Evangelism

4 Apologetic Methods for God’s Existence

The word apologetic doesn’t mean what it sounds like. It comes from the Greek word ἀπολογία–to speak in defense of one’s worldview. In our case, Christianity. Therefore, when discussing the 4 different types of apologetic systems, I am referring to the various methodologies Christians use to defend their faith. Are you ready to learn? Let’s begin.

The first methodology is entitled Classical Apologetics. It focuses the use of logical criteria such as the law of noncontradiction, self-consistency, comprehensiveness, and coherence. A famous apologist, William Lane Craig, often uses the classical approach when debating the Christian worldview.

For example, he may argue for the teleological argument, which states the intricate design in nature points to an intelligent Creator. Other common classical apologetic positions include the moral, ontological, and cosmological arguments.

Christian philosopher Norman Geisler summarizes this position well: “The basic argument of the classical apologist is that it makes no sense to speak about the resurrection as an act of God unless, as a logical prerequisite, it is first established that there is a God who can act” (Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics).

The second approach to apologetics is known as Evidentialism. It’s primary focus is to ground the Christian faith on historically verifiable facts. Instead of arguing for unequivocal proof of God through logical necessity like Classical apologists do, Evidentialists argue that a high degree of probability can be articulated in favor of Christianity. The evidence for creation, prophecy, deity of Christ, and especially the historical significance of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead are the main subjects in this apologetic approach.

The apologist who pioneered the evidentialist approach was Joseph Butler (1692-1752). In 1736 Butler published The Analogy of Religion, Natural and Revealed, to the Constitution and Course of Nature. Butler wrote this work to transform the old metaphysical and rationalistic argumentation in Britain to a more scientific and empirical form of reasoning.

He admitted that revealed religion like Christianity was gripped with intellectual problems, but could still be found probabilistically reasonable and justifiable. But not objectively definitive like the Classical approach.

The third apologetic position is Reformed apologetics. It attempts to argue for the Christian faith on the authoritative word of God through revelation rather than empirical or scientific knowledge.

This position would encourage the believer to base their truth in God, not through scientific inquiry, but with the presupposition or fundamental assumption that the Christian faith is already true. There is no need to ground reasoning in God by the physical sciences alone since it’s already intuitively understood by all human beings. Thus, all are without excuse (Rom. 1:20) when they deny the existence of God.

This approach was inspired by John Calvin from the 1500s and has become popularized in recent times by Cornelius Van Til. This is what Dr. Van Til said that summarizes his perspective:

“I hold that belief in God is not merely as reasonable as other beliefs, or even a little or infinitely more probably true than other belief; I hold rather that unless you believe in God you can logically believe in nothing else.” -Van Til

The main criticism of this view is that it uses circular reasoning to argue it’s case. Circular reasoning is a logical fallacy that occurs when the conclusion of an argument is used as a premise of that same argument. In other words, the premise would not work if the conclusion wasn’t already assumed to be true.

Proponents of this view have offered a rebuttal to this claim.

“We agree that presuppositional apologetics is the ultimate biblical approach to apologetics. The common accusation that the presuppositionalist uses circular reasoning is actually true. In fact, everyone uses some degree of circular reasoning when defending his ultimate standard (though not everyone realizes this fact). Yet if used properly, this use of circular reasoning is not arbitrary and, therefore, not fallacious.” – Answers in Genesis Darius and Karin Viet

The final apologetic system is called fideism. The term comes from the latin word fide, meaning “faith.” Instead of being rational (Classical), empirical (Evidentialist), authoritarian (Reformed), it is intuitive (Fideist). Furthermore, fideism maintains that human knowledge of truth is most especially found in the heart or will rather than in the intellect. For example, Fideists would contend that no matter how intellectually sophisticated an argument becomes for the existence of God, those who are living a rebellious sinful life will reject it.

People reject Christianity because Christianity is found in a person, not a religious system or intellectual program. A person requires a relationship. So then, you may know about someone, but until you meet them, intellectual knowledge makes no difference. Fideists would argue the same is true in Christianity.

