Teleios recently completed a survey of visitors to the Instagram account, GodsHolyScriptures. 189 individuals participated, of whom 61% were <18 years, 74% evangelicals and 50% from the southeast or Midwest USA. In total 86% believed that they were saved by grace alone and 40% believed they could not lose their salvation.
We asked about baptism history, method and significance. The results validated my experience discussing baptism with younger people: they often appear confused over the significance of baptism and what scripture says about it.
Here are the top 4 answers regarding method of baptism and some associated meanings:
Ø Immersed as an adult (32%) – Strong differences in the rite of baptism exist across denominations. Unsurprisingly, immersion baptism, which perhaps most closely represents the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit, is preferred strongly by Baptists. They believe generally the rite should be performed after salvation when the convert is old enough to decide responsibly.
Many Christians believe it symbolizes primarily a commitment to God by the new believer which was true also in or survey (20%).
Ø Sprinkled as a child (23%) – This form of baptism is preferred by several traditional denominations and is generally believed to convey either:
· Forgiveness of the sin nature, and prior sins, allowing for a fresh start and working towards salvation, combined with grace (Catholic viewpoint)
· Salvation in infants too young to make a decision for Christ. This protection lasts to the time of the age of responsibility (Presbyterian viewpoint).
· Commitment by parents to raise a child in a Godly manner leaving the responsibility to the child to believe and be baptized as an adult (various individual churches).
Ø Never been baptized (19%) – Although this group might be seen by Christians as disobedient, the epistles, which contain the injunctions to the church, do not command water baptism. Water baptism is seen as an example at least once (Acts 8), and maybe more early in the book of Acts (speculative). In Scripture, It was performed in almost exclusively among early Jewish Christians early in the church.
Of course, salvation itself is by grace alone with no added works required (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Ø Spiritually baptized by the Holy Spirit at Salvation (15%). This choice is closest to the meaning of baptism in the Epistles. The apostle Paul explained that spiritual baptism ‘identified’ us (βαπτιζω, baptizoo) in the death and life of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Baptism represents the regeneration by the spirit to a new person who can serve our Lord. This regeneration appears to occur at salvation accompanied by the sealing of the Holy Spirit (Romans 6:2-9, Colossians 2:11-13, Ephesians 2:4-7). Indeed, 68% of the participants in our survey believed baptism represented the regeneration of the Holy Spirit in their lives (Titus 3:5).
The rite of baptism is a very controversial topic and often elicits strong emotions from people who believe one way or another. I have tried comment in a scripturally based and transcultural manner. Christians are free to participate in water baptism out of faith, by the method they choose, to demonstrate their commitment to our blessed Savior.
Join us again next week as we continue to look at the fascinating results of Teleios research and what they tell us about the truth of scripture and our Christian culture.
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