Skip to comments.Justification is by Grace Alone
Posted on 04/01/2005 7:41:06 AM PST by Frumanchu
Justification is by Grace Alone
Thus far, we have expounded why Paul, addressing the subject of the ceremonies, types and shadows which were practised before the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, reaches the general conclusion that a man cannot be justified or acceptable in Gods sight unless he observes the whole law. Now, at first, we might consider these things to be two separate issues; however, as we have been saying, Paul has to draw us back to basics in order to expose the folly of believing that we can obtain favour in Gods eyes through our own merit. Now, we have already discussed the reason why Paul adds the word law. For however much it may be commonly held that a good man can earn favour and acceptance with God, men are very seriously mistaken in such matters. Indeed, whatever we may have done, we cannot Win Gods favour, because he deserves the very best of all that is in our power. There is, therefore, no merit possible on our part (if, indeed, we may call it that), unless we fulfil the terms of the covenant he made with us, when he said that whosoever keeps the law shall obtain life and salvation (Lev. 18:5). When God uttered these words, he was prepared to accept our total obedience as worthy of salvation, but this does not, in fact, imply that we can, therefore, merit favour, for none of us have done our duty (as we shall see hereafter). Thus, the promise would have been forfeited, or at least without effect in that it would never apply to anyone, had not God sent the remedy that is to say, unless, despite our unrighteousness, he forgave our sins, and accepted us as righteous. When Paul says that we cannot be justified by the works of the law, he means that if we claim to merit grace and salvation because God has promised that those who observe the law will be accounted as righteous, we are completely mistaken; for no one keeps the law perfectly. We must realise that we all stand guilty before God and have the sentence of condemnation hanging over our heads.
In order to express this fact more clearly, Paul draws a comparison between the Jews and the Gentiles. He says that even though they were Jews by nature and not sinners of the Gentiles they realised that they could only be acceptable to God by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. For, although all men have fallen in Adam and therefore have no individual merit, it appeared that the Jews had a special privilege, in as much as God had adopted them as his own children and called them his servants. Yet, this is where the Jews went wrong. For when the Scriptures speak of the uncircumcision, they refer to the pollution which indwells us from Adam, and places us all under condemnation from our mothers womb. But the Jews believed that God had freed them from this curse upon mankind and therefore they boasted. Whilst it is true that great honour was conferred upon them, which they should have valued above all earthly good for God had chosen them to be his people and his inheritance yet they ought to have humbly acknowledged that in their own selves they were unworthy. Indeed, we also are used to adopting such a presumptuous attitude when we experience the grace of God; likewise the Jews, for the most part, wrongly believed they were superior to everyone else. They thought God had found something about them that made him prefer them to those he had rejected. This arrogance brought with it wicked ingratitude, for they did not attribute to God all the good things they had received from his hand, but were puffed up with pride, as if God thought they were better or more worthy of eternal salvation than the Gentiles.
To extinguish all such presumption, Paul begins his argument thus: we who are Jews by nature . . . It appears that he is saying, Yes, it is true that we have been shown greater grace than the Gentiles, whom God did not accept into his church. But when he speaks like this he does not, in fact, intend to give the Jews occasion for pride; rather, he is spreading before them the things they have freely received from God to teach them that they have no grounds for boasting. In the Epistle to the Romans, Paul makes two statements which at first sight seem contradictory, yet which are in perfect harmony. On the one hand he asks, Do we not have more privileges than the Gentiles?, and he answers, Yes. For we were chosen to be his people; he gave us circumcision as a sign and seal that we are his children; he made a covenant with us; he promised to send us the Redeemer of the world. Thus, if we consider the mercies that God has showered upon us, we have been blessed indeed, and exalted far above all other peoples. Here Paul magnifies the goodness of God towards them (Rom. 3:1-2). However, later he asks the same question (What advantage have the Jews?), but answers, None at all (Rom. 3:9-10). For we are all under Gods curse. If the Gentiles are to be condemned, then we are to be condemned twice as much, for they have the excuse of ignorance. Nevertheless, they cannot escape God, but will perish although they have never had any instruction or knowledge of doctrine. It follows, then, that we will be condemned by the law, because God has taught us and yet we have not stopped sinning or transgressing his righteous laws, so that now we are plunged into greater and deeper condemnation than even Gentiles and unbelievers, he says. Thus, the Jews were distinct from the Gentiles not because they were more worthy or more righteous, but simply because God chose them out of his free bounty.
In the same way, the children born to believers are no better than the children of other Gentiles or even of Turks when it comes to their nature. For we are all part of a corrupt and accursed mass whom God has condemned, so that none of us may exalt ourselves and think ourselves of more worth than our friends. However, Paul declares that our children are sanctified, that they are not stained in the same way as those born to unbelievers or pagans (1 Cor. 7:14). It would seem that there are some contradictions here. Yet the whole hangs together very well, because, as for our natures, we are all tainted and corrupted, with only one exception [Christ]. Yet there is such a thing as a supernatural gift, that is, a privilege that God confers in order that the children of believers are dedicated to him, and he recognises and accepts them as his own. This is why the children of the church today are regarded as the people of God and amongst the number of the elect, just as under the law the Jews were separated from the rest of the world. This explains why Paul says, We are Jews and not sinners of the Gentiles. By sinners, he means those who continue in their filth and have not been washed by the grace of God. In deed, circumcision itself was a sign and a testimony to the fact that God accepted the family of Abraham and the race that descended from him as his own familiar and special people. In old times, this is what distinguished the Jews from unbelievers; for, although they were of equal status as children of Adam, yet God had chosen some and left others as strangers to his family. If we ask why this should be, the answer can only be purely because of Gods grace, since the Jews themselves were not outstanding in any way.
