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.
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154 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by indywatchman on February 16, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    Prodigal,

    No comment, just a hardy AMEN!

    Steve Blackwell

  2. Posted by bondservant3 on February 16, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    Ditto

    Amen and Amen!

  3. Posted by churchesofchrist on February 17, 2009 at 3:57 am

    Im a little under the weather – will comment later.

  4. Posted by churchesofchrist on February 17, 2009 at 5:21 am

    *John’s baptism was based upon their repenting toward God and was administered to those who confessed their sins. As you noted, John’s baptism was for the remission of sins. But, with John’s baptism there was no reception of the Holy Spirit, no “born from above.” John’s baptism was also in preparation for the coming of Christ and the Kingdom.

    *The baptism of Christ was/is universal, for all nations, and not limited to the disobedient Jews.(Matthew 28:19-20) The baptism of Christ is predicated upon faith in Jesus Christ and is predicated upon repentance. The baptism of Christ is in the name of Christ or by His authority and is into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Matthew 28:19-20.

    *The first thing we note is that Peter sees a correspondence between the flood of Noah and our baptism. That is, in like manner to one, so is the other. In other words, as the flood saved Noah, so baptism now saves us. Noah was not saved by the flood, but God saved him through the flood. The flood becomes, in the mind of Peter, a reminder of our own baptism. We then, are not saved by our baptism, but we are saved through our baptism. That is, God saves us, he brings us safely through our baptism, just as He did Noah.
    Baptism saves us in like manner to the flood, then we should understand immediately that it is not the water that saved. This point Peter immediately drives home. Peter speaks of putting away the filth of the flesh. I do not think this is a difficult phrase. Baptism is not about outward cleansing. That is, it is not the action of water on the body that effects the salvation. The water does not save! Rather, according to Peter, it is something else. And He tells us what that something else is. It is the request to God from (or sometimes translated “for”) a good conscience.. Our request to God from a good conscience (that is, out of a sincere heart) brings us safely through our own baptism of death and into Christ’s resurrection, just as Noah’s righteous life and favor with God brought him safely through the flood.

    Baptism, then, is a picture of the flood, that is, the antitype of the type, the copy of the original. Baptism saves us, like the flood saved Noah. We cannot say that the flood was the causative agent of Noah’s salvation, any more than we can say that baptism is the causative agent of our salvation. Rather, the flood was the event associated with Noah’s salvation, and so baptism is the event associated with our salvation. It is the process whereby we die to our old selves and God brings us safely through that death by the power of the resurrected Christ.

    I really understand where you are coming from with this, and I like the focal point being Jesus. There are many things that may be ask though. Such as “what does it mean to call on the name of the Lord” ( Romans 10:9-13 )

    I look forward to what others say.

    -Randy

  5. Posted by churchesofchrist on February 17, 2009 at 6:37 am

    I will acknowledge that the larger context of Scripture, teaches that baptism is NOT a prerequisite for eternal life. The focus seems to be upon trusting Jesus and His work – repenting seems to be an out-flow of believe and baptism an out-flow of repentance with neither being the agent or cause of salvation.

    Making repentance and baptism the cause of remission ignores the reason for the command. Peter didn’t preach repentance and baptism as “the Way” to be saved or as some formula to be saved, but preached Jesus as the reason to repent and be baptized.

    The men in Acts 2 were “believers” in Jesus after hearing Peter preach the gospel. Believers who not merely acknowledged the facts about Jesus, but believers who were trusting in the Christ Peter preached. Since trusting in Jesus, they now wanted to know what to do about it and ask “ what shall we do” Peter said “turn from sin and be baptized” on the basis of forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit.

    These men were turning from sin because of the gospel – their repenting was motivated by the fact that Jesus paid for their sins on the cross. These men were baptized because of the gospel – their baptism was motivated by the fact that Jesus paid for their sins on the cross. Without the gospel, what purpose would repenting and baptism serve? Nothing. They repented and were baptized because of the fact that Jesus was their sacrifice for sins….they didn’t repent and get baptized as some formula that activates grace and forgiveness – but for the remission of sins that Jesus paid upon the cross.

    They were saying,” Peter we don’t need bulls and goats, which cold never take away sins, and we don’t needs Johns baptism…we trust in the sacrifice of Jesus – His shed blood for the remission of sins – what now shall we do?? Peter didn’t give them some formula that would make them contact the blood of Jesus – he told them what to do now that they trusted in the Once and for all sacrifice….

  6. PK,

    First thing that comes to mind…

    You emphasize BELIEVE, and rightly so, but the word translated BELIEVE throughout our NT is the same word translated FAITH. And FAITH is never without works…unless it is just belief, and then it is dead. We are not simply asked to BELIEVE in the gospel. We are asked to put our FAITH in the gospel, which means trust, loyalty, devotion. This is why there can also be references to OBEYING the gospel in the NT…because the logical result of FAITH/TRUST is action. See Hebrews 11 which lists men and women of faith who DID what God said…that’s why we call them men and women of faith. Now, I am not saying that we are saved by works…I am only saying what James said, that faith is completed by our works, and that emphasizing faith to the exclusion of works leaves you with simple mental assent (i.e., belief), and that is not living faith.

    Second…

    Just because Constantine and others had an improper, works-oriented view of baptism does not make baptism unnecessary or ineffective for those who do have the right view…trust in Jesus Christ. Paul rebuked those who viewed grace improperly, seeing it as a license to sin…but that doesn’t make grace unnecessary.

    Third…

    You declared that in 1Peter 3:21 baptism is the anti-type…I think the verdict is still out on that. Compare translations when you get a chance…the NIV makes the water of the flood the anti-type, as does the KJV, it seems…while the NASB and ESV, among others, seem to make baptism the anti-type. The section from the end of v20 into 21 could read like this…”eight souls were saved through water, which, also, represents baptism, which now saves you…”

    Furthermore…

    In 1Peter 3:21 the verdict is also still definitely out on the good conscience…whether baptism is the answer of a good conscience, or an appeal for a good conscience. If it is the second, then we have support for forgiveness of sins being connected to baptism (see NASB and ESV for this translation). Support for this comes from Hebrews 9:14 where we are told that the blood of Christ, through the Spirit, purifies our conscience. If it is the first, you have used Heb 9:14 to say that baptism is the act of one who already has a purified conscience…but 1Peter 3:21 does not say “pure” conscience, but “good” conscience, a phrase used multiple times to refer to a sincere heart (as Randy pointed out). Check out these references to a good conscience when you get a chance (I have listed all of them in the Bible): Acts 23:1; 1Tim 1:5,19; Heb 13:18; 1Pet 3:16. All of these indicate that a good conscience is something we hold or keep or maintain, something up to us, a decision we make. This lends much weight to understanding 1Peter 3:21 to mean that baptism is a pledge to God from a sincere heart.

    More…

    Your reference to 1John 1:9, that if we confess our sins God is faithful to forgive, was taken completely out of context. He is not telling non-Christians how to be saved. He is not writing to non-Christians. John says in 1John 5:13, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.” The audience consists of Christians who would have already been saved/reconciled/justified…John is telling them how to stay that way, how to know they have eternal life. To say that John means that a person does not have to be baptized does not do justice to the context…John is not addressing the point of initial salvation, but how to maintain a relationship with God, i.e., walk in the light.

    Ditto for Romans 10 that you quoted at the end…He has already made it clear that his audience has been baptized, put to death with Christ, in Romans 6…now he, like John, is telling them how to maintain a relationship with God, not how to be saved in the first place.

    Besides that, Paul mentions nothing about repentance in Rom 10, but no one argues that it is not necessary (actually some probably do, but I know you don’t). Why do we do that with baptism?

    You said that God’s word emphasizes that we can do nothing to save ourselves. I would agree with that statement…but what you said is not what you meant. We cannot save ourselves…but that does not mean that we do nothing. In the very least we must decide to put our faith in Christ. And I know you said that belief is God’s work…but are you trying to remove free will from the equation? Is faith not our choice? And, if it is our choice, then isn’t that something we do to be saved (not to save ourselves, mind you…but to meet God’s conditions of salvation)? And don’t we have to stop continuing in sin? Take Galatians 5:19-21, for example…Paul says “those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of heaven.” So, to inherit the kingdom we must do something…walk by the Spirit and not in the flesh (in sin). “If we live (are saved) by the Spirit, let us also walk by (pattern our lifestyle after) the Spirit” (Gal 5:25). Top it off with “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Php 2:12). I know Paul is not saying we can earn salvation…but he does say there is work to do.

    Now, if you are saying that God instills faith in us without our choosing, then we have other issues to discuss and what I said means nothing to you…but from what I know of you, PK, I don’t think you have gone that far. Let me know if we need to hash this out.

    Well, you got a long comment from Randy and another from me…enjoy:) And, I appreciate your heart, your willingness to search out the truth.

    In Christ,
    Clint

  7. PK,

    BTW, I love the song Be Still My Soul, but I have very rarely heard it or sung it because it doesn’t seem that many know it. Thanks for putting it in your playlist…

    Clint

  8. Posted by bondservant3 on February 17, 2009 at 8:15 am

    So you guys are saying a person is not accepted by God until they are baptized that a person cannot ask God to forgive them until they are baptized, that God does not have the power to forgive a person until they are baptized. Sorry, but that’s not what the Bible says.

    Matthew 7:7-11
    “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”

    Acts 11:1-18
    “And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning. Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, “John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?” When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.”

    Acts 15:6-9
    “Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter. And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: “Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.”

    In Acts 11 the other apostles and brethren confirmed the Gentiles at Cornelius’ house had been forgiven when Peter was telling them about the Gentiles receiving the Holy Spirit. In Acts 15 Peter speaking to the council confirms that God accepted the Gentiles by giving them the Holy Spirit which was before they were baptized. Obviously God who knows every mans heart knew that they had heard what they needed to and He gave them His Spirit. And Peter told them they should believe it is through that same grace they too are saved. God could have given the Gentiles the Holy Spirit when they were baptized. They were given the Holy Spirit before they were baptized.

    It is our hearts He is after, it is what is in our hearts He looks at.

    Did not what Jesus said as He walked the earth matter??

    Do you guys think Jesus told parables just to tell a story??

    Luke 18:9-14
    “Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, “God, I thank You that I am not like other men–extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.” And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

    The tax collector from his heart asked God to forgive him knowing he didn’t deserve it. The Pharisee boasted about how righteous he was in the works he had done, my guess is he must have thought because of the works he had done he somehow earned forgiveness.

    And notice who Jesus was speaking to.

    “Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others.”

    Jesus was baptized by John. Did Jesus need to be forgiven, no He did not have any sins.

    John the Baptist was told to prepare the way of Jesus. John told them to bear fruits worthy of repentance. What are the ways of Jesus, as Jesus walked the earth He had compassion and love for people and gave mercy to people, these are the ways we should follow if we want to follow the ways of the Lord.

    Luke 3:1-14
    “Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, while Annas and Caiaphas were high priests, the word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight. Every valley shall be filled And every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough ways smooth; And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’” Then he said to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” So the people asked him, saying, “What shall we do then?” He answered and said to them, “He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.” Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Collect no more than what is appointed for you.” Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, “And what shall we do?” So he said to them, “Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages.”

    You guys miss what Jesus tried so hard to teach. Why did Jesus say He did not desire sacrifice, just to say it?? No He said it because He meant it, He is after our hearts.

    Matthew 12:1-8
    “At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!” But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless? Yet I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple. But if you had known what this means, “ I desire mercy and not sacrifice,” you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

    Mark 12:28-34
    “Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?” Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” There is no other commandment greater than these.” So the scribe said to Him, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He. And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” But after that no one dared question Him.”

    If we love God and love people we are following Jesus.

    1 Corinthians 13:4-7
    “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

    Philippians 1:9-11
    “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”

    James 3:13-18
    “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”

    Titus 3:1-8
    “Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men. For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.”

    1 John 4:17-19
    “Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.”

    Baptism does not take away sins, Jesus did that for us on the cross. When we are baptized it is a likeness, image or picture of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. When we are baptized we are announcing in baptism that we are dead to sin, knowing that we have crucified our old man with Jesus. Baptism is a statement we are making to the world that we are no longer slaves under the bondage of sin that we are alive with Christ. Romans 6:11-12 says we should “reckon” or consider ourselves to be dead to sin, when we are baptized we should consider ourselves dead to sin, it is a symbol of the work He has already done in us. Being baptized does not take away sins but comes from a good conscience that already exists in the state of saved by grace “not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God.”

    Titus 3:1-8
    “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

    Ephesians 1:3-14
    “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth–in Him. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.”

    You guys think of obeying as baptism. I see obeying the gospel as bigger than that, that we believe Jesus is the Son of God who died and rose again to save us through His redeeming blood by His grace and mercy.

    It is our faith in Him that saves us.
    It is by God’s grace we are saved.

    And we should be striving to live for and serve our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and to also serve and love other people.

    If you want to tell people that God is not powerful or loving enough to forgive them unless they are baptized, that’s on you.

    Luke 11:46-54
    “And He said, “Woe to you also, lawyers! For you load men with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. In fact, you bear witness that you approve the deeds of your fathers; for they indeed killed them, and you build their tombs.” Therefore the wisdom of God also said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and persecute,’ that the blood of all the prophets which was shed from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who perished between the altar and the temple. Yes, I say to you, it shall be required of this generation. Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in you hindered.” And as He said these things to them, the scribes and the Pharisees began to assail Him vehemently, and to cross-examine Him about many things, lying in wait for Him, and seeking to catch Him in something He might say, that they might accuse Him.”

    Jesus’ Sacrifice on the cross was sufficient enough to cover our sins. Jesus showed His love for people as He walked the earth, Jesus does not put locks and chains on His love for us.
    I believe God knows every man’s heart. What seems impossible to men is possible with God.

