By Bill Fix
When reading or studying the Bible, it is helpful to consider the context and primary audience for a particular text. Sometimes we might be able to take a text with a specific meaning and extrapolate that out to make a more general application, but we must always be cautious to let the text speak for itself and not twist the scriptures to fit our own thoughts. For example, people today absolutely miss the point if we take a prophecy intended for Israelites 2,500 years ago and try to apply it to current events. Let us seek wisdom from above as Paul encouraged: “Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things” (2 Tim. 2:7).
(As an aside, no reasonable person would read that Judas “went and hanged himself” (Mt. 27:5), add that to Jesus’ directive “Go and do likewise” (Lk. 10:37), and then for good measure, “What you do, do quickly” (Jn. 13:27), and come away with the idea that Jesus wants us all to commit suicide.)
To highlight the importance of context, John’s epistle has a far different purpose and audience as compared to Revelation. As a result, different language is used throughout, and John specifies distinct objectives. For instance, his epistle was written “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (Jn. 20:31); whereas Revelation was recorded “to show His servants things which must shortly take place” (Rev. 1:1). Someone who is not one of “His servants” should first read John’s epistle and become a believer before reading Revelation (and then understand that many of the signs and symbols depicted therein likely occurred “shortly” after John penned it).
With this in mind, I want to share with you the following idea I read this past week. Doy Moyer is a preacher in Alabama, and he highlighted an important distinction about baptism that I had previously not noticed. Read his point and prayerfully consider the message:
One of the most significant arguments for baptism that I believe is under-utilized is the fact that the epistles, written to those who are already Christians, assume that the believers were all baptized. Look at passages like Romans 6:3-6; 1 Corinthians 1:13; 12:13, Galatians 3:27, Colossians 2:10-13, etc. These are not written to unbelievers to try to persuade them to be baptized. These were written to those who already were baptized, reminding them of what they did and what it meant when they were baptized. If baptism were not expected, necessary, or the norm for all Christians then, why is there a pervasive indication that all the believers in these churches were baptized? There is no distinction being made in the epistles between baptized saints and unbaptized saints. “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body…” In other words, the epistles were not written to the unbaptized.
But let’s not lose sight of this: again, these were written to remind believers of the significance of their baptism and how that should affect their living for the Lord.
How is your baptism affecting your walk with the Lord?