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Baptism reflections and study

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Saved, Sin, Trinity on May 28, 2009 at 4:06 am

Baptism reflections and study

 

Even though numerous Scriptures speak of the importance of water baptism, adding anything to the work of the cross demeans the sacrifice of the Savior. It implies that His finished work wasn’t enough. But the Bible makes clear that we are saved by grace, and grace alone

Eph 2:8-9  For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift–not from works, so that no one can boast.

Baptism is simply a step of obedience to the Lord following our repentance and confession of sin. Our obedience–water baptism, prayer, good works, fellowship, witnessing, etc.–issues from our faith in Christ. Salvation is not what we do, but Who we have.

1Jn 5:12  The one who has the Son has life. The one who doesn’t have the Son of God does not have life.

But what about Mark 16:16?

Mark 16:16 quotes Jesus as saying: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (NKJV).

Mar 16:16  Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

Does this mean that salvation is by baptism?

In no way does this verse establish baptism as a condition for salvation; it is merely the declaration that those who believe and are baptized are saved. Any act of obedience to the Lord could be added after the expression ‘whoever believes’ and it would remain a true statement, because salvation is the result of faith in Christ. It should be noted that when the Lord added, ‘but whoever does not believe will be condemned,’ there is no mention of baptism. In identifying what would bring about condemnation, Jesus did not say that ‘whoever believes but is not baptized shall not be save.’ If baptism were necessary for salvation, there are many significant verses which should be amended to read ‘you are saved through faith and baptism.’ It is clear that faith in Jesus Christ is what saves a person.

Act 16:30-31 Then he escorted them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved–you and your

household.”

 

Baptism is a distinct act of obedience, apart from salvation. This is clarified by the order

in which the words ‘believe’ and ‘baptize’ occur in the text (cf. Acts 2:38; 10:44-48).

Baptism with the Spirit places believers into the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13), while

water baptism merely signifies to others that a person has professed Christ. The word

‘saved’ is translated from the Greek word sesosmenoi, which is a perfect passive

participle. It means that this salvation took place at some point in the past, being

accomplished by Jesus Christ Himself, and is continuing on in the present.” [Spiros

Zodhiates, editor, The Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible (Chattanooga, Tennessee: AMG

Publishers, 1996), note for Mark 16:16.]

Although none of the Christian baptisms recorded in Acts (2:38-41; 9:17,18; 22:12-16; 10:44-48; 16:32-34) clearly describe the method of baptism, there is one example that specifically states that both the person being baptized, and the baptizer, “went down into the water” (Acts 8:38-39). This suggests, but does not necessarily prove, baptism by immersion. Ancient catacombs and ruins associated with early Christians often contain art. Subjects include John the Baptist pouring water over Jesus in baptism. According to a guide to ancient symbols, “John is often depicted baptizing Christ with water poured from a scallop shell. The shell has become a common symbol of baptism.” Furthermore, according to a scholarly Catholic source: “Much of the earliest Christian artwork depicts baptism, but not baptism by immersion! If the recipient… is in a river, he is always shown standing in the river while water is poured over his head from a cup or shell. Tile mosaics in ancient churches, paintings in the catacombs, designs on ordinary household objects like cups and spoons, engravings on marble–it is always baptism by pouring. Baptisteries in early cemeteries are clear witnesses to baptisms by infusion. The entire record of the early Church–as shown in the New Testament, in other writings, and in monumental evidence–indicates the mode of baptism was not restricted to immersion. Other archaeological evidence confirms the same thing. An early Christian baptistery was found in a church in Jesus hometown of Nazareth, yet this baptistery, which dates from the second century, was too small and narrow in which to immerse a person” (Catholic Answers, San Diego, 2002). a study of early Christian baptismals by Professor M.M. Ninan states, “In every case the baptismal fonts were shallow pools where only the candidates feet were immersed. These were certainly unsuitable for total immersion as is practiced today. Even in the squatting mode, immersion could not be accomplished. Water was certainly poured on people from an overhead stream or from a pitcher held by the person baptizing.”  Verses such as Romans 6:4-5and Collosians 2:12 compare the Christian’s baptism to the death and resurrection of Christ. In many modern people’s minds, immersion seems to better mirror this picture, than does sprinkling or washing, and it is therefore preferred or required. However, as Bible scholar Matthew G. Easton explains: “The words ‘baptize’ and ‘baptism are simply Greek words transferred into English [transliterations]. This was necessarily done by the translators of the Scriptures, for no literal translation could properly express all that is implied in them. The mode of baptism can in no way be determined from the Greek word rendered ‘baptize.’ Some Baptists say that it means ‘to dip,’ and nothing else. That is an incorrect view of the meaning of the word. It means both (1) to dip a thing into an element or liquid, and (2) to put an element or liquid over or on it. Nothing, therefore, as to the mode of baptism can be concluded from the mere word used. The word has a wide latitude of meaning, not only in the New Testament, but also in the Septuagint Version of the Old Testament, where it is used of the ablutions and baptisms required by the Mosaic law. These were effected by immersion, and by affusion and sprinkling; and the same word, ‘washings’ (Hebrews 9:10,13, 19,21) or ‘baptisms,’ designates them all.”