Let us now follow the argument that Paul is constructing here. He says, Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ. In saying this, Paul demonstrates that whatever grace they had received from God, they were not at liberty to trust in man or in themselves as if they deserved this from God. No, rather, they had to seek refuge in his free bounty, recognising that salvation is in Jesus Christ alone, who came to rescue from perdition those who were already lost. This is confirmed in that other passage, where it says that he came and preached peace to you which were afar off and to them that were nigh (Eph. 2:17). Jesus Christ is that peace, for it is through him that God can love us and receive us in mercy. This is not only true for those who were previously far away like the Gentiles, but also for the children of Abraham, despite the dignity and nobility they already possessed (for this was not theirs by nature). Paul says that the Jews who had been converted to Christianity knew that they could not be justified by the works of the law, but only by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and he makes a comparison between the two in order to show that we cannot be justified by grace unless we actually renounce all personal merit.
This is well worthy of our attention. For indeed, even the Papists profess to be justified by faith, but this is only half of the truth and it is the rest of the picture which spoils the whole. Sure enough, they are persuaded of the fact that a man cannot be accounted righteous before God unless Jesus is the Mediator and unless that person rests upon him for salvation. The Papists know this only too well, and yet they so often say, We are justified by faith but not by faith alone. This is the point with which they take issue, and this is the principal matter upon which we differ. Paul, however, shows their folly when he says, but by faith, for this expression implies that all that men bring to God to please him is rejected. The door is, therefore, tight shut to all merit, for Paul declares that the only way to come to God is through faith. We will soon see more clearly why Paul draws a comparison with the law as if here are two opposites. The law presupposes that if we fulfil what God requires of us we will be found good servants and he will give us the reward he has promised; faith, on the other hand, presupposes that we are poor, lost, condemned souls and that we are to find in Jesus Christ what we so desperately need.
Take this as an example: there are two men seeking food and shelter. One has money and wishes to be treated in accordance with his means. They both ask for something to eat, but the second man is poor and does not have a penny, so he begs for alms. They both have something in common, for they both seek food, but the first has money with which to satisfy his host. Thus, after eating and drinking well and being courteously entertained, the host, for his part, will be happy to receive his payment, no longer thinking that his guest is in any way indebted to him. Why? Well, he has been satisfied and has even gained from it. But the life of the poor man who asks for alms depends upon the one who can provide him with food and shelter, for he can give him nothing in return. In the same way, if we seek to be justified by the law we must deserve that justification; for then God will receive from us and we from him in a reciprocal manner. Is such a thing possible? Not at all, as we shall examine in more detail later. We must, therefore, conclude that we cannot obtain righteousness by the law, and that if we believe we can make God our debtor, we will only provoke his wrath. The only option is to come as poor beggars, that we may be justified by faith. Not as if faith were a virtue proceeding from us, but we must come humbly, confessing that we cannot obtain salvation except as a free gift. This, then, is why the law is put in opposition to faith. Paul is showing us that all who claim to be acceptable to God by their merits are turning their back upon the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. We shall study this at greater length hereafter.
A man may raise this objection: the law was given by God, so therefore it cannot be placed in opposition to faith, which also proceeds from God. The answer to this is simple. God made both the day and the night, water and fire, cold and heat. Surely, the day is not in opposition to the night, but rather God in his goodness and wisdom has arranged that they appear in a suitable order; man has the brightness of the sun in which to do his work by day, and by night the sun hides itself away so that man may take his rest. Therefore, although day differs from night, there is no disharmony between them. The same applies to fire and water. Every created thing has its function and fire and water complement each other very well; however, if we were to mix them together, then they would indeed clash! This is true of the law and the gospel. Those who believe that we are justified by the law as well as the gospel are confusing everything; it is as if they are crashing heaven and earth together! In short, it would be easier to mix fire and water than to say this: that we can merit a measure of the grace of God and yet also need the aid of the Lord Jesus Christ. If we consider what the law is and why it was given, we will discover that there is no discrepancy with the gospel, nor with faith, but that there is perfect harmony between them. This objection is thus dealt with. If we say that both faith and the law proceed from God, we are right; but we must give some thought (as we will do shortly) to the reason why God originally instituted them both.
Let us return to Pauls words he says that we can only be justified by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. When he speaks of justification, he means being accounted righteous in the sight of God. This expression needs to be understood because it is dealing with the whole subject of how we are saved. We would be miserable creatures indeed if, having lived a long life in this world, someone were to ask us the way of salvation and we did not know how to respond! Many fools have feasted on the bread of God without knowing how to be acceptable to him. This is why we ought to be all the more attentive to what Paul is telling us here. He says that we are justified. How? Are we already righteous are we blameless? Not at all, but God accepts us. The word justification points us to that favour which God bestows upon us when we become his children and he our Father. You may ask, why do the Scriptures use the word justify when it seems so inappropriate? We could just as well say that God loves us, that he takes pity on us, that he desires to be our Father and Saviour why not use these expressions instead of speaking of justification? The Scriptures do not refer to it without good reason.
