Who do your follow? Jesus or the man-made rules and teachings of a church?
Are you a Halfway Christian?
I first came across the term “Halfway Christian” watching a documentary on the Protestant Reformation. In the 1520s Martin Luther was not the only reformer who realized that the Catholic Church had it all wrong (and they still do). They were the Anabaptist who believed that baptism…
…is valid only when the candidate confesses his or her faith in Christ and wants to be baptized.Wikipedia
When Should Someone be Baptized?
For children, it wouldn’t be when they’re 6 months old, but when they are old enough to understand the saving grace of Jesus Christ and accept Jesus as their savior — around 10-12 years old.
In the 16th century, anyone who was baptized as a baby, was not considered a real Christian. They were “Halfway Christians”.
I was a Halfway Christian for a long time.
I followed the Catholic Church till the age of 18 because that’s what my parents told me I needed to do. Actually, it was only my mom. Dad never went to church unless there was a wedding or a funeral. His excuse was that his knees hurt from an accident and he couldn’t kneel.
In my early 30s, I moved to Miami and decided it was time to go back to church. I church-shopped for a while and ended up at a United Church of Christ (UCC). They are the most liberal of the mainline Protestant churches — Progressives. They, too, don’t believe in baptism by immersion. Moreover, they don’t teach anything about being born again or accepting Jesus as your personal savior.
What’s the Difference Between Sprinkling and Baptism by Immersion?
I didn’t learn the truth about baptism till I moved to Arizona and joined First Christian Church of Phoenix (FCC). In their 101 class (now called First Steps), the pastor explained that the symbolism of being dunked is dying to your old life and being born anew in a life where Jesus is the center and you receive the Holy Spirit in your heart.
Back in Miami, I tried a Baptist church and they didn’t explain it in a way I could understand. They just told me I needed to be baptized. I didn’t get it. I had already been baptized as a child!
At FCC, Pastor Scott Pixler said,
“There’s no ‘sprinkling’ in the bible.”
That got me thinking — how did we get from dunking to sprinkling? When I joined FCC, I had just written my first novel and was looking to get it published. I did A LOT of research on first century Christians. I went back to my notes and found that the early church leaders — Roman Catholics — made some rules to make sure new converts got baptized.
They were to first find “living water” — a river, lake, ocean, or pond. If living water was not available, a pool or tub would do. If there wasn’t a pool nearby, then pour water on their heads. Ah-ha!
Somewhere along the line, the church adopted the sprinkling and totally forgot the reason for the dunking — dying to your old life and rising to a new life as a follower of Jesus.
Once I was baptized, it took me a while to totally leave my old life behind. I tried to keep one foot in the world and one foot in God’s Kingdom and it wasn’t working. I eventually changed my behavior — even my politics.
I realized that growing up, I was following the Catholic Church and not Jesus. The Catholics made up rules back in the Middle Ages to keep their parishioners inline and they refused to accept the truth that Martin Luther preached.
Beware of False Teachers Preaching a Watered-Down Gospel
Over at the UCC church, they were preaching a watered-down gospel (the good news of Jesus true salvation). They just skipped over the whole “Born Again” passage that Jesus explained to Nicodemus in John 3. I remember the pastor saying, “That doesn’t mean “born again” and she went on to explain some far-fetched theory. That starting me searching for the truth. It didn’t make sense to me.
Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”John 3:3
Just going to church every week doesn’t make you a Christian. Only having a relationship with Jesus does.
Jesus didn’t die for us so we could have RELIGION. He died so that we could have a relationship with him. It’s a relationship you can only find when you’ve repented of your sins and sincerely asked Jesus to come into your heart. THEN you get baptized and start attending a church that preaches the true Bible. That’s usually a non-denominational church that doesn’t follow the hierarchy of the main-line churches.
Jesus said, “If anyone is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”Mark 8:38
In the book of Revelation, chapter 3, Jesus tells the Apostle John to write a letter to the church of Laodicia. Many Bible scholars think that church represents today’s churches — lukewarm — a bunch of Halfway Christians.
“I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth! You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. So I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see. I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference.”Revelation 3:15-19
Jesus then tells us how easy it is to have salvation and eternal life with Him.
In this well-known paining by William Holden Hunt, notice that there is no doorknob on the outside of the door. That means that you have to let Jesus into your heart. He won’t force Himself on you.
If you’re ready to let Jesus into your heart, the you can pray this prayer…
“Dear Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner. I believe You died for my sins. Right now, I turn from my sins and open the door of my heart and life. I confess You as my personal Lord and Savior. Thank You for saving me. Amen.”How to Know God — Harvest
Right now with the horrible sexual abuse stories coming from Catholic kids who trusted their priests only to be violated in the most sinister way, people are leaving the Catholic church in droves. If you’re one of them, please comment below. I can guide you to a church that preaches the truth and the Bible. Yes, I know that Protestants aren’t perfect either. No one is. Only Jesus. But the Catholic Church is the worst for hiding the problem for decades upon decades.
I feel the Catholic church deprived me of truly knowing Jesus Christ, studying the Bible — not just “Catechism”. (But that’s for another post.) Read and study the Bible. Understand what John 3:16 really means:
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”Jesus speaking to Nicodemus in John 3:16
Seek the truth. Don’t just take for granted what a church has said for years and you’ve believed just because your parents did. You’ll be glad you did.
Soli Deo Gloria