Importance of Spiritual Baptism (Part 1)

Someone who just loves me to death and has fought tooth and nail for the observance of baptism by immersion in water as the only acceptable and biblical way to baptize new converts, asked me to read Ironside’s complete article on baptism and refute it point by point and not simply dismiss it out of hand. So, “Here I stand, I can do no other.”

Baptism

BAPTISM: WHAT SAITH THE SCRIPTURE?

By Dr. H.A. Ironside

PREFACE TO SECOND EDITION

Several years having elapsed since the first publication of this booklet, and a new edition being called for, I have considerably revised my former paper, though altering nowhere the teaching therein set forth.

Further study and experience have only confirmed what was first written, although I believe I see many kindred truths in a much fuller, broader way than I did some years ago.

The revision consists largely of additional matter which I hope may make clearer what is now sent out, and commended to the prayerful consideration of the people of God into whose hands it may fall.

The great essential is Christ, not baptism; but they who love His name will seek to keep His word.  But in this it is well to remember that an unkind, critical spirit is far more to be deplored than divergent views and practices in regard to ordinances, however precious. (Emphasis added)

If the great essential is Christ (and I wholeheartedly agree), then no argument in favour of baptism by immersion in water being an essential part of Christian doctrine is feasible, let alone it  being a sign of God’s approval, as Dr. Ironside later indicates in his dissertation on baptism.

We would do well to remind ourselves of God’s own testimony regarding his Son because that and that alone magnanimously proves that Christ is God’s “Great Essential.” Nothing else is needed.

For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.

If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son.

Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself.

Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son.

And this is the testimony that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. (1 John 5:7-13)

Jesus’s earthly ministry was initiated by his baptism in water which served as a preliminary, anticipatory sign or symbol of the way in which He would accomplish man’s redemption through his blood, referring to his death by which his earthly work was terminated, and thereby accomplishing and fulfilling all righteousness. (Matthew 3:15).

Jesus’ baptism in water could never have been a fulfillment of all righteousness if He hadn’t been baptized (been wholly submerged and immersed in death). Hence his words in Luke 12:50: “I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished!”

Several people have asked me: “Why was Jesus distressed until He was baptized when He had already been baptized in water by John the Baptist?”

Hadn’t He already been baptized by John the Baptist? Yes, He was. But this baptism, when the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove descended from heaven upon Him simply gave Him the mandate, authority and power to accomplish the essential baptism into death on the cross.

Hence John’s magnanimous words in 1 John 5:6 “This is he who came by water and blood-Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.” Indeed, there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water, and the blood.

To assert that a convert’s baptism is a testimony or a sign or a symbol of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection is to suggest that God the Father’s own testimony regarding his Son is insufficient.

Yes, a saved and blood washed saint’s testimony is great but God’s testimony is much greater.

He has already fulfilled all righteousness in and through Christ Jesus who came by water and blood.

It is finished; nothing more in terms of God’s testimony in and through water and in and through blood is needed. What is required of a saint is to testify by word of mouth. What does the Bible say?

And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. (Revelation 12:11)

It is not a once-off ritual that testifies to our death, burial and resurrection with Christ.

It is the unsurpassed power of our daily spoken word (our verbal testimony) to the unsurpassed power of the blood of the lamb that testifies to our death, burial and resurrection with Jesus Christ.

A once-off ritual which has absolutely nothing to do with salvation is powerless.

Hence Paul’s exhortation in Romans 6 that our identification with Christ in his death, burial and resurrection is made effectual by our own cognitive reckoning (faith) that we have indeed been baptized (immersed) into Christ’s death, burial and resurrection.

I sincerely believe that the devil is using a ritual that has nothing to do with salvation as a tool and a ploy to divert the saints attention from the genuine and practical way to overcome the devil, our own fleshly nature and the world, and that is to use our God-given reasoning (reckoning) faculties to reckon that we have indeed been baptized into Christ’s death, burial and resurrection.

Although baptism was initially a Jewish ordinance and later used by John the Baptist and the early Christian church which was uniquely Jewish in the beginning, it has developed into a ritual accompanied by the speaking in tongues and slain in the spirit, both of which have become tools in the hands of Satan.

Dr Ironside then wrote:

H.A.IRONSIDE
Fruitvale, CA, March 1915

PREFACE TO FIRST EDITION

While, in the pages that follow, controversy has been so far as possible (consistently with the object of presenting what I believe to be the truth as to Baptism) sedulously avoided, yet it is hoped a careful perusal may prove helpful even to those who have been troubled by conflicting views.

The pamphlet presents the conclusions I have been obliged to come to after utterly denying for a number of years any present importance attaching to this ordinance, and after a careful study of what others have put forth on the subject, as well as much time spent, I trust before the Lord, over the word of God.

The apology for its publication, if such be needed, can be stated in a few words.

In going about, now for some years, seeking to “do the work of an evangelist,” I have been importuned again and again for a paper expressing my thoughts on this question.

Finding no publication that seemed to me altogether suitable (so few being at all full without being exceedingly controversial), I have tried to give as clearly and briefly as possible, what I believe to be the scriptural teaching upon it.

The query as to whether baptism brings its subject into the Kingdom of Heaven, the House of God, or the Body of Christ, has not really been touched.

Here I need only to say that I do not believe it brings one into any of the three.

To my mind the importance of it is not in regard to what it brings one into (and, as others have noted, Scripture NEVER says it brings one into anything), but in that it is the clearly expressed will of the Lord Jesus for His disciples, and therefore should possess marked interest for all who desire His approval.

I presume that those known as Friends, or Quakers, with numbers of other Christians who recognize no ordinances (though they assuredly lose much by such neglect), are yet in the Kingdom, the House and the Body.

