Catholic Infant Baptism

22 02 2021

Listen to the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua), and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: “Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word.”

Let’s take the errors line by line. The catechism starts off by saying that baptism is the basis or foundation of the whole Christian life. Paul tells us that Christ is the foundation or basis of the Christian life (1 Corinthians 3:11). In Matthew 16:18 we see that the basis for entering the Christian life is profession of faith not baptism.

Rome claims baptism is the gateway to life in the Spirit. What does Scripture say of this? In Romans 8:9 we are told that those who do not have the Spirit are not His children,

What is the gateway to life in the Spirit? Let’s look back to the Scriptures for the answer.

In Acts 10 we see Peter take the Gospel to Cornelius. He and his household believed the Gospel and in verse 44 we see them receive the Spirit.

While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.”

Did they enter life in the Spirit through baptism? No, it was through hearing and believing the Gospel. It was by faith not of works as we see expressed in Ephesians 2:8-9.

In fact it mentions that they were baptized after receiving the Spirit. Not only did they not receive the Spirit through baptism but receiving the Spirit was the basis for baptism.

Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?” (Acts 10:47)

The catechism claims that through baptism we are freed from sin. Scripture says that it is through our obedience to the Gospel that we are freed from sin.

But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.” (Romans 6:17-18)

The catechism claims that through baptism we are reborn as children of God. Does Scripture agree with this claim? Hardly, it actually opposes it.

Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” (1 Peter 1:23)

Here we see that we are reborn not through baptism but the word of the Lord. What is the word of the Lord? Look a little further in this same chapter.

But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” (Vs. 25)

So the word of God is the Gospel. Look at John 1:12 and you will find the difference between Roman Catholicism and Biblical Christianity.

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.”

We become children of God by believing on His name. Not by baptism, a system of penance, or the mass. Those who receive Him are born again.

The catechism claims that through baptism we are incorporated into Christ’s Church. We need to understand that they are referring to the universal body of believers not the local church. Let’s look again away from Rome and towards the Scriptures. At his sermon on Pentecost Peter preached Christ. We see the result in Acts 2:41.

Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.”

So the souls of those who believed the Gospel were added to the small group of believers. They were baptized but the focus on the verse is on them receiving their word not their baptism.

The catechism says that through baptism we are incorporated into Christ. What does the Bible teach?

Hebrews 3:14 says that we are partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence to the end. In other words if we continue in faith. Listen to Peter in 2 Peter 1:4.

Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”

We are partakers of the divine nature by faith. How do I know this? Because the promises he mentions here are for “us” who is the “us”? Listen to verse 1.

Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.”

The promise of partaking in the divine nature is to those who have received faith. We know that faith is a gift of grace according to Ephesians 2:8-9. A gift cannot be earned or merited. It can only be received.

Rome does not deny salvation is by grace they simply deny the sufficiency of grace. They deny that grace alone saves. In fact the Council of Trent condemned with anathema those who believed salvation was by faith alone.

Turn to Romans 4:2-9.

For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. 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. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.”

The catechism calls it regeneration through water in the word. This quote is almost Biblical. It comes from Ephesians 5 where Paul is talking about Christ and His church.

That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.” (Vs. 26)

This is not in regards to the unsaved but the church and it’s not in regards to initial salvation but sanctification. He wants to present to Himself a glorious church without spot or wrinkle. He sanctifies His church through the washing of water.

Is this actual, literal water? No, it is the water of the Word. He uses His Word as a purifying and cleansing agent.

They lean heavily upon John 3 to justify baptism as a means of salvation. Let’s look at the passage in question to see what it says. (Turn)

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)

What they are doing is using a proof text. They do this by pulling a single verse out of a chapter to prove their point. We need to put the verse in context to see what it is actually saying. In verse 3 Jesus simply tells him that he must be born again. This confuses Nicodemus.

Nicodemus responds by asking how someone can be born a second time. He asks if he must enter his mother’s womb again and be born. Then in verse 5 Jesus draws the distinction. He says you must be born of water (physical birth) and of the Spirit (second birth).

Continue into the next verse, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” He clearly explains the birth of water is the physical birth and the birth of Spirit is the second birth. He closes His explanation in verse 7, “Marvel not that I said unto thee, ye must be born again.” He explained that the command to be born again was referring to the spiritual not the physical.





Understanding Acts 2:38

24 10 2019

“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)

There is a lot of controversy surrounding a particular verse in Acts 2. Many false churches fixate on this verse as the main source of their doctrines. When I come across people from these churches their social media normally has this text prominently displayed, even some churches put it right out on their sign.

There is a danger in what is commonly called proof texting. The Bible is to be understood and interpreted in context. Scripture should be interpreted in light of Scripture. The Bible was never intended to be chopped up in such a way that one verse cancels out another or entire doctrine could be built on the foundation of a single verse without respect to the context the verse is in.

This is called proof texting. It’s dangerous because it always leads to error. Every denomination that calls itself Christian yet veers from orthodoxy does so because they proof text particular verses. I remember door to door witnessing with a pastor and after going to the door of one of these people he moved on and the person followed him down the street yelling “believe Acts 2:38.”

When this happens it’s easy to lose balance and to fixate and even base your entire faith on one particular verse or doctrine. So what does Acts 2:38 mean? Does it cancels out other verses?

Consider Matthew 28:19:

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”

Some would say that baptizing in the name of all 3 persons is based on this one verse and yet it’s not. Salvation is a work of all 3 members of the Godhead. The Father decreed it, the Son accomplished it and the Spirit applies it. It follows that the sign and seal of our salvation would be in the authority of all 3 persons.

The Acts 2:38 proponents have one basic problem: the deny the Triune nature of God. I don’t have space to delve in here but the Scriptures teach extensively on the doctrine of the Trinity so this is not a stand alone verse but a verse that can be clearly understood in accord with other Scriptures. Notice the individuality of the persons and yet the singular use of the word “name.”

It’s not the “names” of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It says in the “name” singular of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. They are individual persons but one God, one substance, one essence, one nature.

Does Acts 2:38 change that by saying in Jesus name only? No it doesn’t because you have to understand this verse in context. In this sermon Peter is pointing out that they had rejected Jesus and had crucified Him yet God overruled their objection and raised Him from the dead.