Mark 7:4 uses same Greek word “baptizo” (baptism) when referring to the washing practice of the Pharisees. “When they come from the market, except they wash [baptizo], they eat not.” It seems unlikely that the Pharisees immersed their entire bodies in water before eating, every time they passed through the marketplace. It is more likely that this baptism is a symbolic, ceremonial washing, probably involving just the hands. This is also likely the case in Luke 11:38 where the Pharisee disapproved of Jesus for not baptizing himself [baptizo] (i.e., washing) before dinner.

A 1st century Christian document called the Didache shows early Christians believing that immersion was not required in Christian baptisms:

But concerning baptism, thus baptize ye: having first recited all these precepts, baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in running water; but if thou hast not running water, baptize in some other water, and if thou canst not baptize in cold, in warm water; but if thou hast neither, pour water three times on the head, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

I quote this document not to point out any right or wrong way to administer a baptism, but only to show that even in the early church, baptisms were approached with pragmatism—and at least some Christians acknowledged that immersion was preferable, but not mandatory. It is also seen that the word baptism (Greek: baptizo) was not synonymous with immersion at the time the New Testament was written. Jesus told his disciples that “John baptized [Greek: baptizo] with water, but you will be baptized [baptizo] with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (Acts 1:4-5, NASB). How did the Holy Spirit come upon them? He rested on each one of them as a tongue of fire (Acts 2:3). The disciples were not immersed in flames. At this time, Peter pointed out that Joel’s prophecy was fulfilled: “I will pour out my spirit” (Acts 2:17; Joel 2:28). Thus, the true biblical meaning of the word baptizo (baptism) includes pouring.

One of the most nagging questions in Christianity is whether or not baptism is necessary for salvation. The answer is a simple, “No.” But you might ask, “If the answer is no, then why are there verses that say things like ‘. . .baptism that now saves you . . . ‘ (1 Pet. 3:21, NIV) and ‘ . . . Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins . . .” (Acts 2:38, NIV)? This is an honest question and it needs a competent answer. But, before I tackle this I need to lay a foundation of proper theology, and then I’ll address some of those verses that are commonly used to support the idea that baptism is necessary for salvation.

God Works Covenantally

First, we need to understand that God works covenantally. A covenant is a pact or agreement between two or more parties. The New Testament and Old Testament are New and Old Covenants. The word “testament” comes from the Latin testamentum which means covenant. So, the Bible is a covenant document. If you do not understand covenant you cannot understand, in totality, the issue of baptism because baptism is a covenant sign.

If you do not think that God works covenantally then look at Hebrews 13:20 which says, “May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep…” (NIV). The Eternal Covenant is the covenant between the Father and the Son before the creation of the world, whereby the Father would give to the Son those whom the Father had chosen. That is why Jesus says things like, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away” (John 6:37, NIV). And, “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day,” (John 6:39, NIV). And, “I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours,” (John 17:9, NIV).

