Thursday, June 09, 2011

Baptism, and Boldness

I know that for centuries the church has been divided over baptism battles. As a Baptist, I understand baptism to be the ordinance by which the believer expresses outwardly that which has been worked by the Spirit inwardly. The testimony powerfully pictures both identification with Christ in his crucifixion, burial and resurrection, and also the cleansing associated with forgiveness of sins. Believers' baptism, then, signals to the gathered church that this person is to be accepted as a brother/sister in Christ. 
Baptism is a testimony to the Spirit's work. And yet, there are baptized unbelievers. The testimony can be false. So also with the testimony of boldness, though in different cases.
It seems that an evidence of an apostle's authenticity was in his willingness to boldly proclaim the gospel (Acts 9:27,28; 1 Thessalonians 2:2). An apostle's speech was critical to the fulfillment of his role, and the willingness to boldly speak for Christ in the face of dangerous and deadly opposition was an indication that he was fully committed to the cause of Christ, that he was truly Christ's apostle. Yes, there can be bold-speaking charlatans. But few will risk the damage if their soul is not wrapped up in Christ.
So, I've been baptized, but am I a bold proclaimer of the Gospel (not just in the safety of the church service, but in the mixed-up marketplace)? What if authenticity as a Christian were not just evidenced by baptism, but by boldness? Would you or I have convincing testimony that we are truly living under the claim of Christ?
Some would argue that, since the apostolic function has ceased with the completing of the New Testament, ordinary believers should not be challenged to follow the apostolic example. I am a cessationist, I suppose (though I'm not sure the categories will fit forever), but I don't believe that refraining from tongues and healings allows us to ignore all of Paul's example. 
I believe that one's testimony of bold proclamation should match his/her testimony of baptism's profession.

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