Busting Bible Myths 7: Baptism = Christening Jesus specifically instructed the apostles to make disciples by baptising them. The mainstream churches carry out this command by sprinkling water on the forehead of the person in question. The person is usually a baby. But is this what Jesus meant to happen? Firstly, it is instructive to note that the word “baptise” comes from a Greek word which meant to submerge something in water. It was a word used in relation to dyeing cloth: unless you were after a patchy change of colour you would need to “baptise” it! This seems an odd choice of word for Jesus to use if he meant simply sprinkling water on someone’s head. Rather, it is clear that Jesus expected the disciples to immerse people fully in water. We shall see why in a moment. Secondly, in Mark’s account of this same commission, he tells us that Jesus also said this: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptised will be saved…” (Mark 16:16). Note the emphasis, “he who believes…” Belief – faith – is the key component of salvation. The apostle Paul wrote, “…by grace you have been saved through faith…” (Ephesians 2:8). God is willing to save us from our sins: to account us as righteous (even though we are not) and therefore able to live eternally in His kingdom. In the time following Jesus’s commission, the apostles are only ever recorded as baptising adults who had heard the gospel message, understood it and believed it. See, for example, Acts 8:12 and 30-38. Baptism is an act of obedience, carried out in faith by someone who has heard, understood and accepted God’s word. Without the faith of the individual concerned it is nothing more than an empty ritual: it cannot save. With faith, it demonstrates one’s desire to be associated with the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus: “Since we have been united with him in his death [by baptism], we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives.” (Romans 6:5-6, NLT) The clear message of the Bible is therefore to listen to God’s Word, believe it and be baptised – by full immersion. pershore.bible pershore-christadelphians.org

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