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Monday, August 31, 2009

Baptismal Regeneration - The Scriptual Object Of Faith

It has been almost six months since my previous installment in this series on baptismal regeneration.  If I had just been dreaming the time away I would feel guilty but since that is not the case I do not feel guilty, well not much any how.  Six months is a long time.  But it has been a full six months and all things considered a good six months.  This is probably always the case when we consider all things and not just the bad things as we are so apt to do.

The previous posts in this series can be found here:

For those that do not care nor have the time to read the previous posts a short review is in order.

In our first two posts I argued for the premise that we cannot save ourselves. This premise was considered from two perspectives. 1. Salvation is by grace. 2. Salvation is not of works. There are not many who would claim to be a Bible believer that would raise objections to these two statements. However, the acceptance of these two statements do not settle the issue as easily as it may appear for their is a divergence of opinion on what constitutes a work. I would arge that baptism constitutes a work those of another persuasion would argue that it does not. They would contend for the necessity of baptism for salvation, I would reply that baptism is a work and therefore salvation is not of grace if baptism is a requirement. Now some would argue that it is not necessarily the act but what God does through baptism that saves. In my estimation this does not overcome the difficulty. If God does something through baptism to save us then we must be baptized for him to do the work of regeneration. If we are not baptized then our sins cannot be washed away. Consequently my salvation becomes dependent upon my being baptized. If I do not submit to the act then God cannot do the work of regeneration.

In our last post we spent most of our space in Romans chapter 4 where the Apostle Paul puts together a series of arguments showing that men are justified, that is saved, by faith. Men must believe to be saved. Some would argue that faith is a work, but the Scripture says differently.

Romans 14:6 - Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace . . . .

Romans 11:6 - And if by grace, then it is no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace . . . .

Conclusion: Men are justfied by faith that it might be by grace, and if by grace then it is no more works. Faith is not a work. Anything else is, including baptism. It may not be a big work, it may not be a perpetual work, but it is a work, it is an act that I must perform to have my sins washed away.

Romans chapter 4 is a powerful and irrufutable statement concerning righteousness being imputed to us by faith. Abraham is given as the example of this spiritually amazing reality.

But in reality there are not even many who would take excpetion to the fact that salvation is by faith. They would take exception to my "take" on it but not the statement. They simply place the statement in another context. Faith in what God does in baptism. At least I believe this is an accurate albeit simple declaration of what those who hold to baptismal regeneration believe.

This brings me to my next, critical point. While we agree that salvation is by faith, the question becomes faith in what? What is the object of our faith. What Christ does for us through baptism or what Christ does for us on the cross? Am I trusting him to do something for me when I am baptised, or am I trusting that he did something for me on Calvary? Is my faith exclusively on what he did or is my faith on what he does in response to me being baptized? I think this matters.

I would be so bold as to say if one is trusting their baptism under any pretext to wash away their sins they will discover that they have not been washed away.

Where then is our faith to be placed? This is not a matter of speculation. The Scripture is clear.  Salvation is provided for us when we place our faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Romans 1:16,17 - For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.  For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

"it is the power of God unto salvation"  What is the power of God unto salvation?  The gospel of Christ.  What is the gospel of Christ?

1 Corinthians 15:1-4 - Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;  By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.  For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;  And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: . . . .

He had declared unto them the gospel and then in the following verses he identifies the gospel as the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Therefore when we are told in Romans one that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation we know that it is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ that is the power of God unto salvation.  It is the gospel, the literal gospel, not the "likeness" (ie. baptism) of it that saves.

And it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that is baptized?  No!  Surely if that had been the case he would have plainly stated it.  The gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth!  It is belief not baptism that makes us partakers in the gospel and thus salvation.

"For therein is the righteousness of God revealed"  Therein where?  The righteousness of God is revealed in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, not baptism.  If it were revealed in baptism he would have said so.  We are made just by faith, not by baptism.  Confidence in baptism is a misplaced confidence because it is trusting the "likeness" instead of the reality.  There is a real gospel and no matter how hard one tries it cannot be found in a baptismal pool or font but on a bloody cross and an empty tomb!

