Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Refuting Baptismal Regeneration, Part 1 of 6

Is water baptism essential for salvation? This is a question that causes much division in Christendom. Some say water baptism is absolutely essential and that it coincides with faith; one must believe and be baptized to be saved, Mark 16:16. Others teach that water baptism is one of numerous sacraments given by God to impart grace to a recipient, and by means of this imparted grace the recipient may receive eternal life. In my own learning regarding Scripture, I believe and am convinced that water baptism is not necessary for receiving eternal life. I address this issue for one reason: if water baptism is essential for salvation, then anyone who teaches that a person may be saved without it is preaching another gospel, Galatians 1:8-9. Likewise, if water baptism is not essential, then everyone espousing its preaching is guilty of adding to the gospel, Revelation 22:18.

I pose a logical series of questions: Does water baptism, of itself, effect regeneration? Does the Bible teach this? If it does, why is faith necessary? If one needs to receive baptism “in faith” as it were, then why is our faith in the ordinance of baptism, and not in Christ? This teaching of works is not grace! “And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work,” Romans 11:6. Faith is passive: it is acceptance of a truth presented to you, followed by reliance/trust in said truth. Faith has an object. No matter how you frame it, baptism is a work; you are doing something to earn salvation.

Let me put it in a way that may offend: if I (holding a faith only position) am wrong, then I am not preaching the biblical gospel, have not believed the biblical gospel, and am therefore unsaved. If anyone espousing its opponent (faith + water baptism = salvation) is wrong, then they have not believed the gospel, not wholly trusted Christ alone, and thus are unsaved. If someone considers the doctrine of water baptism and its place in the universal church a trivial matter, I implore you to consider the consequences of believing another gospel, and the curse God pronounced upon all who do. I will treat this topic exhaustively, and I pray with both humility and fairness.

For the sake of expediency I reject the second option out of hand; that of sacramental salvation working hand in hand with faith. This is the doctrine Rome is built upon, and it has unfortunately infected a fair deal of evangelical thinking as well. It is faith OR it is works; the Bible is crystal clear that it cannot be both, Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 4:1-5; Titus 3:5. Augustine championed water baptism, especially infant baptism. He taught that children, if they died unbaptized, went to Hell. Constantine, who is famous for being Rome’s first “Christian” emperor, waited almost until death to be baptized so as to not risk sinning. During the Reformation, both Martin Luther and John Calvin carried this unbiblical doctrine into their respective denominations. John Calvin wrote in his Institutes: “God in baptism promises remission of sins, and will undoubtedly perform what he has promised to all believers. That promise was offered to us in baptism, let us therefore embrace it in faith.”

Ancient heathens, hundreds of years before the Christian era, practiced baptism. In certain of the Chaldean mystery religions, before one was brought into the secret fold, they were initiated via water baptism (specifically immersion) as a token of one’s implicit obedience. Tertullian wrote of the religions of Isis and Mithra, that water baptism was the method of initiation into their cults. The ancient Hindu religion, according to Asiatic Researches Vol. 7, stated that the Brahmins boasted of being “twice born” by means of baptismal regeneration. This doctrine, begun in Babylon the Mother of Harlots, trickled into perverted form throughout all religions, and likewise corrupted the symbol our Lord made of baptism by suggesting that baptism itself is a means of regeneration and entrance into the universal church and eternal life; utterly contrary to the overall theme and message of the Bible.

This pagan doctrine entered Christendom courtesy of Rome, which had the constant penchant for adopting and “Christianizing” all manner of heathen ceremony and ritual under sanctified titles. Hence, baptism as a means of regeneration predates the time of Christ in many religions and cultures; but water baptism within the church was never meant to carry such connotations. To secure this point regarding Rome, we need look no further than Bishop Hay’s book, Sincere Christian. He writes that water baptism is of “absolute necessity for salvation,” that it will “regenerate us by a new spiritual birth, making us children of God,” that the merits of Christ’s death are granted via water baptism so “as to fully to satisfy divine justice for all demands against us, whether for original or actual sin.” Finally he writes about infants, confirming Augustine’s position, “if they are not actually baptized with water, they cannot go to heaven.” Where is this written in God’s word?

