Acts 2: What Does Acts 2 Say About Baptism for Later Generations?

Wendy asked,

Jay, DOES Acts 2:38 “certainly suggest that the simultaneous receipt of water and Spirit would be the normative Christian experience”?  … Where in the Scriptures does it tell us that children of first generation converts or thirty-third generation converts or converts born into an already “Christianised” culture will have the same conversion experience as those on the day of Pentecost?


I conclude that concurrent water and Spirit baptism are normative for several reasons. Acts 2:38 is one, but in the Pauline epistles, it’s clear that Paul sees all saved people as baptized in both water and the Spirit, and yet he teaches that there is but “one baptism.” Moreover, his imagery often blends water baptism with Spirit baptism —

(1Co 12:13 ESV)  13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–Jews or Greeks, slaves or free–and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

Compare Romans 6 to Romans 8. Chapter 6 assumes that all Christians are water baptized, and chapter 8 teaches that all Christians have the indwelling Spirit.

And then there are the Acts conversion stories where water baptism is tied to receipt of the Spirit or salvation — the Ephesians in Acts 19 and Paul in Acts 22:16 particularly.

But, as you know, I’ve often taught that faith in Jesus (not mere intellectual acceptance) is the ultimate test of salvation, and so there can be cases where water baptism and Spirit baptism are separated. I suppose that may be why Hebrews refers to elementary teachings about “baptisms.”

(Heb 6:1-2 NIV1984) Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God,  2 instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.

“Baptisms” is true to the Greek, but bothers translators because they can imagine but one baptism — forgetting about baptism with the Spirit. And if it’s true that baptism with the Spirit is received by all Christians, then it should indeed be an elementary teaching, along with water baptism.

The salvation of the children of Christian parents

To me, the difficult case for children of citizens of the Kingdom, that is, a Christian household. Do those children pass from saved (due to unaccountability), to damned (due to accountability), and then back to saved upon baptism? And what if the baptism is too soon? And just when does a child become accountable?

And just what does it mean to be “accountable”? After all, why spank a 4-year old for bad behavior if he’s not accountable for his sins? You don’t discipline a baby for pinching his sister. He’s truly not accountable. But you’d discipline a 4-year old!

You see, I think we’ve taken the concept of accountability from Arminius (who opposed Calvin) and re-interpreted it in terms of faith, that is, without admitting it to ourselves. We’ve concluded that a child is accountable when old enough to make a genuine faith commitment — which is quite a different thing from not being accountable for sin. We’ve assumed, not unreasonably, that God would not damn a child for lack of faith if the child is too young to have faith.

John Mark Hicks argues that children of the saved are saved by virtue of being born into the Kingdom — not by sheer inheritance but by faith in Jesus.

Our children … have been nurtured by family and community. They have walked a path of faith and discipleship throughout their years. And when they come to their baptism, they do not come as “lost” little people. They come as believers–people who have lived in relationship with God since their birth–ready to own their discipleship, declare their allegiance to the Father, and commit to the way of the cross as followers of Jesus.

And I’ve been pretty plain that all with faith (not mere intellectual acceptance) are saved. I base this on the fact that this is what the Bible says — repeatedly.

Does that mean children should be baptized as infants? I don’t see how that follows at all.

Does it mean they should be baptized despite already being saved? Absolutely. If Cornelius had to be baptized after receiving the Spirit and if Paul had to be baptized after having met with Jesus himself in heaven, we aren’t too good to be baptized along with them. In so doing, we join with Jesus in his submission.

When? Well, there isn’t a hard line. In fact, the more the decision comes from the child, and not from some artificially imposed age or pressure from the minister at Bible camp, the better. The goal isn’t to get them into the water, as though a commitment coerced by social pressure or a fire-and-brimstone sermon will change a life. No, the goal is for a child raised in a Christian home to adopt his parents’ faith as his own.

Those of us who grew up in Christian homes never remember a moment when we first believed, but we do remember when we first realized that we don’t have to believe, that we must make a choice whether to follow Jesus along with our parents — or not. Many of us struggled greatly with that decision, and to me, that’s the important decision and the one we should celebrate in baptism.

It’s not the moment of salvation so much as the moment of maturing in faith. No longer are we spiritual babes being carried by our parents. At that moment, we learn to walk on our own spiritual feet. It’s big deal.

Wise youth ministers work hard to help teens find that moment and make that decision. Poor youth ministers push kids to be baptized before they decide as individuals to be followers of Jesus, pushing baptism as merely a sacrament that saves souls rather than as a commitment to follow Jesus. And there’s a difference.

