The Necessity Of Water Baptism

 

Question #11: Where Does The Bible Teach That Water Baptism Is Required In Order To Have One’s Sins Forgiven?

The “Church of Christ” teaches that a sinner is forgiven of sin when he is baptized in water by a CoC elder. Where does the Bible teach that water baptism is required in order to have one’s sins forgiven?

The part of the statement referring to baptism requiring the participation of an elder is false. Whether the questioner included this clause out of ignorance or purposeful maliciousness, to mislead and deceive people, is unclear. However, in response to question number two, this has already been answered and discounted as a falsehood and nothing that I, or any other preacher I know of, has ever taught as part of baptism’s requirement for salvation.

I have said, repeatedly, that it isn’t a matter of what the church of Christ teaches because there is no such thing as “church of Christ doctrine.” The church of Christ is the church of Christ because it follows biblical doctrine. If a congregation does not follow and teach biblical doctrine then it is not the church of Christ, no matter the name on the sign. The Bible doesn’t teach any where that one has to be baptized by a man in the biblical office of the eldership. Because it is not biblical doctrine it is not something that I have ever taught or would ever teach.

This is a common tactic of the skeptic in his attempt to discount biblical doctrine. He will couch something that is biblical, i.e. baptism for the remission of sins, in the context of something that is not biblical, i.e. baptism requires an elder of the church. By making that false connection the biblical statement is made to look false. Whether the one asking the question did this maliciously or simply out of ignorance I do not know, but I have no doubt that such a connection originally arose with someone making a dishonest attempt to malign biblical doctrine.

Now, to the more direct portion of the question, “where does the Bible teach that water baptism is required to have one’s sins forgiven?”

I was having a conversation with someone about Baptism one time when he, all of the sudden, said, “All you guys have is Acts 2:38, don’t you ever use any verses other than Acts 2:38?” Now, I had already referred to numerous other passages but when I made reference to Acts 2:38 it set off an automatic, preconditioned, antagonistic response to that specific verse. I smiled and reminded him of the numerous verses I had quoted before making reference to Acts 2:38.

Why is it that Acts 2:38 would set off such a response in a skeptic of the biblical necessity of Baptism? And what if it was the only verse I had offered? How many verses do you have to have from God before you are willing to obey what he said? Well, I’ll just go ahead and start out with this verse and then offer the numerous others that say the same thing.

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 [Spirit].

In this verse Peter makes an explicit statement of baptism’s necessity for salvation. There is no need for inference or deductive logic from what he said. In responding to the question of “what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37), Peter makes a direct statement, “repent and be baptized.” Their question was in response to the apostle’s sermon on the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. They had proved the deity of Christ and convicted the audience of being party to his crucifixion. When the preaching of the gospel cut them to the heart they wanted to know what they needed to do to be forgiven the guilt of crucifying the Son of God. They obviously believed what they had heard, so Peter started with them where they were; believing the gospel they now needed to repent and be baptized in order to receive the remission of sins. It doesn’t get much clearer than Acts 2:38!

Those who have made the choice of holding to man-made doctrine above biblical doctrine have gone to great lengths to discount Acts 2:38. Even to the point of redefining the Greek words. One of the most common responses to Acts 2:38 is to say that the Greek word ??? (eis), translated “for” in English, actually means “because of” rather than “in order to.” So, according to them, the statement “be baptized for the remission of sins,” would be more properly translated as “be baptized because of the remission of sins.” I’m a big fan of Greek Lexicons and word studies. I collect them and use them more heavily than any other study tools in my library. I have yet to find one that defines ??? (eis), “for,” in this way. Notice a few:

Dictionary of Biblical Languages With Semantic Domains: Greek New Testament – (always in the accusative) to, toward extend to a goal.

Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains (Louw & Nida) – to, toward, in the direction of.

Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon – into, unto, to, towards, for, among.

Strong’s – into, unto, to, towards, for, among.

New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries – to or into (indicating the point reached or entered, of place, time, fig. purpose, result).

These are just a few of the Greek Lexicons I have and they all say the same thing. So, to insert the definition of the word in the verse would have Peter saying, “repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ in order to achieve the goal of and enter into the state of the remission of sins.”

Sometimes the skeptic will go to Matthew 12:41 in an attempt to justify their manufactured definition of the word ??? (eis), “for.” In that verse Jesus tells the scribes and Pharisees that Nineveh would be better off than them in the judgement because Nineveh repented “at” (eis) the preaching of Jonah. They say that this means the Ninevites repented “because of” Jonah’s preaching. However, that was not what Jesus was saying. The Ninevites were not spared from wrath “because of” Jonah’s preaching. That would mean they didn’t need to do anything about what Jonah said, it was just the fact that Jonah preached to them that spared them. Nothing could be further from the truth! The Ninevites were spared because they repented “into” Jonah’s preaching. They changed directions, turned around, to enter into the lifestyle preached by Jonah. Simply hearing Jonah preach didn’t do it, they had to move in the direction of what he preached.

??? (eis) refers to directional movement and it is never movement in a backward direction, i.e. “because of.” The only reason a person would make such an attempt to explain it as such is because of the preconceived notion that baptism is not essential for salvation. Anyone simply reading the text would have no trouble understanding what it says.

Now, even if that was the only verse referring to the necessity of baptism for the remission of sins, wouldn’t that be enough to prompt your obedience to God? But that isn’t any where near the only verse commanding baptism. There are numerous passages showing the same necessity as Acts 2:38.

Jesus said, he who believes and is baptized shall be saved (Mark 16:16). The skeptic of biblical baptism will point out that Christ said he who believes not shall be damned. He didn’t say he who believes not and is baptized not shall be damned and, therefore, it is faith that is essential and not baptism. While this does show that faith is a prerequisite of baptism it does not change the fact that Christ made baptism essential with the first clause of the statement. Baptism is the answer of a good conscience toward God (1 Pet. 3:21). That is, it is a person’s appeal to God for salvation out of a penitent attitude of submission. If a person doesn’t believe that God will forgiven their sins then they won’t do what God said to do in order to receive that forgiveness. Just as Noah would not have built the arc if he didn’t believe that God was going to bring a flood or that the arc would save them from it. He believed God and, therefore, moved with godly fear to obey what God said (Heb. 11:7). He who believes Christ, will be baptized for the remission of sins. If he isn’t baptized for the remission of sins then he really doesn’t believe Christ!

Acts 2:41 says that people are added when they are baptized and Acts 2:47 says that the Lord adds the saved to the church. From this, it is clear that when a person is baptized they enter into salvation and are then added to the church by the Lord.

Having heard the preaching of Jesus (Acts 8:35), the eunuch said, see here is water. What hinders me from being baptized? (Acts 8:36). He knew from hearing the gospel preached by Philip that he had to be baptized in water for his salvation. They stopped right there on the side of the road and Philip baptized him (Acts 8:38).

When God confirmed to Peter, and the Jews with him, that salvation in Christ was also to be preached to the Gentiles, Peter said, “Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy [Spirit] as well as we? (Acts 10:47). God had poured out the Holy Spirit upon those Gentiles to prove to the Jews that the gospel was to be made available to the Gentiles as well as the Jews. So Peter commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord (Acts 10:48). In response to the proof that the gospel was open to the Gentiles as well as the Jews, these first Gentile converts were baptized in water for the remission of their sins.

The Philippian Jailor was baptized the same hour of the night when he heard the preaching of the gospel (Acts 16:25-34). Ironically, this is the very same person that skeptics of baptism use to teach the false doctrine of salvation by faith only. They will point to Acts 16:31 as though nothing else is said in reference to the Jailor’s conversion. However, the example of conversion doesn’t end with verse 31. It begins there! In Acts 16:32 Paul preached the gospel to the Jailor. Then, in verse 33 the Jailor is baptized. To point to verse 31 as the point of the Jailor’s salvation would be to have him saved before he even knew who Jesus was! No, he had to hear the gospel (32) so that he could believe on Christ (31) and repent of his sins (33) and be baptized for the remission of sins (33).

In Acts 22:16 Paul, in recounting his own conversion, tells how Ananias came to him and preached to him, telling him to “arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” Paul knew when his sins were washed away by the blood of Christ! He never said anywhere, in any of his writing or in any of his accounts of his conversion, that he was forgiven of his sins on the road to Damascus. Rather, he said that his sins were washed away when he was baptized. This is certainly in harmony with what he wrote about baptism in his letters (Rom. 6:3-5; Gal. 3:26-27). If I was going to take anyone’s word for when Paul put on Christ for salvation it would be his own testimony, not some man who has an axe to grind on baptism!

Just as Paul said that baptism is when sins are washed away, he said in Ephesians that there is one baptism (Eph. 4:5). This is the same book where he says that those in the church have been sanctified with the washing of water by the word (Eph. 5:25-26). That term, washing of water by the word, is parallel with Titus 3:5 and John 3:3, 5. Biblical baptism for the remission of sins is the washing of water for the new birth (regeneration) as instructed by the Holy Spirit in his inspired word!

Many skeptics of biblical baptism attempt to make the verses commanding baptism refer to Holy Spirit baptism rather than water baptism. I’ll deal with that in response to the next question.

Comments

  1. Brother Norm,

    Thank you to allow us to study different texts of Scripture, so that many may benefit from these exchanges.

    Having read the question #11, I am sad to see that there is an inconsistency in what you said in your own answer to defend water baptism as a necessity to be saved. You wrote three pages (once I printed them) to say that baptism was required to be saved. Interestingly, you mentioned a very good point in your answer when you said:

    "How many verses do you have to have from God before you are willing to obey what he said?"

    The essence of your saying is this:

    "How many verses in the Bible do you need to see that God wills one thing to be obeyed or one thing to be true? Is it not enough to have just one? One is enough of course."