Joseph Smith, in his Book of Mormon, also took up the gross error of Baptismal Regeneration when he wrote, “Yea, blessed are they who shall…be baptized, for they shall…receive the remission of their sin…Behold baptism is unto repentance to the fulfilling of the commandments unto the remission of sin,” 3 Nephi 12:2; Moroni 8:11, The Book of Mormon. Later, however, Joseph Smith’s “god” changed his mind when he prompted Smith to write, “All who humble themselves…and truly manifest by their works that they have received of the spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins, shall be received by baptism into the church,” Doctrine and Covenants. James Talmage, who wrote The Articles of Faith, and was a Mormon Apostle, added, “God grants the gift of the Holy Spirit unto the obedient; and the bestowal of this gift follows faith, repentance, and baptism by water…The apostles of old promised the ministration of the Holy Ghost unto those only who had received baptism by water for remission of sins.” Yet the focus for Joseph Smith and Mormonism is still their works, and not faith in Christ as God, heard through His gospel, which causes regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit within us. B. R. McConkie, writing on behalf of the Mormon Church in What Mormons Think of Christ, says, “All men are saved by grace alone without any act on their part…But it is received only on the condition of faith, repentance, baptism, and enduring to the end in keeping the commandments of God.” I know fellow Bloggers whose “gospel” mirrors these very words. I weep for their unwillingness to repent.

Paul wrote: “[God] has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,” 2nd Timothy 1:9-10. John added, “But as many as received Him (Christ), to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name,” John 1:12. Augustine, Constantine, Luther and Calvin were mistaken on this point; water baptism is not a part of the gospel of salvation, and does not regenerate the believer, as we shall see.

Does every Lutheran or Calvinist believe this? Hardly; these are general statements about the primary teachers and founders of their denominations; not a statement indicting every Christian who is a Lutheran or Calvinist. Roman Catholics, on the other hand, are another story. I must confess with utmost candor that if you are a faithful Catholic, your faith is in the “one true Church”, the sacraments of that Church, and the penances done in the name of that Church to merit Heaven. Erasmas, who was Luther’s sparring partner during the Reformation, acknowledged sacramentalism’s value on behalf of the Roman Catholic position he wrote from; and that with the Pope’s complete approval.

Before proceeding allow me to say this: not everyone who espouses Baptismal Regeneration is unsaved; nor is every Roman Catholic. But if they are saved, then it is despite their own peculiar beliefs rather than due to them. A Christian may be saved by faith in Christ alone at first, become entrenched in this doctrine, and have their view altered. They are saved, but in error. Likewise with a Roman Catholic; they can hear the genuine gospel, believe in Christ, and be born again; but this will not likely come from Rome, since Rome teaches salvation by man’s efforts. My goal is to reason with anyone who is willing to hear me out about this topic. It is a point of whether or not we have added to, or taken from, God’s word, Revelation 22:18-19. We must give careful heed to such matters, and this is what I pray we shall do.

We shall begin first with the transition from the Old Testament to the New Testament era, and the respective visible signs God gave to His people. God gave Abraham circumcision as a seal of the covenant He made with Israel, Genesis 17:10. This covenant was deadly serious; God warned Abraham that anyone who was not circumcised among the people God called His own would be killed: aka, cut off from his people, Genesis 17:14. So jealous was the Lord for this covenant that He struck with Israel, when He sent Moses to speak with Pharaoh, God met him along the way to kill him! Why? Moses, who was to be God’s representative to the people, had not circumcised his own child, Exodus 4:24-26. If he was to lead God’s people and be used as a vessel of deliverance, he must lead by the example of humble obedience.

16 comments:

  1. Thank you Ian for this most informative and complete study regarding baptismal regeneration. I look forward to reading the next five parts of the study.

    I will be lifting you up to the Lord in prayer to give you the wisdom and courage that will be needed to expose this false doctrine that is so "hotly" debated on Christian blogs. Blessings to you my friend in Christ. Continue in the TRUTH and God will do the rest. Lloyd

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  2. Thanks for visiting my blog. I appreciate your comments.

