Essay / Theology

Answers to Your Questions on Baptism

“How do you explain the apparent contradiction between John 7:39 and 1 Corinthians 12:9? In John 7:39 we are told that we must have faith before the Spirit is granted, while in 1 Corinthians 12:9, we are told that faith is a special gift not had until the Holy Spirit is received.”

The answer to this is very simple. In John 7:39, as the whole context clearly shows, the faith that is spoken of is faith on Christ, that is the faith that receives Christ as Saviour and Lord. (cf. John 1:12) This, of course, must precede the receiving of the gift of the Holy Spirit that causes one to be a fountain from which rivers of blessing flow out to others. In 1 Corinthians 12:9, as the context clearly shows, the faith that is spoken of is faith not on Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord but special faith as a gift for service. The whole passage has to do with gifts for service. These special words are followed by the promise to “some” of healing. It is perfectly clear that the faith in the two passages does not refer to faith in the same sense at all.

“Does the word baptism in the Greek always mean “dip,” and if so, would this render any other form than dipping or immersing merely a substitute for baptism?”

The word “baptism” in the Greek does not always mean “dip.” In Luke 11:37, 38 we are told that the Pharisee who invited Jesus to dinner “marveled that he had not first washed before dinner.” The American Standard Version renders it “bathed himself before dinner.” The Greek word translated “wash” in the Authorized Version and the English Revised, and “bathed himself” in the American Standard, in the Greek is “baptized.” Of course, the mode of cleansing before eating practiced by the Pharisees was not by immersion. The correct form of baptism cannot be decided by the mere significance of the Greek words translated “baptize” and “baptism.”

“Is Ezekiel 26:25-30 a prophecy indicating the form of baptism by which will be used on these Jews?”

I presume you refer to Ezekiel 36:25-30. This passage does not refer directly to the form of baptism that would be used upon the Jews or upon anybody else.

“Does the textual construction of such passages as Acts 2:28 indicate that baptism is only effective when received in full consciousness and repentance, thus rendering infant baptism null and void?”

There is nothing in the textual construction that indicates anything about it. Peter simply told his present hearers two things that they must do: First they must repent and second they must make an open confession of their repentance in baptism. As these words were necessarily spoken to those who had not already been baptized in infancy or as adults they would have no direct bearing on the general question of infant baptism. The order of the words would not prove anything further than that an adult who had not been baptized should repent before he is baptized.

“Does 1 Corinthians 7:14 appear to indicate that children of believers being holy and ‘clean,’ do not require baptism while they are children?”

I think not. As far as they have any bearing on the question at all, and they do not seem to me to have much if any, they would indicate that the children of believers stand in different relations to God from other children and might suggest the propriety of the baptism of the children of believers as belonging to the covenant rather than showing that they did not need baptism. Baptism is an outward declaration of the fact that already exists inwardly.

Originally published in The King’s Business April 1913, p.193.

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