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An Important Aspect of Baptism  

 

by Greg Koukl

 

NOTE: This has been edited for brevity.

Sometimes when I talk with people about Christ, I run into a very frustrating situation. The person I'm sharing with nods in agreement to everything I'm saying yet, even though I'm getting all this positive assent, something inside is telling me something's wrong.

I might be talking to someone who's living in a way that's completely inconsistent with obedience to Christ. Or it may be somebody I've known for a long time who is nodding in assent to my statements, but has never shown any spiritual vitality at all. His attitude often is, "Yes, I believe that. So what?"

When you encounter people like this, you probably wonder, "What do I do with this person? They say they believe, but something vital is missing here."

This is the case for many of you who were raised in a Christian home and have sat through many church services. Yet at the same time, you look around at other Christians you know and you see a vibrancy, an energy, a palpable love for Jesus Christ that influences their life, that has completely eluded your own.

For many people, they have simply made an intellectual assent to the truthfulness of the doctrines of Christianity--"Yes, I believe in my head those things we've said about Jesus are true. He is God. He is the Savior. He's the Lord. He rose from the dead." And that's where it stops for many people. These truths have no effect on their lives. They say, "Sure I believe in all that. So what?" That's because they haven't progressed from noticia - knowledge--and assent-- to fiducia--active trust, what the Bible calls "belief." But how do you really know the difference when you're talking with people. This is where baptism plays a valuable role.

In the New Testament there were no "altar calls." Instead, baptism was the public focal point of conversion in the early church (though I don't believe Scripture teaches that baptism actually saves you). It served to protect against substituting mere intellectual assent for genuine faith, and it can serve the same function today.

Many Evangelicals have reacted against inaccurate biblical teaching on baptismal regeneration by ignoring baptism altogether. This is a mistake. In addition to the theological problems with ignoring Jesus' command to be baptized, there is a practical issue.   

If people tell you they already believe in Christianity, but you suspect something's amiss, ask, "Are you willing to be baptized? Are you willing to stand up as an adult in public and confess your faith and trust in Jesus Christ, and to publicly identify yourself with Christ's Church?" If they're not willing, I suspect their so-called faith is just intellectual assent, not saving faith.  

Guess what, friends? If they're not willing to do that, I suspect that their so-called faith is just intellectual assent. It's not saving faith, because there's no willingness to identify oneself publicly with Christ. Then I know what I'm dealing with, and I can proceed properly.

Willingness to be baptized separates the sheep from the goats, spiritually speaking. It separates those who have a genuine faith in Jesus Christ from those who are merely giving intellectual assent to the doctrines of Christianity. If a person is willing to be baptized, I'm much more confident he probably has a genuine faith in Jesus Christ. If he's not willing to be baptized, however, then I suspect he is not a true Christian and instead is merely giving intellectual assent to the doctrines of Christianity.  

If you're listening and thinking to yourself, "I believe those things, but something is really missing," then maybe your belief is just intellectual assent, and you haven't really put your active trust in Jesus. Maybe you haven't surrendered to Him. If you've fallen back into Jesus' arms and put your trust in Him, then you ought to be willing to stand up publicly and say, "I am His, and I'm being baptized to publicly testify to that fact, and also to publicly identify with His people-- the Church."  

I think this is one of the very important things about Christian baptism. It allows you to virtually eliminate the question of whether one genuinely believes in Jesus Christ or has merely given intellectual assent to His claims. True biblical faith entails action and identification. If one acts to publicly identify himself with Jesus Christ and with His people in baptism, then he's probably moved beyond mere intellectual assent.

 


   


Questions

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Does God Exist?

What Is The Bible?

Is The Bible True?

Who Is Jesus?

Is Jesus In Every Book Of The Bible?

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"Judge Not..."

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"What About Those Who Never Hear About Jesus?"

"A God of Love vs. A God of Wrath"

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   Other Beliefs

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What I Believe

Theological Terms and Definitions

Belief Comparison Chart

An Eschatological Overview (End Times)

Good Quotes

Paul Washer Quotes

20 Logical Fallacies

17 Questions Every Christian Should Think About

My Prayer - I Have A Problem...

