“Muscle & Shovel”: Chapter 5, Part 3A (Reconciling baptism and faith)

muscleshovelWe are considering Michael Shank’s book Muscle and a Shovel.

As promised, here’s how I reconcile the dozens of verses that promise salvation to everyone with faith in Jesus with the many other verses that teach that water baptism is the moment when God saves us.

The Old Testament evidence

It’s a rare study of baptism that considers the Old Testament. Indeed, we often mistakenly consider the Old Testament a dead letter — useful for digging out Messianic prophecies for a sermon on Christian evidences or for teaching middle schoolers moral lessons, but useless for such serious studies as the nature of God’s salvation.

That is, of course, an absurd conceit and our assumption that the Old Testament is irrelevant has greatly hindered our studies of the New Testament — written by Jews who quote the Old Testament on nearly every page.

Abraham

We start in the Torah. I’ll offer the briefest introduction to God’s covenant with Abraham.

God called Abram out of Ur and made a covenant with him in a series of encounters. God chose Abraham and so craved a personal relationship with him that he appeared in physical form to converse with him. You know the story. Two central elements of the covenant are —

(Genesis 15:6 ESV) 6 And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.

Paul teaches that we were admitted by faith, based on God’s covenant with Abraham.

(Galatians 3:8-9 ESV) “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

Paul calls God’s promise to Abraham “the gospel” because our salvation is based on that very promise. We are saved by our faith in Jesus because God honors his covenant with Abraham.

We cannot adopt or teach a theology of salvation that contradicts God’s covenant with Abraham. And not only was Abraham not baptized, Paul makes the point that circumcision is unnecessary because it came after Abraham was deemed righteous because of his faith (Rom 4:10-12).

So why is baptism necessary if we’re baptized after we come to faith in Jesus? And why is there no prophecy that even arguably predicts water baptism in the Kingdom when so much else of New Testament salvation doctrine is found in the Old Testament prophets?

The New Testament evidence

John the Baptist

Why does John the Baptist say that he baptizes with water and that Jesus will baptize with the Spirit, when the early church clearly baptized in water and Spirit? Why doesn’t John the Baptist ever prophesy Jesus’ baptizing with water if water is necessary?

The “everyone who believes” verses

We’ve already seen in the last post several verses that promise salvation to all with faith in Jesus. I could add dozens more to the list.

But, yes, there are also several baptism verses in the New Testament. And they really say what they say, too. And we should not ignore them or exegete them out of the text. They are there for a reason. But so are the “everyone with faith is saved” verses. And yet we sometimes treat them as embarrassments, even though they come from the hand of God.

We don’t accept the truth of these verses even though they are exactly consistent with God’s promises to Abraham and Paul’s explanation of how we’re saved by God’s promises to Abraham. Even though they represent the culmination of over 2,000 years of salvation history and prophecy, finally fulfilled in the New Testament, they just don’t fit what we normally teach, do they?

Baptism as obedience

But, complains the one arguing against “faith only,” doesn’t our faith have to be proven by our obedience? Isn’t that really James’ point? And if obedience is essential, and if we mess up something as important as baptism, doesn’t that mean we’re not obedient and therefore not saved?

No! And this is really, really important. “Obedient” does not mean perfect. We all sin. Yes, even Christians sin. Even very mature Christians sin. Therefore, the fact that we’ve missed the mark as to our baptism hardly proves us disobedient. It proves us imperfect. And we’re all imperfect.

Think seriously about it. A new convert is a babe in Christ. The convert learns about Jesus, falls in love with Jesus, comes to true faith, is deeply penitent, and wants to serve Jesus as Lord. And so the convert seeks baptism. The convert is taught by a seminary graduate with multiple post-graduate degrees in Greek that pouring is a sufficient baptism. The convert reads her dictionary, and the dictionary agrees! And so, with a pure and obedient heart, she submits to pouring.

Is she obedient? Of course, she’s obedient. If this doesn’t meet God’s standard of obedience, then we’re all damned, because not a one of us can meet a higher standard.

Indeed, the theology of many members of the Churches of Christ has been perverted into a works salvation by insistence that doctrinal perfection is required, because it’s only by insisting on doctrinal perfection that we can declare an imperfect baptism disobedient. After all, no one has ever submitted to a pouring, a sprinkling, or other imperfect baptism intending to disobey God! Such people exist only in our tract racks.

Avatar of Jay Guin

About Jay Guin

I am an elder, a Sunday school teacher, a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a lawyer. I live in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, home of the Alabama Crimson Tide. I’m a member of the University Church of Christ. I grew up in Russellville, Alabama and graduated from David Lipscomb College (now Lipscomb University). I received my law degree from the University of Alabama. I met my wife Denise at Lipscomb, and we have four sons, two of whom are married, and I have a grandson and granddaughter.
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93 Responses to “Muscle & Shovel”: Chapter 5, Part 3A (Reconciling baptism and faith)

  1. Ray Downen says:

    Jay asks, “Why doesn’t John the Baptist ever prophesy Jesus’ baptizing with water if water is necessary?” And anyone might be justified in wondering why any Bible teacher would ask such a question. Jesus commands that Christians who tell others about him are to baptize each new believer. Jesus of course does not baptize when He has commanded that PEOPLE are to do the baptizing which brings believers into the eternal Kingdom of light.

    Jesus baptized His apostles (only His apostles) with/in His Spirit, with signs both heard and seen and, as promised, then the apostles were EMPOWERED to do the work to which Jesus had called them. No one other than the apostles has ever received baptism in the Spirit. The apostles invite believers to repent AND BE BAPTIZED in order to receive the “gift of the Holy Spirit.” The Spirit is given to new Christians, but not with apostolic powers.

    John the Baptist was correct in saying that Jesus would baptize with the Spirit and with fire but not in water. Hell awaits those who do not turn to Jesus and accept the baptism He commands. Unbelievers will be “cast into” Hell at the command of Jesus. This will follow the great judgment when all who have ever lived on earth will be brought before Jesus the Judge. Some will afterward enter Heaven. Some will be baptized in fire and suffer eternal separation from Jesus and the Father.

    Do I hear some saying Jesus was mistaken in commanding that Christians ARE TO BAPTIZE each new believer? Is it being suggested that since Jesus doesn’t baptize in water that water baptism commanded by Jesus is unnecessary? Surely no one would make such a suggestion!

  2. Skip says:

    Ray said, “No one other than the apostles has ever received baptism in the Spirit.” That isn’t exactly true.

    Acts 10:44-47 “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit CAME ON all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT HAD BEEN POURED OUT EVEN ON THE GENTILES. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? THEY HAVE RECEIVED THE SPIRIT JUST AS WE HAVE”.

    In Peter’s own words, Cornelius and his household “received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” How did Peter receive the spirit? However it was received by Peter, Peter claims that Cornelius got the same thing. The Apostles had many gifts and many of those gifts are replicated in Acts by non-apostles.

  3. Skip says:

    The tragedy in many of our discussions is that we get so preoccupied with baptism that we paint the picture that all of Christianity is summed up in the baptism event. Now we can sit in our pews and argue about how we are right and no one else is right. Folks, the ultimate prize is Jesus himself. Our obsession should be with a person not with a process. I am not saying that procedures and doctrines are wrong but I am saying that MANY are more obsessed with doctrinal purity than they are with the Son of God. When that happens a perversion of Christianity is automatic.

  4. Alabama John says:

    Amen Skip

    The old thinking that even those baptized that didn’t have all the exact right words spoken by the one doing the baptizing before they went under must be rebaptized as theirs was of no effect are fading fast.

    Remember the teaching: “I hereby baptize you in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost for the remission of your sins”.

  5. Ray Downen says:

    Skip disagrees that the apostles were unique, it seems. And he seems also to feel that the command of Jesus is not really very important. JESUS commands that Christians are to BAPTIZE each new believer. JESUS says that entrance into His Kingdom is by way of “new birth of water and the spirit” (John 3:5 as explained by Acts 2:38). JESUS caused the apostles to teach that baptism was the gateway to being WITH JESUS as sons and daughters of God.

    And some are determined to omit baptism and assure believers that they’re saved without the new birth of water and spirit. Is it suggested that the apostles didn’t properly understand conversion? Is that why some want to teach a different way to enter the Kingdom than did Jesus and His apostles? Christian baptism is an act which is like the death, burial and resurrection of JESUS. It couldn’t be practiced prior to the resurrection. It was AFTER His resurrection that Jesus commanded Christian baptism for each new believer in the RISEN LORD.

    Is it marvelous that Abraham didn’t have to be baptized in order to please God? Baptism following repentance by believers in Jesus and His resurrection could not possibly be taught or required prior to the events recorded in Acts chapter two. OF COURSE no one needed to be baptized in order to please God prior to its being ordered by Jesus. That it was not earlier required proves nothing about whether or not it is NOW required! Abraham was saved by his faith as shown in obedience to what HE was told to do. We are saved by our faith as shown in obedience to what WE are told to do by Jesus and His apostles!

  6. Skip says:

    Ray said, “Skip disagrees that the apostles were unique, it seems. And he seems also to feel that the command of Jesus is not really very important.”

    My, my, where do I start. I never said that the Apostles weren’t unique. Your assumption is wrong. Of course the Apostles are unique in the fact that they were chosen specifically by Jesus. And they certainly were unique in several other ways. HOWEVER, Peter himself said, “Cornelius and his household “received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” Ray, either you believe what Peter said or you deny it. My point was precisely what Peter said. This was in response to your assertion “No one other than the apostles has ever received baptism in the Spirit.” Do you deny precisely what Peter meant by “Received the Holy Spirit just as we have”?

    Ray again said, “And he seems also to feel that the command of Jesus is not really very important. JESUS commands that Christians are to BAPTIZE each new believer.”

    Holy smokes, how did you deduce this from my comments? Did I say “baptism is not important”? I combed through my comments above and can’t find that phrase. I have baptized numerous people over the years. I think you are emotionally charged and tried to read into my comments something that you fear I believe. Here is precisely what I said, “The tragedy in many of our discussions is that we get so preoccupied with baptism that we paint the picture that all of Christianity is summed up in the baptism event.” How can you make such a huge leap in logic so as to construe this sentence to mean that I don’t think baptism is important? I was merely trying to convey that in all our yammering about baptism that we slip into focusing on baptism so much that a relationship with Jesus Christ is lost in the noise. I am following Jesus. Thus my preoccupation is with Jesus. I was baptized in 1974. I have baptized scores of people. Doctrine is important but I don’t put doctrine on a pedestal above my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The first century Jewish leaders actually did focus on doctrine so much that they entirely missed the promised messiah.

  7. “The apostles were unique?” Yes, I deny it, at least as traditionally thought. I can find one reference– exactly one, in Matthew 19:28– which suggests such a thing, and it speaks of thrones in the kingdom for the Twelve. So there does appear to be something unique about the Twelve, but this mystical promise is nothing like what has been long promulgated by much of the Protestant church. This “uniqueness” does not mean the Twelve-Plus-Paul-But-Not-Barnabas were the only ones to receive the Holy Spirit. The scripture flatly contradicts this, as has already been pointed out. And the common linguistic hair-splitting over “filled” versus “baptized” versus “poured out” versus “received” has never been more than that– hair-splitting intended to obscure more than to clarify.

    We have, by our tradition, created a unique clan of Thirteen special magical wizards who had miraculous powers which they could use at their own whim. Their magic supposedly died with them, or with their proteges, replaced at some precise but indefinite point by copies of the NT canon. This dubious concept is absent from the scriptures, and for good reason. This concept is embarrassingly easy to source. Long after the assembly of the canon, believers read of a spiritually-powerful church in the NT and compared it to their own powerlessness, and some sort of explanation was in order> Either the lack was in themselves, or they were not supposed to exercise supernatural power, because such power had never been available to lesser mortals. These latter-day believers chose the latter explanation as it puts the responsibility for our powerlessness on God’s whim and on the surpassing replacement power of our own persuasiveness in Biblical argument.