    So, to be consistent, if only one verse is sufficient to make a command liable to obedience, you will agree that only one verse is enough "to make a truth true" and biblical, right? Therefore, if water baptism is necessary to be saved, you will be forced, according to your logic, to say that the criminal on the cross will never be saved, though Christ said he was. Why? Because he has never been baptized before his death. Now, you probably will tell me that this is an exception to the rule, or that it was before the Day of Pentecost, in other words he (the criminal) was still under the Old Covenant. But this would not be a very good point at all. But I do not know what you would reply to this example. Anyway…

    The problem is that we speak the same way in English. For example, if I say: "A man is wanted for a crime." Or again, "Take two Tylenol caplets for your headache." Does the word "for" in "for a crime" and "for your headache" should be translated "in order to commit a crime" or "in order to have a headache" rather than "because of his crime" or "because of a headache?" Yet, the word "for" is used very often in English to mean "in order to". But it is not its ONLY meaning. This is exactly the same case with the Greek word "eis". Yes, it means often "into" or in order to", but this is not the ONLY meaning; and that, even in the Bible!

    Moreover, in addition to Acts 2:38, there are three other verses where the Greek word "eis" is used in conjunction with the word “baptize” or “baptism.” The first of these is Matthew 3:11, “baptize you with water for repentance.” Clearly the Greek word "eis" cannot mean “in order to get” in this passage. They were not baptized “in order to get repentance,” but were “baptized because they had repented", or "because they were "repentant”. The second passage is Romans 6:3 where we have the phrase “baptized into (eis) His death.” This again fits with the meaning “because of” or in "regard to." The third and final passage is 1 Corinthians 10:2 and the phrase “baptized into (eis) Moses in the cloud and in the sea.” Again, "eis" cannot mean “in order to get” in this passage because the Israelites were not baptized in order to get Moses to be their leader, but because he was already their leader and had led them out of Egypt. If one is consistent with the way the preposition "eis" is used in conjunction with baptism, we must conclude that Acts 2:38 is indeed referring to their being baptized “because” they had received forgiveness of their sins having received Christ by faith.

    Now, you forgot a very important point. If we are saved by faith (as the NT says many times), then we are saved by faith when we believe, not when we get baptized, otherwise we are not saved by faith. Furthermore, if baptism is necessary for salvation then anyone who receives Christ on his deathbed in a hospital and who also believes Jesus is God in the flesh, who died and rose from the dead for his sins, etc., would go to hell if he doesn't get baptized before he died. This would mean that we were not justified by faith because if we were, then the person would be saved. Also, if baptism is ABSOLUTELY necessary for salvation, then all new converts who come to Christ, let's say on Saturday and have to be baptized on the next Sunday, they would be damned if they died in the night before their baptism? This viewpoint is not supported by any passage of Scripture whatsoever, let alone the fact that it is totally a false doctrine. I do not say that your viewpoint is a heresy, because I consider you as a real brother in the Lord. But it remains nevertheless a false view of the doctrine of salvation. Remember, when someone says that baptism is necessary, there can be no exceptions — otherwise it isn't necessary.

    Please, read this comments as coming from a brother who wants to keep safe the sound doctrine, not imposing on the texts of the Bible what is not there. Besides, we must be very consistent not to disturb real Christian who are really saved and not baptized yet.

    A last point. Do not misunderstand me here. I do not say that baptism is not necessary for a Christian. Jesus commanded us to be baptized and if anyone refuses to submit to this command, he is sinning against God. I do agree 100% that one who is unwilling to be baptized is call a rebellious before God, but not automatically unsaved. There is a huge difference between the two. Once again, a Christian must be baptized, not to be saved, but because Christ commands him to do so. Refusing baptism is a sinful act as any other sin in the Christian life. And if someone is not baptized or refuses to be, he/she should be taught to obey God and submit himself/herself to what is required in the Bible, even though it is not for his/her salvation. Baptism is a question of obedience in the Christian life, but definitely not a matter of getting salvation.

    In Christ's love. No offense.

    Richard

    • Richard,

      Thanks for your willingness to discuss this openly for all to see and study along with us. I just wanted to post a quick reply to let you know that I have received your comments and will be posting my response very soon. I pray that as we study through this issue together that it will be to the spiritual prosperity of us both, and all those who follow along with us.

      Thanks,
      Norm

      1 Peter 3:21

  2. I want to start by saying that I appreciate Richard's willingness to engage in an open discussion on this very important subject. I pray that through our study together many will be helped in coming to the knowledge of the truth and salvation in Christ (1 Tim. 2:3-4).

    Richard says that if I reply to his use of the thief on the cross by saying that he lived under the Old Law or that it is an exception, that this would not be a very good argument. Well, I think they are excellent points and quite valid. Just to say that they are not valid points isn't the same thing as proving that they are not valid points. If you are going to make your case then make it!

    To use the thief on the cross as an example of someone saved without baptism, which cannot be proved in itself, is to use someone who lived under a different convent than we currently live. It is to use someone who, if he was actually saved on the cross, was saved under very extraordinary circumstances. To use the thief on the cross as an example of conversion is to do so without one bit of biblical evidence that he should be used as such. Paul, on the other hand, said that his conversion was for a pattern (1 Tim. 1:16). Paul was baptized to have his sins washed away (Acts 22:16). But, rather than look at someone who said they were a pattern for those who were going to believe on him for everlasting life, Richard wants to look to someone who wasn't even alive when the church was established as his example for salvation.

    The Holy Spirit never intended for the thief to be used as an example of conversion. I've already answered this unscriptural argument against the necessity of water baptism in, "Baptism, Don't Die Without It." If Richard can find flaw with my arguments there then I would encourage him to expose it for all to see.

    In response to Richard's attempt to explain the Greek word by an English word, the New Testament wasn't written in English. It was written in Koine Greek. So you can't difine the use of a Greek word with how an English word is used. Greek is a much more precise langauage than English. If you want a Greek word that means "because of," which is what Richard says eis means, then the word you really want is dia. That's the precise Greek word that means "becuase of." In Matt. 14:9 it is translated "because of." In Rom. 5:1-2, it is translated "through," our peace with God is because of what Jesus did for us. And, yes, it is translated "for" in 1 Thess. 3:5, "For this reason," or "because of this." So, if the Holy Spirit wanted us to understand that baptism was "because of" salvation and not "into" salvation then he certainly could have used a word that would have left no doubt whatsoever. Now, I'll ask Richard to find me a passage with dia used to describe the purpose of baptism. Its OK, I already know he won't be able to find it. Its not there.

    This word actually is used once in connection with baptism. It is not describing the purpose but, rather, the effect of baptism. In Romans 6:4, baptism is the cause and buried with Christ is the effect. In other words, we are buried with Christ because of baptism. "Buried with him" is past tense. What caused us, or what had been done, to be buried with him? Baptism! So, the one time dia is used in connection with baptism it further strengthens its necessity. Isn't that something!

    Richard really believes he has something with the verses he presents in his effort to redefine eis. First, he uses Matt. 3:11, as "proof." In this verse John is not saying that he baptized "because of" repentance. It is very similar to the way eis is used in regards to the Nenivites (Matt. 12:41). They did not repent "because of" Jonah's preaching but "into" Jonah's preaching. The same thing is being said here, in Matt. 3:11. Those being prepared for the kingdom by John were entering into a penitent lifestyle. He was preaching repentance and baptism for the remission of sins (Mark 1:4). When they were baptized they were to bear fruits worthy of repentance (Matt. 3:8). The NKJV translation has it correct when it says "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance." That's not "becaues of" repentance but, rather, "into" or "unto" a penitent lifestyle (cf. Matt. 3:11 ASV; Matt. 3:11 KJV; Matt. 3:11 YLT).

    The use of Romans 6:3, in the attempt to say that baptism is "because of" salvation and not "in order to receive" salvation, is a gross misuse of that passage. Christ died to pay the price for our sins with his own blood (Matt. 26:28; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14). Paul shows, in Rom. 6:3, that we enter into his death by being burried with him in baptism (cf. Gal. 2:20). When is it that we die to self and are born again in Christ? It is when we are burried with him in baptism! Notice where the Holy Spirit put the new birth in connection to baptism. In Rom 6:3, we are burried with him in baptism. In Rom. 6:4, we are raised with him in newness of life. So, when does the newness of life occur in this passage? It is placed after baptism, not before! So, baptism is necessery in order to enter into the new birth!

    In connection with this we can show that it is at the point of baptism that the blood of Christ is applied to pay the price for our sins. Paul said we are baptized into Christ's death. Christ shed his blood in his death (Matt. 27:26; Jn. 19:34). When Paul recounts his own conversion he tells how Aninias instructed him to arise and be baptized and was away his sins (Acts 22:16). In Revelation 1:5, we are told that Jesus washes us of our sins in his own blood. When do we contact that blood? Putting the verses together makes it very clear that we are "crucified with Christ" (Gal. 2:20) when we are baptized "into" his death (Rom. 6:3-4) to be washed of our sins in his blood (Acts 22:16; Rev. 1:5).

    Richard says that 1 Cor. 10:2, refers to the children of Isreal being baptized "because of" Moses rather than being baptized "into" Moses. Now, I'm not sure how that makes any since at all. The text is referring to the children of Israel coming completely and totally under Moses leadership, baptism being used figuratively for immersion into Moses leadership, when they passed through the Red Sea on dry ground. Baptism is being used figuratively here in reference to the point when the children of Israel made the transition from wavering between Egypt and Moses to when they entered completely and totally into a state of following Moses. The reason God did what he did with the cloud and with the sea was to bring the children of Israel under Moses leadership! Baptized "because of" Moses? I think not!

    This is already a very long response so I will cut it off here. I think I have already answered the rest of Richard's argument with the article, "Baptism, Don't Die Without It." I do just want to add this closing statement. There is no such thing as a "real Christian who is really saved and not baptized yet." Baptism is the point at which a person becomes saved and a Christian. Therefore, the Christian who has not been baptized is a mythical being that does not exist in reality.

