Baptism: My Teaching and a Few FAQs

[An extra post at no extra charge!]

baptism of JesusJudging from the comments, it would be helpful for me to lay out what I teach about baptism again. It’s not complicated, but because it’s unfamiliar to most within the Churches of Christ, many readers have had trouble wrapping their heads around it — which is surely my fault.

But I think recent discussions have shown me a better way of expressing myself. Okay — here it is —

* The traditional teaching of the Churches of Christ is largely correct. We correctly interpret Acts 2:38 and all the other familiar baptism proof texts. Therefore, I teach baptism of believers by immersion into forgiveness of sins — just like Peter preached on Pentecost.

* However, unlike many in the Churches of Christ, I teach that grace applies to baptismal error — in theology or practice. Hence, a failure to be correctly baptized does not damn.

* In accordance with traditional Church of Christ teaching, I hold that faith in Jesus is absolutely essential to salvation. So is repentance. “Faith,” in the Greek, and as typically used in the New Testament, includes not only belief that Jesus is the Messiah and Lord, but also faithfulness to Jesus as Lord and trust in Jesus to keep his promises. Therefore, we can’t have “faith” without having committed to follow Jesus, including his ethical teachings. (I will not vary from this definition of “faith” in this discussion.)

* All with faith (as defined above) in Jesus will be saved, but that doesn’t mean the moment of salvation is the moment of faith. Rather, God intends for salvation to occur at the moment of baptism, which is intended to be very shortly following faith. The New Testament is written on the assumption that baptism and faith are essentially simultaneous — and so the writers do not focus on the timing of salvation vis-à-vis baptism. Hence, some verses speak of salvation occurring at the moment of faith and others at the moment of baptism. This only becomes a contradiction in modern practice because we often separate the two, contrary to New Testament practice.

Q. So you’re taking the Southern Baptist position and are against baptism!!

A. No, I’m very much for baptism, but I’m also for grace.

I’ve noticed a tendency among both sides of the old Church of Christ/Baptist debate to insist on pigeonholing me into one camp or the other, unable to imagine that there might be a third option. Hence, BOTH sides insist that I’m in the other camp’s camp. And both insist on pulling out the century-old arguments they are accustomed to using against the other — sometimes without even bothering to read my position because they KNOW what the OTHER side teaches. But I’m in neither camp, and the old arguments are no longer relevant.

Q. So what if someone with faith (as defined above) dies before being baptized despite intending to be baptized? Perhaps they get hit by a train on the way to be baptized.

A. This is, of course, a familiar debating point made by Baptists against the traditional Church of Christ position, which denies salvation to those unbaptized. But I teach that all with faith will be saved and that grace will cover an insufficiency in baptism. Obviously, such a person will be saved. God repeatedly promises to save all with faith in Jesus (as defined above). Obedience is about the heart, and the fact that the believer intended to obey and was prevented by circumstances beyond his control does not change the fact that he had a penitent heart.

Q. So when was he saved? At coming to faith or at baptism? He wasn’t baptized, and so he must have been saved at the moment of faith.

A. This logic only works if the moment of faith and the moment of baptism are the only possibilities. Who made up that rule? There are more than two possibilities.

My view is that God saves the believer, in this rare circumstance, when he dies — which is when it matters most. Why not? God promised to save all with faith in Jesus, and so he will — and he won’t be prevented from saving him by our insistence on hammering God into the limits of the Baptist/Church of Christ debate. God is much bigger than that.

The early church taught that an unbaptized believer could be saved by baptism in blood — martyrdom. In that case, the believer would be saved at death. They couldn’t imagine God denying salvation to someone who died for Jesus before he was baptized. I can’t imagine God denying salvation to everyone with faith (as defined above) in Jesus when he has promised repeatedly to save everyone with faith (as defined above) in Jesus.

Q. If all with faith are saved, you must not require repentance!

A. Pay attention! “Faith” includes faithfulness, a synonym for repentance from sin. Indeed, I believe repentance/faithfulness to require more than a mere commitment to higher ethics. It’s a commitment to follow Jesus by becoming more and more like him — all the way to the cross. Baptism demonstrates that we are to die with Jesus — not just to our former life of sin but also to commit to a sacrificial, submissive way of life.

Q. If grace covers baptismal error, why not the complete absence of faith in Jesus?

A. One of the great errors of 20th Century Church of Christ teaching — and most Protestant teaching — was our insistence on abstracting rules from the text and leaving the narrative of scripture behind. We took “faith” and “repent” out of their context and so misunderstood them in subtle but important ways. I attempt to correct this in the current series of posts on baptism.

Read Paul, especially Romans. Chapters 1 – 5 are all about the sufficiency and necessity of faith to save, explained in light of the Old Testament.  Plainly, Paul sees faith as non-negotiably essential. Romans 9 – 11 make this clear beyond all doubt. Paul concludes that most of his fellow Jews are damned because they lack faith in Jesus.

The book  of Acts is the story of missionaries saving Jews with faith in God by teaching them to believe in Jesus as Messiah. They were lost, despite their faith in God and moral lifestyles, without Jesus.

I reject the “available light” theory because Acts tells a different story.

Q. So you think all believers are saved? Even those who sin? Even those who teach error?

A. Isn’t that what the Bible plainly and repeatedly tells us? Isn’t that the very definition of “grace”? Why should I not believe it?

