I Can’t Find It

Where do we get the oft-repeated notion that “at baptism we contact the blood of Christ”?

Where does that come from in scripture?

We can go to 1 John, where the passages about water and blood are cryptic at best and the connection to baptism tenuous at most. I think there might be a connection, but it is not explicit – and the concept there is that they are two out of three different things that testify; not one that connects you to another.

If we go to passages like Hebrews 9:14 or 1 Peter 1:2 and tat them to baptism, we will have difficulty as immersionists – for both of these talk about being sprinkled with blood.

If we are willing to sew two unrelated passages together and form such a notion, I guess we could go to 1 Peter 3:21 and lap-stitch it to Romans 5:9 and say the magic words quid pro quo. But I am left unsatisfied with that. (Or with any concatenation of scriptures which are not generally aimed in the same direction – whether it’s Romans 6:3 with John 19:34 or any other patchwork quilt of scriptural scraps and the thread of human logic.)

Lots of things save us, including baptism. Can we embroider any of them in the same way and say that through any of them we contact the blood of Christ? As if it were exclusively through any one of them that we do?

I think I could make a better case for the notion that we contact the blood of Christ when we commune together at His table. After all, that’s what the cup contains. (1 Corinthians 10:16-17)

Don’t misunderstand; I’m not saying that the phrase “at baptism we contact the blood of Christ” is in error or ignobly born or repeated in an intentionally misleading way.

I’m saying that I simply don’t find that notion expressed in scripture.

I’m saying that we often repeat it as if baptism were the only way in which we contact the blood of Christ – because we don’t say that about any other act of penitence or obedience or Christ-imitation – and that, therefore, the reason for saying it while excluding anything else is suspect.

I’m saying that there is more to a life that seeks salvation than simply being immersed, or confessing Christ, or repenting, or even believing for just that one moment after an invitational hymn is sung. Baptism is not just the means to the end of salvation, but to the beginning of it. Baptism is an incredible gift, through which we as believers receive many others.

It is undeniable that His blood and our salvation are inextricably knotted.

When, and where, and how He applies it to cleanse us is not a matter of great concern to me. I trust Him. He will do what is right by each of us who live a life of faith in Him – at His own time, at His own place, in His own way.

That kind of life involves constantly confessing Him, repeatedly repenting, boldly believing, and immutably immersing ourselves in His way of living.

I find that throughout scripture.

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19 thoughts on “I Can’t Find It

  1. Thank you, Keith, for such a thought-provoking post. To me, thinking about this is enriching and will lead me closer to Jesus, and that is what I hope will happen to everyone who reads this–though sadly,in my experience these kinds of discussions stir uneasiness in some. ~Kathy S

  2. Even in a post-levitical age, some sacred cows still need to be sacrificed.Maybe this saying is one of them.

  3. Interesting. The first time I heard about baptism being when we come in contact with the blood of Jesus, I was still a teenager and Catholic. It was on a weekly program by the independent Christian Churches/Churches of Christ (instrumental). So, the idea has apparently circulated around the movement.There are more biblical phrases, like being buried with him in baptism and putting on Christ in baptism, but this one about the blood and entering into contact with it is not directly derived from Scripture. Funny, for a movement that talked about calling bible things by bible names.I’d still insist on baptism by immersion, not faith only, but then when I talk about salvation, election, the Christian hope and a number of other topics the meaning I find in Scripture isn’t quite what I find in the movement in general.But, I ramble….

  4. well…good question Keith. We accept so much that we hear over and over and don’t really think. I went through my mental list and thought… Romans 6: death-yes…but not mention of Blood…Acts, can’t think of a verse…Galatians…nope, Revelation 5 does say we are saved by his blood. I think now it must be one of those things where if you string enough scripture together (including a suspect passage) you can say something like this:Since baptism is the single means by which (according to New Testament exegesis) one can contact the blood of Christ, then BAPTISM IS THE POINT AT WHICH ONE’S SINS ARE REMITTED. Therefore, the Gospel routinely declares that baptism saves or takes away sins. “. . . Repent, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins . . .” (Acts 2:38). “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved . . .” (Mark 16:16). “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). “. . . baptism doth also now save us . . .” (1 Pet. 3:21).Of course you can make it say all sorts of other things if you cared to.Thanks for making me think again.

