The real issue of baptism is this: Who is to be baptized- one who has exercised faith in Christ and received salvation, or one who has not trusted Christ for salvation? We are to baptize believers, those who have trusted Christ to be their Savior. It is a living faith alive before the act of baptism. The I.C.C. is teaching to baptize people who have a dead faith. This characterizes a person who is not operating in faith until they are dunked in water. This practice is unbiblical. This is clearly a case of misplaced faith which trusts in a ceremony and not the object of our faith - Christ alone.the book of Col. explains the heresy that came into the church that one needed to have additions and was just as devastating as the Galatians heresy.
The New Birth: by Water or Spirit?
Always taking a literal interpretation of the word "'water" can become self-defeating for one's theology.
John 3:5 - "Except a man be born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter the Kingdom of God." Concerning those who practice baptism as the means of the new birth, every time "water" or "washing" is mentioned, they will insert their presupposition of regeneration through immersion of water. Aside from the interpretation through the Jewish culture, let's look at some alternate explanations from Greek scholars.
Most consider the water a metaphor of the Holy Spirit. They arrive at this conclusion by the word "and" (Greek: Kai) which is used in an explanatory or exegetic sense. In other words, John 3:5 would read "Unless a man be born of water even (namely) the Spirit"
W. E. Vine comments that, "Some regard the Kai "and', in John 3:5 as exegetic "even" in which case the water would be emblematic of the Spirit as in John 7:38 so it reads "born of water even the Spirit".
Looking at John 7:38, 39a we read,". . . out of his belly will flow rivers of living water. But this He spoke of the Spirit . . ." For those who interpret water and cleansing in a solid, literal sense, we must ask, "Does water flow out of our bellies and get people wet?" The answer is "No." This is a metaphor of the Spirit. Jesus also used the concept of cleansing by the Word: "You are already clean by the Word I have spoken." Did we literally become physically clean by His Word, or is this used in a spiritual sense? The word is used in the sanctification process of the believer. It conforms us to Christ's likeness (moral likeness). Jesus said in John 6:63, "My words are spirit and they are life." Nowhere does it say the water is life.
In John 3:5, there is only one new birth mentioned in this verse and it is from the Spirit as other Scriptures uphold. If we read this verse like some suggest, then it says "of water" and "of Spirit". These would be two births. The Greek language actually reads, "of water and Spirit", (Kai the Spirit) not, "of water and of the Spirit".
The water also cannot mean the Word of God, because the Greek preposition ("out of") is never used elsewhere in connection with the Word. Its source is always God Himself.
When describing the new birth, it is always the Greek word "dia"; (by, with, or through) that is used. "EK" signifies the source, while "dia" signifies the means. The source is the Holy Spirit who actually gives the new birth and the means is the Word of God. God will not use fallen creation to institute the new birth. He Himself is the source. By God's indwelling, the believer is made the temple of the Living God.
He that believeth, and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall not be saved.
We find these passages in Mk. 16:9-20 are not found in some of the oldest Greek manuscripts, so it is questionable whether they are a scribal addition. Assuming that it is part of the canon of Scripture, it dioes not change other Scrptures. We find that those who believe and are baptized are saved, those who do not believe are condemned.
What it does not say is that the absence of baptism condemns someone. It is the absence of faith (belief) that will condemn, because it is one's faith that is relative to salvation. One is baptized because they believe, not to believe.
According to the movement, no one can be saved without a third party there. (This includes someone reading the Bible on their own and coming to a saving knowledge of Christ (1 Tim 3:15.). God is the first party, man is the sinner, the second party in need of salvation, and the third party is the Oahu Church of Christ International representative. There has to be a saved individual as a representative to conduct the baptism for the second party. What then is the outcome of this type of doctrine? God cannot save one who believes in Christ's death, burial and resurrection by his own power, but needs another helper (mediator) to be present. Also the water becomes the means to convey God's grace, since "faith is exercised in the working of God at baptism". (First Principles Study in Acts Series, under False Doctrine) What they are really saying is that one makes contact with Christ's blood by the water (immersion is conversion).
From this view we can logically conclude that they are baptizing unbelievers to become believers, since their emphasis is on the act of immersion instead of faith. However, we find throughout the New Testament it was always a believer's baptism. One believes first and is then baptized, and according to Eph. 1:13, we are sealed with the Spirit when we first believe, not afterward. Mark 16:16 says nothing of the person who believes and has not been baptized because there is an intermittent period when one first exercises faith, and is immersed in water.
Mk. 16:16 is paralleled with Jn. 3:18, "He that believeth on Him (Christ) is not condemned", shows unanimously with the rest of Scripture, that believing is what saves.
I Was Not Sent to Baptize
1 Cor. 1:14-17
a situation in Corinth has arose which is dividing the Church. Some are saying they follow Paul , some Apollos, some Peter, others say they are of Christ only. Paul uses both the example of Christ dying for them and being baptized in his name to illustrate their divisiveness. Paul then states"I thank God I baptized none of you." Less they say they were baptized in the name of Paul. he only baptized a few. This is quite a dilemma for those who say baptism saves.
