Is Baptism Necessary for Church Membership?

baptism

Matthew 28:18-20

18    And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
19    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,
20    teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Acts 2: 37-39

37 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?”
38 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.
39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

Galatians 3:25-29

25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian,
26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.
27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

My take:

There is only one way to understand the Lord Jesus command. If a person has repented of his previous way of life and perspective-and that now he owed his eternal life to his savior-then his life must be in conformity to his Owner and Master-Jesus the Messiah. The badge of ownership and change of worldview is baptism. Before it is a church ordinance-it is part of the Lord’s message.

Many of our brothers in Muslim,Hindu or Communist countries will testify that their persecution starts when they were known to be baptized in the name of Jesus. They were forever marked as a Christian because of this act. Though we don’t want unbelievers to defined doctrine for us- it is merely secondary or tertiary evidence of what it means to be a christian.

Add to this are the confession of faith of paedobaptist churches like that of the Belgic confession on what baptism is all about:

“Therefore He has commanded all those who are His to be baptized with pure water, into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, thereby signifying to us, that as water washes away the filth of the body when poured upon it, and is seen on the body of the baptized when sprinkled upon him, so does the blood of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit internally sprinkle the soul, cleanse it from its sins, and regenerate us from children of wrath unto children of God. Not that this is effected by the external water, but by the sprinkling of the precious blood of the Son of God; who is our Red Sea, through which we must pass to escape the tyranny of Pharaoh, that is, the devil, and to enter into the spiritual land of Canaan.

The ministers, therefore, on their part administer the sacrament and that which is visible, but our Lord gives that which is signified by the sacrament, namely, the gifts and invisible grace; washing, cleansing, and purging our souls of all filth and unrighteousness; renewing our hearts and filling them with all comfort; giving unto us a true assurance of His fatherly goodness; putting on us the new man, and putting off the old man with all his deeds.”

See also the Westminster Confession of Faith:

“I. Baptism is a sacrament of the new testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible church;but also, to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his ingrafting into Christ,of regeneration,of remission of sins,and of his giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in newness of life.Which sacrament is, by Christ’s own appointment, to be continued in his church until the end of the world.”

Even for them-to be baptized is to be identified to a Christian-his own! Then they just muddled and confused when they come to their infant children. Baptism is for disciple of Jesus -who believes that they were ransomed, purchased, bought, redeemed and owned by their Lord and Savior-Jesus Christ.

Do we even need to discuss church membership?

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