  8. Grizz says:

    Skip,

    You make a good point, and one which I believe Jay either missed or skated past so quickly he did not address it much at all.

    A first century Jew known as Paul, formerly Saul of Tarsus, a Pharisee of Pharisees, is quoted as writing,
    “Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but what matters is the keeping of the commandments of God”

    and

    “Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh. But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation . And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God”

    and also,

    “you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”

    Many, coming from the perspective of the OT, felt that circumcision was THE mark of a Jew, teaching that it was circumcision and not faith which made them children of Abraham. Some could be accused of the same thing today regarding baptism, but would that be a valid parallel? Abram was renamed Abraham to indicate the blessing of God given in recognition and validation of the faith he had shown himself to have in God. When called to leave his home in Ur, Abram left. When called even to leave his daddy’s home in Haran, Abram left. When called to live in a land promised to him and his seed, Abram entered the land and allowed his nephew to choose a choice plot for his people when he parted ways with his uncle. Abraham, despite being richly supplied with “things” (herds, tents, servants and family), never put nearly as much stock in possessions as he did in God’s provision. When God called, Abraham expressed faith by obedience to what God called him to do. That is Abraham’s faith.

    If we would be adopted, grafted into the family tree of Abraham as people with like faith, shall we not obey in even such a thing as immersion in water? We cannot help noting that Jesus called His followers, from the apostles onward, to make disciples, immersing them in His name and teaching them to obey. Shall we not express our faith in the Son even as Abraham expressed his faith in the Father? We are agreed that we should, IF we are to have any hope of being counted of the faith-seed of Abraham.

    So how does baptism relate to the “everyone with faith is saved” verses? Baptism, immersion in water, is the faith that saves being expressed for the very first time.

    But what shall I say about Jay’s question regarding perfect obedience? Is pouring a sufficient baptism?

    Pouring, if that multi-degree and oft-taught in Greek linguistics pastor had paid attention, is expressed by the Greek word, CHEO. Sprinkling, if he had rather used that ‘substitute for baptism, is expressed by the Greek word, RHONTIDZO. Baptism is a plunging under, a dipping into, and a submerging in. (NOTE: this is why it was an easily seen word picture for Paul to use burial as a picture of baptism in Romans 6, with people who spoke first century Greek as their native tongue IN THE FIRST CENTURY.) These distinct actions, despite the learned pastor’s claims, are expressed by distinct Greek words, as all can see by comparing BAPTIDZO to CHEO and RHONTIDZO.

    There is no more reason to accept pouring as a substitute for baptism as a convert to Christ than there would be for clipping one’s toenails as a substitute for clipping one’s foreskin as a Gentile converting to the faith of Abraham. Any Jew would know the difference, just as any first century Greek-speaking Gentile would have known the difference between baptidzo and cheo, but by using pseudo-English transliterations rather than actual translations, there has been some obfuscating of the words and meanings in English ‘translations’ of the Greek that did not exist in the first century. Such error is without significance IF one subscribes to the notion that meanings are fluid and unimportant in such matters as translation. IF, however, one subscribes to the notion that translators should translate and NOT substitute commentary for translation, though, the significance factor rises precipitously.

    No less an authority on such matters than Leland Ryken, editor of the English Standard Version Bible, has intimated just this view in his short book on how to choose a Bible version for study.

    So … what does this mean for those who practice pouring or sprinkling or application of any of these to infants?

    Simply this … those practices are just as valid as any other errors substituted for what God has specified. Text God a “sinner’s prayer” and be saved. Save your obedience in immersion into Christ for when you are ready to become more than a pew-packer. Always say something about Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf whenever sharing a meal that includes bread and wine. Assemble with a group of three fellow believers on the 1st tee of the golf course instead of assembling with more of your fellow believers at a larger group gathering anywhere off the golf course (making it okay by sharing wine and crackers at the clubhouse during your break between the front and back nine).

    Why not do any or all of these things?? Is it impossible to conceive of anyone sincerely subscribing to these practices? (There is evidence that each of these is practiced or has been during my lifetime.) Would any of these be ‘errors’ at all? What did Jesus say about being His disciple? Is it as easy as we try to make it? What is the standard by which to measure truth?

    Just asking …

    Grizz

  9. rich constant says:

    when i was a very young christian…
    this “my way or the highway” is sorta kinda what i was speaking to, when i said that in trying to topple the
    “Christan
    belief system” should not take more than eight months of serious study… because of this “pseudo” smart verse bashing which I presumed must be built upon a theology of “giants” in their Field, most of which were echo’s from the dark ages…
    although this was a starting point.
    i finally tried to read a letter for context,and that was the start…
    i came to look at Scripture as not
    two sided.in or out, alive or dead, in sin or free from sin,
    rightly dividing the word of truth, or not…
    from
    a subjective or an objective point of view.
    but from a holistic point created in the image and likeness of god.
    And for the 1500 years that followed we see these intrinsic characteristics exposed in the dealings with his people.
    or as in amos
    not one righteous one will be lost
    9:9 “For look, I am giving a command

    and I will shake the family of Israel together with all the nations.

    It will resemble a sieve being shaken,

    when not even a pebble falls to the ground.30

    9:10 All the sinners among my people will die by the sword –

    the ones who say, ‘Disaster will not come near, it will not confront us.’

    Exodus
    34:5 The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there and proclaimed the Lord by name.9 34:6 The Lord passed by before him and proclaimed:10 “The Lord, the Lord,11 the compassionate and gracious12 God, slow to anger,13 and abounding in loyal love and faithfulness,14 34:7 keeping loyal love for thousands,15 forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin. But he by no means leaves the guilty unpunished, responding to the transgression16 of fathers by dealing with children and children’s children, to the third and fourth generation.”

    the long and short of this
    GOD HAS FULLY REVILED HIMSELF THROUGH SCRIPTURE AND HIS CHRIST THROUGH THE SPIRIT
    just exactly who should i tailor my self after
    The exact representation of the ETHICAL AND MORAL IMPERATIVE SUCH AS THE Son-of-God-in-power according to the Holy Spirit by the resurrection from the dead,
    OR
    A
    CONSTRUCT Of ever changing teaching not centered on gods mercy…
    should i follow the construct of situated theology weather it be from ad 350 UP TO 2000ad
    which is nothing but, in truth A Theological Anthropological Ontological construct IN PROGRESS.
    REFUSING TO FOCUS ON LOVE AND MERCY
    all the while saying I got it right and your wrong.

    you boys better give it a rest “claiming you know i am right admit it”
    let the Spirit Work….or the that fruit ya know.
    blessings
    rich

    and then
    ROM
    3:21 But now26 apart from the law the righteousness of God (which is attested by the law and the prophets)27 has been disclosed

    – 3:22 namely, the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ28

    for all who believe. For there is no distinction,

  10. Gary says:

    Jay, is not baptism the re-enactment of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection? No one in the Ole Test. could be baptized for that reason. Are you saying we don’t need to be baptized. Maybe I missed the point.

  11. Royce says:

    Gary (and others..), Jay has never said such a thing and I think you likely know it. I don’t see things exactly in lock step with Jay, but….I believe the difference in Jay and some on this comment thread is this. Jay believes Jesus saves and some of you believe baptism saves. It’s fact that if you preach baptism more than you do Jesus and what he accomplished for sinners you should not call yourself a “gospel” preacher. The “gospel” (good news) is not about baptism. It is about the person and work of Jesus Christ for sinners. Baptism is ONE response to that good news, not THE response to it.

  12. Mark says:

    On Yom Kippur, the high priest immersed himself more than once as was commanded before putting on the various garments that he would wear that day. Multiple times he was to wash just his hands and his feet. Immersion was nothing new,

  13. Skip says:

    And in our obsession with baptism we often overlook repentance as an ABSOLUTE requirement. Where are all the treatises on repentance? Can anyone be saved without repenting? How many Churches baptize anybody without question without probing if repentance ever occurred? So where is all the ink (electrons) on repentance?

  14. Glenn Ziegler says:

    Royce,

    What, in your view, is “THE” response to the gospel of Jesus? Why? (or … If there is not one response to be exalted … what other response{s} do you see as being neglected?)

    Grizz

  15. Glenn Ziegler says:

    Skip,

    Another word that goes with repentance may explain why we generally downplay repentance. That word is “change.” The most common response I have received is, ‘If we’re the “right” church, why would we consider changing?’

    I get that mostly from ‘church leaders,’ but that is a pretty ironic use of the term. How can one be a leader who never leads others, and is characterized by maintaining whatever status quo can be imagined?

    Until we finally accept the fact that being transformed by God requires acceptance of change, we should expect to see the tears running down the face of the Holy Spirit.

    Grizz

  16. Royce says:

    Faith, repentance, confession, and baptism are all responses to the good news about Jesus and his work on behalf of sinners. Baptism is not an optional thing but it never, never stands alone. Unless one first has his trust in the Christ everything else is useless. I’m all for baptism. I am against making baptism the Savior in the place of Jesus. It is Christ who died, it is Christ who was raised from the dead, and It is Christ who saves. He came to seek and to save those who are lost. He did not come to give us a shot at saving ourselves. So we preach and teach the good news about Jesus and his work for the ungodly and we baptize those who believe the message.

  17. Grizz says:

    Royce,

    The clarity of your answer allows me to agree without reserve.

    Blessings,

    Grizz

  18. laymond says:

    Royce said; “I am against making baptism the Savior in the place of Jesus.”

    Has anyone here ever attended a CoC meeting where they proposed that baptism alone has anything to do with salvation.? Getting a good soaking whether in a baptistery, or a roaring river, does no good if the heart and mind are not right with God. I have argued against children being baptized for fear they might not grasp the gravity of what they were doing. I was always told they knew what they were doing because they had been tutored. I still have my doubts, but at least I believe they have time to grow to understand.

  19. Ray Downen says:

    Skip feels I’ve not understood his comments as intended. Since he wrote them, he’s the best judge of whether or not I’ve understood correctly. What I’m sure of is that the apostles were uniquely promised many blessings they would receive through being empowered in a baptism of the Holy Spirit. I’m sure that the household of Cornelius received no such promises and no such powers. The SIGN given by God (by God the Son?) convinced Peter and all who heard of it that it was God’s intention that the Gentiles also could be baptized into Christ.

    But there is no mention of any apostolic powers being displayed by any of these new Christians. The baptism in the Spirit received by the apostles was immediately followed by “many miracles” done at the hand of the apostles. The baptism in the Spirit was preceded by many promises of power by Jesus to the apostles. No mention is made of any promises made that the Cornelius household would have special work to do for Jesus. They were not saved by the sign. The sign was not for these Gentiles at all. It was for the Jewish Christians so that they would ACCEPT into their number these who had not yet ever been invited to become Christians by repenting and being baptized.

    If Skip or anyone can point to any mention of powers shown by these Gentiles after the SIGN was given, I’ll be glad to retract my statements. I repeat that the sign was strictly to convince the Jewish Christians that Gentiles could be baptized into Christ. That’s what was done as a result of the sign. It would be good if we all recognized that baptism into Christ is baptism INTO Christ (Gal. 3:27). No one has become a CHRISTIAN prior to being baptized INTO Christ. We do not believe INTO Christ. We cannot repent INTO Christ. The ONLY way to come INTO Christ is by being born again of water and spirit (by repenting and being baptized because of faith in Jesus as Lord).

  20. Ray Downen says:

    Charles thinks the apostles were NOT unique. Charles should read the gospels which tell of the training of the twelve and in particular chapters 14-16 of the gospel according to John where Jesus is instructing the twelve on the particulars of what they would later be called to do. The book of Acts is obviously foreign to Charles. In Acts, Luke describes what was done by the apostles, particularly by Peter and Paul. Charles says the apostles were just like all the other Christians and in no way special or unique. He disputes with Luke’s record of the acts OF THE APOSTLES in creating and leading the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus laid the groundwork. He empowered the apostles to actually do the work.