    Matthew 19:23-26
    “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

    Revelation 1:4-6
    “Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

  9. Pk,

    This is sorrowing display of false teaching from which you did not receive from Scripture, but from the wells of men. Why have you gutted the Gospel for this cause? You have remove the burial of Christ from the Gospel (1 Cor. 15:1-4). It is by the Gospel that one is saved (Rom. 1:16, 1 Cor. 15:1-2). It is only those who obey Christ and His gospel who will be saved (2 Thess. 1:7-9, Heb. 5:9). The Gospel that was obeyed is clearly the death to sin, burial in baptism, and resurrection into newness of life (Rom. 6:3-6, Col. 2:12-13). Can you have faith in Christ and not in His Gospel? Do you not believe the same as Christ’s words that Christians are begotten by Christ through the Gospel (1 Cor. 4:15)? Have you been born again apart from water?

    Jesus taught that His blood was shed “unto the forgiveness of sins” not “because of the forgiveness of sins” just as Paul revealed Christ’s words that baptism in Jesus’ name is “unto the forgiveness of sins” (Matt. 26:28, Acts 2:38). “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7) while Christ has cleansed us by the washing of water (Eph. 5:26). Christ’s blood, baptism, and grace work together and it is the blood and water that bear witness with the Spirit (1 John 5:6-8). It was water and blood that came Christ’s side in His death and we only enter Christ’s death by baptism (Rom. 6).

    Please reform your teaching and avoid these errors. For you know that you will be judged strictly (James 3:1) and that those who change the Gospel will be anathema (Gal. 1:6-12).

    From a sincere friend, God bless.

  10. Posted by bondservant3 on February 17, 2009 at 8:52 am

    Clint said:
    He has already made it clear that his audience has been baptized, put to death with Christ, in Romans 6…now he, like John, is telling them how to maintain a relationship with God, not how to be saved in the first place.

    Reply:

    Steve is right, you are wrong. Look at the beginning sentence Paul made and who he was speaking about.

    He was saying that his brethren his countrymen of Israel need to hear the gospel.

    Romans 10:1 “Bretheren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.”

  11. Posted by bondservant3 on February 17, 2009 at 9:01 am

    Steve, you know they are going to hound you.

    I believe it is very commendable for you to look to God’s Word instead of man to know Him better, as you have done.

    You have support from others who know you are being true.

  12. Posted by churchesofchrist on February 17, 2009 at 9:12 am

    TRUTH, nobody is hounding Steve.

    Birth does not impart life. Without a previous impartation of life there can be no birth. But birth introduces the life imparted into a state suited to the proper development of the life.

    Without birth there can be no development of the life, and the new principle of life must perish. So it is in the new or spiritual birth. Baptism does not beget life; it does not impart the principle of spiritual life.

    The gospel is the seed…

  13. Bondservant3,

    But, why did Paul bring up his countrymen? Because his whole point (the point of the entire book of Romans) is to show that Jews and Gentiles are on equal ground at the foot of the cross. So, he makes a startling declaration, that he wishes Israel could be saved, in order to help Jewish Christians understand that they are not saved by the old Law or by their heritage, but by Christ. His countrymen are not the point, they are the argument to make the point: “there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing riches on all who call on him” (Rom 10:12).

    Again, the point is not how one becomes a Christian…the point is that all Christians, Jew or Gentile are saved by Christ, who shows no partiality to Jews. This is why he emphasizes the lost state, and the disobedience of Israel: “But of Israel he says, ‘All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people'” (vs 21).

  14. Bondservant3,

    I second Randy’s comment: “nobody is hounding Steve.”

    Steve knows our purpose…to seek out the truth, just like him.

  15. Posted by bondservant3 on February 17, 2009 at 9:16 am

    Jesus is our living water.

    John 4:10-14
    “Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, “Give Me a drink,” you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?” Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”

    The living water Jesus was talking about to the Samaritan woman was Himself? He certainly wasn’t talking about lowering her into the well to baptize her.

  16. Posted by bondservant3 on February 17, 2009 at 9:21 am

    To love your enemy, to love your neighbor, to do good to all men, are these not commandments. Are you obedient. Or are we all disobedient and contrary people in need of a Savior.

  17. Posted by churchesofchrist on February 17, 2009 at 9:24 am

    TRUTH-bondservant3, on the day of Pentecost the Spirit came to guide men into the church or kingdom of God. The persons taught were the crucifiers of the Son of God. The first point was to produce faith in Christ. The proposition that Jesus is the Christ and the testimonies concerning it were first presented. The truth to be believed was summed up in this proposition: “Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly, that God hath made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom ye crucified.” (Acts 2: 36.) This was the thing to be believed–the subject-matter of faith. “When they heard this [and believed it], they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, Brethren, what shall we do? And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2: 37, 38.) In this answer of the Spirit clear distinctions are made. First, the thing to be believed–that Jesus is the Christ of God. The effect of that faith is that the heart is convicted of sin, is changed from a bitter persecution of Christ to the humble, contrite heart seeking terms of pardon for the crime of crucifying the Lord. They ask: “What shall we do ?” The Spirit said: “Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you.” That is what they were to do. They were to do this “in the name of Jesus Christ.” “In the name of Christ” generally means “by the authority of Christ.

    As the foundation of the baptism–i. e., with an acknowledgment of him in that act as being what his name imports, the sinner’s only hope, his Redeemer, Justifier, Lord, final Judge. It is a direction to look, in rendering this obedience, to Jesus as the only source of the blessings to which the obedience brings us. When understood, it teaches that we are brought to these blessings by coming into Christ for the remission of sins. This clause states the motive or object which should induce them to repent and be baptized. It enforces the entire exhortation, not one part of it to the exclusion of the other.” God only can forgive sin. He tells them: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” “Repent ye, and be baptized into the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins.” “Repent ye therefore, and turn again [baptism is the turning act], that your sins may be blotted out, that so there may come seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord.” The remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit are two promises, the former fitting or preparing for the latter, both given as rewards to induce obedience and bring comfort to the distressed sinners.

  18. Posted by bondservant3 on February 17, 2009 at 9:30 am

    The Bible never says that someone who is not baptized will be condemned.

    Really busy. May not be able to comment as much.

  19. Posted by churchesofchrist on February 17, 2009 at 9:32 am

    TRUTH, as I have told Steve…I have some of the same doubts and questions that he has and mainly because baptism is often center stage and comes very close to “baptismal regeneration” when taught. I think the focus should be and must be Jesus and His work, and our response should be trusting Him to save us….in doing so, I repent – turn away from who I was and turn a new direction and I am baptized….not because its some formula that causes grace and forgiveness, but because I see the sacrifice of Jesus to be more than bulls and goats, which could never take away sin, so my faith is in Jesus….and demonstrated in repentance and baptism

  20. Posted by bondservant3 on February 17, 2009 at 9:33 am

    And Please excuse my typing.

    Correct typing in other comment:
    The living water Jesus was talking about to the Samaritan woman was Himself. He certainly wasn’t talking about lowering her into the well to baptize her.

  21. Posted by bondservant3 on February 17, 2009 at 9:40 am

    I repented and asked the Lord to fogive me of my sins and He helped me turn from my sins. When I was baptized it did not take away my sins, Jesus had already done that.

  22. Bondservant3,

    The Bible never says that someone who does not worship God will be condemned…does that mean that worship is not necessary? If not, why not?

  23. Posted by bondservant3 on February 17, 2009 at 9:42 am

    I believe He has the power to forgive sins. I have faith in Jesus. I believe Jesus’ Sacrifice on the cross was sufficient enough to cover our sins, the Bible tell us that.

  24. Bondservant3,

    I agree with this…and I know Randy does, too:
    “Jesus’ Sacrifice on the cross was sufficient enough to cover our sins”

    But, my question to you…does that mean we don’t have to do anything to obtain that salvation?

  25. Posted by bondservant3 on February 17, 2009 at 9:51 am

    Clint said:
    Bondservant3,The Bible never says that someone who does not worship God will be condemned…does that mean that worship is not necessary? If not, why not?

    Reply:

    You obviously didn’t read my other comment:
    We should be striving to live for and serve our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and to also serve and love other people.

    That was a question of poor taste. As someone who asks questions trying to catch someone in something they might say they can accuse them.

  26. Posted by bondservant3 on February 17, 2009 at 9:54 am

    Clint said:
    Bondservant3,The Bible never says that someone who does not worship God will be condemned…does that mean that worship is not necessary? If not, why not?

    The Bible says he who does not believe will be condemned.

  27. Posted by bondservant3 on February 17, 2009 at 9:59 am

    Really gotta go. Later.

  28. Bondservant3,

    I am not trying to be cruel or accusatory…I am just trying to draw a parallel…if you don’t want to answer the question then say so, but don’t accuse me of ill-will.

    I am after the truth like you…

    So, would you like to answer the question? Or should I just explain my point?

  29. Alright…I understand. TTYL

  30. Posted by bondservant3 on February 17, 2009 at 10:08 am

    I answered your question, you just didn’t like my answer.

  31. Posted by bondservant3 on February 17, 2009 at 10:15 am

    Clint said:I am after the truth.

    You claim you have the truth and you claim that those who attend a church with the same sign that you guys hang on a wall are the only one’s going to heaven.

    And the Bible says judge not and you will not be judged and condemn not and you will not be condemned.

    I believe these words apply. Get off God’s throne before He sits on you.

  32. Posted by bondservant3 on February 17, 2009 at 10:19 am

    God is greater than what you guys can see.

    I am multi tasking too much right now.

    Be back later.

  33. Posted by bondservant3 on February 17, 2009 at 11:00 am

    When Jesus died on the cross the veil was torn from top to bottom, which tells us it was God who tore the veil a very thick veil. After it was torn men of the law tried to sow it back up because these men could not believe that other people were allowed such access to God. Any man has access to Him wherever they are whether water is around or not. God gives us His free gift of grace and mercy and He is greater than anything on this earth.

    Romans 3:21-28
    “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.”

    Prasie to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

    Have a blessed day.

  34. Bondservant3,

    You said: “You claim you have the truth and you claim that those who attend a church with the same sign that you guys hang on a wall are the only one’s going to heaven.”

    I say: I have never once claimed any of this. I do believe I have the truth in the form of the Bible, but I have yet to determine all that it means. All I am doing is appealing to the truth.

    And, no, I didn’t like your answer…but that is because it wasn’t an answer to the question I asked…

    But, here is the point I am trying to make. If the Bible never says a person will be condemned for not worshiping God, yet we can reasonably conclude that this is the case, then even though the Bible may not explicitly say that one who is not baptized will be condemned, we can also reasonably conclude that that is the case. If not, why not?

    Furthermore, you quoted Rom 3:28, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.” Which law, in context?

  35. Posted by churchesofchrist on February 17, 2009 at 11:40 am

    I agree, Truth. We are indeed justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. Is repentance a deed of the law? Is baptism a deed of the law? Peter commanded both. In Johns day, they ask John, was his baptism from heaven or men… I ask you: Is the baptism Jesus commissioned and Peter commanded from heaven or from men. As I stated before, I struggle with this too. But, perhaps God designed it this way – as he done with Moses and Noah. Some were baptized unto Moses, escaping slavery AFTER passing through the sea. Noah – 8 souls were saved by/through water. If they rejected the baptism unto Moses, saying they would just have faith in God, but not pass through the sea, would they have been free from slavery? If the 8 rejected entrance into the Ark, would they have been saved though water? If those Peter preached to, rejected the command of Peter, would their faith alone been enough? These are questions we must honestly ask ourselves. I totally disagree with the doctrine of baptismal regeneration, but I agree with justification by faith…same faith that moved those to pass through the sea and those to enter the Ark. They TRUSTED in God. When the walls came down, was it caused by faith alone or faith demonstrated by their walking? Their walking didn’t jar the walls, causing them to crumble. It was God who done the work. Our walking into water and being immersed doesn’t cause forgiveness – its faith demonstrated in obedience…God at work!

  36. Posted by bondservant3 on February 17, 2009 at 11:42 am

    It does not say only the law of Moses, it says the law, period.

    Romans 4:1-3
    “What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? ” Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”

    Romans 4:19-25
    “And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.”

    It was Abraham’s faith in God in that he believed that he and Sarah would have a child at their age. It was Abraham’s faith in Him that God accounted him righteous. This was not only for Abraham but also to those who believe have faith in Him who raised Jesus up from the dead. It is by God’s grace through faith we are saved.

    Like I said I am multi tasking. I may have to come back later.

    Though you obviously are looking for a contentious debate.

  37. Bondservant3,

    I believe I must discontinue our discourse. You persist in viewing my responses and questions as a “contentious debate.” I have declared my intentions to merely search out the truth. I have tried to make known my good will toward you. But, I am apparently not being clear. So, I appreciate the discussion we have had, and I pray for God’s wisdom for you and I as we try to do His will.

    In Christ,
    Clint

  38. Posted by bondservant3 on February 17, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Clint,

    No ill will taken. I’ve just seen how this works.

    And to also say I don’t like to see people bully other people.

    I pray for God’s Spirit to guide us all as well.

    Peace to you in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ

  39. coC,

    I don’t know if this is WIL or Randy, but your statement “Making repentance and baptism the cause of remission ignores the reason for the command. Peter didn’t preach repentance and baptism as “the Way” to be saved or as some formula to be saved, but preached Jesus as the reason to repent and be baptized.” is spot on I think!

    Amen!

  40. Posted by churchesofchrist on February 17, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    TRUTH, you are really making some strong statements that I find untrue. I have not seen anyone on here “bullying” anyone around, nor have I seen anyone seeking a contentious debate. I don’t see where Clint or anyone was being quarrelsome. I really think you owe Clint an apology, seeing you made some statements about his character that are not true.

  41. Posted by bondservant3 on February 17, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    Randy, I agree with that statement you made that Prodigal showed. Though it still seems you don’t quite get that it is what is in your heart that God is looks at. The simple truth is we do not desreve His mercy and grace, we cannot earn His mercy, God who knows our hearts gives us His mercy and grace. Jesus walked the earth and gave compassion and mercy to people. Not because of any works they had done, but because they had faith in who He was and trusted in Him, and He saw that in people. I have told you that there is a special place in my heart for you Randy, and I want to be with you 100%, I am only human too, and sometimes trusting people isn’t so easy.