If we analyse salvation in its most basic sense, we will say that we are saved by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. However, this does not imply knowledge of our miserable condition by nature or of the remedy that we need to apply. For in order to put our trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, we must acknowledge that by the sin of Adam, as well as by our own iniquities, we are altogether lost. We ought to have already discovered this for ourselves. We will never understand that our sins condemn us in Gods sight, unless we know that we need to be put right with him. In other words, we will not be aware of the righteousness of God if we simply say, We are saved by grace and by faith. For God cannot once deny himself, since he embodies sovereign justice; he is all purity and perfection and, therefore, he detests what is evil. Yet we are totally corrupt and there is only wickedness in us; it follows, therefore, that God must hate us. However, if he hates us, woe unto us, for we are damned. This is why we need to be justified before we can be pleasing to God. This means we must be cleansed from our sins and transgressions; otherwise, we could never appreciate Gods mercy (as I have said). If we acknowledge that we are sinners, we will realise that God hates sin, and yet though he hates it he has nevertheless provided a way to save us by forgiving our sins, and by cleansing and purging us from them through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, who gives us spiritual cleansing. God washes us clean in order that he might receive us, so that sharing in his love, we may be assured of our salvation. This is why the Scriptures use the word justification.
Papists may debate over its meaning. What!, they say, Justified by faith? Faith does not make a person perfect how, then, can it justify us? They do not realise that the justification spoken of in the Scriptures refers to God covering our sins (as I have been saying) and, by virtue of his sufferings and death, cancelling them in and through the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Whatever others may say, it is written that we are accounted righteous in Gods sight when he remits and pardons our sins. In fact, Paul speaks of this in the fourth chapter to the Romans, where he says: Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered (Rom. 4:6-7; Psa. 32:1). Again, in another passage he says, For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; (this means that he received all the condemnation due to us for our sins), that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (2 Cor. 5:21). Thus, we, being joined and united to his person and to his body, are accounted righteous, because his obedience was so perfect that it was sufficient to cleanse and remove our sins. We have now dealt with the meaning of the term justification.
Turning our attention to the expression faith, Paul states here that they have believed in Jesus Christ. If we were to ask a fool what he considers faith to be, he might well say belief, but he clearly would not understand what either word means. Are we happy to be as ignorant as such fools? Let us firstly point out that the Lord Jesus is the object of both our faith and our belief. Is salvation through faith? Yes, if we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us consider for a moment why the Lord Jesus Christ is set before us as the one in whom we must rest all our faith. It is simply because we find in him all we need for our justification. We have already said that we are accounted righteous in Gods sight when he has forgiven our sins and no longer calls them into account. And how does this happen, if not by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ which was shed for our cleansing? By his sufferings and death, he made satisfaction for our sins and appeased the wrath of God against us. We must seek no further means of payment, other than the sacrifice made by Gods only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. It is he who is called Gods beloved Son (Matt. 3:17), so that we might be beloved in him; he is called the Righteous One (Isa. 53:11), so that we may partake of his righteousness; and he is called the Holy One (Luke 1:35), so that we may be sanctified in him. This is why our attention is drawn to the Lord Jesus Christ when we consider faith.
How carefully, therefore, must we heed the words of Paul here which tell us that if we do not look to Jesus Christ, we cannot know what faith really is. Without him, we cannot know remission of sins, how to approach God, how to put our trust in him, or to call upon him. Neither will we know what it is to have peace of conscience, or the hope of eternal life. All this is beyond our reach until we are introduced to Jesus Christ and until we have looked to him and cast ourselves upon him. This kind of faith brings grace: when we recognise that we are wretched creatures, and abominable in Gods sight, seeking the remedy in the Lord Jesus Christ. We must accept that he offered himself for us in order to redeem us from the curse under which we lived, and that he has washed us in his blood. By his obedience, he has cancelled all our transgressions so that we can be assured that God accepts and receives us as his children. This is how we can understand this passage.
Having stated that he, and all the Jews that had been converted to Christianity had been saved by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, Paul adds the following: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. We have heard this before in application to those of his own nation, but here he proclaims it in a more general sense to the whole world. When he says, no flesh, he primarily implies that there is no difference between the Jews and the Gentiles when it comes to the way of salvation. Although the Jews had been circumcised, chosen as Gods inheritance and sanctified by him, nevertheless, they could have no hope of salvation except through Gods pure grace alone. See how they are set at the same level as the Gentiles, having the same status. Paul seeks to expel all pride that men may have about their own virtues. Indeed, many of us know ourselves to be so depraved that we cannot possibly attribute any honour to ourselves, as if we should deserve anything at Gods hand. Those who are drunk or debauched or who have given themselves over to all kinds of evil feel too ashamed to elevate themselves or to boast that they can persuade God to save them by their merits or good works. In fact, they hide themselves even from other people because they are ashamed of their baseness. But the bigoted, who make a show of their holiness before men, are so hardened that they deceive themselves into thinking they deserve paradise as if God were indebted to them! These hypocrites, though utterly depraved and full of ambition, avarice, wickedness and such like things, because of all their manipulations and pretences, believe that God sees nothing wrong with their corrupt practices and even persuade themselves that he will accept them because of their merits! Those who regularly attend Mass, running from the alehouse to the chapel, buying pardons and other such things, observing fasts and feast days they are puffed up with vain pride and believe that God owes them something. By saying no flesh, Paul declares that it is pointless to separate ourselves from one another here below, as if one is just and the other unjust. We must all humble ourselves and judge ourselves, knowing that all our virtues are but filthy rags in Gods sight, even the very best that we can do. For even if a man were perfectly righteous in our estimation, because he never harmed anyone, or because he could resist all kinds of evil and was chaste and sober in short, though he were reputed to be an angel yet within, there would be nothing but corruption. How is this possible? Well, we must never judge by the appearance, for all that glitters (as the proverb says) is not gold. We cannot judge what is sin or virtue without first looking within. For if a man does not ascribe to God what is rightfully his, he is not robbing men of their honour, but God. Thus, however much men might praise and commend him, he is full of pride and ambition, and nothing will humble him except coming to know the Lord Jesus Christ.
