Archive for June, 2010

Baptism & The Crossing Of The Red Sea

Posted in Baptism, Bible, Christianity, Christianity, Bible, Truth, Religion, Salvation with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 18, 2010 by willnotbesilent

Previously to this, we have covered two types, or foreshadowings, of baptism in the Old Testament – The Great Deluge, and the story of Naaman. Both these types contained irrefutable connections to salvation’s inseparable role in our salvation. We now go on to another type, which is the story of Israel’s escape from Egypt across the Red Sea.

Most are familiar with the account. The Hebrew nation Israel, now numbering about 600,000, not counting the women and children, was enslaved by Egypt, forced to work for them building cities and otherwise being oppressed. Then Moses, raised up by God Himself, came announcing that God wanted His people free. Pharaoh stubbornly refused to comply, even after nine miraculous plagues God delivered through Moses. At last, after Egypt’s firstborn were struck down, Pharaoh released Israel. But as Israel approached the Red Sea, Pharaoh changed his mind and sent out his army to bring them back.

Israel, with the Red Sea before them and Pharaoh’s army behind them, despaired for the first of many, many times during their journey. But Moses declared, “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord which he will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.” – (Exodus 14:13-14) At this point, the pillar of cloud, which contained the archangel who led them (Christ), moved from before the children of Israel and positioned itself between them and the pursuing army. To the Egyptian army it was a cloud of blackness, preventing them from falling upon Israel while God worked His miracle.

God then sent a strong east wind to blow all that night on the sea. It blew all night, until the sea divided and the water piled on either side like a wall, with dry land where Israel could walk across. And walk across they did. The Egyptians resumed their pursuit, but while Israel reached the other side in safety, God allowed the water to fall back into place while the army was yet in the middle of the sea. They all died, man and horse – in the words of Scripture, “not even one of them remained.” (Exodus 14:28)

One of the features to notice is Moses’ wording in his reassurance to Israel: “Stand by and see the SALVATION of the Lord.” — Exodus 14:13

Immediately we see that this is a story of salvation. Afterward, in the famous Song of Moses, we read,

The Lord is my strength and song, and He has become my SALVATION [emphasis mine]. . .Exodus 15:2

In Your lovingkindness You have led the people who You have REDEEMED [emphasis mine]; in Your strength You have guided them to Your holy habitation. – Exodus 15:13

Terror and dread fall upon them; by the greatness of Your arm they are motionless as stone; until Your people pass over, O Lord, until the people pass over whom You have PURCHASED [emphasis mine]. – Exodus 15:16

So we see a prevalent theme of salvation and redemption in this story. These words immediately bring to mind the salvation and redemption enjoyed by God’s spiritual Israel, Christianity. How are the two connected?

First of all, keep in mind that Israel was never once considered free from Egyptian slavery until they crossed the Red Sea and their pursuers were killed. Only after the Red Sea did they mention being truly free, being saved, being redeemed. God reminds them at Mount Sinai just as He gives them the Ten Commandments, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” — Exodus 20:2. And again in Leviticus 26:13 – “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt so that you would not be their slaves, and I broke the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect.” The Red Sea was the defining event that made the Hebrews a free nation.

In comparison, all mankind are held by another slavery – the slavery of sin. Romans 6:6 says:
. . . our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin.

Moses led the Hebrews out of slavery to Egypt. Jesus leads us out of slavery to sin. Already, we see one out of many types between Moses and Jesus. Throughout the wanderings of Israel, Moses remained a foreshadowing of Jesus, as a leader and mediator.

So where does baptism come in?

Paul tells the Corinthian assembly in I Corinthians 10:1-2,

For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.

How were they baptized INTO Moses?

Once they crossed the Red Sea, they had only one choice for survival – to unite under Moses’ leadership. Turning back to Egypt was no longer an option, and the power of Egypt’s hold over them had been effectually destroyed. They were all now one body with Moses as the head.
Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:5,

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”

On the day of Pentacost, Peter told the multitude to “be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” — Acts 2:38
When Jesus was baptized, the Spirit of God descended as a dove and lit upon Him (Matthew 3:16).

