Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Refuting Baptismal Regeneration, Part 6 of 6

Finally, men use Matthew 18:19 and a smattering of other verses in isolation to preach the “health and wealth” gospel. Out of context from the many other verses that speak about prayer’s purpose and place, there are a handful of verses such as this, taken at face value, that seem to plainly teach in clear language that man may ask for what he wishes, and God will grant it. Yet we know that this is not so.

How? The rest of Scripture teaches that prayer is according to the will of God, Matthew 26:39; 1st John 5:14-15. Prayer must also be offered by men who are in fellowship with the Holy Spirit, that is, walking in the Spirit, 1st Peter 3:7; 1st Thessalonians 5:19; James 1:5-8. I believe it is sufficiently clear that using a handful of verses (for health and wealth preaching or Baptismal Regeneration) reveals partiality in one’s ability to rightly divide the word of God.

The reasoning behind the acceptance of verses such as Mark 16:16, to promote this doctrine are specious at best. Because it is written “he who believes and is baptized will be saved” proponents isolate this verse, though the Scriptures which do not agree with their rendering of it far outweigh any that appear to. It is no different than saying when Paul wrote, “the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me,” (Galatians 2:20) that Jesus only loved and gave Himself for Paul, since Scripture says it is so. Clearly, other Scriptures illuminate this passage, which takes the salvation of Christ far beyond Paul’s personal testimony to the entire world. I cannot stand by and listen to men expound God’s word, adding conditions God did not.

I wish for my thoughts to be like my Lord’s, and to be conformed to the mind of Christ, to think God’s own thoughts after Him. In this respect I am intolerant of deviating “gospels.” I am jealous for the genuine gospel, and am afraid for those who preach “another gospel,” 2nd Corinthians 11:4. Can such a seemingly trivial matter be so important? Yes. If Baptismal Regeneration is not necessary, stressing its value so that it coincides with faith is, in my understanding of the Bible, fatal. It leads, more often than not, into the trap of legalism. Duty replaces grace, as grace is sorely misunderstood as the unmerited favor of God…unless you fail to serve Him. Yet Paul wrote: “If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself,” 2nd Timothy 2:13.

Our salvation is not derived from obedience unto church ordinances. It is by “Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ…for obedience to the faith,” Romans 16:25-26. Our saving “work” is only to, “believe in Him whom [God] sent,” John 6:29. Jesus testified, “He who believes in Me has everlasting life,” John 6:47. Clearly, faith is the only condition God set forth in the New Testament. This must be so, because it was the only condition necessary for the Old Testament saints to be saved. God did not alter the plan of salvation: “For all the promises of God in [Jesus] are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us,” 2nd Corinthians 1:20. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever,” Hebrews 13:8. “Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us,” Hebrews 6:17-18.

Dogmatic as my Post may seem, I write this with a heavy heart and prayerful hope that anyone entrenched in the false doctrine of Baptismal Regeneration might turn from it and embrace wholly and unconditionally Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. This may seem a small thing, but will you risk letting this potential hindrance to faith exclude you from Heaven and Christ? The whole point of our salvation is WHERE we place our faith. If you anticipate the necessity of baptism, then you are expecting that it is part of a formula whereby God regenerates you by virtue of this sacrament. Consider: your faith, at least in part, is in the sacrament of water baptism. Can you find a verse where Jesus or one of the apostles commands you to trust water baptism for your salvation?

Is there a passage where baptism alone saves? Of course not; but there are scores of verses (many already listed) that teach faith alone saves. To those who want to take what Jesus said “at face value,” I counsel you to take ALL of what the Bible says in harmonious accord. The few verses that appear to teach the necessity of baptism are given clearer light by an overwhelming body of Scripture that teaches that salvation is a gift of God’s grace bestowed upon any sinner who repents and believes the gospel. As it was in the Old Testament, so it is in the New. Otherwise, we reach one of these two inescapable conclusions:

#1: All Old Testament saints are in Hell, since they were not baptized, and baptism is essential for salvation. Consequently, so is anyone during the church age who believed on Jesus Christ but was not immersed in water.

#2: God changed His mind about how men are saved. The saints who lived in the dispensation of the Law needed only to believe; saints in the dispensation of Grace must believe and be baptized.

Pray over this matter: do either of these sound Biblical or reasonable to you? Jesus told us that if we do not believe that He is in fact God or Savior, we will die in our sins, John 8:24. He also said that anyone who believes on Him will not abide in darkness; whoever rejects our Lord’s words will be judged by that same word, John 12:46-48. Again we are confronted with the reality that disbelief condemns and belief as the sole criterion saves the hearer. This IS the Biblical message of salvation we call “the gospel.”

Paul surely summed up the sentence of God upon all men in all times when he wrote: “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed…through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe…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…that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus,” Romans 3:21-24, 26. The salvation of mankind is an overarching theme of the utmost importance from Genesis to Revelation. To assert that water baptism (or any work) is given by God to regenerate man or bring him to Heaven is to miss this vital point. Baptism is a work, and disqualified to impart grace. In fact, grace only comes by God’s pleasure to give it, Romans 9:15. It cannot be coerced, purchased, or merited by dutiful service. Please, brethren, this is serious. Who/what is your faith in?

4 comments:

  1. Ian - I want to personally thank you for this in-depth study into God's Word. I have read and studied several written articles' on baptismal regeneration and I must admit that yours is probably one of the best. It is my prayer, my friend, that your readers who still believe that "water baptism" is required for salivation will be convicted by the Holy Spirit of the truth. God bless you for this much needed message. Thank you for being such a good and faithful servant for our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus. Blessings, Lloyd

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  2. Hi Ian,

    I thank God for your words of encouragement and truth concerning water baptism. I pray that your readers focus on the content with an open mind, seeking illuminating truth.

    Thank you brother for remembering me in your prayers. I also remember your name in my prayers to our Lord.

    Blessings and peace.

    MTJ

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  3. Great study, I have enjoyed reading it. As you point out, both conclusions resulting from baptismal regeneration are false. Hebrews 11:39-40 make it clear, salvation is the same for the Old Testament saints as for the New. "And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

    Thank you for taking the time, and for your encouragement.

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  4. Ian: I just dropped in to say hi and wish you a Merry CHRISTmas if your not back on line by then.

    I also would like to see if maybe I could us your study on baptismal regeneration as part of my Sunday School class at church. It is so well written and easy to understand. Let me know. God bless, Lloyd

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