By Kent Bailey
[Jimmy] Allen [long-time Bible professor at Harding University] advocates the false notion that New Testament baptism had numerous designs, the understanding of which is not essential to its validity. He further advocates that there is a single design that must ALWAYS be understood — the principle of obedience to God. If such is indeed the case, then by what rule of logic, or, by what hermeneutic does one conclude that ONLY one design must be understood before the alien sinner can be baptized into Christ? Allen’s line of reasoning is purely and arbitrarily subjective, void of ANY Biblical truth!
It is further argued that “remission of sins” is “a blessing to be received” like the “gift of the Holy Spirit,” that one “does not obey blessings,” but rather, one “obeys commands,” and that “remission of sins is never given as a command.” Only a casual analysis of Acts 2:38 proves that remission of sins is essentially connected by the preposition “for” (eis) to the commands “repent” and “be baptized.” To argue that one need not understand the design of remission of sins is to argue that one could “obey God” by accident, while in reality one was disobeying God and ridi- culing the design! Matthew 13:15 and Romans 6:17–18 powerfully refute Allen’s contention. The phrase gift of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:38 is NOT part of the design of baptism. Such was a consequence received because one had become a child of God, not to make one a child of God.
Obedience to God is the general purpose of EVERYTHING one does in life. However, that particular expression is NOT a specific design to a positive institution such as baptism. To argue that “remission of sins” is only “A” not “THE” design of New Testament baptism is to fail in understanding the import of New Testament teaching. Certainly, it is true that THE DESIGN of baptism is stated in varying expressions, however, to argue that baptism has more than one design is to imply that “Salvation,” “Remission of Sins,” and being “in Christ,” “in the one body,” (the church), etc. are all different blessings. If such were true, one could have remission of sins without having salvation, and be in Christ without being in the one body, the church. When one believes that he is already saved prior to being baptized, then in being baptized one does not “obey from the heart” and in reality DISOBEYS GOD! If one believes that baptism is for the remission of sins, yet also believes that in being baptized one is “joining” a denomination, one is disobeying God in the fact that the design of New Testament baptism IS NOT to put anyone into a man-made religion. One cannot be taught wrong regarding the Plan of Salvation and baptized right, and one cannot be baptized right and as the result of the design of that baptism be joined to a human denomination.
Attribution: Seek the Old Paths, April 1999