Fideism was popularized by Martin Luther and was further stressed by Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard. He once said, “It is so hard to believe because it is so hard to obey.” This statement expresses the idea that belief and obedience are interconnected. Therefore, if one doesn’t love God or obey Him, it’s almost impossible to convince him or her to intellectually commit to God.

What are your thoughts? Which apologetic approach do you find most beneficial? Do you think all of these approaches are valid? Why or Why not? Please comment below. Have a good day!

The Gospel in 5 Words and 5 Verses

Creation

“Then God said, Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” – Genesis 1:26

Sin

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” -Romans 6:23

Love 

“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”- Isaiah 53:5

Grace

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God; not by works, so that no one can boast.” -Ephesians 2:8

Life

“Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” – Acts 2:38

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How do we Fish for the Souls of Humankind?

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” -Matthew 4:19

Today, my son and I were playing the Catch and Count Fishing Game by Melissa and Doug company. The fishing rods have a magnet attached at the end of the pole that connects with another magnetic circle on the fish. Each fish has a different color, fin arrangement, and number. The game is really useful for hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, problem solving, and interpersonal skills, but most importantly, it reminds my son of the gospel message.

Every time my son and I play, he tells me of the time in children’s church when Jesus said we should make fishers of men. It’s such a joy to have your own son remind you of the importance of evangelism. While he may not perfectly understand this analogy, he does know it’s crucial for believers to fish for the souls of humankind.

Are you currently fishing for the souls of people? Do you think about how to share the gospel with your friends, neighbors, family members, or co-workers? I want to encourage you that God has given you the best fishing pole (The Word of God) and the bait (grace) to bring the most hardened fish (sinners) to a relationship with the Almighty One.

Maybe you are hesitant to cast out the fishing line in fear of rejection from others. Don’t worry. Jesus said that when you follow him, you will make fishers of men. He didn’t say you “might” make fishers of men.

As Christians, our call is to be faithful to what God commanded: To go and make disciples. To make fishers of men. When we use the right fishing pole (the Bible), the right bait (grace), you might be surprised how many fish (people) begin to nibble (inquire) about the good news of Jesus Christ. May God bless you in your endeavors!

Responding Biblically to Common Atheist Arguments

Here is a conversation between an Atheist and myself. He brought up 9 common arguments against the existence of God. His concerns were legitimate, but I believe the Bible has the answers to these emotional statements.

1. Objective Morality? Please. Rather, please explain the strange sense of whimsical morality and justice within the Christian tradition. First, I am born guilty and deserving of eternal punishment because of something someone did 6000 years ago – the original sin.

This statement presupposes the imputation of Adam’s sin on the whole human race. I don’t believe Scripture teaches in total depravity or being born as sinners. Psalm 51:5 is the most common verse used: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me (ESV).” The English Standard Version and NASB both have the most literal translation from the Greek. Other translations say “I was sinful at birth.” This is not what Scripture is teaching here. His mother conceived him out of wedlock. The other verse commonly used: Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned (Rom. 5:12). The last phrase “because all sinned” reveal that each individual is personally responsible for their sins. Have you lied? Said the name’s Lord in vain? Coveted after something that doesn’t belong to you? I know I have. Therefore, our own sin condemns us, not the sin from Adam.

2. Even though babies are sinners based on Adam, they will still go to heaven if they die before their age of accountability.

Once again, I don’t believe your examples are consistent with what Scripture teaches. Babies and children don’t have the cognitive ability or moral framework to understand right from wrong. When they take something that doesn’t belong to them, it’s not considered stealing. They are exploring the world and learning their boundaries. However, if an adult steals money from their employer, no one would ever say, “He is still exploring his environment.” The individual would be fired and put in jail for embezzling money.

3. Someone receives the death penalty for what I did as I go free – the vicarious atonement.

The vicarious atonement of Christ is a gracious gift to you and I. He who knew no sin became sin for us so that we might receive the righteousness of Christ. While I was reading John Loftus’s book “The end of Christianity” I came across this statement: “So as a Christian, it seems one ought to believe it is wrong for the innocent to suffer in the place of the guilty on the basis of his implanted sense of right and wrong and the clear teaching of the Bible (p. 185).” Absolutely. John Loftus is exactly right. And it parallels with what Jesus said in John 10:18, “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” The greatest injustice that ever happened on this planet was for the sinless one, Jesus Christ, to die for us, who rebelled against Him by our own free will (not determinism).

