What’s the Purpose of … Baptism?

Tim Challies | 10/13/2017 | Staff
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There is little doubt that the Bible commands Christians to baptize. Yet exactly who should be baptized and under what circumstances is a matter of no little debate. As we progress through this series about things we as Christians often take for granted, we need to ask: What’s the purpose of baptism?

It is important to note that to this point in the series, we have been covering topics for which there is substantial agreement among the majority of Protestants. However, as we turn to issues such as baptism, the Lord’s supper, and the Lord’s day, we come to topics over which there is significant disagreement among Protestants. It is crucial to understand, though, that these are second-order issues. Although they create boundaries between denominations and local congregations, those who disagree on these issues can still recognize one another as true believers in Jesus Christ. I approach this as a baptist who seeks to be consistent with my convictions while also charitable toward those who hold other perspectives.

Faith - Jesus - Christ - Views - Baptism

Among those who profess faith in Jesus Christ, there are three main views on baptism that I consider unbiblical.

Baptism as means of salvation. This view is also called “baptismal regeneration,” and it is the belief (held in various ways by different denominations) that baptism is the means or a means of salvation. Roman Catholics are the most staunch adherents to it, as their catechism states: “Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit … and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: ‘Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word.’ This...
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