So then, even those who make a good outward show of religion shall be condemned before God. Hence, Paul intends to stop men from trusting in their own merits. But there is yet more. For when he says, no flesh, he not only refers to men whom God has given over, who have not been renewed by his Holy Spirit, but he also includes believers. For although Gods Spirit dwells within us after he has led us to a knowledge of the gospel and grafted us into the body of the Lord Jesus Christ although, I say, Gods Spirit dwells within us, we are all included in this word flesh because of what we are by nature. Thus, when Paul declares here that no flesh shall be justified, he means that unbelievers are condemned in Adam and remain condemned, and that believers, because they will always be imperfect and have many spots and blemishes, are condemned as much as the others. Indeed, this condemnation is a general one, for whoever seeks to be justified by the works of the law will always find himself guilty yes, even the holiest person that ever existed. Let us take Abraham as an example of perfection, or David, who abounded in all virtues, or Noah, Job, and Daniel, whom Ezekiel names as three righteous men (Ezek. 14:14). They all fall into the same category as men who could only be justified in Gods sight through grace.
Now then, I ask you all, where do we stand? Those who say that they will be justified by their merits, or meritorious works as they call them, have they not been driven to excessive pride by the devil? For who can match David, or Noah, or Abraham, or Daniel? Surely, even those who have done well in Gods school, and who are fired by true zeal in giving themselves totally to God, are convinced that they are still far from having reached the standard set by David, or even Noah or Daniel! Knowing this, therefore, we can see that the Holy Spirit is here casting down those who exalt themselves overmuch, to convince us that we have not the merest drop of righteousness, so that we seek all that pertains to our salvation in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now we understand what the statement implies when it says that no flesh shall be justified. It is as if Paul were saying that, when it comes to our nature, we are only evil within, despite what appears to be the case outwardly. We may be greatly praised and respected by the world; we may be surrounded by vain flattery; but until God works in us to change us, we are full of filth. Indeed, all the virtues that men exalt are nothing short of vices that will lead men to destruction and plunge them into hell. For even those who have been renewed by the grace of God, and who have learnt to obey him by doing the things which God loves and cherishes, even they can bring nothing to God that can settle their accounts with him. They will always be in debt because all the good gifts they have proceed from God; also, even such men are corrupt through sin and infirmity. Thus, we must be stripped of all trust in our own righteousness. For, from the greatest to the least of us, we are all condemned. If we seek justification by the law, we are greatly deceived we will never find it.
Now we can understand much more clearly the truth of what I have been saying concerning the Lord Jesus Christ as a refuge for those who are convinced of their spiritual need. This means that the only real preparation for belief in Jesus Christ is to be touched with a real, vivid sense and awareness of our sins. This is why Christ said: Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest . . . and ye shall find rest unto your souls (Matt. 11:28-29). Elsewhere, the Scripture clearly says that he was sent to preach good tidings unto the meek.. . to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound (Isa. 61:1). Therefore, those who take pleasure in their sins will never come to the Lord Jesus Christ. They may boast that they have faith, for many mockers of God profane this word, holy as it is. Everyone wishes to be thought of as a Christian, and no matter how depraved they are, they will say that they believe as much as any other. But when a man speaks in this manner, it is evidence enough that he has not one drop of faith. When true believers say, I believe, they express it in great weakness, knowing that had not God taken pity on them, even the little they had would have been taken from them. Those who loudly boast that they have complete faith are nothing but dogs and swine, who have never once tasted true religion nor the fear of God. The term faith will always be shamefully defiled by these dogs, who do nothing other than mock God. They cannot discern between good and evil, and are so foolish as to wallow in their own sins. Take a drunkard, for example, who is past shame; after drinking to excess, he longs to remain in his intoxicated state. Then there are the whoremongers, perjurers, blasphemers, and suchlike all of whom claim to have faith; but for all that, it is certain that they are not ready to meet the Lord Jesus Christ. Why not? Because they do not realise that they can only be justified by grace. Let us remember, however, that to be thoroughly persuaded that we cannot be justified by the law, we must set God before us on his judgment throne and summon ourselves before him every morning and evening, knowing that we must give an account of our whole lives. Also, we must realise that we would be sent to the pit a hundred thousand times if God did not pity us and raise us up in his infinite mercy Then we will know that we cannot be justified by the law, for we are all under condemnation every time we compare ourselves with God. We need to have such fear, that we cannot find rest until the Lord Jesus Christ has saved us. See, therefore, how good it is for us to be heavy laden, that is to say, to hate our sins and to be in such anguish over them that we feel surrounded by the pains of death, so that we seek God in order that he might ease us of our burden. We must, however, seek him in the knowledge that we cannot obtain salvation, full or in part, unless it is granted to us as a gift. Paul is not saying that we may find something of what we lack in Jesus Christ, and supply the rest ourselves. He says we cannot be counted righteous through our own merits, or works, but only through faith.