4. Jesus paid it all – really?

God’s eternal being can take on the eternal weight of God’s wrath. Jesus confirms this connection in Gethsemane when he prayed, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39). Jesus drinks the cup of God’s wrath, a cup that has accumulated the fury of God against sins of all types. Heinous crimes, adultery, careless words, dishonoring thoughts, lies — all of it will be punished by God.

5. Someone deserves eternal torture by burning because of 70 years of sin – eternal torture in the lake of fire.

Personally, I think Hell is locked on the inside. People love their sin more than they love God. People worship self rather than God. They would rather burn with their lustful thoughts than transform their mind to what is holy and good and righteous. They won’t want to enter a place where all attention and focus will be upon Jesus Christ. They would rather gnash their teeth in defiance forever than bow their knees to the holy one of God. As Desmund Tutu said: ‘I’d rather go to hell than worship a homophobic God.” There is a book entitled: Hell Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents Eternal Punishment. They may be able to address some of your emotional concerns on Hell.

6. I have the power to save the whole world, but I don’t want to. I’ll save a few because I want to – The Calvinist tradition and its understanding God and election.

Once again, you are assuming a Calvinist position. I don’t follow Calvin, but the Bible. Read these words from 2 Peter 3:9. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” The same can be said in the Old Testament. “Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel (Ezek. 33:11).”

7. I had the thought of enjoying a bad action, so I am just as guilty as doing the bad action – the excessive application of Matthew 5 and a personal favorite in the repertoire of Christian preachers wanting to make sure that not even one person sits in the pew feeling innocent from sin.

All evil actions start from a thought. Just because one doesn’t carry it out doesn’t mean they are innocent of it. In fact, read through some documentaries by serial killers who started out with an evil thought that led to their action of murder. It’s all about the intentions and attitude of the heart. Someone may be bitter and angry against their friend and never incite violence. However, their relationship will always be in question until they get rid of that thought or try to reconcile back. Restoration is the key to why thoughts should be good, pure, and holy. God is concerned about both the heart and the action.

8. Sin is sin – how most American evangelical and fundamentalist Christians think.

I never said all “sin is equal.” Good verses you alluded to. Here is another one that Jesus said in Matthew 11: “But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. 23And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to heaven? No, you will descend to Hades! For if the miracles that were performed in you had happened in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. 24But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”

9. One more example for free. Most Christian traditions will not touch this one. Noah gets drunk. One son sees him naked and makes fun of it to his other brothers. The result: Noah is allowed control the destinies of people for the next 4500 years and sets up systems of slavery and oppression. The black skin descendants of Ham and Canaan are cursed to live lives of slavery, slave trades, slave ships, oppression, cruelty, rape, etc. because Ham saw his naked drunk father and made fun of it? Huh? Strange sense of justice.

 

If the type of slavery that happened in Africa in the 19th century was in the Bible, the Mosaic Law would sentence that person to death. Exodus 21:16 reads: “Anyone who kidnaps another and either sells him or still has him when he is caught must be put to death.” Africans were rounded up by slave-hunters, who sold them to slave-traders, who brought them to the New World to work on plantations and farms. This practice is abhorrent to God and they would have been put to death for it. Contrary to popular belief, God did not condone antebellum slavery in the Bible.

 

 

Evangelicals, Bring Baptism Back to the Gospel

When I did a grammatical-historical exegesis of Mark 16:16; Jn. 3:3-5, Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; Rom. 6:4-6, 1 Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:26-27; Eph. 5:25-27; Col. 2:11-13; Tit. 3:5; and 1 Pet. 3:21, I came to the conclusion, all presuppositions from Southern Seminary aside, that water baptism is indeed part of the gospel. This led me to a dynamic transformation encounter with the living God.

I no longer view water baptism as an outward sign of an inward grace that has already happened in the past. For Scripture makes it clear there is only one faith, one lord, and one baptism. Not a spirit baptism first and then a water baptism later.

