Baptism & 'The Great Commission'

Mat 28:19-20 "Therefore go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all things, whatever I commanded you. And, behold, I am with you all the days until the end of the world. Amen." I have no problem calling these verses by their traditional epithet-The Great Commission. If I venture into any religious institution that lays claim to Christ and ask anyone randomly, "What's the 'Great Commission'?", I am likely to get an accurate response, even if it isn't quoted verbatim or the exact chapter-verse is unknown. Most can at least say something along the lines of, "That's where Jesus told his disciples to preach."

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A Simple Doctrine

The Bible is filled with challenging topics.  It is strange to me that one of its simplest – baptism in Jesus’ name for the remission of sins – is among its most misunderstood.  The Scripture’s teaching on baptism is uncomplicated and unambiguous.  We need not ascend into heaven to understand this doctrine.  It is accessible and straightforward. The Bible Teaches Water Immersion

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Saul's Conversion

In Acts 7:58 we are introduced to a “young man named Saul.” At this point in his life, Saul was diametrically opposed to “the Way.” He consented to, and played a role in, the stoning of Stephen. Chapter 8 verse 3 speaks of him saying, “As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison." Chapter 9 continues this dialogue on Saul's persecution of the church, telling us in verse 1, “Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord...” Recalling later, Saul told king Agrippa his purpose was to, “do many things against the Jesus of Nazareth.” The purpose of his life would change. Not through some uncontrollable force, but by Saul's willing obedience to “the Way” he once persecuted. Chapter 9 records for us this change in Saul's life. He went from the young man “dragging off men and women” who professed a belief in Jesus to the man who penned at least 13 inspired epistles. Notice a few points about Saul's conversion to Christianity.

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Baptism and Acts 2:38

I'd like to continue our consideration of baptism which I began in my last article. Four times in the Gospel of John, Jesus promises His disciples a Comforter or Helper. John 14: 16, 26; John 15: 26 and John 16: 7 all promise this Helper. This comforter is none other than God's Holy Spirit, called the Spirit of truth in Jn. 14. Jesus also says something both interesting and important in Jn. 14:7: "You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you (emphasis mine)."

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To Enter

Many things converge in order to receive Jesus Christ. The gospel awakens us to possibilities beyond imagining. Influences of family and friends have a bearing on our conscience. Perhaps there is confrontation by someone who loved us enough to risk rejection. Finally, our spirit has to wrestle with the flesh. We may come to a point where we are sorry for our sins and earnestly desire a new life. Yet, this is not enough. Sincere belief in the Gospel brings us to the door, but we need to cross the threshold.  Jesus said, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” (John 10:9) We have to choose between our own manner of self-justification and entering the door: “My parents had me sprinkled when I was a baby.” “I asked Jesus to come into my heart.” “I’ve tried to live a good life.” Yet, it is the Lord who waits. It is for us to enter.  For me, the biggest struggle had to do with the good intentions of my mother versus what was plainly written in the Bible. 

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Baptism and I Peter 3:21

Baptism is always a worthy topic of consideration since its meaning and utility are so diluted today as to render it meaningless in the eyes of many contemporary theologians. As with any doctrine, it must be approached with one achievable goal in mind: to understand what the Will of the Lord is and, with the understanding, to execute it to our utmost. There are few doctrines, with the exception of Hell and Judgment, that are as or more conspicuous in the Bible. 

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