At least, I know of no Scripture that teaches, directly or indirectly, otherwise. (Emphasis added)

Ironside happily concedes that baptism by immersion in much water has absolutely nothing to do with salvation, i.e. to bring the convert into the Kingdom of God, or the Body of Christ or the House of God.

Yet, he makes much ado about baptism being the expressed will of the Lord Jesus for his disciples and therefore should be of great interest to all who desire His approval. If this is true, then the one criminal who was crucified next to Jesus was allowed to enter into God’s Paradise without his approval. And guess why? Well, we all know that he wasn’t baptized by immersion into much water, which according to Ironside,. is a sign of God’s approval.

The most shocking thing about Ironside’s statement, “To my mind the importance of it is not in regard to what it brings one into (and, as others have noted, Scripture NEVER says it brings one into anything), but in that it is the clearly expressed will of the Lord Jesus for His disciples, and therefore should possess marked interest for all who desire His approval,” is that it distorts the meaning and purpose of God’s revealed will and therefore deceives the many who are captivated by his remarks.

If water baptism in lots of water gains God’s approval, then Paul of Tarsus was peculiarly lacking in God’s approval because he wrote:

For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. (1 Corinthians 1:17)

Every single will or resolve of the Father expressed in the Bible has a purpose and ultimately a single-minded goal in view.

He never says: “OK you guys, listen up, this particular will or command of mine cannot benefit you in the very least. It has nothing to do with salvation or sanctification; it cannot bring you into my Kingdom; it cannot gain you access into the Body of Christ and it cannot bring you into the House of God. In fact it is completely impotent and cannot do anything for you. Nonetheless, you MUST obey it if you want to obtain my approval.” Really? REALLY???

A simple example will suffice. In 2 Peter 3:9 God expresses his will that none should perish but that all should come to repentance and be saved.

Any old Tom, Dick and Harry will tell you there is a magnanimously divine purpose in this.

His purpose is to grant everyone an opportunity to repent because it is his will that all of mankind, without exception, should enter into his Kingdom and the Body of Christ and the House of God.

No! saith the great Ironside, “To my mind the importance of it is not in regard to what it brings one into (and, as others have noted, Scripture NEVER says it brings one into anything), but in that it is the clearly expressed will of the Lord Jesus for His disciples, . . .”

But my dearest Lord Ironside, can’t you see that this was precisely why Jesus became man? “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:6-8).

God’s entire plan, purpose and will for mankind is to get them all into his Kingdom and yet you demand that we adhere to a ritual that has absolutely no value whatsoever so that we may obtain his approval?

Even the most basic man-made command contained in a country’s constitution has a specific purpose and that is to benefit law abiding citizens and punish the lawbreakers.

But you, Mr. Ironside, demand that we keep a command that benefits no one. Really??? REALLY???

In that case we may as well desist from being baptised by immersion in water because it does not bring us into God’s Kingdom and neither does it bring us into hell.

What then is the expressed will of the Father and his only begotten Son?

Surely if their expressed will was the baptism by immersion in much water so that his disciples may obtain his approval (which replicates a works-based salvation, although many would deny it), then Luke 19:10 should rather read as follows, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost and to baptise them by immersion in great quantities of water so that they may obtain my Father’s approval.” Really? REALLY???

This borders on blasphemy because it denies the efficacy of Christ’s death on the cross, his burial and resurrection. Indeed, it suggests that you have to do something, albeit being baptised by immersion in water, to obtain his approval. Really? REALLY???

Fancy that, Ironside admits that baptism by immersion in water does not save but audaciously declares that it obtains God’s approval.

The result of his immoderate statement suggests that all who are not baptised by immersion in great quantities of water like rivers, dams, swimming pools and the likes, do not have God’s approval. Let’s briefly look more closely at the meaning of the word “approval.”

The Merriam Webster Dictionary and Thesaurus defines “approval” as follows:

  • the belief that something or someone is good or acceptable : a good opinion of someone or something
  • permission to do something : acceptance of an idea, action, plan, etc.

Adherents to baptism by immersion in water claim that converts who’d been washed in Christ’s blood (i.e. been saved) are the only approved candidates for baptism by immersion in water.

But wait a second. If salvation through the blood of Christ alone permits him/her entrance into the Kingdom of God, the House of God, and the Body of Christ because God deems them good and acceptable (suitable) for his Kingdom – through the blood of his Son, of course – what kind of approval does baptism by immersion in water offer the repentant sinner?

Is it a special kind of approval that surpasses and exceeds the approval repentant sinners receive who’d been washed and cleansed of all their sins in the blood of Christ? Let met put it this way. The blood of Jesus Christ’s gains God’s approval for repentant sinners to be “delivered . . . from the power of darkness, and . . . [to be]  translated  . . . into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:13). However, God’s approval of the repentant sinner is only ratified the moment he or she is baptised by immersion in a lot of water in public, AFTER they had been saved. Surely, this gives the “whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose” kind of baptism precedence over Jesus’ kind of baptism.

I hope you can see that, although the adherents to baptism by immersion in water proclaim that baptism has nothing to do with salvation, they are inadvertently or deliberately exalting baptism above salvation, because “it is the clearly expressed will of the Lord Jesus for His disciples (all those who’d already been saved), and therefore should possess marked interest for all who desire His approval.

If baptism by immersion in large quantities of water, like a river, a large tub, a swimming pool or whatever, was the will of Jesus Christ for his disciples [including Judas), the Holy Spirit would at least have mentioned it somewhere in Scripture.

The fact is, however, that there is no record in Scripture that any of the disciples went to John the Baptist to be baptised in the Jordan. (John 4:1-2).

Some may argue that the disciples must have been baptised because they themselves baptised new converts (Acts 8:35:39).

As matter of interest; If the phrase “come up out of the water” meant that the convert must be immersed in water and then come up out of the water, it would follow that both Philip and the eunuch were baptised, because Acts 8:39 clearly says that they both came up out of the water.