Romans 3:25 - Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; . . . .

The Son of God has been set forth to appease the wrath of God through faith in what God does through baptism.  No!  But through faith in his blood!  It is the shed blood that made the atonement for the soul.  This has always been God's plan.

Leviticus 17:11 - For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.

Because God is the offended party when it comes to sin, it is his law that is violated, it is he who determines what, if anything, can provide a covering for sin.  And he has boldly declared that it is blood that makes the atonement for sin.

Hebrews 9:11,12 - But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;  Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.

It is not the blood of bulls and goats that provided the ultimate sacrifice/atonement for sin.  It was his own blood that he took into the holy place in heaven, and by that blood he obtains eternal redemption for us.  He does not obtain eternal redemption through water but through blood, his own blood. 

1 Peter 1:18,19 - Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;  But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

Clearly we are notredeemed by corrutpible things, not even valuable corruptable things as silver and gold much less water.  We are redeemed by the precious blood of Christ.  It is his blood that was offered as the redemption price and the price was paid in full.  It was not simply a down payment and the baptismal waters pay the balance.  No, we were redeemed and completly so by the blood and the blood alone.
Colossians 1:20 - And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
Peace is made through the blood of Christ not the waters of baptism.  It is simply not good enough to say, it is not the baptism itself but what God does in baptism.  It is not what God does in baptism, it is what he did when he unleashed the full fury of his wrath against Christ who was made sin for us.
The Bible says in Isaiah 53:11 - He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied . . . .   God wrath was satisfied in seeing the travail of Christ's soul.  If we will believe that we will be redeemed, justified, saved.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Spurgeon On The Spirits First Fruit

I am starting a series tomorrow morning on the fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5:21,22. After preparing my message this morning I decided to do some reading in this area from other sources. I turned to Spurgeon and found a message he had preached on May 25, 1884 entitled The First Fruit Of The Spirit. I found this jewel of a paragraph and thought I would share it.

"Next time you begin to boil over with wrath, think you feel a hand touching you and causing you to hear a gentle voice whispering, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love.” Next time you say, “I will never speak to that man again, I cannot endure him,” think you feel a fresh wind fanning your fevered brow, and hear the angel of mercy say, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love.” Next time you are inclined to find fault with everybody, and set your brethren by the ears, and create a general scuffle, I pray you let the chimes ring out, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love.” If you wish to find fault, it is easy to do so; you may begin with me and go down to the last young member that was admitted into the church, and you will not have to look long before you can spy out something which needs improvement; but to what end will you pick holes in our coats? Whenever you are bent on the growling business, pause awhile and hear the Scripture admonish you, “The fruit of the Spirit is love.” When you wax indignant because you have been badly treated, and you think of returning evil for evil, remember this text, “The fruit of the Spirit is love.” “Ah,” you say, “it was shameful!” Of course it was: and therefore do not imitate it: do not render railing for railing, but contrariwise blessing, for “the fruit of the Spirit is love.”"

Friday, August 14, 2009

Old Farmer's Almanac

Some time back my wife picked up a paperback book with excerpts out of the Old Farmer's Almanac. It is quite interesting reading. There is a section on Poetry and Anecdotes. I was doing some reading in it yesterday and came across this very true exhortation concerning Christian courtesy.

"Every man has his faults, his failings, his peculiarities. Every one of us finds himself crossed by such failings of others from hour to hour; and if he were to resent them all, or even notice all, life would be intolerable. If for every outburst of hasty temper, and for every rudeness that wounds us in our daily path, we were to demand an apology, require an explanation or resent it by retaliation, daily intercourse would be impossible. The very science of social life consists in that gliding tact, which avoids contact with the sharp angularities of character, which does not argue about such things, which does not seek to adjust or cure them all, but covers them as if it did not see. So a Christian spirit throws a cloak of love over these things. It knows when it is wise not to see. That microscopic distinctness in which all faults appear to captious men, who are forever blaming, dissenting, complaining, disappears in the large, calm gaze of love. And it is this spirit which our Christian society lacks, and which we shall never get until each one begins with his own heart."

Good and Godly advice from an old almanac; cir. 1870.