Paul’s argument in Colossians 2:11-12 assume the following three things:
Believers are baptized.
Those who are baptized are believers.
Baptism is immersion.
Allow me to briefly elaborate on each of these assertions.
1. Believers are baptized
You’ll notice in this passage, as Paul addresses the Colossians, he can assume all of them have been baptized (“you been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him”). It was assumed that believers were baptized, such that Paul can readily appeal to their baptism as part of his argument here. Paul, along with the rest of the New Testament, has no category or conception of an unbaptized believer.
The following is a chart that seeks to capture the logic of the following confession from Article 29 of The Belgic Confession:
“The true church can be recognized if it has the following marks: The church engages in the pure preaching of the gospel; it makes use of the pure administration of the sacraments as Christ instituted them; it practices church discipline for correcting faults. In short, it governs itself according to the pure Word of God, rejecting all things contrary to it and holding Jesus Christ as the only Head. By these marks one can be assured of recognizing the true church—and no one ought to be separated from it.“
Marks of a Church
Preaching the Gospel – What creates the church, a community of those who believe the gospel.
Administration of the Ordinances – What marks out and makes known the boundaries of that believing community.
Baptism = the initiating rite to mark off those who belong to Christ and his church.
The Lord’s Supper = the ongoing rite which continually marks off those who constitute the church.
Exercising Church Discipline – What maintains the proper boundaries of the church, i.e., those who demonstrate lives consistent with their profession of faith in Christ.
Over the last couple of years, churches have been hit with COVID restrictions, tensions over race, political disagreements, church abuse scandals, and more. This wave has resulted in many a Christian asking, “Is church worth it?” Or as more and more churches adopt things like “online campuses,” many are tempted to treat staying home as a permanent, on-par option with the physical gathering. But how would the Bible help us to consider these things? Is the gathered church still essential? Jonathan Leeman joins Kirk in this episode to begin answering these questions, and to discuss the topic of his recent book, co-authored with Collin Hansen, Rediscover Church: Why the Body of Christ is Essential.