  21. Ray Downen says:

    Royce says:
    March 1, 2014 at 8:21 pm
    ….I believe the difference in Jay and some on this comment thread is this. Jay believes Jesus saves and some of you believe baptism saves. It’s fact that if you preach baptism more than you do Jesus and what he accomplished for sinners you should not call yourself a “gospel” preacher. The “gospel” (good news) is not about baptism. It is about the person and work of Jesus Christ for sinners. Baptism is ONE response to that good news, not THE response to it.

    I don’t notice anyone who has commented who believes that baptism alone saves. We simply don’t believe such a thing. Yet that’s what Royce is saying we believe. We preach/teach about JESUS. When asked what response is needed, we point to Acts 2:38 where Peter (speaking for all the apostles rather than for himself alone) urges seeking believers to save themselves by repenting AND being baptized. So we call for all new believers IN JESUS to repent AND be baptized as Jesus commanded. That is not at all teaching that baptism alone saves. It IS acknowledging that faith alone does NOT save.

    We note that the apostles’ sermons on Pentecost and later were about Jesus and what He did, and baptism only enters the picture AFTER believers ask what their response should be to the fact that Jesus rose from the dead and offers salvation. We do NOT preach baptism. We DO preach Jesus. But when asked what seekers who believe in Jesus are to do about their sin, THEN we have to give the apostolic answer, “REPENT AND BE BAPTIZED for the remission of your sins and you SHALL (as a result of the new birth of water and spirit) RECEIVE the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

    We don’t preach salvation by the Spirit any more than we preach salvation by baptism. The sequence is hearing about Jesus, believing about JESUS, then turning to HIM as Lord and being baptized as HE commanded and THEN receiving the Holy Spirit to walk with the new Christian and help the Christian LIVE FOR JESUS.

  22. Alabama John says:

    Preachers preach more on the difference in what we believe and what the church closest to us believes that is different from our teaching.

    So, baptism for remission of sins and the proper words to say to get the desired goal and the ones close by that use the wrong wording even if they believe in baptism too is concentrated on.

    Far too much emphasis on the negative instead of the positive we have to share is killing us and costing us our youth.

    Like I’ve said many times before, we need to preach like we sing.

  23. Larry Cheek says:

    Royce,
    Great message!
    I have not understood from your previous posts and from reading on your blog that you believed what you have just stated. The message that you just stated is exactly what I thought the CoC had always taught in my lifetime. The only distortion from that message that I understood was brought on by those who believe that it was not necessary at any time to be baptized. They would proclaim, just say the “sinners prayer” and you are heaven bound. Of course they would also throw comments at us about demanding more than the Bible proclaimed as necessary.
    It was my opinion that the master deceiver was cleverly at his life long duty to destroy (or better said abort) the birth process that Jesus established. I’ll go back and reread some of your writings to see if somehow he had actually pulled the blinders on me and caused me to misunderstand your messages.

  24. Ray, I am sorry you felt the need to add all those things to what I said and to attribute them to me. I don’t take offense at your disagreeing with me, even though it’s pretty clear that you don’t yet understand what I said. But when you started drawing your own conclusions and signing my name to them in an effort to discredit me, well, I was disappointed. And surprised.

  25. Royce says:

    Ray continues the talk about the Holy Spirit being given to the Gentiles as a “SIGN”. Ray, why don’t you tell us where your found that in the Bible? I’m sure you don’t like what Peter said so you simply ignore what he said and keep repeating something only you believe. It was Peter who identified his experience with Cornelius and the others, it wasn’t me. I will not bother to quote those passages again since you only ignored them last time.

  26. Avatar of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Skip,

    The doctrine of repentance is a bit confused for several reasons. First, under my definition of “faith,” “faith” includes faithfulness and hence penitence. THerefore, the many passages that mention faith but not repentance actually do require a change.

    Second, in Acts, “repentance” often refers to repenting from unbelief — as is the case in Acts 2:38 if you read it in the context of Peter’s sermon. Sermons are preached urging a change from no faith to faith, not from a sinful life to a holy life, largely because the audience was already committed to a life of obedience — Torah-honoring Jews. They didn’t need to be called from cussing and chewing but from denying Jesus.

    (Act 11:17-18 ESV) 17 If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” 18 When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”

    Cornelius is shown to have come to faith in Jesus, but Peter did not call on him to repent of his sins. Rather, “the repentance that leads to life” is coming to faith in Jesus. But that requires faithfulness to Jesus, of course.

    Paul says the confession that saves is “Jesus is Lord,” which to me indicates both faith and repentance, because if Jesus is Lord, we must obey him.

    In the Gospels, the confession is “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” And to a Jew, “Messiah” and “Son of God” refer to the King God would send to rule the kingdom — and to a citizen of Rome, a King has absolute authority over his subjects — hence, repentance.

    It’s becoming increasingly common for preachers to ask those whom they baptize whether they repent in addition to whether they have faith — which is fine by me (I do the same) because so many of our converts enter the baptistry unaware of what “Lord” and “Messiah” mean. It’s wise to ask.

    In short, I agree, except I diagnose a poor understanding of faith more than a lack of repentance. After all, I can’t recall a baptism in scripture where someone was asked to repent using “repent” — the confession is always faith in/faithfulness to Jesus.

  27. Avatar of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Gary,

    In my opinion, both the Church of Christ side and the Baptist side of the debate are wrong. I fit in neither camp — and so don’t bother asking which camp I’m in. Neither.

    I believe the Churches of Christ generally exegete the baptism passages correctly and that salvation and receipt of the Spirit normatively happen at water baptism. I think that’s God’s intent.

    But in Acts, God reveals that he is not tied to that pattern. And in many dozens of verses he promises to save everyone with “faith” in Jesus — “faith” being defined as I describe in http://oneinjesus.info/2014/02/muscle-shovel-chapter-5-part-2-faith/.

    Therefore, when someone is baptized incorrectly — too soon, too little water, misunderstanding its purposes — God will keep his many promises to save all with “faith” as defined in http://oneinjesus.info/2014/02/muscle-shovel-chapter-5-part-2-faith/

    Does that make baptism unnecessary? Only if you care nothing about obeying God’s known commands. Does that mean we can be careless about how we baptize? Only if you aren’t afraid of losing God’s grace by intentionally violating his will.

    Does that mean the Baptists are going to heaven? Yes, if the only reason a given Baptist might not is a flawed baptism. (Baptists can fall away just like we in the Churches of Christ.) I stand with Barton Stone, Alexander Campbell, and David Lipscomb in so saying. They might misunderstand when God saves them, but God will save them because of their “faith” as defined in http://oneinjesus.info/2014/02/muscle-shovel-chapter-5-part-2-faith/

    Does this mean Church of Christ members are saved even when they’re baptized convinced that they will not receive the personal indwelling of the Spirit? Yes, Church of Christ members qualify for God’s grace, too — if they have “faith” as defined in http://oneinjesus.info/2014/02/muscle-shovel-chapter-5-part-2-faith/

    Does this make both those in the Churches of Christ and Baptist Church in error regarding baptism? Yes.

    Does God save people in error? Yes. It’s called “grace.” But there is one error you cannot make and still be saved. You must get right having faith in Jesus as defined in http://oneinjesus.info/2014/02/muscle-shovel-chapter-5-part-2-faith/

    You don’t have to know the definition of “faith” but you must believe Jesus to be Lord and Messiah, you must by faithful to Jesus, and you must trust Jesus to save based on faith, not works.

    For Church of Christ members, the hardest part of “faith” as defined in http://oneinjesus.info/2014/02/muscle-shovel-chapter-5-part-2-faith/ is trust. And trust is where it all begins, because Abram was credited with righteousness for his faith/trust in God’s promises. Therefore, I try very hard to trust God’s promises and I object to theology that requires us to doubt God’s promises.

    Because that would be a very serious thing indeed.

  28. Pingback: "Muscle & Shovel": Chapter 5, Part 3C (Further on Baptism) | One In JesusOne In Jesus

  29. Glenn Ziegler says:

    Jay,

    In your view what is the difference between faith in Jesus and faith in the preacher who told you what Jesus expects from His disciples? Will either/both kinds of faith save you? Are there limits to acceptable amounts of error?

    Grizz

  30. Skip says:

    Ray, You sidestepped your original point and morphed it into a new point and have claimed you were right all along. You originally said, “No one other than the apostles has ever received baptism in the Spirit.” That was your only premise for classifying them as unique in your first post. I responded and showed how Peter claimed in Acts 10:44-47 that Cornelius’ household had received the same outpouring of the Holy Spirit. “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit CAME ON all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT HAD BEEN POURED OUT EVEN ON THE GENTILES. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? THEY HAVE RECEIVED THE SPIRIT JUST AS WE HAVE”. Of course the Apostles did unique miracles but their baptism in the Spirit was not unique to them. The spirit worked differently in the apostles than with others but they but Cornelius’ household received the same baptism in the spirit.

  31. Royce says:

    Skip, For some people what they want the Bible to say is far more important than what it actually says.

  32. Ray Downen says:

    Gary surely is right in pointing out that baptism INTO CHRIST was not possible prior to the events which are memorialized by baptism into Christ. In Galatians 3:27, the apostle Paul makes clear that the baptism NOW practiced is “into Christ.” Some realize what “into” means. Others ignore or disbelieve and pretend that entry into the kingdom of Christ is by some other way than a new birth of WATER and spirit. But the apostles on Pentecost (A.D.30) spelled out that believers seeking salvation needed to repent AND be baptized for the remission of their sin and in order to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Do some imagine that the way is now different than when the church began? Obviously some do.

  33. Ray Downen says:

    Royce writes, Jay believes Jesus saves and some of you believe baptism saves. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that Jay seems to be saying Jesus saves prior to a person being baptized “into Christ,” while others are proclaiming that Jesus saves those who submit to His authority by accepting the baptism HE COMMANDS for every new believer. Only those who seek to make Jesus their LORD are saved either with or without baptism. And HE commands that each new believer is to be baptized.

    Peter and the apostles on the first day the church existed on earth seem to have believed that those believers who repented and were baptized were THEN added to the church of the Lord. Others are suggesting sinners who believe in Jesus are added to the Lamb’s Book of Life as a result of and at the time of becoming believers in Jesus. Anyone who believes in salvation by faith alone is disagreeing with Jesus and His apostles. The NEW BIRTH is not complete until the babe is born and takes a breath. God’s Spirit is His breath. The Spirit, God’s breath, is promised as a RESULT of the believer repenting and being baptized. The seed which leads to the birth is hearing about Jesus. Those who now believe in Jesus as LORD are buried with Him in baptism in order that they can be raised up into NEW LIFE with Him.

  34. laymond says:

    Skip, I am not so sure that the two events of which you speak are one and the same thing. pouring out the Holy Spirit on all people, and giving the Apostles another comforter, could be two different promises. I believe they speak of different events. and not the same thing at all. And yes the both came from God.

  35. Ray Downen says:

    Charles wrote: Ray, I am sorry you felt the need to add all those things to what I said and to attribute them to me. I don’t take offense at your disagreeing with me, even though it’s pretty clear that you don’t yet understand what I said. But when you started drawing your own conclusions and signing my name to them in an effort to discredit me, well, I was disappointed. And surprised.
    I’m sorry if I misunderstood you, Charles. I thought I was reading exactly what you said and responding to exactly what you said. If I restated your words and misunderstood what you meant by them, I was wrong. Is it correct that you believe in practicing the baptism commanded by Jesus, and doing it for the reason stated by Paul in Galatians 3:27? Specifically, do you believe that the new birth Jesus said is essential includes repenting and being baptized as well as believing in Jesus as Lord? I have to assume that anyone who teaches salvation by faith with no mention of repentance and baptism is teaching salvation by faith ALONE.

  36. Royce says:

    I wonder why don’t we follow Peter’s example in Acts 2? What if we preached Christ and then shut up and did not mention the response of baptism until asked by the hearers, “what must we do”?

