Thursday, February 23, 2012

Cut & Paste, Part 3

A second doctrine commonly taught by many Christian sects and accepted as the norm is strongly linked to works salvation: baptismal regeneration. I have posted numerous Scriptural arguments against this doctrine but will go on here to demonstrate how error begets error; in other words, if you begin with a wrong premise (salvation is by works and not solely grace) then you reach wrong conclusions (water baptism effects new life, even in infants.)

There are three primary passages that advocates of this doctrine use to promote their teaching, and I will list those for our consideration.

He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned,” Mark 16:16.

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God,” John 3:5.

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost,” Acts 2:38.

These are the verses that proponents who argue from the Bible regarding the legitimacy of baptismal regeneration site when making their case. I know one such advocate of this teaching who quotes Mark 16:16 and Acts 2:38 as if they were the only verses in the whole Bible that spoke about man’s salvation. But what does Peter say about this mentality? “As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest (twist, NKJV), as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction,” 2nd Peter 3:16.

Such teachers should prayerfully consider the words of our Lord concerning those who were very busy “working” for Him: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity,” Matthew 7:21-23. Jesus’ chief disciple added, “Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness,” Romans 4:4-5.

Peter speaks of those who wrest or twist the Scriptures. That is, to wrest the passage out of context to fit the mold the teacher casts for it. This is referred to as eisegesis, or to read into the Bible what you would have it say. But someone may say “How can someone misunderstand Mark 16:16? It’s so straight forward!” True, if that was the only verse talking about salvation in the New Testament. What if this was the only verse in Scripture concerning prayer? “Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven,” Matthew 18:19. How can such a simple promise about prayer be misconstrued? It couldn’t, unless there were scores of other verses in the New Testament that define what prayer is and what spiritual condition a man must be in to pray rightly. But left alone this verse in Matthew is a tantalizing excuse to indulge in all manner of selfish prayer, which televangelists prey on to no end.

The same is true for water baptism. The few verses that seem to teach one thing must be taken in collusion with the whole of Scripture. To do otherwise introduces into the Bible a long list of criteria that one needs to do to be saved: One must forgive everyone their trespasses (Mark 11:26), keep God’s commandments; all 600+ of them (Matthew 19:17), sell everything you have and donate to the poor (Mark 10:21), deny yourself, take up the cross and follow Jesus (Matthew 16:24), etc. The road to salvation would be paved with such legalism that only the most proud and jaded could be deceived into thinking they had attained to it. Contrary to this, we are told God’s free gift is salvation through Jesus Christ, not dutiful attendance to regulations, Romans 5:15; 6:23. This was done solely through Christ’s resurrection with no help or merit from us, 1st Peter 1:3-5.

Water baptism has its importance as a onetime, non-repeated act of faith in a display of public association with Jesus Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. One is submerged under water to symbolize their death to their old life with Christ, and then rises out of the water to symbolize their newness of life, the new birth that faith in Christ as Savior precipitated. Baptism is only done once after one is saved and consents to do so, Acts 8:36-38. The physical act of baptism has no efficacy, 1st Corinthians 1:17-18; Romans 6:3-5. If you look at Paul’s language in Romans he is likening water baptism to the reality of our spiritual transformation in Christ. In other words we have the type and the antitype.

Three times the word “like” or “likeness” is employed to demonstrate that baptism is a symbol of the great work God has wrought in the believing heart of a newborn Christian. Otherwise Paul’s language is redundant when he writes: “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death.” The first mention of baptism here is the baptism of the Spirit, Matthew 3:11; John 7:38-39; Acts 2:33. This was not a physical baptism Paul was referring to. The second mention, prefaced with a “therefore” is the symbol of water baptism; since (therefore) we have passed from death into life by reason of Christ’s sacrifice and our faith in Him, we are baptized to associate ourselves with this great truth.

1 comment:

  1. From a purely logical standpoint, if Romans 10:9, "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." is true, then the statement "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved;" in Mark 16:16 is also true, because they have met the conditions of both verses. If however, Baptism is required, then the requirements have not been met and Romans 10:9 cannot be true. Once again, the issue is whether we believe all the Bible is the word of God or not.

    Great post.


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