If you fail to understand that God works covenantally and that He uses signs as manifestations of his covenants (rainbow, circumcision, communion, etc.) then you will not be able to understand where baptism fits in God’s covenant system.

Second, we need to know what baptism is. It is an outward representation of an inward reality. For example, it represents the reality of the inward washing of Christ’s blood upon the soul. That is why it is used in different ways. It is said to represent the death of the person (Rom. 6:3-5), the union of that person with Christ (Gal. 3:27), the cleansing of that person’s sins (Acts 22:16), the identification with the one “baptized into” as when the Israelites were baptized into Moses (1 Cor. 10:2), and being united in one church (1 Cor. 12:13). Also, baptism is one of the signs and seals of the Covenant of Grace that was instituted by Jesus. It is in this sense a sacrament. A sacrament is a visible manifestation of something spoken. It is also said to be a visible sign of an inward grace. For example, the communion elements of bread and wine are called the sacrament of communion. When we take communion we are partaking of the sacrament.

The Covenant of Grace is the covenant between God and Mankind where God promises to Mankind eternal life. It is based upon the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and the condition is faith in Jesus Christ. As the Communion Supper replaced Passover, baptism, in like manner, replaces circumcision. “They represent the same spiritual blessings that were symbolized by circumcision and Passover in the old dispensation” (Berkhoff, Lewis, Systematic Theology, 1988, p. 620.). Circumcision was the initiatory rite into the Abrahamic covenant; it did not save. A covenant is a pact or agreement between two or more parties and that is exactly what the Abrahamic covenant was. God said to Abraham, “I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you,” (Genesis 17:7, NIV). God later instructed Abraham to circumcise not only every adult male, but also eight day old male infants as a sign of the covenant (Gen. 17:9-13). If the children were not circumcised, they were not considered to be under the promissory Abrahamic covenant. This is why Moses’ wife circumcised her son and threw the foreskin at Moses’ feet (Ex. 4:24-25). She knew the importance of the covenant between God and her children. But at the same time we must understand that circumcision did not guarantee salvation to all who received it. It was a rite meant only for the people of God, who were born into the family of God (who were then the Jews).

An important question here is how is it possible for an infant to be entered into a covenant with God. There could be a lot of answers given but the point remains: it was done; infants were entered into a covenant relationship with God — through their parents.

In the New Testament, circumcision is mentioned many times. But with respect to this topic it is specifically mentioned in Col. 2:11-12: “In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead,” (NIV). In these verses, baptism and circumcision are related. We also see the inference of Baptism replacing the Old Testament circumcision because 1) there was a New Covenant in the communion supper (Luke 22:20), and 2) in circumcision there was the shedding of blood but in baptism no blood is shed. This is because the blood of Christ has been shed.

If we understand that baptism is a covenant sign, then you can see that it is a representation of the reality of Christ circumcising our hearts (Rom. 2:29; Col. 2:11-12). It is our outward proclamation of the inward spiritual blessing of regeneration. It comes after faith which is a gift of God (Rom. 12:3) and the work of God (John 6:28).

Third, the Bible says that it is the gospel that saves. “By this gospel you are saved…” (1 Cor. 15:2). Also, Rom. 1:16 says, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.”

What is the Gospel?

It is clearly the gospel that saves us. But what exactly is the gospel? That too is revealed to us in the Bible. It is found in 1 Cor. 15:1-4: “Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” The gospel is defined as the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus for our sins. Baptism is not mentioned here.

Paul said that he came to preach the gospel, not to baptize: “I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized into my name. (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel…” (1 Cor. 1:14-17). If baptism is necessary for salvation then why did Paul downplay it and even exclude it from the description of what is required for salvation? It is because baptism is not necessary for salvation.