Paul states, "Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel." If baptism was a central part of the Gospel message, Paul would never have stated this.
Paul would not want to detract a believer from the redemptive work of Christ's death and the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit. Baptism can and does detract if we make it in any sense that which can complete God's saving work of grace. (Imagine Paul saying, "I thank God I regenerated none of you.")
1 Cor. 15:1-4, Paul tells us the Gospel message he delivered is in its entirety - Christ's death, burial and resurrection; no baptism is mentioned. He would not have overlooked this important fact. This has the content of the Gospel that Paul preached - there is only one Gospel. This is what we are told to stand in, lest we believe in vain.
1 Cor. 4:15 In fact Paul states he was the Corinthian Church's father and he had begotten them through the Gospel. This could not be true if baptism was part of the Gospel since, according to the account in 1 Cor. 1:14-17, he only baptized three people. Paul would then be guilty of delivering only part of the message he gave his life to preach. He would then be labeled a false teacher, someone who delivered another Gospel. I know for certain that this would not hold any water among reputable scholars. 1 Cor. 1:18 The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved it is the power of God. It is by the cross of Christ that one is saved, through his atoning death, his shed blood, nothing more, nothing less; vs. 21, then it pleased God, by the preaching of the cross, to save those who believe; vs. 23, we preach Christ crucified.
The phrase "Baptized into Christ" uses the Greek word "eis", which should be interpreted in the same manner as in Acts 2:38, meaning "in reference to" His death. This word refers to an event that has already transpired. In this case, "eis" cannot mean "in order to obtain" His death, but rather refers to declaring it in the ceremony of baptism.
If one is to take being "baptized into Christ" in a solid literal sense, then there are questions that must be asked In reference to Rom. 6:3, did we really die with Him or is this being used in a metaphorical sense, illustrating a spiritual event? In verse 4, were we really buried with Him in a literal sense? Verse 5 says that we were united in the likeness of His death. "Likeness" shows us that it is an illustration or a shadow of the substance. It is a figurative action of the real suffering and death that Christ experienced. We were represented by Christ in His death and resurrection. It goes on to say that we shall be in the likeness of His resurrection. His has already occurred, ours has not. This is why it is only illustrating what He has done, otherwise, we would all be resurrected if we interpret this in a solid literal sense.
Like produces like. Every seed bears after its own kind (1 Peter 1:23 - "born of incorruptible seed"). Flesh produces flesh. If one is literally born of baptism, then he/she is like water. The Bible says that it is by the Spirit that one becomes born again. This refers to the substance of God - a person that conveys new life, not an inanimate created thing such as water.
In a sense, during baptism, we are watching the funeral of one's old self that identified with Adam and comes up out of the water a new creation. "It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me." (Gal. 2:20). The body of sin was canceled and no longer has its controlling power over us, since we died with Christ. We now have His Spirit empowering us to overcome our old nature of sin. Only dead people are buried, showing the believer's death to sin and the law and raised in newness of life.
We do not contact the blood in a literal sense by baptism as the International Church of Christ teaches. Christ is not literally in the water, so being baptized does not literally put one in Christ. Also, where in the Bible does it say that Christ's blood is in the water? One is washed by the blood when one believes. It is a continual cleansing as one confesses their sins (1 John 1:9).
The new birth of the Spirit (John 3:8) is likened to the wind. One can't tell where it comes from or where it goes. If the new birth was by baptism, one could certainly tell when it occurred. This is why we are saved by faith and not by a formal ordinance.
For example, we don't get married to fall in love. We are already in love and we get married because of that relationship. It is a ceremony to proclaim the love that is already there. It is the same with baptism.
Baptism is related to Christ's death, by itself it would have no meaning. However, Christ's death would have meaning without baptism. Christ is the substance, baptism is the shadow. Baptism cannot pay the penalty of our sins. Romans 6:23 Christ, the substance, did. Baptism cannot redeem us, the blood of Christ did. 1 Pet. 1:18-20. Baptism cannot remove our condemnation or guilt. Gal. 3:10 But Christ did. vs. 13
If it is Christ's work that literally redeems and justifies, freeing us from guilt, how can a baptism, which is a ceremony of this fact, do the same? We do not have two redemption's, only one. It happened almost two thousand years ago in the person of Christ.
We Are All Children of God by Faith in Christ Jesus
In Galatians 3:26-27, we read: "You are all children of God by faith in Christ Jesus, for as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ." This baptism has been interpreted as water. However, we have seen through various passages, this baptism does not refer to water but Spirit. (1 Cor. 12:15) Our union with Christ takes place at our regeneration, which is by God himself - the Spirit.
According to the International Churches of Christ one goes into the water without being justified or sanctified, and comes out of the water regenerated (made a Christian). Again, we find the same word that has caused controversy and confusion in Acts 2:38. The Greek word "eis" (into Christ) is a reference to Christ and His work (death, burial, and resurrection). "Eis" is a preposition of reference. Taking the whole verse in context shows that it is by faith that we become children of God. This is how one is baptized into Christ.