    What many have done is to make water baptism an addition to the gospel, and in many cases have made it the gospel. It is neither. It is our faith response to the good news as we reenact the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus for sinners.

    It is obvious that God does not save everyone we immerse in water. Why? Some have only given mental assent to a historical fact, others have their confidence in the act rather than in Jesus Christ, and some have no intentions of giving up a sinful lifestyle.

    Only those who get into the water who are trusting Christ to save them will be saved.

    How many people do you know who have been baptized 2, 3 or more times? The reason is glaringly obvious, wrong allegiance. I have heard people say a first baptism “didn’t take”! What an odd thing to say or believe. When God pricks hearts, cuts them as they hear the good news about Jesus and his work, faith arises and motives change and it is a beautiful thing to lead a new believer into the water to declare publicly his or her allegiance to Christ alone.

    Believers are baptized into the likeness of His death and raised in the likeness of his resurrection to live a new lifestyle as God’s children. But that act of water baptism is meaningless unless God first does what only he can do. So, let us do like Peter and preach Christ first and then instruct folks about baptism and teach them do all Christ commanded the best we are able.

  37. Ray Downen says:

    Royce, you want to claim that the experience of receiving the Spirit and being empowered to serve as an apostle was duplicated with Cornelius and his household and friends. What did these new Christians do which cause you to think they could heal the sick, remember all Jesus had said to the apostles during his three-year training period for them, and transmit power through the laying on of their hands. ONLY the apostles were promised they would be empowered by the baptism in the Spirit. You assume these non-apostles were likewise empowered. I hear nothing about any miracles performed BY them, but read of proof-miracles aplenty that the apostles received baptism in the Spirit.

    Peter says these Gentiles received the “same gift” as the apostles did. That included the sound of a rushing mighty wind, on Pentecost. The only mention about what God sent to the Gentile seekers was that they were enabled on that one occasion to speak unintelligibly, in total contrast to the tongues spoken by the apostles which were understood by each hearer. I am confident that NO spiritual powers were given to these Gentiles, totally unlike the baptism in the Spirit which empowered the apostles. It’s clear that the gift of the Spirit given to the Gentiles was NOT the baptism in the Spirit which had been promised to the apostles and which they received as reported in Acts 2. But it was enough to convince Peter and the other Jewish Christian leaders that God was in favor of Gentiles being baptized into Christ.

    There’s no mention of the apostles needing to be baptized into Christ after receiving the baptism in the Spirit. Instead, they immediately began preaching about Jesus, and soon were performing miracles seen by many. So I note many differences between what the apostles received and what Peter said was the same as some had received on the first day the church existed. If not the same “baptism in the Spirit” as the apostles received, is it possible that tongue-speaking was not confined only to the apostles in Acts 2? It’s obvious that the Gentiles were not empowered as the apostles were. But what Peter saw there convinced him that God was in earnest about the need to now baptize the Gentiles. That’s why I describe it as a “sign.” Luke merely reports what happened, including that Peter pointed out that it seemed obvious to him that God was approving of Gentiles as prospective members of the Lord’s church.

    The tongue-speaking was unusual. It was not something which usually occurred when the gospel was preached. Following the vision Peter had received, it convinced Peter that God wanted the gospel preached to and obeyed by Gentiles as well as Jews. The fact that no sound as of a rushing might wind or the sight of flame-like appearances upon the head of the apostles should make clear that it was not what the APOSTLES had received that caused Peter to say it was “as on us” and mean us apostles. It was a “sign” because the tongue-speaking convinced Peter and all who heard of it that God favored now preaching to and baptizing Gentiles as well as Jews. So these Gentiles then were baptized INTO CHRIST just as the 3,000 were in chapter two of Acts.

  38. Ray Downen says:

    I think Royce has it right that we must preach about Jesus and NOT about baptism. He writes, I wonder why don’t we follow Peter’s example in Acts 2? What if we preached Christ and then shut up and did not mention the response of baptism until asked by the hearers, “what must we do”? It’s not that we can think we’re apostles who have been trained by Jesus. We make no such claim. But we surely can notice that Jesus asks us to tell about HIM and then baptize those who believe in HIM.

    In our “church services” we now offer an invitation, and it seems necessary to explain exactly what we’re inviting non-members to do. The explanation precedes the person answering the invitation. On Pentecost, baptism INTO CHRIST was totally new. No doubt many who heard had accepted John’s baptism of repentance and to seek the new kingdom which hadn’t yet arrived. Now the kingdom HAS arrived, and entry is by way of repenting (again) and being baptized (this time in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit where before it was simply in the name of God).

    By all means, we should preach about Jesus rather than about baptism. Note however that this preaching to win the lost is not done in church houses or to church gatherings of any kind. It’s done where the hearers are NOT already Christians. It’s done to win the lost to Jesus, and should be done in other places and at other times than when the church has gathered to bless and edify one another. A sermon on baptism is appropriate “in church.” For there we’re instructing the brethren on doctrine.

  39. Ray Downen says:

    Jay writes, “faith” includes faithfulness and hence penitence. Therefore, the many passages that mention faith but not repentance actually do require a change.” Jay, you mention that YOUR definition of faith includes faithfulness. But faith is mental acceptance. It does NOT include obedience, as is made clear by what James says on the subject. Obedience is separate from faith. This is true in the teaching of Jesus and His apostles also, of course.

    Faith is what we THINK rather than what we do. We have no right to redefine the word. Instead in studying the Word we need to use the word as it’s used in the apostolic writings if we hope to understand what they wrote.

  40. Glenn Ziegler says:

    Royce,

    What if there is a more simple and direct reason people whom we bring to seek new birth leave wet, but not saved?

    In Jesus’ gospel, as told by Mt, Mk, Lk and Jn, there is a cost beyond saying, ‘this is what I want’, a cost which MUST BE PAID BEFORE we can become His disciple. When was the last person who took time to count that cost turned away? If that hasn’t happened, your gospel has holes in it.

    G

  41. Ray Downen says:

    John in his gospel, chapters 13-16 explains what Jesus said to the apostles that they would receive. His promise is repeated in Acts chapter 1 where He promises that the apostles would receive POWER in being baptized in/with the Spirit. Was such a promise made to the Cornelius household? Was such power received by the Cornelius household? Was not the baptism spoken of in chapter 10 at the house of Cornelius in water? Does Luke write about two baptisms there or only one baptism? The sign God gave was the ability to speak in language other than the native language of the Gentiles. Is there mention of healing or any other unusual things except the language?

    The speaking in tongues SIGN convinced Peter and others when they heard of it that God was authorizing the baptizing of Gentiles. Did Peter say the Gentiles had received the Spirit just as the apostles had on Pentecost. No sirens. No tongues of fire as on the head/shoulders of the apostles. Tongue-speaking was the sign which God gave. Note that Peter didn’t induce the Gentiles to speak in tongues as evangelists today do. Nor is it reported that the Gentiles had any choice in such speaking or thought to do it by themselves.

    Were not the apostles unique both before and after this experience? What changed was that now the gospel could be preached to Gentiles and they could be baptized and become part of the formerly all-Jewish congregations of Christians. But the apostles had been the leaders of the Christians. And they remained the leaders of the Christians. They had been empowered by a unique experience. It was NOT “baptism in the Spirit” which was given to the Gentile household. Peter did not say or mean “as on us apostles.” Can we guess from what Peter did say that the 120 also were preaching on that day rather than only the apostles? And the 120 were NOT baptized in/with the Spirit as the apostles were. But perhaps they were able to talk with the foreigners there in languages not known by the 120.

  42. Monty says:

    “How many people do you know who have been baptized 2, 3 or more times? The reason is glaringly obvious, wrong allegiance. I have heard people say a first baptism “didn’t take”! What an odd thing to say or believe”

    I was just reading about how the Orthodox Church requires the Roman Catholics to be re-baptized (baptized, since the first wasn’t a true or valid one).

  43. Ray Downen says:

    I surely agree with Royce that some people want to rewrite Bible teaching. Some are so eager to omit baptism as commanded by Jesus that they omit it from their Bible teaching on conversion. And some are so eager to read baptism in/with the Spirit in the Cornelius conversion that they read more there than Luke actually wrote. Peter’s words “as on us” to them mean “as on us apostles.” Yet it was vastly different from the baptism in/with the Spirit which is reported in chapter two as being received by the apostles. No siren-sound. No tongues like fire. No power to heal. No superior knowledge and remembrance. Just tongue-speaking. Speaking in languages other than the native language of the speakers and not studied by or taught to the speakers.

    So what did Peter mean, “as on us”? Following their Spirit baptism, the apostles could heal the sick, even raise the dead. They were seen as the leaders of all Christians. No mention is made of the Cornelius household after this experience. They did not apparently become leaders in the Lord’s church. They were added TO the church, but not put in charge of the church as the apostles were. How can it be other than a mistake to assume that Peter meant these Gentiles had received power as the apostles had? Who is it that’s reading into what was written more than most likely was meant by the writer? All I see that’s reported is that the Gentiles WERE baptized into Christ following this experience, and then when Peter was asked to justify having baptized Gentiles he was able to tell of his vision and this “sign” from God. So Jewish Christians realized that Gentiles could become Christians–because of the intervention of God as Luke reports.

  44. Ray Downen says:

    Royce suggests, “Believers are baptized into the likeness of His death and raised in the likeness of his resurrection to live a new lifestyle as God’s children. But that act of water baptism is meaningless unless God first does what only he can do.” But God has already done all that is needed for the saving of every soul on earth. He needn’t do something special for individuals in order for them to be saved. It’s AFTER the believer has turned to Jesus as Lord (repented) and been baptized (in water as commanded by Jesus) that God THEN acts by gifting the new Christian with the Holy Spirit. That’s individually done. It does follow the new birth of water and spirit. God has acted to make salvation available for every person. That’s universal. Whosoever WILL may come to Jesus and be saved. No particular act of God is needed to allow each individual believer to become a Christian.

  45. Monty says:

    We could just simply instruct folks about how Jesus died for them(Good News), and how if they believe that(Acts 8:37) they can save themselves from this wicked perverse generation by repenting and being immersed into that name. It’s what Peter did on Pentecost.

    The idea of fleeing from coming judgment(wrath) was not only set forth by Peter in Acts 2:40, but was the central theme of John the Baptist’s message in the wilderness. Baptism was a means of escaping the coming judgment of God. “Be ye saved!” or “save yourselves” in Acts 2:40 meant to repent and be baptized and receive salvation. They that gladly received his word were baptized about 3000 of them. Any rejoicing before the fleeing(through repentance and baptism)and thereby escaping, seems a little premature.

    Any treatment of baptism as something, other than, a means of escaping judgment, or, a calling on the name of the Lord to save you(from that judgment), might not be correct, or at the very least, not normative. Baptism was in order to escape, not because you already had.

  46. Ray Downen says:

    Good for Monty. Truth told simply and courteously.

  47. Ray, it is raily easy to repeat what I said in a post. Wherever you say “Charles thinks” or “Charles says”, just follow that directly with a copy-and-pasted quote from something I actually posted. Do not mix what I said with what you think I must have meant, just quote me verbatim. I will gladly take responsibility for anything I wrote, and I’ll discuss it and won’t shy from it. Thanks for the courtesy.

    Ray wrote, “I have to assume that anyone who teaches salvation by faith with no mention of repentance and baptism is teaching salvation by faith ALONE.”

    I really appreciate this sentence because it illustrates concisely what goes wrong so often in our discussions. I have lost count of the times I have objected to the phrase, “faith alone”, and explained my objection. I do not believe faith is ever truly “alone” because it carries within it the production of godly works. But Ray says “I have to assume”. And he is not alone. We assume a LOT. We far too often assume in lieu of actually LISTENING and trying to understand what the other fellow is trying to say. Instead, we listen until we hear some particular religious phraseology which sounds familiar, and then we stop listening entirely. We file the other fellow in one of our pigeonholes, one we have already labeled “LEGALIST” or “LIBERAL” or “WORKS SALVATION” or “OSAS” or “FAITH ONLY”. Then we start dishing out the long-canned objections we have to that pigeonhole. At this point we are no longer in a dialog in any useful sense of the word; we are just returning fire. Any question we ask is not asked in order to gain understanding, but only to discredit what we assume is being said.