Among his band of disciples only Jesus was baptised by John the Baptist in the Jordan River, not to set the example of how future converts should be baptised, but to fulfil everything which He had come to accomplish (Matthew 3:13-17).

The righteousness Jesus had to fulfil (completely accomplish the right thing) was to end the old of which John the Baptist was the last prophet and to bring in the new.

Dr Ironside continues to write:

Baptism certainly is connected with the sphere of profession; that is not disputed, but insisted on; only let there be profession and not infantile unconsciousness.

The Word is simple: “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal.3:27).

This can only be true of professed believers, who, in this act, publicly put on Christ, or, in other words, acknowledge Him as their Lord.

That it is not, properly speaking, a Church ordinance, but a Kingdom ordinance, I also admit and teach, because, unlike the Lord’s supper, baptism had a place before the Church began, and will have one after it has been taken to heaven; but whether tribulation saints will enter into its import as Christians can is very questionable. (Emphasis added)

Paul often used traditional military and traditional Roman dress codes to illustrate Christian values and truths. Most Christians are thoroughly accustomed with Ephesians 6 where he uses Roman body armour to describe the spiritual armour of God.

He uses something similar when describing what it means to be clothed with Christ in Galatians 3:27.

When a youth came of age in Roman society he was given a special toga which demonstrated that he earned the full rights of his family to be honoured as an adult.

The entire nation of Israel were kept under the disciplinary teaching of the Law and as such were regarded as children being tutored to receive Christ as their Messiah (verse 24).

Jesus Christ, having fulfilled the law (including the old Jewish law of baptism as it was administered by John the Baptist), has given us the right to no longer be regarded as children under the Law but as adult sons through faith, never to be reckoned again as being under a Jewish slave-guardian.

Paul reminded the Galatians Christians that they no longer needed to be UNDER the Law but that they had been COMPLETELY ENVELOPED (covered, clothed) with Jesus Christ (who had fulfilled the Law) the moment they were baptized into Him spiritually by the Holy Spirit.

What we need to discern is whether Paul was referring to the ordinance of baptism by immersion in water or spiritual baptism with the Holy Spirit into the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, i.e. salvation proper.

Ironside seems to think it refers to the ordinance of baptism subsequent to salvation since he says it can only “be true of professed believers, who in this act [baptism], publically put on Christ, or, in other words acknowledge Him as their Lord.”

The act of baptism by immersion in water in public is therefore equal to the putting on of Christ like a new garment. Whoa! That’s dangerous, very dangerous it suggests that water baptism itself is salvation proper.

A more careful and thorough reading of the passage shows that Paul did not maintain that the putting on of Christ like a new garment occurs in public when the professed believer acknowledges Him as Lord through baptism.

Paul simply said: The moment you were baptized into Christ, that was the moment when you put on Christ.” (Isaiah 61:10). The verse says it so plainly and clearly in the Amplified Bible:

For as many [of you] as were baptized into Christ [into a spiritual union and communion with Christ, the Anointed One, the Messiah] have put on (clothed yourselves with) Christ.

Water baptism cannot possibly bring a repentant sinner into a spiritual union and communion with Christ, the Anointed One.

And yet Ironside seems to think so. Listen again carefully to what he says: “This (Galatians 3:27) can only be true of professed believers, who, in this act, publicly put on Christ, or, in other words, acknowledge Him as their Lord.”

He says in effect: “All who profess to believe in Jesus Christ (“infantile unconsciousness” cannot profess anything) can and will only put a stamp of approval on their professing faith (and thus obtain the aproval of God), and make it true when they publically put on Christ in this act (baptism by immersion in water) and thus declare Him to be their Lord.

Jesus Himself does not think too highly of people who profess to be believers and acknowledge Him as lord in public (Matthew 7:22).

I’m not suggesting that Ironside was lost. I am merely saying it is dangerous to propound something contrary to what Paul teaches in Galatians 3:27 because it can and does indeed mislead millions into an erroneous soteriology.

Paul never even once mentions that the putting on of Christ must of necessity take place in public.

Ironside sanctimoniously taps those who are guilty of eisegesis (to read something into the text that is not there) over the knuckles but fails to see his own eisegetical blunders.

Yes, of course, if the putting on of Christ is a baptismal ritual, then it must be done in the public eye, as all the adherents to baptism by immersion in water so demand.

However, if the putting on of Christ is salvation proper then it need not be in public. Most salvations occur in private where the repentant sinner is alone with God to reason with Him (Isaiah 1:18; Matthew 11:28).

Dr Ironside continues:

I am not wholly ignorant of what esteemed brethren? to whom I am indebted for much, have penned on “Household Baptism,” etc., though I remember that others, equally gifted and godly, have differed radically from them; so I would beware of following either unless I have a clear Scriptural basis for so doing.

I confess that while reading the books of the former, their theories seemed very plausible and had certain charms for me; but when I turned from their writings to the word of God I could not find the theories.

It seemed to me that they had read their teachings into Scripture, not out of it; rather eisegesis, than true exegesis. (Persons desirous of investigating the question of the baptism of children in households, in order to weigh what may be said for the practice, will find the leading arguments clearly and graciously stated in “Christian Baptism,” by Waiter Scott; “Reasons for my Faith as to Baptism,” and “A Review of Objections to Household Baptism,” by F.W.Grant. “Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the others judge.” The principle, at least, of this verse is doubtless applicable here.)

I ask an equally careful comparison of my statements in the following pages with the unerring guide, the Word of Truth. ” Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. ”

H.A.IRONSIDE
Oakland, CA, April, 1901

The “esteemed brethren” who “have penned on ‘Household Baptism” are those who argue that the household baptism of Cornelius and his family must have included infants. Whether “infantile unconsciousness” forbids infants to be baptised, remains to be seen in the next edition of my series on “The Importance of Spiritual Baptism.” – Thomas Lessing

Read:  Importance of Spiritual Baptism (Part 2)

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Tom Lessing (Discerning the World)

Tom Lessing is the author of the above article. Discerning the World is an internet Christian Ministry based in Johannesburg South Africa. Tom Lessing and Deborah Ellish both own Discerning the World. For more information see the About this Website page below the comments section.