Let us, therefore, understand that there is no salvation whatsoever outside of Jesus Christ, for he is the beginning and the end of faith, and he is all in all. Let us continue in humility, knowing that we can only bring condemnation upon ourselves; therefore, we need to find all that pertains to salvation in the pure and free mercy of God. We must be able to say that we are saved through faith. God the Father has appointed his Son the Lord Jesus Christ that he might be both the author and finisher of our salvation. We are to deny ourselves and give ourselves to him wholly and completely, that all the praise might belong to him.
Now let us fall before the majesty of our great God, acknowledging our sins, and asking that he would make us increasingly aware of them, that we may hate them more and more, and grow in repentance (a grace that we need to exercise all our lives). May we learn so to magnify his grace, as it is shown to us in the Lord Jesus Christ, that we might be completely taken up with it; and may we not only do so with our lips, but place our entire trust in him. May we grow in that trust until we are gathered up into our eternal home, where we shall receive faiths reward. May he not only grant this grace to us, but to all peoples, etc.
Why do you place more importance on repentance and confession than baptism?
So in other words the only valid baptism is one with your church. That is not the message of the gospel.
42And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead.
43To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins."
44While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word.
45And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.
46For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.
Then Peter answered, 47"Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?"
48And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.
***BTW, my Reformed brother Christian, I have noticed that no one attempted to respond to your example of David. Evidently, the works based salvationists don't want to consider the possibility that God was just lucky that David repented before he died so that the man after God's own heart didn't have to get thrown into torment.***
I have noticed that as well.
***I do know that you think that my own non-Reformed views are essentially a works based salvation, but I can assure you that accepting the free gift of God is not a work, but mere thankfulness of the free mercy of God.***
Yes, I do, but not for the reason you state. Man must actually do more than accept the free gift in the non-Reformed scheme of salvation. If God has already made a complete and finished atonement, including man's sin of unbelief, then there is nothing for man to do except enjoy the gift that God has given him. Unfortunately, the gift is not complete in your scheme. If it were, then when Christ died, he would have made a complete and finished Atonement. But, all that he really did was make a potential Atonement.
In the service of the Lord,
LOL. Your ears to God's lips. 8~)
The "thief on the cross" argument is not a valid argument against baptism. Christ had not yet died and risen from the dead, so the church was not yet established. Also, there is no guarantee the thief had not been baptized by John at some point, since many people in that region had done just that. The point is that Jesus had the ability to forgive his sins, and He did just that. We are under a new covenant, and baptism is an essential part of that covenant.
You do place more importance on repentance and confession than baptism, because you place both of them before salvation, but you place baptism after salvation. That is not what the Lord taught, and that is not what His apostles taught.
I agree we are one body, and that one body had one faith and one baptism. A faith that leads to salvation before baptism is different from a faith that leads to salvation after baptism, so it is not one faith.
I agree we don't decide who receives or deserves His mercy. He does, and He has made it known through His Word. His Word teaches that belief, repentance, confession, and baptism all come before salvation.
So JKL, do you believe that infants and aborted babies are condemned to eternal damnation. Since they have obviously not been baptised nor confessed faith, I would presume you believe they are not saved.
If you believe they are saved, how do you explain the exception and what is the biblical basis? If there is an exception in their case, the baptism requirement must be "flexible".
Until a person is able to decide what is right and wrong and to understand the need for salvation, how can they believe, repent, confess, or understand the need to be baptized? Only when a person can make the decision themselves, are they subject to the need for salvation. This does not make baptism "flexible", it is just common sense.
JKL: "Until a person is able to decide what is right and wrong and to understand the need for salvation, how can they believe, repent, confess, or understand the need to be baptized?"
So there are conditions that allow for salvation without baptism. Who determines these conditions? What biblical proof can you provide for these exceptions?
I have a child that knew the difference between right and wrong around the age of 1-2. He was openly defiant in a number of ways. He also knew these actions would exact discipline, but he continued them none the less. But at this age, he could not comprehend the Gospel. Are you saying my child can be a sinner (overtly defiant) but not need Christ's atoning blood?
I would propose that most all those outside of Christ, both adult and child, can "decide what is right and wrong" but cannot "understand the need for salvation". That is the very essence of the sinful nature. Until we are born again, we cannot see the need for salvation and certainly not the need for baptism either.
Your defintion of "born again" is different from mine, and I believe different from that of the Bible, so we are not going to agree on this issue. God bless.
JKL: "Your defintion of "born again" is different from mine, and I believe different from that of the Bible"
Please explain to me your biblical definition of "born again". Or perhaps, explain what you interpret as my "anti-biblical" view of "born again".
In your last post, you said the following: "Until we are born again, we cannot see the need for salvation and certainly not the need for baptism either."
It is obvious from this statement that you believe we are born again before we even know we need salvation. I am guessing that means you believe in the Holy Spirit regenerating you in order for you to be able to believe, repent of your sins, confess Christ, and then ultimately, be baptized.