Of course, I only speak of those with faith (as above defined). Those who deny that Jesus is the Messiah and Lord, those who refuse to submit to Jesus as Lord, and those who won’t trust Jesus’ promises aren’t saved. Grace does not erase all boundaries. (I’m not attempting a comprehensive list of non-negotiables. But this is the core. All else flows from these because these define “faith.”)

Q. So some error damns and some error does not?

A. Exactly. The boundary is faith in Jesus, not error. No one is has a perfect theology, just as no one lives without moral sin. We are not perfectible during this age, but we are capable of faith (as above defined). The false teachers that are condemned in the New Testament are those who attack the core elements of faith (as above defined).

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About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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33 Responses to Baptism: My Teaching and a Few FAQs

  1. Grace says:

    Why would’t you use a Biblical example of God saving all who have faith in the gospel of Jesus?

    Acts 10:44-48, Acts 15:8-11 Cornelius, family and friends had the Holy Spirit before they were baptized. They were children of God before they were baptized.

    Cornelius, family and friends weren’t on their deathbed, they weren’t about to get run over by a train or chariot and God saved them before they were baptized.

  2. JES says:

    Thanks for your clarification on baptism, it helps those of us new to your blog. I do have one question if you will? What do you think scripture says concerning “people of faith” that reject baptism, even after clear teaching as you have done on this issue?

  3. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    JES asked,

    What do you think scripture says concerning “people of faith” that reject baptism, even after clear teaching as you have done on this issue?

    In my experience, those who “reject baptism” are usually people who consider themselves to have already been baptized and who refuse rebaptism (as they perceive things). We in the Churches of Christ have a bad habit of speaking of the baptisms administered by other denominations as no baptism at all. Because we deny grace for a flawed baptism, we teach that someone is damned until they are baptized according to our teachings. When we ask someone to be rebaptized, we’re effectively asking them to deny the efficacy of the baptism of their beloved friends and relatives — and not surprisingly, many find this hard to do.

    However, if we were to teach that their previous baptism was erroneous but covered by grace, they’d not be forced to consider their relatives and friends damned when coming to a better understanding of baptism. The question then would become: Why be rebaptized if the first baptism was effective by grace? Well, not be saved. They are already saved. And yet grace does not excuse a failure to obey as well as we can.

    That is, God’s grace will cover my sin of anger, but I still need not to be angry. God’s grace will cover my lust; but I still need to discipline myself not to lust. God’s grace will cover my flawed baptism, but maybe I should do it right now that I know better — as an act of submission to Jesus as Lord, to make my obedience as perfect as possible, but not to be saved – because I’m already saved.

    Should we insist on threat of disfellowshiping? No. If we push too hard, we go back to where we came from, making perfect baptism essential to salvation, fellowship, or church office. We can slip and deny grace — and no longer rely on the strength of God’s promises.

    How do we know if someone’s been saved despite his baptismal error? Well, we rely on the scriptures and our own observations —

    (1Co 12:3 ESV) 3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.

    (Rom 8:9-11 ESV) You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

    We look for the Spirit. When the Spirit has come, so has salvation. Indeed, the Spirit is surer sign of salvation than baptism, because the Spirit comes directly from God, whereas baptism is done by humans for humans.

  4. Randall says:

    Great post Jay.

    Concise and complete. Not that anyone asked me to, but I’ll share my view anyway.

    As you already know I’m pretty Calvinistic regarding soteriology. I know others regard Calvinism as the doctrine of the devil but nearly all of them don’t know what it is – they just know the caricature. Some (hopefully not many) even bow down and worship at the altar to free will. But again they just know the popular culture and the caricature of a fallen will.

    I believe I was completely, totally, utterly, hopelessly, helplessly lost …and Jesus saved me. That’s it!

    He did so b/c it pleased him to do so (he didn’t share the specifics of why with me but it is His nature to be gracious to sinners). Prior to my salvation, I was sinful by my nature and in my behavior. I resented God and his commands. I was spiritually deaf, blind, dead and at enmity with God. Don’t think too harshly of me though as I believe all y’all were in the same boat with me. Yes, even those that live a devout Mormon type lifestyle and are feeling pretty good about yourselves.

    While i was dead in sin God caused me to be born from above by His sovereign will. He is all knowing and all powerful and NO ONE thwarts His will.
    Is. 14:27 from the NIV on line: For the Lord Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him?
    His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?

    If he knows everything then He always knew me, even from eternity past till eternity future. Indeed He created me as I was/am. If he is all powerful then He is/was able to turn my heart where he wanted.
    New American Standard Bible
    The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes
    New American Standard Bible
    The lot is cast into the lap, But its every decision is from the LORD.
    Yes, I realize proverbs are pithy sayings but it is easy enough to see the “pith” of these proverbs. And I am making it a point not to quote all of Romans – particularly Romans 9: 1-23 – go read it again without all your CofC baggage explaining it away.

    After I had been born again I gained eyes to see, hears to hear, spiritual life rather than mere carnal life and became at amity rather than enmity with God. He wooed me and brought me to faith in Jesus. He won me over by changing my heart and will. As soon as I (anyone) comes to faith (knowledge assent and trust) they recognize their low down ways for what they are and turn towards God and away from sin (repentance) and if they have a modicum of knowledge about scripture they are baptized into Jesus with a view toward (unto) the remission of sin and sins.