    I will eagerly await Richard's reply

  3. Richard ,

    You make some very valid points in your post , and they are very interesting to me as well. I would like to take a moment thought and check into some of these. We must understand first faith does save us ! (Eph 2:8) but John 3;16 tells us all we have to do is BELIEVE so which is it? well , I believe it must be all because Paul says ALL scripture is given of God (2 Tim. 3:16) I dont feel that there are many ways of explainig away such a profound statement as Paul made in Romans 6:3 when he tells us we are baptized into Jesus Christ. Paul is very forward in this , we are also reminded in 1 Peter 1:22 that we have purified our souls by OBEYING the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is evident that Christ is the SAVER , but we must obey Him. Many scriptures speak of FAITH only in thre context , or REPENTANCE ONLY , but we know it is ALL of these things through the gracious Gospel (Acts 20:24) that saves us. Sure , it is Jesus Christ , but it is our demonstrative obedience in His command to be Baptized. I believe Jesus said it very forward in Mark 16:16 " He who believes and is baptized shall be saved , but he who believes not shall be damned." it is very forward and frank on this subject.

    —– Notice , obedience seems to be the big thing in here 2 Thess 1:8 " In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God , and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ." it is our obedience. Noah OBEYED , or else who couldnt have been saved. Naaman OBEYED, or else his loprosy would have continuoulsy plagued him. Who healed Naaman in 2 Kings 5:1-14 ? God did! but only through Naaman being obedient.

    Now , to answer your deathbed scenario we must here again go to scripture in its perfection and find what it says. It isnt always what we think , but it is God's Word. Let me ask this question : Would Noah have survived the flood if he had not obeyed and built the ark?

    If Naaman would have died before he dipped 7 times in the Jordan would he have died with leprosy ? …. I believe we know the answer of this is yes. We must remember : The Bible says in 1 Peter 3:21 Baptism saves us! John 3:16 says believing saves us ! , Eph 2:8 says Faith saves us! so I ask … which is it ? well , I believe we know it is all of these things working together to be the saving Gospel message preached by our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:24) thanks so much for the discussion !

    God Bless ,

    Kyle.

  4. David Lindsey says:

    Not to get in the middle here, but when was the thief on the cross baptised? all scripture is for reproof, learning, and wisdom, rightly dividing the word of truth was our Lord talking to the church or to the Jew.

  5. David,
    When he spoke to the thief on the cross he was talking to a Jew. And, I didn't say that I knew for certain that he had been baptized. But, neither does anyone know that he certainly had not. All I'm saying is that if you're going to speculate about whether he was or not, the evidence would more strongly indicate that he had been. In the end it is an irrelevant speculation because the Lord forgave him directly while he was yet on the earth. Something that no human being living today, or nearly 2,000 years past, can say. The point being, the thief on the cross is not an example, was never meant to be an example and never will be an example of how men are saved in the Christian age.

  6. David Lindsey says:

    Thank you for your response, as you put so well we don't know, what we do know is " I baptise you with water , and one is coming to baptise you with fire,, As the earth may have been water baptised with the flood , it may well also be baptised in fire. Just me but I don't believe that it is a requirement today, as with Timothy and Titus one was cercumised was was not, as Paul so boldly illustates it mattered not. I think the story of the event is the thief called Him Lord, realized He had done no wrong, it was His kingdom and ask to be there, and admitted he deserved his fate, maybe this historic event is to show us it is never to late, untill it is to late, Thank you David

  7. Uh, David. You like fruit salad don't you. I mean, you really like to mix up apples and oranges in a really bad way. You are comparing Paul's doing something that was expedient to make Timothy, half Jew, more acceptable to the Jewish audience with the necessity to be baptized? Wow, big time fruit salad.
    David, if you are going to attribute something to a biblical writer then please give the verse where it is so stated. I know that what you are referring to, incorrectly, as Paul's, so-called, "bold illustration that it matters not," is in reference to 1 Cor. 1:17. For you to say that Paul's words there illustrate that baptism "matters not" is a gross misuse of that passage. He had just finished referring to several people that he had baptized! But he says this to show that the Corinthian divisions after men was unscriptural. It doesn't matter who baptizes you, not whether you are baptized or not.
    David, these discussions are for those who want to study the Scriptures. If you persist, as I have seen you doing in other comments, to make statements as biblical fact without providing any verses to support what you say, then I am going to have to ask you to withdraw from these discussions.
    Thanks,
    Norm

  8. David Lindsey says:

    Norm I understand how you feel and respect that this is your show, but the Bible is Gods word and the authors did not use chapter and verse. In the furture I will abide by your rules, Thanks David

  9. Thank you very much for your comments. I will try to make it clear that baptism is NOT necessary for salvation.

    First, let me say that Norm and Kyle are clearly of the same conviction. There is no question about that. Regarding David, I think that the question of when the thief was baptized has been replied by Norm when he (Norm) said that the thief could have been baptized before his crucifixion. Norm only said that, as far as he could understand the spiritual state of this man, he was likely to have been baptized, a conviction I do not share with him at all, since this is a pure argument of silence and if we want to interpret the Bible in the wrong way, that is the way we must do. Now, I do believe that Norm considers really the case of the thief as no solid ground to back up our interpretation regarding if a man should or not be baptized in the Christian age, to use his own terms.

    My point now would be to demonstrate that to impose baptism in order to be saved is totally unscriptural. Here are the reasons.

    1. The Church of Christ (I mean the denomination of Norm and many others) sees baptism as a necessary work to be done for a man to be saved. According to this viewpoint, baptism is tightly linked to salvation.

    In other words, being saved by faith alone, as Paul taught in Ephesians (2:8) would not be true. This is very telling to teach such a thing. Is it not? Now, one could say that James says that faith without works is dead (Jas 2:17, 26). So, if we adopt this position, if anyone has to be saved, not only he has to believe and repent, but he has to be baptized also, since baptism would be seen as a "work of faith", necessary to have the true faith, according to James. But one said this: "Baptism is understood as a confessional expression of faith and repentance, rather than a "work" that earns salvation." (Everett Ferguson, The Church of Christ: A Biblical Ecclesiology for Today, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1996, pp. 170, 179-182). This is a logical conclusion, but logic does not always mean true or biblical. For example, many atheists are "logical" according to their way of seeing things, but we would all agree that they are wrong refuting God. The Church of Christ (I mean the denomination), is thus logical with what they believe and teach. But are they biblical for that? That’s the question. I know that many reading this post would say: "We are not a denomination. We are just Christians, followers of Christ". So, if some of you are uncomfortable with the word "denomination" let us just say that you are a group of Christians under this banner –The Church of Christ– since this is a biblical name. Now, let us go to another point to avoid attacking a straw man.

    2. The Church of Christ is a part of the Church of Christ.

    Now, we have to be clear here. When I write the "Church of Christ" I do not refer to the real Church of Jesus Christ made of all the elects as depicted in the NT. Rather, by the "Church of Christ" I mean the Christians who are affiliated with this family of Churches. For example, there are Pentecostals, Baptists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, etc. And there is the "Church of Christ" among all the Churches that exist within Protestantism. Therefore, when I will refer to the Church of Christ as described in the Bible, I will use, from now on, the capital bold letters THE BODY OF CHRIST. This is very important to make this difference in our discussion at this point since the "Church of Christ" would be the only real BODY OF CHRIST on earth if their position on baptism were the only true one. Because most of the others do not think that way. But we know that the real BODY OF CHRIST is not only found in the Church of Christ. Real Christians exist elsewhere as well, otherwise we would be reducing the BODY OF CHRIST to just one denomination, a thing that would be totally ridicule not to say despicable. If it were so, the Church of Christ would be labeled fairly as a cult and this is not what I believe it is. I do believe that the Church of Christ is a part of the BODY OF CHRIST. Many Churches around the world are real Christian Churches and reject totally this viewpoint on baptism. And to say that the Church of Christ is the only one that teaches the truth regarding this issue would be a tremendous insult to the Lord himself who redeemed many people around the world outside the Church of Christ, who are not taught the same way on the topic of baptism. I just hope for now that, in this post and others, the Church of Christ has to be seen as a part of the BODY OF CHRIST and this latter encompasses much more people than the ones who are gathered in the Church of Christ.

    3. Now, is baptism really necessary to be saved?

    When we read the NT, we see some instances where baptism "seems" to be necessary for salvation (Mat. 28:19; Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; 10:48; 22:16). Now, many also believe the following things:

    You should know that by baptism:

    ? You are saved from sins (Mark 16:16 1 Peter 3:21).
    ? You have remission of sins (Acts 2:38).
    ? Sins are washed away by the blood of Christ (Acts 22:16; Hebrews 9:22; Hebrews 10:22; 1 Peter 3:21).
    ? You enter into the church (1 Corinthians 12:13; Acts 2:41,47).
    ? You enter into Christ (Galatians 3:26-27; Romans 6:3-4).
    ? You put on Christ and become a child of God (Galatians 3:26-27).
    ? You are born again, a new creature (Romans 6:3-4; 2 Corinthians 5:17).
    ? You walk in newness of life (Romans 6:3-6).
    ? You obey Christ (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 10:48; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).
    Now, let me expose to you what is missing in such a teaching.
    A. Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation – The Meaning

    People around the world ask this question: Is baptism necessary for salvation? The word "baptism" is a transliteration of the Greek word "baptisma" and this word is from a primary Greek verb "bapto," which is also the root of the word baptize. The word means to dip, to immerse, to dye or to change the identification of. When a piece of white cloth was "Bapto" into a vat of blue dye, it no longer was white cloth because its identification was changed to blue cloth. That is the root of the meaning of the word.