From my study of the Bible, the Scriptures teach that we are born again after we believe, repent of our sins, confess Christ, are baptized for the remission of sins, and receive the Holy Spirit. Jesus told Nicodemus that he needed to be "born of the water and the spirit", and said that was how he was to be "born again". What do you think that water refers to in this passage? Thanks.
Why would I want to find an alternative to following the Word of God? I, personally, do not find this discussion humourous, and I am sorry that you do find it to be that way. I will gladly continue "speaking the truth in love"(Ephesians 4:15).
JKL: "Jesus told Nicodemus that he needed to be "born of the water and the spirit", and said that was how he was to be "born again". What do you think that water refers to in this passage?"
I think the water in this context is evidence of a pouring out of God's spirit. If you look in Luke 3:16:
John answered, saying to all, "I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
You will notice that true "baptism" is through the spirit of God and water is not a requirement. So in this sense, Christ must not have been speaking of baptism when he was talking of being born of water and the spirit. Also, if Christ meant that baptism was a requirement, why did he not just say baptism instead of water!
You have also missed a major concept in Jesus' teaching in John 3. The whole point of using the idea of being "born again" is to show how radical the change must be in those who are regenerated. Does a baby choose how or even if he will be born? Is the child the source of the new life, or is God? Rebirth implies an outside agent that works to create a new creation. Being "born again" is not a metamorphosis, it is a new creation!
Another major item you have overlooked in your belief of baptism is the Old Testament. Almost none of God's chosen people were baptised in the OT yet many of the old testament Jews were redeemed in Christ! How can they possibly be saved if they were not baptised? Are you saying that God has changed the requirements for salvation from the OT to the NT? Granted the Old Testament believers did not have the gift of the Holy Spirit, but they were still saved by faith in Christ alone - just as we are today.
God does not put us to any temporal tests or oath-swearings in order to be saved. That's for the secret societies of men to require.
Because all men are fallen and dead in sin, we cannot know righteousness. Because of Adam's fall, our hearts are dead to God. Like Lazarus, we cannot raise ourselves to life again.
It is only by God's grace that we receive salvation through Trinitarian faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. And that is all His doing, ordained by God from before the foundation of the world.
"We love him, because he first loved us." -- 1 John 4:19.
Or else He's not God, but only an eternal scorekeeper who's playing the game along with the rest of us.
So the course of a typical person's life would be:
1.) Born into a state not able to make a decision, so no need for a Saviour.
2.) Missionary/Preacher/Teacher gives the person the Gospel thereby putting them in a position where they do need a Saviour.
3.) The person formerly not in need of a Saviour, but who is presently in need of a Saviour thanks to the person who told him/her, must now live a life of constant obedience in order to retain the Saviour they used to not need but now need?
Wouldn't it be much simpler to leave people in ignorance so that they don't need a Saviour to begin with?
You have misrepresented my thoughts in my post. We are all in need of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. However, only when a person reaches the point where they are able to make a decision, on their own, are they accountable for their choice to follow or deny Christ. An infant can't make such a decision.
Then when, in your point of view, does a person become "subject for the need of salvation?"
The criteria in your earlier post was the ability to decide.
What gives a person the ability to decide, and thus "subject for the need of salvation?"
Why does one man "make a decision" to believe in Christ and the guy next door not make that decision?
Why are these men "different" intrinsically?
It is when they are of an accountable age. When we are infants and small children, we do not fully understand the consequences of our actions. We do not have the comprehension necessary to make a decision for or against Christ. Each person reaches this point at a different time.
You will have to ask those people for that answer. Each person is free to do as he/she pleases, and not all our decisions will be understood by others.
What is your opinion of Paul's teaching below:
1 Corninthians 1:17
For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.
Paus seems to separate the preaching of the gospel from baptism. He appears to presume that baptism is not an essential for salvation?
Here is an interesting excerpt from "Baptism: A Matter of Obediance" by John MacArthur. His is a VERY pro-baptism teacher and yet he does not take the extreme that you have by making it a pre-requisite to salvation...
Yet, Jesus said, "Go out into all the world and make disciples, baptizing them." When He was saying that that was synonymous with salvation because the next thing He says is, " teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you." Baptism became synonymous with leading them to the knowledge of the gospel and if they were willing to receive the gospel, believe, repent they would be baptized as an immediate response. So, when Peter says, "Repent and be baptized for the remission of sin," hes simply saying, "Repent and believe unto salvation demonstrate the genuineness of that by the first act of obedience which is baptism.
Were not saved by the waterthats not going to save you. "By grace are you saved, through what?" "Faith, that not of yourself, not of works not of works." Paul says in I Corinthians 1:14, "Im glad that I baptized none of you." Now, if that was a saving act, how could he say that? It doesnt save youyou can go through all the water you want and not be saved. And, I have to confess that you can be saved and not be baptized, but youre in a condition of disobedience. Baptism produces nothing but blessing. Nothing but the joy and the reward of obedience. Nothing but the affirmation of God to an obedient child. It doesnt save you, it doesnt make you holier than somebody else it just brings you the blessing of obediencethats what it does.