When God made it clear that Gentiles were accepted in His kingdom by sending the Holy Spirit upon Cornelius and his household just as he had the apostles, Peter exclaimed,

“Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?” And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ . . . – Acts 10:47-48

Baptism and the Holy Spirit are intertwined in the process of our salvation.

Israel was baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. Christians are born of water and the Spirit. Do you begin to see the connection here?

The cloud that led Israel signifies the Spirit. The cloud led Israel to the Sea, then stood between them and their enemies until the Sea parted – it separated them from the Egyptian army and protected them. It set them apart, i.e., sanctified them. It led them through the wilderness. In the same way, the Holy Spirit (also referred to as the spirit of truth) leads Christians through the spiritual wasteland. John 14:17, John 15:26, John 16:13, and I John 4:6 all use the term “the spirit of truth. The truth sets us free (John 8:32). Paul says in Romans 8:21 that God hopes that we should be set free of our slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. Jesus is the truth, the way, and the life (John 14:6). Jesus led the Hebrews and protected them from their enemies by means of the cloud. Romans 8:14 says,

For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.

Israel was led by the cloud (Jesus). Christians are led by the Holy Spirit, which is one and the same as God and/or Jesus. This settles the question of the connection between the cloud that led Israel and the spirit that renews us as Christians – the cloud and the Holy Spirit are one and the same.

The Red Sea signifies the water of baptism. Israel passed through safely, leaving their enslavers behind to die. They were at last free and fully under the leadership of God and Moses.

When we are baptized, we undergo a likeness of Jesus’ burial and resurrection (Romans 6:3). Paul goes on to say in Romans 6:4,

[Speaking of baptism] For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

Read this verse carefully, keeping in mind several themes this passage holds in common with the crossing of the Red Sea:

  1. “We have become united with him.” Christians are united with Jesus upon their baptism, Jesus being the head (Colossians 1:18). Israel was united with Moses upon crossing the Red Sea, Moses being their head, or leader (Isaiah 63:11-14).
  2. “. . . in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin . . .” God did away with the Egyptian forces, effectually setting Israel free. Christians have put off the “old man” and his fleshly desires (Romans 6:6, Ephesians 4:22, Colossians 3:9). We are set free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2) and brought to the law of grace through Jesus (John 1:17, Romans 3:24, Romans 5:1-2, Romans 6:14).
  3. “. . . have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” Jesus, in the form of the cloud, and through the leadership of Moses, led Israel through the Red Sea. They entered an enslaved nation, were “buried”, so to speak, in the sea, and emerged, leaving their wicked enslavers to drown behind them. They came to the eastern shore a free nation. In the same way, we are cleansed of our fleshly selves and its condemnation through baptism and the blood of Jesus, who underwent the punishment intended for us. We are buried with Him in the baptismal water and raised a new man, free, with Christ, and not the lusts of our flesh, as our head.

Moses led Israel through the Red Sea, thus undergoing the “baptism” first; Israel followed. Jesus underwent His death, burial, and resurrection first, and we follow in its likeness through baptism.

“But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished!” – Luke 12:50

Paul tells the Colossian assembly that they have been circumcised, not in a fleshly manner, but in the “removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.” — Colossians 2:11-12

But once we have been circumcised of our flesh, what then? Paul tells the Galatians,

For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourself with Christ. – Galatians 3:27

Christ refers to righteousness as a garment in Revelation 3:4 and 16:15. Jesus is righteousness. With Jesus as our head and our garment, as our light and our sword, as our rock and our bread and water of life, baptized believers set out upon an exodus into the wilderness of the world, free from the burden of sin and death, to seek out the Promised Land that awaits at the end of our journey.