  5. Keith, I believe if you look back on comments on your post of 5-17, you will find I agreed with you then. The bible connects baptism with the FLOOD not the BLOOD.1 Peter 3:20-22 (New International Version)who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge[a] of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ,who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.

  6. Baptism was also prefigured by the crossing of the Red Sea by the Israelites, though, Laymond … I would have to disagree with “the FLOOD not the BLOOD.”What I’m calling suspect here is our use of the phrase “at baptism we contact the blood of Christ” as if it were the one and only thing that does put us into contact with it – so if we’ve done that, somehow, we’re “safe.” We’re saved.If we don’t live our lives being filled with His very Spirit, transformed into the very picture of Christ, then we weren’t baptized and we aren’t saved.We just got wet.

  7. “If we don’t live our lives being filled with His very Spirit, transformed into the very picture of Christ, then we weren’t baptized and we aren’t saved.”Keith that is scary, I look around and I don’t see many who fit the bill. Heck I don’t see any.

  8. Keith, this post is dead on. Loke you, I made this discovery about “the blood” several years ago, and came to the same conclusions you have. I may come to a different one down the road, but right now I feel the same way you do. We say things long enough and teach things long enough, we start believing they are scripture. Thanks for being a SEARCHER, brother!In HIM,DU

  9. Keith,Thank your challenging our faith and sheding light to the questions you ask. Wonderfully thoughtout and encouraging. Thanks having such wonderful posts.

  10. Good question, typically I have believe in Romans 6, but really it is not there. Thank you for looking at this.

  11. Keith, when we start discussing baptism, we should start with this statement.Mk:1:8: I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.and no place I can find says the second, baptism spoken of, replaces the first. I believe it is obvious that Jesus himself performed the first baptism for many. the baptism of repentance.I have placed a short post on my blog clarifying how I see baptism in today’s church. If you are interested.

  12. PS. Keith if we are using the same baptism/of repentance used before the death of Jesus, how can it be said that is how we contact the blood.

  13. Interesting, I have not heard that phrase before. Seems like a very limiting phrase for something so AWESOME as the blood of Christ. I will look into this one.I enjoy your blog!

  14. Thanks, Cheryl … Here’s a < HREF="http://www.google.com/search?q=at+baptism+we+contact+the+blood+of+Christ&rls=com.microsoft:en-us:IE-SearchBox&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&sourceid=ie7&rlz=1I7GGLD" REL="nofollow">Google search<> for the term, and you can see where most of the sites come from!

  15. Keith,And now to muddy the water (no pun intended) even more, consider this well worn phrase. “Obey the gospel.” Can anyone find one place, even one, where it is spefically connected to baptism in the Bible? If it is I missed it. To “obey the gospel” is to believe it. (baptism is not the gospel, it is one response to it)I believe in water baptism. I also believe the truth that can’t be ignored and it is that salvation is by faith, which is simply taking God at his word. EVERY response that arises from that saving faith and is observable by human means is an indicator of someone who has become a disciple of Christ and is actively following Him.Jesus said to Nicodemus “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. SO IT IS WITH EVERYONE WHO is born of the Spirit.” What God does in the innermost being of a man is not observable by human means, yet we try to pin down the work of the Holy Spirit so it can be neatly observed by human flesh.The result is that we decide who is “faithful” or “sound” by what we can see and hear. The scriptures talk about observing “fruit” and even that is in the context of knowing false teachers, not who is saved and who is not.Only God can “see” faith. We are limited to a view from the outside aren’t we?Ephesians 2 says that while we were “dead” God made us alive with Christ (by grace are you saved). I’ve noticed that dead people don’t do much of anything.Salvation is of the Lord! Man is not at the center, Christ is.His peace,Royce

  16. Pingback: Sermons and Chimes: The Ark and The Church « Blog In My Own Eye

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