    Jesus gave this man His mercy because he had faith in who Jesus was and is. I believe this is who Jesus is.

    Luke 18:35-43
    “Then it happened, as He was coming near Jericho, that a certain blind man sat by the road begging. And hearing a multitude passing by, he asked what it meant. So they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. And he cried out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Then those who went before warned him that he should be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be brought to Him. And when he had come near, He asked him, saying, “What do you want Me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, that I may receive my sight.” Then Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.”

  42. Posted by bondservant3 on February 17, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    Randy I already commented back to Clint.

    Randy said: I have not seen anyone on here “bullying” anyone around, nor have I seen anyone seeking a contentious debate.

    Reply:
    There are others besides me who disagree with you on that.

  43. Posted by churchesofchrist on February 17, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    coC,

    I don’t know if this is WIL or Randy, but your statement “Making repentance and baptism the cause of remission ignores the reason for the command. Peter didn’t preach repentance and baptism as “the Way” to be saved or as some formula to be saved, but preached Jesus as the reason to repent and be baptized.” is spot on I think!

    Amen!

    Me-Randy…

    My whole point is to point it all to Jesus. I do question many things and have many concerns…and I do think we sometimes, maybe quite often sound like we are teaching baptismal regeneration, which I oppose.

  44. Clint,

    I apologize if the comments here are becoming abusive from your perspective. I respect and value your opinion, especially since you seem to be the most reasonable of those who disagree with me on this.

    I would just suggest (no disrespect toward Truth here) that you simply ignore comments you choose not to answer.

    1. As to Hebrews 11 and what Faith is:
    I agree completely that these people would never have made the “hall of faith” if not for their obedience. However, scripture also tells us that what they did was because of their faith. They believed in God and did what they did as a consequence of that faith. One follows the other, but scripture is clear that works are a result of faith and nowhere are we told we are justified by our works, faith-based or not.

    2. Constantine was mentioned only to emphasize a false reliance on an ACT for salvation or cleansing from sin.

    3. Believe me, Clint, I have studied many different translations including the Byzantine and Critical Text sources. I agree that there is no consensus on this passage, so my interpretation is based solely on what seems obvious to my reading. I was, for almost a year, convinced that Peter was simply emphasizing baptism was not a bath, but actually salvic. However, the source Greek appears to identify “filth of the flesh” as sins committed in the flesh which runs counter to the idea churches of Christ claim the emphasis to be when Peter appears to say IT IS NOT the washing away of these sins that baptism performs, but rather it is the result of, or effected by a cleansed conscience. How is that clear conscience obtained? By a heartfelt belief that past sins are already forgiven and forgotten.

    The jury is out on many things obviously, and that is precisely why I do not want to base my salvation, or anyone else’s on what is NOT clear in the Word. I am of the opinion that we must let the weight of scripture have precedence over a few obscure verses that are prone to divide believers.

    Let’s use this for an example of inference based on common sense and the “spirit” of scripture rather than the letter: How do you justify women being able to participate in the Lord’s supper? Nowhere in scripture do we find either a command or an example of women partaking in this. So where do we get our belief that they may partake?

    Again, we have numerous examples of a believer AND their entire household being baptized, but you cannot prove they all believed, but only infer it. You cannot prove that there were no children involved in these household baptisms, yet we seem quite sure that must NOT be the case!
    Yet Paul states very clearly “For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.”
    (1 Corinthians 7:14) Shouldn’t that be sufficient proof that if one person in a family believes, ALL should be baptized? Yet it isn’t even considered by churches of Christ!

    Now, regarding a “good conscience”….

    Perhaps I misunderstand what your point is here, but, I did not use Hebrews 9:14 to prove anything. On the other hand, that particular scripture validates the fact that our consciences, and our sins, are cleansed by the blood of Christ. Christ does not bleed a little more every time we confess our sins. The blood He shed on the cross is efficacious for all time! It is faith in that shed blood from 2000 years ago that cleanses us. It is the FACT that Christ Jesus shed His own blood that we believe in. NOT the literal sprinkling or pouring or coming into contact with His blood.

    I believe that Paul and Peter meant what they said. Their consciences were good, or clean, or well intentioned because they BELIEVED their sins were forgiven (confessed and forgiven as promised). Their intention was to exhort others to KEEP a clear conscience. One cannot keep what one does not already possess at some point! If baptism is how we get a clear conscience, you must agree that it must also be repeated regularly!

    As for Romans 10….

    No one will truly call on the name of the Lord Jesus, from the heart, unless they believe the Gospel and are willing to have God change their lives. It is God who changes us into new creatures, not our own will or desires. God is Who works in us to both desire and perform what HE pleases.(Philippians 2:13)

    How much of this is what we choose and what God causes us to choose? I believe we, as humans, place far too much value on our own good intentions and desires and forget that nothing good comes from within us unless God has given us His Holy Spirit and changed us into those “who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:13)

    Thank you very much for your heartfelt and well intentioned comments Clint!

  45. Posted by churchesofchrist on February 17, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    TRUTH, I understand what you mean by grave and mercy, and I know we cannot earn forgiveness. How could being baptized merit the shed blood of Christ? Repentance and being baptized are not works towards forgiveness and the gift of the Holy Spirit. They are me saying yes to what Jesus has done. Faith is demonstrated in repentance and baptism.

  46. Dear Scott,

    I completely understand your point and lest you think otherwise, I tremble when I discuss these things, because I do not want to be wrong or deceived and neither do I want or intend to lead anyone else astray.

    I am in no way denying the burial of Christ, or His death, or His blood, or the Spirit, or His resurrection. When John reiterates, in a fashion, what Jesus said in John 3:5 “This is he who came by water and blood–Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.” (1 John 5:6) what does John mean? Jesus did not come by water other than if that means He came into the world as a human being, born of a woman, and bled like a human being. If it means that Jesus “came by John’s baptism” how does that work? I trust that John meant to imply that Jesus was truly God and as human as we are and it was testified to him and others by the Spirit.

    I will repeat a little of what I asked Clint in the previous reply. If, as you teach, we only come into contact with the blood of Christ through baptism, you are teaching that Christ’s actual fleshly blood is what we must contact in order to be saved. Nowhere in scripture are we told that we literally touch, see, or drink the blood of Christ.

    We take communion as a “remembrance” of His shed blood. We have faith, as believers, in the efficacy of blood which was shed over 2000 years ago! We do not believe, or trust, in the literal viscous blood of our Savior, but rather our faith is in the FACT that He shed that blood long ago for our reconciliation. It is extremely significant to me that churches of Christ insist on literalizing our being baptized into Christ’s death (which was on a tree) and buried with Him (in a tomb) and raised with Him (He being able to pass through locked doors at that point). Baptism doesn’t even come close to an actual participation in Christ’s death, burial or resurrection! The baptism Paul speaks of is our symbolic sharing in His death and resurrection which should mean we realize exactly what we have committed ourselves to. If baptism truly kills the “old man’ then how can you still sin? Jesus said we must die daily, take up our cross daily.

    Speaking of taking everything completely literally, Jesus said “So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.”(Luke 14:33)

    Have you sold your house and car yet?

    God bless and be merciful to all of us Scott. We all see through a glass darkly, don’t we? If baptism is essential to salvation, then why isn’t it clear that it is always immersion, always done only to the believers themselves, always done
    before receiving the Holy Spirit, etc. No one will dispute faith and repentance. Baptism, for some reason, is the most ambiguous and most disputed part of the scripture. Do you really believe that God left something so very important open to speculation? I no longer do.

    I believe that every believer should be baptized for the very reason that every Jew was circumcised. Because God commands it. If it can be done immediately, so be it. If it is never done by the person’s choice, then I doubt that person’s faith. But it, like circumcision, doesn’t guarantee anything except that it pleases God.

  47. Truth,

    I appreciate your participation in these discussions, I really do, but I pray you will try to have more patience than you have shown. I understand you are predisposed to disqualify anyone who is “died-in-the-wool” church of Christ, but this is my blog and I would really appreciate it if you would not be so quick to assume you can read these fellow’s minds!

    Please don’t be offended at me, either. We are pretty much on the same page, but let’s remember that if we are truly correct then we should be trying, through patience and love, to convince them of their error. Beating a horse won’t make him stop.

    I am willing to be proven wrong. I trust that I am not, having come through a very rough time trying to come to terms with what the churches of Christ teach, but finding it impossible to square with scripture consistently.

    Grace and peace to all of you!

  48. Posted by bondservant3 on February 17, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    ProdigalKnot

    No offense taken at all. Like I said it is hard to trust what the intentions of some of these guys are.

    I know I do have a heart for other people because sometimes it aches so bad for other people.

    I will try to be more patient with Clint and Scott. And I do apologize.

    I believe people we run into who we loose patience with helps us grow and learn to have more patience and also that will teach us to yield to His Spirit more.

    Grace and peace to all.

  49. PK,

    Oh you don’t need to apologize. I am not offended by comments, I just did not like where the discussion seemed to be headed.

    You said: “nowhere are we told we are justified by our works, faith-based or not.”
    James 2:21 says, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?” and James 2:24 says, “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.”

    As for 1Peter 3:21, how can Peter say “Baptism now saves you” and then say that it is not the point of cleansing from sin? Don’t our sins have to be cleansed to be saved? What do you think “Baptism now saves you” means?

    I know you didn’t mention Hebrews 9..I was just saying your interpretation was based on that concept…as you pointed out in your last comment. My point is that Peter doesn’t say “pure conscience,” but “good conscience.” In other words, 1Peter 3:21 is not appeal for or from a “pure conscience.” I am not saying that 1Peter 3:21 says baptism produces a pure conscience. I am saying that 1Peter 3:21 says “good conscience” instead of “pure conscience,” and a good conscience is something we bring to the table. Take Paul for example. In the Acts 23:1 Paul says he lived his life in all good conscience until that day. Seems that would inlude his life before conversion, and that he is simply saying that he has always sincerely desired to serve God…even when he persecuted Christians. It was not something God gave him by the HS (he didn’t have a good conscience from God while persecuting God’s people), it was something he brought to the table…he is speaking of his sincerity, and that’s what I believe 1Peter 3:21 is talking about (because it’s the same phrase).

    I understand where you are coming from with your thoughts on God working through the HS to produce faith in us…but we have to balance that with free will and verses like Acts 18:4; 28:23; and 2Cor 5:11 where Paul is persuading/convincing men. Can’t God produce faith by the Holy Spirit through an inspired apostle teaching the truth? Or through a present-day seeker reading the HS inspired words of scripture? This is still the HS working to produce faith…but it leaves the decision up to the seeker. If they come to faith it is only because the HS provided the means…but they still must decide.

    And let’s just work through this logically a bit… if faith is the result of God’s work in the heart of the seeker then why are men lost? Why doesn’t God work in the heart of every man to produce faith?

    Don’t get me wrong…I think God is working on hearts…but I think the heart also has to be open to His work. And if that is true, then God’s work depends on the sincerity/willingness/faith/trust of the individual.

    Well, I don’t have time to address everything, but there you go.

  50. Quick answers to your points about the Holy spirit working in us Clint. I’m busy, too!

    God opens the heart so that we can receive the gospel. (Luke 24:32, Acts 11:18,16:14, 2 Timothy 2:25)

    We bring absolutely nothing to the table Clint. God doesn’t save us because we are needed by Him. Any worth we have is produced by Him in us. We may have been born with a talent, but it only serves our selfish purposes until God works in us the desire to use it for His glory and purpose. It is not something we choose any more than we pick what color our eyes are. Everything we have to offer God is already from God.

  51. Posted by bondservant3 on February 17, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    Clint,

    Just out of curiosity.
    Do you believe the only people going to heaven are those who attend a church with the same sign on the wall as the chruch building you attend.

    In other words do you believe those who attend, baptist, methodist, presbyterian ect… are all heading to hell?

    Do you believe I am heading to hell?

    Please don’t take my question wrong.
    I am just curious to know if your view is the same as others who have this view.

  52. Posted by bondservant3 on February 17, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    Please excuse my typing. Typing to quick.

  53. Clint,

    Regarding my erroneous comment ““nowhere are we told we are justified by our works, faith-based or not.” I really meant to say works alone, whether done in faith or not. Works are supposed to be the fruit that proves, not to God, but to us and others, that we are truly born again.

  54. Posted by churchesofchrist on February 17, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    How can God destine one man to brokenness and the other man to hell? How can Jesus restore one to apostleship, and lose the other to the Devil? Are our lives entirely out of control? Are they entirely decided in Heaven? Can something as specific as “you will deny me three times before the cock crows” be planned beforehand for us?

    In the bible it says (Psalm 139:16) that God knows all our days in advance, yet we live one at a time. God has a foreknowledge of the future and knows it to the detail. God knew from the beginning that Judas would betray him. I have no idea why he chose him to be his disciple knowing this.

    No one denies that man has a will — that is, a faculty of choosing what he wishes to say, do, and think. But have you ever reflected on the pitiful weakness of your will?

    There can be no question that receiving Jesus Christ is an act of the human will. It is often called “faith.” But how do men come to willingly receive the Lord? It is usually answered, “Out of the power of their own free will.” But how can that be? Jesus is a PROPHET — to receive Him means to believe all that He says. In John 8:41-45 Jesus made it clear that you were born of Satan. This evil father hates the truth and imparted the same bias into your heart by nature. Hence said Jesus, “Because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.” How does the human will jump out of man to choose to believe what the human mind hates and denies?

    Paul tells us that the mind with which we were born is hostile to God (Rom 8:7). How can the will escape the influence of human nature which was born with a violent enmity to God? It would be insane for the will to choose peace when every bone and drop of blood cries out for rebellion.