    (I understand sin to be the fallen nature we are born with that puts us at enmity with God and b/c our nature is fallen we willingly commit many sins i.e. individual acts of iniquity.) Every being behaves in accordance with their nature

    The process of sanctification continues throughout my life time even when it is several steps back for only one step forward. None the less, I will persevere to the end by the power of God. I dare not trust myself, my heart, my will, previous decision etc. apart from the power of God; as I would never persevere to the end alone, probably not even for the first mile.

    So my salvation is totally (100%) by the grace of God through the means of faith and He leads me in His ways which include baptism and good works – unless I am almost a total ignoramus regarding scripture and church history.

    I do NOT take credit for any decision I made (even though I made the decision) nor any good work He led and enabled me to do (even though I did it). This was all done in me by God and to God alone be the glory. He saves sinners and I qualify. Hallelujah!

    There, that’s simple enough. This is my view. It doesn’t have to be yours. Others make take (at least logically) a little credit for whatever part of their salvation they choose. No matter whether it be their initial change of will, their right thinking about baptism, their good works and charitable heart, anything at all. I take credit for none of it, not an ounce nor even a gram. All the credit goes to God in my case.

    Hesed,
    Randall

  5. Ray Downen says:

    Jay, you write,

    some verses speak of salvation occurring at the moment of faith

    And I’m ignorant of any verse at all which speaks of salvation by faith alone. When it’s mentioned that we are saved by faith, it’s clear that the faith spoken of has led to obeying the gospel. But inspired writers make clear that baptism is INTO Christ. Is faith spoken of as being INTO Christ in any passage?

    I know of no such passage. The closest I could come in a search for “faith into” was

    Romans 5:2 — Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

    But every example of conversion into Christ seems to include baptism and the “into” is stated to be “baptized INTO Christ” as in Galatians 3:27. So I can’t take Paul in Romans 5:2 to be claiming that conversion is by faith alone. Not there. Not any passage I know of. So which verses speak to you of salvation occurring “at the moment of faith”? Did you cite some and I didn’t notice? I want all to realize that I believe salvation follows faith. I don’t question that at all. I’m merely aware that it’s not ever stated that salvation follows faith alone, or at least I know of no such statement anywhere in apostolic writings. Yet that does seem to be what you’re stating as fact.

  6. Ray Downen says:

    Jay, you write,

    When the Spirit has come, so has salvation. Indeed, the Spirit is surer sign of salvation than baptism, because the Spirit comes directly from God, whereas baptism is done by humans for humans.

    I think it’s amazing that you can tell when “the Spirit has come” to any person. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say I think there’s NO WAY anyone can know for sure that any person has the Spirit of God. So yes, I’m saying you’re wrong in claiming to be able to look at a person or listen to a person and know surely that the person does or does not possess God’s Spirit. Yet you claim your identifying the person as having the Spirit is a more sure way of knowing who is or is not a Christian than whether or not the person has obeyed the gospel by being immersed as Jesus commands.

    Am I understanding you correctly?

  7. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Ray,

    You’ve fallen into the “Last Verse Read” fallacy. Yes, the baptism verses say what they say. But plenty of verses say that everyone with faith will be saved. Do I really need to list them once again?

    And by what right do you insist that the verse must say “by faith alone”? There are plenty of other ways to express that thought. We can’t tell God what words his must use. For example,

    (Joh 3:18 ESV) 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

    “Whoever” means whoever.

    (Act 2:21 ESV) 21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

    “Everyone” means everyone. In fact, this verse, quoted from Joel, is repeated throughout Acts and relied on by Paul in Rom 10.

    The Greek is estai pas — “existing all” — everyone who exists.

    Robertson, Grammar of the Greek New Testament defines “pas“:

    Pas = ‘any one’ no matter who, ‘anything’ no matter what.

    In other words, the all-inclusive nature of “everyone” is highly emphatic in the Greek.

    I could cite a few dozen more. The Bible is filled with them.

    But as I just posted, I believe that the normative case — the intended normal — is that baptism so shortly follows faith that it’s all essentially simultaneous, and I believe that we are to see salvation as occurring at the moment of baptism. But God will nonetheless keep his promises to save everyone with faith in Jesus — even if it means his normative pattern isn’t followed. God keeps his promises. Therefore, everyone with faith in Jesus (meaning a faith that leads to faithfulness to Jesus and trust in Jesus) will ultimately be saved.

    Remember the definition of “faith” that I find in the NT. It’s not mere intellectual acquiescence. It requires repentance/faithfulness/obedience. And it requires that we rely on Jesus’ promises to save for grace.

  8. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Ray,

    There’s no way to know FOR SURE whether a baptism has taken. Maybe the baptizee lacks real faith. Maybe he’s a fraud. But the Bible says we can test the spirits. So I think we can do just that. Will we do so perfectly? No, perfection comes with the next age.

    By your logic, I can’t judge the heart of anyone else. And if that’s so, I can’t judge the faith or penitence of anyone else. And so how do I know who to baptize? How can I know that any baptized person is truly saved? I mean, I can be certain about the water part, but it’s only a good baptism if the Spirit is received.