    The rite of baptism was a ritual in the Jewish culture from the beginning. Ceremonial washing of priests and the dipping temple utensils into water was part of the law. For instance, a priest was "baptized" into his office as a priest and it was to dedicate and identify the priest in his position. This baptism set apart the priest to take part in the temple worship and sacrifices. The baptism of the utensils set them apart for a specific use in worship. When John the Baptist came on the scene, Jews came to him to be baptized for the confession of their sins. This was not for salvation because the Lord Jesus Christ had not yet paid the price for sin. The baptism of John the Baptist was an Old Testament economy baptism and it only signified the participant's willingness to confess his sin and therefore, John the Baptist's baptism was for repentance (Acts 19:4).
    B. Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation – The Biblical Evidence

    It is interesting to note that Jesus did not baptize. "The Pharisees heard that Jesus was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John, although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but His disciples" (John 4:1-2). If water baptism were necessary for salvation, wouldn't Jesus have baptized? Jesus presented Himself to the Jews as their Messiah with signs and Messianic miracles, but He did not baptize them.

    C. The Apostle Paul only baptized a few.

    "Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul? I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized into my name. (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don't remember if I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel — not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power" (1 Corinthians 1:13-17). Those who teach that baptism is necessary for salvation overlook this statement of Paul. If water baptism were so necessary for salvation would not the Apostle Paul have made water baptism a central theme of his ministry, since, after all, he was sent to preach the full way of salvation? Now, many would tell me: "Wait a minute Richard, Paul may have not baptized many people, but it does not mean that he did not say to them that they had to be baptized to be saved." Rather, the Apostle Paul taught the "baptism of the Holy Spirit," which occurs when one is born again and it is a spiritual identification as the believer is placed in Christ. "For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body — whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free" (1 Corinthians 12:13). Now, just think about this. What was the mission of Paul when he met the Lord on the Damascus road? Jesus told him (in Acts 26:17-18 – NKJV): "I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me." Now, could it be more clear than that? His mission was to preach the gospel and making it, those who believe would be delivered from Satan and the power of darkness. What is it, if not to be saved. Now, where is baptism in the mandate of Christ to Paul? Maybe you will say: "Paul knew that it was required since Jesus commanded it in Mat. 28.19-20." But the question is not there. Are you humble and honest enough with this text that Christ sent Paul to save people through the preaching of the gospel and that ALONE? I hope you are. Now, if Paul baptized some is clear in what he said in 1 Cor. 1:13-17.

    But, interestingly, the very same text said that he was not sent to baptize, yet he was sent to make people saved through the preaching. Is it not more clear that the preaching of Christ alone saves someone totally, even before the time of baptism? If you do not see that here, I wonder what text will convince you… Probably none, because your convictions are solidly based, not so much on Scriptures, but on what you have been taught. I will a final point to that at the end of my post.

    D. Baptism isn't an act that gets us into heaven – it is faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord that offers that assurance.

    Baptism (by full immersion as taught in the Bible) is an act of obedience that should be an immediate part of our acceptance of the gift of grace offered by Jesus Christ. But it does not mean that one who truly gives their heart to Jesus on a death bed, in the heat of warfare, or in a crashing airplane, will be kept out of heaven because they failed to be baptized. By the way, if the thief on the cross could not be cited as an example, the previous ones could. What the case of the thief on the cross teaches us is just that, baptism is not necessary to be saved, for we can make a solid case with other events as I did, events which deal with episodes that happened after the day of Pentecost. So, the events that happened before are just another point to add on the pile to make sure that baptism was not necessry any more than it is right now. As a matter of fact, the case of the thief on the cross, instead of being a bad example becomes at once an exception that just confirms the rule!

    E. True faith in Jesus Christ and His work on the cross for our sins is sufficient for salvation.

    Christ has already done everything. By definition, his grace doesn't require any additional "works" by us. That being said, Jesus Christ commands us to be baptized (Matthew 28:18-20), and therefore, all believers should be baptized. Immediately following Christ's command, the Book of Acts describes the practice of administering baptism to almost every group or individual who believed in the preaching of the Gospel by the apostles (Acts 2:37-41; 8:5-13; 8:35-39; 9:10-18; 10:34-48; 16:13-15; 16:30-33; 18:8; and 19:1-6).
    4. Water Baptism – What does it symbolize?

    According to the Bible, the symbolism of baptism declares that three things happen to believers who are baptized: (1) they die with Christ to their old self; (2) they rise with Christ to become a new creature; and (3) they are incorporated in their new life with a living community which looks for the coming of the Lord (Romans 6:1-11). Contrary to what some denominations (or groups of Christians) teach, it seems obvious that a Christian's baptism must necessarily require a responsible decision to accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, and therefore, must be delayed until an age of reason or discretion (knowing right from wrong within God's perspective).

    In short, Jesus Christ commands baptism for His followers. Although the act of baptism does not cause eternal salvation, it seems that any believer who refuses baptism should truly examine his or her conversion.

    5. Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation – The Conclusion.

    Is baptism necessary for salvation? If the question is concerning water baptism, the answer is NO. We are not saved by ritual or works but by "grace through faith." "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9). Therefore, water baptism does not save us, nor is it necessary to be saved. However, the baptism of the Spirit is necessary for salvation and that has nothing whatever to do with water and it is not something we do for ourselves, it is God's gift to us at the moment we are born again.

    6. A last point.

    If water baptism were not necessary for salvation, why then would someone be baptized? Baptism is an outward action based on an inward reality. Baptism is a testimony that the participant has trusted in Christ as Savior and they are identifying himself/herself by submitting themselves to baptism. We cannot rest our hope of salvation on something that we can do for ourselves rather, we must recognize our need of a Savior and accept the Lord Jesus Christ's finished work for our redemption. That finished work is that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and three days later rose from the dead. Then, if we obey being baptized, it is an act of testimony to others of the reality of our personal identification with Christ. And this act of testimony is necessary since we have to be witness that Christ came into the world precisely to do that.

    Interestingly, people say: Faith, repentance and baptism are necessary to be saved. Granted, Peter said in Acts 2.38 that people had to repent and be baptized. But where is faith in his command? Nowhere. Does it mean that it was not necessary to be saved? Of course it was. You can see here that dealing only with words (exegesis) does not guarantee that we can have the full picture of a doctrine. We have to understand a doctrine with other contexts that deal with the same issue. Here faith is totally absent. If I dealt with the passage only in scrutinizing words as you did (especially "eis"), I would have to defend myself that faith is not really required to be saved; and that, because this is not mentioned. Obviously, it is nonsense to argue that way. But I just want you to know that words are not the ONLY keys to understand a texts. The context is the real key. And definitely, baptism is not required to be saved, otherwise a man like Paul would have been sent to preach AND to baptize, a thing that he denied himself.

    No offense.

    Richard

  10. Richard,

    I do want to thank you for your interesting take or should I say slant on spiritual matters. It does take conviction to take such a stand as yours, but even sincerity can be misplaced as was Pauls.

    Your mention of James, sounds a lot like how Marting Luther felt about the book. I guess you hate as much as he did because he teaches against your doctrine.
    As for logic, when logic disproves the believes of others, is when they have no use for it, and begin to demean its use. In order to logic to be true or biblical, its propositions must be BOTH valid AND sound in order for the conclusion to be true. This is where the atheistis use of logic fails, as does the denominationalist.
    As members of the Lord's one and only true church, we simply rightly divide His Word, instead of twisting and leaving out.

    We understand the "denominational" view of the "BODY OF CHRIST" whereby your master the devil has deluded the minds of men into believing it includes differing fruit. It is an unsightly body, with a multitude of heads, and it's members are unable to control themselves for they each of a mind of their own. It is more of a circus freak, than a viable autonomous body.

    Call it what you like, despicable, or ridiculous, but you as well as every other false teacher of denominationalism are fighting against God – not us (Acts 5:33-39).

    Again, it matters not one whit if 5.9 billion people believe that baptism is unnecessary for salvation – this is not a majority rule matter, it is a matter of total submission to the will of God, not what others might think. According to your logic, the Holy Spirit gave us Matthew 7:13-14 backward! Even Matthew 7:21-23 shows us there will be many who assume they are right when in fact they are not, for Jesus says in that text, "depart from Me, I NEVER had a saving relationship with you."

    The "BODY OF CHRIST" consists of ONE and ONLY ONE group of people who believe and teach one and the same doctrine. Baptists, Catholics, Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Pentecostals, and the multitude of other denominations in the world do not obey this strict command. Jesus prayed that we all be ONE – UNITED – in doctrine, in worship, in organization (John 17:20-21). How is it possible for the "BODY OF CHRIST" to obey this command and yet ALL believe and teach something different? The answer is that they can't.
    Jesus said we are His friends, IF we do whatsoever He says (John 15:14), He said that IF we abide in Him and His WORDS abide in us then and only then can we be His disciples – members of the "BODY OF CHRIST" (John 15:1-10). There are so many examples of how we are not allowed to believe and teach differently. We are not allowed to organize the church differently than the pattern of the Bible. Yet, every denomination does exactly the opposite. So how could they possibly make up the "BODY OF CHRIST?"

  11. Richard,

    Sorry for part two of our discussion.

    Moving on to baptism. Thank you for your history lesson on baptism, I have no problem with any of part A. As for Part B – Why mention that Jesus did not baptize? So what? That does not negate its necessity. All that shows is that it matters not who does the baptizing, which again Paul shows in Part C of your discussion.

    Paul never said that baptism was not necessary, he, as Jesus, was showing that the person who performed the baptism did not matter. In fact, neither Jesus nor Paul wanted to baptize many, because they knew it would become a problem, just as it did with the Corinthians. People bragging about who baptized them. And again, Jesus knew His time was short, so He wanted to spend His time teaching, and let His disciples do the baptizing. So your conclusion is false. Your logic fails for it is neither valid nor sound.