    Unless God changes the heart, creates a new spirit of peace, truthfulness, and submission. man will not choose to receive Jesus Christ and eternal life in Him.

    Ephesians 2:5, “Even when we were dead in sins, [God] hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved).” Faith is the first act of a will made new by the Holy Spirit. Receiving Christ is an act of man just as breathing is, but God must first give life.

    God can and does produce faith by the Holy Spirit through teaching – the truth? Or through a present-day seeker reading the HS inspired words of scripture? It leaves the decision up to the seeker. If they come to faith it is only because the HS provided the means, but they still must decide. But God knew long ago…just as he knew Peter would deny Him three times before the cock crows.

    This is where I think the church of Christ has missed some things – the seed is planted before one even repents…does not God know who will be born of the seed??

    Acts 2 the seed was planted. Growth took place and life was born from above. The birth appears to me to be at the point of baptism, but the big question is “when did the seed produce the life that was born at baptism?”

    How does the human will jump out of man to choose to believe what the human mind hates and denies? God changes his stoney heart, thats how.

    I know I opened another can of worms…just some things to chew on

    – Randy

  55. Posted by bondservant3 on February 17, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Predestination and the elect I believe the same as Randy. It is that God knows everything before it happens. God already knows who will accept Jesus as their Savior and who won’t. God already knows who’s lives he will work in. God doesn’t force Himself on any man, it is man’s free will to choose. God doesn’t want to condemn any man, the Bible tells us in John 3:16-17 “That God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” I believe His Spirit does open peoples hearts to hear the gospel, I believe His Spirit draws people to come to Him, but it is still man’s free will to choose to believe. Even with His Spirit we are still in the flesh we still will sin. Does that mean we are not saved, of course not, this is when we need to yield to His Spirit more, we need to pray for His will to be done in us, not our own will.

  56. Posted by churchesofchrist on February 18, 2009 at 3:34 am

    I agree. But, does the Holy Spirit do this without the written Word? I think we are saying the same thing…not sure. One must hear the gospel before his heart can be opened, right?

    Predestination is a topic of many colors and one that has some pretty crazy teachings attached – like double Predestination, which hardline TULIPS adhere to. They teach that God not only chose some for heaven, but chose some for hell. RC Sproul and John Macarthur both teach this as do many other well-knowns.

    Time for my coffee

    – Randy

  57. Posted by bondservant3 on February 18, 2009 at 5:55 am

    God doesn’t want to condemn any man as shown in John 3:16-17. Hell wasn’t even made for man it was made for the devil and his angel’s. Matthew 25:41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, “Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angel’s.”

    There are people who want to know about Jesus but don’t know how to approach someone about Him.

    There are people in countries still today who are not allowed to have Bibles or they will be persecuted even executed. There are missionaries who go to these countries and risk their own lives to reach out to these people, for there are people in these countries who want to know more about Christianity.

    I believe Romans 10:15 says it well “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace Who bring glad tidings of good things!”

  58. Randy,

    I whole-heartedly disagree with your take on Romans 8:7 and the implications of it. We are not born with a mind that hates God and the things of God. “Flesh” may refer to physical, but typically it does so in contrast to the spiritual. In other words, a “carnal mind” or “mind of the flesh” is not the mind we are born with, but the mind we develop because of the influences of satan and this world. Paul said in verse 5,
    “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.”
    The mind of the flesh comes from living according to the flesh, the physical, the things below rather than the things above….that must be repaired by living according to the Spirit…we have to train ourselves to think properly and overcome the pollution that corrupted our minds.

    Now, I know in verse 6 the word “living” is not there…literally it says “those who are according to the flesh have the mind of the flesh.” However, the concept of “according to the flesh” (kata sarka) is defined for us in v 4, “in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit;” and verse 13, “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” “Live” and “walk” and “deeds of the body” all point to choices and actions. Those who are fleshly minded are those who chosen to live by physical impulses rather than spiritual purposes, things below rather than things above, training themselves to think primarily in a physical way. The result is sin, and everyone falls victim to the trap…since we are immersed in a physical world we can touch, see, and hear we think that this is all there is, so we pursue the physical for the sake of the physical rather than according to God’s purposes.

    The best way I know to illustrate this is with sex (and you know the illustration and the point). There is nothing wrong with sex, in a spiritually mandated context: marriage. The problem comes when we pursue sex for the sake of sex, according to the flesh, rather than according to the Spirit, according to God’s purposes for it. The same goes for money, ambition, food and many other physical things for which God has spiritual purposes. (Money is to be given to those in need; ambition is to be God-centered, driving us to serve Him and others rather than ourselves; food is an incredible source of fellowship, and not a pleasure to be indulged in.)

    My point is that the mind of the flesh is our own making. We are not born with it. We choose to adopt it by focusing on the temporal rather than the eternal, the physical rather than spiritual, “the flesh” rather than “the Spirit.” According to Paul, “living” that way long enough produces that kind of “mind”set.

    BTW, the word translated “mind” in Romans 8 is only used 4 times in the NT, and all 4 are found in Romans 8, in this context. According to Thayer and Strongs it refers to “what one has in mind, the thought and purposes,” “the thought (that which is in the mind).” So, it is not the mind itself to which the word refers, but a persons thoughts. Perhaps a contemporary word that would sum it up well would be “world-view,” or as I indicated before “mindset.” And the simplest and most literal way to understand it would be “thoughts and purposes of the physical.”

    2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV)
    So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

  59. Posted by bondservant3 on February 18, 2009 at 7:18 am

    Clint said:
    Bondservant3,The Bible never says that someone who does not worship God will be condemned.

    Reply:
    Clint asked me about those who don’t worship God. I will say that those who are not worshiping the Lord are worshiping something. People have always worshiped something whether it be false gods, idols, money…. anything can be worshiped and people have always had the need to worship something. The Bible tells us we are not to worship idols of any kind, we are not to put anything before Him. So the Bible does tell us it is wrong not to worship Him.

    I have answered your question. If you don’t agree with this answer you don’t have to.

  60. Randy,

    Let me also quickly address another point you are making…

    I agree that God can prepare a heart to receive the teaching…the seed can be planted. I think a better way to think of it is God preparing the soil to receive the seed (the word of God). This is definitely the work of the Spirit, and not through the word…but it is only preparative, it cannot produce salvation. But, it happens in life circumstances. For example, a loved one dies, causing a person to think more about their death and eternal destination, causing them to be receptive when the word is taught. In fact, I believe God works in every persons life in this way to prepare them.

    But, prepared soil is no guarantee, as the parable of the soils shows. Satan and the world have a way of convincing even a prepared heart to reject the seed…some took the seed, but then it was choked out or couldn’t take root.

    And, some reject the preparation. They become calloused at the loss of a loved one instead of open. This is probably most like the seed on the road that never did get to take root before satan snatched it away.

    So, the Holy Spirit works to produce faith…

    And, yes, God knows who will be born of the seed:
    Romans 8:29-30 (ESV)
    29 For those whom he foreknew [i.e., would be born of the seed] he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
    But, this doesn’t mean that God saves them before they make the decision…at least from our temporal mindset (is that the same as fleshly?:)). We are stuck in the time-space continuum, so we have to operate accordingly. God may know the outcome of an individuals life, his faithfulness until death, but I do not. God may have already predestined you to eternal life because of His foreknowledge of your faithfulness, but I don’t have that foreknowledge.

    So, for me to conclude, then, that God saves a person prior to their obedience to His plan of salvation would be inappropriate. First, because I don’t know the outcome of their faith, only God does. And, second, because to understand God saving a person “before” their point of conversion or baptism or whatever is to limit God in time…He doesn’t do things before or after, He just does them, and He leaves us to operate in the realm of time, which we must.

    Anyway, I agree….let’s not limit God. But, on the other hand, we must accept our limits.

  61. Posted by bondservant3 on February 18, 2009 at 8:00 am

    Clint I asked you a question not making any comments in kindness trying to understand where it is you are coming from.

    If you would from a kind heart help me understand your view better.

    Here is my question again:
    Just out of curiosity.
    Do you believe the only people going to heaven are those who attend a church with the same sign on the wall as the church building you attend.

    In other words do you believe those who attend, baptist, methodist, presbyterian etc… are all heading to hell?

    Do you believe I am heading to hell?

    Please don’t take my question wrong.
    I am just curious to know if your view is the same as others who have this view.

  62. I said:
    Bondservant3,The Bible never says that someone who does not worship God will be condemned.

    Bondservant3’s Reply:
    Clint asked me about those who don’t worship God. I will say that those who are not worshiping the Lord are worshiping something. People have always worshiped something whether it be false gods, idols, money…. anything can be worshiped and people have always had the need to worship something. The Bible tells us we are not to worship idols of any kind, we are not to put anything before Him. So the Bible does tell us it is wrong not to worship Him.

    I have answered your question. If you don’t agree with this answer you don’t have to.

    My reply:
    I appreciate your answer and the civility of it.

    Now, let me just say that I completely agree with your answer. But, let me also say that, as you have shown, the way we know we will be condemned for not worshiping is not because the Bible explicitly says so. I agree with your reasoning, I am just saying the idea is not explicit, it is not specifically stated…we have to reason to it.

    I and Randy and Corey and Scott are saying that baptism is just like worship. You said it was wrong not to worship because God condemned idolatry…I won’t repeat your whole argument b/c I agree and we both know what it is.

    Now, let me use it to show something. I am going to take your words and substitute…I just want you to know that this is no trick or distasteful tactic…I just want to show how your logic is our logic:

    [Bondservant3] asked me about those who [are not obedient to God’s command to be baptized]. I will say that those who [are not obedient to God’s command] are [obedient] to something. People have always [obeyed] something whether it be false gods, idols, money…. anything can be [served] and people have always had the need to [serve] something. The Bible tells us we are not to [be servants of/obedient to] anyone but God, we are not to put anything before Him. So the Bible does tell us it is wrong not to [obey His command to be baptized].

    BTW, the primary scripture I am thinking of in this is Romans 6:16-18:
    “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.”

    You had another question for me I will answer in another comment.

  63. Posted by bondservant3 on February 18, 2009 at 8:19 am

    I believe there is one Savior who is Jesus. If we make being baptized our savior then water and the person baptizing us becomes the savior. We are having to go through another man to gain access to God. I see Jesus as our only Savior.

    Please do excuse my typing. I am usually having to do more than one thing.

  64. Bondservant3,

    I didn’t mean for you to think I was putting you off…I just started making comment responses in the order I found them…so, here are my answers to your other questions…

    You asked: Do you believe the only people going to heaven are those who attend a church with the same sign on the wall as the church building you attend.

    My answer: No. The church is not defined by signs and buildings, but by faithfulness to God.

    You asked: In other words do you believe those who attend, baptist, methodist, presbyterian etc… are all heading to hell?

    My answer: That depends, but in the same way that it depends for those in the church of Christ building. Have they been faithful to God and His salvation commands, or not? Are they faithful to God and His kingdom laws, or not? Do they have a repentant heart that produces guilt and change when they are not faithful, or not?

    You asked: Do you believe I am heading to hell?

    My answer: I don’t know you well enough to make that judgment…and just in case you reply that it is not my judgment to make, then how are we to make disciples if we cannot identify those who are not disciples? If you weren’t going to reply in that manner….then great, we agree :).

    I don’t know who you have run into from the church of Christ who offended you so much, but I apologize, if that is my place at all….and I beg you not to pre-judge anyone. As far as I can tell that is the very thing that you are standing against…condemning a person’s heart without knowing them. And, I assure you that my convictions about Scripture come from a sincere desire to do God’s will, not a desire to condemn anyone to hell. I secretly hope that you are right…that God saves anyone who just believes that Jesus is the Son of God…I just can’t reconcile that with the majority of what Scripture says. And if Scripture disagrees then so must I.

  65. Bondservant3,

    You said: “I believe there is one savior and that is Jesus. If we make being baptized our savior then water and the person baptizing us becomes the savior. We are having to go through another man to gain access to God. I see Jesus as our only Savior.”

    I say: I absolutely, 100% agree. Baptism is not my savior, Jesus is. But, if Jesus is my Savior, and my Lord, then I must do (obey) what He commands of me. To refuse would be to deny His Lordship and to deny my Savior.

    So, if Christ says I must be baptized then I will obey my Lord, and I will tell others to do the same.

  66. Posted by bondservant3 on February 18, 2009 at 8:30 am

    I don’t condemn anyone. I am concerned for those who think they can earn their way to heaven. How can one person condemn another person for not keeping all the laws when they themselves do not keep all the laws.

  67. PK,

    You said: “Works are supposed to be the fruit that proves, not to God, but to us and others, that we are truly born again.”

    I say: Agree…works prove to others. Disagree…works do prove to God. This is James’ point in chapter 2…Abe’s faith was completed by his works…therefore he was justified by faith-in-action. We know this to be true because if Abe had not gone through with sacrificing his son he would not have had saving faith.

    The tricky part is that God sees the intial decision and the completed action because He is not bound by time. But, as I was telling Randy, we are bound by time….so we have no right to claim that we are God and say someone is saved before they act on that faith. We must say what James said: “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.” (Justified by who? Only God can justify. So, Abe’s works of faith, faithfulness, was evidence to God.)

    My point is this…to claim that a person is saved by faith before that faith is evident, completed, living through obedience is to play God. And we dare not do that.

  68. Bondservant3,

    You said: “I am concerned for those who think they can earn their way to heaven.”

    I am with you here. I am very concerned as well. Too many people think they are good enough to go to heaven, in the churches of Christ and out. Those who claim to be Christian (no matter what the sign says) and those who don’t.

  69. Posted by churchesofchrist on February 18, 2009 at 8:54 am

    TRUTH SAID: “I believe there is one savior and that is Jesus. If we make being baptized our savior then water and the person baptizing us becomes the savior. We are having to go through another man to gain access to God. I see Jesus as our only Savior.”