A key is to better understand “repent,” which we often preach means “stop sinning,” but it’s better thought of as making a commitment to have faith in Jesus and so to follow Jesus. But we often unintentionally teach our children that baptism is a cheap insurance policy against hell rather than a decision to leads to a life of sacrifice.

The bottom line, to me, is that children born in faith, who have a genuine faith in Jesus throughout their lives, are always saved, because they always have faith. But sometimes, because we panic over a child’s reluctance to be baptized, we push baptism as the goal, the end of Christian parenting — fearing that the child might die before becoming saved.

The result is bad teaching, pushing baptism more than Jesus, immersion more than commitment, and rite more than a sacrificed life. Hopefully, we can trust God’s promises to save all who have faith and so patiently and gently instruct our children, helping them find a personal love for Jesus at the time that is right for them.

Now, I leave to the readers this question: When does such a child receive the Spirit?

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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47 Responses to Acts 2: What Does Acts 2 Say About Baptism for Later Generations?

  1. Price says:

    Jay…interesting question to end this well done post…. Would it be true that the child, even as an infant was “exposed” to the Spirit through the indwelling of the parents.. As a toddler may have been touched by the Spirit hovering within and over the home… As a child, while being taught the Word in Sunday School, was he/she not being woo’d as a Grand Father might play with his Grand children and then their minds begin to be “opened” by the Spirit… Perhaps the Spirit waits until they at some point realize that God has opened the door for THEM as a person beloved by God and they accept His invitation by their on personal Faith and, in the relative norm, in baptism… It’s hard to imagine that the God who knitted them together in their mother’s womb would only show up at some point in the future when they decided to be baptized… He’s never left them… But, perhaps He doesn’t “indwell” them except at the moment they are capable of understanding and then placing their trust and belief in Him..

  2. laymond says:

    Jay since we are on the subject of baptism, and you seem to be the expert, I have a few questions if you can spare the time.

    Mat 3:11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and [with] fire:
    Notice, it says “with the holy ghost AND fire, not the holy ghost OR fire.
    It seems right to think, the holy ghost and FIRE go hand in hand. question: if you were baptized with the “holy ghost” at water baptism, when and how were you baptized with FIRE?

    I have other questions,(about baptism) after you answer here.

  3. “I conclude that concurrent water and Spirit baptism are normative for several reasons.”

    Jay, can you define “concurrent?” What is the range of allowable time separation between water and Spirit baptism for “concurrent” to apply? Nothing of a duration longer than “simultaneous?” Is Acts 10:44-48 included under the definition of “concurrent?”
    Can you define “normative?” Is Acts 19:25-28 included under “normative?”
    Is Acts 19:1-7 either “concurrent” or “normative,” or both, or not?
    How does “normative” compare to “exceptional?” Who gets to assign the “normative” or “exceptional” label to a particular event, such as “salvation?”
    These questions may seem tedious because they expose the preconceptions we bring into our fallible interpretations.

  4. laymond says:

    Dr. Theo, if we describe baptism as “concurrent” or “normative,” wouldn’t that necessarly suggest that there were two baptisms (just killing two birds with one stone)
    And there were rules and regulations for performing such baptism.?

  5. Charles McLean says:

    Theo appears to be trying to examine Jay’s statement as a legal one, which I am not convinced is what Jay wrote. If Jay was writing legally, establishing a fixed rule which he intends to be applied to others, Theo’s questions might well be appropriate. In this case I think Theo is applying the wrong standard. His questions are only tedious because they are misplaced; legal standards applied to a statement of general principle. One might likewise ask, “How many feathers are in God’s wings?” “When Paul was taken up to the third heaven, how high did he have to get to clear the second heaven?” “Should we keep taking wine for gastrointestinal distress?” “Are we commanded to meet daily and from house to house? What exactly would constitute such a meeting?”

    I know this issue fairly well, as I often do as Theo does, only with the shoe on the other foot. That is, I take a statement that a brother offers as a legal ruling and ask him for his legal specifics. That seems only fair. A brother recently ruled here that believers here in the USA SHOULD NOT greet one another with a holy kiss. Since that sounded like a legal position to me, I asked him about the specifics limitations of that ruling. If he comes back and softens his language to make this a cultural recommendation instead of a flat ruling, my questions would become irrelevant.

  6. Charles McLean says:

    Jay said: “The bottom line, to me, is that children born in faith, who have a genuine faith in Jesus throughout their lives, are always saved, because they always have faith.”
    Well said. It is common among evangelicals to focus on a “point of salvation” or a “salvation experience”. Various groups might say this refers to the act of water baptism, or when a person “said the prayer”, or “trusted Christ”. I once taught a Navigators course that insisted that students identify that “salvation experience” and develop a narrative of it as their testimony. It was here that I first began to struggle with the whole idea. I have no recollection of a time at which I did not believe in Jesus. His identity was as much a fundamental part of my life as was the identity of my parents. When did I know my dad was my dad? Farther back than I can remember. When pushed to identify a point at which I “became a believer”, I realized that I had no awareness of any such point. I was a CoC preacher at the time, and this was the first time I realized that I had lost the assumption that I was damned until that day in July 1969 when I actually went underwater.