Baptism & Paul’s Salvation

Posted in Baptism, Bible, Christianity, Christianity, Bible, Truth, Religion, Salvation with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 14, 2010 by willnotbesilent

Saul was a Jewish fanatic (Galatians 1:13-14), a Pharisee’s Pharisee — as he described himself, “circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.” (Philippians 3:5-6) If you or I were to encounter him during his heyday as a Pharisee zealot, we might have declared him hopeless. And yet, as we see in the following account, his heart changed in a moment, and he later became Paul, perhaps the greatest apostle in the propagation of Jesus’ Kingdom. We read of his conversion twice in the book of Acts — first in Acts 9 in Luke’s narrative, and then in Acts 22 when Paul himself is telling his story to a hostile mob in Jerusalem. His story goes into the details of his conversion, from the first moment of belief to his baptism. Here we can find what significance baptism held in his salvation.

Act 9:3 -5 — As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting . . .”

Act 22:6 -8 — “But it happened that as I was on my way, approaching Damascus about noontime, a very bright light suddenly flashed from heaven all around me, and I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ And I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said to me, ‘I am Jesus the Nazarene, whom you are persecuting.’

At noon, the light shone around him. Noon is the brightest time of day, yet a “very bright light” — bright enough to be distinguished at midday — stopped Saul in his tracks. He fell to the ground, either stunned and blinded by the brilliance, or overcome with astonishment and reverence, or both. From apparently nowhere a voice demanded why he persecuted “Me”. Since Saul was actively persecuting followers of Jesus, and on his way to Damascus to throw Christians into prison, he would instantly know that he was talking to none other than Jesus Himself. Saul asks the identity of the voice, even adding the title of “Lord” — in the Greek, kyrios, which is defined in Strong’s Concordance as “a title of honor expressive of respect and reverence, with which servants greet their master”. To which the voice replies, “I am Jesus the Nazarene, whom you are persecuting.”

If anything would convince anyone, this incident most definitely would convince Saul. Instantly, the realization that his Pharisaical radicalism is displeasing to God sinks in. He has been working against God, and been solidly convicted! At this point, Saul undoubtedly believes. If belief is all it takes to be saved, he should be saved and rejoicing at this very moment.

Act 22:10 — “And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Get up and go on into Damascus, and there you will be told of all that has been appointed for you to do.’ ”

Act 9:6 — “. . . but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.”

“What shall I do, Lord?” Saul does not deny that Jesus is who he claims. No doubt all his persecuting and the import of this past actions have come crashing down and he realizes how far he has fallen, that he is not only guilty of sin but also of scourging the body of Christ. He is doomed to damnation, and he wants to know what to do. This echoes the question asked by the multitude in Acts 2:27 — “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Peter told the multitude, “repent and be baptized” (Acts 2:28). Jesus tells Saul, “Get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.” The answer has yet to be given to Saul. Keep this in mind as we continue reading.

Saul believes. Is he saved at this point? Let’s read on.

Act 22:11-16 — “But since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me and came into Damascus. A certain Ananias, a man who was devout by the standard of the Law, and well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, came to me, and standing near said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight!’ And at that very time I looked up at him. And he said, ‘The God of our fathers has appointed you to know His will and to see the Righteous One and to hear an utterance from His mouth. For you will be a witness for Him to all men of what you have seen and heard. Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.’ ”

Act 9:17-18 — So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized . . .

Saul, completely blind, is led by the hand, stumbling, feeling his way into Damascus. Instead of entering the city to kill Christians, as was his original plan, he enters blind and helpless, waiting for help from the very people whom he sought to destroy.

After arriving, Saul remained praying for three days. There is no doubt he believed. Still burdened by his persecution of the church, he spent those three days of prayer begging God to spare him his due judgment, to give him a second chance. Imagine the terror, the horror, the guilt! Ananias comes to Saul and upon bidding him to receive his sight, watches “something like scales” fall from Saul’s eyes.

Then, after stating the mission God has laid out for Saul, Ananias finally tells Saul what he must do, as Jesus predicted. “Why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.”

