Baptism, Salvation, and Election 3

The conversation continues in the comments to my earlier post on How do you “make a Christian”? As always, defining terms seems to be the biggest challenge in such a discussion.


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3 thoughts on “Baptism, Salvation, and Election

  • gary

    I grew up a fundamentalist Baptist preacher’s son, very well educated in Baptist doctrine. I became an evangelical in my twenties: same doctrines just with a more positive emphasis. I am now a conservative (confessional) Lutheran.

    Why did I become a Lutheran if I was taught, and still believe, that salvation is received through faith alone, in Christ alone? How could I join a Church that believes that God saves and forgives sins in Baptism? Baptism is a work!

    I became a conservative Lutheran when I realized that the reason Baptists and evangelicals do not and cannot understand infant baptism and baptismal regeneration is that they do not understand how a sinner obtains FAITH!

    As I said above, I was a Baptist preacher’s son. When I was nine years old, I got into trouble, and my mother gave me a well deserved spanking. After the spanking, she talked to me about sin and that I needed to be saved. She led me in a prayer to ask Jesus to forgive me of my sins, come into my heart, and be my Lord and Savior. I remember feeling so good after finishing that prayer. I was saved!

    I was then told that God would now speak to me or move me or lead me to do things to follow his will for my life. All the Christians around me were talking about God moving them, leading them, speaking to them…but I just didn’t have the same intensity of feelings that most of them seemed to have. So when I was about 15, hearing a good Baptist sermon, I asked myself this, “Maybe the reason God doesn’t speak to me like he does other Christians is probably because I am not really saved! I didn’t really believe the first time. Maybe I didn’t fully repent. Maybe I didn’t have enough faith.” So I prayed the equivalent of the Sinner’s Prayer again, with all sincerity and contrition for my sins. I felt that rush of good feelings again. I was happy. I now knew that I was definitely saved!

    But then in my early 20′s I attended a non-denominational evangelical church (with Baptist doctrine). The people in this church REALLY had God. They would sway with the hymns, hands toward heaven, their eyes rolling back in the heads. ” Wow! God really speaks to these people! So why doesn’t he speak to me like that? There must be something wrong with me, because I DON’T FEEL SAVED!”

    I left the Church altogether.

    I was not the only Baptist/evangelical to undergo several born again experiences because we didn’t FEEL saved. My mother, the pastor’s wife, several years later, the person who had “led me to Christ”, decided that she wasn’t really saved either, so she repeated her born again experience just to be sure. And several other people in my church repeated their born again experience for the same reason: they weren’t sure that they had done it right. If you go on your computer and google “how many times have you prayed the Sinner’s Prayer?” you will find other Baptists/evangelicals who have gone through the same experience.

    The problem with the Baptist/evangelical Doctrine of Faith is that it is based on US! Our salvation is based on us having the maturity and intelligence to make a free will decision to accept Christ into our hearts, So if later on in life we start to question our salvation due to not FEELING saved, what do we have to fall back on? Ourselves! Did I really repent? Did I really have true faith or was I trusting in my own faith? At nine years old did I really have the maturity to make a decision? MAYBE I DIDN’T DO IT RIGHT! So just to be on the safe side, I’ll sincerely repeat a version of the Sinner’s Prayer, and make 100% sure that, this time, I do everything right!

    So, in this plan of salvation, which is supposed to be a FREE gift from God, we turn it into something that depends on us…on us doing the born again experience correctly!

    What I have learned from Martin Luther and Lutheranism is this: salvation is ALL God! Salvation doesn’t depend on me at all! I am not actively involved in my salvation! Jesus Christ does it all!

    Luther, Baptists, and Evangelicals

  • Gary

    I believe that it is a waste of time for Baptists/evangelicals and Lutherans/orthodox Christians to discuss the Doctrine of Baptism without first agreeing on the “HOW” of salvation. Unless we come to agreement on how God saves sinners, our respective views on Baptism will never make sense to the other group, and our debate over Baptism will always end in a stalemate, as it has for the last 500 years.

    So how does God save sinners”

    Does God save sinners by this method?

    1. A sinner hears the Gospel and is convicted of his sin and his need for a Savior.
    2. The sinner makes a decision to believe, based on his intelligence and the maturity of his decision-making capabilities.
    3. The sinner asks Christ to save him and repents of his sins.

    Or does God save sinners by this method?

    1. God predestined, before the world existed, that you would be his child.
    2. Then, at some point in your life, at a time of his choosing, not yours, God quickens your spiritually dead soul by the power of his Word, gives you the free gift of faith, creating belief and repentance.

    Baptists and Lutherans/orthodox are in full agreement that it is by faith that we believe and repent in salvation. Our difference is HOW the sinner acquires faith. If faith is a gift from God, then salvation is truly free. If faith is produced by the sinner’s intelligence and mature decision-making capabilities then the sinner is providing assistance in his salvation.

    Does God need or allow the assistance/cooperation of the sinner to save him?

    Unless we can reach agreement on this crucial question, Baptists and Lutherans/orthodox will never agree on the Doctrine of Baptism.


    Luther, Baptists, and Evangelicals

  • gary

    “In Baptism, the believer is making a public profession of his faith in Christ. He or she is outwardly displaying an agreement with Christ`s death, burial and resurrection by obeying Christ’s command to be baptized. Being baptized in water is simply and only an outward sign of the inner work of the Holy Spirit.”

    This is the Baptist/evangelical doctrine of the “Ordinance of Believer’s Baptism”. There is a small problem, however, there is not one single verse in the Bible that makes this statement. However there are many verses that say:

    “Repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins”
    “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved”
    “Why do you wait, get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins”
    “Baptism now saves us”

    You can twist and contort the Bible to say most anything. However, the plain, simple interpretation of the Bible says that God saves and forgives sins in Baptism. Orthodox Christians have believed this plain, simple interpretation of God’s Word, that God saves in Holy Baptism, since the days of the Apostles. Numerous historical records from the first three centuries of Christianity confirm this interpretation of Scripture. The Baptist/evangelical belief that Baptism is simply and only OUR act of obedience/OUR public profession of faith is a sixteenth century false teaching of Swiss Ana-Baptists, and in the seventeenth century, the Baptists. There is no historical evidence whatsoever in the first 800-1,000 years of Christianity of ANYONE believing this concept of Baptism.

    Baptism is GOD’S act of saving sinners. He does all the work of salvation, you and your “decision for Christ” are not needed or allowed to help save you. God does 100% of the saving! Period.

    For more information on the true means of salvation, I encourage you to visit the official website of the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, an orthodox Christian Church that adheres to the doctrines of the Early Christian Church.