    Personally, I think this preoccupation with a singular point in time to which we can point and say “this is when I was saved” is mainly of use to those who need to have others affirm their Christianity or who want to judge whether another person has actually crossed over from death to life.

  7. Todd Collier says:

    Hmm, my children were born into my family – no choice, no commitment (on their part), no responsibilities. All the weight was on Jules and me to raise and nurture them. As they grew the balance shifted gradually – each year and each stage of life bringing them closer to the point when their life would truly be their own. Finally – not yet but soon – they will reach the stage where they must make their own choices and commitments and accept their own responsibilities and establish their own family. They will not do this because they have “no” family – obviously – but because that is the natural means by which their family can grow and become their own. That moment of saying “I do” is the moment at which they own the family they have always been a part of and the new branch of it they have just become.
    Could it be the same with their faith?
    We spend so much time obsessing with “salvation” (indeed no one wants to go to hell) but if Jesus is asking for lifelong relationship as opposed to a simple “in” or “out” identifier then it would make sense that the child of the faithful is in covenant but when mature will be expected to make a decision about whether he or she wants to continue in the covenant.

  8. Charles, the point is that the two original questions asked by Wendy were not answered. The responses given were ambiguous because of the use of imprecisely defined words. I called for definitions of “concurrent” (simultaneous) and “normative” that are consistent with the conversion accounts in addition to Acts 2:38. Rather than answering the original questions, the post redirected attention to another question – the “age of accountability” as related to the salvation of children. I do not suggest that Jay intended to write “a legal statement.” Even whether or not he did is immaterial. I will take responsibility for the misdirection of your comment because of the lack of precision in my own questions.

  9. aBansar says:

    And when they come to their baptism, they do not come as “lost” little people. They come as believers–people who have lived in relationship with God since their birth–ready to own their discipleship,

    Looking at my three kids I see three different stages:

    Miriam (5) has a naive unquestioning faith, yet can be as stubborn as a 5 year old can be. What do I see? She outwardly mimicks the faith of her family and is unable to discern what it is all about. She knows her Bible verses quite well, and the stories – but still she is far from being able to grasp the essence of both good and evil.

    Daniel (11) is a boy as a boy can be. He started to question this and that and is happy when I can provide some facts (about dinosaurs and humans for instance). But his heart still spins more ariund the Bey Blades than about God – still his Bible knowledge is tremendous, and he knows the basic facts of our faith.

    Erika (almost 14) last year dicovered faith for herself, participating in a christian musical group she somehow sensed that faith makes sense. We don#t urge her to be baptized, though, because we feel it is too early yet. She was the one whoe questioned the least, and we expect some struggles ahead …

    So from my perspective I have to contradict John Marc Hickes. chldren are sinners and strangers to God as anyone else. A Christian home can help but also be a hindrance. Last Sunday, Joseph, one of our elders (70 years, 3 adult sons who are pillars in our church) said that it all depends on prayer. And I agree.


  10. aBansar says:

    Personally, I think this preoccupation with a singular point in time to which we can point and say “this is when I was saved” is mainly of use to those who need to have others affirm their Christianity or who want to judge whether another person has actually crossed over from death to life.

    That’s why I don’t like the statement “my Baptism is the exact point in history when I got saved”. or “Sinve I am baptiozed I am fully saved.” Repentance itself is a process that can take years! And salvation is a process that takes your life span.

    But baptism is the formal request for a good conscience. In baptism we officailly enter the covenant even if we had faith in Christ decades earlier. This makes baptism the “exacpt point” at when we can say the promises officially apply to us; such as at the wedding ceremony we are pronounced husband and wife, altough too many became “one flesh” years earlier. By this I do not mean to say this is permissible, but it’s just a fact! The same way the moral standards of society caused a lot of confusion (and harm) concerning marriage, “faith only” (“Hey, we love each other, it’s fine!”) caused a lot of confusion and (theological) harm as well. The eternal outcome of all of this lies in the hands of a merciful God, but I will never give in to a theology that sanctifies the status quo. Doing this would be the equivalent t sanctifying “wild marriages”.


  11. Charles McLean says:

    Alexander wrote: “So from my perspective I have to contradict John Marc Hickes. chldren are sinners and strangers to God as anyone else. A Christian home can help but also be a hindrance.”
    Alexander, what is your take on I Cor 7:14? This is not dispositive, in my view, but it suggests that our standing before God is not strictly limited to personal decisions.