  9. Larry Cheek says:

    I was amazed at the information I found at this source. I had no idea that the Catholic Church taught baptism as I found it there, in fact their baptism has a lot of resemblence to what Jay is teaching about individuals who do not get the oppurnity to be baptized. I understood they do not offer baptism as exempted for lack of being taught. I also understood that they will not accept a baptism of the LDS Church, based upon as I understood even though they believe in and have faith in Jesus, they place another man in this picture as a representative of Jesus. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baptism#Roman_Catholicism

  10. Larry Cheek says:

    I had become comfortable with a delayed response to an individual being baptized as I understood that the individual who was to be baptized was most likely not the individual who delayed the baptism. It was easy then for me to place the responsibility of the individuals blood upon the organization or the preachers who taught there was no liability involved in waiting. I knew I would never allow myself to be in jeopardy of my salvation because of this type of action. I also have never seen or heard of a situation where anyone had lost their life between their commitment to be baptized and the fulfillment of the baptism, other than a death bed confession. It has been common terminology as I was taught that the concept which was applied by John at his baptisms about you brood of vipers, bring fruits of your repentance. As I understand that communication John saw people fleeing from their sinful state to receive the forgiveness which was the core of his teaching without displaying repentance (they had faith and belief or they would not have acted) John knew their hearts had not changed. I hear all these pleas from mankind today about how unfair or how unlike God’s character it would be to not allow anyone who could see their death very eminent to be turned away while still alive, God refused to honor their pleas. But, it is very hard for me to not apply the concept that is readable about Noah and the destruction of all those who were probably begging to their maximum ability offering God all they had as they possibly were cleaving to anything which would allow them to still have breath in their bodies, God did not spare any, they all perished. As I attempt to apply the new to me concept that Jesus will not turn an individual who has faith and belief away because he was taught wrong by a preacher. This really constitutes that a teacher teaching a lie will not produce the fruit of the lie. The lie that was told to Eve certainly produced a different fruit than was good for man.
    It is getting late and I must finish this, so in conclusion, I ask again for evidence of any individual being saved after Pentecost without baptism being administered. Yes , Faith does save but all applications of the promise of faith after Acts were addressed to Christians, those who had been baptized. No individual who was addressed there was instructed to teach faith and belief less baptism.

  11. Profile photo of Kevin Kevin says:

    Jay,
    I largely agree with your position. My thinking has evolved to this position over the last several years; however I still have a few nagging doubts relative to the essentiality of baptism. I completely concur with you regarding those whose baptism was not quite right. For example, I do consider my Baptist family members and friends as saved despite the fact that they were baptized for the incorrect reason. I think grace covers that. However, I am not quite as sure regarding those who die without having been being baptized at all. Naturally, I hope and pray that those who have a heart attack on the way to the baptistery are saved at death. Indeed, I THINK they will be saved, but “hope” and “think” are not COAs. Consequently, I would never build a theological position based on extreme hypothetical situations.

    I’ve often wondered what happened to those Israelites who failed to place blood an their doorposts and lintel. You know there had to be someone who failed to properly obey, given the enormous population that participated in the exodus (at least two million souls according to most estimates). I’ve also contemplated those Israelites who were bitten by the fiery serpents in the wilderness and failed, perhaps through no fault of their own, to look upon the bronze serpent. Sure, different covenants and different times, but we do get a peek at how God operates. And, these examples, to me, don’t lend themselves to a lot of exceptions. (Granted, the Bible doesn’t address what happened to anyone who didn’t follow God’s instructions, but the context doesn’t indicate that any exceptions were made. So, the prudent position is to not consider them.)
    Then, we are reminded of Moses words in Deuteronomy: diligently keep the commandments…keep all his commandments…teach them diligently…carefully follow…etc.
    I’ll readily admit that I don’t have it figured out, and I am wary about taking anything other than the “safe” position.

    Two comments on the following comment:

    [(John 3:18 ESV) 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
    “Whoever” means whoever.]

    1) I am reminded of John 12:42 “Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue;”

    Same Greek word as that of John 3:18: πιστεύω pisteuō. Are the authorities of 12:42 included in the whoever of 3:18. Same Greek word.
    In my view, many of the “believe” statements like 3:18 and others have a lot of built-in assumptions on the part of the speaker. When Jesus said, “whoever believes,” he didn’t mean literally “anyone, under any set of conditions. “ He meant anyone who “believed” in same sense that you described in the main post: trust, follow, submit, and obey. It is possible to pisteuō and to not be saved.

    2) I think the inclusion of “already” in 3:18 is significant. ἤδη ēdē is used only 59 times in the Gk NT. Unbelievers are condemned already. They don’t have a chance. Believers have a chance to be saved…but not all believers. Only the believers who truly trust, follow, submit, and obey. Believers like the leaders in 12:42 aren’t saved. Believers among the good ground are saved…but believers among the stony places and thorns aren’t saved.

  12. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Kevin,

    Let’s go to the Parable of the Sower.

    (Luk 8:11-15 ESV) 11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. 14 And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. 15 As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

    Jesus is explicit that those who believe are saved, although if they later lose their faith, they fall away. He does not suggest that someone might believe and remain lost.

    On the other hand, I agree that “believe” in the Greek can take on the full meaning of saving faith (believe/be faithful/trust) or, as in James, refer to mere intellectual acceptance with no moral commitment. The demons “believe” and tremble, but they do not trust and are not faithful. They do not have “faith” that saves.

    Obviously, in the countless promises to save all with “faith,” “faith” refers to believe/be faithful/trust faith, not demonic faith.