    *TRUTH, you might consider something here – you say that the person baptizing becomes our savior if we contend that baptism is essential. I disagree. Keep in mind that Jesus went through a baptism of suffering, even death and at the hands of men. God used them men to carry out His plans…do they deserve any credit for Christ work on the cross? Same with baptism, the men are just vessels used of God. God was at work in Jesus baptism of suffering and he is at work in our baptism. The men that nailed Christ to the cross deserve no credit for Gods work and the men who baptize us deserve no credit. To make the claim above is to rib Jesus of His work on the cross and make man the cause and effect.

  70. Clint,

    Your said “But, prepared soil is no guarantee, as the parable of the soils shows.”

    I think the parable tells us quite the opposite. The prepared soil was the soil that the seed grew in and became fruitful in. Jesus tells us that the soil that the seed grows and flourishes in is “an honest and good heart”. So the real question is: How do we have a good and honest heart? Do we take credit for that, or is God’s preparation what gives us those qualities?

    I believe in free will, to an extent. I don’t understand how God’s choosing and our wills interact, or if they even truly do. All I know is that I did not want God, did not want to live a holy life, and certainly did not want to go to church until God placed those desires in me. I did not choose to become a christian so much as I believe God wooed me to become one. I think we take far too much credit for who and what we are individually; the curse of our Americanized perspective.

    Just as we do not choose the color of our skin, the family we are born into, the country we are born in, the talents that we possess….all are from God. We neither earn no choose any of these things. And the unregenerate person does not desire to use any of their gifts for God’s purposes until and if God changes their hearts. There are plenty of people who do wonderful things for others, who do not believe in God. Their works are considered selfish in God’s eyes despite the good they produce because they are done for personal rather than godly reasons.

    God grace is immeasurable and hard for us to comprehend and I think we limit the unmerited mercy of God far too much with our ideas of self-will and self-worth.

  71. Posted by bondservant3 on February 18, 2009 at 9:21 am

    Those men made fun of Him telling Him if He was the Christ He would come down from the cross. Jesus could have, but He chose to die for our sins. The Bible says that His blood is what takes away our sins.

    Jesus is our only Savior.

    I would wonder about someone who keeps putting being baptized off I also would wonder about someone who has been baptized who doesn’t show compassion and mercy to other people as well.

  72. Posted by churchesofchrist on February 18, 2009 at 9:22 am

    John 12, Jesus compares himself to a seed.“Unless a grain of wheat goes into the ground and dies it remains a single seed, but if it dies, it produces many seeds.”

    The question is who is the harvester? Lord of the harvest”, Matt. 9:38.

    The seed God sows is the Word, the word works to create saving faith, it calls us to repent and be baptized, and it enables us to trust that our sins have been forgiven and that we have peace with God – all of which come from God.

    Peter put it this way in 1 Peter 1:23: “You have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable by the living and enduring Word of God.”

    I think PK makes some good points. Where does the desire come from? I mean, we were dead men, unable to please God and could have cared less about God. I don’t understand all of this myself, but I do think there is much more to our so-called free wills that we realize. Again, I do see birth at baptism, but when did the seed begin to work in my heart and why was the soil even fertile? Questions I ponder…

    -Randy

  73. Posted by churchesofchrist on February 18, 2009 at 9:25 am

    “Those men made fun of Him telling Him if He was the Christ He would come down from the cross. Jesus could have, but He chose to die for our sins. The Bible says that His blood is what takes away our sins.”

    * You missed my point, TRUTH. If God used them to bring about his plans for Christ, can he not do the same with those who baptize us??

  74. Posted by bondservant3 on February 18, 2009 at 9:27 am

    Exactly Prodigal Knot.

  75. Posted by bondservant3 on February 18, 2009 at 9:40 am

    The Pharisees didn’t want to kill Jesus during Passover because they knew it would cause problems among the people. But Jesus did want it to happen during Passover, Jesus told Judas to do it quickly.

    God chooses to give mercy and grace.

    Peter even tried to rebuke Jesus not just on one occassion either. Peter actually was telling Jesus what He should do, and what did Jesus tell Peter, Jesus told him get behind me satan.

  76. To all,

    I am going to have to bow out of the discussions for now…I will probably read but not reply. I am working on taxes, which is incredible fun for a minister…

    Clint

  77. Posted by bondservant3 on February 18, 2009 at 9:45 am

    Been nice talking with you Clint.
    Have fun. 😉

    Grace and Peace to you.

  78. Don’t know what is involved on your end Clint, but I have been using TaxACT for four years and it always gets me the best returns. Greatly simplifies things since it imports everything from previous years and compares and validates.

    Best wishes on a good return or at least nothing owed.

  79. PK,

    I don’t trust software for my taxes…I’m not sure if the programmers know all the funny things about “clergy” taxes…it would be nice if there was one, tho…

    Ministers are considered employed for income tax, but self-employed for ss tax. We can deduct expenses involved in keeping up our homes, but if a parsonage is provided the fair rental value of it is taxable for ss purposes, but not income tax purposes. I think I get the earned income credit this year since I had a daughter in October, but ministers have to figure earned income differently. We can keep up with business mileage to deduct for ss tax, but it has to be listed as an itemized deduction for income tax…which I don’t do because my itemized falls short of standard deduction. We have to pay quarterly self-employment taxes. We have to pay full ss tax, although other employees only pay half and their employers pay the other half…
    etc…

    Anyway…it is… interesting.

  80. Posted by memnan on February 18, 2009 at 8:34 pm

    Taxes…:( I do our return as well as my daughter’s, who is a missionary in Germany…:( (The frowny face is only for the taxes, not the daughter or Germany.)

    “Just as we do not choose the color of our skin, the family we are born into, the country we are born in, the talents that we possess….all are from God. We neither earn nor choose any of these things.”

    Really good example,PK!

  81. Posted by churchesofchrist on February 19, 2009 at 9:25 am

    The command was “repent and be baptized” ( mans obedience ) “for remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Sprit”, are promises given when the command is obeyed ( Gods work ) Although ( eis ) means “towards” – its obvious that towards here was in the direction of Jesus shed his blood “for remission of sins” which was in the past on the cross. They were repenting and being baptized BECAUSE of the sacrifice Jesus made, BECAUSE of the gospel, BECAUSE of remission of sins provided by Jesus. They were not repenting and being baptized to “contact the blood” they were merely responding in faith to the “remission of sins” provided by Jesus and His sacrifice that occurred in the past on the cross. “EIS” here is looking in that direction “for remission of sins” on the basis of what Jesus done on the cross, not a formula one must meet, but a faith that looks back at Jesus.

    -Randy

  82. Randy, my dear brother,

    You have got it! It’s ALL because of Jesus. He is the focus of the gospel, not baptism! His PAST sacrifice, His PAST shedding of blood, His PAST resurrection. These are what we are to look to and point others to!

    The work of Christ is FINISHED for those who truly believe in Him! Faith is the key to EVERYTHING in Christ Jesus.

    Praise God Randy! I pray you hold fast to this eternal truth. What we do as finite human beings is so far below what God does IN us!! One day we’ll realize how very foolish we were to try and make God’s grace into a formula. The very fact that Peter is not consistent in his requirements when he preaches the gospel to different people, OTHER THAN to tell them to BELIEVE and REPENT, is a clue, I think.

  83. Posted by churchesofchrist on February 19, 2009 at 10:01 am

    What is the object of our faith? Is it a doctrinal perfection? Is it understanding every point of baptism? Is it a proposition? Is it an idea? In what should we believe? No, in whom do we believe? Yes, we are to believe the gospel. But our trust ultimately is in a person upon whom that gospel and those doctrines depend for their validity and effectiveness. It is in the divine Lord, the Son of God, Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21; Rom. 3:22, 26; Gal. 2:16, 20; 3:22, 26; Eph. 3:12; Phil. 3:9; 2 Tim. 3:15). We trust in the work of Christ (Rom. 3:25).

    Here is the mindset of many with in the church of Christ: If we allow baptism to be made simply upon a confession that Jesus is Lord, then churches of Christ would have to view many Pentecostals, Baptists, and others as brothers. And we sure cant have that, can we? We could care less if the object of their faith is God ( Mark 11:22 ) Our concern is that they meet “our understanding” of the phrase for remission of sins. Who cares if they trust Jesus – they best trust our understanding….sad…….very sad!

    Is one saved by submissive faith or precise knowledge?”

    This is the precise point. Some trust God to save even if there is not a precise understanding of how and when God saves. Some trust in their intellectual ability. Such confidence MUST hope beyond all hope that it is correct because if it is found to be wrong on the day of judgment, then by its own argument it will be lost because it was not baptized with precise knowledge regarding the doctrine of baptism.

    Personally, on the day of Judgment I want to stand before God having place my faith in God rather than my own intellegence.

  84. Amen Randy!

    Remember Paul says “Test yourselves, to see if you are in the faith.” Does he infer that we are to review our baptisms? No! The test is are we growing in grace, love, patience, faith, godliness, and in the knowledge of Christ. Peter confirms this in 2 Peter:

    “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:5-11)

  85. Posted by churchesofchrist on February 19, 2009 at 10:51 am

    The point we have missed is that this occurred in the PAST, not in some formula that we activate by proper understanding. Jesus doesn’t shed His blood each time one is baptized. I never have liked the phrase “contacting the blood” because it makes it sound like Jesus is repeatedly being sacrificed. He shed His blood in the past, we look EIS = unto = towards the work He done. When they obeyed the command in Acts 2:38 “repent and be baptized”, they were looking back at the work of Christ, being baptized on the basis of the work of Jesus Christ. What purpose would repenting serve if not for Jesus shed blood, why repent if he didn’t die and rise from the dead? What purpose would baptism serve if not for Jesus shed blood? Why be baptized if he didn’t die and rise from the dead? The men in Acts 2 were not obeying a formula in order to receive forgiveness, they were repenting and being baptized on the basis of the ONE sacrifice for sin, which Jesus shed “for remission of sins”.

    The verse could read like this:

    Repent and be baptized on the basis of remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

    Repent and be baptized on the basis of Jesus shed blood, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Sprit.

    Repent and be baptized on the basis of the Once and for all sacrifice for sin, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

    Repent and be baptized towards remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

    Repent and be baptized towards Jesus shed blood, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Sprit.

    Repent and be baptized towards the Once and for all sacrifice for sin, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

    Repent and be baptized unto the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

    Repent and be baptized unto Jesus shed blood, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Sprit.

    Repent and be baptized unto the Once and for all sacrifice for sin, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

  86. Posted by bondservant3 on February 19, 2009 at 11:10 am

    Randy,

    Love the Lord our God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind and all your stength. That’s what I try to do every day of my life, Jesus is my life. He is my Foundation my Rock, without Him I am nothing.

    Grace, peace and love to you my friend.

  87. Randy,

    I am almost jumping out of my chair with joy that you have grasped this and even helped clarify it for me and others. I was already convinced that God doesn’t use formulas, but everything we do in relation to God is from our hearts by acknowledging Him and His Word.

    Jesus said, “The flesh is no help AT ALL” (John 6:63). Baptism, like repentance, expresses our acknowledgment of all that Christ has already done for us, believing that it is true!!

    Grace and peace to you my brother! And praise be to God for helping us understand the mystery of salvation through His Word and His Spirit!

  88. Posted by lee01 on February 19, 2009 at 6:23 pm

    dont get too excited pk
    randy is hard to read.
    lee

  89. Lee,

    It’s a very hard thing to grasp for church of Christ people. I was almost convinced, but never could get comfortable with the idea that every godly person I ran into had be be examined to be “sure” they had followed the recipe. If they were baptized, then it was a matter of wondering “When, why, and how?” all of which are not a matter of faith, but of procedure, the works of man. I am just glad I wasn’t raised believing it. It took thirty years for me to get out from under the cloud I was raised under in a perfectionist and legalistic church with no love.

    I will bear with Randy. I hope he can really grab hold of the fact that anything we have to believe in besides Christ Jesus is adding to the gospel. Having to always wonder if our baptisms were done just right, with just the right knowledge, and for exactly the right reason is a yoke that is akin to Catholic priests telling people they must confess ALL their sins or they will be damned. Who can recall every little sin?

    If the early Christians thought baptism truly was their means of salvation, how did the Corinthians ever confuse it with the idea that that made them disciples of a man and not Jesus? They must not have been Christians since they obviously did not understand that baptism is what saved them, not the man who was doing it! Yet Paul calls them saints and brothers. And Paul plainly separates the gospel from baptism there (1 Corinthians).

  90. He commands us to baptise. So we do it.

    And when we do what He commands…He is there in it.

    Someone can be saved without being baptised. That is for sure.

    But if says to do it. We ought do it and know that it is important to Him.

    He has decided that this (baptism) is one of the ways in which He will grant the gift of faith (recieve the holy spirit)

    What would you rather rely on? A decision that you make for Him? Or one that He has made for you, in your baptism?

    I’ll stick with Him. For He is serious about His promises. And we are weak and faithless in ours.

    Thanks!

  91. Posted by churchesofchrist on February 23, 2009 at 3:46 am

    Lee said: dont get too excited pk
    randy is hard to read.

    – I will admit that, Lee. Its because I am still searching and studying things. I have some real problems with much of the teaching within the conservative side of the church of Christ.

    I have a friend, whi has been in prison for around 13 years now ( murdered his dad and shot his step mom ) he is most likely a lifer. They have levels in prison. Those on 5th and 6th levels could never ever be baptized if they even wanted to…prison in the USA, has 2 million men and woman today that are limited by cofC gospel preaching…all we can do for some of them is talk to them about Jesus and how one can have faith in Him…and if we have the guts of Johnny Robertson, we could say “you put yourself here and I’m sorry, but you can’t be saved since I cant baptize you”…perhaps we can find some water somewhere, somehow then God will save you when you obey the gospel, but for now, I cant help you, seeing there isnt any water…sorry

  92. Have them use their own saliva for the water.

    The amount ot type, or purity of the water does not matter. It is THE WORD that accompanies that water that makes the water effective.