They had rejected the authority of Jesus as Messiah and King at His crucifixion. Now they must be baptized in the authority of this man whom they had rejected. He is not ignoring the words of Jesus in Matthew but speaking to the specific attitude of the crowd in front of him.

It would be like me preaching to Roman Catholics and telling them to reject the system of penance and repent of their sins. I don’t mention anything about the Trinity because they have a different issue. When I speak to a follower of the Watchtower I will address their need to recognize that Jesus is God and never mention Rome’s system of penance. It’s about speaking to the needs of the crowd.

Does this verse teach a works salvation? The answer is no because the message of the Bible is one of salvation by grace through faith. We see it in the salvation of Abraham in Romans 4, and it’s heavily emphasized in Ephesians 2 and Colossians 1. We see it also throughout the book of Acts like Acts 8, 10, and 16. We see it again in Romans 3, 5, 8 and 10.

To take this single verse and teach salvation by baptism would be to cancel out all of the passages on faith alone. So we must interpret this verse in light of the overwhelming evidence in the other passages. So what is Peter saying here? I want to use experts from my book “Understanding Believer’s Baptism” which will be available soon from this website.

“A second point pertaining to this verse is the term “for.” This word is often highlighted to demonstrate that the baptism was for or to cause the remission of sins. The problem is that there are several Greek and English uses for the word “for.” The word can also mean, “in order to get” (which is what these folks are saying) or it can mean, “because of, as the result of.

So is Peter saying they must be baptized in order to get forgiveness of sins? If he is then he is contradicting Paul who simply told the jailer in Acts 16:31 to believe.

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.

If I say “take two aspirin for a headache” am I saying to take two aspirin in order to get a headache? Of course not. I’m saying it because you already have one.

The same applies if I said I’m going to Grandma’s house for her birthday. Will she not have a birthday or even a party if I don’t go? Of course she will. My going is not to give her a birthday but because she is having a birthday. This is the clear use of the phrase in this passage.

Salvation is a free gift given by God to those who believe. We are commanded to have repentance toward God and faith toward Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21). We are saved through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Peter is not contradicting these passages. He is not saying you must be baptized in order to complete remission of your sins. He is saying to be baptized because you have remission of sins.”

We know that baptism does not contribute to salvation because Paul clearly separated the Gospel from baptism. We all agree that the Gospel is what saves us the Bible says in Romans 1:16 that the Gospel is the Power of God to salvation so anything necessary for salvation is in the Gospel and yet Paul said God sent him not to baptize but to preach the Gospel.

“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.” (1 Corinthians 1:17)

In that verse in Romans 1 Paul says the Gospel is the power of god to salvation for everyone who believes, once again it’s faith alone that saves. In fact the passages that mention salvation apart from baptism are numerous while the baptismal regeneration proof texts are about 3 or 4. It’s more probable that 3 or 4 verses are being misunderstood than that the hundreds of other verses are.





By Faith Alone

7 11 2017





Problems with Purgatory: Part 1

11 05 2016

I would like to address the doctrine of purgatory. Millions of souls over the centuries have perished because they gave offerings hoping to buy less time in purgatory. Ornate cathedrals and churches were built with the money given by poor, often uneducated and trusting souls.

Purgatory is where people go who die in what Rome calls a “state of grace.” This is a state in which people are purged completely from sin and made ready for Heaven. This concept has no Biblical basis but relies heavily upon tradition and ancient pagan roots.

The concept of purgatory is seen in ancient Buddhist practices of making prayers and sacrifices for the dead. The term purgatory does not appear on the scene until around 1160 but the concept is applied long before that. Purgatory has been defined by several councils including the Council of Trent in 1545, the Council of Florence in 1438, and the first and Second Council of Lyon in 1245 and 1274.

Prior to these declarations the doctrine was developed and underwent changes over time. This happens when we try to hold firmly to doctrines not clearly stated in the Word of God. When we build our doctrine upon the sinking sand of human tradition and philosophy we will have to make changes to avoid contradiction and ensure compliance. When a doctrine is founded upon the solid rock of the oracles of God then we can be sure they can stand the test of time.

Catholics accept the Scriptural life after death destinations of mankind. In Heaven the souls of the righteous spend eternal bliss in the presence of God, and on the opposite end of the spectrum those who go on in sin rejecting salvation spend eternity in the fires of hell (although some Romanists make the Biblical description of fire as only symbolic). The Romanists have inserted a third state to which all must go in order to be ready to go to Heaven. They call this place purgatory.

Rome teaches that some souls are not yet purified enough to enter Heaven and must be purified in purgatory in order to prepare for being granted admission into Heaven. Peter opposes this idea.

“Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently. (1 Peter 1:22)

Peter is not saying that purification comes in some limbo state after death. He is saying our souls are purified by obeying the truth. This means that when we are saved our souls are purified not at some later time and place.

Romanism teaches that holiness is achieved in purgatory and that without purgatory we would still bear the stain of sin and not be holy enough to enter the presence of God. Scripture in several places disagrees with this idea.

“According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love…And (we) are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord.” (Ephesians 1:4, 2:20-21)

“I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren.” (1 Thessalonians 5:27)

To follow this teaching to its conclusion would make it impossible to explain the plight of the thief on the cross. Here is a criminal who has lived his whole life in sin and degradation. While being executed he comes to believe that Jesus is who He claims to be.

In a repentant heart he asks Jesus to remember him when He comes into His kingdom. What was the response of Jesus to this man’s faith?

“And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

I must say if anyone needed purification or was not holy enough to enter Heaven it would be a criminal who just repented. Surely with no good works, no baptism, nothing to show for his faith he would need further cleansing and yet we have a statement from Jesus that by his faith he is counted worthy to be with Him in Paradise. No limbo, no waiting, just an immediate pardon for sin and access to God.

To better understand this view we must understand the Romanist view of sin. They categorize sin in two ways, mortal sins, and venial sins. Mortal sins would be grave violations of God’s law and venial sins are forgivable sins that don’t necessarily separate us from God.

I guess you could call them minor infractions. The Scriptures give us no evidence of God viewing sin this way. Some sins are greater than others in terms of the punishment for sin which is why those at the Great White Throne are judged according to their works when their fate is already determined (Revelation 20:11-15).

We also see examples of some sins being called abominations and others are not. We receive no hint as to whether that means non abominations are more or less forgivable. According to Scripture all sin brings spiritual death and separation from God.

