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You Must Be Born Again

I and other restoration movement preachers have been grilled (and sometimes roasted) about the emphasis we lay upon Baptism. Some (erroneously) think that it is a work we lay a believers as a burden for faith. We are saved by Grace through Faith in Jesus Christ; I do not think any of us would disagree on that at all. And yet, the issue of baptism is still a big one. Why do we emphasize Baptism? It is more than a work, it is more than a symbol; it is what Jesus said must occur if anyone is to see the Kingdom of God: Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:3-8)

and elsewhere, such as

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (The Great Commission, Matthew 28:18-20)

It wasn't just Jesus, however, who put an emphasis on Baptism: Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:37-38

In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. Colossians 2:11-12

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God's patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him. 1 Peter 3:18-22 Even some who were being taught saw the need for it: And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. Acts 8:36-38 I know this is a LOT of Scripture, but I hope you see that I do not emphasize Baptism, but Jesus and His Apostles do and His Holy Word does. I realize this is offensive to some, they say "I said a prayer, and I'm saved!" And, yes, Scripture says "For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). Yet we must understand that Baptism isn't our work. It is the work of Christ in us. It is the act, as Jesus said, of being Born Again, of water and of Spirit. In Baptism, Christ reenacts the Gospel, that we, too, participate in His death, burial, and resurrection, rising as a New Creation as He rose again, speaking to the promise that we shall also rise again in the last day. To deny Christ's work through baptism is to cheapen the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the price He paid does not come cheap!

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