    This behavior is very frustrating to most of us. Jay expresses this frustration a bit when he complains of people trying to shove him into the CoC Camp or the Baptist Camp, when he actually fits in neither one. He has been subjected to the sort of reasoning that says, “I know there are white cats and there are black cats. But this guy claims to be a calico cat. Since it’s not a white cat, it must be some sort of black cat. Let’s force him to admit it.”

    No, I do not believe that salvation comes by completing the Five Steps, whether these are Walter Scott’s five steps, or the current Revised Five Steps. I believe that salvation comes by faith in Jesus the Christ and that faith is sufficient to cause us to “cross over from death to life”. This, however, is not the end, but merely the beginning of submission to Jesus Christ, whether that submission is to water baptism or to loving my neighbor as myself or repenting of my sins or seeking first the kingdom and its righteousness. That same faith which placed me “in Christ” leads me to follow Him. There is no separating those two realities.

    Now, who wants to lay odds on how many people will read that last paragraph and will merely conclude that “Charles doesn’t believe in baptism”?

  48. Skip says:

    Ray, In comparing apostolic gifts and gifts given to other 1st century Christians… How do you handle scriptures like:

    Mark 16:17-18 “And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

    The writer did not say these signs only followed the apostles but those who believe. Several spoke in tongues and had other gifts in the book of Acts and in the Corinthian Church.

    I actually don’t think this particular topic is a salvation issue one way or another but I am curious since you appear to deny Peter’s previous observations in Acts 10: “GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT HAD BEEN POURED OUT EVEN ON THE GENTILES. … THEY HAVE RECEIVED THE SPIRIT JUST AS WE HAVE”.

  49. Grace says:

    The whole Bible about God saving people isn’t in your little corner interpretation of Acts 2:38. God’s salvation is from the beginning of the foundations of the earth since He first created man. From the people before the Cross looking forward through symbolic acts to the One who would save them from their sins, to people after the Cross looking back through symbolic acts to the One who saved us from our sins. And it’s through the same faith in Him, our only Savior, people (before and after the Cross) are saved.

    From the language used in the Hebrew Scriptures people think the sacrifices and sin offerings took away people’s sins. The Hebrew Scriptures sacrifices and sin offerings did not give forgiveness of sins they only prefigured the One who takes away our sins.

    David understood God’s salvation! He got it right, while there are still so many who don’t.

    Psalm 34:18 The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart. And He saves those who are broken in spirit.

    Psalm 40:6 Sacrifice and offering You did not desire; My ears You have opened. Burnt offering and sin offering You did not require.

  50. Royce says:

    “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” (Acts 10:47

    “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” (Acts 11:15-17)

    Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe.And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us,and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith.” (Acts 15:7b-9)

    Three times Luke recorded what Peter said about his experience with Cornelius and the Gentiles. I challenge anyone, including Ray, to look into the best Greek Lexicon, do a careful study of the language used, consider the context, and get any different meaning than what our English translation clearly says.

    Ray continues to pour into the story meaning Peter never intended. I think any average high school student could understand these statements fairly easily.

    1. From Acts 11 Peter believed what had happened was that they (Gentiles) had been “baptized with the Holy Spirit”
    2. Peter believed God had given the Gentiles “the same gift” (HS) as he gave to him when he and the others believed in the Lord Jesus Christ.
    3. Peter received the gift of the Holy Spirit when he believed, the Gentiles received the same gift when they believed. He reasoned that he should not stand in God’s way.
    4. He believed he should baptize them because they had received the Holy Spirit just like he and the others had.
    5 in chapter 15: Peter said God chose him to go preach the gospel and that they would believe.
    God knows the heart and bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to he and the others. God made no distinction between the Jews and the Gentiles, both had their hearts cleansed by faith.

    The only hint about any sign was that God “bore witness” to the Gentiles by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he does to all believers. The only “SIGN” was the one God gave to the Gentile believers, not to the Jews.

    Peter’s words are there in your Bible’s just as plain as can be. The only question is will you believe what he said or not. It is wrong headed to give meaning to words the author (or God) never intended in an effort to make it line up with your presuppositions. I could more easily accept an excuse that perhaps this was some sort of exception to the norm, But to insist it didn’t happen is just plain foolish.

    I think the root of the problem is that perhaps Ray and others don’t believe Peter had the Holy Spirit before Pentecost. He did, you need to read John 20. Pentecost was not about the Holy Spirit coming to believers to dwell in them as a deposit on the final purchase. Pentecost was about an empowerment for gospel witness. Peter was not referring to Pentecost when he said “at the beginning” and “when we believed” but rather he was talking about the day of Jesus’ resurrection, the day Jesus was glorified (and the time Jesus promised the Comforter would come). It was when Peter and the others beheld the resurrected Lord that their faith was firmly in Christ and he then told them to “receive the Holy Spirit” and I nor you have any valid reason to believe they did not.

    If you get all the context right Peter’s statements make perfect sense. Well, what about baptism? We should do exactly what Jesus told the disciples in Matt 28. Make disciples, baptize them, and teach them to be obedient to the teaching of Jesus. That’s what they did in the 1st century and that’s what we are to do today. Preach Christ in the power of the Spirit and baptize those who believe and then disciple them as best we can to be humble, obedient followers of Jesus.

  51. Ray Downen says:

    Charles Mclean believes salvation comes as a result of faith in Jesus. He believes and states that it comes by faith alone but then adds that faith in Jesus must produce good works. He wrote, “I believe that salvation comes by faith in Jesus the Christ and that faith is sufficient to cause us to “cross over from death to life”. This, however, is not the end, but merely the beginning of submission to Jesus Christ, whether that submission is to water baptism or to loving my neighbor as myself or repenting of my sins or seeking first the kingdom and its righteousness. That same faith which placed me “in Christ” leads me to follow Him. There is no separating those two realities.”

    That he is clearly stating his belief in salvation by faith alone is not clear to him. He thinks he’s making clear that faith must produce good works. But he makes clear his opinion that the new birth of water and spirit which Jesus says is essential for ENTRY into His Kingdom is fully met by faith alone. “Faith is sufficient to cause us to cross over from death to life.” Faith alone. I’m sure that Jesus told Nicodemus that faith alone was NOT sufficient to cause anyone to cross over from death to life, that a NEW BIRTH of water and spirit was required. Perhaps those who believe in salvation by faith alone will explain how a change of mind is a new birth of water and spirit.

    Peter explained it as being a change of will (repentance, a spiritual change of masters) and being baptized. Baptism is not just one of the many things a Christian should sometime do or often do (if it’s just to demonstrate our faith, surely once is not sufficient, so an annual re-baptism or a monthly baptism or a weekly baptism would be appropriate). The apostle Paul says it’s “putting on” Christ, it’s being raised into NEW LIFE, it’s burying the old man of sin. It’s far more than a mere change of mind about who Jesus is. It’s turning away from sin and seeking salvation in the Savior. It’s seeking the promised gift of God’s Holy Spirit to walk with us every day. Baptism is not a “good work” or a work of any kind. The WORK is done by the baptizer. The one being baptized is acted upon rather than the actor. Christians have many opportunities to do good works, but being baptized is not one of those.

  52. Ray Downen says:

    Royce writes about receiving the Spirit when you believe: “1. From Acts 11 Peter believed what had happened was that they (Gentiles) had been “baptized with the Holy Spirit”
    2. Peter believed God had given the Gentiles “the same gift” (HS) as he gave to him when he and the others believed in the Lord Jesus Christ.
    3. Peter received the gift of the Holy Spirit when he believed, the Gentiles received the same gift when they believed. He reasoned that he should not stand in God’s way.”

    Question: Did Peter first believe in Jesus as Lord when he was baptized in/with the Holy Spirit? Did Jesus promise to send the baptism when His apostles finally came to believe in Him 50 days after His resurrection? Did the Gentiles have apostolic powers after they spoke in tongues and were baptized into Christ? Where is the logic in what Royce has written? It escapes me. I do NOT suppose the apostles “first believed” in Jesus as the risen Lord on the day when they received baptism in the Spirit. I’m sure they believed when they saw Him alive after His death even if they hadn’t believed in Him long before that.

    The apostles were promised they would receive baptism in the Spirit. The promise is found in John, chapters 13-16 and it’s repeated in chapter 1 of Acts. Does Peter say these Gentiles were baptized in the Spirit? I think he spoke of what they had received as a gift, just as every Christian, as a result of having repented and been baptized, is promised to receive a gift of the Holy Spirit. But most of us do not have a gift of languages as part of the gift. These Gentiles received “the same gift” as someone received as recorded in chapter 2 of Acts, for they spoke in tongues as the apostles and perhaps the 120 did that day some years previously. But there was no sound of a mighty rushing wind. There were no flame-like crowns on the heads of the Gentiles. They spoke in other
    languages.

    So Peter felt he had God’s signal to baptize these Gentiles. So he did. And that’s the last we hear of the household of Cornelius. But the church grew and multiplied, with many healings and other miracles performed by apostles and by those upon whom the apostles had “laid their hands.” We do not do well to suppose anyone other than the apostles received baptism in the Holy Spirit! And we have no right to promise salvation to anyone who is not reborn of water and spirit. That’s if we believe that Jesus is Lord. It’s Jesus who caused His apostles to teach that the essential new birth is accomplished in turning to Jesus as LORD and being baptized as He commanded.

  53. Ray Downen says:

    Skip points to verses in Mark which do not appear in several (most?) ancient manuscripts and which speak of miraculous powers which Luke doesn’t think to mention except in connection with apostles. Our faith is in Jesus and what HE said and did. It’s not in what we who love and follow Him do or have done. We do not base our teaching on miracles performed by anyone other than Jesus Himself. Do we?

  54. Royce says:

    Ray you either didn’t read what I wrote or you don’t want to admit you are dead wrong. Either way, it is what it is.

  55. Skip says:

    Ray, I never said or implied what you seem to assert to. I don’t base my faith on Jesus miracles although his miracles prove he was who he said he was. I think we are playing whack-a-mole. I say one thing and you seem to go on a tangent. Lets terminate this little pointless debate.

  56. Avatar of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Glenn asked,

    In your view what is the difference between faith in Jesus and faith in the preacher who told you what Jesus expects from His disciples? Will either/both kinds of faith save you? Are there limits to acceptable amounts of error?

    Maybe its this virus I’m fighting, but I really don’t understand the question. I mean, faith in Jesus is faith in the person Jesus of Nazareth. But we all learn about Jesus from others — apostles, friends, parents, family, whoever wrote Hebrews. We must consider them reliable in what they teach us, but we don’t have “faith” in them in the same sense in which we have faith in Jesus — because our faith in Jesus includes considering him Lord and Messiah and living accordingly. Same word, different meanings.

    Are there limits to acceptable amounts of error?

    Uh, no error is “acceptable.” But error is often forgiven. So are you asking are there limits to God’s forgiveness? If so, yes. And I’ve discussed them in detail recently, multiple times. We can fall away and so become damned.

  57. Larry Cheek says:

    Jay,
    We have seen the effects very regularly in professing Christians, how well the believe in following their savior. Many of those whom appeared to be following Christ abandon most all their brothers in Christ when their true leader the preacher has found either the necessity or need to move to another location. A true Christian who is interested in serving Christ would have found needs they need to fill because of the void that was created.

  58. Avatar of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Larry,

    I’ve seen close up and personal occasions where the preacher was the draw — where people literally said they only attended to hear preacher X. And preacher X enjoyed that very much. It’s very unhealthy for the congregation, the preacher, and those duped into idolatry.