    It is interesting how much you argue against anything other than faith, yet at the end of your discourse #6 "A Last Point" you irrationally conclude that in Acts 2:38 nothing is said of faith, but that we must not be hasty because there is more to the matter (paraphrasing) – "we have to get the full picture of a doctrine." You admit that faith is totally absent from the passage, and because of that you would have to defend that faith is not required to be saved." Then you irrationally conclude it is non-sense to argue that way, because of the doctrine you hold to – ignoring every facet of proper interpretation! Context you say is the key, not just words, and so because faith is absent, but baptism is present, we must conclude that faith is necessary and baptism is not! What gross dishonesty!! You spout "exegesis" yet use "eisegesis." You're nothing more than a con man. How can anyone respect a person who cannot be honest with the text or even the context? Again, your logic fails.

    Not only are you dishonest in the way that you interpret, you are dishonest with yourself. You say you believe one is saved by "faith alone," but then you add that one is saved by "grace alone." Which is it? Can't you make up your mind?

    At least Norm and I are honest, and consistent. We believe that it is both, not to mention the need for Christ's blood, our repentance, our faith, our confession and our immersion into water in order to receive God's promise that He will apply the cleansing blood of Christ to my account because He is gracious and full of mercy, when I submitted my will I obeyed His will.

  12. Here we are again.

    Poor Mike,

    What a good opportunity you missed to show that you should have been better than that in your post. However, just reading what you had say proves one thing: You totally misinterpreted and misundertood my whole point. Hoping others will not imitate you.

    Now, I will be back in this discussion ONLY when Norm (and no other) will have rebuked you in public, since it is in public that you treated me as a con man.

    Once again, what a shame for someone who says he is a Christian. Read your Bible my friend, if it is not to learn about baptism, at least to learn what a Christian behaviour should be.

    Richard

  13. Richard,

    The Scriptures plainly say that we are to expose error for what it is, with no apology for defending the truth. I guess that Jesus did not act as a "Christian" or "Christ-like" when He referred to the Pharisees as children of the devil (John 8:44)? Or when Jesus called them Hypocrites (Matthew 23:13-15, 23, 25, 27, 29)???
    Or when He called them "Whited Seplchures" (Matthew 23:27)??
    Even Paul called the high priest a "Whited wall" (Acts 23:3). I believe that I am in good company in exposing someone who cares nothing for the truth, but only to further the cause of the devil and confuse the masses.

  14. Richard,

    I also would like to say that apparently you are the type that can only carry on a conversation when your false doctrine is not exposed as such. It seems that it is ok for you to ridicule the stand of others, but if anyone does the same to you, then you take your marbles and go home.
    Let's try to grow up and carry on an adult like discussion here. In fact I would like to know if you would be open to a public debate on this subject? If you have the truth, then put your money where your mouth is.

  15. Twisting Acts 2:38 – The Question of Baptism by Water for Salvation
    Here we go again. As to the unfriendly and inconvenient remarks of Mike, let's put them aside and do not be bother with that. Earth is full of such people. Rather, let's be faithful to our discussion.
    Here I am greatly indebted to Craig Branch for a good article he wrote on the Watchman Expositor website. In a future post, I will continue to deal with the question of baptism on my own. To those believing in the necessity of baptism for salvation it will be shown that there are many things you do not seem to understand in the Jewish mindset at the time of the New Testament. It will be the argument of my next post.
    One of the most common methods cult leaders use to establish their false doctrine is to employ segmented text attention. That is, isolating verses which on the surface seem to the novice Bible student, to affirm the cult's doctrine.
    For example, the "doctrine of demons" (1 Timothy 4:1) seeks to undermine the person and work of Christ (i.e., a different Jesus and a different gospel, 2 Corinthians 11:3-4). In line with the cult's false gospel of works as opposed to the gospel of grace (Romans 11:6), in order to be justified (declared righteous) before God, many cults teach that one of several necessary steps to becoming saved is to be baptized in water. This inevitably removes the focus from Christ's finished work and imputed righteousness to the individual (faith in Christ alone by grace alone), and subtlety or overtly leads to the conclusion that "official" baptism by and into the cult (the one and only true church) actually will save.
    Several groups teach baptismal salvation. Among them are Mormonism, Jehovah's Witnesses, Armstrong's Worldwide Church of God, United Pentecostals, and many Churches of Christ.
    There are about eight main verses that the cults use as proof-texts for their doctrine of baptismal salvation, but the most popular is Acts 2:38 which says: "And Peter said to them: "Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
    Notice that on the surface it seems to prove their point, but not when one applies sound principles of interpretation. Remember the question to always ask is, "What does the passage mean", and not only, "What does it say?" As you know, one may mean different things by what he says. For instance, Jesus seems to say in Luke 14:33 that one cannot be a disciple (Christian) unless he first gives away all his possessions. Obviously we have to interpret the verse in light of the context and in relation to the rest of Scripture. Otherwise no Christian would have any thing belonging to him (house, car, clothes, etc.). As you see, we must understand more what Jesus meant in what he said instead of only taking what he said without sound interpretation.
    First of all, we must take into account the historical context. Jesus and the Gentile converts to Judaism were very familiar with the symbol of baptism for cleansing and separation. It was a normal practice (Unger's Bible Dictionary, p. 122; New Bible Dictionary, Douglas, p. 131). John the Baptist continued the symbol of baptismal cleansing of repentance, but noted there was a baptism which superseded it — that is baptism with the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:8).
    The grammatical context is also important. A key word in Acts 2:38 for the baptismal salvation proponents is "for"; "baptized… for the forgiveness of sins." They insist that the meaning be interpreted "in order to obtain" the forgiveness of sins. The problem with this insistence is that the word "for" (eis, in Greek) has several connotations in New Testament Koine Greek. Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament says that eis is a versatile word which primarily denotes entrance "into, or direction and limit: into, to, toward, for, among," (p. 183).
    In other words the symbol of baptism could either be pointing towards the cleansing and forgiveness (with reference to), or could pointing to the actual procuring of forgiveness (in order to). Renowned Greek scholar A. T. Robertson states that not only does eis signify "aim or purpose" (in order to) as in 1 Corinthians 2:7, it can just as well mean "on the basis" or ground of" (with reference to), — see Matthew 10:41. He states that, "the illustrations of both usages are numerous in the New Testament and the Koine (New Testament Greek) generally." One will decide the use here (Acts 2:38) according as he believes that baptism is essential to the remission of sins or not. My view is decidedly against the idea that Peter, Paul, or any one in the New Testament taught baptism as essential to the remission of sins…" (Word Pictures of the New Testament, pp. 35-36).
    Why do the overwhelming percentage of Greek scholars agree with Robertson? Because the rest of Scripture refutes baptismal regeneration. All one has to do is read Acts 10, concerning the account of Peter taking the gospel (which saves, Romans 1:16), to Cornelius and the Gentiles. As Peter proceeds through the gospel message (vs. 34-43), the Scriptures relate that the gift of the Holy Spirit was received upon believing by these Gentiles before they were baptized in water (10:44-48; 11:17-18). Additionally, the Scripture teaches that this is the same way all are saved (Acts 11:15-18, 15:7-11).
    To be continued…

  16. Richard,

    I am shocked that you decided to come back. Isn't it amazing that you are upset with my use of terms that relate to your stand for error, and then TRY to act as IF you are the better man by stating "Let's put inconvenient remarks aside" and then carry on with the name calling. But hey, if you want to continue that game, and act the innocent, then go right ahead, it won't hide the fact of who you really are.

    Now to the meat of the argument you TRY to make.

    One of the most common methods of denominationial teachers, is to establish their false doctrine by employing segmented text attention. That is, by isolating verses which on the surface SEEM to the novice Bible student, to affirm denominational doctrine.

    For example, the "doctrine of demons" (1 Timothy 4:1) seeks to undermine the person and work of Christ (i.e. a different Jesus and a different gospel, 2 Corinthians 11:3-4). In line with denominationalism's false gospel of no works as opposed to the gospel of true grace (Romans 11:6), in order to be justified (declared righteous) before God, ALL denominations teach become confused with the requirements of salvation by leaving out a few steps. This inevitably puts all the focus from Christ's finished work and imputed righteousness on the individual's confusion as to whether it is by "Grace alone," or by "Faith alone" that they can appear to be saved. Thereby sublety and overtly leading to the conclusion that the "sinners prayer," and simply accepting Jesus into ones heart will actually save.

    Because denominationalism is a confused religion, they all teach differing views on salvation. Some believe that baptism is not necessary to get into Christ and His church, BUT it is necessary to get into their denomination. Others believe that baptism is simply a symbol of something, but they can't find it taught in the Bible anywhere. Then there are those who immerse, others sprinkle, or pour, or assume that water is not needed, but it is Holy Spirit baptism. Then they think that they are all part of the one and the same body???? Absurd.

    There are about eight main verses that denominations use as proof-texts for their doctrine of – which is it? "Grace only" or "Faith only?" But the most popular is Ephesians 2:8-9 which says, "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."

    Notice that on the surface it SEEMS to prove their point, but not when one applies SOUND principles of interpretation. Remember the question to always ask is, "What does the passage mean?" and not only, "What does it say?" As you know, one may mean different things by what he says. For instance, Jesus seems to say in Luke 14:33 that one cannot be a disciple (Christian) unless he first gives away all his possessions. Obviously we have to interpret the verse in light of the context and in relation to the rest of Scripture, otherwise no Christian would have any thing belonging to him. As you see, we must understand more what Jesus meant in what He said instead of only taking what He said without SOUND interpretation.

    First of all, we must take into account the historical context. Jesus and the Gentile converts to Judaism were very familiar with the use of water for cleansing and separation. It was much more than a symbol. The false view of denominationalism causes its irrational thinking to go so far as to assert symbolism of baptism, without ever proving such is the case. NOT once in the Scriptures is it EVER referred to as a symbol, nor do the Scriptures EVER HINT at the idea of Holy Spirit baptism superseding water baptism! It is a figument of their imagination.

