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I-D’s About Baptism

My apologies to the good people of Arkansas, but I live and preach in Tennessee, so I can't risk using my home state in this goofy little story! An Arkansas State Trooper pulled over a pick-up truck on 1-40 near the Ozark Mountains. He walked up to the driver and said, "Excuse me, sir, "got any ID?" With a confused look on his face the driver said to the Trooper, "Bout what?" (That may leave a confused look on some faces!) I repeat, my apologies to the good people of the great and beautiful state of Arkansas! Some people seem to have no "I-D" when it comes to New Testament teaching on the subject of baptism. Or at least no scriptural idea. In Hebrews 6:2, a New Testament writer spoke of the "doctrine of baptism? along with other teachings he describes as elementary and foundational (vs 1). The phrase "doctrine of baptism? is an unusual one in the New Testament. Kevin Youngblood points out that the "author uses the plural of the term baptismos, a very rare form that occurs only two other times in the New Testament (Mark 7:4; Hebrews 9:10) and both refer to levitical purity rites. The word for Christian baptism is almost always baptisma in the singular" ("What Are the Elementary Doctrines, and Why should We Leave Them?" by Kevin Joe Youngblood, 2006 Freed Haredeman Lectureship Book, p 336). Youngblood thinks the teaching the author referred to as elementary is the teaching his readers received in the beginning of their Christian lives concerning the difference between the "baptisms" or ritual washings required of Israelites in the Old Testament and Christian baptism in the New Testament. Likely, he says, the readers were taught that the ritual washings of Old Testament purity laws were fulfilled in the cleansing of Jesus' blood in the act of baptism.

The New Testament speaks of at least 5 different baptisms:  (1) John's, Luke 7:29-30; (2) suffering, Mark 10:38-39; (3) Holy Sprit, Acts 1:4-5; (4) fire, Matthew 3:11-12;  (5) Great Commission, Matthew 28:19. While beyond the scope of this article to discuss them, this much we can confidently say: by the time the apostle Paul penned Ephesians 4:5 (A. D. 60-62?), he could write by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God, "there is one baptism." So, which one is it? Many people seem to have no "I-D." Pouring, sprinkling, immersion, in water, in the Holy Spirit, in order to be saved, because you are saved, for babies, for believers — multiple ideas and doctrines are out there. Which is right? If we let the Bible speak we learn it is a burial in water (Romans 6:3-4; Colossians 2:12; Acts 8:36-38; 10:47), for believers (not babies) who have repented, and its purpose is for forgiveness/salvation from past sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38). It precedes newness of life and is the act by which we get into and put on Christ (Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:27). It is the act by which we express faith in the operation/working of God as He excises and removes our sins with a spiritual circumcision made without hands (Colossians 2:11-13)! As with every Bible doctrine, our ideas/thinking about the vital doctrine of baptism should conform to the will of God, not the will of the majority. Most of us have "I-D's about baptism. Can yours be found in the Bible?

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