    Your view is common to most evangelical circles, but the resulting quandry about how then God deals with young children has led us to invent, from whole cloth, the extrabiblical doctrine of “the age of accountability”. Absent that logical patch, all I have ever heard offered to reconcile man’s separation from God with the innocence of small children is a rhetorical shrug. Oh, and the doctrine of limbo, I guess.

  12. Charles McLean says:

    I appreciate Alexander’s sharing his children’s views with us, and I am reminded that all of us who are inculcated with the gospel from pre-memory do at some point “leave our father’s faith”. That is, our faith becomes more than just what we have learned from Mom and Dad, but it is intellectually embraced freely of our own accord. I find many children reared as believers who do not experience this epiphany until they are adults, after being immersed as children. These people (me included) have then examined their faith outside parental influence, free to choose any path, and have embraced Jesus. The question arises, then, are we saved before we “leave our father’s faith” and make it our own? Were we not really believers until that day? Were we truly aliens and strangers all along?

    So, differentiating between the faith of Alexander’s individual children appears to place us in the role of judging the efficacy of the faith of another believer. And, in this case, we do so on the sole basis of our observation of their childish expressions and behavior. I have little confidence that this is enough to go on. We do not doubt the love of a toddler who says, “I love you, Mommy!” and then throws a tantrum five minutes later. We simply accept that child’s love. How do we then find it in ourselves to measure that child’s faith and the value God places on it?

    I would suggest that our children are no more inconsistent than WE are. Less articulate, perhaps, but is our faith truly measured by this?

  13. Charles McLean says:

    “But baptism is the formal request for a good conscience.”
    Alexander, I don’t think I ever saw a translation of I Peter 3:21 which read in this manner. Is there a translation to which you can refer me that does?

  14. aBasnar says:

    The Greek here is ἐπερώτημα which in its first meaning is an “inquiry”, a request. Most English translations to my knowledge render it as “answer”, which is not quite the point. It comes from ancient legal language – therefore I call this a “formal request”, we can also call it making a covenant. Some old Germand translations therfore have “covenant of a good conscience” here. My trusty Elberfelder Bible has “inquiry” (Bitte). My new Schlachter Bible has “testimony” (Zeugnis) which only is a justifyable translation in the covenant context – I asked two Greek scholars (one catholic and one Lutheran) who both confirmed that “testimony” (and in the course “answer”) are not the best translations for ἐπερώτημα.


  15. Alabama John says:

    A child is born with the Spirit in it just as Jesus was born of woman but was before, long before, and so much more was inside Him from the beginning of this life.

    How old is a Spirit born in each of us that will live forever? None among us knows?

  16. Jay Guin says:

    Dr Theophilus,

    con·cur·rent (kn-kûrnt, -kr-)
    1. Happening at the same time as something else. See Synonyms at contemporary.
    2. Operating or acting in conjunction with another.
    3. Meeting or tending to meet at the same point; convergent.
    4. Being in accordance; harmonious.

    nor·ma·tive (nôrm-tv)
    Of, relating to, or prescribing a norm or standard: normative grammar.

    Both from the

    Acts 10:44-48, dealing with Cornelius, is not normative, as water and Spirit were not received concurrently.

    Acts 19:1-7 is normative with respect to the concurrent receipt of water and Spirit.

    Acts 19:25-28 is not a baptism account. If you mean Acts 18:25-28, dealing with Apollos, it appears to not be normative as there is no record of water baptism into Christ.

    I’ve said these things many times before.

    I take Acts 2:38 to be normative, in teaching simultaneous water and Spirit baptism, not only because Peter teaches the immediate receipt of the Spirit consequent to water baptism but also because Paul teaches the same thing. Paul teaches that all Christians have the Spirit and only Christians have the Spirit (Rom 8:9-11), and he also teaches that all Christians are water baptized. For those of these things to be true, water and Spirit baptism must normally be concurrent.

    And I would add the account of Paul’s conversion, where his sins weren’t washed away until his baptism, even though he’d already seen the resurrected Jesus in person.

    I take Pentecost, the Samaritans, Cornelius, and Apollos to all be examples of non-normative baptisms. I take Pentecost, Paul, the Ephesians, and the baptism of Jesus to be normative. After all, Jesus’ own baptism is a picture of ours. Just as was true of Jesus, at our baptism the Spirit descends on us and God declares us to be his beloved son in whom he is well pleased.

    Is God prevented from saving us when we fail to follow normative practice? Of course, not. God will save all with faith.