Ezekiel 18:4b says the “soul that sinneth it shall die.” What is sin?

“Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” (1 John 3:4)

Who has sinned?

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

What is the penalty for sin?

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

How is sin forgiven?

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8)

While Rome teaches mortal vs. venial sins the Scriptures tell us that sin is the breaking of God’s law. It goes on to tell us that all have sinned. The Bible also teaches that our sin can be forgiven by the grace of God through faith. Let me ask faith in what? Faith in the finished work of Christ.

“Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 20:21)

This is where most Romanists miss salvation because they feel their works add to salvation and that the work of Christ must be repeated through the mass. Jesus said:

“I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” (John 17:4)

The Roman Church teaches her followers that Christ’s righteousness is not imputed to us. Rome teaches that we are infused with grace and each grace that we act upon makes us more righteous before God. They teach that our sin stains are still with us after salvation and that these must be purged in purgatory.

They can teach this because they do not see salvation as a possession but a state of being. In other words you cannot possess salvation as a gift and have it and hold onto it but rather you can be in a “state of grace” where you have done enough good to merit God’s favor. The bad news is that you can do enough bad to fall out of that favor.

Let me address each heresy with the Bible. Is Christ’s righteousness imputed?

“But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead.” (Romans 4:24)

“Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works.” (Romans 4:6)

Can doing good make us more righteous?

“But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” (Romans 4:5)

“For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” (Romans 4:3)

“I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness [come] by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” (Galatians 2:21)

Do our sin stains stay with us after salvation?

“And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.” (Revelation 1:5)

“In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.” (Ephesians 1:7)

Is salvation a state of being or a free gift possession?

“But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23b)

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8)

Can we lose the gift of salvation?

“For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” (Romans 11:29)

“And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” (John 10:28)

“Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6:37b)

These beliefs are at the heart of the doctrine of purgatory. The idea of fire in purgatory is common in Roman lore but separate from hell. Scripture speaks often, and definitely about hell but is silent on purgatory.

Some have agreed it’s a material fire, although some have used the term fire metaphorically. The Church has not condemned such use. It seems that even the Church in her supposed wisdom, and power cannot decide.

 





What Is the Gospel?

12 05 2014

The following is a sermon by Dr. H.A. Ironside It is a bit lengthy but definitely worth the time spent. We must get the Gospel right eternity depends on it.

“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the Gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Cor.15:1-4)

It might seem almost a work of supererogation to answer a question like this. We hear the word, “Gospel” used so many times. People talk of this and of that as being “as true as the Gospel,” and I often wonder what they really mean by it.

First I should like to indicate what it is not.

THE GOSPEL IS:

Not The Bible

In the first place, the Gospel is not the Bible. Often when I inquire, “What do you think the Gospel is?” people reply, “Why, it is the Bible, and the Bible is the Word of God.” Undoubtedly the Bible is the Word of God, but there is a great deal in that Book that is not Gospel.

“The wicked shall be turned into Hell with all the nations that forget God.” That is in the Bible, and it is terribly true; but it is not Gospel.

“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” That is in the Bible, but it is not the Gospel.

Our English word, “gospel” just means the “good spell,” and the word “spell,” is the old Anglo-Saxon word for, “tidings”, the good tidings, the good news. The original word translated. “Gospel,” which we have taken over into the English with little alteration is the word, “evangel,” and it has the same meaning, the good news. The Gospel is God’s good news for sinners. The Bible contains the Gospel, but there is a great deal in the Bible which is not Gospel.

Not The Commandments

The Gospel is not just any message from God telling man how he should behave. “What is the Gospel?” I asked a man this question some time ago, and he answered, “Why I should say it is the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount, and I think if a man lives up to them he is all right.” Well, I fancy he would be; but did you ever know anybody who lived up to them? The Sermon on the Mount demands a righteousness which no unregenerate man has been able to produce. The law is not the Gospel; it is the very antitheses of the Gospel. In fact, the law was given by God to show men their need of the Gospel .

“The law,” says the Apostle Paul, speaking as a Jewish convert, “was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. But after that Christ is come we are no longer under the schoolmaster.”

Not Repentance

The Gospel is not a call to repentance, or to amendment of our ways, to make restitution for past sins, or to promise to do better in the future. These things are proper in their place, but they do not constitute the Gospel; for the Gospel is not good advice to be obeyed, it is good news to be believed. Do not make the mistake then of thinking that the Gospel is a call to duty or a call to reformation, a call to better your condition, to behave yourself in a more perfect way than you have been doing in the past.

Not Giving Up The World

Nor is the Gospel a demand that you give up the world, that you give up your sins, that you break off bad habits, and try to cultivate good ones. You may do all these things, and yet never believe the Gospel and consequently never be saved at all.

THERE ARE SEVEN DESIGNATIONS OF THE GOSPEL in the New Testament, but over and above all these, let me draw your attention to the fact that when this blessed message is mentioned, it is invariably accompanied by the definite article. Over and over and over again in the New Testament we read of the Gospel. It is the Gospel not a Gospel. People tell us there are a great many different Gospels; but there is only ONE. When certain teachers came to the Galatians and tried to turn them away from the simplicity that was in Christ Jesus by teaching “another Gospel, “the apostle said that it was a different gospel, but not another; for there is none other than the Gospel. It is downright exclusive; it is God’s revelation to sinful man.

Not Comparative Religion

The scholars of this world talk of the Science of Comparative Religions, and it is very popular now-a-days to say, “We cannot any longer go to heathen nations and preach to them as in the days gone by, because we are learning that their religions are just as good as ours, and the thing to do now is to share with them, to study the different religions, take the good out of them all, and in this way lead the world into a sense of brotherhood and unity.”

So in our great universities and colleges men study this Science of Comparative Religions, and they compare all these different religious systems one with another. There is a Science of Comparative Religions, but the Gospel is not one of them. All the different religions in the world may well be studied comparatively, for at rock bottom they are all alike; they all set men at trying to earn his own salvation. They may be called by different names, and the things that men are called to do maybe different in each case, but they all set men trying to save their own souls and earn their way into the favor of God. In this they stand in vivid contrast with the Gospel, for the Gospel is that glorious message that tells us what God has done for us in order that guilty sinners maybe saved.