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Sharon

Thanks Thomas. I knew I could count on you to make more of your caustic comments. Right on time too. :o) Bless you Thomas…bless you.

Thomas Lessing (Watch and Pray / Waak en Bid) wrote:

Sharon wrote:
John 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
John 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
John 3:7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
John 3:5 A man being born of water….John 3:6 tells us that is his “fleshly birth.” Jesus distinguished the difference of being born in the flesh (water) and being born in the spirit or born again.(3:7)
John 3:5 is not referring to baptism. It is referring to the birth of a person. That baby is in a watery sack until it breaks and is then born the first time. Jesus says, that which is born of the flesh…he explains verse five.
But then what does an emotional woman know? A lot.
It is obvious that you cannot be born again if you haven’t been born as yet. How can an unborn being be born again? That’s silly. Why would Jesus state the obvious when the obvious is so absolutely obvious? What you are suggesting is that Jesus told Nicodemus who had already been born into the world by natural birth that he first needed to be born in a water sack until it breaks before he could be born again. That’s exactly what Nicodemus believed at first: “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb [“a watery sack until it breaks”] and be born?”
The construction of the sentence “Except a man be born of water AND “the spirit,” . . .” shows that “water” and “of the Spirit cannot be separated or split apart in the sense that the one (“water”) happened in the past and the other (“of the Spirit”) happens much later and separately from the first. Both must take place at the same time and simultaneously. There is only one plausible explanation for both “water” and “with the Holy Spirit” to take place simultaneously and at the same time, and that is “repentance” which was the main thrust of John the Baptist’s water baptism, and regeneration (to be born of the Spirit).
You seemed to have changed your mind about water baptism. First you said water baptism by immersion is indispensable for a believer and now you say, NO, it is the natural birth that is indispensable. Well, Helloooo!! Emotional people usually chop and change between two or more thoughts whenever they have nothing left to substantiate their arguments.
The “flesh” to which Jesus refers here is not natural birth but the fallen nature of man which started with Adam and Eve. He was saying that a fallen man cannot regenerate himself. In other words, a person who has been born in sin and has inherited Adam and Eve’s sinful nature cannot regenerate himself. It is only the Holy Spirit that can regenerate the dead spirit of a human being. In other words, they must be born from above.
So, next time you present the Gospel to an unbeliever you should say to him/her. “You must first be born in a watery sack until it breaks AND (you MUST use the word “AND” here because Jesus used it and because it signifies that both occur simultaneously) of the Holy Spirit. The unbeliever would probably say to you. “What!!! You must be kidding me. Do your really expect me to go back into my mother’s womb and remain there until the watery sack breaks? Really!!! Come on, get real man.”

Deborah (Discerning the World)

Sharon

>> But then what does an emotional woman know? A lot.

What was that comment in aid of? eh?

Hans

I got lost in what Tom and Sharon was trying to say. I wish to give an explanation that might help Sharon. Jesus Christ gave us a command to spread the gospel, that people might hear of Him and make a choice. The scripture tells us:Rom 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. When a person hears the word of God, the gospel of Christ, and he loves what he hears, his heart will be cut and broken. That in itself constitutes faith, and repentance, and rebirth. Words can not ad to that true repentance of the heart, and true repentance can only happen when you truly believe, and faith can only come by love for the truth. When you believe in the word, you are washed by the word, you are baptized into the word, and God gives unto you his Spirit to dwell in you, to teach you and to guide you, and to work in you to do God’s will.

Sharon

Hans, I appreciate you contacting me concerning the water baptism of believers. I believe that the ordinance of baptism is to be administered as soon as possible if the newly saved person is not hindered by their health. Baptism does NOT save. Baptism is not essential for someone to go to heaven.

Our baptism is symbolic (Romans 6:4) of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is a testimony to others present that this person has received Jesus as their Savior. It is one of the very first acts of obedience to God.

The true church of Jesus Christ has two ordinances. 1. Baptism 2. Lord’s Supper Neither of those things are some mystical act that a person MUST do. They simply are the only two ordinances of the church.

Again…no one has to be baptized to go to heaven. I do not understand though why a new convert would not want to be scripturaly baptized. (immersed) But that is between them and God.

Sharon

Deborah (Discerning the World) wrote:

Sharon
>> But then what does an emotional woman know? A lot.
What was that comment in aid of? eh?

It was as much good as Thomas’ caustic comments to anyone that doesn’t agree with him. I don’t consider him to be debating as you suggested once to me. He enjoys trying to tear apart people. He states he knows the condition of my heart? Only God knows that.

I am sorry I ever commented concerning anything Thomas has written and even more so under the topic of Baptism. No matter what I or anyone else says he then begins to find fault in the person. He can have his “Bully Pulpit” but I will no longer sit in his congregation.

I know you and Thomas are good friends. That is fine. You know him far better than I do. But if I may offer you some advice…step back & take a look at things he has said and in the spirit of how he says those things since you made him a part of your blog. I pray that you will use the gift of discernment that God has given to you Deborah.

Sharon

Thomas Lessing (Watch and Pray / Waak en Bid) wrote:

Sharon wrote:
Thanks Thomas. I knew I could count on you to make more of your caustic comments. Right on time too. :o) Bless you Thomas…bless you.
There you go again, steeped in your emotionalism. You have reached the stage where you do not care to search the Scriptures to see whatever I have written is the truth or not. You piously attack me personally and then audaciously bless me. Your kind of blessing , while you harbour animosisty in your heart, is not a blessing but a curse and I rebuke you in the Namen of Jesus Christ.