    Thank you for a very clear statement that salvation is not dependent on baptism. It has long been a debate that should have ended with both sides searching the scripture.

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  3. I saw your comment on dfish's blog and it was good enough for me to come over and have a look at what else you have to say.

    I am glad that at the end of this post you made allowance for people to get into heaven that may disagree with you. If you had not thrown that on I would not be reading any farther. I once had a great conversation with someone I would consider a brother. We disagreed on a few points and at the end I said, "Well I guess when we get to heaven we will find out who was right." He sorrowfully, with no arrogance, let me know that since the Holy Spirit was the Spirit of Truth we could not both be right and one of us would not make it.

    Your post is long but I will try to get back and follow a little more.

    Grace and Peace.

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  4. I grew up a fundamentalist Baptist preacher’s son, very well educated in Baptist doctrine. I became an evangelical in my twenties: same doctrines just with a more positive emphasis. I am now a conservative (confessional) Lutheran.

    Why did I become a Lutheran if I was taught, and still believe, that salvation is received through faith alone, in Christ alone? How could I join a Church that believes that God saves and forgives sins in Baptism? Baptism is a work!

    I became a conservative Lutheran when I realized that the reason Baptists and evangelicals do not and cannot understand infant baptism and baptismal regeneration is that they do not understand how a sinner obtains FAITH!

    As I said above, I was a Baptist preacher’s son. When I was nine years old, I got into trouble, and my mother gave me a well-deserved spanking. After the spanking, she talked to me about sin and that I needed to be saved. She led me in a prayer to ask Jesus to forgive me of my sins, come into my heart, and be my Lord and Savior. I remember feeling so good after finishing that prayer. I was saved!

    I was then told that God would now speak to me or move me or lead me to do things to follow his will for my life. All the Christians around me were talking about God moving them, leading them, speaking to them…but I just didn’t have the same intensity of feelings that most of them seemed to have. So when I was about 15, hearing a good Baptist sermon, I asked myself this, “Maybe the reason God doesn’t speak to me like he does other Christians is probably because I am not really saved! I didn’t really believe the first time. Maybe I didn’t fully repent. Maybe I didn’t have enough faith.” So I prayed the equivalent of the Sinner’s Prayer again, with all sincerity and contrition for my sins. I felt that rush of good feelings again. I was happy. I now knew that I was definitely saved!

    But then in my early 20′s I attended a non-denominational evangelical church (with Baptist doctrine). The people in this church REALLY had God. They would sway with the hymns, hands toward heaven, their eyes rolling back in the heads. "Wow! God REALLY speaks to these people! So why doesn’t he speak to me like that? There must be something wrong with me, because I don’t FEEL saved anymore!"

    I left the Church altogether.

    I was not the only Baptist/evangelical to undergo several born again experiences because we didn’t FEEL saved. My mother, the pastor’s wife, several years later, the person who had “led me to Christ”, decided that she wasn’t really saved either, so she repeated her born again experience just to be sure. And several other people in my church repeated their born again experience for the same reason: they weren't sure that they had done it right. If you go on your computer and google “how many times have you prayed the Sinner's Prayer?” you will find other Baptists/evangelicals who have gone through the same experience.

    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20060728125929AAnQHZp

    The problem with the Baptist/evangelical Doctrine of Faith is that it is based on US! Our salvation is based on us having the maturity and intelligence to make a free will decision to accept Christ into our hearts, So if later on in life we start to question our salvation due to not FEELING saved, what do we have to fall back on? Ourselves! Did I really repent? Did I really have true faith or was I trusting in my own faith? At nine years old did I really have the maturity to make a decision? MAYBE I DIDN’T DO IT RIGHT! So just to be on the safe side, I’ll sincerely repeat a version of the Sinner’s Prayer, and make 100% sure that, this time, I do everything right!

