Facebook Debate About Baptism
"In Acts 10:43-47, we see regeneration occurs with faith and is followed by water baptism. Water baptism, a physical act can not produce a spiritual change."(my emphasis)
The way I see it, that statement is not consistent with the scriptures that have been presented. Can you please show me a scripture that says that baptism is only symbolic?
Jesus and his apostles baptized with water for the forgiveness of sins.
First Peter 3:21 says that baptism doth save you.
With that physical act it is accompanied by a spiritual act, the cleansing of the conscience, the regeneration of the soul. The merits of Jesus death for our salvation is applied to us through the waters of baptism. If this were not so, why was it commanded?
The earliest Christians were actually all Jews so they understood the concept of God's grace working through material things. For instance, circumcision in the old Testament was performed to bring the person into the covenant with the God of Israel. In the New Testament Baptism becomes the new circumcision! We see that later in Acts when the apostles agree in Jerusalem that the new believers don't have to be circumcised anymore. Because the New Covenant through his blood on the cross supercedes the old. But God still uses the stuff of earth to work his miraculous grace in us.
All the early Christians believed this. There was no controversy about it. Jesus words about being born in water and the spirit were interpreted by those closest to Him to mean "baptism in water."
Why wouldn't scripture say, "just believe in Jesus." Why was repentance always tied to the physical act of baptism? If it was only meant to be symbolic, why didn't Jesus tell John the Baptist: "Hey Cousin, listen everyone is watching us here in the river and I don't want to give the wrong idea, so can we just skip the baptism ritual, since it's only symbolic?" I don't want these disciples of yours to get the wrong idea."
(Of course Jesus didn't need to be baptized, we can both agree on that) but none the less, He indeed did it and one of the last things He told His disciples was to go throughout the world baptizing
Jesus used physical/ material things to confer his grace.
He used mud and spittle to heal, and James instructed the Church to use oil and the prayer of faith for healing. So grace has always been conferred/transmitted via physical things based on scripture and all of recorded Christendom before the 1500's.
If baptism is symbolic and has no inward effect, than why did Jesus and the apostles and all the Christians after Him believe that it DID SAVE THEM?
There is no historical evidence from 70 AD to 1500's that ever states baptism is symbolic. Only after the reformation, after Calvin and Luther were gone, did it become understood as only symbolic.
If you and others can present writings from before the reformation, and preferably closer to the time of Jesus that states emphatically that baptism is symbolic, I would be more inclined to agree or at least say that this was debateable and a point that was always not clear.
Thanks for listening.