LOL Thomas…now you know a persons heart. I guess God died and left you in charge right? You do not know me but yet you can judge my heart? I think not. That is only for God to know. I don’t hold animosity in my heart towards you Thomas. If anything I have pity for you. You blind yourself to the feelings of others. If someone disagrees with you then up comes your Bully Pulpit and you start judging a persons heart or even their salvation for disagreeing with you. I wish only God’s peace for you Thomas.

Hans

While reading the comments of Tom about baptism, I was persuaded to his reasoning from the scripture, and even more of scripture came to my mind, of which I commented. I was reading through it once more tonight when more of scripture came to my mind. I wish to share it with you.
Act 10:44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.
Act 10:45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Act 10:46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,
Act 10:47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?
Act 10:48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.
I have stated that we are washed by the water of the word, meaning the word itself and the Spirit of the word. It just makes perfect sense, and yet here we find that people were still baptized after receiving the Holy Spirit. I suppose we have to rethink everything again in prayer. If I find the answer I will test it with you.
I sometimes do find that some of the comments given on this blog is not done in love. Please be careful. I know none of us is perfect.

Hans

Thanks Tom.

Hans

What you have mentioned about baptism being a ritual of the Jews seems reasonable, although I do not have that historical knowledge. My spirit agrees with the truth of being baptised into the word of God, (by the Spirit of God) and I know that for a fact, but if water baptism is irrelevant, that I still do not know for a fact. What you have said seems logical, and God has given us logic, but as you have previously mentioned: The bible tells us, the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. I do not trust my own heart, and have never had the information given by you about baptism being something of Jewish religion, and therefore thank you for that information. To me that is new evidence that I still have to measure with God’s word.

jrdavis

Thomas,
I am sure there are many that have been fully immersed as adults who were never saved; likewise I unhesitatingly believe that many who have been baptised as infants (who never were re-baptised as adults) are truly among the Lord’s flock.
I think; if any one cares that is, with all that has been said on this needlessly contentious matter, it is obviously important to be at peace, and to have a “good conscience” toward God 1 Peter 3.21, Acts 23.1? And that we should “work OUT” our salvation, not for it, with “fear and trembling” Philippians 2.12?

Regarding the “Church”, so the “Church” as you call it DID exist prior to Pentecost? If plain words mean anything, I believe that is what you have said to Hans? Or have I missed something?

Hans

Tom
I want to thank you once more for your writing on baptism. I scrutinized all of scripture concerning baptism, and their is no shadow of a doubt in my mind that water baptism as done by John is of no effect today. The only baptism and a baptism of truth is the baptism of the Holy Spirit, being clothed with Jesus Christ.

jrdavis

Thomas,
If what you say is true, I am at a loss to know what to make of the following two Scriptures; 1 Corinthians 15.9 and Galatians 1.13 ? Why ever did Paul “persecute the Church of God”, if the Church was a “mystery” or “musterion”, revealed exclusively to him, as you say? The Church WAS built on Christ the “Rock” in Matthew 16.18.
I certainly believe the “mystery” WAS the fact that the Gentiles were called into the Church after Israel’s national rejection of the Messiah. The Lord said “Go not into the way of the Gentiles” Matthew 10.5, before Israel’s national rejection, and yet afterward He gives the “Great commission” in Matthew 28.19-20.
Ephesians 3.6 only teaches that we are “fellow heirs” and in the “same body” which is Christ.
There is but ONE Church.

Sharon wrote:

I know you and Thomas are good friends. That is fine. You know him far better than I do. But if I may offer you some advice…step back & take a look at things he has said and in the spirit of how he says those things since you made him a part of your blog. I pray that you will use the gift of discernment that God has given to you Deborah.

Sharon, I think I shall step back from you, you words have caused nothing but harm.

jrdavis

Thomas,
We can but disagree (amiably I hope!).
I do thank you for your time and effort put into what some may consider to be a side issue.
As regards the precise point in time when the Church of Jesus Christ began, I would certainly locate it at Matthew 16.18: Just because the Lord Jesus said so. We also have further confirmation in Matthew 18.17? Having said that, many would believe otherwise because the Roman Catholic Church have twisted Matthew 16.18 to mean something different, not to mention also the fact that many believe Paul started the Church, which, obviously he couldn’t have done so, according to 1 Corinthians 15.9 and Galatians 1.13?
Undeniably and most certainly, as you correctly assert, something happened at Pentecost; the Holy Spirit came down from above, but I fail to see the correlation with this great event and the origin of the Church? Clearly it is NOT there, not as far as I can see it, unless of course you can show me chapter and verse to the opposite?
Your correspondent Dan says; the “Church age ends at the rapture”; but, many believe that the Church (OT and NT believers in Christ) are “raptured” together. But surely this cannot be before the great tribulation? If, as I said in my post on 8th November, the Lord’s disciples asked Him when He would return; the pre-tribulation rapture would not stand Biblical scrutiny? It would make no sense at all?

jrdavis

Thomas,
So, according to your logic, if the disciples had a dispute that needed to be resolved immediately after the Lord’s very words in Matthew 18.17/Deuteronomy 19.15, and before Pentecost; He wasn’t addressing them as the New Testament Church, but to a previous Jewish Church? And yet all the while, the members in the latter Church or assembly are one and the same as in the previous one?
So when exactly did the Jewish Church transmigrate, or morph into the Gentile/Jewish Church; at Pentecost? So all the Lord’s disciples suddenly became members of a different Church/Congregation/Assembly? Or are, even the Lord’s disciples part of the New Testament Church at all?
When you apply “future tense” to Matthew 16.18, I agree; I could certainly say to you; “I will see you tomorrow” i.e. the next minute, hour or day?
And would you show me where in God’s Word “Peter was given the keys of heaven at Pentecost”?