  93. That is not only disgusting, but only a little unreasonable…
    Do you know how long you’d have to save up saliva in order to have enough to immerse someone in? Wow…what a thought. 🙂

  94. I see your point. 😀

    That would be pretty disgusting, wouldn’t it?

    If it were the water that was the most important of baptism I would agree, but since the Word of promise that accompanies the water is the important thing…a little bit of saliva is enough. It is enough.

  95. But, that would not be baptism…

    I suppose I agree that saliva would suffice, but if it is the Word that is the important thing, and the Word (whether you mean the Bible or Christ makes no difference since the New Testament is the word of Christ) says “baptize” then we have to consider what that means…immerse. It is not baptism, according to the word (baptizo) used in the Word by the Word unless it is immersion.

    And, really, if we took your reasoning to its full extent, then why even require water? Why keep that element of the ceremony and not the immersion?

    But, I do agree that it is God who accomplishes the work through baptism.

  96. Baptism is water and God’s Word.

    We agree on that.

    God’s Word, with the water, is the most important aspect of baptism. God’s Word is Christ Himself (obviously).

    The amount of water does not make baptism effective…it is the Word…with the water.

    Christians have been coming down the pike for centuries, who have only been sprinkled.

    Obviously there baptisms were good and valid.

    I was baptised as a baby, and not immersed. I am a Christian and my baptism was valid.

    Is complete immersion valid? Yes it is! Would saliva do in a case where no water at all could be obtained? Yes it would.

    We baptise because God commands it. Will He be merciful where no water exists? Yes He will be.

  97. But, you are defining baptism differently than God defined it. Baptism has come to mean a religious ceremony involving any amount of water…but the question is, is that what God initially meant?

    To call sprinkling baptism is contradictory. The same as calling sprinkling immersion is contradictory…they both involve water, but sprinkling is not immersion. The same as calling a burrito a taco is contradictory…they are both Mexican food, but a burrito is still not a taco.

    To put it plainly, and hopefully respectfully, essentially what you are saying is that God will bless what we do even if it is contrary to what he specifically asked of us.

    To put it another way…when God’s word says “be baptized” is actually says “be immersed” because that is the definition of baptism.

  98. Also,

    You said: We baptise because God commands it. Will He be merciful where no water exists? Yes He will be.

    I say: I agree, but is that the case with those who choose to be sprinkled rather than baptized even though water is available? If water is available to be immersed, as baptism means, but we choose to be sprinkled instead, what does that tell God? Again, essentially, that we don’t care what He said.

  99. When I was a baby, I had some water pored over my head. The priest (my family were Roman Catholics – I’m now a Lutheran) baptised me in the name of the Triune God.

    I am baptised.

    If it was good enough for me, it’s good enough for anyone.

    We’re not legalists on this stuff you know.

    You could probalt parse the Lord’s Supper out the same way. There are many ways people go about that as well.

    If God is present there…that is enough.

    Thanks very much.

  100. Posted by churchesofchrist on February 23, 2009 at 8:24 am

    I think Clint raised a good point. What does Baptize mean? Does it mean a shower? Would a rain shower outside be suffice? Heck that seems better than being sprinkled by a Roman priest. Wonder what “much water” means? Wonder why John was calling people to the water to be baptized? I guess that made it easier to sprinkle them. I think the mode is underneath – into the water, not just a sprinkling.

  101. I appreciate your sincerity and obvious desire for God. And it is because of that appreciation that I must ask:

    Is it legalistic to be obedient to God? And is it okay to be directly disobedient?

    Now, if you don’t agree that the definition of baptism as used in Scripture is “immersion,” then let’s talk about it. I’d like to know where you are coming from. But, if you agree, and you refuse it, doesn’t that constitute disobedience?

    I want to emphasize that God is merciful…but the question is, is He merciful to those who directly disobey?

    Also, how do you know whether or not God is present in a baptismal service? What is our basis for determining that?

    I am sorry if the discussion angers you…I hope you know that I don’t mean to be contentious or argumentative…but my love for Christ and for you compels me to ask these important questions.

  102. http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/1786166/posts

    Check out this page on baptism.

    Does it save? What modes are effective? Etc.

    A lot of it is direct from the Church Fathers, quoting scripture, etc.

    No, I’m not angry. Whatever gave you that idea?

    I enjoy taliking about this stuff, too!

    I learn a lot and it’s fun!

    Thanks!

  103. That’s a good webpage…I actually have a book that you might be interested in called A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs that lists quotes from the church fathers and beyond about many topics, listed in alphabetical order, including baptism. Many of the quotes from the webpage are included in the book’s section on baptism.

    Interesting, though…the only time they appealed to scripture was to say that a person must be baptized. When it came to the mode and method of baptism they merely made assertions. Origen even asserted that the apostles taught infant baptism, although he certainly did not get that from Scripture, and seems to indicate as much in his wording…he calls a tradition that the apostles gave to the church, but merely asserts it as so without providing scripture reference. I would say Origen is not a good source for what the apostles taught outside of Scripture since he lived nearly 200 years after the apostles walked the earth.

    Ditto for nearly every name on that list…even 100 years is a long time for traditions to change and new ideas contrary to Scripture to form and take hold.

    Now, the Didache is an interesting study. The webpage has a date of 70AD…I think this is a little early…maybe more like 90-100 from the little research I have done…but, none-the-less…Even if the Didache were Scripture, which it is not, what does it say about our situation? First, notice that the writer draws a distinction between baptism and pouring. If there is enough water he says to baptize, but if not, then pour. Second, what is the preferred method if water is present? Baptism…immersion. Even this writer recognizes that immersion is baptism, and that pouring is only sufficient for situations where water is lacking.

    Also, notice the introduction of infant baptism…Irenaeus in 189AD is the first on the list to argue for it. The two earlier sources make infant baptism impossible since they argue that a person outght to fast first. Justin martyr adds prayer to entreat the Lord to forgive. The suggestions of the earlier writers make it impossible to include infants…as does Scripture since faith as a well as repentance are required to accompany baptism…in fact to motivate it. An infant can neither have faith nor repent.

    Anyway…I thought you might be angry from some of your comments, but I am glad you are not. I am glad we can discuss these things…

  104. I did a post on the same topic on my site.

    http://theoldadam.wordpress.com/

    I didn’t mean to steal away the discussion from here.(I did link to this site The Pridigal Knots…Untied’) But it will be interesting to see who else has some ideas on it.

    Please feel free to give us some of those great points that you have made here.

    Thanks!

  105. Posted by memnan on February 23, 2009 at 10:30 am

    Now, I’ve herd a lot of treatise on baptism…but comments 92 and 93 ?!?!? All I can say is “Holy Spit, Batman!”

  106. “Now, I’ve herd a lot of treatise on baptism…but comments 92 and 93 ?!?!? All I can say is “Holy Spit, Batman!” ”

    Watch out for Mucous Man! 😀

  107. Since God is not the author of confusion, why is there so much confusion over this, as Clint even puts it, ceremony? Satan would have us divide over this wouldn’t he? But, do Christ or the apostles intend baptism to be a matter of contention or a debate about specifics?

    Simply put:
    If it divides it’s from Satan.
    If it hinders, it’s from Satan.
    If it confuses, it’s from Satan.
    If it destroys faith or redirects it from Jesus Christ, it’s from Satan.

    I recommend this small booklet which explains my own position at this time very well.

    http://www.rbc.org/uploadedFiles/Bible_Study/Discovery_Series/PDF/Baptism.pdf

    Baptism is a picture, an anti-type, a copy of the real thing. The same word Peter uses in 1 Peter 3:21 for figure or anti-type is also used in Hebrews 9:23-24 to point to the old forms used in temple worship ” Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.”

    The REAL thing is what takes place in our hearts by faith “For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” (Romans 10:10)

  108. I think that God wants us to realize that He is doing something in baptism.

    He is making us a promise that He is putting to death the old sinner and raising the new believer (Romans 6).

    That we would think of it as something that WE DO, I beleive takes away from faith and gets back to ‘the self’…and our faith.
    Then we end up with ‘faith in faith’ instead of ‘faith in God.’

  109. PK,

    But we don’t abandon it because there is confusion. The only reconciliation is to agree with what God said about it.

    And, I agree with your comments about anti-type, except that you make baptism the anti-type, and Peter seems to make the Flood the anti-type.

    Furthermore, even if you conclude that Peter says that baptism is the anti-type, he does not say that it is a copy of the real thing that takes place in our heart…he says it is a copy of the Flood. Again, I contend that the Flood is the copy, but if you are going to take the position that baptism is the anti-type we must be consistent with what Peter said…it is the anti-type of the Flood, not what happens in our hearts.

    I think you know that I believe what happens in our hearts is the real thing…I am saying that if it is truly real then it will show in baptism simply because that is what God asked of us…and faith is trusting God enough to obey Him.

  110. theoldadam,

    You said: That we would think of it as something that WE DO, I beleive takes away from faith…

    I say: I disagree. The problem is not in thinking that baptism is something that we do, the problems is when we think that salvation is something that we do. Of course if I thought baptism was something I could do to ave myself then I would have a problem…However, when we understand that God asked us to be baptized, and we obey out of a sincere desire to serve and please Him, then something we do becomes faith. If it is not faith then it does no good…hence my problem with infant baptism. An infant has no idea what is going on, and cannot be baptized because of faith. If there is no faith then all that is left is works which cannot justify. Infant baptism is essentially legalism…works without faith.

  111. cthoward,

    I think your whole premise is faulty.

    Who says infants can’t have faith? You?

  112. theoldadam,

    Are you seriously telling me that an infant can have faith? That they can understand the concept of a Creator God who sent His divine Son to die on a Roman cross so that we could be forgiven of our sins, and that with that knowledge they can of their own volition out of their sorrow for their sins and their desire to serve God can react to God’s commands to repent and be baptized?

    Faith is based on knowledge, and my four-month-old daughter just discovered her feet…I think we have a ways to go before she discovers God and the gospel.

    I am not the only one who says they cannot have faith. The Bible makes that clear.

  113. I am not the only one who says they cannot have faith. The Bible makes that clear.

    Really?

    Didn’t Jesus say, “don’t hinder these little ones from coming to Me?”

    Faith is trust, is it not. Does not a baby have a great deal of trust in it’s parents?

    Wa not John the Baptist, exhibiting faith, when he lept for joy in the presence of Jesus, while they were both still in the womb?

    I think you are thinking too rationally and not giving God enough credit for what He can do…inside of anyone…apart from their own ability to reason and size things up.

  114. Clint,

    I would never say we should disregard baptism.

    If the flood waters are the anti-type, then Noah was not saved by water, but by the Ark which is a better and truer anti-type of our life being hidden in Christ.

    If baptism is a copy of the flood, then it destroys all who are not in Christ (the Ark). If that means it destroys the “old man” then why do we still drag ‘him’ around? It is symbolic of our souls being released from the law that dooms our bodies to death. I am sure it is a picture only; just as Jesus used parables to help explain spiritual things.

    Remember Jesus admonition concerning the Pharisees and their outward washings?

    What mattered was that the inside needed to be cleaned. Jesus wasn’t telling them to do a better job of cleaning these things, but used it as a picture of the heart condition being what really mattered. I am sure some of them paid more attention to washing these dishes afterward because they didn’t “get it”.

  115. Posted by churchesofchrist on February 23, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    Does anyone know a good study on “when baptism is water and when its not?” I mean, its obvious that Paul used the word at times to refer to something other than water. Baptized unto Moses. Also others used the words different ways. Baptism of suffering. Baptism of fire. How do we know for certain that baptized into Christ means water? The verses do say the place one is baptized is Jesus, not water. Who places one into Christ, and how?? Does this Holy Spirit perform this work of regeneration, and baptize one into Christ? And when does this occur? Just a few questions, Steve. I wonder about these things too…but right now I think water baptism is the point one is forgiven….but I am willing to hear this out.

  116. theoldadam,

    Jesus’ comment about the little ones says nothing about their faith or lack their of. In context He uses them as an illustration of humility.

    John the Baptist leaping for joy in the presence of Jesus says nothing about faith. The indication of the context is that the Holy Spirit initiated the leaping since it was also the HS who caused Elizabeth to cry out.

    Faith is trust…but not in parents (at least not saving faith), but in God. Besides, the kind of trust an infant has is not anything like the obedient trust of faith that the Bible calls us to. My daughter doesn’t even know how to be obedient, but obedience is required by God for faith to be “living.”

    God chooses to act with and through our reason. That’s why Acts tells us that Paul reasoned daily in the synagogues trying to convince men to turn to Christ. That’s why Paul appealed to the rationality of his words as he appealed to Festus (Acts 26:25). That’s why Paul indicates that a zeal for God without knowledge is fruitless (Romans 10:2). That’s why Paul says that faith comes by hearing the word of Christ, and then goes on to talk about those who heard but still refused (Romans 10:17ff). That’s why Paul speaks of growing up out of the reasoning of a child to the reasoning of mature man (1Cor 13:11). That’s why Paul said to “test everying; hold fast to what is good” (1Thess 5:21). That’s why James said that we are to be “reasonable” or “open to reason” (James 3:17). That’s why Peter condemned false teachers as “irrational” or “unreasoning” animals (2Peter 2:12; see also Jude 1:10).

    God does not do everything for us.

    Besides all this, baptism is of no effect if the one being baptized does not make the decision…that is one of the points of 1Peter 3:21…baptism is an appeal or pledge from the one being baptized. That certainly is not the case with infant baptism. I mean, would you forcibly baptize an adult and call it good? Then why do it with an infant?

  117. ChurchesofChrist,

    Great questions!

    Almost every time the word ‘baptism’ is used in the New Testament, it is used in conjunction with water baptism.

    We (Lutherans) believe that the Holy Spirit is given in Baptism (Acts 2:38).

    One’s sinful self is put to death in baptism (Romans 6) and raised again with Christ (Romans 6).