For even Dr. Schreiner makes it clear in his Romans commentary concerning 6:4-6: “Christians would have inevitably thought of water baptism since it was the universal initiation rite for believers in Christ. Moreover, Paul probably loosely associated baptism with water and baptism by the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13), since both of these occurred at conversion. Thus any attempt to distinguish between Spirit baptism and water baptism in the Pauline writings goes beyond what Paul himself wrote. Thomas Schreiner, Romans: Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic Press, 1998), p.306-307. Stott is also correct in saying that Paul was thinking of water baptism here, but it would never have occurred to Paul that baptism in water could be separated from baptism in the spirit (Contra Stott, 1994, p.173).

I no longer view baptism as an ordinance or an act of obedience, but as a working of God through faith according to Colossians 2:11-13. Thus, baptism is not a work but an act of faith. And since it’s an act of faith, it harmonizes with justification by faith in Christ alone. In fact, Martin Luther makes it clear when he said: “that faith must have something in which it believes, that is, something it clings to, and something on which to plant its feet and into which to sink its roots. Thus faith clings to the water and believes baptism to be something in which there is pure salvation and life, not through the water, as I have emphasized enough, but because God’s name is joined to it…It follows from this that whoever rejects baptism rejects God’s word.”

When I view Acts 2:38 as “repent and be baptized” for the forgiveness of sins, I no longer explain it away in a convoluted manner. I simply look at the Greek word eis, which means motion toward, and infer from this passage that both are necessary conditions for the forgiveness of our sins. When you examine Arndt and Gingrich’s Greek lexicon, they devote two full pages to motion toward rather than five lines devoted to the causal use of eis or other attempts to argue “because of.”

I have merely scratched the surface, but this has helped me understand why there are a diversity of views concerning the gospel. Some include faith only and Grudem has rightfully denounced this doctrine in his book “Free Grace Theology” 5 Ways It Diminishes the Gospel. Also, MacArthur has done a good job to defend Lordship salvation instead of the Savior only model you see in many organizations, such as Campus Crusade for Christ. Platt has adequately addressed the doctrinal issue concerning the sinner’s prayer and how Jesus never told anyone to ask him in their heart.

All of that said, unless baptism is brought back into the gospel, the SBC will always be confused about the “timing” in which conversion occurs. Does it happen during the moment of faith? Does it happen at faith and then during one’s “calling on the name of the Lord”, which would refer to repentance. Or, as the Reformed Baptists would argue, regeneration precedes all of this. Without a foundation for conversion, the whole salvation process will become spiritualized. And I am convinced it will lead to a gnostic theology similar to praying a sinner’s prayer into the heart rather than “repenting and being baptized” for the forgiveness of sins.

I think Scripture makes it clear in Colossians 2:11-13 and especially 1 Peter 3:28 the “timing” in which God saves us. Hear me out. I am not teaching baptismal regeneration as the Roman Catholics define it. One must have the cognitive ability to understand the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Thus, water doesn’t bestow any magical grace to the individual.

When Peter said baptism now saves you, he makes it clear not to focus on the water, but your appealing to God for a good conscience. Now that word appeal is vitally important. It’s not a pledge. It’s not something you do. It’s a promise that God has said. He will save you! He will redeem you! He will apply his atoning work on the cross for your sins when you call upon the name of the Lord to be saved. Just as Noah entered the ark to protect him from the flood of judgment, so then baptism is the mode by which God separates the unrighteous from the righteous. When we enter into baptism, we are united with Christ. We are buried with Him in baptism (Rom. 6:4-6).

This is not to be taken figuratively or allegorically. Let me explain. Before I got married, I thought about Olya as my future wife. I repented of all other women because I knew she was the one for me. But it wasn’t until I came into union during marriage that her and I became married. During our physical ceremony, the spiritual reality occurred simultaneously in that the two became one flesh.

Similarly, when we enter into the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ by baptismal immersion, the physical reality demonstrates the spiritual reality, not in the past, but at “that moment.” This is not a theologically awkward understanding. In fact, the visible church is a true representation of the invisible church. Jesus Christ was not just a spirit, but took on human flesh. God always unites the physical and spiritual realities. It wasn’t until the Protestant Reformation, with the influence of Zwingli, that water and spirit baptism became separated. Many commentaries on John 3:5 from the early church Fathers indicate water baptism was taught when regeneration occurs.

