By Jason Smith
Infant baptism is objectionable for several reasons.
First, infant baptism is an unauthorized change in God’s pattern for baptism. God tells us whom to baptize. He tells the conditions people must meet in order to be baptized, but babies do not fit. To baptize babies is to act by human authority without divine authority. All things that we do as God’s people must be done by the authority of Christ (Col 3:17). How can we presume to do something in Jesus name and say it is approved by Him when He does NOT command it or say it is pleasing to Him? We cannot! Below I have provided two reasons that infant baptism is contrary to the pattern given by God:
Second, infant baptism leads people to believe they are saved when they are not. God requires people to be baptized for the remission of sins when they are old enough to make their own decision about the matter. But many people have been baptized as babies. Then, when they are old enough to be responsible for their conduct and to make the decision to be baptized, they refuse because they believe they have already done so. But their infant baptism was not Scriptural. So the person goes through his whole life never having been Scripturally baptized, and therefore he never has received forgiveness of his sins! The false doctrine of infant baptism leads people to suppress the truth and to think that they have been forgiven by God when they have not been Scripturally.
Third, baptism is meant to forgive sins that are committed, but a baby has not yet committed sins. Since baptism must be done for the purpose of receiving forgiveness of sins, a baby could Scripturally be baptized only if he/she was guilty of sins and needed forgiveness. But is a baby guilty of sin? The answer is ‘no’. Sin is defined in scripture as transgressing the law of God (1 John 3:4, James 1:14-15) and it is the sin that we commit that separates us from God (Romans 3:23, Isa 59:1-2). A baby is not guilty of sin, so they do not have a need to be baptized. ‘Sin’ must be redefined (contrary to scripture) to make a baby a candidate for baptism. Those who baptize infants do so based on the doctrine of Inherited Depravity. You can view the article in which I deal with this doctrine here. What should a person do if his baptism was not done the way the Bible teaches? He should realize that he simply has not yet obeyed God, and he needs to obey God by being baptized according to the Bible (see Acts 19:1-6).
By Ryan Hasty
No method of conversion has gained such popularity amongst mainstream denominations in the last century than that of the “Sinner’s Prayer”. It has been said that thousands of people utter this prayer daily in response to alter calls and one-on-one conversations between friends, relatives, co-workers, and school mates. To find the origin of this method of conversion, one must rely on extra-biblical evidence as neither the term “sinner’s prayer” nor the concept can be found in God’s holy word.
The beginning of this conversion method has its foundation in the middle 18th century as the First Great Awakening was underway. It was in 1741 that a preacher named Eleazar Wheelock devised a technique called the “Mourner’s Seat” by which to draw the penitent believer. Wheelock would target sinners by having them sit in the front pew while pronouncing from the pulpit “salvation is looming over your heads.” Not only were these individuals susceptible to further counsel, they were vulnerable to whatever method of conversion Wheelock prescribed. False conversions from his revivals were numerous though it took almost a hundred years for other preachers to begin mimicking his process.
In 1801, the “Cane Ridge Revival” began in Kentucky and lasted for several weeks. The temperature outside was so hot and attendees endured such long periods without food that many became delirious and began rolling around in the aisles and barking like dogs. Such an abuse of the emotions by the preachers at this revival gave thousands of individuals a mistaken notion about their rebirth. Some ministers such as J. V. Coombs rightfully condemned such behavior as a mockery to Christianity. However, other ministers caught on to the fact that gospel preaching could be modified to manipulate the emotions of the listeners into “conversion”. Others in pews around the country placed unreasonable expectations on preachers to produce the same “religious experience” that was found at the Cane Ridge Revival.