I do find this reasoning of yours utterly incredulous!

I also agree with you that lies do indeed come from Satan, as per the Scripture in John 8.44.

jrdavis

Thomas,
I asked you to reason from Scripture; I cannot accept your reasoning, sorry.
I certainly DO believe that the Bible teaches that the Church started on THE Rock, which is on Jesus; Matthew 16.18; He says so Himself.
You are the one dividing the body, not me! I believe there is ONE Church, or ONE called out body of believers from the first to the last; ONE deliverance (i.e. ONE Second Coming). I would certainly say that you are mis-interpreting God’s Word. Ephesians 2.11-16 teaches that Jesus Christ has made us both ONE, this means that we ARE all ONE (Jew and Gentile) in Christ? Surely you can see this? In other words there is ONE Saviour? You would have us believe that Abraham the “Father of faith”, of all people, is separated from New Testament Christians? Yet he is the “father of our faith?” Is he not? In other words you tell us that the “father of our faith” stands on lesser ground than us?? Romans 4.11-12, Romans 4.16. That he is not resurrected at the same time as us New Testament believers?
Certainly, I DO believe when Peter was a “timid, fearful and vacillating disciple”, that he had the “keys of heaven in his possession”, the Lord had decreed so! Would you deny this veritable fact? Let us look again at Matthew 16.18; “I will BUILD My Church”? When I BUILD a house, I start with ONE brick? Indeed the Church WAS very small in the beginning? The gospel has and is going throughout the WHOLE world?
The Church is ONE body, from Adam until the last person who will ever be saved in Christ’s coming 1000 year reign! Can you not see this? That is ALL that I am contending for. On point 4 above, you are incorrect to say that I said “the Church was not a mystery in the OT”, if you, or any unbiased reader would bother to read the thread of our conversation thus far, you would see that is NOT the case! Read Psalm 22.22, one Scripture for example; that the Church WAS in the Old Testament, concealed, and has been revealed in the New Testament.
1 Peter 1.9-12 in fact tells us that the Old Testament prophets prophesied and searched diligently of the grace that should come unto us, and of what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was IN them did signify when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow…angels desire to look into.
The Old Testament Prophets looked forward to the cross, we look back to it.
It is interesting, your reasoning about Peter; how then would you explain the altercation Paul had with him as described in Galatians 2.11-14? This event, I believe happened after Pentecost?
This is a lesson for all of us?

Sally Forth

Do Baptism and the Lord’s Supper Have Any Place in
the Present Dispensation of the Grace of God?

IT is most distressing to one who has revelled in the grace of God for years, but has recognized on the other hand that grace produces loving obedience in the heart of the believer, to read the puerile and childish diatribes of the ultra-dispensationalists, AS THEY INVEIGH AGAINST THE CHRISTIAN ORDINANCES AS THOUGH OBSERVANCE OF THESE IN SOME WAY CONTRAVENED THE LIBERTY OF GRACE. Insisting that Paul had a new ministry revealed to him after Acts 28, and that this ministry is given only in the so-called prison epistles, they make a great deal of the fact that in these epistles we do not have any distinct instruction as to the baptizing of believers, or the observance of the Lord’s Supper.

We have already seen, I trust clearly, that Paul himself disavows any new revelation having been given him after his imprisonment, but insists that the mystery was that very message which he had already made known to all nations for the obedience of faith. It was but part of that whole counsel of God which he had declared to the Ephesians long before his arrest. These brethren, by a process of sophistical reasoning, try to prove that baptism belonged only to an earlier dispensation and was in some sense meritorious, as though it had in itself saving virtue, but that since the dispensation of grace has been fully revealed, there is no place for baptism, because of changed conditions for salvation. TO STATE THIS ARGUMENT IS BUT TO EXPOSE ITS FALLACY.

Let one point be absolutely clear: No one was ever saved in any dispensation on any other ground than the finished work of Christ. In all the ages before the cross, God justified men by faith; in all the years since, men have been justified in exactly the same way. Adam believed God and was clothed with coats of skin, a picture of one becoming the righteousness of God in Christ. Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness. Nevertheless, afterwards he was circumcised; but that circumcision, the apostle tells us, was simply a seal of the righteousness he had by faith. And throughout all the Old Testament dispensation, however legalistic Jews may have observed the ordinance of circumcision and thought of it as having in itself some saving virtue, it still remained in God’s sight, as in the beginning, only a seal, where there was genuine faith, of that righteousness which He imputed. The difficulty with many who reason as these Bullingerites do, is that THEY CANNOT SEEM TO UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE LOVING LOYAL OBEDIENCE OF A DEVOTED HEART, AND A LEGAL OBEDIENCE WHICH IS OFFERED TO GOD AS THOUGH IT WERE IN ITSELF MERITORIOUS. No one was ever saved through the sacrifices offered under law, for it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sin. Nevertheless, wherever there was real faith in Israel, the sacrifices were offered because of the instruction given in the Word of God, and in these sacrifices the work of Christ was pictured continually.

When John the Baptist came in the way of righteousness, he called on men to confess their sinfulness and their just desert of death by baptism, and so we read that the publicans and sinners “justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John.” There was no merit in the baptism. It was the divinely appointed way of acknowledging their sinfulness and need of a Saviour. Therefore it is called a baptism “unto repentance for the remission of sins.” They were like men in debt, giving their notes to the divine creditor. A note does not pay a debt but it is an acknowledgment of indebtedness. Christ’s baptism was simply Ms endorsement of all of these notes. When He said to John, who would have hindered Him from being baptized, “Suffer it to be so now, for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness,” it was as though He said, “In this way I pledge Myself to meet every righteous demand of the throne of God on behalf of these confessed sinners.” And this is surely what He had in mind when, three years later, He exclaimed, “I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!” (Luke 12: 50). On the cross He met the claims of righteousness and thus fulfilled the meaning of His baptism.