  17. Norton says:

    The Jews have long believed that Adam and Eve were created with the indwelling Spirit, but it was taken from them when they fell and became conscious of sin and alienated from God. Perhaps it is the same way with children. Some reared in Christian homes may not experience a feeling of fallen-ness and the Spirit never leaves them, but I think most people do, at least by the time they are teenagers. I guess we could call that a warmed over “age of accountability” doctrine. Just a thought.

  18. Price says:

    Jay…meant to ask you this the other day when you mentioned them in a response…now I can’t seem to find your comments… nonetheless…what’s up with the Contending for the Faith crowd ?? They seem to be an extremist group… Has the CoC never tried to separate themselves from these rogue elements ?? The venom they spew out is pretty amazing if they take exception to someone’s POV… I just can’t imagine that the CoC would be so mum if the group were a “denomination” and they certainly don’t seem to represent the “main stream.”

  19. Price says:

    Alexander…. If the “saving” process takes a life time as you say… then when are you actually saved…at the beginning or sometime at the end ?? To me it seems like being pregnant…either you are or you are not…

  20. Alabama John says:

    They are the mainstream here. We are the few, the proud, the other than conservative COC.
    The few that have left the normal here have considered changing their names and it was sure discussed, but didn’t.
    Time will tell if that was the best decision.

  21. Price says:

    A.J…Seriously !! Wow… They must have moved there from Atlanta… things are really changing here… Not that labels are helpful at all but I don’t consider them conservative but rather “radical.” I’d be embarrassed to be associated with their outlandish behavior… at least some of the more vocal ones that I’ve experienced… ugh..

  22. Charles McLean says:

    Alexander, this is always difficult when we get into the linguistics of translation. Heaven knows it never occurs to most Americans that translations into languages other than English have any significance at all! (I suspect we tacitly assume that Paul wrote in Greek, which then somehow became the KJV, which we later translated for the few remaining salvagable folks on the planet who don’t speak English. Does God even speak German? ;^) You’ll never hear an American preacher pull out a Bible in German or Italian or Arabic to support his points. Oops, I slipped off into a rant on Americhristianity. Sorry.

    Seriously, when a vast majority of translators –I have to reference the English here, being sadly monolingual– eschew the most common dictionary definition of a term when translating that term, this suggests that there is some common reason behind that decision. Perhaps the reason is linguistic, or traditional, or doctrinal. I really do not know. But to ignore that broad concurrence, to stand on an alternative minority view smacks of forum-shopping to me. The minority translation may well be the most appropriate, but finding out WHY seems to offer more questions so far than answers.

    That’s why I don’t speak categorically about such things, absent some further revelation from the Spirit.

  23. aBasnar says:

    @ Price

    If the “saving” process takes a life time as you say… then when are you actually saved…at the beginning or sometime at the end ??

    One of the big eye-openers for me is that salvation is not summed up in forgiveness of sins. That’s just a starting point. The goal is transformation. therefore it is absolutely correct to say “I am saved” in the sense that I am reconciled with God, but absolutely wrong to say “I am fully saved” (this phrase appears nowhere in the NT), because reconciliation is not the end of the story.


  24. aBasnar says:

    Alexander, this is always difficult when we get into the linguistics of translation.

    I suppose you meant this as a reply to a post in a different thread. Anyway: I’ll answer here nd copy/paste it where it belongs.

    Yes, that’s why I don’t rely on my own wits. Whenever I am uncertain or think I have discovered something, I consult one or two of my contacts (or even more) who really know Greek. I have come to be reluctant to trust any translation blindly. THere are denominational, traditional and theological reasons why translators prefer one word over the other; and (as it is with older translations) language changes, so there is a need to reevaluate the translations available.

    Strong gives as first translation for eperotema: “Inquiry”. The first given option in a list of possible translation normally is the most common one. But I don’t rely on dictinaries only. in this case I asked scholars from two “opposite” denominations to clarify this word for me. I am not afraid of the truth, and therefore I sometimes really dig deeply into the matter.

    But somehow your reply seems a bit “evasive” … is there something about the implications you are uncomfortable with?


  25. aBasnar says:

    Oops – it was in the right thread after all, Charles (I was a bit confused).

  26. Price says:

    Alexander…. I used the term “saved” as in We are saved by Grace through Faith… Period…We are saved….Then, assuming that we don’t become apostate, we are “sanctified” or grown in our maturity and understanding…as in John 17:17… Even the Apostles were going to grow in their understanding of the Word… Rom 5:10, II Cor 5:18, and Col 1:21 seem to indicate to my pea brain that God is the one who is doing the reconciling…And particularly Rom 5:10, it says that we WERE reconciled to God by the death of Jesus on the cross… so, I’m still at a loss to understand you POV… It seems to me that we are SAVED AND RECONCILED through Christ and sanctified by the lessons learned throughout our life…

  27. aBasnar says:

    It’s like “being sanctified” and “striving for sanctification”.
    Like being “justified by faith” and being “justified by works”.
    Like being a child of God and not knowing what we shall be.
    Both is equally true – if we exclude one or the other we miss the point.