  59. Ray Downen says:

    It’s equally unhealthy to so admire particular individuals in a congregation that if they are not there then we want to also not be there. Some feel that way about a song leader or a class teacher. It’s not ONLY preachers who make friends and are thought to be essential in a relationship. Jesus invites us to be drawn to HIM. He should be the draw for us to attend where He is honored.

  60. Ray Downen says:

    Royce, I read and quoted what you wrote. I also point out that you are wrong in thinking the exceptional case of the first Gentiles ever allowed to enter the Kingdom is going to be the norm for all at any time. I hope most readers will see that God had performed several miracles in this case and not just one. He had sent an angel to Cornelius to have him send to Joppa for Peter to come. He had provided a feast for Peter of animals which Peter as a Jew was forbidden to eat and had made clear that was was formerly unclean was now clean. He had caused Cornelius to send for Peter and Peter then to do the unthinkable by inviting the emissaries from Cornelius to enter the Jewish home in which Peter was a guest and even to stay there overnight. Then Peter, taught to not himself enter a Gentile house, went into the house of Cornelius and spoke to him about the risen Lord. As Peter began to speak, God sent a sign to re-enforce to Peter that it was His desire that Gentiles also be admitted to the church of the Lord Jesus.

    That sign of God’s approval of the Gentiles becoming Christians was a ONE-TIME event and was never repeated. Yet you seem to believe it became the normal way for sinners to come to Jesus, to first receive the Spirit and THEN to be baptized later in water. No, you are not right that it ever was done that way except this ONE time. The normal is described in Acts 2:38. That’s how it was done every time that the “gift of the Spirit” for Christians was given to those believers who had repented and had been baptized in water. And that’s when Cornelius also received the promised gift of the Spirit was when he and his household members were baptized into Christ. The speaking in tongues was surely a sign to Peter that it WAS God’s will that the Gentiles should be baptized into Christ as He had commanded and welcomed into the formerly all-Jewish family of faith. It was not to empower the Gentile converts to enable them to do miracles of any kind. And sure enough, there are no such miracles recorded by Luke as there surely would have been if there had been any miracles other than the tongue-speaking.

  61. Royce says:

    Whatever Ray. You can ignore Peter”s plain statements if you choose.

  62. Larry Cheek says:

    Royce,
    Did Cornelius’s faith play a part in the events?

  63. Royce Ogle says:

    Of course Larry. God decided ahead of time that Peter would preach the gospel to the Gentiles, and that they would believe. Peter preached the good news about Christ and they beloved. God cleansed their hearts by faith and gave them the gift of the Holy Spiriy as witness to them, not to the Jews. God made no distinction between the Jews and Gentiles saving both by faith and giving both the gift of the Holy Spirit when they believed.

    Anyone who is reasonable can read those sections of Acts 10, 11, and 15 about the narrative of the saving of Cornielous and his folks and Peter ‘s defense of baptizing them, and the words are so clear that only an ideologue could miss the truth of what they say.

  64. Grace says:

    Royce, some people aren’t going to see that God accepted the Gentiles giving them the gift of the Holy Spirit, prior to them being baptized. According to Peter, God gave them the gift of the Holy Spirit, not because they were different, but because hearing the message they believed.

  65. Ray has made some progress in addressing my posts, I guess. He has moved from misrepresenting my view by completely re-writing what I say to distorting my views by insisting that I just don’t understand what I am saying, and proceeding to explain what I don’t understand about what I said, and attributes it to me. He says of me, “That he is clearly stating his belief in salvation by faith alone is not clear to him.” The amount of hubris apparent here would have to be weighed on a truck scale.

    It’s reminiscent of the old circular argument with an alcoholic: If Billy Bob admits he is an alcoholic, that proves he’s an alcoholic. And if he denies being an alcoholic, that means he’s in denial, which proves he’s an alcoholic. So what difference do his words make to what we believe? None whatsoever. We decided BB was a drunk before we ever talked to him. And since we have established that, who listens to a drunk?

    Ray has moved from “Charles is wrong,” to “Charles is wrong and too stupid to know it.” Ray reads my words and hears only his own voice. He’s not making even a nominal attempt to engage a conversation any more, but is satisfied with arguing against his own opinion of what he thinks I meant by what I said. Good grief.

    I don’t mind Ray speaking his own mind, but I sure will be glad when he gets my name out of his mouth while he does it.

  66. Ray Downen says:

    Royce writes, 1. From Acts 11 Peter believed what had happened was that they (Gentiles) had been “baptized with the Holy Spirit”
    2. Peter believed God had given the Gentiles “the same gift” (HS) as he gave to him when he and the others believed in the Lord Jesus Christ.
    3. Peter received the gift of the Holy Spirit when he believed, the Gentiles received the same gift when they believed. He reasoned that he should not stand in God’s way.
    4. He believed he should baptize them because they had received the Holy Spirit just like he and the others had.
    5 in chapter 15: Peter said God chose him to go preach the gospel and that they would believe.

    Peter clearly states in Acts 2 that people receive the “gift of the Holy Spirit” when they are baptized into Christ because they believed in Him and turned to Him as LORD. So how does any Bible reader dare state that in Acts 11 Peter believed what had had happened was that the Gentiles had been “baptized with the Holy Spirit”? Peter doesn’t say that in any way. What Peter said was that they had received “the Spirit” just as some did as recorded in chapter two of Acts. The promise of baptism in the Spirit was made only to the apostles. The pouring out of His Spirit on the apostles was accompanied by signs of siren-sounds and flame-like appearances upon the heads of the apostles and then that their preaching was heard and understood apparently by interpretation done by God in the several tongues of visitors to Jerusalem from many lands.

    The only sign mentioned in chapter 10′s recital or in Peter’s telling about the event (chapter 11) was speaking in tongues not known to the speaker. Yet Royce claims they received and that Peter said they received the same gift of the Spirit as the apostles had received (chapter 2). So where were the mighty-rushing wind sounds and the flame-like appearances? And where were the miracles of healing that followed what the apostles had received?

    When did the apostles “believe” in Jesus? Was it when they answered His call to follow Him? Or just when DID the apostles believe in Him? Was it when they witnessed Him raising the dead? Was it when they saw Him walk on water in the midst of a storm? Was it when they witnessed Him calming a storm on another occasion? And when were they baptized with His Spirit? How strange that anyone would claim they didn’t believe in Jesus prior to when they were baptized in/with the Spirit! Yet that seems to be what Royce believes. At least that’s what he clearly has written. And it appears that Royce is not alone in his misunderstanding.

    Is not Royce saying (implying) that those to whom Peter preached (all of them?) would also be baptized with the Spirit, just as the Gentile converts were at the house of Cornelius? I think that’s what he is writing. Yet Peter, speaking for all the apostles and for the Master, promised that the Spirit would be given to those believers who repented and were baptized. Not before baptism. After baptism. I must assume that Royce is misunderstanding what he reads in chapter 10 of Acts. I don’t think Luke would disagree in chapter 10 with what he had written in chapter 2. And in chapter two it’s very clear that those believers who repented and were baptized (as commanded by Jesus) would THEN receive the gift of God’s Spirit, The events in chapter 10 are exceptional, not normative. The events in chapter 2 show how 3,000 were brought into the kingdom and that’s normative, not exceptional.

  67. Monty says:

    Royce said,

    “God cleansed their hearts by faith and gave them the gift of the Holy Spiriy as witness to them, not to the Jews”

    The Holy Spirit gifting means approval. The Samaritans(Jews who had intermingled with Gentiles and generally despised by the average Jew) accepted the word in Acts Ch 8, and they were baptized, except that the Holy Spirit had not come upon any of them. Why not? That certainly wasn’t the norm. They had believed and been baptized, were they not saved? God’s approval on the Samaritans came when the Apostles laid hands on them. IMO it was two fold 1. so that they(Samaritans) would understand who the leadership was and who had authority in all matters and 2. that the apostles would never question the validity of their(Samaritans) being in the Kingdom.

    We see the outflow of the gospel as Jesus said would happen, Judea,Samaria and to the utter most parts of the world. The Gentiles were next. Anyone can plainly see that with angels, dreams, visions, Holy Spirit reception (pre-baptism) that God was directly intervening in order to get Peter and the rest of his Jewish(Christian) brothers to first of all, even go into a Gentile home, and 2nd to extend the Good News to him and his family, and then 3rdly, to baptize he and his family into the Jewish church of Christ.

    Where as the Spirit falling on the Samaritans had been withheld (post baptism), we now see the Spirit falling on these Gentiles(pre-baptism), which was certainly not the norm, anymore so, than the Spirit in Acts Ch. 8 being withheld till the arrival of the Apostles(surely, a day, or two, or three). Again not normal. When the Spirit fell on the Gentiles, Peter knew that 1. They had received the word 2. that they stood approved by God – God Knew their hearts – didn’t have to (in this case) wait for baptism(a believer’s response) to be realized by Peter and group, they knew immediately and could not in good conscience(even if they were Gentiles) withhold baptism(initiation into their brotherhood) 3. that they(the men) didn’t need to be circumcised – “God made no distinction between us and them” (the Jews and Gentiles), and also by the Spirit’s approval, even the temptation to require circumcision(if there was one) was eliminated(at least for the time being).

    When Peter says that God purified their hearts by faith and that he made no distinction, he isn’t saying by “belief alone”, as opposed to believing and being baptized. That’s not his point. HIs point was that they were saved by grace and not by having to be circumcised. It was faith opposed to becoming a Jew first.

    One has to ponder Peter’s urgency for baptism, (can any man forbid water?) as the first thing out of his mouth having observed this momentous occasion, is at the very least, odd, when compared to how other Christian groups practice baptism. Peter knew that once they administered baptism to these Gentiles that everything was going to change, and perhaps he knew many would not like this. However, who was he(or his cohorts-Jews) to unapprove of (by withholding baptism), that which God had already accepted and approved of by the sign of tongues.(Gentiles) In other words God changed the order of Holy Spirit reception,and placed it before baptism. He did it perhaps for several reasons, but one reason is evident in Peter’s question, who can forbid water? No one!

    Everyone who is saved has his heart cleansed by faith, no exceptions. Baptism is the normative time when this occurs. We see in Acts 8 and 10 where (for God’s purposes) he delays or precedes the norm.

  68. Grace says:

    Royce, it is a useless discussion when folks have closed hearts to the truth of what happened, it’s not what their brains have been humanly programmed to think. People will make up all kinds of excuses for what God did, saying “it was just an exception” and “it’s not the norm”, when those words were never said in the Scriptures about it. Peter and Luke said that the Gentiles received God’s Holy Spirit, not because they were different, but because hearing the message they believed.

  69. Monty says:

    Grace said,

    “Peter and Luke said that the Gentiles received God’s Holy Spirit, not because they were different, but because hearing the message they believed.”

    Everyone who is saved, has their heart purified by faith. That is the part that is “not” different in the Cornelius story. The same Peter you are quoting said in (1 Peter 1:22) Now that you have purified yourselves by “obeying” the truth… Paul said the same thing in (Romans 6:17) where the emphasis is on the Romans were new creations since they had died(and raised to newness of life) with Christ in baptism, Paul says, “thanks be to God that though you used to be slaves to sin, you whole “heartedly obeyed” that form of teaching to which you were entrusted.” Isn’t that what Philip taught the Eunuch when he had preached to him Jesus, that he could be baptized “if he believed with all his heart.” The Good News has a component of it that requires a whole hearted obedience to a required command. Not just a mental assent. That’s why Peter “commanded” – “ordered” that Cornelius be baptized. Was it optional? Was it unnecessary? Was Paul’s order from Ananias to “Arise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” optional? Was it unnecessary? To what purpose was it “necessary” other than “something God said do?” I’m sure you won’t answer those questions.