THE SEVEN DESIGNATIONS OF THIS GOSPEL are called

1. The Gospel Of The Kingdom,

And when I use that term I am not thinking particularly of any dispensational application, but of this blessed truth that it is only through believing the Gospel that men are born into the Kingdom of God; We sing: “A ruler once came to Jesus by night, To ask Him the way of salvation and light; The Master made answer in words true and plain, ‘ye must be born again.’ ” But neither Nicodemus , nor you, nor I, could ever bring this about ourselves. We had nothing to with our first birth, and can have nothing to do with our second birth. It must be the work of God, and it is wrought through the Gospel. That is why the Gospel is called the Gospel of the Kingdom, for, “Except a man be born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God” (John 3:3,7). “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever. . . And this is the word which by the Gospel is preached unto you” (1 Peter 1:23-25. Every where that Paul and his companion apostles went they preached the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, and they showed that the only way to get into that Kingdom was by a second birth, and that the only way whereby the second birth could be brought about was through believing the Gospel. It is the Gospel of the Kingdom. It also called

2. The Gospel Of God,

Because God is the source of it, and it is altogether of Himself. No man ever thought of a Gospel like this. The very fact that all the religions of the world set man to try to work for his own salvation indicates the fact that no man would ever have dreamed of such a Gospel as that which is revealed in this Book. It came from the heart of God; it was God who “so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He first loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:9,10). And because it is the Gospel of God, God is very jealous of it. He wants it kept pure. He does not want it mixed with any of man’s theories or laws; He does not want it mixed up with religious ordinances or anything of that kind. The Gospel is God’s own pure message to sinful man. God grant that you and I may receive it as in very truth the Gospel of God. And then it is called

3. The Gospel Of His Son

Not merely because the Son went everywhere preaching the Gospel, but because He is the theme of it. “When it pleased God,” says the apostle, “who called me by His grace, to reveal His Son in me that I might preach Him among the nations; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood” (Gal. 1:15,16). “We preach Christ crucified . . . the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 1:23,24). No man preaches the Gospel who is not exalting the Lord Jesus. It is God’s wonderful message about His Son. How often I have gone to meetings where they told me I would hear the Gospel, and instead of that I have heard some bewildered preacher talk to a bewildered audience about everything and anything, but the Lord Jesus Christ. The Gospel has to do with nothing else but Christ. It is the Gospel of God’s Son. And so, linked with this it is called

4. The Gospel Of Christ

The Apostle Peter preaching on the day of Pentecost of the risen Savior, says, “God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” And He speaks of Him as the anointed One, exalted at God’s right hand. The Gospel is the Gospel of the Risen Christ. There would be no Gospel for sinners if Christ had not been raised. So the apostle says, “If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins” (1 Cor. 15:17). A great New York preacher, great in his impertinence, at least, said some years ago, preaching a so-called Easter sermon, “The body of Jesus still sleeps in a Syrian tomb, but His soul goes marching on.: That is not the Gospel of Christ. We are not preaching the Gospel of a dead Christ, but of a living Christ who sits exalted at the Father’s right hand, and is living to save all who put their trust in Him. That is why those of us who really know the Gospel never have any crucifixes around our churches or in our homes. The crucifix represents a dead Christ hanging languid on a cross of shame. But we are not pointing men to a dead Christ; we are preaching a living Christ. He lives exalted at God’s right had, and He “saves to the uttermost all who come to God by Him.” The Gospel is also called

5. The Gospel Of The Grace Of God,

Because it leaves no room whatever for human merit. It just brushes away all man’s pretension to any goodness, to any desert excepting judgment. It is the Gospel of grace, and grace is God’s free unmerited favor to those who have merited the very opposite. It is as opposite to works as oil is to water.” If by grace,” says the Spirit of God, “then it is no more works. . . but if it be of works, then is it no more grace” (Rom.11:6). People say, :But you must have both.” I have heard it put like this: there was a boatman and two theologians in a boat, and one was arguing that salvation was by faith and the other by works. The boatman listened, and then said, “Let me tell you how it looks to me. Suppose I call this oar Faith and this one Works. If I pull on this one, the boat goes around; if I pull on this other one, it goes around the other way, but if I pull on both oars, I get you across the river.” I have heard many preachers use that illustration to prove that we are saved by faith and works. That might do if we were going to Heaven in a rowboat, but we are not. We are carried on the shoulders of the Shepherd, who came seeking lost sheep When He finds them He carries them home on His shoulders. But there are some other names used. It is called

6. The Gospel Of The Glory Of God

I love that name. It is the Gospel of the Glory of God because it comes from the place where our Lord Jesus has entered. The veil has been rent, and now the glory shines out; and whenever this Gospel is proclaimed, it tells of a way into the glory for sinful man, a way to come before the Mercy Seat purged from every stain. It is the Gospel of the Glory of God, because, until Christ had entered into the Glory, it could not be preached in its fullness, but, after the glory received Him, then the message went out to a lost world. It is also called

7. The Everlasting Gospel

Because it will never be superseded by another. No other ever went before it, and no other shall ever come after it. One of the professors of the University of Chicago wrote a book a few years ago in which he tried to point out that some of these days Jesus would be superseded by a greater teacher; then He and the Gospel that He taught would have to give way to a message which would be more suited to the intelligence of the cultivated men of the later centuries. No, no, were it possible for this world to go on a million years, it would never need any other Gospel than this preached by the Apostle Paul and confirmed with signs following; the Gospel which, throughout the centuries has been saving guilty sinners.

