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Friday, December 3, 2010

Simple Church Minute 26--baptism separate from conversion

26—baptism separate from conversion
NOTE:  I originally wrote a segment for each of the 61 points Frank Viola and George Barna make in their book, Pagan Christianity, about traditions in the institutional church not based on scripture.  After writing it, I chose to not include this segment merely as I felt that in wouldn’t be an interesting radio commentary.

My name is Tom; this is Simple Church Minute
            In Acts chapter 8 verses 35 to 38, an angel tells Philip to go out into the desert, where he meets this person who is the treasurer of the queen of Ethiopia, and he is in a chariot reading the book of Isaiah.  Philip asks the Ethiopian eunuch if he understands what he’s reading, he says no, Philip explains, and the Ethiopian believes,and says, “Here is water.  What hinders me from being baptized? Phil says, “ If you believe with all your heart, you may.”  The eunuch says, “I believe Jesus Christ is the som of God.  Phil baptizes the Ethiopian.
The aspect of baptizing a person immediately upon belief was the normal pattern of the early church.  A person comes to faith and is baptized.  The person doing the baptism is authorized to do so by being a believer.
            In Acts 16 verses 14 and 15, Lydia and her household were baptized after the Lord opened her heart to what Paul was saying.  The Bible says her trade was a seller of purple.  This would be better understood today as an importer of luxury fabrics, as only the highest in society were allowed to wear purple.  She was on a business trip at the time.  Acts 2 verse 41, Acts 8 verse 12, and Acts 16 verses 30 to 33 all follow the same pattern—people believe in Jesus as Savior, and then people are baptized.  In no cases does one see special people doing the baptizing.
            How did the church get off that pattern?  In the 2nd century, some leaders, and in some places leadership was beginning to get stratified, as matched other institutions in the world, some leaders taught people needed a time of instruction.  Over time, the period of time got longer, Jewish and Greek traditions started getting added, it started being done usually on Easter, and at its most distorted, just before one died, which was connected to an idea that sins after baptism could not be forgiven.  None of those changes has connection to what is in the New Testament.

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