More Than A Holiday

Honest Questions for Jehovah's Witnesses

Honest Questions For Mormons

Questions For Skeptics

10 Reasons To Tell Your Kids The Truth About Santa

A View From The Life Boat

A Collection of Helpful Bible Passages

A Story About A Boy Named Mikey

Thoughts On The Doctrine Of Definite Atonement

Questions To Ask A Child Before Their Baptism

A Critique Of An Origin-Of-Life Article

No Hope In The Pope

Terrorism - What You Can Do About It

The Impact Of A Blind Elderly Woman

Evidence For The Resurrection - W.O.M.E.N.

 

Apologetics / Evangelism

What Is Apologetics?

Why Should We Do Apologetics?

What Is Presuppositional Apologetics? 

What Do You KNOW? 

What Is Evangelism? 

Why Should We Evangelize? 

Are Christian Doing A Good Job Of Evangelizing? 

7 Reasons People Don't Share Their Faith

The Question Of Evangelism - Words Or Works? 

Is The World In Which We Live In Today Tolerant? 

Preaching What We Practice and Talking The Walk

Man vs. God Centered Evangelism

 

Around the Web

44 Reasons Why Evolution is Just a Fairy Tale

The Scientific Case Against Evolution

Evolution: The Anti-Science

A Letter From An Atheist

Are You A Good Person?

Is This Your Life?

What Does It Mean To Accept Christ?

What's Wrong With The Sinner's Prayer?

An Important Aspect of Baptism

Must We Believe Jesus Is God?

Turn or Burn

Top 10 Reasons Our Kids Leave Church

10 Reasons Not To Ask Jesus Into Your Heart

10 Principles For New Christians

10 Pitfalls Of The Foolish Apologist

Evangelistic Phrases That Produce False Conversions

The Secret About How Some Christians Witness

Preaching God's Love In Acts?

The Gospel In Every Book Of The Bible

7 Key Differences Bewteen Protestant And Catholic Doctrine

A Different Perspective On Halloween

10 Reasons I Kissed Halloween Goodbye

The Question After A Tragedy - WHY?

The Impact of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Thoughts About Bruce (Caitlyn) Jenner

A Pastor's Response To The Marriage Debate

Sin By Any Other Name Is Still Sin

Should a Woman Be a Pastor or Elder?

Wives, Submit To Your Husbands?

The Shack - Missing Art of Evangelical Discernment

Universalism - A Problem for Everyone

5 Problems With Roman Catholic Theology

5 More Problems With Roman Catholic Theology

5 Truths We're Keeping From Our Youth Groups

Charlottesville, Racism and God's Word

8 Signs Your Christianity is Too Comfortable

Maybe Elvis Was Just a Carnal Christian?

 

