Baptism and Membership
This is our second sermon in our membership refresher series. We have dealt with the issue of why every believer ought to be a member in a local church. We attempted to show by 7 arguments that the modern notion of membership is very different to our modern opt in understanding of membership. The Bible paints a picture of de facto membership, in other words, it would be odd for us to talk about our membership in the country of New Zealand. If you are born here you are a ‘member’ of the nation. When you are born again you are automatically one with the Church and one with Christ. Formalised membership is like getting a passport. It is making official something that is already the case. Today we want to move from why every person should be a member to the question of who should be a member.
We are a Baptist church so we answer baptised believers, and what we mean is those who have made their own confession of faith, and made their own obedience to Christ’s command to be baptised, not some man made ceremony of confirmation and only those are to be accepted as members. We base our view on the practice of the NT church in Acts. This brings us in confrontation with those who eschew baptism and think it unimportant and those who are baptised as infants.
Today I would like to make a case for believer’s baptism. I want to do this by taking what I think is the best verse that infant baptism has going for it, Acts 2:38:39, and making an exposition of it,
And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”
The case for infant baptism, at least from a reformed background, I am not engaging with the Roman Catholic view, is a longstanding theologically informed argument. It has deep theological foundations and rests on many verses. I am not offering the insult of saying I can clear up every point of their argument in one message. But I think that their strongest arguments are found in Acts 2 and we will engage with these.
So I want to do two things today. I want to show the integral relation of baptism to membership and then secondly, show how Acts 2 teaches not a paedobaptist view but a believer’s Baptist view of membership.