Christian baptism has its beginning in resurrection. It was the risen Christ about to be glorified who commissioned His apostles to go out, not simply to Jews, observe, nor yet to proclaim a second offer of the kingdom, as some say, but to carry the Gospel to men of all nations, baptizing those who professed to believe, in (or, unto) the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. THIS WE SEE THEM LITERALLY DOING THROUGHOUT THE EARLY DAYS OF THE CHURCH, AS RECORDED IN THE BOOK OF ACTS. WHEREVER THE GOSPEL IS PRECHED, PBAPTISM IS LINKED WITH IT, NOT AS PART OF THE GOSPEL, FOR PAUL DISTINCTLY SAYS, “CHRIST SENT ME NOT TO BAPTIZE, BUT TO PREACH THE GOSPEL,” BUT AS AN OUTWARD EXPRESSION OF FAITH IN THE GOSPEL. It is evident in the Book of Acts that there is a somewhat different presentation of this, according as to whether the message is addressed to Jews in outward covenant relation with God or to Gentiles who are strangers to the covenants of promise. Paul calls these two aspects of the one Gospel, the Gospel of the circumcision and the Gospel of the uncircumcision. The Jew being already a member of a nation which, up to the cross, had been recognized as in covenant relationship with God, was called upon to be baptized to save himself from that untoward generation. That is, to step out, as it were, from the nation, no longer claiming national privilege, nor yet being exposed to national judgment. With the Gentile, it was otherwise. He was simply called upon to believe the Gospel, and believing it, to confess his faith in baptism. AND THIS ABAIDES TO THE END OF THE AGE AS OUR LORD HIMSELF CLEARLY DECLARED IN THE CLOSING VERSES OF NATTHEW 28. THERE HAS NEVER BEEN ANY CHANGE IN THE ORDER.

IT HAS BEEN SAID THAT THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT SUPERSESEDED WATER BAPTISM, BUT SCRIPTURE TEACHES THE VERY CONTRARY. Cornelius and his household were baptized with the Holy Spirit when they believed the Word spoken by Peter. But the apostle, turning to his Jewish brethren, immediately asks: “Who can forbid water that these should not be baptized which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?” And they were at once baptized by authority of the Lord Jesus, which is what the expression “in the name of” involves. THIS WAS NOT A MERITORIOUS ACT. IT WAS A BLESSED AND PRECIOUS PRIVILEGE GRANTED TO THIS GENTILE HOUSEHOLD UPON THE EVIDENCE OF THEIR FAITH IN CHRIST.

IT HAS BEEN OBJECTED THAT THE APOSTLE PAUL HIMSELF MAKES LIGHT OF BAPTISM AND WAS REALLY GLAD THAT HE HAS NOT BAPTIZED MANY AT CORINTH. IT IS SURELY A MOST SHIFTY KIND OF EXEGESIS THAT WOULD LEAD ANY ONE TO MAKE SUCH A STATEMENT. In the record in Acts, where we read of Paul’s ministry in Corinth, we are told that many of the Corinthians hearing, believed and were baptized. Paul did not himself do the baptizing, save in a few instances, BUT HE CERTAINLY SAW THAT IT WAS DONE, and the Holy Spirit evidently quotes the record with approval. Why then did Paul thank God in First Corinthians 1, that he had baptized so few? The answer is perfectly plain. Because the Corinthians were making much of human leaders and he saw the tendency to glory in man. He knew that if there were many there who had been baptized by him, they would be likely, under the prevailing conditions, to pride themselves upon the fact that he, the apostle to the Gentiles, had been the one who baptized them. But far from making light of baptism, when he chides them for their sectarian spirit, he shows them that the only name worthy of exaltation is the name of the One by whose authority they had been baptized.

As to the various disputed scriptures in Romans 6: 3, 4; Colossians 2: 12; Ephesians 4: 5; and Galatians 3: 27, where baptism is mentioned without any definite indication as to whether it is water or Spirit, one thing at least is perfectly clear. Water baptism is necessarily implied, because Spirit baptism is but a figurative expression, and water baptism was the act upon which the figure was based. This comes out in the first mention of Spirit baptism. “I indeed,” says John, “baptize you with water” (this then was the actual literal baptism), “but He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” It is not literal baptism in the Holy Spirit. It is not literal fire, but figurative. If this be but kept in mind, there would be no confusion. Baptism in water pictures both burial and resurrection. On this Paul bases his instruction in Romans 6 and Colossians 2:12. Thus water baptism marks people out as belonging to Christ by profession, and therefore is the basic thought in Galatians 3: 27, even though it is by the Spirit’s baptism that people are actually united to Christ.

THERE HAS BEEN MUCH DISPUTATION REGARDING THE PASSAGE IN EPHESIANS 4, BUT WITHOUT LAYING SPECIAL STRESS ON THE IMPORTANCE OF WATER BAPTISM, IT IS VERY EVIDENT THAT THE PASSAGE WOULD HAVE NO MEANING IF WATER BAPTISM, AS WELL AS THAT OF THE SPIRIT, WERE NOT IN VIEW. LET ME TRY TO MAKE THIS PLAIN. IN THE OPENING VERSES, THE APOSTLE CALLS UUPON THE EPHESIAN BELIEVERS, AND OF COURSE ALL CHRISTIANS, TO WALK WORTHY OF THE VOCATION WHEREWITH THEY HAVE BEEN CALLED, AND HE LAYS STRESS ON THE IMPORTANCE OF ENDEAVORING TO KEEP THE SPIRIT’S UNITY IN THE BOND OF PEACE. THEN HE EXPLAINS THIS UNITY AS BEING SEVENFOLD. IN VERSE 4 HE EMPHASIZES THREE SPECIAL THINGS, ONE BODY, ONE SPIRIT, AND ONE HOPE. NOW THERE CAN BE NO QUESTION THAT THE SPIRIT IS BROUGHT IN HERE AS FORMING TRHE BODY, AND THE SPIRIT FORMS THE BODY BY WHAT IS CALLED ELSEWHERE THE BAPTISM OF THE SPIRIT. THEN IN VERSE 5 WE HAVE ANOTHER TRIO, ONE LORD, ONE FAITH, ONE BAPTISM. HERE IS SEEMS TO ME CLEARLY ENOUGH WE HAVE, NOT A DUPLICATION OF WHAT WE HAVE ALREADY HAD IN VERSE 4, BUT SOMETHING THAT IS MORE OUTWARD. ONE LORD IN WHOM WE BELIEVE, ONE FAITH THAT WE CONFESS; AND ONE BAPTISM BY WHICH WE EXPRESS OUR ALLEGIANCE TO THAT LORD AND THAT FAITH. IN VERSE 6 WE HAVE GOD HIMSELF AS THE FATHER OF ALL, THE FOUNDER OF THIS BLESSED UNITY.