Obviously, though Saul has believed and been praying fervently for three days, Saul’s sins have not yet been washed away. There was something to be done. Ananias said, “Get up and be baptized.” Saul has most definitely believed, and has been praying for three days. If all one must do is believe in Jesus and pray for salvation, then Saul would not be in need of his sins being washed away — if it is true, he is already cleansed, saved! But Ananias tells him to “be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name.” Going back to Acts 2, this echoes Peter’s command to the multitude to “be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.”

Saul did not “pray the prayer” to be saved. He did not just believe to be saved. He was leaving out the thing God told him “he must do”, through the mouth of Ananias: “GET UP AND BE BAPTIZED, AND WASH AWAY YOUR SINS!”

Saul himself (then Paul) later referred to this washing as “the washing of water with the word” (Ephesians 5:26) and “the washing of regeneration” (Titus 3:5). The writer of Hebrews (presumed to be Paul) says, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” — Hebrews 10:22. Peter likened it to a washing or cleansing in I Peter 3:21.

After reading this there is no doubt that Paul was baptized for the remission of sins, just as the multitude of three thousand on the day of Pentacost.

The Great Deluge (The Flood) And Baptism

Posted in Bible, Christianity, Christianity, Bible, Truth, Religion with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 13, 2010 by willnotbesilent

The passage of I Peter 3:20-21, which refers to Noah and the Great Deluge in relation to Christian salvation, illustrates nicely how obedience and faith both lead to salvation.

. . . 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

In Noah’s day, the world had fallen into complete decadence. God’s wrath rose high, and He decided He had seen enough wickedness in a world He had designed for His own good pleasure. But before He followed through with His decision, He devised a means by which He would save the last remnant of faithful people, those faithful being Noah and his family.

But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. — Genesis 6:8

As stated thousands of years later by the apostle Paul:

. . . That being justified by his
(God’s) grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. — Titus 3:7

Of all the people on the face of the earth in that day, only Noah found that grace, and thus God offered His plan to save Noah and his family from the coming destruction.

And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.  Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits. A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it. And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die. But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons’ wives with thee. And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female. Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive. And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee; and it shall be for food for thee, and for them. Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he. — Genesis 6:13-22

Noah obeyed God’s command, acting only on God’s word and not according to any other indication he might have seen.

By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. — Hebrews 11:7

Meanwhile, God, though angered with the vileness of the world as it spiraled farther and farther from Him, waited for Noah to complete the ark, a project that took him one hundred and twenty years.

. . . the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing . . . — 1 Peter 3:20

While working on the ark, Noah preached righteousness to his generation, in an effort to spare as many as he could from God’s coming wrath.

. . . And He [God] spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly. — 2 Peter 2:5

Here we see a type of how the flesh wars against the spirit. Noah, a spiritual man who loved God, tried to reason with his wicked, carnal contemporaries in an effort to save them. In the end, however, they were destroyed, and Noah was carried away by the flood to repopulate a new, cleansed world. In the same way, the spirit wrestles with our carnal self until we are washed clean and the old man is put to death, leaving the new, spiritual man to grow.

When at last the ark was complete, God directed Noah to fill the ark with animals, then to board the vessel himself. At long last, God opened up the fountains of the earth and the sky, and destroyed the wickedness of the fleshly men who had earned His wrath (as He stated before):

And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh . . . — Genesis 6:3

And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. — Genesis 6:12-13

God’s anger was with man’s love for fleshly desires, the flesh being against God and accursed.

So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. — Romans 8:8

For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify (kill) the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. — Romans 8:13-14

But God preserved Noah for his faith, which was counted to him for righteousness because he obeyed through that faith and thus became heir to the life that comes of righteousness. — Hebrews 11:7

If Noah had believed that God was sending a flood to destroy the world, but had not obeyed in building the ark, his faith would have been to no avail.

Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. — James 2:24

Rather, Noah believed AND obeyed, making his faith a true, living faith. He obeyed BY faith, or, THROUGH faith. His faith is what brought about his obedience in building and entering the ark.

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. — Hebrews 11:6

Noah was saved by his faith in God and his obedience to God’s commands.

