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Baptist religion: 3 Big Basics: Repentance, Obedience and Faith

Baptist religion: 3 Big Basics: Repentance, Obedience and Faith
Baptist religion: Baptism is unique to Christianity and is a sign of Salvation. Jesus required it for entry into the kingdom of God.

Baptism is unique to Christianity and is a sign of Salvation. Jesus* required it for entry into the kingdom of God.

Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. – John 3:7

Baptism in the Old Testament?

The idea of baptism was around in Moses’* day as we see in this observation from St. Paul*:

And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 1 Corinthians 10:2

The association with salvation here is being saved from slavery to the Egyptians, later used as a metaphor for being saved from sin and escaping the world.

There is a later connotation of cleansing. I think of Naaman being cleansed from leprosy by dipping himself in the Jordan River seven times. – 2 Kings 5:14

We see the idea of cleansing in the Jewish rituals of purification by immersion in naturally sourced water when someone had become ritually “unclean.” From their return from the Babylonian Captivity, (538 BC) the Jews required converts to Judaism to be immersed in water to denote their change in status.

During the Second Temple period (c. 516 BCE–70 CE), the Greek noun baptmos was used to refer to ritual washing in Hellenistic Judaism. [

The Baptist religion took its first giant step when John the Baptist* came on the scene in Jesus’ day. Mark identifies his appearance as the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Mark 1:1.

Luke also begins his Gospel with the angel Gabriel’s prophecy of John’s birth. He was filled with the Holy Ghost from “his mother’s womb” and called to turn many of His chosen people to “the Lord their God.” Luke 1:13-17

Luke dates John’s appearance as the fifteenth year of Tiberius Cesar (28-29 A.D,). He was a powerful man of God come in the spirit of Elijah* to prepare the way of the Lord. He was a Nazarite, did not drink wine, and wore clothes made of camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. (Mark 1:6)

So John went throughout the whole territory of the Jordan River, preaching, "Turn away from your sins and be baptized, and God will forgive your sins." (Luke 3:3)

John’s job was to prepare the way for Jesus.* The first step in preparing for Him is repentance. This means turning from sin, and those who were baptized by John were those who later accepted Him as Savior.

His role was essential because of this, and Jesus said that of all the prophets there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist. - Luke 7:27

Jesus Himself came to John to be baptized, not for repentance but for a public revelation of His identity as the Lamb of God which was here affirmed from heaven by the voice of Father and the presence of the Holy Spirit.

One of the prominent features of baptism is its public nature, those being baptized announce to the world that they and repenting and seeking the kingdom of God.

John continued to baptize for repentance until he was killed, and his disciples continued to baptize after. One of them was Andrew who left John to follow Jesus. It was he who taught the others how to do it, but Jesus authorized it and added the instruction that they be baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. This was part of His final commission given just before He ascended to heaven and is an essential part of the Gospel to this day.

At Pentecost 3,000 converts were “added to the church” and baptized that day. The Bible does not say who baptized them, but Peter and the rest of the 120 on whom the Holy Spirit came were available to do that. Obedience to the Word of God is the authority of the baptism, not the one baptizing.

Certainly, the apostles did some, and Philip the evangelist baptized the Ethiopian eunuch, but the scriptures are silent on who baptized Saul of Tarsus. *

Baptism was by immersion in every case, and the first mention of other methods comes in the Didache.

This late first-century document, which some think may have been written by Matthew, calls for Baptism "in the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" and immersion in "living water," (i.e., a stream). If sufficient water for immersion is not possible, it allows for water to be poured on the head of the one being baptized (effusion). It is tacitly assumed that the person being baptized is an adult.

Baptist religion after the apostles

As the church grew and its organization became hierarchical, the practice of aspersion (sprinkling) was introduced as well as the recitation of a catechism or creed. With this soon came the baptism of infants, christening, and the doctrine of baptismal regeneration.

These practices became institutionalized when Constantine* made Christianity the state religion and called a great council of all bishops which produced the Nicene Creed. Although he called all 1800 bishops to Nicaea in 325, only 318 came, but their creed defined orthodoxy.

Since then, the established church has been dominant and written the history of Christianity. The story of those faithful Believers who were faithful to Biblical baptism has been overlooked. E.H. Broadbent presents their history in a very readable book, “The Pilgrim Church,” which has been a great blessing to me.

Baptist “prince of preachers” C. H. Spurgeon presents their case like this:

“We believe that the Baptists are the original Christians. We did not commence our existence at the reformation, we were reformers before Luther or Calvin were born; we never came from the Church of Rome, for we were never in it, but we have an unbroken line up to the apostles themselves.

We have always existed from the very days of Christ, and our principles, sometimes veiled and forgotten, like a river which may travel underground for a little season, have always had honest and holy adherents.

Persecuted alike by Romanists and Protestants of every sect, yet there has never existed a government holding Baptist principles which persecuted others, nor I believe any body of Baptists ever held it to be right to put the consciences of others under the control of man.