    The grammatical context is also important. A key word in Acts 2:38 for ONE of God's requirements of salvation is the word "for," Greek word "eis." Peter told the Jews that they were to be "Baptized FOR (eis) the forgiveness of sins." Denominations insist that the word must be interpreted as looking backward, and so they dishonestly take the English definition of the word "because of," rather than using the definition from the Greek "in order to obtain." The Greek word "eis" is ALWAYS looking forward to a result, NEVER backward!

    While it is true that A.T. Robertson is well known for his Greek scholarship, it would be remiss to seek his advise on this subject since he holds the common false view of "Faith alone," or "Grace alone" again, I can't seem to remember which one it is – and neither can denominationalists. As admitted by Richard – Mr. Robertson says, "MY VIEW is decidely against Peter and Paul, or any one in the New Testament teaching that baptism is essential." So there you have it, Mr. Robertson is bias, and cannot be accepted on this subject.

    Does the Bible refute baptismal regeneration? Absolutely it does. No one here believes such a false doctrine as what is taught by the Roman Catholic Church. But then again, the Bible also refutes faith only and grace only. In fact, common sense itself – I'm sorry that doesn't seem to apply to denominationalists – but common sense itself tells us that grace alone and faith alone are oxymorons!

    Denominationalists also love to take out of context the conversion of Paul, Cornelius and the jailer, putting the cart before the horse. They love to say that they were all saved BEFORE and without baptism, when the text clearly says that they were baptized immediately!
    The fact that the Holy Spirit was given to Cornelius was only to prove that the Gentiles were candidates for salvation, so that Peter would baptize him into Christ!

    How sad for those who will not get wet in order to be saved!

    To be continued…..

  17. This is exactly what I said: Dear friends, do not bother with Mark's remarks. God will put him in place and hopefully bring him back to his good sense one day.

    No offense. Now, regarding the comments and every allusions from Mike, it is Not to be continued…

    I will continue on the subject and wisdom will prevail.

  18. Children, am I going to have to give you a time out? ;)

    Seriously though. You say that "eis" means "because of" not "in order to", if this is so then Jesus died because our sins were already forgiven. Matthew 26:28 states, "For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for (eis) the remission of sins." If our sins were already forgiven then what was the point of Jesus dying?

    As for Grace, yes it is a gift. but, like any other gift something must be done to obtain it. A simple example is this, someone gives you a gift, but you still have to reach your hand out and take it in order to obtain it. Such is the same for salvation, yes it is a gift but we still have to reach out our hands to obtain it. Baptism is that reaching out of the hand.

    As for "faith only", James 2:24 states, "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and NOT BY FAITH ONLY". This is the only place in the entire Bible that the phrase "faith only" is used. However, it completely destroys the doctrine of "faith only".

    • Jeff,
      You took my wrecking ball!
      That's ok though, its a great point and I'm glad you made it. The Greek is almost identical between Matthew 26:28 and Acts 2:38. So, if eis means "because of" in Acts 2:38, and that means baptism is not essential for salvation, the why would eis in a nearly identical statement elsewhere not mean the same thing? If it means "because of" in Acts 2:38, thereby negating the necessity of baptism, then it would have to mean "because of" in Matthew 26:28, thereby negating the necessity of the blood of Christ.
      David made the attempt previously to define the Greek eis by the use of the English word "for." But, even I allowed for his use of "for," you still have to determine its use by the context. He gave the example of a man "wanted for robbery." That doesn't mean that he's wanted "in order to" commit a robbery but "because he has" committed a robbery. And that is a correct use of the English word "for." However, another statement, also using "for" correctly, would be – "this is for you." In that statement "for" means "in order that you may have this." What Jesus said he was shedding his blood "for the remission of sins," that is the meaning, "so that you may have the remission of sins." Now, when we see that baptism brings one into contact with the blood of Christ (Acts 22:16; Rev. 1:5; Rom. 6:3-4), doesn't it become abundantly clear that Peter said the same thing he heard Jesus say when he told his audience to be baptized "for the remission of sins," i.e. "in order that you may have the remission of sins."

  19. Jeff B. thank you so much for your comments.

    As for Richard, he wants to play the ole shell game, to take the attention away from the way he is falsely arguing and name calling, and re-direct my way, when I used most of his own words in my response, which means he is the one needs some good sense.

    I look forward to hear what he will post next. Isn't this exciting?

  20. The problem is maybe only that with you, Mike. You seem to love to be fighting, to be excited as you said. Many on the blog have other goals.

  21. Richard,

    I'm sorry but you are the one who started the whole thing, with your arrogant attitude. I felt that since you came to the table with that attitude that that was the way you wanted to play ball. But if you are willing to stop the name calling, then I certainly would be happy to do the same.
    My goal, as is the goal of Norm and others, is to present the unadulterated gospel as Jesus intended for it to be taught. One way, and only one way. To speak only the oracles of God. As I pointed out, there is nothing wrong with calling a spade a spade, as Jesus and Paul did so. But if you are willing to stop, then I too will stop and we both can just focus on trying to find the ONE truth as taught in the Scriptures.

  22. Jeff B.,,

    Thanks for your candid words. However, you missed the point using the words of Jesus where it says: "For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for (eis) the remission of sins."

    The problem is not there at all. None of us on this blog are saying that "eis" is NEVER used in the sense of "in order to", as it is the case in the verse you quote. Your point is right in that case. The point is that "eis" has not ALWAYS this sense in the Bible. Context is the key. Now, you say that salvation is a gift and that "Baptism is that reaching out of the hand". The point is bypassed again. In the Bible, baptism is not the thing we have to do to be saved. The thing (if this is a thing) to receive the gift of grace is to believe (faith) that this grace is the very means by which we are saved.

    Now, I had said in a previous post that a Jewish mindset had to be understood properly to explain why baptism is so connected in the preaching of the early Church. Here it is. Watch out everybody here. Few people know that. It is not grounded in what denominations teach, it was known in the Jewish community even in the Old Testament time. So, be ready to be taught and learn what they did believe and understand. If you reject it, it is up to you, but you would be rejecting an historical fact.

    "What must I do to be saved?" The question receives a different answer in every conceivable religious faith, and in this essay, we will pursue a single question: What is the Biblical view of the relationship between faith and works?

    Christian apologists rightly point to numerous verses that declare that faith alone is what saves, and not any external act (John 3:16, 18, 36; 11:25-6; Acts 16:31; Eph. 2:8-9; 1 John 5:1). We will show that in the Bible, works are to be understood as the inevitable product of a saving, living faith, and that it is not proper to say that we must perform works to be saved, but rather that we will perform works if we are saved. As Riddlebarger puts it [Christ the Lord, 104]:

    …One who has exercised faith in Christ, and is united to Christ by that faith, will repent and will struggle to obey and yield. But these things are not conditions for nor component parts of faith itself. They are the fruits of saving faith. They are the inevitable activity of the new nature."

    We will then, by way of application, consider the role of baptism, the initial "work" of the convert, and its own role in the life of the believer. Then we will offer links below noting how various other faiths err in their use of the Bible on this subject.

    The Semitic Totality Concept: YOU KOW IT?

    Behind much of the thought in the Bible lies a "peculiarly Semitic" idea of a "unitive notion of human personality." [Dahl, Resurrection of the Body, 59]. This notion combined aspects of the human person that we, in modern times, often speak of as separate entities: Nausea is thought of as a condition of the soul and not the stomach (Num. 21:5); companionship is said to be refreshing to the bowels (Philemon 7); and the fear of God is health to the navel (Prov. 3:8). This line of thinking can be traced through the Old Testament and into the New Testament (in particular, the concept of the "body of Christ") and rabbinic literature.

    Applied to the individual, the Semitic Totality Concept means that "a man's thoughts form one totality with their results in action so that thoughts that result in no action are vain." [ibid, 60]. To put it another way, man does not have a body; man is a body, and what we regard as constituent elements of spirit and body were looked upon by the Hebrews as a fundamental unity. Man was not made from dust, but is dust that has, "by the in-breathing of God, acquired the characteristics of self-conscious being."

    Thus Paul regards being an unbodied spirit as a form of nakedness (2 Cor. 5). Man is not whole without a body. A man is a totality which embraces "all that a man is and ever shall be."

    Applied to the role of works following faith, this means that there can be no decision without corresponding action, for the total person will inevitably reflect a choice that is made. Thought and action are so linked under the Semitic Totality paradigm that Clark warns us [An Approach to the Theology of the Sacraments, 10]:

    "The Hebraic view of man as an animated body and its refusal to make any clear-cut division into soul and body militates against the making of so radical a distinction between material and spiritual, ceremonial and ethical effects."

    Thus, what we would consider separate actions of conversion, confession, and obedience in the form of works would be considered by the Hebrews to be an act in totality. "Both the act and the meaning of the act mattered — the two formed for the first Christians an indivisible unity." [Flemington, New Testament Doctrine of Baptism, 111]

    Requirements or Results?

    Objection: If works are the result of salvation, then why did Christ and Paul so often exhort others to maintain moral standards? Doesn't this view make such commands meaningless?

    The problem with this sort of objection is twofold. First, when appealing to the commands of Christ (like the Sermon on the Mount), they are correctly understood as commandments; yet they are not commandments alone, but a mirror that demonstrates our inability to meet up to God's standards. Romans 3:19-20 tells us, "Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin." The primary purpose of the law, and of the Sermon on the Mount, was condemnation, not salvation. Second, as Horton observes, "the argument used confuses the indicative (who we are in Christ) with the imperative (the command to respond to the indicative in a certain way)." [Christ the Lord, 113] Paul does not merely issue commands; he rather calls upon the believer, in this and other exhortational passages, to be consistent with the new life they have in Christ:

    "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? 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 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…" (Romans 6:1-8)

    "If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." (Eph. 4:21-24)

    Under the Semitic Totality paradigm, thoughts that result in no action are vain. When Paul encourages believers to "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling," (Phil. 2:12) he is not telling us that we must do our part to be saved. We already possess that righteousness; what is needed is for us to come to terms with this and live consistently with it.

