Thursday, January 07 2021
How do most people study baptism? Initially, most who study what the Bible says about baptism gather as many scriptures as they can about baptism. Then, they read them and harmonize them to come to a conclusion. That is a word study. No one needs to be an academic to do this. Every Christian should continue to do word studies as long as they are understanding those scriptures according to the surrounding texts.
Despite such a common approach to studying a subject in the Bible, many people still directly contradict each other about baptism and more. Why do so many disagree with each other on biblical subjects? Some add teachings from their background that align with their family, friends and, or church to interpret baptism in a more agreeable way. Furthermore, many search out more scriptures that appear to disprove what other scriptures appear to say. That may be a confusing process, but this allows them to believe what they are comfortable with accepting. However, Christians can and must agree in unity. The apostle Paul wrote, “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10 ESV). Agreeing to disagree about essential teachings is not a biblical option for Christians.
How people study the subject of baptism in the Bible does not reveal any fault with Jesus, His Apostles, or the Bible that they quote and added more by the guidance of the Holy Spirit (cf. 2 Peter 1:20–21). People feel ashamed for mishandling a message or action of those whom they respect. Reinterpreting someone's words to dismiss someone’s message has always been dishonest and wrong. Christians must remain honest in how we study and understand the Scriptures. The apostle Paul taught Timothy, "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15). Bearing false witness of the words of Jesus and His Bible is an act of great dishonesty to faithful followers of Jesus. The Bible is not always easy to understand, and no action worth its time is always easy. Peter observed about Paul's letters, "There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures" (2 Peter 3:16). The ignorant and unstable are those who try to disprove scripture with scripture so they can support what makes them comfortable.
Paul warned Timothy, "Evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived" (2 Timothy 3:13). Furthermore, Paul urged him, "But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 3:14–15). By these words and earlier warnings about living in the last days, the apostle declared, "Every Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16–17). In a chaotic world where everyone seems to contradict oneself from last month, Christians have an anchor and foundation for the truth that Jesus relied upon and taught.
Now when believers return to the subject of baptism, what do we find? Who should be baptized? What did Jesus say about baptism? What is the purpose of baptism? These are great questions that everyone needs to study honestly. Thank God for His written Word!