THE GOSPEL DECLARED

What then is the content of this Gospel? We are told right here, “I declare unto you the Gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.” There is such a thing as merely believing with the intelligence and crediting some doctrine with the mind when the heart has not been reached. But wherever men believe this Gospel in real faith, they are saved through the message. What is it that brings this wonderful result? It is a simple story, and yet how rich, how full. “I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received.” I think his heart must have been stirred as he wrote those words, for he went back in memory to nearly thirty years before, and thought of that day when hurrying down the Damascus turnpike, with his heart filled with hatred toward the Lord Jesus Christ and His people, he was thrown to the ground, and a light shone, and he heard a voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” And he cried, “Who art thou Lord?” And the voice said, “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.” And that day Saul learned the Gospel; he learned that He who died on the Cross had been raised from the dead, and that He was living in the Glory. At that moment his soul was saved, and Saul of Tarsus was changed to Paul the Apostle. And now he says, “I am going to tell you what I have received; it is a real thing with me, and I know it will work the same wonderful change in you. If you will believe it. “First of all, “That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.” Then, “that He was buried.” Then, “that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.” The Gospel was no new thing in God’s mind. It had been predicted throughout the Old Testament times. Every time the coming Savior was mentioned, there was proclamation of the Gospel. It began in Eden when the Lord said, “The seed of the woman shall bruise thy head.” It was typified in every sacrifice that was offered. It was portrayed in the wonderful Tabernacle, and later in the Temple. We have it in the proclamation of Isaiah, “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon Him: and with His stripes we are healed.” It was preached by Jeremiah when he said, “This is His Name whereby He shall be called, the Lord our Righteousness” (Jer.23:6). It was declared by Zechariah when he exclaimed, “Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones: (Zech.13:7) All through those Old Testament dispensations, the Gospel was predicted, and when Jesus came, the Gospel came with Him. When He died, when He was buried, and when He rose again, the Gospel could be fully told out to a poor lost world. Observe, it says, “that Christ died for our sins.” No man preaches the Gospel, no matter what nice things he may say about Jesus, if he leaves out His vicarious death on Calvary’s cross.

CHRIST’S DEATH – NOT HIS LIFE

I was preaching in a church in Virginia, and a minister prayed, “Lord, grant Thy blessing as the Word is preached tonight. May it be the means of causing people to fall in love with the Christ-life, that they may begin to live the Christ-life.” I felt like saying, “Brother, sit down; don’t insult God like that;” but then I felt I had to be courteous, and I knew that my turn would come, when I could get up and give them the truth. The Gospel is not asking men to live the Christ-life. If your salvation depends upon your doing that, your are just as good as checked for Hell, for you never can live it in yourself. It is utterly impossible. But the very first message of the Gospel is the story of the vicarious atonement of Christ. He did not come to tell men how to live in order that they might save themselves; He did not come to save men by living His beautiful life. That, apart from His death, would never have saved one poor sinner. He came to die; He “was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death.” Christ Jesus gave Himself a ransom for all. When He instituted the Lord’s Supper He said, “Take, eat: this is My body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of Me. . . This cup is the new covenant in My Blood” (1 Cor. 11:24,25) There is no Gospel if the vicarious death of Jesus is left out, and there is no other way whereby you can be saved than through the death of the blessed spotless Son of God.

Someone says, “But I do not understand it.” That is a terrible confession to make, for “If our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: (2 Cor. 4:3). If you do not see that there is no other way of salvation for you, save through the death of the Lord Jesus, then that just tells the sad story that you are among the lost. You are not merely in danger of being lost in the Day of Judgment; but you are lost now. But, thank God, “the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost,” and seeking the lost He went to the cross. “None of the ransomed ever know How deep were the waters crossed; Nor how dark was the night that the Lord passed through, Ere He found the sheep that was lost.”

THE NECESSITY OF DEATH

HE HAD TO DIE, to go down into the dark waters of death, that you might be saved. Can you think of any ingratitude more base than that of a man or woman who passes by the life offered by the Savior who died on the Cross for them? Jesus died for you, and can it be that you have never even trusted Him, never even come to Him and told Him you were a poor, lost, ruined, guilty sinner; but since He died for you, you would take Him as your Savior? HIS DEATH WAS REAL. He was buried three days in the tomb. He died, He was buried, and that was God’s witness that it was not a merely pretended death, but He, the Lord of life, had to go down into death. He was held by the bars of death for those three days and nights, until God’s appointed time had come. Then, “Death could not keep its prey, He tore the bars away.” And so the third point of the Gospel is this, “He was raised again the third day according to the Scriptures. “That is the Gospel, and nothing can be added to that. Some people say, “Well, but must I repent?” Yes, you may well repent, but that is not the Gospel. “Must I not be baptized?” If you are a Christian, you ought to be baptized, but baptism is not the Gospel. Paul said, “Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel” (1 Cor. !:17) He did baptize people, but he did not consider that was the Gospel, and the Gospel was the great message that he was sent to carry to the world. This is all there is to it. “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and was buried, and rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”

THE GOSPEL ACCEPTED

Look at the result of believing the Gospel. Go back to verse two, “By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.” That is, if you believe the Gospel, you are saved; if you believe that Christ died for your sins, that He was buried, and that He rose again, God says you are saved. Do you believe it? No man ever believed that except by the Holy Ghost. It is the Spirit of God that overcomes the natural unbelief of the human heart and enables a man to put his trust in that message. And this is not mere intellectual credence, but it is that one comes to the place where he is ready to stake his whole eternity on the fact that Christ died, and was buried, and rose again. When Jesus said, “IT IS FINISHED” the work of salvation was completed. A dear saint was dying, and looking up he said, “It is finished; on that I can cast my eternity.” Upon a life I did not live, Upon a death I did not die; Another’s life, another’s death, Is take my whole eternity.” Can you say that, and say it in faith?

THE GOSPEL REJECTED

What about the man who does not believe the Gospel? The Lord Jesus said to His disciples, “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:15,16). He that believeth not shall be devoted to judgment, condemned, lost. So you see, God has shut us up to the Gospel. Have you believed it? Have you put your trust in it; is it the confidence of your soul? Or have you been trusting in something else? If you have been resting in anything short of the Christ who died, who was buried, who rose again, I plead with you, turn from every other fancied refuge, and flee to Christ today. Repent ye, and believe the Gospel.

“O, do not let the word depart, And close thine eyes against the light; Poor sinner, harden not thy heart, Be saved, O tonight.”





The Sinners Prayer Part 3: Is It Necessary?

1 05 2014

Having seen many sad stories related to false conversions from the sinners prayer and seeing that the verses used to teach such a thing are taken out of context, and realizing there is no such example at all of anyone in the Bible being told to pray a prayer we now move on to ask an important question. Is the sinners prayer necessary? Once again I am not saying it’s wrong to pray at the time of salvation nor am I saying those who do are not truly saved.

It has become a culture in the church that this is the normal “plan of salvation” and it must accompany conversion. In the Bible we see many salvation’s but not one instance of anyone being led in a prayer or told to pray. Look at the message of John the Baptist.

“In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:1-2)

Look at the message of Jesus Christ.

“Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” (Mark 1:14-15)

Look at the message that Jesus told His disciples to preach.

“And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 10:7)

In all these instances not one time do we see the command to pray a prayer. Look at instances of salvation in the Bible. The Samaritan woman believed on Him but we see no prayer being said. The man born blind was asked if he believed on the Son of God but no walking him through a prayer. Consider John 1:49 where we see someone making a confession concerning Christ just as Romans 10:9-10 prescribes but it’s not a prayer. Consider John 9 where the confession of Christ would get people thrown out of the synagogue. This stands as further evidence the confession spoken of in Romans 10:9 is not a worded prayer.

In Acts 2:38 Peter calls on them to repent not to pray a prayer and verse 4 says they gladly received his word and were baptized with no prayer mentioned. In Acts 3:19 we again see a sermon where the command is to repent and in 4:4 we see about 5,000 believing with no mention of a prayer. In Acts 5:14 we see multitudes added to the Lord and no mention of a prayer. In Acts 8:37 the eunuch was asked if he believed but he was not walked through a prayer.

In Acts 9:42 it says many believed in the Lord but no mention of a prayer. In Acts 10:44 we see the Holy Spirit falling on the hearers while the sermon was being preached meaning their hearts were opened and they were saved without a prayer. In Acts 11:14 we see that it was by the preaching not a prayer they were saved.

“Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.”

I could probably go on and on having not mentioned yet the jailer who asked what he must do to be saved and the answer was not pray and accept Christ but believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Believing on Christ may be evident by a prayer but the prayer is not a sign of true conversion nor is it necessary for it. In all of these instances it would have been easy for the Scriptures to mention a prayer at least once but in every case it is silent on such an issue. The silence of the Bible is something we cannot ignore. So why is praying to be saved so widespread in the church today if the Bible doesn’t even mention it or give an example? The answer is traditions.

I know a man who was saved in prison. He got a Bible and began to read it. Through reading it his eyes were opened, he believed God and felt his burdens melt away. He found out where the Christians met and identified himself as one. He was as far as I can tell soundly saved at that moment. The problem is that he got out of jail and went to a church who convinced him that if he did not know a time and place that he prayed and accepted Christ then he wasn’t saved. He went forward and “got saved.” The problem is that his actual salvation experience in jail is closer to what we see in the Bible then his secondary one.

My grandmother in her testimony told of how she was saved. She noted that she didn’t walk the aisle, no prayers were prayed. As the Pastor taught in Sunday School she said it was like a light dawned in her soul and her eyes were opened. She felt her burdens melt away and left with the joy of the Lord. Her whole life changed which of course is the fruit of salvation.

I went to church with a man who said that one Saturday night he decided to be saved. He believed the Gospel and his heart was turned to God. He went on to say that the next day he went to church and got saved. I tried to tell him brother you were saved on Saturday night when you accepted the Gospel and trusted the Lord. He insisted that it was Sunday when he went and prayed to receive Christ. This my friends is the problem. We are adding unBiblical works on top of genuine salvation experiences.

George Mueller of Bristol tells of his salvation that he attended a Bible study and as someone else prayed he felt all of his burdens melt away and left a new person even though he didn’t pray at all. Billy Graham’s salvation happened at a tent revival. He felt the grasp of the Holy Spirit on his soul and he believed all that the preacher had said. He walked forward as others did and the preacher prayed over the whole group but there was no personal prayer. His life was changed though a sign of true conversion.

H.A. Ironside believed on the Lord but ran from God and tried living in the world. While at a party Scripture verses kept coming to mind and he could have no fun. When laying in bed he told the Lord that he believed His promises he said, “because thou hast said so I have eternal life.” This prayer was not a prayer asking for Christ to save him but a declaration that he believed the Word of God and was thus saved.

I was reading the conversion of missionary C.T. Studd. He heard the Gospel at a D.L. Moody crusade and responded. While on his knees Moody knelt beside him and asked if he believed Jesus died for him. When he answered that he did Moody said, “Well, thank Him for it.” With that he got up and went on to the next person. That prayer was also not the kind of prayer we encourage today.

Many walk an aisle and pray a prayer because they are looking for a magic potion or quick fix and never get saved. Others walk the aisle out of conviction of sin. These I say are already saved before they even step out of the pew. They have repentance meaning they have changed their mind about their sin and they have faith which is to say they believe that Jesus died for their sins. That is what the Bible calls salvation.

Let sinners express it as they will whether to thank God, or ask Him to save, or whether they just want to skip the prayer and make a public profession and be baptized. We often judge the unsaved as saved by the prayer they prayed and tell those truly saved they must jump this hurdle to be saved.

A person may pray a prayer when they are saved or they may not. They may pray and ask Christ to save them or simply thank Him for dying for them. There is no cookie cutter way to salvation except by faith that is believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. That may manifest itself in various ways but we need to stop seeing those manifestations as the end in themselves. We need to stop urging people to pray to be saved and encourage them to believe the Gospel. We also need to stop insisting people are saved simply because they repeated or said a few words when they have no real desire to follow Christ. In part 4 of this series we will ask if the sinners prayer is dangerous.





The Sinners Prayer Part 2: Is It Biblical?

30 04 2014

In this article on the sinners prayer I want to ask the question is it Biblical? What are the passages used to defend such a prayer? Where do we see it used in the Bible? The Bible is the final authority for all faith and practice and it behooves us to be as Biblical as possible. The truth after all is that millions of people, many with no spiritual fruit claim to be saved because they prayed the prayer.

I am not saying that all people who repeated a prayer after someone is not saved. Some do have this as part of their conversion testimony and I don’t intend to cast doubt on your salvation if that’s the case. There are however millions who have been lulled into a false sense of salvation by repeating a prayer. Praying at the time of salvation can be a Biblical thing but assuring people they are saved because they repeated a few words is not.

From this perspective the sinners prayer is both Biblical and unBiblical depending on how it is approached. Let’s start by looking at passages commonly used to teach the so called sinners prayer.

“Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon 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 every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” (Luke 18:10-14)

This passage is often used to justify the sinners prayer but to do so is to view it without regard to context. The parable in context is the comparison of the self righteousness of the Pharisees as opposed to the humility of the publican. The Pharisees considered themselves so much better then the publicans and yet it was the publican who was declared righteous by God and not the Pharisee. Was he made righteous by the prayer? No in fact the prayer wasn’t even the main focus of the story. It was the humility of heart and contrition of the publican that justified him. That was the focus of the story.