    What about the many passages that indicate a judgment that will be based on works? Matthew 7:21-24 and 25:31-46 are often cited in this regard, as is Romans 2:5-10:

    "But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile…"

    However, this understanding of this verse fails as before on the qualification of Romans 3:20: "by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight." Romans 2:5-10 does mean that a person who persists in good deeds will be granted eternal life, but as Romans 3 goes on to show, that is irrelevant, because no one can live a life in accordance with the commandments of God, and completely faithful obedience is no more than a theoretical means of obtaining justification.

    The passages in Matthew, then, show no more than that those who had faith actually lived it out, as we would expect. As Moo puts it: [Romans, 142]

    It is a continual seeking after eternal rewards, accompanied by a persistent doing of what is good, that is the condition for a positive verdict at the judgment. Paul never denies the validity of this principle, but he goes on to show that no one meets the conditions necessary for this principle to become a reality. It is obvious, then, that faith alone — a living and real faith — is all that can save, as is made clear by 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."

    The Role of Baptism

    We are now prepared to offer a case study of the role of works and its relation to faith, using the example of the rite of convert baptism. We will see that the answer to the question, "Is baptism necessary for salvation?", is that the question is out of order. If there is any question that needs to be asked, it is this: "If you are saved, and you know what baptism means and that it was commanded by Christ, why would you not be baptized?" The Church of Christ accuses other Churches (or denominations as they call them) that we do not believe in the necessity of baptism for the Christian. This is totally a straw man to say such a stupidity. All truly born again Christians have to believe that baptism is essentiial in the Chrisitan life and is commanded by our Lord himself. There is no doubt about that. What they should understand is that baptism is an act of obedience testifying that the baptism of the Holy Spirit has been received by the believer and it is when one receives the latter that he is saved. Interestingly, in spite of all the counter-arguments that have been given to my posts no one has been able to answer the question when I asked what about the one who repents on the battlefield and had not enough time to be baptized because he was killed immediately killed or was already dying when he believe that he had to repent before passing away? To reply that it is an exception is too an easy answer. Life is full of exceptional things that may happen to us, whose we have no control. We must look at it at face value.

    One does not become baptized to be saved; one is saved and is therefore baptized. Faith that is true inevitably manifests itself in obedience, and being that baptism is the first act declared for the believer by Christ, the true believer will gladly undergo baptism. This is that way we should apply the teaching of James and no other way.

    Here is again some verses used by a number of groups in this regard. Verse which seem to have a unique usage by a particular group (i.e. the Churches of Christ).

    Acts 2:37-8: "Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 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." By the way, if the verse had to be read for what it says, we should say that the sequence is also importance. Here is what it would give: Repentance – Baptism (not in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit, but in the name of Jesus alone) – Remission of sins – Receiving of the Holy Spirit. Now, no one would dare to espouse such a sequence, precisely because we see other things in other passages of the Bble. For example, Cornelius and his family received the Holy Spirit before being baptized (Acts 10:44-48; 11:17-18). Whatever one might say here, he has to deal with the text without any support to make another viewpoint to back up his saying. Secondly, if one tells me: "Richard, saying that we have to be baptized in the name of Jesus is not contradictory to being baptized in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit. This is the same thing" I would reply immediately to this person that to be consistent to your viewpoint, this is not the same thing since you said that we have to take the text for what it says and not for what it means. You would be cornered doing so. And you say that you can baptize only in the name of Jesus, then just tell us that not only you are a member of the Churches of Christ, but are a partaker of the "JOM" Jesus Only Movement.

    A key here is the word "for" (eis) – a word that can mean "for" or "because of". If eis is taken to mean "for" then it is taken to mean that baptism is essential to salvation; if it means "because of", then it is not. However, "into" is the closest approximation of eis in this verse, so that Peter tells the crowd to be "baptized into the remission of sins."

    Read in light of the Semitic Totality Concept, it indicates that believers will practice this behavior to validate their commitment to Christ. Baptism is just one part of that behavior is inextricably linked to repentance and salvation.

    Does the lack of the behavior mean one is not saved? No, but one does have to ask why anyone would not produce the validating behavior. Do they understand the command? Are they hydrophobic? Why would they refuse baptism if they knew that Christ had commanded it? Can we picture someone hearing the preaching of Peter and saying, "Peter, that's good news, I'll repent as you say, but I'm definitely not being baptized, even though I know it was commanded by the one I now call Lord."? It would be ridiculous to reason that way.

    Baptism, like any validating behavior, is "essential to salvation" only in the sense that if you don't want to go through with it, and there is no barrier to understanding, then it is clear that you do not possess salvation. Thought and action are expected, under the Semitic Totality paradigm, to correspond. The conversion and the baptism are regarded as one process, not because the latter is required for salvation, but because it is expected in light of salvation.

    Hence it is off the mark to make much of that Peter commanded the baptism, and thereby conclude that baptism is a "necessity" rather than an inevitable result. A command is often needed simply because the person being commanded has no idea what they should do next (as would have been the case with the Pentecost converts), having no knowledge of what the process is; and it could hardly be phrased in any less demanding language.

    Acts 22:16: "And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord."

    Some argue that this verse teaches that Paul's sins would be washed away following his baptism, and thus indicates the necessity of baptism. But under the Semitic Totality concept, this is simply not the case. Dear friends, is it more clear now? Jewish people in the first century just did not think that way. This is a document historical fact in rabbinic literature.

    Moreover, if one wants to read this verse as a chronology, rather than as a totality expression as we would read it, one wonders why calling on the name of Jesus is done last. It is more in line with the anthropological data to read Paul's quote of Ananias as a summary of a total commitment process which involved confession, obedience, and regeneration, and the "calling on the name of the Lord" as the "overarching term" in the passage. [For points in Acts, see commentaries by Polhill (461) and Kistemaker (790).]

    Gal. 3:27: "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ."

    Although some indeed have taken the "for" here to "indicate that the status of divine sonship is contingent upon the ritual of water baptism" it is difficult to find this point in a letter in which Paul spends so much time trying to show the Galatians that they do not need to be circumcised. If baptism had replaced circumcision as an initiatory rite, then why does Paul not simply point to baptism over and over again? (Note that Paul in vv. 3:2-3 asks if they received the Spirit — not if they were baptized.)

    As Longenecker writes: "…Paul is not simply replacing one external rite (circumcision) by another external rite (baptism). If that were so, i.e., if he viewed baptism as a supplement to faith in much that the same way that the Judaizers viewed circumcision as a supplement to faith, he could have simply settled the dispute at Galatia by saying that Christian baptism now replaces circumcision."

    In both pagan and Jewish contexts, the idea of "clothing" oneself hearkens back to specific ideas. In pagan contexts, one would often, after a ceremonial washing, don the distinctive garb of the god being worshipped in order to identify with the god's persona. In a secular context, one which Paul's readers would recognize, a Roman youth upon coming of age would remove a childhood garment and don one suited for adults.

    In the Bible, the idea of clothing oneself with an attribute is found in several places (2 Chr. 6:41; Job 29:14; Rom. 13:12; 1 Thess. 5:8; Eph. 6:11-17). What is represented is an inward decision, and thus those who are "clothed with Christ" have made the inward decision which baptism is the corresponding action for. One no more obtains a position in Christ via baptism than a Roman child could have become an adult by donning an adult's clothing. {See Galatians commentaries by George (276) and Longenecker (156).]

    In light of this passage, we also see that once the Semitic Totality concept is understood, other passages become more clear in their meaning as well. Romans 6:3-4 ("Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death. We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life ") and 1 Corinthians 12:13 ("For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink") show not that baptism is the point at which we connect with the cross, and are saved, but that it is the inevitable expression of one who has indeed connected with the cross.

    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…"

    Some argue that "washing" means baptism, but it is better understood as a figurative term for the regeneration process of cleansing from sin (in line with the Jewish allegory of water noted above). The word Paul uses for "regeneration" (paliggenesia) has connotations associated with renovation, resurrection, and new life, and the word behind "renewal" (anakainosis) is used elsewhere in the New Testament in connection with the renewing, cleansing work of the Holy Spirit. (For similar imagery, see Romans 6:4, 1 Cor. 6:11, and Eph. 5:26.) The two words are "practically synonyms and thus express a unity", and the fact that a single preposition governs the entire phrase indicates that the "washing of regeneration" and the "renewing of the Holy Ghost" are the same event.

    Beyond this, there is no evidence that "washing" (loutron) was ever used of Christian baptism in the New Testament. It is used elsewhere only in Ephesians 5:26, where it must also be assumed to mean baptism. [See Pastorals commentaries by Quinn (195, 224), Fee (157), and Towner (256).]

    1 Peter 3:20-21: "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…"

    We have noted that the Semitic Totality concept radically affects our understanding of verses concerning the interrelation of faith, works, and particularly baptism. Is there any evidence that the early Jewish apostles as Christians had difficulty in communicating this difference in anthropological view to their Gentile converts? I believe that there is, and that this passage serves as an example of how they coped with the problem. But we need to first look at a parallel from corresponding Biblical and secular sources.

    "And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins." (Mark 1:4)

    From this verse there emerges a puzzle, for while Mark says that John preached "a baptism of repentance," we find what appears to be the opposite proclaimed of John's baptism in this passage from Josephus, who said that John called for his converts:

    "…to lead righteous lives, to practice justice towards their fellows and purity towards God, and so doing to join in baptism. In his view this was a necessary preliminary if baptism was to be pleasing to God. They must not employ it to gain pardon for whatever sins they committed, but as a consecration of the body implying that the soul was already cleansed by right behavior." What this passage of Josephus shows is this. As a first century Jew, he knew well what we have called here the Totality Concept.