    Or like the Israelites:
    They were saved from Egypt, but not yet saved into the promised land, when they wandered in the desert.
    We are like the Israelites in the desert.


  28. Charles McLean says:

    Yes, Alexander, it is the dependence on unspiritual human knowledge– in this case, some rather arcane and disputed knowledge– to understand God’s revelation of Himself to me. That, I find more than a little disturbing. Jesus himself said that the Holy Spirit would take what is of Jesus and make it known to us, but we seem now to have put our hope for that revelation in the hands of lesser practitioners…ourselves included.

  29. Johnny says:

    I was saved at my conversion (justified)
    I am being saved as I grow more like him (sanctification)
    I will be saved when I finish the race and join HIM (glorification)

  30. Price says:

    Johnny…. I think that’s a pretty good recap of Romans 8:30…except that I don’t understand who one would BE SAVED and then need to be saved further ?? It seems the words used in Romans 8 and in your bullet point post…. justified, sanctified, and glorified explain the process… Saved, Matured, and Rewarded… Just a thought…

  31. Jay Guin says:


    Thanks to congregational autonomy, there’s no way to exclude the CFTF crowd. Who could exclude them? I’m sure Dub McClish isn’t invited to speak at the Freed-Hardeman lectureships, but he holds his own lectureship and, I’m sure, is proud not to be invited.

    The strategy of the more moderate conservatives is to ignore him. Hence, the GA and Spiritual Sword had nothing to say about the damning of Phil Sanders, although he’s a writer for both and associate editor of GA.

    However, one has to wonder whether this strategic silence is a cover for an inability to directly confront the error of the CFTF crowd. After all, GA and CFTF teach the identical theology. They just apply it differently. McClish sees the indwelling Spirit as a salvation issue. GA does not. But neither can explain how they get to their conclusion, since neither has a theology defining what is and what isn’t a salvation issue.

    As a result, they have no means to argue that the other is wrong. Indeed, McClish is arguably the more consistent.

    It’s easy to look to one’s right and see the sin in legalism. It’s easy to see how those to your right are being cold and cruel to good people. But we have much more trouble seeing that same problem in ourselves. And so we cover it up with rationalizations, such as “holy common sense” rather than a well-thought out, defensible, scriptural basis for distinguishing salvation issues from others.

    And, as Todd Deaver and I have argued, the conservative Churches of Christ — all branches — have no means of distinguishing what error damns and what error does not. But if they were to do the work to build such a theology, they’d be forced to change many of their positions.

  32. aBasnar says:

    Another analogy, Price

    Being born makes you born/alive/a complete human
    some kids die right after their birth
    some kids grow to adults
    some die young, others at an old age
    some leave a mark, are being remembered, while others go unnoticed.

    Do you see that saying “I am born” says nothing about the results of that birth?
    Being saved alone says nothing about the outcome of your spiritual life.

    Some Christians (truly born again/saved) fall away at the first resistance/temptantion. They were saved (Past Tense) but their faith was shallow and superficial, they developed no roots. They died shortly after their birth.
    Other Christians let other things of the world grow beside the Godly seed in them: The pursuit of riches, the worries and pleasures of this age. These weeds have tha caüpacity to draw more and more attention to themselves so that after a while also these die spiritually. They die before they brought forth fruit, like humans who die before they reach adulthood.
    Others – it might well be a small percentage, hopefully a larger one, of those who have been born again – stay alive and bring forth fruit.

    Who of those will be saved in the end? What are the criteria of the final salvation?


  33. Price says:

    Jay…wow…that’s depressing… Hebrews called us to move past the basics (6:1) 2,000 years ago and here we are stuck in the mud and can’t figure out what the elementary principals of following Christ really are… How sad…Maybe we should listen to her…:)

  34. Price says:

    Alexander….I find that description of the Christian life to be fully depressing… If I can loose my salvation for questioning God, being angry; if ending up in some pig sty somewhere causes me to loose my position as an heir, son, family of God, then I’m a miserable person. At my very best, my performance is dismal..I am but filthy rags except for the glorious Messiah who condemned my sin and saved me…

    Yes, I agree that people can make a half-hearted confession and then turn away from that.. People can surely reject God.. Judas did.. But, remember Peter denied him.. And recovered…. Was Peter lost? doubtful… I just think it’s a terrible theology to suggest (not that you are) we are saved/lost/saved/lost/saved/ lost…. like some roulette wheel and that when we die one better hope the wheel stopped on saved… That’s old news that isn’t very Good…

  35. Charles McLean says:

    Price, the most accurate description of the traditional CoC view of one’s salvation I have been able to come up with is to call it the “doctrine of intermittent salvation”. Mark Twain said, “Use the right word, not its second cousin,” and this has paid off well in this instance. For the simple accuracy of the term “intermittent” as applied to the doctrine at hand has caused more than a few folks to rethink the whole idea.

