. What does that mean? I DON”T KNOW. But I was obedient. That is what should matter. We can not understand everything. All we can do is continue to study His word, fellowship with each other, love one another, help one another, serve Him faithfully – until He returns. What is the ONE church? For me it is not a building, nor any denomination – it is ALL of us. All of us who believe and are baptized are the church. As I have said elsewhere – over 70% of Americans claim Jesus as Lord, but we spend so much time bickering over little differences in understanding, that we have let the liberals take over the country. Now the minority are telling US what is good and right. The minority tells US to keep our Jesus to ourselves. What might happen if we stopped fighting each other and started converting the liberals? Blesses is the nation whose god is the LORD!

    Pamela, child of God, proud to be a CHRISTIAN

  23. I understand Pamela. I tend to think that we do not need to know the full understandings of the whys and hows of every little thing. We need to be like children and do what he says. I myself see Baptist, along with Methodist, Lutherns, etc as my bothers and sisters in Christ. He has children in all walks of Christendom. 🙂

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