Always Biblical, Sometimes

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Caught part of a message on the radio by a local pastor of a large Baptist church. His overall message was easy to accept, even by a Lutheran like me: you’re dead religion won’t save you.

Unfortunately the pastor includes infant baptism among the dead religious works that will not save. In making his case he states:

“There is not one instance in the Bible of any baby being baptized … the Bible doesn’t teach baby baptism, it teaches believers baptism.”

This pastor sees baptism as a physical sign of an inward spiritual reality. It’s “a sign you’ve trusted in Jesus as your Savior … a way of showing that you belong to Him.” For this pastor, baptism is something you do to show you’re a Christian.

I once held this view of baptism, but I’ve since come to a different understanding of what the Bible says about baptism. But that’s not really what caught my attention in the radio broadcast.

What caught my attention was how many times the pastor claimed that since infant baptism isn’t biblical, we should not baptize babies. Because of course, if it’s not biblical, we ought not do it.

Yet at the end when he invites his audience to say yes to Jesus, he tells the story of a man who said yes to Jesus when he “prayed the prayer of salvation and asked God to change his life.” Perhaps you too want to pray the prayer of salvation and are wondering just where to find that prayer. One place you won’t find that prayer is in the Bible.

There is not one instance in the Bible of anyone praying “the prayer of salvation.” The Bible doesn’t teach “the prayer of salvation”, it teaches baptism.

If you look it up you’ll find that though the prayer of salvation isn’t found in the Bible, there’s a pretty common understanding of just what is meant by  “the prayer of salvation” or “sinners prayer”. It’s a prayer written by well meaning people who claim to be biblical. Yet when it comes time to answer the question, “What must I do to be saved?” give a response not found in the Bible.

So to claim you don’t baptize infants because it’s not biblical but then to turn around and call people to trust in Christ by praying the prayer of salvation that is not biblical is a bit inconsistent. Because this pastor separates the water from the Word in baptism, I don’t expect him to baptize babies anytime soon, but I do expect him as a teacher of God’s Word, to give more biblical answers to those seeking forgiveness in Christ.

Ananias, after announcing the good news to Saul, said this in Acts 22:16:

“And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’”

Now that’s biblical!

By the way, I don’t get too worked up over how people express faith to trust in Christ, but when you claim you’re biblical, well, I’m just saying go all the way and be biblical!