    So if someone with faith fails to be baptized, does that mean he has only the faith of demons? Well, no. It might. But it may also mean that he was improperly instructed. Or that he was run over by a train on the way to the baptistry. Or that he thought himself baptized but was mistaken.

    By definition, the faithful obey God’s commands, but we are all broken and imperfect, and so we obey in a broken, imperfect way. We are judged for our hearts, not the excellence of our comprehension of koine Greek.

    I know of no one who has refused baptism believing himself to be refusing baptism. I know of people who thought they were baptized and who refused what they considered an unnecessary second baptism. But in their minds, they’d already been baptized and didn’t need another. That does not contradict faithfulness.

  13. Profile photo of Kevin Kevin says:

    Unfortunately, I know some who refuse baptism altogether because “it is not necessary and who wants to get wet anyway?”

    And you are right about the parable: they fell away.

  14. Larry Cheek says:

    I also know of very dedicated individuals who refuse baptism because they prayed through and became saved. Of course they were taught that, they did not earn that from scriptures. But, believing that so powerfully that they refuse to be taught what the scriptures teach, I believe them to be the same as those who rejected John’s baptism, they are rejecting God’s purpose in their life. I also know of individuals who refuse to be baptized because of the fear of being submersed under water, at least that is the excuse, some of them still go swimming but are very careful not to be submerged.

  15. Stubbs says:

    When I taught the scriptures from a legalistic point of view many were damned to hell. Now that I understand grace and teach from a grace point of view I see those that believe in Jesus as the Son of God. as my brothers/sisters in Christ. I understand Ruth Graham was never baptized. She was raised by Presbyterian missionaries and had a different understanding of baptism than her famous husband and he than of us in the coC tradition. Many of the writers of the hymns we love had a different understanding of baptism than we in the coC tradition but yet we sing these hymns as they speak to our heart and our love of Jesus and the Father. CS Lewis was baptized as an infant, later became an atheist before converting to Christianity. His Christian based writings have blessed millions. George Müller solely depended on faith and prayer in taking care of orphans. Is it strange that those that do not have the same understanding of baptism as us and do not believe in salvation by works do more works than legalistic coC’s? Personally, grace and forgiveness propels me to do good works; much more so than when I was working to earn my salvation and damning others. It is the grace and love of God through His Son that unites us as the body of Christ to do the good works God prepared for us to do.

  16. Randall says:

    HI Jay,
    Sorry to be commenting again so soon. It seems I just can’t help myself. Your position in your comment above strikes me as so Church of Christy that I am more than a little surprised.

    In your comment your wrote:
    “If we leave Medieval Scholasticism and Reformation theology behind and get back to what Paul was actually discussing, we find that he defines “works” as “work of the Torah” — obedience to the Law of Moses. I defend this position in http://oneinjesus.info/2014/07/32916/ and http://oneinjesus.info/2014/07/baptism-is-baptism-a-work-part-3-further-on-the-definition-of-works/. Now, we can do works of the Law without having heard of the Torah because many of the Torah’s laws — the moral laws — are written on our hearts. Hence, even Gentiles unaware of the Torah can be guilty of Torah violations.

    Hence, “works” does not mean “something I do” but “obedience to the Law of Moses, as revealed through Torah or God’s general revelation.””
    ******************end of quote****************

    This has been the CofC position that I have heard most frequently all my life. I have heard some of the better known CofC preachers disagree with that position and teach that it is not merely works of the Torah but justification by the principle of works in general. Of course, a number of conservative scholars from outside the CofC also teach differently that the CofC. Honestly, I think the CofC teaches as they do to negate the doctrine of salvation BY grace alone THROUGH faith alone. They want to teach salvation by faith plus works.

    Nonetheless, your statement above is an assumption, not a proof or even an argument. It’s a position merely. ** Hope it is okay to use your own words w/o placing quotation marks around them as they are my words in this sentence.
    *****************************************************************

    You also suggest that “we leave Medieval Scholasticism and Reformation theology behind and get back to what Paul was actually discussing”

    Isn’t the penal substitutionary theory of atonement (Jesus died/sacrificed himself to pay the penalty for my sins) Reformation theology? see the following from this website: http://www.theopedia.com/Penal_substitutionary_atonement

    Penal substitutionary atonement
    Penal substitutionary atonement refers to the doctrine that Christ died on the cross as a substitute for sinners. God imputed the guilt of our sins to Christ, and he, in our place, bore the punishment that we deserve. This was a full payment for sins, which satisfied both the wrath and the righteousness of God, so that He could forgive sinners without compromising His own holy standard.

    Background
    The Penal-Substitution Theory of the atonement was formulated by the 16th century Reformers as an extension of Anselm’s Satisfaction theory. Anselm’s theory was correct in introducing the satisfaction aspect of Christ’s work and its necessity; however the Reformers saw it as insufficient because it was referenced to God’s honor rather than his justice and holiness and was couched more in terms of a commercial transaction than a penal substitution. This Reformed view says simply that Christ died for man, in man’s place, taking his sins and bearing them for him. The bearing of man’s sins takes the punishment for them and sets the believer free from the penal demands of the law: The righteousness of the law and the holiness of God are satisfied by this substitution.

    Then there is this regarding justification from wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justification_%28theology%29

    Justification, in Christian theology, is God’s act of removing the guilt and penalty of sin while at the same time declaring a sinner righteous through Christ’s atoning sacrifice. In Protestantism, righteousness from God is viewed as being credited to the sinner’s account through faith alone, without works.