  36. Johnny says:

    When my cousin died at 14 in a motorcycle accident, I threw away my bible. I went into the pasture for nights and cried looking up at the sky and proclaiming “I am not sure you even exist and even if you do I hate you for what you allowed to happen to my cousin. I do not want anything to do with you”

    Was I lost? I cant say, but what I can say is no matter how much I railed against God, no matter how angry I was and how much I told him I did not love Him and wanted nothing to do with him, all I felt back as the strange feeling of being embraced. It felt much like when as a small child I was sobbing crying in my parents arms upset over something. They hugged me held me told me that they loved me and they understood.

    I came to the conclusion that I was His child and he loved me no matter how mad I got at what I could not understand. That aint much theology, but that was my experience.

  37. Price says:

    Johnny…imagine having BOTH of your parents killed in a private plane crash when you were 10 years of age… Been there… It took God “showing up” to turn me around…It’s difficult to be that angry at a God you believe in… I was mad for 30 years… I believe in God..just didn’t care what He had to say… I had lost my faith in His faithfulness…He didn’t give up on me..

  38. aBasnar says:

    Price wrote:

    I find that description of the Christian life to be fully depressing

    Why? Because it is not like you want to have it? I provided scripture after scripture, and you stick to your limited interpreation of the word “saved” ignoring EVERYTHING that does not fit this interpretaion! Wake up to the truth, Price!

    WHY do you think Israels desert-time is given as a WARNING example at least TWICE in the NT (1Co 10 and Heb 3+4)? Our God is a consuming fire, and we should not mess around with His Grace. We will be judged by our fruit and works, not whether we once were baptized or asked Jesus into our hearts. Unless we walk obediently and fruitful to the end, we will miss it.

    @ Johnny

    Was I lost? I cant say, but what I can say is no matter how much I railed against God, no matter how angry I was and how much I told him I did not love Him and wanted nothing to do with him, all I felt back as the strange feeling of being embraced.

    If you had died right there things may have turned out very ugly. But God is patient and knows our hearts. He can and does distinguish between what comes out of our mouths and what we really mean.

    Still: We can fall away, often because of stupid reasons. You could have fallen away and withered just like the plant that grew on stony ground. Just because of a personal tragedy, which happens to millions of people around the globe. As soon as we make such tragedies a question of the existence of God and are willing to throw away our faith: What does this reveal about us, Johnny? It reveals something about our human heart which is very self centered: WHY did God allow this to happen to ME? Why ME? While we are blind and cold to the sufferings of multitudes around us!

    Nowhere is it written that our lives will run painless or smoothly. Losing your parents at this young age, Price, was surey a terrible experience – but to struggle with this for 30 years? How many are there in this world to whom similar or worse things happen? Have you never put your experience into perspective? I don’t want to be harsh, and surely I would have wept with you back then. But then it’s “Get up and walk!”

    Let’s put it straight and simple: Such reactions are no sign of mature faith (which at age 1o no one expects BTW). God was gracious that He used this for your growth, that He showed patience and mercy to you. But be gracious and forever thankful that He did not take your words at face value back then (which He could have done as well). Because when Esau sold his birthright he never got it back …

    Price wrote:

    I find that description of the Christian life to be fully depressing

    Why? Because it is not like you want to have it? I provided scripture after scripture, and you stick to your limited interpreation of the word “saved” ignoring EVERYTHING that does not fit this interpretaion! Wake up to the truth, Price!

    WHY do you think Israels desert-time is given as a WARNING example at least TWICE in the NT (1Co 10 and Heb 3+4)? Our God is a consuming fire, and we should not mess around with His Grace. We will be judged by our fruit and works, not whether we once were baptized or asked Jesus into our hearts. Unless we walk obediently and fruitful to the end, we will miss it.

    Salvation, for both of you, is not a matter once and for all settled. We start out on a journey from Egypt to Canaan. We are baptized in the Red Sea, but don’t enter the promised land immediately. We do get plenty spiritual food and drink (Christ’s flesh and blood) on our journey, but we are in a wilderness. This means some dry and dull landscape, heat during the day, coldness in the night. Enemies like the Amalekites that attack us, rebellion and murmer within the church. “Minor” judgements and chastisements on the way accordingly … Commands to follow or to die. A leader to listen to. We are called to persevere to the end.