Additionally, in Acts, Peter was preaching the gospel, people got saved, and then they were baptized. Acts 10:43-48 says, ” All the prophets testify about Him that through His name everyone who believes in Him will receive forgiveness of sins.  While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came down on all those who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speaking in other languages and declaring the greatness of God. Then Peter responded,  “Can anyone withhold water and prevent these from being baptized, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”  And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. These people were saved. The gift of the Holy Spirit was on the Gentiles and they were speaking in other languages. This is significant because other languages is a gift given to believers (see 1 Cor. 14:1-5). Also, unbelievers do not praise God. They cannot because praise to the true God is a deep spiritual matter that is foreign to the unsaved (1 Cor. 2:14). Therefore, the ones in Acts 10 who are speaking in other languages and praising God are definitely saved and they are saved before they are baptized. This simply is not an exception. It is a reality.

Let’s Suppose…

Another way of making this clear is to use an illustration. Let’s suppose that a person, under the conviction of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8), believed in Jesus as his savior (Rom. 10:9-10; Titus 2:13), and has received Christ (John 1:12) as Savior. Is that person saved? Of course he is. Let’s further suppose that this person confesses his sinfulness, cries out in repentance to the Lord, and receives Jesus as Savior and then walks across the street to get baptized at a local church. In the middle of the road he gets hit by a car and is killed. Does he go to heaven or hell? If he goes to heaven then baptism is not necessary for salvation. If He goes to hell, then trusting in Jesus, by faith, is not enough for salvation. Doesn’t that go against the Scriptures that say that salvation is a free gift (Rom. 6:23) received by faith (Eph. 2:8-9)?

Saying that baptism is necessary for salvation is dangerous because it is saying that there is something we must do to complete salvation. That is wrong! See Gal. 2:21; 5:4.

All right, so this sounds reasonable. But still, what about those verses that seem to say that baptism is part of salvation? I will address those now. But, because this subject can become quite lengthy, in fact, sufficient for a book in itself, I will only address a few verses and then only briefly.

Baptism Verses

John 3:5, “Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.'”

Some say that water here means baptism. But that is unlikely since Christian baptism hadn’t yet been instituted. If this verse did mean baptism, then the only kind that it could have been at that point was the baptism of repentance administered by John the Baptist (Mark 1:4). If that is so, then baptism is not necessary for salvation because the baptism of repentance is no longer practiced.

It is my opinion that the water spoken of here means the water of the womb referring to the natural birth process. Jesus said in verse three that Nicodemus needed to be born “again.” This meant that he had been born once–through his mother. Nicodemus responds with a statement about how he cannot enter again into his mother’s womb to be born. Then Jesus says that he must be born of water and the Spirit. Then in verse 6 He says that “flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit..” The context seems to be discussing the contrast between the natural and the spiritual birth. Water, therefore, could easily be interpreted there to mean the natural birth process.

I would like to add that there are scholars who agree with the position and some who do not. Some believe that the water refers to the Word of God, the Bible, and others claim it means the Holy Spirit. You decide for yourself.

Acts 2:38, “Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.‘”

This verse is a tough one. It seems to say that baptism is part of salvation. But we know from other scriptures that it is not, lest there be a contradiction. What is going on here is simply that repentance and forgiveness of sins are connected. In the Greek, “repent” is in the plural and so is “your” of “your sins.” They are meant to be understood as being related to each other. It is like saying, “All of you repent, each of you get baptized, and all of you will receive forgiveness.” Repentance is a mark of salvation because it is granted by God (2 Tim. 2:25) and is given to believers only. In this context, only the regenerated, repentant person is to be baptized. Baptism is the manifestation of the repentance, that gift from God, that is the sign of the circumcised heart. That is why it says, “repent and be baptized.”

Robertson’s Word Picture’s has a great commentary on this:

Act 2:38 

Repent ye (metanoēsate). First aorist (ingressive) active imperative. Change your mind and your life. Turn right about and do it now. You crucified this Jesus. Now crown him in your hearts as Lord and Christ. This first.

