Monday, August 13, 2007

Baptism? Ya' sure . . . we teach dat

At last week's Northmen men and boy's rally, one of the speakers (from the righter wing of The Restoration Movement) made a veiled reference to "Bible colleges that don't teach baptism." I am so glad that he wasn't talking about my Alma mater, Great Lakes Christian College.

From time to time folks question whether or not GLCC teaches immersion as essential for salvation. I decided I would ask James Pahl, our church's youth minister, what he learned at GLCC. I was surprised to learn that James didn't come from a Christian Church background. He grew up Free Methodist and was unimmersed when he came to GLCC as a freshman. Through the teaching of his professors in Life of Christ and in Acts, (more specifically the scripture to which they drew his attention) James came to the understand that he needed to be baptized to be saved.

That is what James now teaches at South Lansing Christian Church.

Whenever a school, such as GLCC, admits students from other faith traditions, they open themselves to the accusation "your students don't believe in baptism." Even though the professors teach immersion as an integral part of the salvation experience, there will be students who will leave the classroom disagreeing.

But, as in the case of James, there will be others who, like Apollos, learn the gospel "more adequately." Because of GLCC, James Pahl is entrusting the gospel to reliable students who will also be qualified to teach others. And that, friends, is good news!


Rod Bisher said...

I will echo James experience at GLCC, and will attest to the professors teaching immersion as an integral part of salvation.
I was taught that one can receive Christ and want Him in their life, but that the old person of sin had to die. Without that death, there could be no new life in Christ. We only find that death taking place in the burial of baptism, and when someone is dead, they have to be buried, and no resurrection to a new life can occur unless one dies.
In the first 5 chapters of Romans, Paul dispels the thought of living by the law, believing in God, and being a good person will save anyone, even himself. He then goes on in chapter 6 and fixes the line of demarcation that truly identifies who is born again.
Yet, for all of my seeking and trying to understand, I am just not grasping how different leaders would want to vary Paul's writing to fit their own agenda, or explain it away, or just outright bypass it. This baptism, this immersion, this burial, is the threshold which must be crossed to pass through the doorway from death to life. There are prerequisites, obviously, before one is to pass over this threshold, and we certainly agree with many other Christian believers on these prerequisites. Those of having faith, of believing that Jesus is the Christ, of repenting from our former way of life, and living a new life committed to Christ. But where does that definitive seal of of God's Spirit truly dwelling within us, not just upon us, come to be? Where is that "marriage to Christ" take place? Take for example, are a man and wife married when they come to the altar and say their vows? Are they married when they put the rings on one another's fingers? Does the true marriage take place when they are pronounced man and wife before witnesses and kiss? Is it after the minister signs the marriage license and they are recognized by law as being married? Or is it after they are alone and they consummate their marriage sexually, and are recognized by God as being married?
It's all of these! Leave one part out, and there is only a partial ceremony, an unfinished pledge, an unsigned legal document, and a non committed relationship! There is not true unity of the bond of marriage. Is a person a Christian when he first believes in Jesus? Is it when he repents from going toward a sin filled life and wants what God offers? Is he a Christian then? Is it when he stands before witnesses in a congregation and confesses Christ?
Is it when he is taken into the water and buried with Christ? Is it living faithfully to God and confessing Jesus to others? As in a marriage, yes! It is all of these!
Leave one out and you destroy the whole recipe as leaving out an ingredient in a cake.
Believing, repenting, confessing, being immersed, and living faithfully is the recipe for salvation. No man made this up. God saw the need of man to follow a step by step process of leading men to Himself. Believing is absolutely necessary. Repenting is absolutely necessary. Confessing is absolutely necessary. Immersion into Christ is the consummation of the necessary. Living faithfully is absolutely necessary...ask any husband or wife who's marriage is successful, and they will tell you, you don't leave any part out.
That's what I learned from my professors at GLCC.

Frank Weller said...

Yes, yes, yes!