    Everyone saved receives God’s Spirit. It’s just the timing of the reception of that Spirit that God changed with Cornelius(to HIs good pleasure) for a couple of good reasons as I stated. Your argument, if you’re addressing what I wrote, is based on a false assumption. I’m not arguing that they weren’t saved when the Holy Spirit fell upon them. They received the Spirit to show Peter and Co. they were the “same”, not different, as you say, not me..( Acts 15:8) They had received the Holy Spirit “just as he did to us. He made no distinction between them and us.” There was certainly a distinction in Peter’s mind before the Spirit was given, but not God’s. He made no distinction between us(Jews, saved by faith) and them(Gentiles who would not be saved by Law keeping-becoming a proselyte Jew first). Faith – as opposed to works of the flesh(circumcision) was the distinction Peter was saying God didn’t make.. You twist the context to use this as a defense of “faith alone” without baptism being necessary. It doesn’t teach that. Sorry. It teaches that God had to intervene between two groups of people who loathed each other in order to bring the two parties under one Lord. And God certainly changed the normal patterned response to the gospel of (believe on Jesus and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins and receive the Holy Spirit to believe on Jesus, receive the Spirit and then be baptized.. All the essentials are there just not in the usual order.

  70. Grace says:

    The whole Bible is about God saving people through His plan from the beginning. I don’t believe baptism as salvic, I see it pointing to the One who saved us.

    God’s salvation is from the beginning of the foundations of the earth since He first created man. From the people before the Cross looking forward through symbolic acts to the One who would save them from their sins, to people after the Cross looking back through symbolic acts to the One who saved us from our sins. And it’s through the same faith in Him, our only Savior, people (before and after the Cross) are saved.

    From the language used in the Hebrew Scriptures people think the sacrifices and sin offerings took away people’s sins. The Hebrew Scriptures sacrifices and sin offerings did not give forgiveness of sins, they only prefigured as an antitype of the One who takes away our sins.

    David understood God’s salvation! David got it right, while there are still so many who don’t.

    Psalm 34:18 The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart. And He saves those who are broken in spirit.

    Psalm 40:6 Sacrifice and offering You did not desire; My ears You have opened. Burnt offering and sin offering You did not require.

  71. Royce says:

    Once more Ray. Read it in your Bible. Peter is speaking. Acts 11

    “15 As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. 16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?”

    How many different things could this possible mean? It’s plain English, it’s not in code, and it has no meaning other than what is obvious. You belittle me for saying what the Bible says and refuse to accept what it says yourself.

    One more time Ray. Please stop making things up about what Peter said in Acts 10,11, and 15. The words he spoke cannot be misunderstood by anyone willing to read them. Why not try doing this? Tell us what you think the above passage means without talking about Acts 2:38. Start at verse 15 and see if you can figure out what Peter said. Then verse 16 and then 17. You write as if I have invented some story, or made up a huge lie. It is the Apostle Peter you are disagreeing with in your version of the meaning of these passages, and that’s a big problem for you, not me.

    It is Peter who mentioned the baptism with the holy Spirit, not me. It is Peter who said it was “THE SAME GIFT AS HE GAVE US WHEN WE BELIEVED IN THE LORD JESUS CHRIST”. You scoff at me for saying such a thing but it wasn’t me it was your favorite Apostle Peter, the same Peter in Acts 2. It appears you think he lied in Acts 10, 11, and 15.

  72. Larry Cheek says:

    Royce,
    I asked you the question above for a specific purpose and you responded exactly as I anticipated. Which now requires me to ask you to identify who in the scriptures explained that the spirit coming upon Cornelius and giving him the gift of tongues is the equivalent of salvation? The Bible does not make that statement or even imply that to be true. In fact Jesus directly denies that only one portion of his commands to the Apostles is the equivalent of being saved.

    In your post above, you capitalized what Peter said, but you are associating the events as if Peter and the rest whom he is referring, received this gift when they first believed, and that simply is not true. Peter and those he is referring, believed Jesus long before he was crucified. Anyone who believes that Peter and those he is speaking of had not been baptized prior to the gift they received should explain how they could be with Jesus and baptizing others in Jesus name in his presence without ever being baptized themselves.

    So what am I implying? Peter and those whom he is identifying who received gifts had been baptized and saved long before receiving the gift. The gift was not responsible for their salvation or a token of their salvation. Peter in his speech had already acknowledged that Cornelius being very knowledgeable of the Jews and highly respected by the Jews and already knew most of the event he was beginning to explain. Understanding his communication, he was going to explain much more to Cornelius, but was interrupted. Peter was sent to Cornelius to deliver a message that Cornelius had not yet received.
    (Acts 10:22 NIV) The men replied, “We have come from Cornelius the centurion. He is a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people. A holy angel told him to have you come to his house so that he could hear what you have to say.”

    (Acts 10:33 NIV) So I sent for you immediately, and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us.”

    As we see the story unfold, it could not have been the knowledge that Peter brought that told Cornelius something that he did not already know, Peter’s testimony verifies that Cornelius already knew. Cornelius’s faith was not created by Peter’s words. Cornelius’s faith was confirmed by scriptures prior to sending for Peter.
    Exactly, what was the message that Peter delivered which told Cornelius what he must do? I don’t see a directive prior to the interruption. But, after the receiving of the gift, Peter fast forwarded to the end of his message. Because the balance of the message was unnecessary they were ready for the instructions he was to deliver, which they had previously never been offered.

    Peter delivered a message to the Gentiles that brought salvation to them which was not available before and fulfilled the commands of Jesus concerning the entry into his body, his church.
    He was given the responsibility to unlock the Kingdom so the Jews could enter earlier and now he was the same instrument to opening the door to the Gentiles entering into the kingdom.
    All who were living after the instructions of Jesus Commissioning of the Apostles entered into the kingdom in the same manner. By being baptized into Christ.

  73. Royce Ogle says:

    So Larry, your thinking is that the command to be baptized is what brought salvation and not the message Peter preached about Jesus.

    You do have a vivid imagination, I’ll give you that. You and Ray can believe God would give the Holy Spirit to unsaved people but just can’t grasp the possibility that God could save people prior to baptism like he had for thousands of years. Incredible!

  74. Grace says:

    Cornelius was a devout man who believed in the God. There were Jews who believed in God, but didn’t believe Jesus is the Messiah, there were also Gentiles who believed in God, but didn’t believe Jesus is the Messiah.

    The Scripture never tell about any of the disciple’s baptism. If being baptized is needed to have salvation, the disciple’s baptism would be important to mention, they are the one’s Jesus first sent out to witness to other people.

    Cornelius and the other Gentiles there received God’s Holy Spirit, not because they were different, but because hearing the message they believed.

    Acts 10:44-45 While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell on everyone who heard the word. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles.

    Acts 15:7-9 At the meeting, after a long discussion, Peter stood and addressed them as follows: Brothers, you all know that God chose me from among you some time ago to preach to the Gentiles so that they could hear the Good News and believe. God knows people’s hearts, and He confirmed that He accepts Gentiles by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us. He made no distinction between us and them, for He cleansed their hearts through faith.

    Romans 8:9-10 But you are not ruled by your sinful selves. You are ruled by the Spirit, if that Spirit of God really lives in you. But whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Christ. Your body will always be dead because of sin. But if Christ is in you, then the Spirit gives you life, because Christ made you right with God.

    Ephesians 1:13-14 And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, He identified you as His own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom He promised long ago. The Spirit is God’s guarantee that He will give us the inheritance He promised and that He has purchased us to be His own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify Him.

  75. laymond says:

    Royce said ; “You and Ray can believe God would give the Holy Spirit to unsaved people but just can’t grasp the possibility that God could save people prior to baptism like he had for thousands of years.”

    Royce can you show me in scripture where people were being saved into the kingdom for thousands of years prior to Jesus.

  76. Ray Downen says:

    It’s a little surprising that Royce would think Peter would contradict himself and change what sinners need to do to be saved. We do see that Peter had to be set straight later on when he forgot the lesson he had learned in chapter 10, but I can’t believe that Luke would think Peter could so obviously change conversion between chapter two and chapter 10 without Luke explaining why he had changed the message.

    Royce asks me to forget and ignore what Peter said in chapter two so that we can read into what is reported in chapter 10 what Royce wants us to believe. I’ve explained what Luke is inspired to report. I’ll not do it again this time. Royce wants to change what Luke reports, which change is only possible if Peter had changed his mind about how sinners are changed into saints.

    Perhaps I’m misunderstanding Royce. I think he’s saying that the household of Cornelius was saved and later baptized. But do the apostles not make clear that there is in the Christian dispensation only ONE baptism? Read Ephesians 4:4-6 and note that in verse 5 the apostle makes clear that just as there is one God, and one Lord, and one church that there is ONE baptism for the “church age.” The baptizing of Cornelius and his household FOLLOWED Peter’s message rather than preceding it. In chapter 10 it’s made clear that it was as Peter BEGAN to speak that the “sign” of God’s approval of Gentiles was given. God had already given signals by sending an angel to Cornelius and a vision to Peter. So now Peter was convinced by one additional sign of God’s approval.

    But what was Peter convinced of? Did he rejoice that God had saved these Gentiles by sending the Spirit to them? Some may want to think so. I don’t agree with this theory. Peter was convinced now that Gentiles could be baptized into Christ and thereby saved. So these Gentiles were baptized into Christ and at that time received the indwelling Spirit, God’s gift to every newborn Christian. By the sign which convinced Peter and all who heard of the event, God had made abundantly clear that Gentiles now COULD be baptized into Christ and thereby saved. That’s the story. No change from the second chapter where seekers were told what was necessary for THEM to be saved. Seekers must repent and be baptized in order to receive the gift of the Spirit. What Cornelius and his household received prior to baptism was not the “gift of the Spirit” which is given to every new Christian. It was a sign to Peter that he COULD baptize Gentiles into Christ. That’s what Peter immediately did.

    Jews who turned to Jesus in the first years brought with them prejudice against all non-Jews. They didn’t realize that Jesus really meant by His commission to the apostles that the gospel was for all. So God gave these several signs, several years later, to convince the Jewish disciples that the Way of Jesus was open to all people. It surprised Peter as much as anyone. But the vision and the speaking in tongues (speaking in tongues of course was not exclusive to Christianity, but was often heard in pagan circles as well) were signs which Peter could tell his brethren about and which indeed did persuade many Jewish Christians that indeed God loved ALL people and not just Jews.

    But those who denigrate baptism “into Christ” do not do well to ignore that Peter’s immediate response to this sign was to have these Gentiles baptized in water as Jesus commanded. And Peter had made clear that the purpose of baptism in water was in order to ENTER Christ’s kingdom, His church and in order to receive the indwelling gift of God’s Spirit. Anyone who supposes these Gentiles were saved and THEN baptized is ignoring what the apostles taught and practiced. I think Jay is in favor of believing in and obeying Jesus. I think Royce surely also seeks to please and obey Jesus. We surely do not want to try to replace and change what is clearly stated in Acts 2:38 and which opened the Way for entry into the Lord’s church. I hope no one has that goal.

  77. Ray Downen says:

    Royce incorrectly summarizes what Larry wrote, So Larry, your thinking is that the command to be baptized is what brought salvation and not the message Peter preached about Jesus. No, of course it is not “the command to be baptized” that brought salvation to the Gentiles. It was being baptized in obedience to the LORD’s command that brought salvation. Words alone cannot save. We do not affirm that a command to be baptized saves. But Paul clearly states that being baptized is what brings believing sinners INTO Christ (Galatians 3:26,27). How surprising that many nowadays won’t believe what the Bible clearly teaches. Our message needs to be that Jesus can save sinners. When we’re asked what sinners must do in order to receive the offered salvation, our answer needs to agree with Acts 2:38 and what Luke reports was the apostolic practice. Do we hear Jay and Royce differing with Peter and the apostles? I’m sure they do not intend to differ.

