The Controversy Between Baptism and Born-Again Biblically, to be born…
The Controversy Between Baptism and Born-Again
Biblically, to be born again is to be BAPTIZED. Ordinarily, this won’t have been a case to debate on because the bible is very clear about it. Unfortunately, almost every person and every denomination have their own interpretations and teachings on what they consider to be born again and what they consider to be baptism.
This confusion in Christianity especially since it is about Baptism worries me so much because I know that the God we all claim to be serving is not a God of confusion. How come the members are?
If you can spare few minutes, I just would like us to look at the Bible objectively and see what it says on baptism so we can at least trace where we got it wrong. I promise you will not regret taking out time to read this post, even though it is a bit long.
First, we begin with where the word “born again” was first used. It was from Christ himself. John 3:3.
“Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
The Greek word translated as born again is “ἀναγεγεννημένοι”. Some translations used “Born from Above” instead of “Born again”.
Because it was even confusing to the person Jesus was talking to, he had to take his time to explain what be meant by born again in verse 5.
“Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.”
Ordinarily, I would have concluded that Jesus’ explanation was very clear until some Christians started having the claim that Jesus was not talking about Baptism with water rather that he was talking about “baptism of the Spirit.”
The big question is, can there be Baptism at all, in which ever form we see it, without the Holy Spirit?
Now, let us imagine the importance Christ placed on Baptism. It was the last command he gave before his Ascension. I want us to imagine our typical parents. If they are dying or better still traveling and it will take a very long time before their children see them again, at the sick bed or airport, those messages they give to their children as they bid each other farewell are usually the most important from their hearts.
In the same way, that was what Jesus did to his disciples as he bid them farewell. He said:
“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”(Mark 16:14-16).
There are three key words there: Preach. Believe. Baptise.
To still make everything more clearer, Matthew’s account gave us how we can Baptised. The formula to use.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19).
What could be clearer than that?
Interestingly, the early disciples of Jesus understood how important this was. They took it seriously.
In Acts of the Apostles 16: 14-15, Paul baptised Lydia and his household.
I would like you to read for yourself:
14. One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. 15. And after she was *BAPTIZED*, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.
This is the same Paul some people were misquoting out of context that according to Romans 10:9 we are saved only by confessing with our mouth and not Baptism.
In Act 16, we saw the beautiful story of Paul and Silas in the prison and the conversion of the Jailer. Paul and Silas sang songs and the prison gate opened.
But the interesting part was the jailer who wanted to kill himself thinking the prisoners have escaped.
After Paul talked to him, he was moved. And he asked a very important question in verse 30, and a beautiful and very important response was given to him in verses 32,&32.
30 “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.”
You noticed how the first thing was for him to believe. For most Protestants and Pentecostals, that is all, that is Altar call. The person is proclaimed saved.
But that was not the same for Paul.
After Paul has seen that he believes, he did not stop there. In verse 33, we saw his baptism.
33 “And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was BAPTIZED AT ONCE, he and all his family.”
If you noticed, the words “At Once” was there for some emphasis. It was as though, there is no need waiting. It was like saying, “let us complete the conversion process immediately.”
This is the same Paul that some people are misquoting o.
Have we also forgotten that after Paul was converted on his way to Damascus to persecute Christians, he was made blind. The disciple Ananias was sent by God himself, not to ask Paul to repeat any prayers and be saved, but to Baptise him.(Act 9:10-19).
How else do we want God to show us how important Baptism is?
Now we move to Peter, the head of the church. In Acts of the Apostles chapter 10, the entire chapter was all about a certain man called Cornelius and how Peter preached to him and he was baptised.
The story is very dramatic. First, Peter saw the vision to go, then he was hesitant because the man in question was a pagan, and finally when he arrived, he preached.
Then the last part and interesting part. When Peter was preaching the Holy Spirit came down on them. And do you know what Peter said in verse 47? Read for yourself.
“Then Peter responded, “How could anyone prohibit WATER, so that those who have received the Holy Spirit would not be BAPTIZED, JUST AS WE ALSO HAVE BEEN?”
“And he ordered them to be BAPTIZED in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Then they begged him to remain with them for some days.”
If you look at that verse 47, it is like as if Peter was saying…”oya, let us do it quick quick…who can ever dare to deny them baptism when the holy spirit has spoken.”
You see, even for the apostles, baptism was the ultimate point of conversion. That is what they understood as being born again.
In all the passages I have quoted so far, do you also noticed that every member of the house were baptised too? Is it possible that there were no children that were baptised along side? Why do we fight over infant baptism? Why can’t a child be baptised with the faith of the parents. Where in the scripture was infant baptism condemned?
I am so sorry that this is getting too long. I just want to give you all the possible instances that will help you see what I mean. The last example I will quote is about Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch.
In Act 8: 26-40, it is all about the dramatic story of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch. Philip was sent to him. After Philip had explained the scripture to him, he was touched.
Then something dramatic happened in verse 36 as they were on the way. Read for yourself:
36 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?” 38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.
From what the man said alone, you could deduce that Philip had told him so much about Baptism using water. All he was just looking out for was where he will find water. And once he did, he could not hold it again. He even ordered his chariot to stop. Once he was baptised, the whole conversion process was complete.
From that passage also and some other passages I already quoted, we can deduce that baptism is not merely an act done in the river. All that is needed is water and the formula given in Matthew 28:19.
There is a consistent trend in the whole passages I quoted. First, there is preaching. Secondly, the person believes. Thirdly, the person is baptised.
For so many people who feels Altar call is what it means to be born again, what is important to them is preaching and then believe. They do not add the last and most important part. Yet they want us to believe that they are following the bible.
Let me leave it like this while I wait for your own say on this.
Thanks for the patience to read. Thanks too for sharing this post. God bless you!