    The means of justification is an area of significant difference between Catholics/Eastern Orthodox and Protestants. Broadly speaking, Catholic and Orthodox Christians distinguish between initial justification, which in their view occurs at baptism, and permanent justification, accomplished after a lifetime of striving to do God’s will. Most Protestants believe that justification is a singular act in which God declares an unrighteous individual to be righteous, an act made possible because Christ was legally “made sin” while on the cross (2 Cor 5:21). Justification is granted to all who exercise faith, and that is viewed as a gift from God (unmerited favour) by Lutherans and Calvinists, who use Eph 2:8, as well as Acts 16:14 and Phil 1:29 to support that belief. Catholics and Eastern Orthodox use James 2:14-26, Galatians 5:19-21 and Matthew 19:17 to support their belief that justification is kept through avoiding grave sins. Justification is seen by Protestants as being the theological fault line that divided Catholic from Protestant during the Protestant Reformation.[1]
    ******************************************************

    Please excuse we if you feel I have jumped ahead by discussing the meaning of justification before you put up your post on the subject. I think most of us understand already understand the meaning of the word, but perhaps I’m projecting.

    So do we really want to “leave Medieval Scholasticism and Reformation theology behind and get back to what Paul was actually discussing” ??

    None of our beliefs today came to us in a vacuum. Even the way we think is formed by the culture we live in. All the assumptions, presuppositions, etc that we call common sense came to us after centuries of living in a common culture It is great to try to go back to scripture when we’re 30, 40, 60 or 80 years old and try to read and understand it like it was the first time and like we were reading it through first century Greek and Jewish culture, w/o all the baggage we bring with us. Nonetheless, the baggage is still there and there is no escaping it, at least not to a significant extent. That’s as true for you as it is for me. I prefer to stand on the shoulders of those that have gone before b/c I can see farther that way. That doesn’t mean I have to be bound by it so much that I can’t weigh the evidence and the arguments.

    Hesed,
    Randall

  17. Dwight says:

    Stubbs, My thoughts on the difference between condemning and saving. Peter in Acts 2:38 didn’t argue for what must they do to be lost, but answered what must they do to be saved, while saving them from being lost. I do know many who approach from the negative in pointing out the errors, which is wrong, but in pointing out the way, we must argue in the same way as the apostles did. This is not legalism, but doing what they apostles understood and knew in regards to salvation. People are convicted, they want Jesus, we tell them how to become one with Jesus.
    “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.”
    Easy peasy.
    The hard part is having people open their hearts and recognizing their need for Jesus, the easy part is their uniting with Jesus, then comes living in Jesus.

  18. Stubbs says:

    Dwight, we are on a different page. Not seeing how your comment applies to mine. That’s OK, no problem,

  19. Dwight says:

    Stubbs, Sorry, but the last part of your entry I totally agree with, in some ways. Many who preach condemnation do not place much value in helping others, which was what Jesus was all about…others. This is perhaps greater than all other things. But this still does’t excuse anyone or everyone from doing what they understand, as they understand it. Peter wasn’t preaching legalism when he commanded repentance and baptism, but rather faith. Legalism turns this into adding certain things into it to make it more of a program instead of a simple response to Jesus and obedience to God.
    But back to your question, it is ironic that those who don’t believe in works do more works than us, but even those of the coC don’t argue from the pure works standpoint, but what I think happens is that we regulate so much, that to step out of that regulation is discouraged. We teach at least within the conservative coC to help those in need, as in saints in need through the church, but don’t extend our help out to those around us in need as Jesus did. We are self-limiting in good.

  20. Pingback: Baptism: Grace and Baptism, Part 3 (Grace for Baptism) | One In Jesus

  21. Pingback: Baptism: Grace and Baptism, Part 5 (Why Grace Does Not Destroy Baptism) | One In Jesus

  22. Pingback: Baptism: My Teaching and a Few FAQs | Church of Christ

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  24. Alabama John says:

    Larry,

    Wanting to be baptized and not being allowed to be happens all the time in hospitals with the very ill.

    Also in high security prisons it is usually scheduled once or twice a year. Those dying at the wrong time may have accepted Jesus and the understanding, want to be properly baptized but not allowed to and then die. I held the hand of one wanting to be baptized and died. He had asked me if that, due to his circumstances would be acceptable with God and I said yes.

    The conservative preacher when I told that story to him in a class said he should of thought about that before getting locked up so too bad, he was hell bound.

  25. John says:

    I guess the conservative preacher’s name was Yahwe, since the last time I checked only God can make that decision.

  26. Dwight says:

    AJ, I would have said the same thing, but would have added to pray to God for acceptance, because that is who He should plead his case with. Even in court, many courts, you can plead your case before thge judge. God judges and is merciful. We should teach faith and baptism, but we should also teach mercy and grace, when it is impossible. After all we teach going to assembly, as we should, but when we are sick we give allowances to not going, but we don’t…we don’t…allow this on other things. This isn’t teaching faith over works, but mercy over sacrifice, when sacrifice is denied us.