To "put on Christ" means that we live a new life, imitating Him. However, no one can authentically do this unless it is a work of the Spirit from the inside out. The Greek word for "put on" is "enduo". This is the same word used in Romans 13:14, where it states, "But you put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof". This is written to those who are already saved. It is not telling them to be baptized by water in order to put on Christ (also used metaphorically in putting on the whole armor of God in Eph. 6:11) after they are saved.
Verse 26 tells how one becomes a child of God. "For you are all children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." Ephesians 2:8-10 tells us that it is by grace through faith we are saved. This is the means that is used. There is no other way. Why be baptized unless you already believe, and if one has belief enough to say that they want to obey and be baptized, does that belief change in any way afterwards? No, of course not. It is the same belief before and afterwards. The belief (faith) is just as much alive to save before baptism as it is during baptism. If one is being baptized to be saved, then, evidently that person is an unbeliever before the baptism. Then the International Church of Christ is baptizing unbelievers to make them believers counting on the water to be the agent of change where the new birth occurs.
Rom. 1:16-17, "For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, it is the power of God to salvation. . . For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, as it is written the just shall live by faith". We see Paul stating, God begins with and ends with faith. Christ is the author and finisher of our faith .
In Col. 2:11-12, we read, "In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him, through faith in the working of God who raised Him from the dead"
In the Old Testament, circumcision was the sign of the Abrahamic Covenant. It was a minor surgical operation that involved the cutting away of the flesh. Circumcision symbolized death to the flesh by the "cutting away of sins", so in New Testament symbolism, it refers to spiritual circumcision. "Made without hands" meant that no human effort was involved, rather, it is God's work The circumcision refers to His death, meaning when one believes their sin is cut off. It also relates to Christ's death which He Himself called a "baptism". This term did not mean a water baptism, but one of death and burial (Romans 2:29): "Circumcision is that of the heart in the Spirit, not in the letter. . .", which the ceremony of baptism depicts. The Bible clearly teaches that circumcision is a work of the Spirit which circumcises since it is Gods work. This spiritual circumcision is the invisible work that baptism symbolizes.
Again, baptism points back to the work of Christ since it is the circumcision of Christ (not baptism) that achieves this for a believer. (In the same way, Rom. 6 refers to describing the occurrence of the Gospel.)
In the New Testament, we find that baptism is the sign or seal of the New Covenant, and functions like a substitute for circumcision of the Old Covenant. For the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 17:21) it was mandatory. Under the Mosaic Covenant (Ex. 12:48), it was to show submission to the Law of Moses. Christ commissioned His disciples to go, teach, make disciples, and baptize. Just as circumcision was required of proselytes converting to Judaism, in a like manner, baptism was required as a visible mark of entrance into the New Covenant.
These two rites have similar meanings. Circumcision was characterized by a cutting away of sin and a change of heart. Baptism is a picture of the washing away of sin.
"Baptism did away with the need for circumcision because it signified the union of the believer with Christ, thereby cutting off the old nature. A lesser circumcision has been replaced by a greater circumcision. The spiritual circumcision promised under the Old Testament Covenant has become a reality under the New Covenant through baptism". (George BeasIey-Murray, Baptism in the New Testament).
Again, baptism is only a visible symbol of what occurred by the previous reality, which is the real substance. It points back to Christ.
Cleansing and Washing by the Water or the Spirit? Titus 3:5
Titus 3:5says, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us through the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Spirit."
At first examination of this passage, one can mistake it as if to mean water, however, this means just the opposite "Not by works of righteousness" - baptism is a righteous work. Jesus said that He was baptized "to fulfill all righteousness", yet this is not the means through which we are saved. By mercy, which comes from His grace, we are washed and regenerated. The new creation is presented as a cleansing by his blood. It is the same figure Jesus used in John 15:3 when Jesus spoke of washing Peter's feet. This cleansing Jesus spoke of was not a reference to a bodily cleansing that water does. Rather, it meant a moral cleansing by the Word of God in relation to sanctification. In John 15:3, Jesus says, "You are already cleansed by the Word I have spoken." In Eph. 5:26, we read: "that He might set apart and cleanse her (the church) with the washing of water by the Word." Water and cleansing were often illustrations associated with the Word of God.
Our new birth comes through hearing the Word and by the Spirit. (1 Peter 1:3 - the renewing of the Holy Spirit). This is not putting new clothes on a man, but putting a new man in the clothes. A contrast is shown between works that we earn and faith that receives God's mercy and achieves what we ourselves cannot. It is the Spirit's operation of washing us clean that accomplishes what we are unable to do ourselves.
The Spirit is the agent of regeneration and the Word of God is the instrument. Again, we see that it is by faith one receives the new birth, not by the works of their own hands. John 6:63 says, "The words that I speak to you are spirit and they are life." In no way is water the means used to convey the new birth. The bible is clear God himself is the source of the new birth.
Articles are taken from the spiral bound book International Church of Christ Birth of a Cult. (click> on books)