It wasn’t until 1835 that another preacher named Charles Finney emerged on the scene to develop a hybrid system of conversion by combining Wheelock’s “Mourner’s Seat” with the experience of the Cane Ridge Revival. This traveling preacher named his technique the “Anxious Seat” and developed an entire theological system around it. The practice was essentially a psychological technique in that it manipulated people's emotions to make a tearful profession of faith without a true conversion. Its success was entirely dependent upon the ability of the preacher to stir up his audience's emotions. Finney did not attempt to hide his confidence in this man-made system when he stated, “The church has always felt it necessary to have something of this kind to answer this very purpose. In the days of the apostles, baptism answered this purpose. The gospel was preached to the people, and then all those who were willing to be on the side of Christ, were called out to be baptized. It held the place that the anxious seat does now as a public manifestation of their determination to be Christians.”
In the 1860s, the concept of the “Anxious Seat” was modified further by a preacher named Dwight Moody. Moody’s method was named the “Inquiry Room”. Moody utilized the same psychological techniques that preyed on emotions, but in addition asked those who responded to his teaching to join him and his trained counselors in another room. In this “Inquiry Room”, questions were asked, certain scriptures were read, and then Moody and/or his counselors would pray with the potential converts. Moody considered prayer to be the last step in the conversion process. A man named R. A. Torrey succeeded Moody in 1899 and he modified Moody’s system by taking the “room” out of the equation and performing “on the spot” street conversions. Torrey’s method of conversion made popular instant salvation with no strings attached.
In the early 1900s, well known baseball player Bill Sunday had a conversion experience in Moody’s Chicago mission and therefore left the diamond to pursue preaching. Sunday was one of the most popular, charismatic, and entertaining speakers of his generation. He used various antics, showmanship, and humor to stir up the emotions of his listeners. Sunday preached that one could be saved simply by walking down his tent’s “sawdust trail” to the front where he was standing. Later on, people were said to have received salvation simply by publicly shaking Sunday’s hand and stating that they would follow Christ.
Finally in the 1940s, the next big crusade preacher hit the scene. A young man named Bill Graham trained counselors to encourage those who responded to his “altar call” to pray that Jesus would come into their heart. This concept of praying for your salvation came from a tract Graham developed called “Four Steps to Peace with God” which merely originated from another tract 50 years prior called “Four Things God Wants You to Know.” In the 1950s, Bill Bright took this concept and coined the expression, “The Four Spiritual Laws” which ends with the so-called “Sinner’s Prayer”. This prayer goes something like, “Lord Jesus, I need You. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be.”
Sadly, the concept of the Sinner’s Prayer can be found neither in Jesus and the Apostles’ teaching nor seen in the’ numerous conversions found in the book of Acts. It is entirely man made and falls under the category of “another gospel” that Paul confirms and then reaffirms in Gal 1:6-9 will condemn those who proclaim it.
The true method of conversion can be found in our Lord’s teaching in the Great Commission and then following the “Acts” of the Apostles as they attempted to follow our Lord’s instruction. Jesus taught the apostles in the Great Commission that they were to teach belief, repentance, and baptism (Matt 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:46-47). We know the Apostles followed His instruction because we see this being done in the conversion of the 3000 Jews on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:36-39), the conversion of the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:35-39), the conversion of Saul of Tarsus (Acts 22:16), the conversion of the Philippian Jailor (Acts 16:29-35), etc. And while the temptation is great to listen to the words of men as they tell us a simple prayer will do the trick, let us instead listen to the simple words of God and put our trust in His plan and no other.
By Jason Smith
What a great day for the kingdom of God it must have been when that first sermon was preached by Peter! The door into the kingdom of heaven was opened to the world. That first sermon led to the salvation of about 3000 souls.
Let’s put ourselves into the shoes of the people hearing this first sermon preached about Jesus Christ.
Some of these people were probably there on the day when Jesus was before Pilate being judged. Some may have even been part of the crowd that was yelling, “Crucify Him, crucify Him (Luke 23:21).” Their hearts must have been deeply pierced by the words of Peter when he, by the Spirit, said to them that they were guilty of putting to death the Son of God, the promised Messiah in whom they had been so anxiously awaiting (Acts 2:23, 36). We probably could not begin to understand the sorrow that was in their hearts for their wickedness in turning over the Son of God to the Gentiles to have Him crucified.
