Does baptism regenerate, or is it only a symbolic washing?
When it comes to baptism by water, I always have to ask myself, what did Jesus do? Aren’t we supposed to live our lives as Jesus did? I want to do all I can to pick up my cross and follow Jesus. Jesus was baptized, why wouldn’t I do the same?
I had a Protestants ask me one time the following: How did the “good thief” get into heaven without being baptized? I said since you belong to a Bible based church, can you tell me where in the Bible does it read that the “good thief” was NOT baptized? He shut up and never did show me that Sacred Scripture. Most Fundamentalists believe that baptism is only a symbolic washing-an ordinance, not a sacrament. Catholics believe that baptism is a sacrament of the NT instituted by Christ. Catholics believe that through baptism all sin, original and actual, is wiped away. The life of God, called sanctifying grace, is infused into the soul, and a person is born again of water and the Holy Spirit (Jn 3:5). Jesus made baptism a condition for entering heaven Jn 3:5; Mk 16:16). In Acts 2:38, St. Peter says that through baptism our sins are forgiven and we receive the Holy Spirit. St. Paul says that we are given new life (regeneration) through baptism. Titus 3:5 tells us that we are saved “by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit,” which refers to baptism. 1 Peter 3:20-21 says that “baptism…saves you now.”
In essence, Fundamentalists confuse the baptism of Jesus with the baptism of John the Baptist. John’s baptism was only a symbolic washing. However, John says that Jesus’ baptism would give the Holy Spirit, whereas his own did not. At the time of the Reformation, many Protestants rejected baptism as a sacrament of regeneration because it did not fit with their new and unorthodox notion of justification by faith alone.
Jesus would not have made baptism a condition for entering heaven if it were only symbolic. The writings of the early Church Fathers show that they all taught that water baptism regenerates. The idea that baptism is only a symbolic washing arose centuries later with the Reformation.
What are your thoughts on baptism?