Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Doctrines of the Christian Faith Addendum

I expressed within this series how one can receive eternal life. I made it a point to stress that this is by faith and not by works. We must simply accept by faith what Jesus has done, but nothing we can do will ever grant us salvation.

However, I did not discuss some alternative viewpoints or the negligent impacts that this can provide if used in the incorrect context. It would be wise for me to at least briefly discuss some of those here.

The Proper Place of Baptism

Baptism is not a part of Salvation. Sure, there are metaphors about baptism and eternal life, but this is talking about a baptism of the spirit and not a baptism of water. Observe John 1:32-33,
"And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost."

So what is the purpose of the baptism by water that John did (and we emulate today)? It is a step of obedience, a symbol of the change that God has worked within you, and a commitment to obey the Lord in what He wished you to do.

As an extension, without a relationship with the Lord (salvation), you have no reason to commit to obey Him in everything, or show what change He has wrought within you (because He hasn't yet); thus, baptism comes after Salvation.

Those who believe in infant's baptism either are caught up in Catholic tradition, believe that baptism is a part of salvation, or view it as a commitment to raise their children in a godly manner. The latter I can understand, but I don't see much scripture to support it. 

Faith Without Works is Dead

I have made the point often in this series, that salvation is a gift and not of works. This may may lead some to question, so why try to live a good life after one becomes saved?

It is true that nothing we can do can establish a relationship with the Lord. Thus, we need faith and calling upon the Lord to establish a relationship to salvation.

However, just as you wouldn't expect a relationship with a person you meet on the street to last very long if efforts were not made to strengthen the relationship; if you desire to strengthen your relationship with the Lord, you would need to put in more effort.

Thus, faith without works leads to a "dead" relationship, in that although it will always be there, it will not develop into anything meaningful. Good for securing your eternity; not good for peace and comfort in your temporal life.

Additionally, in Romans 6, Paul explains simply,
"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?"

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