“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. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10)

We again need to look to the context of the passage before us. If taken as two stand alone verses it could be said that these constitute a sinners prayer for salvation but when put into the context of the chapter it becomes less likely that this is Paul’s intention. Look at the first verse of the chapter to better understand his context.

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

So we see the clear context is in regards to the nation of Israel. Let’s look back at our text and see how this all fits together. Paul is writing to Christians first of all not unbelievers. There is no way that we can look at what he wrote here and get the idea he was saying that unbelievers need to pray a prayer to be saved. Notice also that he inverts confessing and believing in the second verse. Faith always precedes confession it never says that it is the result of it.

The context in this passage is concerning the Jews who he says in verse 3 are going about to establish their own righteousness and are not submitting themselves to the righteousness of God by faith. If they will believe in their heart that God raised Jesus from the dead this is to say if they believe He is Lord and they confess with their mouth that He is Lord they will be saved.

The confession in question is not a prayer but the confession that every Christian has concerning Christ. Paul is saying that if they believe and confess and go on believing and confessing they are saved. This is not an indication that praying a single prayer to receive salvation is necessary for salvation. Often times we get people to pray a prayer then they never come to make a public profession of faith and we call them saved. This passage is not a sinners prayer at all but it is saying a person must confess Christ if he is saved. We have turned it completely on it’s head and switched the meaning.

Look at the next verse used to defend the sinners prayer.

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13)

I doubt I need to spend much time here since it is in the same chapter and context. He is writing to believers not unbelievers and his topic in this chapter is his desire for the Jewish people to be saved. He is not saying that any individual who prays and asks Jesus in his heart will be saved. You would have to ignore context and add those thoughts into it. He is saying that anyone can call on the name of the Lord whether Jew or Gentile. We have here the declaration that all can be saved not that all need to pray a prayer to be saved.

To call means to follow or be followers of. You can no more add a prayer in here then you can into Genesis 4:26:

“And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the Lord.”

Moses isn’t saying that then began men to pray and ask Jesus in their heart is he? Of course not he is saying that men began to be followers of the one true God. They began to call on His name and to be known by His name.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

This verse is another that is used to try and make a sinners prayer Biblical but it falls short. This letter was written to believers and is for us. It’s not referencing unbelievers. This has to do with when a Christian sins.

There is no place in the Bible where we see a command to “invite Jesus into your life” or “pray to receive Christ” or “pray to be saved.” When we use terms like pray to be saved it gives the impression that praying saves us. When Paul was asked how to be saved he didn’t say just pray and receive Christ.

“And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” (Acts 16:30-31)

Philip didn’t tell the eunuch to invite Christ into his life.

“And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” (Acts 8:36-37)

In fact there is not one instance in the entire New Testament when we see someone led through a prayer to be saved. This is not to say that if someone prays and asks forgiveness of sin they are wrong but there is no Biblical basis to say that a so called sinners prayer is needed or required for salvation. In part 3 of this series we will ask if the sinners prayer is necessary.





Can One Person Be Saved For Their Family?

17 11 2013

Question: If one person gets saved doesn’t the Bible say the whole family is saved?

 

Answer: No the Bible absolutely does not teach that at all. The proof text I have heard given for this is Acts 16:31, “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” If we take this verse and have it stand alone then we can get that out of it but if we look at it in context then we can see that he is not saying one person getting saved counts for everyone.

And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.” (Acts 16:31-34) Looking at the entire interaction the man asks what he must do to be saved. The apostles reply in verse 31 that he must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. By saying “and thy house” they are not saying he can be saved for his household bu that they too must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Look at what happens after this. In verse 32 it says they spoke the Word of God to him and all that were in his house. So they all heard the Gospel message. In verse 33 we see the apostles baptize him and all that were in his house. Why did they baptize them all? Well look at verse 34 it says he believed “with all his house.” So we have a consistent story where Paul says that he and his house must believe, the Gospel is preached to him and his house, he and his house believe, and he and his house are baptized.





Book Update!

22 09 2013

My first book Lessons From My Fathers which chronicles my families spiritual heritage as well as lessons I learned from my Grandpa and Dad is now available in full color paperback. The Kindle version has also been lowered from $4.99 to $2.99. You can go to our website click the Our Books tab and click the clink on that page.

 

We have also published a pamphlet called Understanding Believers Baptism which is available on the same page. It is available for just .99 on Kindle. The paperback will be available within a week for just $5.00.





Baptismal Regeneration

4 06 2011

There are many churches that teach baptismal regeneration. This doctrine teaches that one must be baptized in order to be saved. They teach that baptism accompanies faith in Christ. Some of these churches include the Roman Catholic Church (as previously discussed) Orthodox, some Anglican groups, Mormonism, some Lutheran groups, Oneness Pentecostals, most Church of Christ, United Pentecostals, and Seventh-day Adventists.

I am a firm believer in the clear Scriptural teaching of salvation by grace through faith alone; therefore I wanted to briefly address this heresy. I want to take a look at the proof texts usually given to support this damnable teaching and then give a Scriptural defense against that most unholy doctrine.

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”(Mark 16:15-16) Here we have the Great Commission as recorded in the Gospel of Mark. One cannot deny that it does say that those who believe and are baptized will be saved. What is that speaking of? Is it speaking of water baptism or another baptism?

If it is speaking of water baptism as being required for salvation then the latter part should read, “Those who believe and are baptized not shall be damned.” It says those who believe and are baptized will be saved but it leaves out the baptism when saying they will be damned. Why is that? What possible explanation could there be for such an omission?

The answer is simple, the baptism being spoken of is the baptism of the Holy Spirit. When we are saved we are baptized with the Holy Spirit so it is true that those who believe will be baptized and saved. Those who do not believe will not be baptized with the Holy Spirit and will be damned. It’s not possible that this passage is talking about water baptism or else it would have to say that those who are not baptized are damned as well. Since believing and being baptized with the Holy Spirit are the same event there is no reason to mention baptism for those who believe not.

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) This passage which is probably the most commonly quoted proof text is also being taken out of context by those who hold to this doctrine.