    Does Christ work in us apart from baptism? Sure!

    But He works in baptism also.

    I think the Holy Spirit is the One who places a person in Christ and gives him or her faith. (Jesus speaks aboout this to Niccodemus…the Spirit is like the wind and blows where it will)

    Lots of great comments here. Really good thinkers on this site, whether or not I always agree with them or not.

  118. PK,

    You said: “If the flood waters are the anti-type, then Noah was not saved by water, but by the Ark”

    I said: Yeah, interesting, isn’t it? Rather than saying they were saved by the ark he literally says they were saved by the flood. I think he did that on purpose. He does say Noah and the other 7 were saved by water, so what do we do with that?

    What did the Flood water do for Noah and family that could be considered saving? Brought them out of a world full of sin and rebellion and into a new world, a fresh start. The Flood water cleansed the earth.

    I believe this is why Peter said what he did. Because baptism saves us as well, by removing us from sin and rebellion and transferring us into a new world in Christ.

    Whatever explanation you adopt must account for the fact that Peter specifically says that the Flood water saved Noah and family, and then that baptism is like that for us.

    And still…the same question lingers…what does “Baptism (water) now saves you” mean if it doesn’t mean what it plainly says?

  119. CTHoward,

    We baptise infants because it puts God’s grace ahead of our faith.

    That should always be the proper order…grace then faith.

    It is the Holy Spirit that gives faith (Jesus to Niccodemus)…we can’t do it. That was the point of the whole conversation between them.

    So the Holy Spirit can make the baby John the Baptist leep for joy, but he can’t give the baby faith if He wants? That’s a low view of God, and a high view of man…I think.

  120. Okay Clint, I’ll grant that Peter’s words appear to say that the water of baptism saves us, but what about the scripture that says “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–Jews or Greeks, slaves or free–and all were made to drink of one Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:13)

    We don’t crucify our physical bodies in the water nor are we immersed, or baptized, into the body of Christ through water. It is a picture of what the Spirit does. Jesus said a man would leave his parents and become one with his wife, the two becoming “one flesh”. They don;t literally become one flesh, but in God’s eyes they are considered to be so. Yet they are not baptized into that state. At least not by water.

    What do the churches of Christ do with the fact that in the ancient churches pre-Constantine practice of delaying baptism until a person was vouched for as having evidenced a pure and changed life?

    John’s baptism was for repentance and the forgiveness of sins. Yet Paul didn’t think it did the job because it didn’t confirm a discipleship in Jesus, only a pointing to Him. I think the Ephesians baptism in Acts 19 was Paul identifying them with the ministry of the Gospel based on Jesus’ resurrection, not to wash away sins they’d accumulated since John’s baptism.

  121. The following are related comments on my blog from Bror Erickson:

    Bror Erickson, on February 23rd, 2009 at 9:46 pm Said: Edit Comment
    Mark 7:3-4 (ESV)
    (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands, holding to the tradition of the elders, [4] and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing (Baptizing) of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.)

    The Greek word Baptizo merely means to wash, there is no way that you can make the claim that it means immersion only and maintain any intellectual integrity. It is used interchangebly with washing in the above verse for one and other places throughout the New Testament.
    As for those who don’t think baptism has anything to do with man and God, but man and other men. that it is nothing more than a confession of faith to other men. That is silly. If God wanted a confession he would demand a confession. Actually he does Romans 10, but we confess with our mouths, what we believe in our hearts. At this point I find it hard to come up with a reference where baptism is said to be nothing but a confession of faith. There is a lot more going on there. God sanctifies us Christians with baptism, Ephes. 5:25-27 (ESV)
    Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, [26] that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, [27] so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

    He pours the holy Spirit out on us in baptism, regenerating and renewing us. Titus 3:5 (ESV)
    he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,

    And he saves us through it :1 Peter 3:21 (ESV)
    Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

    I think we need to come up with a new name for Baptists, as they don’t believe in baptism. We used to call them Anabaptists, but I don’t want to confuse them with the Amish. Maybe baptism naysayers. what cracks me up is the way they can maintain it does nothing for you. And in the same breath tell you your baptism is invalid because you were sprinkled when you were a baby. And now you need to do it over again. Why? If it doesn’t do anything for me why would I need to do it over again?

  122. Let me just say this:

    If baptism is how we are saved, then how can we be absolutely sure we got it done at the right time, in the right manner, for the right reason, etc? There is so much dispute about this act, how can it be the “door, if you will to salvation?

    Every believer will agree on repentance from dead works and faith in the death, burial and resurrection as essential for salvation. Why is it that baptism is allowed, by God, to be so ambiguous? Surely God did not make something so important that unclear! I believe God left it in it’s ambiguity because He requires it, but doesn’t want us to focus on it instead of Jesus.

    I will never know if I “got it right” if my faith is based on my baptism. Baptism is not the gospel that Paul preached. He says God did not send him to baptize. Well, why not, if baptism is essential to salvation? Because baptism isn’t the core of the gospel, it’s the result of a heart regenerated by the washing of “living water” that is spiritually provided through the Spirit.

  123. “I will never know if I “got it right” if my faith is based on my baptism.”

    God does the baptising. You don’t have to ‘get anything right… or wrong’.

    Realizing that your ARE BAPTISED, and that in that baptism God has adopted you, is where you can go for assurance that you are indeed a Christian.

    Otherwise, you are left to your own feelings of how much of a believer you are.Or you are left with an examination of yuor obedience. (that will bring you to despair…ot it should anyway)

    Baptism is an act of God, by God, from outside of yourself that you can rely on, absolutely.

  124. OM,

    You ask a good question about why ana-Baptists would have even bothered with the “believer’s baptism” if it didn’t do anything.

    If the ana-Baptists were baptized before they were re-baptized didn’t the first one count anyway? Where do you read that one baptism annuls another?

    What do we do with the fact that at least four believers AND their households were baptized in the New Testament? No one can prove that the entire household was made up of believers; or that only believers were baptized! That alone speaks to the efficacy of baptism of entire families, whether they believe or not, seeing that Paul tells us “For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.” (1 Corinthians 7:14)

    But, if any weren’t believers at the time the family was baptized, did they have to be re-baptized when they DID believe?

    This just gets very confusing. I am about ready to become a Lutheran, as long as they immerse everyone of course!! 😕

    Baptism is symbolic. It’s efficacy is based on the condition of the heart and the work of the Spirit. The act itself is just a physical washing that does not actually remove the “filth of the flesh” (sin) but saves us, only in the sense of being based upon FAITH, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

  125. “I am about ready to become a Lutheran, as long as they immerse everyone of course!!”

    Good one! 😀

    We (Lutheran types)are really Christ centered. “He must increase, we must decrease.”

    So we put the emphasis on what God does. And we believe that God is the One who does the baptising (in water batism).

    When we invoke the Triune God…He shows up! And when He shows up, He just doesn’t twiddle His thumbs. He acts…for us.

    When Jesus commands us to baptise…it isn’t just for giggles. He’s going to be there…in it.

    Anyway…great discussion!!

  126. Posted by churchesofchrist on February 24, 2009 at 4:00 am

    “John’s baptism was for repentance and the forgiveness of sins. Yet Paul didn’t think it did the job because it didn’t confirm a discipleship in Jesus, only a pointing to Him. I think the Ephesians baptism in Acts 19 was Paul identifying them with the ministry of the Gospel based on Jesus’ resurrection, not to wash away sins they’d accumulated since John’s baptism.”

    – I have thought about this too…

  127. Posted by memnan on February 24, 2009 at 6:16 am

    #124…
    I remember some 20 years ago, having a baptismal discussion with a dear Lutheran pastor about infant baptism and sprinkling. For most of the sprinkling churches, the child’s decision is made upon confirmation when they are old enough to understand. Baptism is then a covering over the child until such time…a period of grace if you will until confirmation of the decision. Baptism then also is representative of Christ working on our behalf before we are even able to “do” anything for ourselves. While I understand the principle and for the most part find it not objectionable, when included with the confirmation…I still hold to dunking upon confession of faith in Christ. Baptism and it’s representable form is not the saving “act” for we are saved by faith not works and the faith is a grace given gift of God, perpetuated by the blood of Jesus on the cross.

  128. Memnan,

    That dear Lutheran pastor you spoke with, didn’t have a clue about what baptism really is, or did a lousy job explaining it to you.

    What you have described is exactly what baptism is not, in Lutheran theology.

    The whole question here boils down to your theology.

    If you want to let the old Adam (a shameless plug) rule your life and call the shots…you will be a believer’s baptism person. Reason is the force behind this.

    If you want to kill ff that old Adam and let God and what He has done for you take dominion over the old sinner in you, you will believe that God actually does the baptising, and that His promise is good and valid at any age, at any time, with anyone.

    I know how powerful that old Adam is. I prefer that God kill him off in my baptism (Romans 6) rather than let some weak decision that I have made be the force of the day.

    Thanks.

  129. Wow, a lot to reply to…and there are so many comments on here that my computer runs slow when I try to comment….but I will do my best…

    PK,
    You nailed it….exactly what I have been trying to say! Say what Peter said…
    You said: Baptism is symbolic. It’s efficacy is based on the condition of the heart and the work of the Spirit. The act itself is just a physical washing that does not actually remove the “filth of the flesh” (sin) but saves us, only in the sense of being based upon FAITH, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

    Absolutely. That is exactly Peter’s point. The water does not save (by washing away filth)…but baptism in water still saves. Why Peter? Because it is a pledge to God and because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

    Let me also say…what is ambiguous about baptism? Jesus said to do it, so just do it because He said so. That is faith. Trusting Jesus enough to obey Him.

    BTW, “filth of the flesh” cannot refer to sins…otherwise Peter would be contradicting himself. To say that baptism saves but doesn’t remove sins is contradictory…unless you know of a way to be saved without removing sins?

  130. theoldadam,

    Check your sources on the word baptizo. The verses you supplied do not address the word. Early translations like the KJV use later manuscripts that do have baptizo in reference to the people washing before eating…but earlier manuscripts have a different word, rhantizo, meaning to cleanse or sprinkle. As for the washing of cups, bowls, etc…that is not the word baptizo, meaning to immerse, but baptismos, which means to dip or wash, and is never used in scripture in connection with baptism as we are discussing.

    Baptizo does not simply mean to wash, but baptismos does.

    And, I am not a Baptist. I do believe baptism means immersion, I do believe that it must be an act of faith (according to 1Peter 3:21, and my point that I think you misunderstood), but I also believe that at the point of baptism our sins are forgiven, and we are saved….because scripture plainly says so. It is not the water or the ritual itself, but, again, as 1Peter 3:21 says, baptism saves because it is (supposed to be) our pledge to God.

    So, in a sense I am telling you that infants who are baptized or sprinkled or whatever need to “do it again” because works without faith is useless…that is, works that are not motivated by faith are useless. You might claim that God supernaturally imparts faith in an infant, but unless baptism is motivated by the individual’s faith, and not by their parent’s faith, etc., it is useless. That is why Peter said “Repent and be baptized” (Acts 2:38). Does God supernaturally bring about repentance in an infant? If so, then why did Peter tell his audience to do it rather than tell them God would do it?

    Ezekiel 18:20 makes this very clear: “The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.” A person is held accountable for his own actions, and comes to God through his own decision, not through someone else’s.

  131. “So, in a sense I am telling you that infants who are baptized or sprinkled or whatever need to “do it again” because works without faith is useless…that is, works that are not motivated by faith are useless.”

    So should a person be re-baptised each and everytime after he falls into sin?

    Why not, if it is the person’s sincerity or his faith that is in question?

    A person does not come to God by his own decision.

    “No one seeks for God.” (Romans)
    We are dead in our sins and trespasses. Dead people choose nothing other than sin.

    Jesus told Niccodemus that he couldn’t do this himself.

    We are born not of blood, nor of the flesh, NOR OF THE WILL OF MAN…but of God.

    Look, this whole thing centers right there.

    If you believe that you play a role in your own salvation, naturally you will be a believer’s baptism person.

    If you believe that God actuall does the saving…ALL OF IT…you will be more inclined to understand those of us who are advocates of regenerative baptism.

    Ezekiel 36:25 (ESV)
    “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.”

    We (Lutherans) have a gospel centered (what God does) theology and many have a Law centered (what we do) theology.

  132. PK,

    Also…Consider this…

    When Paul said that he was not sent to baptize but to preach he in no way says that it is not important or necessary. In fact, he assumes that everyone reading had been baptized. If ti wasn’t important then why had everyone done it, and why would Paul appeal to it to make his point?

    What Paul is saying is that he is thankful that he wasn’t the baptizer of more than a few of them because he did not want that to be a basis for division. This doesn’t say that baptism is not important, but only that Paul is being careful not to make something so important a source of division. He preached, and he definitely preached baptism, but someone else can be the baptizer so that people would not think they are better than others because they were baptized by the great apostle Paul.

    As a preacher I could easily do the same. Although I will preach the necessity of baptism if me, as the preacher, being the baptizer became of source of division or self-righteousness among those whom I baptized then I will keep preaching baptism, but juet let someone else to the actually baptizing. Paul’s argument is not against the importance of baptism, but against the importance of the baptizer, and for the supremacy of Jesus Christ, the one into whom we are baptized.

    A little more…sorry, thought I was done…
    Paul asks the question in 1Cor 1:13, “Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” This rhetorical question is supposed to make the Corinthian Christians think, “Well, no, I was baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.” The phrase “in the name of” is the same that is used in Matt 28:19 about making disciples, “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Literally in means “into the name of…” and represents our tranference into God’s possession. Name represents authority, and we are baptized into God’s authority.

    This is not the same as Acts 2:38, btw…there Peter literally says to be baptized “upon the name (authority) of Jesus Christ.” Essentially Peter is appealing to Christ’s authority for the command to be baptized…or, another way to put it…”In the name of Christ, be baptized.”

  133. theoldadam,

    I agree god does all of the saving work, but we must come to God for it.