    So, in this plan of salvation, which is supposed to be a FREE gift from God, we turn it into something that depends on us…on us doing the born again experience correctly!
    To read the rest of this article, click here:
    http://www.lutherwasnotbornagain.com/2013/06/the-reason-baptists-and-evanglicals.html

    God bless,
    Gary
    Luther, Baptists, and Evangelicals

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  5. If I am understanding correctly you are asserting that baptism is necessary for salvation, otherwise we only have ourselves to rely on as to whether or not we have successfully repented.

    The sinner's prayer which many Christians use is not biblical, to begin with. You won't find Jesus, Peter, Paul or any other person in the NT using a prayer to lead someone to salvation. The gospel is preached and the point of decision reached. There is no prayer; merely an affirmation as to whether or not the person receiving the gospel believes what has been said. "Believing correctly" isn't the issue. If the gospel is presented and God's Holy Spirit convicts the person hearing they will simply believe. The issue is no longer whether I believed properly and my feelings but God's word and whether or not He was telling me the truth. If He told me the truth and I trusted Him, then my feelings are irrelevant. The issue doesn't come down to me, but to the character, honesty and ability of God to save. Faith alone puts the ball in God's court as trust the one with the capability to save. This is the heart of faith alone; it banishes all vestiges of creature aid so the salvation and the glory are God's.

    Water Baptism is a work if you conjoin it with the gospel. Paul wrote that he was glad that he didn't baptize the Corinthians, and that he wasn't sent to baptize, but to preach the gospel, 1st Corinthians 1:14, 17. Paul, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, tells us that water baptism and the gospel are not the same thing; they are two entirely separate issues. Acts sets the stage and shows that water baptism always followed salvation; it does not accompany it but is the first act of yielded obedience in the reborn life of a child of God, Acts 8:35-38; 10:44-48; 16:30-34.

    If you believe baptismal regeneration is necessary to be saved then you have set yourself against God's gospel, who saves men by the foolishness of preaching, 1st Corinthians 1:21. Belief in the message preached is what brings eternal life, Romans 10:9-10. More to the point, it is the object of this message, Jesus Christ, who is our Savior and gives salvation to those who believe in Him, John 11:25-26. Luther carried with him vestiges of Rome that perverted the gospel's message. But Luther, nor any man, may add to or take away from the simplicity of the gospel, 2nd Corinthians 11:3. The simplicity is this: Christ dies for your sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 1st Corinthians 15:3-4. The Holy Spirit assures us that all who truly believe this message have received eternal life, and on the foundation of this truth we stand.

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  6. One's faith is only as good as the object on which it rests. For the sinner's prayer one's faith subtly rests on us and how good of a job we think we did in repenting and praying. If the object of our faith is us, small wonder our faith is easily shaken and quickly fades as feelings overwhelm anything objective. Water baptism is also an object of faith; it places trust in an act we perform as the vehicle for salvation. Our faith rests on the creature prop of "knowing we have done things right." As such, baptism is a tool to teach and a sign to affirm; it is not a means of regeneration. The object of our faith should be always and only Christ. Not men, works, prayers or anything else. Either Jesus' sufficiency gives life and sustains us or it doesn't; nothing else needs be added to what Jesus accomplished for us, and offers to us freely as a gift of His grace. To do so is insulting; to substitute faith with effort when God cautions us that effort places our faith in ourselves, not in Him, is vain and insulting. We must hold fast to the faith once for all delivered to the saints. There is no other way.

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  7. Your comments reflect a major misconception that evangelicals and the Reformed have of orthodox Christians. Lutherans do not believe that baptism is necessary (mandatory) for salvation. Not even the Roman Catholic Church believes this. All the saints of the Old Testament, the thief on the cross, and thousand of martyrs down through the centuries have been saved without Baptism. Baptism is not the "how" of salvation!

    Lutherans believe that baptism is one of several possible "when"s of salvation, it is not the "how" of salvation. The "how" of salvation is and always has been the power of God's Word/God's declaration of righteousness.