  27. Larry Cheek says:

    Alabama John,
    What we say as we attend to a dying soul is very important. This would never be the right time to explain a belief that that soul was going to hell or could not be saved. But, it is not within the power given to us to testify that any soul will be saved in those last few moments of life. Only God knows the heart of an individual, and that is what he will be judged upon. I have read all that Jay and many others have written about grace and promoting that faith is really the only component absolutely necessary to be saved. I have asked many times for an example in scriptures where that was displayed after Christ left the earth, no one has produced one. Not one of God’s servants, Apostles, or other writers of the NT explained their actions as pronouncing an individual as being saved in a situation like we are discussing. Should we really believe that there was never an individual who had not committed to Christ who was on their death bed where there was a teacher of the gospel present, to document that the Lord had saved him?
    We discuss regularly about how wrong it was and is to tell people about hell and how horrible it will be to die without accepting Jesus as our savior, that scaring people is not the method to create a Christian, that we must teach the love and goodness of Jesus and the Gospel (good news that he can save us). Then we turn 180 degrees and promote to an individual who is fully understanding that he is hell bound that he can be saved by making a commitment at deaths door. We promote that Jesus does not want you to be scared into a relationship with him by a teacher explaining the hazards of not submitting to Christ, then we just promote deaths door do the same job.
    The scriptures are abounding with examples of great warnings from God what will be the fate of men of the earth unless they turn and follow him. Noah taught for years, men were not receptive. Would you be ready to confirm that many of those same men and women cried out desperately as they were drowning in the flood for God to save them? Is there any message from God that he heard their pleas and saved anyone? No, the Bible tells exactly how many were saved. How many do you suppose cried out from Sodom and Gomorrah?
    Was Christ suggesting that these people could turn to him but would not? Rather they would attempt to be hidden or shielded from God, by the mountains and hills.
    Luk 23:27-31 ESV And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. (28) But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. (29) For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ (30) Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ (31) For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
    I would believe there will only be a very few individuals in this world, who will refuse to acknowledge God as they see their fate suddenly upon them. Even atheists have been known to suddenly see the light, at that point in their life.
    Am I saying Christ won’t save them? No, what I am saying is that we have no example that will confirm our message of their faith at the last second of their life confirming their salvation.

  28. Dwight says:

    I am with Larry in this. A death door confession is like waiting to board the bus leaving town because you want to enjoy your life and then when the bus is leaving trying to get on board. It might be sincere but Jesus wants people now, not people who are waiting God out as the last resort. He is patient, but not stupid.
    Now offering comfort to the dying is a good thing, but telling someone they are saved is beyond our ability…it ultimately comes down the relationship between them and God and the mercy of God if and when he extends it.
    But this is an unproven exception as the scriptures never argue for faith as being what God respects, but faith and works. Abraham wouldn’t have gotten far with God if he hadn’t placed Isaac on the altar and raised His knife to kill Isaac, but rather just walked to the altar and argued that his faith took him this far. We know what God desires and arguing for something less is a hard sell. Just faith might be accepted, but God wants more when we can give it.

  29. Troy says:

    Jay,
    The only way for me to make sense of this would be the following thesis:
    That God normally saves persons by their faith at the moment of baptism, but
    In exceptional circumstances, such as lack of or incomplete knowledge of the significance
    Or mode of baptism, God will save those persons by their faith.
    If this is the case, would this salvation be given only to those unable to fulfill the command
    to be baptized (e.g. death bed)? Or would they be saved at the point of their faith? It makes
    that in the churches of Christ we have faith prior to our baptism, because this faith is necessary
    to making the decision to be baptized. However, we say that we are not saved til we are baptized.
    It follows that if unbaptized persons are saved only in the moment of extreme circumstances such as their death bed, then unimmersed persons who have faith would still need to be instructed and baptized for salvation. Alternatively, if it is indeed so that their faith saved them even while unbaptized when they are capable of submitting to that command, then what is to say that we in the CoC were not saved by our faith prior to our baptisms? If persons with faith are saved despite errors in or lack of baptism, that sounds like the “available light” doctrine, which you already said you do not subscribe to. So are persons always saved at baptism (with faith) except under physical inability to be baptized? Or are faithful persons with the ability to be baptized who have not for reason of inadequate knowledge saved?

  30. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Troy,

    Part 1

    My view of baptism is neither traditional Church of Christ nor traditional Baptist. Neither do I believe that God is bound by anything in saving us other than his promises. He will always keep his promises.

    If someone has faith, he is normatively saved at the moment of water baptism. This is when he normatively receives the Spirit. This makes Jesus’ baptism typological or a prototype of Christian baptism.

    But God has promised that all with faith (faith = real faith, saving faith, penitent faith) will be saved.

    So what if someone with faith is run over by a chariot on the way to be baptized?

    Well, he has faith and so God will save him.

    Was he saved when he came to faith?

    I think not because normatively, salvation is at the moment of water baptism.

    Then he was lost?

    He was but God saved him.

    When? At faith?

    No. We’ve covered that. God saved him when he was resurrected and came to the throne of grace before the King of the Universe.

    So he was saved when he died?

    I have no idea. I just know that he was saved when he was judged because God promised to save all with faith.

    So you don’t know when people are saved?

    I think very few people get run over by chariots on the way to be baptized. Nearly all people are saved when baptized. But if God has to violate this rule to keep his promise to save all with faith, he’ll save all with faith.

  31. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Troy,

    Part 2

    Suppose someone is baptized as an infant. He later comes to faith (real, saving, genuine, penitent faith). He goes through confirmation, in which he confesses his faith. He is not rebaptized. He has been taught that his baptism is sufficient. He’s done some Internet research to confirm this, and he found that some of the world’s greatest theologians agree that his baptism is sufficient.