. . .  once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein [in the ark] few, that is, eight souls WERE SAVED BY WATER. [Emphasis mine] — I Peter 3:20

Water saved Noah by holding up the ark which Noah built through faith in God’s word. The flood was a rebirth, a new beginning, a regeneration. The flood was for Noah a baptism, in the same way that the passage through the Red Sea was for the Israelites — by baptism in the flood Noah and his family were transferred from the old world to the new. They were saved from destruction and given the opportunity to start fresh. It destroyed a world of wickedness and brought them to a closer walk and reliance on God. They were saved from a distancing from God and brought into a new covenant with Him. Baptism, as described by Paul and Peter, accomplishes the same thing for us now.

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 . . . — I Peter 3:21

People have argued that it was not the flood that saved Noah and his family, but the ark. But based on the above verses, it was not the ark, but rather the water. “Eight souls were saved by water.” (I Peter 3:20) Peter is using this example as an illustration of how water baptism is used in our own salvation. He points out clearly that Noah was “saved by water”, then moves on to specifically state that baptism saves us in the same way. This brings us, beyond doubt, to conclude that Peter is trying to tell us that baptism corresponds to (bears resemblance to) the flood that saved Noah. He also makes it clear that just as water was used in Noah’s saving, water is used in our own.

He also goes on to point out that the water baptism by itself accomplishes nothing. “Not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God.” (I Peter 3:21) Just being immersed in water means not one thing — else we’d be baptized every time we dove into a lake or took a really deep bath. What makes it matter to God is the heart (conscience) of the person being baptized. This brings us back to faith, represented by Noah’s ark. Baptism, in its true form, includes true repentance and sincere faith in Jesus. These three, by the power of Jesus’ own cleansing blood, save us.

Water saved Noah by carrying the ark, which held him and his family, up above the destruction, by buoying it up. Proper baptism that includes immersion in water, employs the water as a symbol (“in like manner now saves us”) –the water represents the purification we undergo so that we can emerge a new, clean person. It saves us, not as our own work, not as something we do to merit salvation, but as a clearly defined and indispensable condition God laid out for our salvation (John 3:5, Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16). Without a regeneration and cleansing of the heart (which baptism symbolizes along with Christ’s burial and resurrection), we can’t be saved.

Peter is not suggesting that water saves us in the same way it saved Noah. We aren’t building arks, and the water isn’t wiping out the world, so we know that’s not the case. But it is relevant in that it is a purifying element that does away with the old and brings up the new, as we are saved through a purifying and regeneration of the heart. The flood is a type, or allegory, or foreshadowing, of Christian water baptism.

There are three major similarities that we should note, however:

  • There is salvation in both. The flood saved Noah from death, while we are saved from eternal damnation.
  • Water is a major element in both cases.
  • Water and salvation are closely connected in both cases. In Noah’s case, it saved him by raising up the ark. In ours, it symbolically destroys the old man and raises up a new one (Colossians 2:12, Romans 6:4). Another way to express the passage in I Peter might read something like this: “Noah and his family were saved by water, the antitype to which (corresponding to that) baptism (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, or the simple use of water, but that purifying of the heart which it represents) now saves us.”

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 . . . — I Peter 3:21

What does he mean by throwing in this qualifying phrase, “by the resurrection of Jesus Christ”? He is saying that baptism by water, salvation through faith and repentance, saves us THROUGH the resurrection of Jesus. That is where salvation and the entire point of baptism gets its power. Without the resurrection of Christ, faith, repentance, and baptism would be meaningless. There would be nothing to save us.