    A sinner can be saved by the power of God's Word when he hears the Word preached in a church, preached on TV or radio, reading a Gideon's Bible in a hotel room, or reading a Gospel tract that contains the Word. Salvation is by God's grace alone, through the power of his Word alone, received in faith alone. In each of these situations, the sinner is saved the instant he or she believes. Baptism is NOT mandatory for salvation to occur.

    However, the Bible in multiple passages, also states that God uses his Word to save at the time of Baptism.

    It is the work of the Holy Spirit, using the Word of God, that works salvation in the sinner's spiritually dead soul, according to the second chapters of Ephesians and Colossians, and the third chapter of Romans. Your "decision for Christ" does not save you, neither does your decision to be baptized.

    God saves those whom he has elected, at the time and place of his choosing. Sometimes God saves them while hearing a sermon in church, sometimes at home reading the Word, and sometimes by the power of his Word spoken during Baptism.

    God does 100% of the saving. The sinner is a passive participant in his salvation. There is no passage in the New Testament that asks sinners to make a decision for Christ. The Bible states that God quickens sinners, gives them faith, and they believe and repent.

    The sinner does not decide to be saved. God decides to save the sinner!

    Gary
    Luther, Baptists, and Evangelicals

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  8. Rome teaches, despite what you may believe, that if you are not baptized in water you cannot be saved because water baptism (at infancy) removes the stain of original sin. If you can bring evidence from Roman Catholic sources (that is, the authority in Rome's church that decides doctrine) I will consider them; however, you have not countered my comments, but have merely told me I am in error. If I am in error and you can demonstrate this, I will recant my position. But I have read enough of Rome's doctrine to have seen many times over that the gospel alone (as the Bible defines it) is not their doctrine of salvation. If you are unaware of this, I can point you to resources. I am friends with quite a number of professing Lutherans who do not know the gospel, but have been baptized at infancy because "it was mandatory." Is this all of Lutheranism? No. Martin Luther was a strongly convicted man who unfortunately brought much of his Catholic heritage with him when he "protested."
    If God truly quickens sinners and gives them faith, which causes them to believe, are you asserting that one is saved before they hear the gospel? Quickening is a synonym to being saved, Romans 8:11; Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13, etc. In Ephesians 2:5 it is used as the prelude to the passage that by grace have we been saved through faith and that (our salvation, not our faith) is not of ourselves but of God. The message is believe the gospel and you will be saved; not be saved because I will quicken you to believe the gospel. If you remove this point you have removed man's accountability and culpability. If we cannot hear the gospel and either choose to believe or reject it then you have rendered the very message of life a moot point because it is not the gospel then that saves; belief in the gospel becomes a reflection of the fact one is already saved. Yet Jesus our Lord said time and again that believing in Him was the requisite to receive eternal life.
    I'm glad that you seem to believe and understand that the gospel saves, it has not denominational boundaries and it is the gift of a sovereign God. If this is what you believe, I rejoice. If you have trusted other sources of learning outside the Bible perhaps you have been leaning on them too much; Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Spurgeon, Moody, et al, were all just men. Did they give meaningful contributions? Yes. Should denominations and doctrines be erected by them? No. One day we shall stand in the clear light of Christ's presence and know for certain the score, so to speak. But for now I shall cling to the truth I find in Scripture alone, because it is a light that has never steered me wrong. God bless.

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  9. Here is a sample of what Rome teaches from their most famous and honored councils: the Council of Trent:

    "If anyone says that the sacraments of the New Law [of the RCC] are not necessary for salvation but...that without them...men obtain from God through faith alone the grace of justification...let him be anathema (accursed of God."

    Trent is still considered an authority in Rome today. Clearly then, there are factions of professing Christendom that make water baptism (among other things) requisites for eventually obtaining salvation. It is good to be informed so one can counter error with truth; denying that error exists where it is evident helps no one and endangers everyone. We must be ready in season and out. I pray that any brother in Christ reading this will take it to heart.

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    Replies
    1. If you read the Book of Concord (the statement of faith of the Lutheran Church), specifically, the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, we Lutherans say exactly what the Council of Trent states: "we confess that baptism is necessary for salvation".