    Critics of the Bible often assume that either Mark or Josephus are in error. But Peter and Josephus are rather actually explaining to their Gentile readers–those who do not think within the paradigm of Semitic Totality–what the role of baptism is, in their terms as opposed to Semitic terms.

    In fact, that the solution lies in understanding also why there appears to be a contradiction between Mark and Josephus: Peter is correcting a Gentile misapprehension of baptism in terms of the Semitic Totality concept.

    What, then, is baptism?

    It does not wash away the "filth" (sins) of the "flesh" (human weakness). Rather, it is "the pledge of a good conscience toward God," (not "for" as the NASB reads) a conscience knowing its duty to be baptized according to the command of Christ, that good conscience having been achieved by the moral cleansing that has already taken place through the forgiveness of sins. [See Michaels' 1 Peter commentary, 213-16.)

  23. Richard,

    It is you who have missed the point, not Jeff, not Norm, nor I, but you. Your understanding or should we say misunderstanding of the Greek word “eis” is based NOT upon proper Hermeneutics, but upon false precepts revolving around the myth of salvation by faith or grace alone. You point to Matthew 3:11 where “eis” is found “I indeed baptize you in water to (unto – KJV – for – NIV) repentance…” Like Mr. Robertson whose holds the same doctrinal position as yourself, you refuse to accept what John says, because it does not jive with your belief system. This was the same problem with the Jews, they could not accept that Jesus was the Christ because He was not what they pictured – they wanted a physical king, to take the physical throne of David, not a spiritual king, sitting on a spiritual throne.

    Just because it does not meet your expectations, does not make it false. Mr. Thayer, whom I would think you would accept as a prominent authority – says of “eis” – “denoting entrance into, or direction and limit: into, to, towards, for, among.” OF A PLACE: entrance into a place, into, – OF TIME: denotes entrance into a period which is penetrated, as it were, duration through a time – such as – towards the first day of the week. USED METAPHORCIALLY: Retains the force of entering into anything. The point being that “eis” DOES ALWAYS maintain the same sense throughout the Bible. You are forced to use a different dictionary in order to make this word mean anything else!

    The Jewish mindset has nothing whatsoever to do with the requirement for ALL men everywhere to hear the gospel, believe the gospel, repent of sins, confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and be immersed in water towards being cleansed in the blood of Christ. Are we required to care about the Jewish mindset as concerns Christ’s coming? I guess we should, in order to understand why they wanted Him crucified, but that is the only reason. The only way that their mindset will affect me, is in a way that I don’t follow in their footsteps!

    Your teaching on the Jewish mindset is simply a furtherance of the false idea that there are two different gospels – one for the Jews and one for the Gentiles. And it is TOTALLY grounded in denominational doctrine – not Biblical. The doctrine of “faith Only” was not taught until Martin Luther as an overreaction to the false Catholic doctrine of works salvation. Before that time, the Lord’s church taught exactly as the Bible teaches, no works of merit, but complete obedience to God’s will.

    “WHAT MUST I DO TO BE SAVED?” does NOT hold a different answer for mankind. The only way it holds is different answer, is for those who refuse to submit to God’s will, and invent their own plan of salvation, their own methods of worship, their own church organizations.

    “Quasi-Christian” apologists wrongly point to numerous verses that have NEVER declared that “faith only” is what saves. They must ADD TO the Word of God in order to MAKE it say what they believe. There is ONLY ONE passage in the Entire Bible that mentions “faith only” and it says NOT BY FAITH ONLY – James 2:24-26. The abuse of passages by the above mentioned individuals only proves what Jesus warned of – many false teachers will arise and lead many astray.

    The argument has NEVER been that faith is A requirement of God UNTO salvation. We firmly and strongly believe that with all our hearts, and will defend it to the death. What we are defending against, is the unreasonable assertion that one is saved by “Faith ONLY” or “Faith ALONE” coupled with “Grace ONLY” or “Grace ALONE,” not to mention the willful ignoring of the fact that faith itself is a work! (John 6:28-29).

    Proper Bible Hermeneutics requires the honest Bible student to gather ALL the relevant evidence on a subject BEFORE drawing a conclusion. “Faith ONLY” advocates do not follow this accepted precept. They simply pick out the verses that suit their doctrine, and ignore all others.

    The Lord’s church on the other hand, is faithful in its proper use of Bible Hermeneutics. We maintain balance in our interpretation of the Scriptures. We don’t believe in salvation by baptism alone/only. We believe in EVERY facet of what God requires in order for an individual to benefit from His gracious gift of Christ’s death upon the cross. God has finished His part – which is what Jesus meant when He said upon the cross – “It is finished” (John 19:30). The rest is left up to us. God’s gracious gift of salvation is now offered to every person who will obey the conditions of receiving the gift. We go to EVERY passage that speaks of what men were required to do in order to be saved, and then follow that pattern. We don’t stop at “faith” and then assume there is nothing else.

    As for works – There are works/actions required of men in order to become saved, and there are works/actions required of men to maintain their salvation (again, something that we disagree on).

    I have yet to see Richard or anyone else with his belief system to give us a verse that states specifically that we are saved by “Faith only.” Nor has he given us Bible proof that one is united IN CHRIST by faith only. Where is the verse that says that? Now I do agree with Richard that repentance is a fruit of our faith – but let’s not stop there, so is confession and baptism.

    Semitic Totality concept — Yawn, yawn – goes quite a bit out of the way in order NOT to make a point. Does nothing to disprove the necessity of baptism.

    Again Richard throws out passages such Philippians 2:12 and dismisses it because it does not fall in line with HIS way of thinking. That’s exactly what got the Jews in trouble.

    Richard, like every “faith only” advocate, has not come to the realization that there are differing works that are mentioned. There are (1) works/deeds/actions of the Law of Moses, which were required of the Jews only – (2) works/deeds/actions which men have invented in order to assumingly be pleasing to God – (3) works/deeds/actions required of all men by God.
    When the Bible talks negatively about a “work/deed/action” then we know that it falls in the first two categories. But when the Bible speaks of a “work/deed/action” in a positive sense, then we are assured that it is necessary in order to please God and be saved.

    What was the first “work/deed/action” that the people asked Jesus that God the Father expected of THEM? Jesus told them “to believe on Him” (John 6:28-29). Therefore, faith is a “work/deed/action’ that falls into category three, and is one of several “works/deeds/actions’ that God requires of every person on earth before they can be saved, and maintain their salvation. Of course Paul said in Romans 3:20 that by the “deeds/works/actions” of the LAW (of Moses) no flesh (Jew and Gentile) shall be justified in His sight.” Why? Because that LAW was nailed to the cross! And, it could do nothing to take away sins, like the NEW LAW of Christ could (Hebrews 9:22-28-10:4).

    Again, we do not deny that faith is necessary (Hebrews 11:6). We are denying that faith is all there is (Acts 17:30; Matthew 10:32-33; Mark 16:16).

    The inconsistency of Denominational doctrine is irrational on its face. There are no straw men other than the ones that they themselves invent. At least the Lord’s church consistently teaches that baptism is necessary. Denominations on the other hand say, it is not necessary but it is necessary. A logical contradiction!
    Just like “Faith ONLY” by “Grace ONLY” – again a logical contradiction!

    So far, Richard’s logic has failed him yet again. As has his use of irrational “authorities.”

  24. To all those who are willing to learn more, once again let's put aside Mike's interventions. Mike, do you realize that you are just writing as a member of the Churches of Christ and nothing more? It is as if I were writing to a Jehovah's Witnesses' blog trying to prove that they are teaching inacurracies in their doctrines. Do you imagine that none of them would not react?…Yawn, Yawn yourself! A good Jehovah's Witness would do exactly what you are doing right now, trying to save his skin. As for your knowledge of the Greek I would like to know how many hours of Greek you have behind your tie. You only display a deep lack of knowledge in this regard, let alone in discerning principles of interpretation. Just keeping sticky on one doctrine is the mark of a cult. Isn't it? Some fight for the non deity of Christ (JW), some others for this and that. You, you fight for baptism as being necessary for salvation. It shows a profound lack of balance in your Bible reading.

    For now, as long as Mike will be writing, I will leave the debate to those who like debating. Sorry for those who could have progressed. I would dare to say that you surely believe that salvation is loosable? I would not be surprised.

    For other, like Norm, Jeff, David, it was a nice journey in your midst. Your cordiality was evident as well as your good exchange. You did not demonstrate any antagonism as it is the case with Mike. Sorry for him. But praise the Lord! My mission is not to convince anybody. Only the Holy Spirit would do that to him and others who believe the same lie.

    • Richard,

      You are responding to Mike in the exact same manner that you rebuked him for and asked me to rebuke him for.

      I'm not sure about Mike, but I suspect he has as much if not more Greek study as I do. Which is enough to study the Greek text for what it says and define the words according to their original Greek meaning. I find it interesting that you will make this attempt to ridicule Mike for how much Greek he has "behind his tie" when you have yet to even acknowledge my exposing your attempt to define a Greek word by English usage. The only place I have found eis defined as you attempt to define it is in denominational commentaries, not respected and trustworthy Greek Lexicons and word studies. There is a difference between giving a definition and giving an interpretation. Mike is absolutely correct in his treatment of the word eis.

      As for being cultishly adamant in our beliefs, the only thing I hold to is God's word. I will not be moved from that solid foundation. Especially by the illogical and contradictory arguments of denominationalism. You have put forth a great deal of effort to try and prove that God's word doesn't mean what it says. I pray that you will repent of holding to your man-made doctrine and turn to the pure and powerful word of God.

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