You could sum it up like this: as a believer stands in the water, ready to be immersed, he could declare these words, "I hereby confess in my willing submission to this divinely appointed ordinance, my glad obedience to the command of my Lord and Savior. In this symbolic manner, I show forth my identification with the one who bore my sins, took my place, died in my stead, was buried, and rose again for my justification. As Christ went through the dreadful reality of suffering and death to secure my salvation, so, by my immersion in water and emergence there from, I thus publicly declare my identification with my Lord in His death, burial, and resurrection on my behalf, with the intention hence forth to walk with Him in newness of life." Thats the sum of it.
You're the one who says salvation comes according to our choices. It's a logical question to ask what determines those choices?
If you're not comfortable conjecturing about other men's "choices," then I'll ask you only about yourself. What allowed/caused you to "choose" Christ when others didn't/don't?
I was raised in church and attended regularly my whole life. I had heard the Gospel preached many times, and learned about the Bible in many Bible classes. I realized, when I was 13, that I needed to come in obedience to Christ. I went forward during a Gospel meeting on May 17, 1988 and obeyed the Lord by being buried with Him in baptism.
The question then becomes why did you "obey" and the guy next door didn't/doesn't?
It's really an important question for many reasons, not the least of which is evangelism.
Why did your ears hear the Word and others didn't?
The Word of God obviously convicted me and caused me to realize that I was a sinner and I needed to obey Christ in order to be saved. I was saved by believing in Christ, repenting of my sins, confessing His name, and being baptized for the remission of my sins.
Could you have believed without the Word of God first convicting you?
Romans 10:17 -
So then faith [cometh] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
I know what Romans says. Your answer seems to contradict Paul.
Could you have obeyed without first being convicted by the Holy Ghost through Scripture? That's the question using your own statement.
All sight and hearing come from God.
But what about Ephesians 2:
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
How can you read this scripture and say you have any part in your salvation? V.5 and V. 8 are glaring testaments to our inability to choose Christ. It appears to me, if you claim to take some action to "close the deal" on salvation, that you are claiming something you can boast about.
I certainly would agree that all the items you list (believing in Christ, repenting of my sins, confessing His name, and being baptized) are valid evidence of a new creation in Christ, but certainly not the cause.
You still have not told me how those chosen by God in the OT were saved without baptism! Has the means of salvation changed between the OT and NT?? Can people still be saved by this "old way"?
I just came onto this today
We may think that we choose God but it is God who gives us the desire to want Him and the faith to be able to trust Him. God is the giver of every aspect of salvation even regarding repentance and faith:
John 3:27 - "John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven."
God has to enable sinners to repent:
Acts 11:18 - "When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life."
2Timothy 2:25 - "In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth"
God has to give people faith as a gift so that they can believe on Christ:
Ephesians 2:8 - "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God"
Regarding salvation, man has absolutely nothing to contribute: "knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked?" (Revelation 3:17).
Until God puts a new heart in us we are just like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, who hid from God after they sinned. Until God draws us and converts us, we have no desire for fellowship with Him or His children. Instead we run from Him and His messengers and we consider His commandments burdensome and His Lordship something to be scorned.
WHO DOES THE CHOOSING?
Here are some Bible verses that are very clear about this matter of God choosing us - without any approval from us ahead of time:
John 15:16 - "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit"
John 15:19 - "If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you."
2 Thessalonians 2:13 - "But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth"
Matthew 22:14 - "For many are called, but few are chosen."
John 6:44 - "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day."
Psalm 65:4 - "Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee"
Acts 13:48 - "And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed."
James 1:18 - "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures."
CAN OUR WILL OVERPOWER GOD'S WILL?
When we first look at John 1:12 it sure looks like it is we who choose Christ:
John 1:12 - "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name"
But then, when we look at the next verse, we can no longer draw that conclusion:
John 1:13 - "Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."
So we can conclude that in John 1:12, God, by His will, converted people into His sons, thereby enabling them to receive Him and to believe on His name. One who is a child of darkness will certainly not receive Him.
Then when we read the first chapter of Ephesians, all we see are references to God and His will, not our own will:
Ephesians 1:4 - "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. 7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; 8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; 9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: 10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in Heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: 11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will"
Romans chapter 9 is a section of the Bible that makes no sense at all if we are to believe that man chooses to accept Christ, of his own free will:
Romans 9:15 - "For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy."
Isaiah put it well, regarding who is in control of things:
Isaiah 46:10 - "Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure"
"I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me." -- Isaiah 45:5
We love Him because He first loved us.
I believe that the verse I quoted from Romans matches what you are saying. The Holy Spirit works through Scripture to speak to us.
We are under a New Covenant. Those who lived under the Old Covenant, which was God's covenant with Israel, were justified by the Law. We are not under the Old Law. God's grace is what allows us to be saved, but we still must be obedient to receive that salvation(Hebrews 5:9).
Of course we can't be saved like those who lived under the Old Law. Is that a serious question? If so, then I would question what you have been taught about the relationship between the Old Testament and the New Testament. Christ gave His life as the ultimate sacrifice. This did away with the old way of atonement, which required continual sacrifices.
Is that a serious question? If so, then I would question what you have been taught about the relationship between the Old Testament and the New Testament.
Can you name me one Old Testament saint who perfectly kept the Law? If not, I suggest you apply the same scrutiny to your own understanding that you are applying to visually_augmented.
No one was able to perfectly keep the Law. That is why the sacrifices were required. That is why the High Priest had to make a special sacrifice for the people once a year.
"Or else He's not God, but only an eternal scorekeeper who's playing the game along with the rest of us."
