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Musing About Baptism

As a life-long member of the Church of Christ, I have had a keen interest in the subject of baptism as long as I can remember. In 1976, I wrote my Master’s Thesis on the subject The Use of Baptism in Exhorting Christians in which I demonstrate that the apostolic use of baptism when addressing Christians (i.e., in the epistles) was to encourage them to unity in Christ, purity in life, and surety in their hope. More recently, I have been tossing another idea around in my head about baptism for the remission of sins, an idea that deepens my understanding of Acts 2:38 considerably. Continue reading

QUESTION: Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation?

I received the following question via the question-box on  my congregation’s website, www.Plymouth-church.com where I have answered hundreds of questions over the past four years.

Mar 16:16  And is baptized (kai baptistheis). The omission of baptized with “disbelieveth” would seem to show that Jesus does not make baptism essential to salvation. Condemnation rests on disbelief, not on baptism. So salvation rests on belief. Baptism is merely the picture of the new life not the means of securing it. So serious a sacramental doctrine would need stronger support than this disputed portion of Mark.IS BAPTISM REQUIRED TO BE SAVED? I DON’T THINK SO.

The criminal that was crucified beside Jesus was not baptized but was saved by having faith in JESUS, he was not baptized, why do you say baptism is essential for salvation. I believe being baptized is necessary in obedience to God, but not as a prerequisite to be saved.

This question has generated a lot of debate and confusion for nearly half a millennium. Until the Protestant Reformation, this was not Continue reading

QUESTION: When Are We “Saved”?

This question came to me by direct email from a regular reader. There was more in his letter, but the question is exactly as he asked it.

I’m curious about the phrase “being saved.”  I find Paul uses it in 1 Cor.1:18 and 2 Cor. 2:15.  My class has challenged me with that as a point to say that we aren’t truly saved after baptism…we are just in a process of having the ability to be saved, if we remain “faithful”.

The passages read as follows: Continue reading


The Day of Pentecost

Pentecost after the Resurrection of Jesus was a pivotal day in the relationship of men to the Deity. The ascended Christ poured out His Spirit upon all flesh, and nothing is as it was before.

Prior to that day, Jesus had said to His chosen apostles: Continue reading


Context is important when looking at Scripture. Who is speaking? To whom does he speak? What are the circumstances in which he spoke? Accordingly, I suggest we look first at the context of those passages in which John spoke of one coming after him who would baptize in the Holy Spirit and in fire.


There are four passages where John said the one coming would baptize with (or in) the Holy Spirit, one in each of the four gospels. Continue reading


There is a great deal of confusion about the baptism of the Holy Spirit in Churches of Christ. Most of our theology of the Spirit has come in reaction to others, not from a comprehensive study of the Scriptures ourselves.

We reacted against the Calvinist “direct operation” position in the early days of the Restoration Movement. Our emphasis then on the importance of faith coming by hearing the Word of God made many of us virtually put the Holy Spirit into retirement when the New Testament was complete.

In later years, we have reacted against the excesses of the charismatic Pentecostal movement Continue reading

John the Baptist & Jesus: Matthew 3:1-17

To Fulfill All Righteousness

Following the birth narrative, including the flight into Egypt and return to Nazareth, Matthew is silent about what Jesus did until he was an adult. From Luke we learn of his visit to the Temple at the age of 12. That is also where we learn he was about 30 when he came to be baptized by John.

Some time before that (we do not know how long), “John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near'” (Matthew 3:1-2).

John was a rough-hewn man from the wilderness. Some suggest he came from the settlement that produced Continue reading

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