The Dilemma of Baptism in Blood
John the Immerser came preaching the kingdom of God in the wilderness of Judea around 30 A.D. Since that time men were prompted by John, Jesus, Peter, Philip, Ananias, Paul, Barnabas, and many other faithful men to be immersed in water for the washing away of sins. So many biblical proofs stand to affirm the fact- men and women in the New Testament were always ushered to be saved upon resurrecting from the waters of baptism (Matt. 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38-41; 22:16; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:26-27; Eph. 5:25-27; Col. 2:11-13; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 3:21). These verses and this truth deserve further comment, but proving baptism’s indispensability in becoming a Christian is an assumed fact for the few thoughts that follow.
Many honest hearts have listened to the biblical doctrine of baptism for remission of sins and affirmed the biblical pattern to be true, only to make one last ditch attempt in putting off the act. There is the desert argument- “What about someone who is in the desert without enough water to be immersed?” There is the Gramma argument- “What about Gramma who loved Jesus but was never immersed in water for remission of sins?” Then there is the baptism of blood argument- “Baptism of blood refers to martyrdom; it refers to situations in which a person has put his faith in Christ but is martyred for his faith before he has a chance to be baptized,” (Cottrell, Jack. Baptism: A Biblical Study. College Press Publishing Co., 1998.) All three of these arguments are used as excuses why a perfectly competent and understanding adult, alive and well in first world America, with plenty of water, and with no threat of martyrdom should be excused from baptism in water for remission of sins.
Consider a conversation Jesus had with Peter before deciding whether or not the first world American above should be ashamed. In John 21:15-19 Jesus asks Peter if the apostle loves Him. Peter, certainly still embarrassed by his denial in the garden, responds with a fervent “Yes Lord, you know that I love you (and will follow you),” (v. 17). Jesus then responds as if to say, “Very well, because you are going to die a martyr’s death for me,” (v. 18-19). Consider how your world would be spinning should the all-knowing God speak this in your ear. Peter is sweating. He shortly thereafter sees John the apostle talking to Jesus and interrupts, “But Lord, what about this man?” (v. 21). Peter’s response was not motivated by misunderstanding the words Jesus had spoken about his martyr’s death just prior. No, Peter’s motivation was self-centered and unaccepting of declared fact. And so, the wise master teacher responded, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.” How John would die had no bearing on Peter’s obedience to Jesus’ command to feed the flock even unto death.
Is the context for people making the “baptism in blood” argument not the same as the Peter and John situation in John 21:20-23? It would seem so. If the first world American making the argumentative parallel can say with certainty they would die at the hand of radical extremists instead of deny Christ, then and only then should the argument be entertained. The question then becomes, is a radical extremist currently holding a knife to their throat? Are they currently living in the desert with not enough water to baptize? Are they currently dead and waiting for the judgment like Gramma? In other words, is this person just using an exceptional example to justify unexceptional circumstances? Instead of asking Jesus about John, every honest human being should submit to the humble expression of faith that is baptism in water for the remission of sins. The motivation for rejecting baptism is rarely a case of misunderstanding. Rejection of the gospel is too often motivated by a self-centered mind, a full belly, and the lack of desperation for God’s saving grace, regardless the cost. Which one are you?