Or as someone else said to me once, He has one mighty big eraser....writing and erasing and writing and erasing....
But your perfect law keeping baptism saves right?
Inconsistency my friend.. either it is faith or it is works..
>Act 10:34 Then Peter opened [his] mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: 35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. 36 The word which [God] sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:) 37 That word, [I say], ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; 38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. :39 And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: 40 Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; 41 Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, [even] to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. 42 And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God [to be] the Judge of quick and dead. 43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. 44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. 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. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, 47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.
**** And also notice, Peter said they had "received the Holy Spirit just as we have". He was talking about on Pentecost.
Yes that is when the SAVED believers , the disciples of Christ received the Holy Spirit. The proclamation here was that after hearing the gospel Cornelius was saved and now had the indwelling Holy Spirit (WITHOUT WATER BAPTISM) .
These are the only two times this tyep of manifestation of the Holy Spirit is recorded in the New Testament. It was not because they were saved, it was a sign to "those of the circumcision"
On Pentecost the unsaved seeing the indwelling Holy Spirit in the disciples saw the power of God in them.and so they listened to the gospel. It was a sign ok , but not to the believers.. it was a sign to the unbelievers.
who were there with Peter, to prove to them that God could work through and accept the Gentiles. Also notice that Peter insisted that they be baptized immediately. If baptism is just a sign of an already existing salvation, there would be no hurry for to baptize them. ****
Are you saying that unsaved men have the indwelling Holy Spirit? Are you really saying that the Muslims have the indwelling Holy Spirit? The atheists ?The reception of the Holy Spirit was a mark of their salvation . it was as a sign to the Jews that observed that that now the gentiles were also heirs of the gospel
1Cr 1:17 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.
1Cr 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
Read that ... I am left with the belief that those that preach the CROSS + ANYTHING ELSE is the teaching of the foolish that are unable to rightly divide the word of God and makes the preaching of the cross of no effect
The manifestation of the Holy Spirit, as is recorded in Acts 10 and Acts 2, is not recorded anywhere else. These are special circumstances that are not repeated.
In your post you said: "Read that ... I am left with the belief that those that preach the CROSS + ANYTHING ELSE is the teaching of the foolish that are unable to rightly divide the word of God and makes the preaching of the cross of no effect"
You took 2 verses from a whole passage of Scripture out of context. Paul admitted he had baptized a few of them there, but was speaking against a problem where some where placing their allegiance to the one who had baptized them. He states that their thinking was wrong, and that they should place their allegiance in Christ. His primary duty was to preach the Gospel, but He never said that baptism was not a part of the Gospel.
Let me ask you , in the COC if one is drawn by the Father to repentance and belief and he gets hit by a car and dies before he is baptized IN YOUR CHURCH does that man go to hell?
Back to rightly dividing the word of God my friend. The book of James teaches about how the world sees us and believes our testimony . It is written to the saved, (the church) it is not a teaching on how to be saved, but on how a saved man lives .To whom is it addressed?
Jam 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
It is addressed to the saved.Jam 1:3 Knowing [this], that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
James tells us how to live in the world as a testimony
Jam 2:18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
Who are we to be showing? God who knows the heart? NO God knows.. this letter is about our testimony to the world how the world sees our Justification .
The example of Abraham is clear to the jewish audience.. Abraham was justified by his faith
Rom 4:2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath [whereof] to glory; but not before God.
Rom 4:3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
The obedience of Abraham to offer His son was a Testimony to Abraham himself and to his son and to the men with him that he had a living Faith . He was justified in the sight of men by that act. God KNEW that Abraham would be obedient, God was not surprised. This test was to prove to Abraham and his seed and the people that would come after Him that men are justified by faith .
Abraham believed the promise of God for the nations coming out of his loins, so in faith he trusted God when he put his son on that altar.. this was all about faith and the testimony of it to the world.. His obedience and his works came from his faith .
That is the same as Baptism, Baptism is a testimony to the world of Gods work in us and our faith in him. It is a sign of our salvation
JKL: "Of course we can't be saved like those who lived under the Old Law. Is that a serious question? If so, then I would question what you have been taught about the relationship between the Old Testament and the New Testament."
I asked the question only because I anticipated your response. I, in fact, do not believe there is any different means of salvation between the OT people and those saved today. Certainly our obediance today does not stipulate the ceremonial laws the Jews were required, but that is merely a question of sanctification - not salvation (or justification).
The only blood that atones for sin is Christ's blood. The OT people of God were saved by Christ, not the blood of a goat, sheep, or dove. These sacrifices were merely symbols that looked forward to Christ's death on the cross. Baptism is very similar to the blood sacrifices of the OT in that it is an outward sign of an inward cleansing. The sacrifices of the OT saved no one just as baptism can save no one. The only one that saves/forgives is God and God alone through the redemptive death of His Son, Jesus Christ.
We certainly are under a New Covenant. But a change in the covenant does not eradicate the means of salvation. The only reason we needed a New Covenant is because man failed to meet his end of the bargain - not due to some insufficiency in God's promises or actions. This is a key point. Man will ALWAYS fail to keep his part of the covenant - that is why we rely COMPLETELY on the Lord to save us. If salvation is contingent on any obediance from man, it cannot succeed. No man has pure intentions in ANY action (even those who are regenerated) - all are tainted with sin. How can baptism be any different?