To summarize, the points regarding baptism established by I Peter 3:20-21 are as follows:

  • Christian baptism is water baptism. Just as the world was immersed and washed clean of impurity in Noah’s day, so are we immersed and cleansed of our spiritual impurity. Just as the ark, built by Noah through faith in God, carried him over the destruction of the flood, so our faith in Jesus raises us up so we can be set free from the old man and his inevitable fate. Peter makes is inescapably clear that baptism is essential to our salvation. Just as Noah had faith in God, so we should have faith in Jesus. Noah obeyed God in building the ark. We should obey Jesus in getting baptized. The flood renewed the whole world and gave Noah a new start. Christian baptism washes away our old sinful man so we can start our lives anew.
  • Baptism is more than just a rite. It isn’t just an “outward sign of an inward grace”. It isn’t a mere “putting away of the filth of the flesh”. It is all about the conscience, and water cannot accomplish what only our consciences can do.
  • The use of water in itself, whether ceremonial, religious, or day-to-day, has no ability to wash away sin. It is reliant on the “good conscience toward God” — a new heart and purified soul. There absolutely must be an inner working and renovation in the convert’s soul to make him acceptable to God. Otherwise, all the baptizing in the world will do him no good whatsoever. Having said that . . .
  • We must not conclude from the above that baptism is not important. It is. Peter has gone to great lengths to point out that it is very important. Noah was saved by water — and baptism, in a similar way, has a deep connection to our own spiritual salvation. The water saved Noah by lifting up the ark. Thus, water baptism represents our salvation. And when we are baptized with a changed heart (good conscience) it has just as much to do with our salvation as the flood’s buoying waters had to do with the salvation of Noah. No one, through an unprejudiced and objective application of Scripture, prove that baptism has nothing to do with salvation. No one can be saved without it. Through baptism we are buried into Christ’s death and do away with the old, fleshly man, so we can rise up to walk in newness of life, freed from the slavery of sin and destruction.

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: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted (buried) together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin.  Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. — Romans 6:3-10

FINAL NOTE: Again, we see in the story of Noah the three basic essentials for salvation: faith, repentance, and obedience. Noah had faith in God, which led him to desire deliverance from destruction (for us, repentance), and obeyed through building the ark.

A “Faith Only” Pamphlet & My Response

Posted in Baptism, Bible, Christianity, Christianity, Bible, Truth, Religion, Salvation with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 9, 2010 by willnotbesilent

While visiting a Wisconsin Fundamental Baptist Church, I made a brief stop at their pamphlet rack to see what they had to offer. Usually, one can determine the nature of a church’s beliefs and propagations by a perusal of their pamphlets. Among these pamphlets I found one discussing baptism. Intrigued, I picked it up. As I read it, I scribbled in Scripture verses that popped into my head. Below I share that very pamphlet with you; then below that, my response to that pamphlet.

MY RESPONSE . . .

Based on this pamphlet, we are agreed on all points except regarding the purpose of baptism.

The first claim of the pamphlet is that baptism should take place AFTER salvation. This theory I find little or no Scriptural basis for. Yes, in Acts 8:36-37 Philip tells the eunuch that he could only be baptized if he believed. But never in the recorded account of the apostles’ ministry was a convert told to pray a prayer to be saved. Yes, we are told in John 1:12 that to those who believe he gives the POWER to become the sons of God — but notice he gives them the POWER (the RIGHT, the ABILITY) to become the children of God. If I have the RIGHT to own a gun, it does not mean I automatically own a gun. I still have to obtain a gun.

Mark 16:16 says, He who believes AND is baptized will be saved; he who believeth not will be damned. If you don’t believe, yes, you have no chance at salvation. All the praying, confessing, and baptizing in the world will do you no good. Salvation hinges on faith, but nowhere in Scripture does it say that faith alone brings about salvation. As a matter of fact, James 2:24 says that faith alone does not justify us. That is the one and only verse in the entire Bible that even mentions “faith alone”.

Mark 16:16 is saying this: If you want to be condemned, all you have to do is not believe. If you want to be saved, believe and be baptized. Believe and obey.

A preacher I respect once put it this way:

Mark 16:16 is read five different ways:

  • The Catholic — He who does not believe and is baptized will be saved.
  • The Unitarian  — He who does not believe and is not baptized will be saved.
  • The Atheist — He who believes and is baptized will not be saved.
  • The Baptist — He who believes and is not baptized will be saved.
  • The Bible — He who believes and is baptized will be saved.

To read this verse in any of the first four examples is to manipulate the Bible, which is sinful.