      However, both Lutherans and Roman Catholics believe that if pagan adult hears the Gospel, believes and repents, but dies before having the opportunity to be baptized, he WILL be saved, he will go to heaven. He IS a Christian.

      I can't give you the RCC source, but I have read it, and will look for you. If what you state is true, then the RCC is condemning many a Christian martyr to hell. You are wrong, on this, brother.

      We Lutherans say this: baptism IS necessary for salvation...but it is not mandatory. God makes exceptions.

      It is the person who rejects/spurns or carelessly and indifferently puts off baptism who should fear for their soul's eternal destination, not the believer who is run over by a semi-truck on his way to his baptism.

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    2. By the way, these Lutherans that you know that believe that just because they were infant baptized that they have an automatic ticket into heaven, tell them this:

      The Lutheran Church teaches that baptism is NOT an automatic ticket into heaven. Only the Elect will be in heaven, and the Elect will produce good works in faith. A Lutheran who believes that he can skate by not going to church, not praying, not reading his Bible, not sharing the Good News with others all his life...may wake up one day in hell!

      Good works do NOT help save us but are evidence of true faith.

      No good works--->no true faith--->no salvation

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  10. You are interpreting a 2,000+ year old book with 21st century thinking. NO ONE in the first 800-1,000 years of Christianity believed that baptism is simply and only an act of obedience/public profession of faith. You are following a false teaching invented by Swiss heretics in the sixteenth century.

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  11. I'm actually not following anyone's particular teaching because I didn't study the Reformers, or anyone else's doctrine save for Scripture. You stand on odd ground when you state that baptism is not necessary/is necessary for salvation. I'm afraid I do not know how to answer this paradoxical stand.

    If Rome and Luther believed the same thing, then savage nature of the times following the "protest" chronicled by John Foxe were strangely unneeded. Rome killed thousands for believing that one was saved by faith alone without sacraments. Lutherans likewise persecuted and killed anabaptists for believing only adults ought to be baptized, and only after hearing and believing the gospel, since this was Christ's first command.

    If I am only interpreting Scripture by only my thinking, 21st century, 16th century, or any century, then I am unfit to be attempting to expound, because I lack the Holy Spirit's presence and power. To claim that "NO ONE" believed baptism to be a visible symbol of our invisible union with Christ and our first act of obedience as reborn sons and daughters is slightly in error. You cannot know this, just for a start. Paul likened baptism in Romans 6 to Christ's death and walked us through it step by step. We were buried with Him (submerged) and we rise in newness of life like Him (from the water), powerful symbols of the spiritual truth that transforms the lives of those who have heard the gospel and believed on Jesus Christ for eternal life. Even Peter refers to baptism as an antitype, the word being defined as "somebody or something considered as being foreshadowed by or having striking similarities to an earlier person or thing type." Water baptism has "striking similarity" to the Lord's death and resurrection; it is a symbol of our Lord's death in which we are publicly associating ourselves with Jesus.
    The apostle goes on to say that it isn't the act, but the obedience of a good conscience, a conscience cleansed by God, that saves. In other words water baptism is the first "fruit" that a Christian should be doing to demonstrate the spiritual reality of their salvation.

    I could go on, but I believe we are firmly disagreed on this. If you are saved by the same gospel and the same Savior I have believed on, then we are brothers; made so by the power of the Holy Spirit. Disagreements arise because factions form and we refuse to listen to anyone outside our pail. I have studied into this matter, and have done so for years. I am convinced in my convictions, and believe I have valid reasons for being so. I appreciate your diligence, and your patience. I find your zeal admirable, if you permit the compliment. I pray that you mull over what I've shared.

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  12. I Corinthians 15:29

    Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf?


    This is a very odd passage of Scripture. The Mormons use this passage as the basis for their belief in Baptism for the Dead. I will present the orthodox Christian/Lutheran view of this passage below, but first I would like us to look at something else in this passage that is odd:

    If the Church in Corinth had been taught by the Apostle Paul that the manner in which one is saved is to pray (verbally or nonverbally) a sincere, penitent, prayer/petition to God, such as a version of the Sinner's Prayer, why does this passage of God's Holy Word discuss baptisms for the dead and not "prayers for the dead", specifically, praying a version of the Sinner's Prayer for the dead?