And be baptized every one of you (kai baptisthētō hekastos hūmōn). Rather, “And let each one of you be baptized.” Change of number from plural to singular and of person from second to third. This change marks a break in the thought here that the English translation does not preserve. The first thing to do is make a radical and complete change of heart and life. Then let each one be baptized after this change has taken place, and the act of baptism be performed “in the name of Jesus Christ” (en tōi onomati Iēsou Christou). In accordance with the command of Jesus in Mat_28:19 (eis to onoma). No distinction is to be insisted on between eis to onoma and en tōi onomati with baptizō since eis and en are really the same word in origin. In Act_10:48 en tōi onomati Iēsou Christou occurs, but eis to onoma in Act_8:16; Act_19:5. The use of onoma means in the name or with the authority of one as eis onoma prophētou (Mat_10:41) as a prophet, in the name of a prophet. In the Acts the full name of the Trinity does not occur in baptism as in Mat_28:19, but this does not show that it was not used. The name of Jesus Christ is the distinctive one in Christian baptism and really involves the Father and the Spirit. See note on Mat_28:19 for discussion of this point. “Luke does not give the form of words used in baptism by the Apostles, but merely states the fact that they baptized those who acknowledged Jesus as Messiah or as Lord” (Page).

Unto the remission of your sins (eis aphesin tōn hamartiōn hūmōn). This phrase is the subject of endless controversy as men look at it from the standpoint of sacramental or of evangelical theology. In themselves the words can express aim or purpose for that use of eis does exist as in 1Co_2:7 eis doxan hēmōn (for our glory). But then another usage exists which is just as good Greek as the use of eis for aim or purpose. It is seen in Mat_10:41 in three examples eis onoma prophētou, dikaiou, mathētou where it cannot be purpose or aim, but rather the basis or ground, on the basis of the name of prophet, righteous man, disciple, because one is, etc. It is seen again in Mat_12:41 about the preaching of Jonah (eis to kērugma Iōna). They repented because of (or at) the preaching of Jonah. The illustrations of both usages are numerous in the N.T. and the Koiné[28928]š generally (Robertson, Grammar, p. 592). One will decide the use here according as he believes that baptism is essential to the remission of sins or not. My view is decidedly against the idea that Peter, Paul, or any one in the New Testament taught baptism as essential to the remission of sins or the means of securing such remission. So I understand Peter to be urging baptism on each of them who had already turned (repented) and for it to be done in the name of Jesus Christ on the basis of the forgiveness of sins which they had already received.

The gift of the Holy Ghost (tēn dōrean tou hagiou pneumatos). The gift consists (Act_8:17) in the Holy Spirit (genitive of identification).

1 Pet. 3:21, “and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also — not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

This is the only verse that says that baptism saves. But, the NIV translation of the verse is unfortunate. A better translation is found in the NASB which says, “and corresponding to that, baptism now saves you.” The key word in this section is the Greek antitupon. It means “copy,” “type,” corresponding to,” “a thing resembling another,” “its counterpart,” etc. Baptism is a representation, a copy, a type of something else. The question is “Of what is it a type?”, or “Baptism corresponds to what?” The answer is found in the previous verse, verse 20: “who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. 21And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you,” (NASB).

Some think that the baptism corresponds to the Ark because it was the Ark that saved them, not the floodwaters. this is a possibility but one of the problems with it is that this interpretation does not seem to stand grammatically since the antecedent of Baptism is most probably in reference to the water, not the Ark.

But, water did not save Noah. This is why Peter excludes the issue of water baptism being the thing that saves us because he says, “not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God.” Peter says that it is not the application of water that saves us but a pledge of the good conscience. Therefore, baptism here most probably represents the breaking away of the old sinful life and entrance into the new life with Christ — in the same way that the flood waters in Noah’s time was the destruction of the sinful way and, once through it, known as entering into the new way.

Acts 22:16, “And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.”

Is the washing away of sins done by baptism, the representation of the circumcised heart (Col. 2:11-12) which means you are already saved, or is it by the blood of Christ (Heb. 9:14; Rom. 5:9; Eph. 1:7)? Obviously it is the blood of Jesus and the washing here refers to the calling on Jesus’ name.