    Later, he is run over by a train.

    Does he go to heaven when he dies?

    Of course.

    Why “of course”?

    Because he had faith in Jesus, and God has repeatedly promised to save all with faith in Jesus. God keeps his promises.

    So infant baptism is sufficient?

    Sufficient to what?

    To save.

    No.

    Then he was damned.

    No. Only those with faith in Jesus are saved. Infant baptism does not save because it does not provide faith.

    So he was saved when he later came to faith.

    Maybe. Or maybe when he confessed his faith (Rom 10:9). Or maybe only when he reached Judgment. But sometime, somewhere, somehow, he went to heaven when he died.

    So we should treat those baptized as infants as saved?

    No. We should treat those with a real faith in Jesus as saved.

    How do you know what faith is real?

    Churches of Christ face the same issue every time someone comes forward to be baptized. If he confesses his faith, we take it to be genuine absent some really good reason to believe he is too young, too legally incompetent, or too uninstructed to have faith. Why would the test be any different in a Methodist building?

    So you figure he was saved when he came to faith — meaning you take the Baptist position!

    No. If he was trained by a Church of Christ preacher, he wouldn’t be saved until he was baptized — absent being killed on his way to the baptistry or that sort of thing. Salvation is supposed to happen at baptism, and we should teach and practice that way so long as we don’t deny God’s promise to save all with faith.

    So the test is subjective?

    To a degree. If someone believes himself to be properly baptized, and he’s not in rebellion against the known will of God, and he has faith in Jesus, he’s saved and we should treat him as such.

    But that means those with doctrinal error can go to heaven.

    Exactly. But only if they have faith in Jesus. Faith in Jesus is not like other doctrines. Faith in Jesus is the foundation of God’s covenant to deem those with faith as righteous. It’s the boundary. It’s the mark of the true church.

  32. Troy says:

    So are you saying, Jay, that all persons with saving faith are lost until being baptized but, as long as they are not rebelliously refusing baptism, if they should die prior to being baptized God will save them in order to keep His promises? It sounds like you are going from where many of us are, thinking God could have mercy on the “pious unimmersed,” and are saying that we can affirm that He does in fact do so, per the promises in the “faith” passages. Admittedly I do not want to limit God in the area of saving faithful unimmersed persons (e.g. people on their deathbeds) though I am hesitant to say He actually will save them. Are you then merely affirming the eventual salvation of all persons who, though ignorant in regard to baptism, have real faith in Jesus? If the eventual salvation is promised, we would still need to teach them because to choose to leave them ignorant would be trying to cheat the system, something God does not intend for us to do. I believe such an attempt would be sinful. So are you saying that the “faith” passages promise salvation as a last resort for God to save all the faithful? If this is so, that person would still be lost as long as they were able to potentially carry out the baptism (and we should do our best to teach them) but if for some reason they died in sincere faith prior to receiving a Scriptural baptism, at that point God would save them so as to keep His promises. Is this what you are saying?

  33. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Troy,

    I’m saying that God keeps his promises, and he’s repeatedly promised to save everyone with faith.

    (Mark 9:23) “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.”

    (John 1:12-13) Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

    (John 3:14-18) Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.

    “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

    (John 3:36) “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.”

    (John 5:24) “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.”

    (John 6:29) Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:35) Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.”

    (John 6:40) “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

    (John 6:47) “I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life.”

    (John 7:38-39) “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

    (John 11:25-26) Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

    (John 12:46) “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.”

    (John 20:31) But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

    (Acts 10:43) “All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

    (Acts 13:38-39) “Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses.”

    (Acts 16:31) They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”

    (Rom. 1:16-17) I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

    (Rom. 3:22-24) This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

    (Rom. 3:25-28) God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.

    (Rom. 4:4-5) Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.

    (Rom. 5:1-2) Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.

    (Rom. 10:4) Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

    (Rom. 10:9-13) That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

    (1 Cor. 1:21) For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.

    (1 Cor. 12:3) Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

    (Gal. 2:15-16) “We who are Jews by birth and not ‘Gentile sinners’ know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.”

    (Gal. 3:2) I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?

    (Gal. 3:22) But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.

    (Gal. 5:6) For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

    (Eph. 1:13-14) And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

    (Eph. 2:8-10) For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

    (2 Thess. 2:13) But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.

    (1 Tim. 1:16) But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.

    (Heb. 10:39) But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.

    (1 John 3:23-24) And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.

    (1 John 4:2-3) This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

    (1 John 5:1) Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well.

    (1 John 5:3-5) This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

    (1 John 5:13) I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.

    I can’t just dismiss these promises.

    I agree that we should instruct those who come within our instruction that they should be baptized by immersion for the remission of sins. If it appears likely that they’ve already had their sins remitted, they should still be baptized, for the same reason that Peter had Cornelius baptized after he received the Spirit. Cornelius’ receipt of the Spirit showed him to be saved (Rom 8:9-11, for example) but he was still water baptized.

    I do not spend much time worrying about believers who refuse baptism out of rebellion. I don’t think such people exist. You cannot both have faith and be rebellious. It’s a contradiction in terms. However, believers will refuse a baptism that’s insisted on under a theory that damns 99% of all believers in the history of the world. If they must believe nearly all other believers damned to receive baptism, of course they’ll object.

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