This view of Baptist history has been presented above and is, in today’s culture, a minority view. The more widespread views see the Baptist religion emerging during the Protestant Reformation.

English separatist view credits John Smyth with leading the first Baptist church in Amsterdam in 1609 and traces the history of modern Baptist churches to the rise of dissenting Protestant denominations in England during the 17th century.

Anabaptist influence view

is that early 17th-century Baptists were influenced by continental Anabaptists (the prefix “Ana” means “again.”) and shared views on believer's baptism only, religious liberty, separation of church and state, and Arminian views of salvation, predestination, and original sin.

Anabaptists believe baptism is valid only when candidates freely confess their faith in Christ and request baptism. Michael Sattler led a group in Switzerland that documented their faith in the Schleitheim Confession in 1527. He was arrested and executed.

Baptist religion in America

There is general agreement that the Baptist religion in America began with Roger Williams in Newport, Rhode Island in 1639.

During the Great Awakenings of the 18th-19th centuries Baptist religion grew tremendously and became the largest Christian church in the South, especially among the slaves.

All Baptists could be identified with evangelical Christianity until the last half of the 19th century, when “higher criticism” shook the faith of many.

In England, the Baptist Union accepted the modernist view of scripture, which Spurgeon called a “downgrade” of the Bible’s truth and authority. He spoke out against it and called for separation from Baptists who denied the plenary inspiration: those who hold evangelical doctrine are in open alliance with those who call the fall a fable, who deny the personality of the Holy Ghost, who call justification by faith immoral, and hold that there is another probation after death.

In the USA, early in the 20th century the Northern Baptist Convention embraced modernism and drove many who continued to honor the Bible into “regular Baptist” and “conservative Baptist” groups. In the South, a similar division took place with the Southern Baptist Convention holding to conservative /evangelical theology. Late in the century some liberal Baptists withdrew to form “liberal” and “moderate” Baptist conventions.

Sad as these divisions are, they are foreseen by the Scriptures: For there must also be heresies among you, that the approved ones may be revealed among you. St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:19

The Baptist Religion has given us many heroes of faith and champions of the Bible. Some who have and continue to bless me are:

  1. John Bunyan (1628–1688,), preacher and writer: The Pilgrim’s Progress

  2. John Gill (1697–1771, US), pastor and theologian. My “go to” Bible Expositor on eSword.

  3. William Carey (1761–1834), translator and missionary to India.

  4. C.H. Spurgeon (1834–1892, E), pastor known as "The Prince of Preachers."

  5. F.B. Meyer (1847-1929) pastor, evangelist, and author of seventy-five books including The Secret of Guidance (1896). Spoke often at the Keswick conference.

  6. Oswald Chambers (1874–1917, S), pastor, missionary, and author of My Utmost for His Highest, a collection of his sermons published by his wife.

  7. Billy Graham* (1918–2018, US), evangelist. I sang in the choir at his Crusade in New York City in 1958

  8. Charles Stanly (1932-2023, US), televangelist and founder of “In Touch Ministries,”

  9. Jerry Falwell (1933–2007, US), televangelist, president of Liberty University and founder of the Moral Majority.

  10. John F. MacArthur (born 1939, US), pastor and theologian.

  11. John Piper (born 1946, US), preacher at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis and head of Desiring God website.

  12. Paul Washer (born 1961, US), founder of HeartCry Missionary Society

Baptist religion women

All these heroes of the faith are men, but there is an equal number of Baptist women who have served Jesus faithfully as missionaries.

According to the Baptist Press:

Throughout the 157-year history of the International Mission Board, women have followed God’s call — usually in greater numbers than men — into all the world. Today about 54 percent of Southern Baptists’ 5,241 missionaries are women, about a fourth of them single.

The most well-known of these was a single-woman missionary to China, Lottie Moon. She spent 39 years there alone in areas where the gospel was unknown and started native churches still alive today.

Because of their Baptist heritage, they were reluctant to lead these churches and encouraged the Chinese men to be pastors. This has turned out to be a key element of the success of church planting in the mission field.

Read more about these godly women here.

The stories of these faithful Baptists go on today. I am blessed to have lunch with a Baptist missionary who has retired here after her 37 years of teaching in a missionary school in Chile. What a blessing all these faithful Baptist brothers and sisters are. Praise God!

I also found that Baptists love to sing.

Baptist vocalist and hymn writer Helen H. Lemmel composed some 500 hymns, many well-known.

My favorite is one you probably know too (Elvis Presley sang it). It's a great one with excellent advice:

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

O soul, are you weary and troubled?

No light in the darkness you see?

There's light for a look at the Savior,

And life more abundant and free.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,

Look full in His wonderful face,

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,

In the light of His glory and grace.

Through death into life everlasting

He passed, and we follow Him there;

O'er us sin no more hath dominion

For more than conqu'rors we are!

His Word shall not fail you, He promised;

Believe Him and all will be well;

Then go to a world that is dying,

His perfect salvation to tell!

Words and Music by Helen Howarth Lemmel, 1863-1961

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