Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Baptized for the Dead? What Does That Mean?

All scripture references, unless otherwise noted, are from the King James Version of the Holy Bible.
In 1st Corinthians 15:29  the Apostle Paul asked, "Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?" This passage of scripture has been misconstrued by the Church of Jesus Christ, Latter Day Saints and made into a doctrine that in essence states that if one wasn't baptized in his or her lifetime, then a living person can stand in for the deceased individual and be, "baptized for the dead." That seems far-fetched in the extreme to me.

1st Corinthians 15:1-2  of starts out with Paul's declaration of, "the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain." He then declares in verses 3-4 the Bible definition of the gospel, e.g., the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Then in verses 5-8 he mentions those who had witnessed the resurrected Christ, which at the time of his writing, "above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep," and finally his own testimony of seeing the resurrected Christ.  Then in 1st Corinthians 15:9-11 Paul proclaims his own apostleship and that God's grace wasn't bestowed on him in vain because he, "laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed." Then starting in verse 12, he got into the meat of the matter.

In 1st Corinthians 15:12-15 the apostle uses pure logic, e.g., if there is no resurrection from the dead then the message which the apostles and others preached is a false witness because they preached that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. In verses 16-18 he reiterates that if there is no resurrection form the dead, then Jesus did not rise from the dead and those who put their faith and trust in the Lord Jesus are as lost as they were before they believed. What's more those who have left this life, having put their faith in His salvation have perished. Finally in verse 19 Paul said, "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable." We have given up the pleasures of this world for nothing. We might as well be like the rich man in Jesus' parable found in Luke 12:16-21, "...I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry."  

Then in 1st Corinthians 15:20-28 Apostle Paul reaffirmed the gospel message that Jesus Christ did rise from the dead and the apostle set forth the order of things, e.g., "...Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. Then cometh the end," Apostle Paul said, when the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God will yield up the office of the Sonship and take His place as God Almighty and God will "be all in all." The next verse, verse 29 is where Paul asked the question that so many have tried to wrest to their own meaning, ""Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?" 

I will not at this time go on into the rest of 1st Corinthians 15 but will only say this, the argument revolved around the resurrection of the dead. Apostle Paul amply proved that if there is no resurrection then Jesus did not rise from the dead. Thus why would one want to be baptized in the name of a dead man? It seems fairly simple to me. There is no mystical meaning here. The Lord Jesus did indeed physically resurrect from the dead and is alive forever more. Jesus said in John 10:17-18,  "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father."

My friend if you have had doubts about the resurrection, about God's ability to save you; let me encourage you to believe the gospel to the Lord Jesus, His death at Calvary, His burial, and His Resurrection, as stated in 1st Corinthians 15:3-4. He came into the world to save you. Let Him complete His work in you today!

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