Rom. 6:4, “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”

Because the believer is so closely united to Christ it is said that the symbol of baptism is our death, burial, and resurrection. Obviously we did not die–unless, of course, it is a figurative usage.

Titus 3:5, “he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.”

The washing of rebirth can only be that washing of the blood of Christ that cleanses us. It is not the symbol that saves, but the reality. The reality is the blood of Christ.

Gal. 3:27, “for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”

This is speaking of the believer’s union with Christ. It is an identification with, a joining to, a proclamation of loyalty to, etc. In 1 Cor. 10:2 the Israelites were baptized into Moses. That means they were closely identified with him and his purpose. The same thing is meant here.

Conclusion

Baptism is not necessary for salvation. It is the initiatory sign and seal into the covenant of grace. As circumcision referred to the cutting away of sin and to a change of heart (Deut. 10:16; 30:6; Jer. 4:4; 9:25,26; Ez. 44:7,9) baptism refers to the washing away of sin (Acts 2:38; 1 Pet. 3:21; Tit. 3:5) and to spiritual renewal (Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:11-12). The circumcision of the heart is signified by the circumcision of the flesh, that is, baptism (Col. 2:11-12).

One last thought: If someone maintains that baptism is necessary for salvation, is he adding a work, his own, to the finished work of Christ? If the answer is yes, then that person would be in terrible risk of not being saved. If the answer is no, then why is baptism maintained as being necessary the same way as the Jews maintained that works were necessary?

John Gill’s Expo of the Entire Bible outs it’s this way:

Act 2:38  Then Peter said unto them,…. Being the mouth of the apostles, and being ready to give advice, and speak a word of comfort to their distressed minds:

 

repent: change your minds, entertain other thoughts, and a different opinion of Jesus of Nazareth, than you have done; consider him, and believe in him, as the true Messiah and Savior of the world; look upon him, not any more as an impostor, and a blasphemer, but as sent of God, and the only Redeemer of Israel; change your voice and way of speaking of him, and your conduct towards his disciples and followers; a change of mind will produce a change of actions in life and conversation: bring forth fruits meet for repentance; and make an open and hearty profession of repentance for this your sin. And this the apostle said, to distinguish between a legal and an evangelical repentance; the former is expressed in their being pricked to the heart, on which they were not to depend; the latter he was desirous they might have, and show forth; which springs from the love of God, is attended with views, or at least hopes of pardoning grace and mercy, and with faith in Christ Jesus: it lies in a true sight and sense of sin, under the illuminations and convictions of the Spirit of God; in a sorrow for it, after a godly sort, and because it is committed against a God of love, grace, and mercy, and it shows itself in loathing sin, and in shame for it, in an ingenuous acknowledgement of it, and in forsaking it: and this is moreover urged, to show the necessity of it, as to salvation, for such that God would not have perish, he will have come to repentance; so to their admission to the ordinance of baptism, to which repentance is a pre-requisite; and to which the apostle next advises:

 

and be baptized everyone of you; that repents and believes; that is, in water, in which John administered the ordinance of baptism; in which Christ himself was baptized, and in which the apostles of Christ administered it; in this Philip baptized the eunuch; and in this were the persons baptized that were converted in Cornelius’s house; and it is distinguished from the baptism of the Spirit, or with fire, the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit mentioned in the last clause of this verse; and which ordinance of water baptism was administered by immersion, as the places, Jordan and Aenon, where John performed it, and the instances of it particularly in Christ, and in the eunuch, and the end of it, which is to represent the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, as well as the primary signification of the word, show. And this is to be done,

 

in the name of Jesus Christ; not to the exclusion of the Father, and of the Spirit, in whose name also this ordinance is to be administered, Mat_28:19 but the name of Jesus Christ is particularly mentioned, because of these Jews, who had before rejected and denied him as the Messiah; but now, upon their repentance and faith, they are to be baptized in his name, by his authority, according to his command; professing their faith in him, devoting themselves to him, and calling on his name. The end for which this was to be submitted to, is,

