Archive for February, 2009

Rightly dividing the Word and Acts 2:38

Acts 2:38 is used regularly to emphasize the necessity of baptism for the forgiveness of sins in the churches of Christ, International Churches of Christ(Boston), Oneness Pentecostalism and other groups, some of whom are clearly cults.
I have made some new comments to this post because I have been impressed, by godly men, not to go beyond what is written. Yet this is what I ahve done here. Whether you agree with my original post or not, we must go by scripture and not logic or human reasoning. My new comments are in this color.
Regarding Acts 2:38, I’ll just say this: Peter was speaking to Jews and proselytes who traditionally associated baptism with washing and purifying. Many of these same people were probably baptized by John. John’s baptism was clearly for what? It was a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
 
Now ask yourself “Why, if this was for the forgiveness of sins, did these same people, including the disciples at Ephesus, need to be baptized AGAIN???”
 
John’s baptism, if we read it literally, should have done the trick, correct?
 
Jesus had no sin, so John’s baptism was NOT to wash away Jesus’ sins. Yet scripture does tell is it WAS for the forgiveness of sins. So, why did Jesus get baptized?
 
1. To identify Himself to John
2. To “fulfill all righteousness” (Jesus was ALREADY righteous) -But, His baptism pleased God!
3. To initiate a NEW baptism for HIS followers to identify themselves with HIM (his disciples began at this time to baptize instead of just John and his disciples) Hmmm. If I had paid attention to what I said here, I’d have said what I say now: Jesus initiated it, commended it and prescribed it. Who am I or you to call it into question?
 
The weight of the gospel is on faith, believing the “good news” that Jesus was offered up in our place in order to make us right with God. How? By believing on the Son of God! Baptism IS NOT the Gospel! Baptism CANNOT save anyone!
Yet, any translation I read has Peter saying that it does. (1 Peter 3;21)
When Peter speaks of an anti-type, a figure, in 1 Peter 3:21, he is not calling the flood or the ark an anti-type of baptism! He is calling baptism the anti-type!
I am wrong about this. Peter clearly says baptism IS the anti-type because IT is what corresponds to the flood waters, not the other way around.  Baptism is the ANSWER of or an APPEAL for a good conscience.
Throughout early church history, baptism became less and less emphasized as something that needed to be done immediately. It became an issue of waiting to see if the convert was really converted before the church would allow baptism. This was obviously headed in the wrong direction, (actually, maybe not. Jesus commaands us to make disciples FIRST, then baptize them. Almost every church will confirm this.)so eventually it became common for people to think, if we baptize babies before they are converted, surely that will be accepted as the required baptism when they do come to faith.
 
Constantine waited until he was on his deathbed to be baptized because he literally believed baptism washed away his sins and thought that if he waited until the last minute he wouldn’t have time to add any more sins. This runs counter to scripture where we are constantly reminded that we are saved by faith in the blood of Jesus.
Constantine never seems to have shown any real evidence of conversion either. He murdered his relatives during his reign, even after the Council of Nicea. Constantine was a bad example and I apologize.
 
In Hebrews 10, the Jews are reminded that the sacrifices made before Christ could NEVER take away sins, yet Israel was instructed to make these sacrifices and to use a scapegoat to “take away their sins”. Again, though, the Hebrews author tells us that this did not really take any sins away, but only brought sins to mind. The people of faith in the Old Testament were saved by faith in what God promised. Not by circumcision, which was required. Not by sacrifices, which were required, but ONLY by the fulfillment of prophecy by the very Son of God, through whom we have forgiveness of sins (past, present and future).
Read Acts 13 again. Does Paul tell anyone here that they need to be baptized? Yet he preaches the whole gospel here doesn’t he? Yes, he does, but baptism is an act of obedience from that faith Paul speaks of. It is not he gospel, but it is how we obey it.
 
