Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Baptismal Regeneration

Matthew 28:19-20
Baptismal regeneration is the teaching that a person must be baptized in water before they are saved. We’ve already encountered this heresy when we dealt with Catholicism and Mormonism. Another proponent of this false doctrine is the Church of Christ.
The Church of Christ (sometimes called “Campbellites” after their founder Alexander Campbell) bears several similarities to Roman Catholicism:
• Both believe there is no salvation outside of their church.
• Baptism performed by one of their priests/elders is essential to salvation.
• Any Christian can lose salvation.
• No one can have absolute assurance of salvation until they die.
• Jesus Christ is not coming back to earth to reign upon the throne of David (a-millennialism).
“Cambellites” will argue in a well-defined circle. Around they will go like they were on a religious Indianapolis 500. It starts with Mark 16:16 and ends with 1 Peter 3:21. In between they will have pit stops at John 3:5; Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; Romans 6:3; Galatians 3:27; Ephesians 4:5. After 1 Peter 3:21 he will return to Mark 16:16 for another lap around the course.
The basic error in this “run-around” is false idea that every baptism in the Bible is a water baptism. There are actually seven different baptisms in the Bible and only four of them involve water.
1. Baptism of Israel in the sea (1 Cor. 10:2).
2. John’s baptism (Acts 19:3-5 cf. John 1:28-32; Mt. 3:1-6). To manifest the Messiah to Israel and prepare her for the kingdom.
3. Baptism of suffering (Mt. 20:22)
4. Kingdom baptism (Acts 2:38). Similar to John’s baptism.
After Jesus was crucified, buried and risen, the question on the minds of the Apostles was: “Lord wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6-8).
Ten days later, thousands of Jews from all over the known world gathered at Jerusalem for the Jewish Feast of Pentecost (Acts 2). God sent the Holy Ghost upon the disciples and the Apostle Peter preaches to those Jews gathered at Jerusalem:
• To Jews only (Acts 2:5, 14, 22, 36).
• Confronts Israel with their sin of murdering their Messiah (2:22-23, 36)
• Jews are convicted and ask what they should do (2:37). No one is asking how to be saved in the context.
• Peter’s answer (Acts 2:38).
• Three thousand accept Peter’s invitation (2:41).
5. Church Age Baptism (Acts 8-10; 16:30-33).
• Up until Acts 8, only law abiding Jews are baptized.
• In Acts 8:5, 12 the Samaritans (half Jews) get baptized. But they still do not receive the Holy Ghost until the Apostles camp up from Jerusalem and laid their hands on them (8:14-17).
• In Acts 8:35-39 Ethiopian eunuch (Jewish proselyte) is baptized.
• In Acts 10 the first Gentile is baptized.
1) Peter is lead by the Lord to preach to Cornelius.
2) Before he can finish his sermon, Cornelius’ household receives the Holy Ghost, without baptism or the laying on of hands (10:43-45).
3) Peter then baptizes them (10:47-48).
• From Cornelius onward people are saved without baptism (Acts 16:30-33).
6. Spirit Baptism (Mt. 3:11 cf. 1 Cor. 12:12-13; Gal. 3:27; Eph. 4:5).
7. Fire Baptism (Mt. 3:11 cf. vs. 10, 12).
With that in mind, we will look at the Campbellite’s “proof-texts:”

I. Mark 16:16—One is damned for NOT BELIEVING. Believing is the essential for salvation, not baptism (cf. Acts 9:42; 11:21; 13:12, 39, 48; 14:1; 15:9; 16:1; 17:4, 34). No where does the Bible say, “He that is not baptized shall be damned.”

II. John 3:5—“Born of water” refers to the physical birth of a baby. Baptism is not mentioned within 15 verses of the context!

III. Acts 2:38—The word “for” doesn’t always mean “in order to.” Sometimes it means “because of” (see Luke 15:14—“for thy cleansing”).

IV. Acts 22:16—Paul was already saved prior to baptism as evidenced by Ananias referring to Paul as “Brother…” (cf. v. 13). It was the calling on the Lord that washed away his sins, not arising to be baptized (cf. Rev. 1:5).

V. Romans 6:3; Gal. 3:27— NOT water baptism. It is Spirit baptism.

VI. Ephesians 4:5—ONE real baptism—Spirit baptism. Baptism of any kind occurs only ONCE AND IS NEVER REPEATED.

VII. 1 Peter 3:21—Baptism is a FIGURE of salvation.

SUMMATION: 1 Cor. 1:14-17—If baptism is essential for salvation, why didn’t Paul make it a priority?
• Romans 1:16—No baptism for salvation.
• Romans 10:9-13—No baptism for salvation.
• Ephesians 2:8-9—No baptism for salvation.
• Titus 3:5—No baptism for salvation.