David criticizes people who talk about “receiving Jesus”. But David ignores many passages of the NT. Consider John 1:11-13. “He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (and no mention of baptism there).
David teaches that if not water-baptised one is not really ‘born again’ or ‘saved’ (https://youtu.be/wFuJa5n3hAU). He says all four things: repentance, faith, water-baptism and receiving the Spirit are necessary to have eternal life. Let’s look at the implications of his doctrine . . . .
Thus, if you have not been baptised, despite being a disciple of Jesus, you do not have eternal life. You are not sanctified, not a child of God. David doesn’t state this outright but these are the implications: you are condemned, heading for eternal separation from God. Thus if not baptised, in David’s view, you do not have eternal life. You may have experienced the Baptiser in the Holy Spirit but if not water baptised your experience of the Holy Spirit means little. You may have had a lifetime of the fruits of the Spirit but unless you are water baptised you will be rejected.
I know that many teachers insist that baptism is not merely symbolic. But if it is a ‘means of grace’ and deemed necessary for salvation, it comes close to the Roman Catholic doctrine known as ‘baptismal regeneration’. The NT is silent about whether baptism is just “symbolic”. Symbolism and metaphor abound on the lips of Jesus and are frequently used by the apostolic writers. Symbolism is important and should not be ignored. Symbols transmit truth.
It is clear that the first believers practised water-baptism and we ought to follow their example. In fact we ought to follow their example in many practices which are ignored. We think we know better. Shame.
But to demand that believers be water-baptised to make them “saved” or to get them “into the Kingdom” is to introduce something that sends every unbaptised believer to condemnation. Can you imagine the Father saying to such ‘well sorry you missed getting baptised so there’s the door—depart from me!”?
Is that really what God our Father is like—a despot who watches to see if His children who receive His Son then fail to be baptised and then sends them to everlasting punishment? NO. It’s all about relationship with Jesus and the Father and abiding in Christ, being in Him and He in us.
Millions of Jesus’ precious, devoted saints assume that baptism is symbolic. They know they have experienced washing of regeneration, assurance of salvation, forgiveness of sins, victory over sin and have entered into eternal life in Jesus—having “received Jesus” (John 1:12) they go through life without any conviction they are lacking water-baptism.
We may persuade others to be baptised but to insist on this is deeply divisive. They have a walk with Jesus. They have a conscience. They also have the Holy Spirit. We can encourage people rather than insist. Commanding to be water baptized can put people under pressure especially if salvation depends on it! Commands bring condemnation, but encouragement strengthens and enables us to obey God and that’s Grace. People can then be open to God who can lead believers to be water baptized.
Are we going to be condemned over the adherence of a doctrine or not? If we are, then it’s doctrine that saves us and not the holy name and sacrifice of Jesus. Read John 1:11-13 again, and 1 Peter 1:3—and the whole of the New Testament. Otherwise we get only part of the picture.
I am persuaded that when we join the great throngs in the new world praising the Father and the Lamb we will meet John Wesley, Geo Whitfield, Charles Finney, General William Booth and the millions who embraced their teachings, together with witnesses, reformers, evangelists, prophets, revival leaders, and so on.