Now without going into any disputation as to whether the term “one baptism,” is to be confined to the baptism of the Spirit, or the baptism of water, it is certainly evident that it at least implies water. No man confesses his faith in Christ by the baptism of the Holy Spirit alone, for millions have been baptized by the Holy Spirit, and yet the world knows nothing of it. On the other hand, of course, many have faith in Christ who have never been baptized in water, but that does not alter the fact that, according to the Lord’s own instructions, water baptism should follow confession of Christ. The Lord has never rescinded this order, and for men to attempt to do so is but to substitute human authority for divine.

The statement has been made that inasmuch as all carnal ordinances were abolished in the cross, THIS INCLUDES BAPTISM and the Lord’s Supper. HOWEVER, TO MERELY STATE THIS IS TO REFUTE IT, INASMUCH AS CHRISTIAN BAPTISM WAS NOT GIVEN UNTIL JUST BEFORE THE LORD’S ASCENSION, and the Lord’s Supper was given from heaven to the apostle Paul by special revelation, long after Christ’s ascension (1 Cor. 11: 23, 24). TO READ INTO SUCH A PASSAGE AS HEBREWS 6: 1, 2 ANY REFERENCE TO CHRISTIAN BAPTISM, IS IGNORANCE SO COLOSSAL THAT IT DOES NOT EVEN DESERVE AN ANSWER. The apostle there is definitely referring to Judaism in contrast with Christianity. THE “DOCTRINE OF BAPTISM” IS THE TEACHING OF WASHINGS UNDER LAW.

TO THE LOVER OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST THERE CAN BE NOTHING LEGAL ABOUT BAPTISM. It is simply the glad expression of a grateful heart recognizing its identity with Christ in death, burial, and resurrection. Many of us look back to the moment when we were thus baptized as one of the most precious experiences we have ever known.

All ultra-dispensationalists do not reject the Lord’s Supper, but those who are rigidly tied up to the prison epistles and have practically no other Bible, set this blessed ordinance aside in the same curt way that they dismiss water baptism. WE ARE TOLD THAT IN A SPIRITUAL DISPENSATION THERE IS NO PLACE FOR OUTWARD OBSERVANCES. And yet, singularly enough, these brethren meet together for worship and prayer, and that very frequently upon the first day of the week, though they are almost a unit in denying that this is the Lord’s Day. They insist, though the Holy Ghost has Himself changed the term; that the Lord’s Day is identical with the Day of the Lord; and so the observance of the first day of the week is with them simply gross legality. Think of parting with all the holy privileges of the Lord’s Day on the plea that it is a mark of higher spirituality to make this a common day like any other. I know that some quote as authority for this, Paul’s words in Romans 14: 5: “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” But an examination of the entire passage in which this verse is found, will make it clear that the apostle is here referring to Jewish distinctions between clean and unclean meats, and holy and common days, and he would have Gentile believers respect even the legal feeling of their Jewish brethren in these matters. The enlightened Christian of course in a very real sense esteems every day alike, that is, every day is devoted to the glory of God, but this does not mean that he fails to differentiate between days on which he participates in the ordinary activities of the world, and the first day of the week, which is largely set aside for spiritual exercises. We have known men to glory in their liberty, as they called it, who could take part in Christian service on Lord’s Day morning and spend the afternoon golfing, or in some other more worldly way, and this on pretence of a higher spirituality than that of those who are supposed to be legal, because they use the hours of the entire day either for their own spiritual upbuilding or for the blessing of others.

It is strange that many, who insist that there are no ordinances or commandments connected with the dispensation of pure grace, should take up collections in their services and urge people to give as unto the Lord to support their ministry. logically, they should tell people that giving is legal and belongs to the old dispensation, but has no place in the present age, when we simply receive but give nothing in return! The passage already referred to in 1 Corinthians 11 makes it clear that though the apostle Paul did not receive his instruction concerning the observance of the Lord’s Supper from the twelve, it was given to him by special revelation from heaven, thus indicating what an important place it has in this age. Surely one is guilty of gross perversion of Scripture who dares to teach that since Paul’s imprisonment, the Lord’s Supper should no longer be observed, when the Holy Ghost has said, “As often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till He come.”

The most sacred hours that many of us have ever known have been those spent with fellow-believers seated at the table of the Lord, recognizing in the broken bread and poured-out wine, the memorials of our Saviour’s death, and thus in a new way entering into and appropriating the reality of which the symbols speak. WE MAY BE THOUGHT LEGAL, because we refuse to surrender such precious privileges at the behest of some of our self-styled expositors of pure grace, but we remember “that the grace of God salvation bringing for all men, hath appeared, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world, looking for that blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ,” and until He come, by His grace, to remember Him in the way of His own appointment.

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