Audio / Video

    Original Sermon Jams

     Born Again - Paul Washer

     Does Jesus Know You? - Paul Washer

     We Got An A! - Paul Washer

     A Boy On The Street - R.C. Sproul

     Fearless - R.C. Sproul

     Hypocrites - R.C. Sproul

     Smiling Faces - R.C. Sproul

     Authorized Personnel Only - Tony Evans

     Drive-thru - Tony Evans

     One Flesh - Tony Evans

     Sex - Tony Evans

     The Satisfier - Tony Evans

     Who to Serve? - Pastor Mike Leonzo

     The Voice of Truth - Pastor Ben Maxie

     Transformed - Pastor Mike Leonzo

     Where is the Love? - Pastor Ben Maxie

     He Claimed to be God - Pastor Mike Leonzo

     Love is a Behavior - Pastor Ben Maxie

     Examine It for Yourself - Pastor Mike Leonzo

     Perfect Love - Pastor Ben Maxie

     We Need Preachers - Mike Bongo

     The Sovereignty of God in Evangelism - Mike Bongo 

     I'm Ready - Mike Bongo

     Our Day in Court - Mike Bongo

     Examine Yourself - Mike Bongo

     Exclusivity - Mike Bongo

     Our World - Mike Bongo

     The Great Exchange - Mike Bongo 

     True God - Mike Bongo

    The One Minute Apologist

     Intolerance - Greg Koukl

     Legislating Morality - Frank Turek

     Intelligent Design and Creation - Bill Dembski

     Tolerance is Unbiblical - Josh McDowell

     Homosexual Forgiveness - Michael Brown

     What Must I Do To Be Saved? - Hank Hannegraaff

     Is Jesus A Copycat Savior? - J. Warner Wallace

     The Resurrection - Gary Habernas

     Contradictions In The Bible - Mike Licona

     Is It About Winning Arguments? - Mary Jo Sharp

     Does Christianity Oppress Women? - Dianna Newman

     Is Evil An Argument For God? - Brett Kunkle

   WWUTT (When We Understand The Text)

     Hate The Sin, Love The Sinner?

     Thou Shalt Not Judge?

     God Will Never Give You More Than You Can Handle?

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     Preach The Gospel, If Necessary Use Words?

     You Don't Have To Go To Church To Be A Christian?

     I Stand At The Door And Knock?

     God Has Already Chosen Who Will Be Saved?

     Spare The Rod, Spoil the Child?

     The Bible Says Slavery is Okay?

     Are Catholics Saved?

     God Foreknew Who Would Be Saved?

     Does The Bible Say Homosexuality is A Sin?

     Alter Calls And The Sinner's Prayer?

     Worse Than An Unbeliever?

    Kids Section

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     David Platt On Sharing the Gospel With Children

     For The Children: Are You Saved? - Paul Washer

     2 Amazing 11 Year Old Boys

   Other Audio / Video

     Rescue The Perishing

     Emeal Zwayne's Dialogue With A Homosexual

     The Big Questions of Life - Voddie Baucham

   Explore God

     Is There A God?

     Can We Know God Personally?

     Why Does God Allow Pain And Suffering?

     Is Jesus Really God?

     Are Christians Judgmental?

   The Bible Project

     The Book of Genesis Overview - Part 1 of 2 

     The Book of Genesis Overview - Part 2 of 2 

     The Book of Exodus Overview - Part 1 of 2

     The Book of Exodus Overview - Part 2 of 2

     The Book of Leviticus Overview

     The Book of Numbers Overview

     The Book of Deuteronomy Overview

     The Book of Joshua Overview

     The Book of Judges Overview

     The Book of Ruth Overview

     The Book of 1 Samuel Overview

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     The Books of 1 and 2 Kings Overview

     The Book of Job Overview

     The Book of Psalms Overview

     The Book of Proverbs Overview

     The Book of Song of Songs Overview

     The Book of Isaiah Overview - Part 1 of 2

     The Book of Isaiah Overview - Part 2 of 2

     The Book of Hosea Overview

     The Book of Joel Overview

     The Book of Amos Overview

     The Book of Obadiah Overview

     The Book of Jonah Overview

     The Book of Micah Overview

     The Book of Nahum Overview

     The Book of Habakkuk Overview

     The Book of Zephaniah Overview 

Street Conversations

Street Conversations Disclaimer

Street Conversations - George & Paul

Street Conversations - Don

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Street Conversations - Joe

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Street Conversations - Charles

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Street Conversations - Raheem part 2

Street Conversations - My Mom

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Street Conversations - Jacob

Street Conversations - Nolan

Street Conversations - Fred and Frank

Street Conversations - Phillip

 

Me      

My Baptism

Parable Of The Talents  

Survey Says  

A Hard Lesson  

Talking About Jesus  

The Perfect Gift  

A Faith Worth Thinking About  

Stand Strong  

Peace At Christmas  

Resolutions From Revelation  

Takin' The Gospel To The Streets  

Responding Rightly To The Gospel Of Grace  

A Defense That Honors God And His Word  

Encouragement In Corinth  

The Dash

Surrendering To Win

The Gospel

The Laborers Are Few; Therefore...

Love Has No Labels - A Response

Faith That Works

Atheists: They Don't Exist

YOU Must Be NEW

Making a Difference - Outreach and Evangelism  

Luke - A Careful Investigation to be Sure  

Be Kind! Yeah, But Why?

A Close Encounter of the Divine Kind

The Formula For Forgiveness

The Parable of the Soils 

 

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