    Here is the logical conclusion of what you are saying: that God decides who is and is not saved…that if it is all God and a person refuses to follow Him, then it is God’s fault because He didn’t work in that person. And that contradicts scripture in so many ways…especially knowing that God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1Tim 2:4) If God desires all to be saved, and it is all up to Him, then why are so many lost? If He supernaturally imparts faith, and faith is necessary for salvation, and He wants all to be saved, why does He not give all men faith?

    Your assumption is both logically and scripturally inconsistent.

    And you used Ezekiel 36:25 out of context. He is takling there about bringing Judah out of Babylonian bondage (which he predicts in chapters 12, 24, and 33, among other places. He is saying that God will restore Judah to her place in the land and as God’s people, but not because they deserve it, but because His name is being profaned by the foreign nations who say that God is not powerful enough to protect His people.

  134. Posted by churchesofchrist on February 24, 2009 at 8:32 am

    Clint, I think the beef may be with people thinking we are saying the actual physical water saves us, as if the water has saving power. I like your analogy of baptism being just as much symbolic as the Ark.

    The big question is why did they enter the Ark? The obvious answer is to escape the flood and be saved from its wrath. Some see the only motive here to be escaping the flood waters and that’s why they entered the Ark. I see a deeper motive, a motive that not only wishes to escape the wrath of God, but a motive that is rooted in faith in God. A motive rooted in Gods love and a faith that reacts to that love.

    I see baptism the same way too. It’s more than escaping hell and punishment, and more than treating the command “repent and be baptized.” as some formula that activates Gods grace. Repent and be baptized is a response that comes from love for what Jesus done and it rooted in knowing that He provides “remission of sins” by His shed blood. We act in faith from what Jesus done, not from works towards a pool of blood contacted in baptism, but from a pieced heart desiring to repent and be baptized towards the Christ who shed His blood “for remission of sins”….

  135. theoldadam,

    More about the context of Ezekiel 36…

    Israel and Judah’s return out of captivity to their land was contigent on the covenant between God and israel made in Deuteronomy 27-30. Chapter 30 speaks of what takes place after the curses of captivity pronounced in chapter 28-29. Deuteronomy 30:1f says,
    “And when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the Lord your God has driven you, 2 and return to the Lord your God, you and your children, and obey his voice in all that I command you today, with all your heart and with all your soul, 3 then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you, and he will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you.”

    So, the return from captivity that Ezekial 36 speaks of is contigent on this covenant in Deuteronomy in which God says that if His people, when in captivity, realize their sins and repent of them, returning to the Lord and His ways, then God will restore them. Ezekiel 36 was dependent on their repentance.

  136. “If He supernaturally imparts faith, and faith is necessary for salvation, and He wants all to be saved, why does He not give all men faith?”

    You’ll have to ask Him that when you get up there.

    That’s one thing tht drives me nuts about Evangelicalism…they want to resolve all the tension.

    It can’t be done!

    Here is Lutheran theology and I argue that it is extremely biblical although it does not answer every question:

    God calls us and chooses us. That fact is all over the New Testament. The words decide for Christ or accept Christ do not appear in the New Testament, but many that refer to God choosing us are there.

    He died for all, He forgave all (on the cross), not just those that killed Him (I have heard that a million times…the truth is that WE ALL KILLED HIM!)

    He gives us faith to access or grab hold of theis forgiveness.

    Some choose to reject Him.

    We cannot come to Him.

    Jesus said, “No man can come to me unless the Father draw him.” (And that word draw is accurately translated to ‘compel.)

    But we can reject HIm. In fact, tbhat is our default position. We are born, not only rejecting Him, but actively fleeing Him (the first few chapters of Romans)

    Does it all add up and satisfy our reason? No it doesn’t.

    But this is what the Bible proclaims.

  137. “Ezekiel 36 was dependent on their repentance.”

    You’d better hope that your salvation isn’t dependent on your repentance.

    Anyone that follow you or I around for a solid week, would surely have to wonder if we were even Christians at all.

    He also does that for us. HE leads us to repentance. HE EVEN TAKES CARE OF THAT!

    Otherwisw we would be sunk by our lack of obedience and our desire to keep sinning.

    We do not want to stop sinning…or we would have by now!

  138. theoldadam,

    First, I don’t claim to be an Evangelical.

    Second, I am not talking about tension, I am talking about logical and scriptural contradiction. And the scriptural contradiction is what really conerns me.

    Scripture says that God wants all men to be saved. If God does everything and He is all powerful, then why aren’t all men saved? To say (as you have) that it is because some men reject Him is to admit that He doesn’t do everything. If some are lost becaue they reject Him, then some are saved becasue they don’t…which means salvation is at least partly dependent on a person’s choice not to reject God…and if that is true then it is not all God, but something depends on us. I have to choice to serve God or not.

    I agree that God provides everything to make that choice, from my life and breath, to influencing circumstances and the word. But it still comes down to my choice to reject Him or not…and if I have a choice then it is not ALL God. I have a responsibility.

    What you are proposing contradicts everything the Bible teaches. It is not merely tension, but unscriptural contradiction. And if it is unscriptural we don’t just keep our view until God answers all of our questions in the sweet by and by. We contend for the faith, test everything and hold fast to what is good, pursue the knowledge of God.

    And, if people follow us around for a solid week and have trouble telling if we are even Christians at all, tehn we better examine our lives and hearts. God calls us to be different, so we better obey Him. I am not saying we will be perfect, but we ought to be different.

    As for your references to scriptures that say God chooses us…my question is, who, according to the Bible, does God choose? Matthew 22:14 is a great parable to explain this because it ends with “many are called, but few chosen.” The parable is about a man who invites people to a feast, but many refuse to go because they think they have better things to do. In Matthew 22:1-14 it is those who accepted an invitation to a feast. Those who chose God were chosen by Him. In Romans 11:5 the remnant is chosen by grace, but they are compared to the 7 thousand men that, God tells Elijah, have not bowed their knee to Baal. God chose those who chose Him. Paul tells the Thessalonian christians that he knows God has chosen them, but only after he speaks of their work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in Jesus Christ (1Thess 1:2-4). God chose those who chose Him.

    Furthermore, the use of the word chosen emphasizes not that God chose them to be saved, but that although the world has rejected them, God has accepted them, chosen them, adopted them. This is evident in 1Peter 2:4-10.

    Gotta run…I’ll try to address this more later..

  139. CTHoward,

    Sorry, didn’t mean to lump you in with the Evangelicals, it’s just that the ‘free-will decision theology’ that they espouse seems to be in some of you arguments.

    I believe that everything I said is backed up 100% by scripture.

    We don’t want God, but He wants us. That’s it in a nutshell, I believe.

    Sure, He wants us all to come to faith, but many do reject Him. That He gives faith to some and not others truly is something that we cannot fathom (why?) but that is how it is.

    I often ask people, “what was St.Paul doing when he made his decision for Jesus?”

    He was knocked on his keester and God said,(in essence)…”Your mine.”

    I gota run, but I’m having a lot of fun with you guys/gals!

    – Steve M. San Clemente, CA

    (sometimes it’s interesting to know what part of the country people live in)

  140. Posted by churchesofchrist on February 24, 2009 at 11:59 am

    Randy – Virginia

    I like your comment about Paul

    (I often ask people, “what was St.Paul doing when he made his decision for Jesus?” He was knocked on his keester and God said,(in essence)…”Your mine.”)

    and it shows Gods will, not ours. This is indeed a hot topic though.

  141. Posted by memnan on February 24, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    theoldadam,

    If you believe in regenerative baptism for babies…who chooses? The parants? The pastor? Under this senerio,if God is doing the choosing…how does He communicate the choosing and to whom? What if you baptize an unchosen one?

    If God does the choosing and I believe He does…regeneration (by the Holy Spirit) predates the baptism…*: )

  142. Memnan,

    God chooses. We bring all to the font. Young and old alike.

    God communicates to the person, as the bible says, “in sighs too deep for words”.

    If that person will eventaully walk away from the promises made to him or her in their baptism, then that is between them and God.

    Jesus told us to baptise and the bible says that He works in baptism. Which came or comes first is His business.

    We do it and trust that He is in it, because He told us to do so. It does provide many with great assurance and comfort, and that is what it was intended for…our comfort and assurance.

  143. Posted by memnan on February 24, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    theoldadam,

    “If that person will eventaully walk away from the promises made to him or her in their baptism, then that is between them and God.”

    I agree with this statement…except for the fact that a truly “regenerated” person who has been made alive through the Holy Spirit of God does not walk away…or stay away even if he indeed appears to backslide for a time.

  144. Memnan,

    What comes to mind is Jesus’ parable about the seeds and the sower.

    You know, some seeds sprout, but are dried up by the sun and blown away. Some sprout up but their roots are shallow and they too dry up.

    Interesting parable.

    It might apply to what we are discussing.

  145. OM,

    I like what you said about us being “by default” people who reject and deny God’s will. So, I must ask anyone, who changes us from that state? It certainly isn’t us. And theOldAdam is right about no one being able to come unless God calls us. Those are Christ’s words, not a man’s.

    So, does God call everyone? I should think so, according to scripture. But, that calling results in hardness many times. Who does scripture say hardens a person? God says He does. Otherwise man somehow has the power to thwart the will of God! Yet, scripture tells us that not only can man hinder the work of God, so can Satan. But, God calls men He knows will reject Him because He must in order to be just. He just chooses those He wants to save.

    Clint,

    “For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matt 22:14 ESV) So who does the ultimate choosing? God and God alone. God rejected the original invitees (Israel) and chose to extend the invitation to the Gentiles. The folk Peter refers to are those who have been rejected by the world AFTER God has called them and saved them. While God does many times honor the lowly, instead of the proud and the rich, with election it is not because they ARE poor, or ignorant, but because God chooses to show His goodness relative to man’s injustice. None of us can do anything to cause God to save us.

  146. Posted by memnan on February 24, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    theOldAdam,

    “You know, some seeds sprout, but are dried up by the sun and blown away. Some sprout up but their roots are shallow and they too dry up.”

    The seed of course is the Word of God…while it might sprout many places…it isn’t effective in every heart…only the heart prepared by the Holy Spirit. Our cooperation with the Holy Spirit accounts for the degree of fruitfulness. Some of us are active participants others not so much…but, no matter what the level of participation…God promises completion of the work where it is begun…

  147. Memnan,

    I wouls say that the Word of God is the seed that is thrown. And that the sprouts are faith.

    The Word of God never withers and dies.

    As Lutherans, we don’t believe in semi-Pelagianism (cooperative salvattion and sanctification)

    We believe it is all from God’s side of the equation.

    “He who began a good work in you, will bring it to completion.”

    No mention there of a cooperative project.

    Thanks!

  148. Posted by bondservant3 on February 24, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    The apostles call themselves bondservants of the Lord. They are free slaves, meaning they choose to be slaves of the Lord they are not forced to be slaves of the Lord.

    I do not believe in the replacement theory, where men say Israel messed up too many times so the promise is now only for the Gentiles, as if the Gentiles never mess up. The Bible doesn’t say God ever cut down the olive tree. The Bible tells us that God is not through with the Jewish people.

    Romans 11:1

    “I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew.”

  149. Posted by memnan on February 24, 2009 at 7:12 pm

    theOldAdam,

    It is only God who provides for salvation and sanctification. The cooperation is for success in this life through application of the Living Word. Lutherans do read James don’t they? I’m quite sure they do…No need for the Vulcan mind meld theology. A Christian even if woefully lacking in knowledge of the Word is still none the less a Christian and totally loved and accepted by the Lord!

  150. Memnan,

    “Lutherans do read James don’t they?”

    We’re not too crazy about it. Nor a lot of gospel there.

    We’re big on God’s grace (Paul)Not too crazy about ‘our doing’.

    We feel that ‘our doing’ what got us into this mess to be with. 😀

  151. Memnan,

    “Lutherans do read James don’t they?”

    We’re not too crazy about it. Nor a lot of gospel there.

    We’re big on God’s grace (Paul)Not too crazy about ‘our doing’.

    We feel that ‘our doing’ is what got us into this mess to be with. 😀

  152. Posted by memnan on February 25, 2009 at 6:33 am

    So…TOA…are you saying that after all the Lutheran babies are “saved”…Everyone goes home and waits for the Lord, or until another baby comes and it is time for another baptism? The Lutherans must have lots of kids…I see a bunch of cars at the Lutheran Church on Sundays…*; )

  153. Memnan,

    I don’t know what Lutheran churches you are lookin’ at!

    We don’t have a lot of cars in our lot! Like most “mainline” churches, the Lutheran churches are slowly dying. For many reasons. Lutheran ‘Quietism’ for one, and a dislike of ‘the church’ by the culture, for another reason.

    Babies are baptised, they receive the promises. And then hopefully thet are raised in the church and brought up to learn about Jesus and reminded and taught about what those promises mean for them.

    Many wander away. Many enter other churches that may seem more culturally relevant to them (or ‘cool’or ‘happening’). Some return later. Some never return (to any church. But the promises made to them in their baptisms, by God, are always valid.

  154. TOA Steve,

    I think what you are saying here is that parents choose the Elect and not God. If you think God continues His promise of unconditional salvation to babies who are baptized, yet never show any spiritual fruit later in life, I am sure you are wrong.

    This is where I part ways with “baptismal regeneration”. No one is regenerated by water, but by the Holy Spirit enabling us to believe and repent thereby becoming disciples. This is exactly the problem one finds in Europe among the old Reformed churches. A lot of baptisms on record, but hardly any evidence of it being efficacious.

    I am willing to say that if a person is baptized as an infant by their parents, raised in the knowledge and fear of the Lord, and come to faith later and confirm that baptism, it may very well be accepted as “their” baptism. If, however, they never truly believe and reject the gospel, their baptism is useless. Otherwise, we would be told to baptize the whole world rather than preach to them the gospel.

    Simply put, God calls the Elect. Parents and clergy do not.

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