 

for the remission of sins; not that forgiveness of sin could be procured either by repentance, or by baptism; for this is only obtained by the blood of Christ; but the apostle advises these awakened, sensible, repenting, and believing souls, to submit to baptism, that by it their faith might be led to Christ, who suffered and died for their sins, who left them buried in his grave, and who rose again for their justification from them; all which is, in a most lively manner, represented in the ordinance of baptism by immersion: the encouragement to it follows,

 

and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost: not the grace of the Spirit, as a regenerator and sanctifier; for that they had already; and is necessary, as previous to baptism; unless it should mean confirmation of that grace, and stability in it, as it appears from Act_2:42 they afterwards had; but rather the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, particularly the gift of speaking with tongues, which Christ had received from the Father, and had now shed on his apostles; see Act_19:5.

Let’s say there is a person who is dying and the Chaplain comes in and gives him the gospel. Then under the conviction of the Holy Spirit which is in accordance with John 16:8, the person believes that Jesus died for his sins, was buried, and rose from the dead according to the Scriptures. This person confesses with his mouth that Jesus is Lord (Rom. 10:9-10), prays to Christ (1 Cor. 1:2; John 14:14), and receives Christ (John 1:12), by faith but dies before water baptism is administered, is that person saved or damned?

If water baptism is necessary, then that person is damned to hell even though he trusted in Christ, even though he trusted in the sacrifice of Christ, even though he by faith receive Christ. He would be damned to hell because he did not participate in the human ritual. He would be damned to hell because, he would not be justified by faith, but by faith and the ritual of water baptism.

Paul tells us in Romans 4:5, “But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness,” and again in Romans 5:1, “therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

We are justified by faith, not by faith and baptism, not by faith and a ritual. Christ’s work is sufficient in itself for his complete and finished and there is nothing we could add to it. This is why we receive our salvation by faith. This is why we are justified by faith; this is why baptism is not necessary for salvation, because otherwise, it is not justification by faith.
There are other illustrations and published works that reflect this understanding and I am closing out my discussion for now. I hope this sheds some light on our discussions in this area. God Bless.

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What makes Christianity so unique

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Saved, Sin, Trinity, Uncategorized on May 25, 2009 at 10:19 pm

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What makes Christianity so unique is that our good works are supposed to be in response to God’s grace, not to earn it. We become givers when God gives us His Holy Spirit. God shows us that you cannot love without giving. Yet through Joseph’s story we learn that this giving nature is not only a response to the giving of others. We are to give even when we are mistreated or neglected. Joseph’s God-inspired blessings toward his brothers are what opened the door to reconciliation. We tend to operate according to hierarchies in our churches. It seems logical that the older should teach the younger, that the less experienced should learn from the wise. There is a danger, however, in the more spiritually mature isolating themselves from the simple faith of the young in Christ. Believers who intentionally form discipling relationships with new Christians never lose sight of how the Holy Spirit does His first works of beginning faith in His children.

We see in Joseph his unwavering faith in God’s dominance and plan for his life. When we consider his being attacked by his brothers, being sold into slavery, working to overcome his lowly position, and God blessing him only to falsely accused thrown into jail. Then again God blesses him after a time of testing, he interprets Pharaoh’s dream and becomes second in command only to Pharaoh in Egypt. But the real beauty in the story is his reunion with his family, his forgiveness, and blessing he provided for them. And probably one of the more often quoted sayings in the Bible.

(Gen 50:18)  Then his brothers also came to him, bowed down before him, and said, “We are your slaves!”

(Gen 50:19)  But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God?

(Gen 50:20)  You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result–the survival of many people.

(Gen 50:21)  Therefore don’t be afraid. I will take care of you and your little ones.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

1. How do we react to people who have done us wrong?

Some basic lies from a worldly point of view: do unto them before they do unto you,

don’t mad get even, forgive but never forget, …anymore?

We want grace when we mess up but retribution when others mess with us. What does the Bible teach us about not only our actions but our reactions?

