The Purpose of My Writings
I make no claim to be an infallible interpreter of the Bible. I do not consider my interpretations to be equal with the word of God. That being said, I welcome disagreements. At the same time, I have put a lot of effort into my studies, so I will do my best to defend what I have written until I feel satisfied that what you find to be incorrect has been proven wrong. I have changed my mind hundreds of times, but I only change my mind when I find it to be the course that is more in line with objective truth.
So, why do I write? I write to teach you how to read the Bible more accurately. I do this knowing full well that I will change some nuance of what I believe in the future, so my writings are an invitation to grow with me regardless of where you are at on your journey in Christ. Like you, I am not content with the traditions that have been handed down to us from our fathers. And, like you, I want to do my best to interpret scripture considering the original audience. I have so much respect for your willingness to grow, your honesty, and your love for God, and I know that you will extend the same type of respect and patience towards me as you read my writings on this controversial subject.
At the end of the day, however, I hope that we can remain united on our common faith in God and our love for our neighbors. May God continue to so richly bless us all.
A presupposition is something that one assumes is true before beginning an argument or line of reason. So, I must freely admit what presuppositions I hold so that we can be on common ground before we proceed. First, by baptism, I mean the immersion/ submersion in water of one who has reached the age of accountability. This is done in response to the preaching of the gospel of Christ. I do not believe that water baptism in the New Testament can be fulfilled by sprinkling, pouring, or any other form of interaction with the water besides immersion.
I want to state my conclusion at the very beginning of the paper. I do this knowing full well that many will stop reading here. Those who do so must not be the caliber of person I spoke of in the first section, and that is okay. If someone came to read this paper just to have their beliefs confirmed, I understand. For those who wish to read the entire thing, however, here is my view:
Righteousness is imputed to an individual because of their faith before they are baptized in water.
For my preterist friends, conversion is an “already, but not yet” process that begins at the point of faith.
What I am NOT Saying
Baptism doesn't save.
Baptism isn't important.
Baptism isn't commanded.
Obedience isn't necessary.
Baptism shouldn't be practiced today.
What I AM Saying
If an individual were to die before being baptized, they are saved.
People baptized to “obey Jesus” do not have to be rebaptized.
One is obedient from the point of justification, not to justification.
Individuals should still be baptized today.
What I Ask of You
While the above two sections may seem contradictory to some, please refrain from telling me how wrong I am until you read the paper. I understand that from some standpoints, the above seems to contradict. I know this because I taught from that standpoint for years. I have made people cry by convincing them that their baptism was no good. So, before you freak out, just wait until the paper is completely published. This is section one of seven.
 By “age of accountability” I mean someone who is around twenty years old who was raised in or around the covenant community. I do not believe that those who have inadequately been exposed to Jesus will be judged based upon their reception of the gospel. Instead, I believe they will be judged upon the basis of their love for their neighbor as it was in the Old Testament. If God was gracious enough to extend mercy to those who did not have the law under the old age, how much more merciful will he be to those in “the age to come?” See my article for more information: https://labornotinvain.com/2020/12/06/the-age-of-accountability/
One Reply to “Baptism and Justification by Faith: Introduction (1/7)”
As thorny as any Talmudic or Temple text about ritual purity or Sabbath Day regulation is the Christian theological grappling with the essential role of Baptism. But you seem quite right here: when one has received the grace of conversion one turns toward the saving power of God. Along that path one is saved. If God chooses to link that salvation to the person being baptized, then God may do so, regardless of what other instrumental causes there may have been (eg convicted hearing the word, heroic example of saints, poignant charity of a believer) God has linked them, in the repertoire of the church, essentially to the water and the word of the baptismal moment; that is, all the causes are brought together spiritually by the obedience of the faithful community to Christ’s example and command. God is not limited in his saving work by baptism, but his people are limited by God’s word on the subject. They’re in sales, as it were regarding these institutions, not management. Should one die en rout to Baptism, then the link to water may be assumed to be hidden in God’s knowledge of that soul’s past.
All persons passed through the watery womb eg, and in that state they were immersed in maternal love and supreme confidence of being lovable. If years later they recover that trust by grace of God in Christ, and touch upon the motherly bond of Christian fellowship, then that first natural baptism, in gestation, may suffice for the supernatural baptism that was later omitted. But one way or another, we must be baptized into Christ by water and the Spirit.