Friday, November 19, 2010

Refuting Baptismal Regeneration, Part 4 of 6

Here are a smattering of verses which preach salvation by faith alone, over and over again stressing that faith is the sole criterion set forth by God for the reception of the infinite gift of eternal life. Why so many? I am attempting to demonstrate that Baptismal Regeneration is not derived from Scripture, but forced into the gospel message. This is not “rightly dividing the word of truth,” but “private interpretation."

And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life,” John 6:40.

He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26.

But these things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name,” John 20:31.

To open their eyes…that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me,” Acts 26:18.

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” Romans 5:1.

It pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe,” 1st Corinthians 1:21.

That the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith,” Galatians 3:14.

But the Scripture has confined all under sin (New and Old Testament eras), that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe,” Galatians 3:22.

“…that we might be justified by faith,” Galatians 3:24.

Of [God’s] own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures,” James 1:18.

“…and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls,” James 1:21.

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God,” 1st John 5:1.

All one need do is believe the gospel (1st Corinthians 15:1-4 has a definitive explanation of what the gospel is); faith in Christ removes the debt of sin in the believer (John 3:36), translates them from the kingdom of Satan to Christ’s eternal kingdom (Colossians 1:13), and reconciles them to God forever (2nd Corinthians 5:18; Colossians 1:20). I must stress again, that water baptism is not a part of this gospel, 1st Corinthians 1:17-18. John writes “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God,” 1st John 4:15. This is the gospel as explained by Paul in Romans 10 and elsewhere. “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame,” Romans 10:11. If it is the gospel that saves (Romans 1:16; 1st Peter 1:23) and water baptism is not part of it, then magnifying this doctrine reveals either a bias toward legalism, or an ignorance of what Scripture says regarding justification.

But wait, does the Bible not make mention that God prepared something better for Christians? It does. Hebrews 11:40 says, “God having provided something better for us, that they [Old Testament saints] should not be made perfect apart from us.” Yet the Greek word for “better” does not mean different or changed; it only means “superior or greater.” This would refer to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and regeneration; again, concepts foreign to Old Testament saints. In this light it is a gross understatement that we should call having the Spirit of God abiding in us simply, “better!” Romans 3:25 agrees; Paul wrote that God in His forbearance passed by the sins of Old Testament saints, knowing that when the Lamb of God appeared to put away sin, the saints from Abel to the thief on the cross would be paid for by His blood.

They were purchased the same way we are: without water baptism. If the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy (Revelation 19:10), then God always intended, from the foundation of the world, to save those who believe through faith in His Son, divorced of merit or works, Romans 6:23; Galatians 2:16; 3:9; Ephesians 2:8-9. This inordinate focus on baptism robs Christ of His rightful glory as being the only means by which one is justified: it is our “being” (our relationship to God) that saves, not our “doing” (water baptism followed by faithful obedience for life; the two tend to walk hand in hand).

Something to ponder: if salvation was through faith alone in Christ and one’s works did not save them, how did it suddenly switch when one became saved? Now, to remain saved or “faithful” one must manifest a constant stream of good works as “proof” of eternal life? Isn’t our faith in Jesus and the promises He made regarding our salvation? There is no verse which states unequivocally: believe and abide faithfully all your life and you will receive eternal life as a reward. If you are fighting to retain eternal life by being obedient unto death, you’re earning wages. Our good works are a TESTIMONY of our salvation; not the basis of it.

Did God change how men are saved? Unlikely, see Malachi 3:6 (I am the Lord; I do not change) and Hebrews 13:8 (Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever). There is no variation or shadow of turning with our God, James 1:17. Again, refer back to the Lamb slain since the foundation of the world. Enoch, Noah, and the thief on the cross were saved in the same manner as Peter, Paul, and us: by faith alone in Christ alone plus nothing. Peter testified at the Jerusalem council that all men were saved in like manner, Acts 15:11.

What of Acts 2:38? “Repent, and let everyone of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” First: a logical query. If Peter refers to the Holy Spirit’s coming as a gift, do you think he means you have to be baptized to receive Him? The testimony of numerous Scriptures tells us otherwise. Anyone pressing this verse to promote Baptismal Regeneration (that sins are remitted through immersion in water) forgets the Holy Spirit’s words: “and without shedding of blood there is no remission,” Hebrews 9:22; “It is the blood that makes atonement for the soul,” Leviticus 17:11. Christ’s ransom made atonement for our souls. “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You (God) make His (Christ’s) soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days…He shall see the labor of His soul and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities,” Isaiah 53:10-11.

The gospel is this simple: that if we believe on Jesus Christ, that what He did on our behalf (made His soul an offering for sin) and shed His blood to remit our sins, we are saved. Ask yourself: are your sins remitted due to Christ’s vicarious sacrifice (shed blood) on the cross? Or are they remitted due to something God has commanded you to do, namely be immersed in water? Christ offered remission for our sins (Hebrews 10:10) once for all when He offered Himself; where there is already remission of sins (Hebrews 10:5-10) there is no other offering for sin, Hebrews 10:18. Clearly, Peter’s statement in Acts is wrested out of context, because it is not harmonious with the teaching of Hebrews chapters 9-10, among other clear statements in Scripture.

Paul states twice nearly verbatim, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins,” Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14. The writer of Hebrews adds “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” Hebrews 9:14. Finally, John writes, “To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood,” Revelation 1:5. Adherence to this doctrine seems to create blindness to large and numerous testimonies in Scripture that repudiate Baptismal Regeneration. Here I would like to apply more testimony about the nature of God’s salvation to man.

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,” John 4:10.

But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to many,” Romans 5:15. Romans 5:16-21 go on to detail the fact that, while Adam’s sin was imputed to his descendants so that all sinned; Jesus’ righteousness was imputed to all who believe on Him resulting in justification. Note, Paul does not say this is how only New Testament saints were saved; the inference is that from Adam’s time all mankind was dead in sins and trespasses; and since that time the righteousness of God found only in Christ was available to all through the singular condition of faith.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord,” Romans 6:23. Note the singular of the passage: the wages of SIN, not sins. Sin was what our Lord died with upon the cross, bearing the consequences of it. Those who trust in Jesus Christ receive forgiveness of sin and are justified by their faith, Romans 5:1; Habakkuk 2:4. Water baptism typifies regeneration; it does not cause it.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God,” Ephesians 2:8.

The coming of the Holy Spirit to indwell you IS the true baptism! Acts 2:38 is twisted to force it into creating a criterion besides faith for eternal life. Yet arguments are set against this notion in Scripture, the most famous of course being Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 4:4-5; 11:6. Their judgment regarding works stands. There is a distinct delineation between faith and everything else. The writer is crystal clear: if something is not faith it is a work, including baptism.

Secondly, there is an alternate rendering to Acts 2:38 that anyone who espouses Baptismal Regeneration always rejects. Yet the rendering is legitimate, and cannot be lightly dismissed. Could the King James translators have erred here? It is possible. The critical word in this verse is “for”, which also may be translated “with a view to”. “Repent, and let everyone of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ [with a view to] the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit,” would be how the verse reads otherwise. The primary reason it is rejected is because it does violence to the doctrine of Baptismal Regeneration.

No comments:

Post a Comment

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness," 2nd Timothy 3:16.

My wife and I welcome comments to our Blog. We believe that everyone deserves to voice their insight or opinion on a topic. Vulgar commentary will not be posted.

Thank you and God bless!

Joshua 24:15

All Scripture is taken from the King James Bible (KJV) or New King James Bible (NKJV). Copyright 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.