The first thing we have to do is put the verse back into context with the rest of the chapter. In this sermon Peter is pointing out that they had rejected Jesus and had crucified Him yet God overruled their objection and raised Him from the dead. “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.” (Acts 2:23-24)

So one important point that is being missed is that he was telling them to be baptized in the name or authority of Jesus Christ, the authority they had previously rejected. Jesus gave instructions to baptize in the name of all three members of the Godhead so Peter was not nullifying what Jesus said, he was simply highlighting the name of Jesus whom they had previously rejected.

A second point pertaining to this verse is the term “for.” This word is often highlighted to demonstrate that the baptism was for or to cause the remission of sins. The problem is that there are several Greek and English uses for the word “for.” The word can also mean, “in order to get”(which is what these folks are saying) or it can mean, “because of, as the result of.”

So is Peter saying they must be baptized in order to get forgiveness of sins? If he is then he is contradicting Paul who simply told the jailer in Acts 16:31, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” In light of the perfect harmony of Scripture I would answer that he is not saying that. If I say “take two aspirin for a headache” am I saying to take two aspirin in order to get a headache? Of course not. I’m saying it because you already have one. The same applies if I said I’m going to Grandma’s house for her birthday. Will she not have a birthday or even a party if I don’t go? Of course she will still have a birthday. My going is not to give her a birthday but because she is having a birthday. This is the clear use of the phrase in this passage.

In 1 Corinthians 10:2 it says the children of Israel were baptized “into” Moses. “And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea.” The same Greek word “for” in Acts 2:38 is used to say “into” by Paul. We must then ask ourselves this question is it saying that they were baptized in the cloud and sea in order to get Moses as their leader? Of course not he was already their leader. They were baptized into Moses because he was their leader.

Salvation is a free gift given by God to those who believe. We are commanded to have repentance toward God and faith toward Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21) We are saved through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-10). Peter is not contradicting these passages by saying you must be baptized in order to complete remission of your sins but rather he is saying to be baptized because you have remission of sins.

Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”(1 Peter 3:20-21)

This passage is by far the second most abused passage used to prove this doctrine. What are we to think of such a passage? Well let’s look at it and see what it is saying. It says that baptism now saves us and it says that the eight souls on the ark were saved by water. Two very interesting statements by Peter. First of all I think it is important to note that water did not save those on the ark but rather they were saved through the flood waters not by the flood waters. Even with that understanding corrected one might assert that we are saved through baptism. Keep in mind we must interpret Scripture with Scripture.

Are we saved through baptism? Paul said in Ephesians 2:8 we are saved by grace through faith not through baptism. Paul goes on in the next verse to say it is not of works. One might argue that having faith is a work as much as baptism but Paul also covers that by pointing out that it is God working in us to bring about our faith, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” (Phillippians 2:13)

What the apostle is saying here is that baptism is a counterpart to our salvation but it is not a part of our redemption. It is a type or a picture. Take as an example the Old Testament sacrifices. They did not save anyone because they were saved by faith. The writer of Hebrews said those sacrifices could never take away sin, “But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.”

Those sacrifices had to be made by the saved but they did not of themselves save anyone. They were only a counterpart to their redemption. Abraham was told to circumcise his household. Those who were not circumcised were not allowed to be part of the covenant community, “And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.” (Genesis 17:14)

Did circumcision save them? No, we are told that Abraham was justified by faith, “Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” (Galatians 3:6) They were saved by faith as well but were commanded to make sacrifice and be circumcised thus showing their faith in God. We are saved and then commanded to be baptized not as a part of our redemption but to demonstrate the faith we have toward God.

Even the use of words by Peter speaks not of regeneration but of an outward act of an inward change. Look at what Peter said in verse 21 where he says that baptism saves us “not the putting away of the filth of the flesh.” He is saying it has no power over our sins. It can’t save us or regenerate us but it is “the answer of a good conscience toward God by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

He says it is showing a good conscience toward God or it is demonstrating that we have been saved. He is saying that we are saved not by the baptismal waters but by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We are saved by our identifying with the death, burial and resurrection of Christ and baptism is the external picture of that internal experience.

Now that we have looked at the common proof texts we must establish the main reason that baptismal regeneration is false. This reason is the fact that too many other Scriptures teach that salvation is by faith alone not by baptism. One doctrine never cancels out another. If this appears to be the case then we must be interpreting one of them wrong because Scripture is infallible as the Word of God. Let us examine a few of these verses in the Bible.

Titus 3:5, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”

Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

Acts 16:31, “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”

Romans 10:9-10, “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. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

Romans 10:13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

These among many other Scriptures teach that salvation is accomplished with no effort on the part of the one being saved outside of repentance and faith. When we turn to the Scriptures we see many accounts of baptism following salvation, not salvation resulting from baptism. In Acts 8 we see an Ethiopian Eunuch being saved and then he asked what hindered him from being baptized. If it were necessary for salvation then the question was unnecessary. In Acts 10 we see the Holy Spirit being given to those who believed in the house of Cornelius. Once Peter saw that they were saved he asked, “Who can forbid them water” the baptizing came after they received the Holy Spirit. In Acts 16 we see the Phillippian jailer asks, “What must I do to be saved?” The answer was not believe and be baptized but “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.”

Of course one of the greatest examples of salvation apart from baptism is the thief on the cross. Many groups defend that by saying that those who desire to be baptized but can’t due to circumstances are still saved by their desire to be baptized. The problem there is saying that God made a requirement for salvation that man in some cases could not keep.

Paul makes an interesting point in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation, “to every one who believeth” notice how he did not say to every one who believeth and is baptized. If baptismal regeneration were true then the apostle made a major doctrinal error and it has stayed in the Bible down through the centuries meaning the Word of God has been corrupted.

He said the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation which means salvation comes through the Gospel. This would also mean according to common sense that all requirements for salvation are found in the Gospel. Even those who believe in baptismal regeneration will agree with that point. Keeping that in mind look at what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:17, “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.”

So Paul was making a point here that God had called him to preach the Gospel, not to baptize. He separates baptism from the Gospel. If salvation were attainable through baptism then Paul should have baptized them or else they were not saved. Baptismal regeneration is not orthodox which means it is not the historical doctrine of the church. I would easily qualify it as heresy because it distorts salvation, damns it’s followers and attempts to add human merit to salvation.

Written By: Rick Garland

 








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