(Mat 5:48)  Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

(Mat 6:14)  “For if you forgive people their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well.

(BBE)  For if you let men have forgiveness for their sins, you will have forgiveness from your Father in heaven.

(CEV)  If you forgive others for the wrongs they do to you, your Father in heaven will forgive you.

(DRB)  For if you will forgive men their offences, your heavenly Father will forgive you also your offences.

(ESV)  For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you,

When God provides opportunities for us to forgive others he is helping conform us to his image. Being angry is not sin acting on that anger is. The language of the Lord’s Prayer concerning forgiveness, would be stated “Father forgive us in and how we forgive others”

One of the major stumbling blocks to reconciliation, forgiveness and peace is pride.

No one is going to treat me that!

How dare them!

Don’t you know who I am?

It’s their fault and when they realize it and apologize this will be settled.

Jesus’ response:

Luke 23:34  [Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.”] And they divided His clothes and cast lots.

How many times are we to forgive? The scriptures give us guidance.

(Mat 18:21)  Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how many times could my brother sin against me and I forgive him? As many as seven times?”

(Mat 18:22)  “I tell you, not as many as seven,” Jesus said to him, “but 70 times seven.

Part of the life of Christian, is living out our beliefs in our everyday lives. In our attitudes, how we do our jobs, how we conduct our business, how we present ourselves to others and how we behave in every situation. Not because we are better than anyone else but because we have the opportunity to show what forgiveness looks like in the flesh.

“Denial is not a river in Egypt!” an old cliché but never the less a poignant one that hits home. Denial has a way of finally hitting flood stage until we nearly drown in the very past we tried to ignore.

IN -(Gen 41:51 HCSB)  Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh, meaning, “God has made me forget all my hardship in my father’s house.”

We see Joseph possibly coping with his past by naming his firstborn son Manassaeh-(“causing to forget”.) Joseph’s firstborn by Asenath, whose birth “made him forget all his toil and all (the sorrow he endured through) his father’s house”  But did he really or did Joseph react in the way a loving giving father grows into and he named his second son Ephraim meaning double fruit!

Ephraim -(“doubly fruitful”.) Joseph’s second son by Asenath, named so, “for,” said Joseph, “God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.” Born during the seven plenteous years; the “doubly fruitful” may refer to both the fruitfulness vouchsafed to Joseph and the plenty of the season. As regards Ephraim himself, he was doubly blessed:

From this we see Israel bless Joseph with a double blessing and adopting them as his on sons in Chapter 49 and issues 2 tribal separations to Joseph for a double portion.

Now that all is well and Joseph is one of the most powerful in Egypt second only to Pharaoh doing his job preparing for the predicted famine: here comes the very person who sold him into slavery and originally intended to kill him! How does he react 1st he keeps his identity secret, second he puts into motion a scheme to test his brothers, 3rd he  has to account for his past and depend on God for his current behavior.

How would you react in a similar situation? You have been painfully and terribly treated, possibly injured by someone and now they are powerless and you have all the power.

Forgiveness is not forgetness that is stuffing your emotions inside and not dealing with them. Real forgiveness is recognizing the harm and justifiably wanting restitution for wrongs done against you and giving God ownership of the justice. It has been suggested to write down your grievances and give them to God! i.e. like a God box or something if that nature and put a physical action with a spiritual decision.

Don’t we all occasionally hope that time has changed the rules? That God would let this one slide so we could seek our own retribution.

Haven’t we hoped for someone’s forgiveness and reconciliation only to be ignored?

Do we feel as if we have really reaped to the degree we have sown?

Last the closing of the Patriarchal writings and the opening of the Exodus are several centuries. What one characteristic do we see even 400 years later? The children of Israel were still a peculiar people and had become vilified by the Egyptians. Somehow we think a friendly society that accepts Godly people is good for us, but truly it invites integration and usually compromise. Had Egypt remained friendly to the Israelites, the tribes could have been absorbed into Egypt’s pagan culture.

Has that happened I our country today, we have had a society that integrated with the church to the point the church gave up its responsibility?

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