church gathered for baptism at lake shore

Spirit Empowered Mission: The Advent of the Spirit, Part 3

Is the church in general poorly taught regarding baptism? How important is baptism for the Christian? We asked Art Azurdia…

Listen to sermon (Acts 2:37-41):


Before getting into the meat of the text, you laid down some foundational concepts regarding baptism. Do you remember why you did that?

Well, probably because I can’t remember the last time I taught specifically on baptism to our congregation. I felt it would be especially worthwhile in a modern evangelical context, where baptism could easily be mistaken as a means of acquiring salvation. Alternatively, we continue to run into people (and my guess is that it’s everywhere and not just in Portland) who think that baptism is such a secondary issue that they can envision being a Christian for years without being baptized. While we want to be very careful to guard the concept of salvation by grace alone apart from any works, we have to let people understand that baptism is so tightly bound to salvation that it’s involved in the very invitation of the gospel. Because of this confusion regarding baptism, I felt it necessary to lay that foundation.

Why did you decide not to tackle the issue of credo/paedo-baptism at length here in this sermon?

Part of the reason I avoided it here is that I know we are going to hit it in later passages, where the issue is more in the forefront. So when we look at some of the household baptisms, that issue will become more prominent and that is where I find, frankly, the more compelling argument for paedobaptism. Though I don’t think it decides the case, as we will see.

Why do you think so many people are so poorly taught regarding baptism?

I think it grows out of a broader ignorance in general ecclesiology. That is why at Trinity we’ve wanted to preach every year on the doctrine of the church, on some aspect of ecclesiology. I don’t think it’s just baptism that people are ignorant about – they are ignorant about preaching, the Lord’s Supper, church discipline, and New Testament expressions of polity. Across the board, ecclesiology is an underdeveloped doctrine in most evangelical churches. Secondarily, many people (who are not as careful with the text as they ought to be) want to protect salvation by grace alone so much that they either intentionally or unintentionally make any issue of obedience secondary in importance. So baptism is seen as unimportant, along with other forms of obedience, which of course they are not. Thus, when we talk about baptism we are trying to fix a general deficiency in evangelical Christianity.

About Art Azurdia

Dr. Azurdia is the Doctor of Ministry Program Director and the Associate Professor of Pastoral and Church Ministry at Western Seminary. He is also Director of The Spurgeon Fellowship and Pastor at Trinity Church in Portland, Oregon.