We have it on record that Paul baptized the Ephesians in acts 19 because they were unaware of the Messiah, Jesus, having come. “And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.”  Paul baptized them, I believe, to emphasize to them what they were being baptized in Jesus’ name rather than John’s. Actually, I have come to realize, thanks to some wise people pointing this out, that Paul’s issue here was not that these were unsaved (they were baptized), but that they had not realized that Jesus had already come and that the gift of the Holy Spirit was given. Paul was pointing them to union or association with Christ having come and died and promised the Holy Spirit.
 
In any case, God’s Word emphasizes that WE can do NOTHING to save ourselves. It is the work of God (John 6:29) for us to even believe, so is it our will or God’s that we come to faith? We are called by God, we are saved by God, we are sanctified by His Spirit, and we will be glorified by faith through the power of Christ’s resurrection. (Romans 8:29-30) We are to live faithfully, but most of all we are to persevere in that faith, which is continuing to BELIEVE in Jesus Christ as our Savior and we as His fellow heirs. But….we are also commanded to obey God without questioning Him aren’t we?
I repeat my original challenge regarding baptism somehow forgiving past sins, but not future ones. If it were truly efficacious enough to actually wash away all of our previous sins, then why are we not baptizing people every Sunday? Why is it so easy to believe that FUTURE sins are washed away and cleansed by the blood of Christ, if baptism is where we come into contact with that blood? I am still waiting for anyone to prove, by scripture, that one comes into contact with the blood of Jesus through baptism. If that were so, then baptism would need to be repeated as often as the sacrifices of the Old testament.
 
But, this is NOT what we are told in scripture is it? No, we are told that if we confess our sins God is faithful and just to forgive us those sins. No baptism involved!
Nicodemus is told in John 3 that he must be born again. But, when Jesus patiently explains this further He does not say “Unless a man is born again of water and spirit“. No, He says “unless a man is born (no again here) of water AND spirit“. Then twice after this Jesus emphasizes only being born of the Spirit. Water is not mentioned again!
 
THIS is the gospel: because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:9-13 ESV)
Yet Jesus still commands us to baptize new disciples and Paul insisted on it being done, as did Peter. Do I understand all of this and the seeming deviations from pattern that we try to follow? Nope. But, I don’t really know enough to say what God commands, and Peter expressly teaches is wrong just because they don’t repeat themselves all them time.

The Social Gospel is a Whore

Reading the news today, which I often neglect to do, I noticed that President Obama has been mighty busy these first weeks.

Two items that bothered me for their hypocrisy are the S-CHIP bill which Obama signed today and the restructuring of the Government’s Faith Based Initiative program.

First, the S-CHIPbill will extend free health care to approximately 4 million children who do not have medical coverage. That’s great, but this camouflages Obama’s signong an executive order ending the ban on federal funds for international groups that perform abortions or provide information on the option. So, on one hand our new President extends health care to those already born, while still promoting, and funding with YOUR tax dollars, the killing of untold millions of innocent babies worldwide.

Second, the Faith Based Initiative is going to be replaced by a Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. This adventure in secularizing religion and blending it into mandatory volunteerism doesn’t portend great things for the Gospel. It will certainly boost the prestige of humanist and social gospels and their proponents however.

Case in point is the ever active social and political activist Jim Wallis, who expects to be named to this council. Wallis is apparently toe to toe with the Christian Imperialist idea of “Kingdom Now’ or Dominion Theology which claims the world is getting better and that the world will be completely evangelized before Christ Jesus returns. Scripture never claims that the world will be converted and Jesus’ own words in Matthew 24:4-14 contradict the idea of Post-Millenialism or any idea that the world will progressively get better. Paul also counters this idea in 2 Timothy 3:1-5.

What really bothers me about this new Council is the fact that abortion and marriage are two issues that are being ignored by the people who are being named to serve on this council. Will any of them have the guts, yea temerity, to voice these issues? I seriously doubt it.

This is, once again, a demonstration of the harlot church, the present day apostate Israel and it is clear that judgment is coming. I believe it will be a good thing overall, because at the end of all this we will finally know who all the hypocrites are. It will soon become too personally and economically expensive to remain a Bible believing and righteous  person. In all honesty, I pray to God I will not become one of the hypocrites!

For more information on Dominionism or Preterist view see this link.