On the Day of Pentacost, the 3000 believed. This is evident because they were “pricked in the heart” — i. e., their consciences convicted them of their guilt. Moreover, they asked, “What shall we do?” If faith (belief) were all that is required, Peter would have told them to relax — they believed, and thus were saved. If he were a Baptist, he would have told them to be sure to “pray the prayer”, to go to church every Sunday, and to always be regular about giving their preacher money. And — oh yeah — it would be a good idea to get baptized sometime down the road.

But that wasn’t the case.

Instead, he told them, Repent, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission [forgiveness] of sins. — Acts 2:38

Obviously, the 3000 believed, else they would not have asked, “What shall we do?” They had faith. Now Peter prescribes two more elements: Repentance (a change of heart), and baptism (immersion) in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.

The word “for” in “for the remission of sins” is translated from the Greek word eis, meaning, “in order to”, or “to the end of” or “into”. Thus, Peter refers to “immersion (in the name of Jesus Christ as per the commandment in Matthew 28:19) into or to the end of remission of sins.”

Some might argue that “for” is actually “on account of” or “because of”, making “for the remission of sins” read “BECAUSE OF the remission of sins”. If this is the case, consider the following points:

  • To command the 3000 to repent and be immersed BECAUSE their sins were already forgiven, Peter would be telling them, not only to be baptized because their sins were forgiven, but to also REPENT of sins that had already been remitted. This, of course, is absurd.
  • It contradicts an obvious fact. It makes Peter command those who asked, “What shall we do?” to be immersed because their sins were already forgiven, while it is an indisputable fact that their sins were NOT yet remitted. In actuality, those who were pierced in the heart with guilt and were asking what to do were trying to learn how to obtain the very remission this interpretation assumes they already had.

This absurdity indicates the desperation “faith-only” advocates reach in their attempts to explain away Acts 2:38.

So, in conclusion, we find that we must (1) Believe, (2) Repent, and (3) Be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.

I notice how studiously “faith-only” advocates either avoid or gloss over this passage. The only reason I can find is that it blows such a hole in the “faith-only” premise that the theory is completely scuttled.

You Say, “BUT THAT’S WORKS-BASED SALVATION!”

Is it? Let’s examine baptism for the remission of sins versus “faith-only”.

What defines a work? You likely define it as, “Something you do to obtain salvation.”

Okay. You say one must believe, repent, confess Jesus, and pray a prayer in order to be saved.

But if a WORK is something you DO:

Believing is something you DO . . .
Confessing is something you DO . . .
Repenting is something you DO . . .
Praying is something you DO . . .

Then — logically — believing, confessing, repenting, and praying are all WORKS!

Is baptism a work? ABSOLUTELY! you cry . . .

But is it?

We are commanded to BE baptized. This is something we submit to, something we receive. We do not baptize ourselves. Someone else does it to us. When a convert is being baptized, a Christian is doing the baptizing. The convert is simply receiving the action.

A Christian is a member of Christ’s body. The Christian’s hands are Christ’s hands. Those hands baptize the believer. Thus, the believer is not only receiving the baptism, but receiving it from GOD HIMSELF! Baptism is not something we DO, but rather a GIFT FROM GOD, which we receive!

Grammatically speaking, the believer is the OBJECT of the verb. The baptizer is the SUBJECT, the doer of the action. The OBJECT of a sentence is the receiver — not the doer — of the action. Thus, the commandment, “Repent, and be baptized” is telling the hearers, “YOU repent — and have someone BAPTIZE YOU!” Repentance is the work of the believer. Baptism is not.

Thus, BAPTISM IS NOT A WORK!

So when you get down to it, the so-called “faith-only” advocates base their salvation SOLELY on works, while rejecting God’s free gift of baptism as something of no merit, as something THEY would have to do themselves. How much more ironic can one get?

Is The “Water” Of John 3:5 Amniotic Fluid?