    Isn't that really odd? No matter what activity was actually going on in the Corinthian church regarding "the dead", why is the discussion/controversy about baptism and not the "true" means of salvation according to Baptists and evangelicals: an internal belief in Christ; an internal "decision" for Christ?

    And even more odd...why didn't Paul scold the Corinthians for focusing so much on baptism which he had surely taught them (according to Baptists and evangelicals) was nothing other than an act of obedience; a public profession of faith??

    Why so much emphasis on baptism?

    Is it possible that the reason that the Corinthians were so concerned about baptism is that they had been taught by the Apostle Paul and other Christian evangelists that salvation and the promise of the resurrection of the dead and eternal life are received in Baptism, just as orthodox Christians, including Lutherans, have been teaching for almost 2,000 years??

    Gary
    Luther, Baptists, and Evangelicals

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  13. I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name. And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other. For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God,1st Corinthians 1:14-18.

    Baptism is used 17 times in the epistles in various ways; 27 times in Acts. Belief is employed 58 times; Faith 211 times. The Gospel is what saves (1st Corinthians 15:1-5), was vindicated by the Jerusalem Council as the only means of salvation (Acts 15:7-11) and defended vigorously by Paul in Galatians 1:6-9.

    1st Corinthians 15:29 seems a reference of a pagan religion whose followers did vicarious baptisms or proxy baptisms; hence the "they" instead of a "we." The passage had no focus on baptism, but on the reality of the resurrection. These pagan worshipers were witnessing that even they believed in such things.

    Circumcision was commanded in the OT on pain of death, yet it did not save anyone and had no part in their salvation, Galatians 3:21; Romans 4:9-12. Baptism is the new sign of the faith one possessed when we choose to trust God and obey Him; it the outward reflection of what is entirely internal.

    I have never preached or taught a Sinner's Prayer, yet this is not the first time you seem to have accused me of it. None of my writings possess this unbiblical notion of salvation; there is no proof in scripture that this is how one is saved, and there are no examples in the Bible. It is nonsense and nothing I subscribe to. Please avoid building straw men.

    As mentioned above, it is either the gospel that saves; or we pervert it by adding to it. You may choose. But we find that the pattern in Acts is salvation followed by the first act of obedience: baptism, Acts 2:41, 8:35-38, 10:47-48. The promise of eternal life and salvation are not found in baptism, they are found in Christ, and baptism is our association with Christ's death and resurrection, Romans 6:3-5. This is what I have learned from Scripture, not from any tradition passed on by men, Lutheran or otherwise. Christ condemned such traditions because they nullified God's word. Don't trust in the fact that something is old means that it must be right. Age and majority vote carry no weight. I pray that you consider this brief exhortation.
    Yours in Christ,
    Ian

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  14. My final note is simply this:
    The gospel is an everlasting gospel, Revelation 14:6.
    It was settled before time began, 2nd Timothy 1:9; Titus 1:2.
    The gospel was preached unto Israel in OT times, Hebrews 4:2.
    Water baptism was not a part of the gospel in OT times; it has no efficacy. It's place is not to be mixed or confused with how one becomes save and receives eternal life. Clearly from the verses above alone, God's plan of salvation has not changed from before time began, since God is unchanging, Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8. Therefore salvation is only through faith in the one who offers it as a free gift, giving the gospel and giving humanity the choice to either believe and accept the message of redemption, or to reject it. This is the lesson Abraham teaches us when he was justified because he believed God, Romans 4:3-5; Genesis 15:6.
    I will say no more on the matter because I am convinced scripture is clear on what it says about salvation and baptism; they are separate. Adults may of their own volition be baptized upon hearing and believing the gospel, but this act of obedience, this public association with the person and death of Christ, does not save, help in salvation or impart any grace whatever.
    Yours in Christ,
    Ian

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Joshua 24:15

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