  39. Price says:

    Alexander…. I hate to say it but I truly believe your use of the scripture to support a lack of “knowing” of one’s salvation is flawed… and I believe it keeps people in bondage to personal performance as THE measure of one’s salvation… I think that’s just the OT Phase II… But, I respect your right to hold to that opinion… and hope you don’t fall away.

  40. Price says:

    Oh, and regarding the Israelite wandering… when did God break His covenant with them in the desert ? Never… He provided for them in many miraculous ways…their shoes didn’t even wear out… He protected and provided for them as His children of the covenant… He just wouldn’t allow them to enter into a promised land that they refused to go into the first time for lack of faith… You’ll see them in heaven… There are consequences to living in a pig sty…pig food sucks.

  41. Laymond says:

    Price said “People can surely reject God.. Judas did..”
    Price where is it said that Judas rejected God?

  42. HistoryGuy says:

    You asked Price

    where is it said that Judas rejected God?

    1. Every Gospel places Judas last in listings and describes him negatively “the betrayer,” etc; the gospels were written after Judas’ death.

    2. Mt. 27:3 applies a rare word to Judas which must be examined in light of contexts to know if it means regret or repentance (μεταμέλλομαι in contrast to μετανοέω). For many reasons, the best translation of the word in this context is remorse.

    3. Judas was always a worker of the devil (Jn. 6:70; 13:18, 27) and fulfillment of prophecy.

    4. Jesus foreknew and chose Judas because he was a worker of the devil (Jn. 13:18-19, 26-28); Judas did not love God and God did not work all things for his good (Rom. 8:28-30).

    5. Jesus specifically says he lost no believers, but he loses Judas, the “Son of Perdition” (Jn. 17:12); Note Judas is separated from the believers and lost.

    6. Being a Son of Perdition απωλεια – one doomed to destruction – is bad (2 Thess. 2:3; Mt. 7:13; 2 Pt. 3:7; Heb. 10:39)

    7. Jesus says it would have been better if Judas had never been born (Mt. 26:24-25)

    8. The one that seals it for me… Jesus foreknew that Judas did not believe (Judas was not a believer) and would gladly betray Jesus (Jn. 6:64), which is a stark contrast to Romans 8:28-30.

  43. Charles McLean says:

    I find it incongruent of us to acknowledge that God knows and judges our hearts, but then to believe that our eternal destiny is really in the arbitrary hands of the crosstown bus schedule, which brought the bus that ran over me moments after I had cursed and said to a colleague, “I know not the man!”

    If Price was saved when he spewed some ungodly things that were in his heart, then the timing of having a tree fall on him at that moment would not “turn things ugly” for him in the eyes of God. OTOH, if Price’s hardened vent somehow caused him to lose his salvation, things are still ugly NOW. Hebrews 6 teaches the possibility of our falling away, but not the possibility of our having our salvation reissued if we DO fall away. In fact, it teaches the very opposite. This, rather, would be our doctrine of intermittent salvation at work, a concept wholly at odds with the revelation of scripture. This doctrine has effectively reduced the idea of falling from grace down to the action of a runaway toddler who says he is “running away forever” but in fact never gets past the front curb. It makes “falling away” no big deal… just as long as Junior gets his little tail back in the house before dark.

    Somehow, Jesus’ words seem to run counter to this whole premise.

  44. HistoryGuy says:

    I made a post about Judas but it is waiting moderation.

  45. Jay Guin says:

    Johnny and Price,

    Thank you very much for sharing those stories.

    You might enjoy this post:

  46. Thank you, Jay, for your comment of Jan 4, 2012 @ 9:01pm. I believe that you and I end up at essentially the same final conclusion, but we take a different route. You seem to say that God preempts His own “normative” salvation procedure, as He did in about half the conversion accounts in Acts. Up until about 5 years ago, I would have mostly agreed with your route. I now have a different route. In this new route, all the examples of conversion in Acts are consistent and “normative,” and the gift of the Holy Spirit does occur concurrently with baptism. This “normative” route also includes John 3:1-15, 1 Cor 12:13, 2 Cor 5:17 & Gal 6:15, Col. 3:9-10 and Eph 4:23-24, Rom 12:1-2, Gal 3:26-29, Acts 1:4-5 and 8, and many other passages.

    It would be fun to discuss this with you sometime. (Fun for me; probably boring for you.)

  47. Price says:

    Dr. T…. I’d like to be a fly on the wall in that discussion….:)

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