1 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat; 4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ…
… 11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. 12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. 13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
14 Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry. (1 Corinthians 10:1-14 / KJV)
As we mentioned last this subject, “baptism” will compass several messages. So far we have established only – What: is baptism. Simply stated – baptism is a symbolic act which taken in right context substantially effects the participant in a supernatural way. In this understanding it is both symbol and substance. A manword aspect, symbolic act – and a Godword aspect, conveyed Grace unto Salvation.
Next question then naturally is, “who” may receive this baptism? Debate on this basically falls into two major camps, each quoting scripture as their defense of doctrine. Remember this if I never teach you anything; if a doctrine or interpretation of a scripture negates or contradicts any other scripture, that same interpretation is in whole or in part wrong. This is why I have chosen the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth. Corinth was a mixed-up bunch and Paul specifically wrote to resolve their doctrinal and practical problems.
So if you demand the individual baptized be of age and understanding in order to receive this blessing you probably point to something like… Mark 16:16, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” True Jesus did make this statement but in the context of (please look that up and see for yourself the context) a parting call to his disciples to “GO” preach the Gospel. He was not setting rules for who is baptized. He was commanding His disciples to go, preach, and baptize.
And if you demand the individual be baptized as an infant without regard to age or understanding you probably point to something like… Mathew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Assumed by this doctrinal interpretation is that the term “all nations” includes “all” regardless of age, race, color, gender, even physical or mental handicap.
I assume in my interpretation two theological rules: 1) scripture interprets scripture. 2) interpretations of scripture cannot be contradictory or negate other scripture. From here we go back to why Paul was writing his letter to Corinth. This group in Corinth was placing too many requirements on membership for the church; some too exclusive, some too inclusive. Specifically, Paul addresses baptism by reminding them of its symbolic nature. Paul is speaking directly about the doctrine of baptism. As an example, he is stating baptism relates all the way back to the event when God by Moses brought Israel through the Red sea. The first commandment is “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” Note here, God acted and man obeyed to effectively baptize “all” the people; men, women, children, slaves… without their have a clue as to what had happened theologically; Egypt being a type of sin and death , baptism then the act of bringing them out of sin.
So our short take away from this is – we use the old testament examples and we interpret “all” were baptized. We can identify 30 or more scriptures in the Bible on baptism in which several refer to “all” baptized including everyone in the household. Also being careful not to interpret as to exclude any other scripture interpretation. Finally, we read Paul’s words as he continued… “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free–and have all been made to drink into one Spirit…” and “But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.”
The most correct understanding then of “who” should be baptized is in the confirmation of “what” baptism is; an action of both God and man each having specific authority and responsibilities. As disciples and believers in Jesus Christ we are called to baptize “all”. Nowhere did God in his actions through Moses; in His actions in Jesus, or in His commandment through scripture ever give men authority to decide who is saved and who is not. We should remember God is in control of this “all”. By His Spirit and good work we have “all been made” partakers of this experience; each one “just as He pleased.” Finally, the key point both scriptures debated above do agree on is that as disciples we have been commanded to go and preach making disciples of “all” nations and peoples. We have been given responsibility. If we accept that God has brought every moment and every circumstance to be… we should simply obey His command baptizing “all” in the name of the Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit; all who understand; all in the household perhaps without understanding – and trust God’s Grace in this sacrament (the Godword side) is secure to whomever He pleases.
God has full authority. We have full responsibility… ALL should receive baptism !