Posted in Baptism, Bible, Christianity, Christianity, Bible, Truth, Religion, Salvation with tags , , , , , , on June 7, 2010 by willnotbesilent

Proponents of the so-called “faith-only” doctrine are faced with a dilemma when they encounter John 3:1-6, which is the story of the conversation between Jesus and the Pharisee Nicodemus. Jesus says (verse 5), “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”

Being born of the Spirit is, obviously, a spiritual renewal that makes us a new man. Being born of the water, however . . . .

Most readers of Scripture read “water” as indicating the water of baptism. However, some divisions of the “faith-only” persuasion insist the “water” refers to the amniotic fluid of physical birth. Which is the case? A careful examination of the passage should bring the answer to light.

There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. — John 3:1-2

Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a leader of the Jews. Being a Jewish leader, he would have been well aware of John the Baptizer’s activities at the Jordan River. He may even have been among those who heard Jesus and John preach, which would account for his secret belief that Jesus was a teacher come from God, as per his statement. We know he was not testing Jesus, because he came to Jesus by cover of night — he was afraid of his peers (fellow Jewish leaders).

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. — John 3:3

This is the subject of the entire conversation — how a man is born AGAIN. Not how a man is born the FIRST time, but how a person can be born a SECOND time, how a person can see the kingdom of God.

Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? — John 3:4

Nicodemus’ question contains a hint of sarcasm. Nicodemus, of course, knows for a fact that a man cannot reenter his mother’s womb. However, being a Pharisee, he has difficulty thinking beyond the realm of the physical and literal; though he perhaps sensed that there was a deeper meaning to Jesus’ words, having heard Jesus preach before.

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

Remember that the topic of this conversation is how to be BORN AGAIN — not how to be born the first time, but how to be born a second time. If the “water” to which Jesus refers is amniotic fluid, then Jesus would be giving an affirmative answer to Nicodemus’ sarcastic suggestion that a man can crawl back inside his mother’s womb. We know this is not the case simply because it defies logic. Remember also that Nicodemus is a Jewish leader, and would be well aware of the baptism John introduced during his ministry. Thus, Jesus refers to baptism. This claim that a man must be born of water AND spirit meshes with Peter’s words on the Day of Pentecost — “Repent and BE BAPTIZED in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. AND YOU WILL RECEIVE THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT”. This is the “washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost” mentioned in Titus 3:5.

That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. — John 3:6

We know the flesh is naturally predisposed against God (I Corinthians 15:50), and thus cannot enter the kingdom of God. Thus, Jesus is not saying “water” as in amniotic fluid, referring to physical birth. The flesh is condemned. Everyone has been born physically. Jesus did not need to prescribe physical birth to someone who had already been physically born. He is strictly talking about how to be born AGAIN. That which is born of the flesh is flesh — nothing can change that, and nothing can make the flesh acceptable to God. Nicodemus is asking how to rise beyond that wretched flesh and its unhappy end.

Based on this logic, we can conclude that the “water” to which Jesus refers is NOT amniotic fluid, but rather the water of baptism.

A Thought Regarding The Rapture . . .

Posted in Bible, Christianity, Christianity, Bible, Truth, End Times, Rapture, Religion with tags , , , on June 6, 2010 by willnotbesilent

Yes, I’m still around. I’ve had a lot of things happening, and haven’t had a chance until now to post an update.

Just this evening, I was listening to a peddler of the Word doling out Itchy Ear Ointment to a Baptist congregation, and he launched into a tangent about the glories of the Rapture, about how one simply cannot lose their salvation, and how the oversized sandbox known as Israel is still God’s sacred cow.

In order to keep myself from jumping up and pounding my head into the nearest wall (or shouting out a challenge), I doodled on a notepad on my lap, and came up with the following acronym:

Ridiculous

Assumption

Promoted

To

Ultimately

Ruin

Everyone

This little bit of modest creativity helped me feel better.

Meanwhile, I’ve been working on more material regarding baptism and the myths and traditions surrounding it. For example: I’ve been told the “water” to which Jesus refers in John 3:5 is not the water of baptism, but amniotic fluid. An upcoming post will explore that assumption.

Until then, may God bless you and keep you from the snares of fables.

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