Tag Archives: Salvation

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Your problem begins 4 words into your scriptures.

You refuse to humiliate yourselves by admitting that God transcends our universe, which logically means that He transcends your “free will.”

You refuse to confess that God is Sovereign over every sub-atomic particle in His Created universe, even though your Bible is all about that.

Though you ought to know better, you refuse to give Him full honor and full glory, worthy of His Holy Name…

… and so the coming judgment will be worse for you than it will be for the pagan, unless you repent, if the Lord wills it.

Baptism

Baptism is a sacrament

 

Baptism is a sacrament. That means that it is an “outward and visible sign of inward and spiritual grace.”

 

Christ commanded this physical washing with water. He told his apostles, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20.) This sacrament strengthens our faith: we see how water washes dirt away from the body, and we connect this to our certainty in God’s promise to wash us clean from sin.

 

Baptism is a covenant sign

 

The apostle Peter said that baptism corresponds to the salvation of Noah and his family through the floodwaters. (1 Peter 3:21)

 

As the rainbow is the sign of God’s covenant with Noah (Gen. 9:12), and circumcision was the sign of God’s covenant with Abraham (Gen. 17:11), so baptism is the sign of God’s covenant with believers; specifically, His promise to save them (1 Peter 3:21).

 

The water baptism is understood as a sign of several about our identity and reality in Christ. We are:

  • Cleansed of our sins;
  • Buried together with Christ;
  • Raised together with Christ;
  • Indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

 

Debate over infant baptism

 

Acts 2:38 “Repent,” Peter said to them, “and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

 

Reformed Christians say that the children of believers are included in the covenant, as Peter proclaimed on the day of Pentecost, “the promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” They will point to 1 Corinthians 7:14 where apostle Paul takes it as a given that the children of a believer are holy. Since the children of believers are already set apart by God, they should therefore receive the sign that they are in the covenant. Reformed Christians see God as the primary actor in baptism; the recipients of His grace are passive, and ought to receive the sacramental sign without delay. In other covenants, God is also the agent, and the recipients are passive. An 8-day-old Israelite child receiving circumcision had no awareness of his sin, nor his inclusion in the covenant that God made with Abraham; nevertheless, he was included in the covenant, and so he ought to receive the sign. This does not mean he was saved by the sign; however, the promise belonged to him.

 

Reformed Baptists and Remonstrant Christians rather argue that the Bible mandates believing as a prerequisite for baptism, and that infants do not receive an exemption from this mandate. For example, they will point to Apostle Peter’s imperative in Acts 2, “Repent, and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

 

This “believer’s baptism” is an act of man showing something to God. It is some offering to God, or some step of maturity in the faith. There is no biblical evidence for these ideas.

 

Stronger arguments against the baptism of believer’s children could be found from John Piper (http://www.desiringgod.org/topics/baptism-membership) or John MacArthur.

 

A better explanation of baptism than this little introduction could be found from Dr. R.C. Sproul (http://www.ligonier.org/learn/topics/sacraments/?type=Article).

 

For reading

 

Belgic Confession, Articles 33 and 34 (http://canrc.org/?page=500).

 

– or –

 

Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Days 26 and 27 (http://canrc.org/?page=388#Holy%20Baptism).

 

For discussion

 

  1. Does the physical act of water baptism save a person? If not, does it have any reality other than symbolism? Consider Paul’s indication (Romans 4) that the promise was a reality in Abraham’s life before he was circumcised, and also his word “a seal” corresponding to the circumcision.
  2. Should the infants of believers be granted the sign of God’s covenant promise while they are yet uninstructed by their parents and unable to make an adult decision, or should they be prevented until they are of age to profess their faith?
  3. (When/should) a Christian denomination re-baptize someone who was already baptized in one form or another? What is important about the form of baptism? What if the administering elder/pastor wasn’t a true believer? What might be the problem with unrestrained re-baptisms?

Romans 3

Paul goes on to teach us about the Justice and Faithfulness of God.  “What good is it to be a Jew? “ he asks.  The Jewish nation were God’s chosen people, and even though many denied Christ and so failed to inherit the salvation which was freely offered, they remained privileged in that they had received the Word of God which led them to the salvation of Jesus Christ.  They received the offer of salvation, but like the gentiles if they do not receive it in faith it is futile and they will die with the rest of the unbelievers.  But some say, that if we sin than God’s righteousness is shown ever in greater amount.  This of course the apostle opposes and points out that the condemnation of unbelievers is just and therefore sin is not to be encouraged.

Paul goes on to describe the nature of man.  Quoting from various passages in the Old Testament, he lets everyone know that Man is totally depraved.  There is no good to be found in man.  This is a hard truth for man to accept.

Many today would have you believe that Man still has some good in him.  That he is able to choose a good thing.  That man can in fact participate in his own salvation by “choosing” Christ.   Paul here unequivocally describes Man’s sinful nature as totally depraved.  Paul demonstrates this in verse 12:

“All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good not even one”

Therefore no matter what we do, we will daily increase our debt towards God.  So by trying to keep the law, we cannot be saved.

The solution, Paul says, is to receive righteousness through Jesus Christ.  Jesus took upon himself the punishment of all sins and paid the debt that God’s justice demanded.   This righteousness comes solely from God.  It does not involve the work of mankind.  Christ died to pay for our sins, and also for the sins of those who passed away in Old Testament times, for God had delayed punishment of those sins until Christ’s time had come.   We see here God’s mercy at work, suffering the sins of his people over all those ages, in order that they may still be saved by the sacrifice of Christ.  Remember that here we also learn that sins are not just wiped away, as if they did not matter.  No they were paid for by the blood and suffering of Christ.

So there is no reason to boast.   We have done nothing to earn our salvation.  It was God’s grace.   We simply have to accept the Gospel message by faith.  And that will lead us to change the way we live.  More and more we will live in accordance to God’s Law, and Will.  And this is a process that will last a life time until we finally reach Heaven and live with Christ in perfection.

THIS IS THE GOSPEL that convinced Luther to question the Roman Catholic theology of being saved by Christ but also by doing penance.  This gospel sets us free from the confines of Man’s limitations to do good, and allows us to look solely to Jesus Christ for our salvation.   It is a gift from God merely out of Grace.  Because He loved us.

THAT IS THE GOOD NEWS OF THE BIBLE.  Available to all who believe.