  78. Ray Downen says:

    Royce thinks Peter contradicted what he had said in Acts 2:38 It is Peter who said it was “THE SAME GIFT AS HE GAVE US WHEN WE BELIEVED IN THE LORD JESUS CHRIST”. You scoff at me for saying such a thing but it wasn’t me it was your favorite Apostle Peter, the same Peter in Acts 2. It appears you think he lied in Acts 10, 11, and 15. It was good to read what Larry wrote in response! When DID the apostles first believe? It surely was NOT on the Day of Pentecost when the marvelous signs from God brought together a multitude and the apostles told them of Jesus and His new life with offer to sinners of salvation.

    I surely do admire Peter, as you suggest, Royce. Even more I admire Paul who is known to have led the way in dangerous places where he felt led to preach about Jesus. But it’s Peter who was to use the KEYS to open the way to the kingdom. And Peter did so, as reported in chapters 2 and 10 of Acts. I do not think Peter lied in chapters 10, 11 and 15. I think he reported accurately and honestly what had happened, what God had done. God sent a vision to Peter. Peter told about it and learned from it. God sent a further confirmation while Peter “began to speak” to these Gentiles, and Peter was convinced and afterward was able to convince other church leaders that it was GOD who wanted Gentiles to join the church which until then had been exclusively Jewish and Samaritan.

    No, I surely do NOT believe Peter lied. But I’m sure that some are reading into what Luke reports things which are not there. Some are so eager to denigrate the baptism commanded by Jesus that they want this to have been a second baptism about which Peter speaks in 10, 11 and 15, a baptism in/with the Spirit. The reason I think not is because of what Jesus said the result of baptism in/with the Spirit would be. The apostles showed those results. There’s no record of any such results from Cornelius and his household. Baptism of the apostles in the Spirit helped start the church of the Lord Jesus. Baptismal signs (speaking in tongues) opened the Way to Gentiles. But there was no further such sign given. We do not do well to read into the one-time event anything to disagree with Acts 2:38 as being the normal way believing sinners, whether Jew or Gentile, were brought into the church.

  79. Grace says:

    Before the cross people were saved by the blood of Jesus. These early believers loved God and wanted to live with Him forever. They listened closely to the words of God as they were revealed by the prophets and the Scriptures. They understood the nature of God’s grace. He hadn’t given Himself a Sacrifice yet but they believed that the Messiah would come and save them from their sins, the sacrifices they offered served as evidence of their faith.

    Job 19:25-26 For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God.

    Isaiah 53:5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.

    These early believers were saved by grace through faith. They understood the importance of faith looking forward toward their Redeemer.

  80. Larry Cheek says:

    Ray,
    I see you were driving a point, but it was not my intention to imply in any way that the message was what saved. The participation in the baptism into Christ was what translated Cornelius into the kingdom which equals salvation.

  81. Ray Downen says:

    Larry, thanks for making clear your thought! It’s easy for us to not write exactly what we’re intending to express. It’s good that blogs let us take another try at saying exactly what we mean! It’s good that Jay lets us say what we think!

  82. Larry Cheek says:

    Royce,
    I see you missed the point again. Peter’s message did not revel anything to Cornelius that he did not already know, Peter testified to the knowledge of Cornelius, therefore the message had nothing to do with the response. Locking at another view of why God decided to do this to Cornelius, was it because of his faith or belief? Reading what the scriptures say about Cornelius’s dedication to God and to his neighbors even Jews, why did God wait until this event to save him by sending him the Spirit, he could have done that at any time. If he had done this at any other time when a representative of Jesus was not available then you might have a basis for your case. Especially if he was never baptized. But, God chose to make this event into a visible event which these seven Jews would be witnesses to all the Jews and the known world that he was accepting Gentiles into the kingdom. Peter knew that through baptism all entered into the kingdom, therefore he would have been hindering God if he refused to baptize them. Through his testimony all the Jews at Jerusalem understood and agreed.

    I will offer again, show us any action in scripture after the Day of Pentecost where an individual was accepted into the kingdom without being baptized.

  83. Ray Downen says:

    Good for Larry! Some seem to study conversion without ever looking at the book of Acts where conversions actually took place. Or they study the gospels and epistles, make up their minds how conversion happens, and then may look in Acts trying to find support for their ideas. Those who seek light on conversion to Christ should look first at chapter two of Acts. Every other teaching on the subject should harmonize with Acts 2:38.

  84. Grace says:

    The Scriptures say Cornelius worshiped God, so did many Jews who did’t believe Jesus to be the Messiah. Never does it say he believed Jesus to be the Messiah. There were other Gentiles there with Cornelius who also heard the message, believed and receivd the gift of the Holy Spirit, thus per Romans 8:9-10 and Ephesians 1:13-14 having His Spirit they were already right with God and belonged to Him, before they were baptized.

  85. Ray Downen says:

    Tilt! Grace says Cornelius and his household were saved because God “gave His Spirit to them” and this before they were baptized when they did in fact receive “the gift of the Spirit.” But Peter knew that baptism was for the purpose of saving, so why would we imagine these folks were saved because they began speaking in unknown languages? We would be wrong if we thought so, for Peter surely would NOT have had them re-baptized if the “baptism in the Spirit” is what they had experienced.

    The apostles knew well that there is one God, one Lord, one church and ONE baptism in this Christian age. So the fact that Peter immediately had these Gentiles baptized into Christ surely should alert us to the fact that they needed the salvation which is promised to those believers who repent and ARE baptized in water. I can see how it’s possible to be mistaken in how sinners are brought into the Kingdom of Christ, but He made clear that it is by “new birth of water and spirit” so it’s not sensible to suppose anyone is actually saved except by a new birth of water and spirit. Peter makes clear that this is repenting and being baptized in water.

  86. Ray Downen says:

    Grace doesn’t mind contradicting Acts 2:38. She knows more than did the apostles who were with Jesus and who received baptism in the Spirit with powers enabling them to heal and remember well and even to be led into all truth. Acts 2:38 makes clear how and when the Spirit is given to seekers. Paul wrote to people who had already been baptized and were already in Christ. Cornelius was not saved by the sign which convinced Peter that God wanted Gentiles also to be brought into the Lord’s church. He and his household were saved when they were baptized into Christ in the water baptism commanded by Jesus.

  87. Larry Cheek says:

    Grace,
    Help me to get this straight, I assume that you must believe that baptism is only a sign of the commitment that has already taken place in an individual. It is only for the witnesses. Would you really believe that Peter and the other six Jews who were with him really needed Cornelius and those who the Spirit fell upon to be baptized for a testimony of their commitment to Christ? Of course you don’t. Since that cannot possibly be the reason for Peter to command that they be baptized, which again disputes that concept, if someone is commanded to do something it cannot be the sign offering evidence of their testimony If as you affirm they were already saved and the purpose for baptism could not be a sign, please inform us why Peter saw it as being so absolutely necessary If the Jews in Jerusalem believed as you, why did they not ask Peter for what purpose did you baptize? In other words all of those who heard of the event, communicated throughout all of Christs followers and the Gentiles for generations to come, never questioned the purpose. And come to think of it even you do not question why he did it, you only attempt to claim that it did not do what all other records of baptisms accomplished. You want to call it the norm in the face of at least seven other instances where baptisms were so different that even Peter and his witnesses were astonished at the event. Something is drastically wrong with this picture.

  88. Grace says:

    I wrote exactly what I belive, I guess makng people repeat themselves is a tactic to try to trip them up in their words. Read the above comments over if you want what I belive about salvation repeated. The Scriptures say Peter went to Cornelius’ house to tell them the gospel, they heard the message, belived and received the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Scriptures say people who have His Spirit are right with God and belong to Him. You want to keep arguing against what the Scriptures say happened by saying it didn’t happen. I believe God knows the heart and mind, every intent and thought we have, I really believe God knows when to give His Spirit to people without a bribe.

  89. Royce says:

    I believe I have made a noble effort to have a civil discourse with Ray Downen but the conversation is no further along now than when I first ran across Ray here on Jay’s blog. I had been tipped off by a friend and he has lived up to he reputation. Larry Cheek and I disagree too, but I must say, at least Larry thinks and actually makes an honest attempt to rightly divide the Word. While I sometimes disagree with his conclusions I do respect him for putting forth the effort. Ray on the other hand just repeats Acts 2:38 over and over and over and accuses me (and Grace, and Jay, and Skip) if contradicting Acts 2:38 and Jesus when all we have done over and over is to quote the same Peter in chapters 10, 11, and 15 of Acts. It’s very easy to understand how threatening it must be to anyone who holds to a sacramental view of baptism to read Peter making statements that agree with Jesus and Paul. People who don’t know better try to pit James against Paul to justify their works-righteousness point of view but most people see through that sort of nonsense.

    I am not a Bible scholar, not a theologian, just a simple man who can read and comprehend what I read. Jay is light years ahead of most of us when it comes to study and scholarship and even though I disagree with him too at times, I have deep respect for him as a Christian gentleman. He is right about God keeping His promises to save those who put their trust in Jesus and those who disagree with him are wrong. So for a number of reasons I intend to not comment for a while. One of the biggest is that I work full time at 68 years old and really don’t have time for verbal banter with no end in view.

    I hope each of us here will grow in the grace of God as Paul prayed. Everyone who will finally be in heaven will be there undeserving and only because of the person and work of Jesus who Is the Christ, the one who gave himself for the ungodly so that those who trust him may live forever.

    Good night and God bless.

  90. Grace says:

    Peter didn’t say God did it for the Jewish people there, Peter said God knew the Gentile’s hearts when they believed and He gave them His Holy Spirit. That was Peter’s conclusion about what happened. One more time, what did Peter say, Peter said God knows people’s heart and that is what I believe. God who is sovereign and knows the depths of our hearts and minds, who sees deep in our souls, that is surely a God to not stand against who He decides to give His Holy Spirit to. The people at Cornelius’ house who received His Spirit were right with God and belonged to Him before they were baptize.

  91. Ray Downen says:

    Larry is so obviously right and Grace so obviously wrong that no one should be confused. Baptism is “INTO CHRIST.” Paul says so in Galatians 3:27. Peter agreed that baptism INTO Christ was needed and that God had approved of the Gentiles also being baptized. To gain the approval of the Jewish Christians everywhere, God gave an unmistakable sign of His approval. So Peter had these Gentile believers baptized INTO Christ in the way Jesus had commanded it was to be done. No one should dare to promise the gift of the Spirit other than in the way Peter explains it is given (Acts 2:38). We have some very brave people sharing their thoughts here.

  92. Ray Downen says:

    Grace is convinced that Jesus didn’t mean it when He commanded that new believers are to be baptized by human hands, so she’s willing to suppose the Gentile household was saved by being gifted with the ability to speak in unknown languages. Peter did believe what Jesus taught and so as soon as he was convinced it was O.K. with Jesus for Gentiles to be baptized, he authorized his friends to baptize these Gentiles INTO Christ. Grace thinks they were already IN Christ, but she is wrong in thinking so. Galatians 3:27 makes clear when and how believers are saved. The writers of apostolic writings do not contradict themselves since God was guiding each of them, and it’s made clear repeatedly that believers are baptized INTO Christ in water by human hands. These Gentiles were not exceptional. They also needed to be immersed in water as Jesus had commanded. The baptism commanded by Jesus is to usher the believer INTO salvation rather than because they were somehow saved prior to baptism. Paul, in Romans 6:1-11 shares the truth that sinners are baptized and then raised up into NEW LIFE, without which, according to Jesus, no one is in His kingdom. Saved people are not the objects of baptism. They are the RESULT of the baptism commanded by Jesus. It’s those OUTSIDE of the Kingdom who are baptized. It has always been so.

  93. Ray Downen says:

    Grace, I don’t want you to repeat what you obviously think is right but that I know is wrong. If anyone asked you to repeat it, it surely wasn’t me. Jesus commands that every new Christian is to be baptized. You think baptism is not necessary. You have the right to disagree with Jesus. Please don’t suppose I want to deny you that right!

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