I don’t know what your response would be to the words of Peter, but the question that I would ask, begging for an answer, would be, “What must I do to be forgiven?”
This is exactly how the people responded to Peter and the other Apostles. We see the peoples’ response to the word of God in Acts 2:37:
“When they heard this, they were pierced to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles: “Brothers, what must we do?” I’m sure that they, just as any of us, couldn’t wait for the answer to this question! What would the answer be? What would they need to do to be forgiven of their sin against God?
Did Peter answer by giving some of these answers you commonly hear today:
Peter tells them that if they wanted to be forgiven of their sins each of them needed to repent and be baptized for the remission of those sins. These were the things they needed to do! We see that there were about 3000 people who did just that! Acts 2:41 says, “those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.” When these people received the word of God, they obeyed it by being baptized for the forgiveness of their sins. It should not surprise us that Peter would give this answer to the people because Jesus Himself gave this instruction in the great commission. Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved (Mark 16:16).”
“Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” is the answer to the great question, “What shall we do?”
Have you been told to do something different than what was instructed to the people in Acts 2? Have you been told that you do not need to do anything to be saved, or that you just needed to say a prayer? That’s not what Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, said to do!
The people that obeyed the gospel on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 were added by the Lord to the church and were set free from the bondage of sin. Will you gladly receive the word of God just as they did, by repenting of your sins and by being baptized for the forgiveness of your sins?
By Jason Smith
I have had many discussions about the subject of baptism with people, and it never fails that sometime during the discussion, they just deny what the scriptures say about the topic. They at times just say, “I deny what you are saying about baptism,” ignoring the fact that all I am doing is quoting verses about baptism. Another response I have gotten is, “You don’t have to be baptized!” Well, to this response I say, you are absolutely right! You do not HAVE to get baptized. This is a true statement. You only HAVE to get baptized if:
One of my favorite passages of scripture to share with someone that I am talking to about how to obey the gospel is Ephesians 2:1-10:
“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world…But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Ephesians 2:1-2; 4-10).
This passage shows us the gospel message and it’s response clearly. We were dead in our transgressions before coming to Christ, and it is through Christ we can be saved. This salvation comes by the grace of God through faith when God makes us alive together with Christ and raises us up together with Him. Most churches and professed Christians will agree with this. But the question that gets many different, contradictory answers is this: “When is it that God saves us by grace through faith? When is it that God raises us up together with Christ and makes us alive together with Him?” There is only one verse in the New Testament that answers this question: Colossians 2:12-14. Let’s compare Ephesians 2 and Colossians 2, two sections of scripture that Paul wrote at about the same time:
Colossians 2:12-14 clearly answers the question “when does God raise us up with Christ into new life and make us alive together with Him?” The parallels between the two passages are undeniable. The answer to our question is: When we by faith are baptized. There is not another answer that the Bible gives to this question. At this point we are made alive together with Christ and forgiven of all of our transgressions by God (v13). This happens, not because we are working to try to earn our salvation, but because we have “faith in the working of God” (v12). Salvation is of the Lord. We receive it by faith. If you want to receive the spiritual circumcision of Christ and have your sins “cut away” from you by God, then you must in faith be buried with Christ (immersed) in baptism. At this point in time, we are saved by the grace of God through faith. Just as in the Old Testament, it is not just going through the motions that saves us. They couldn’t just kill animals without knowing why to be forgiven. They also couldn’t just believe in sacrifice and not act. They needed to perform their sacrifices in faith, and when they did so, they received God’s gift of forgiveness. The same is true in the New Testament with Christ’s sacrifice. We cannot mentally believe in the sacrifice of Christ and not act. Faith is a verb. It demands action. God tells us what is necessary to be saved by His grace, and if we want to receive it, we must act.