How does one go about properly applying Scripture without offending someone? It is impossible to do so, by definition. Scripture is designed by God to change the heart of man so that he might follow the heart of God. The harder the heart of man - the greater the offense. On one occasion, Jesus asked His disciple, “Doth this offend you?” (Jho. 6:61). That which offended them was His statement, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (Jho. 6:51). At the end of that discourse, the text says, “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him” (v. 66). Nor can one properly apply the truth on the most distorted theological subject of our day, without offending someone - if something is important it is worth clarity, so here goes…
· If a person was baptized by sprinkling or pouring, as practiced by Catholics, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Methodist and others - they lack the proper mode in baptism and therefore, need “re-baptism” (Rom. 6:3f; Col. 2:12).
· If a person was baptized by the authority of anyone other than Jesus, such as Ellen G. White (7th Day Adventists), the Watch Tower Society (Jehovah Witnesses), Joseph Smith (Mormons), and others - they lack the proper authority (Jesus Christ) and therefore, need “re-baptism” (Acts 19:5; Mat. 28:19; cf. Jho. 14:6).
· If a person was baptized as a public confession of faith (thinking he was already saved), as practiced by Baptist, Assemblies of God and others - they lack the proper purpose (remission of sins) and therefore, need “re-baptism” (Acts 2:38; 22:16).
· If a person was baptized but was not a penitent believer, as is the case when people are baptized because their friends are doing it; because they desire to please their spouse, fiancé or parents, not God; or was baptized as infants incapable of faith and repentance - they are not the proper subjects (penitent believers) and therefore, need “re-baptism” (Acts 2:38; 8:37; Mark 16:16).1
1 A special thanks to Mark Copeland of Executable Outlines; and Wayne Jackson of the Christian Courier.