Brothers and sisters, its my hope you look into the meaning of baptism yourself without any preconceived notions. Just ask yourself a simple question. If my local church requires baptism by immersion in order to be a member of the church, then why would your requirement be any more than the universal church? Basically, some of the SBC churches agree in this ordinance as a necessary component for church membership, but not for salvation? How is this the case? I will be praying for you to seek God in this manner. Have a great day!

Does Mark 16:16 Teach Baptism is an Essential Condition for Salvation?

opened-bibleAnd Jesus said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” (Mark 16:15-16). -New American Standard Bible 

The Scripture plainly states, “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved.” Easy enough? Case Solved? Nope. Theologians like to complicate the perspicuity or clarity of Scripture by telling common folk this was not the author’s intent. They may explain this passage away with theological jargon, reject Mark 16 as canonical, or tell you the original language Greek denies it.

Since theologians assume you aren’t likely to open up a Greek-English Lexicon to prove them wrong, the conversation usually ends there. In fact, whoever told you baptism is not necessary for salvation was probably told the same thing by a pastor, mentor, or professor he or she trusted.

For these reasons, it’s crucial to mimic the Bereans by examining what you are told in light of God’s word (Acts 17:11). In this essay, I want to lay out arguments from both sides so you can discern truth from error.

Theologians who argue against baptism as a necessary component for salvation usually start out by saying,”While Scripture seems to indicate belief and baptism are necessary for salvation, this is not what Mark meant.” Their reasoning lies in the difference between the first clause and the second clause of the sentence.

E. Calvin Beisner, professor at Knox Theological Seminary, made this statement: “While the first clause says that all who both believe and are baptized will be saved, it does not say that all who neither believe nor are baptized will not be saved. In other words, the clause does not exclude any group, while it does tell of a group of people who will be saved, namely, those who both believe and are baptized. But the second clause negates one group: those who do not believe will not be saved. There is no negation of the group of those who believe but are not baptized. Thus, while the verse as a whole does teach that belief is essential to salvation, it does not teach that baptism is.”

To summarize, professor Beisner is arguing that baptism is not an essential condition since it’s omitted from the latter part of this passage. But think about it for a moment. If one doesn’t believe, do you think they will get baptized? For example, if I say, “He who turns on his TV and tunes in to channel 5 will see the program; he who refuses to turn on his TV will miss the program.” If the person doesn’t turn on the TV, do I need to also tell him not to tune into channel 5? No, because not turning on the TV will prevent the person from going to the channel in the first place. Therefore, arguing the omission of baptism in the second clause proves it’s not necessary is a weak argument.

The second most common argument against baptism is to suggest Mark 16:9-20 did not appear in the best of the manuscripts of the New Testament. Because it appears in late manuscripts, it should not be used as proof of doctrine. While it is true that Codex Sinaiticus and Vaticanus do not have this passage, Codex Alexandrius and Bezae do, and both are early manuscripts from about AD 350. Also, I side with Metzger’s third view: the Gospel accidentally lost its last leaf before it was multiplied by transcription.

The third argument against baptism as being part of the gospel is the fear its adding works to the gospel, which would violate justification by faith alone in Christ alone. First, baptism is not a work of man, but a work of God (Col. 2:11-13). Jesus applies his atoning blood to us personally and raises us from spiritual death (Rom. 6:3). There is nothing we can do to earn God’s favor. Second, it’s not a command, but rather a promise. When we call upon the name of the Lord during baptism, He is the one saving us (Acts 22:16) and rescuing us from the flood of judgment (1 Pet. 3:21), not ourselves. Third, Mark 16 reveals that baptism and faith are synonymous since both are linked together so closely in this context.

In conclusion, I would encourage you to research the subject of baptism. There are many views out there, but Scripture must be the authority. Other passages to consider are Acts 2:38-42, Acts 22:16, Rom. 6:4-6, Gal. 3:27, Col. 2:11-13, and 1 Pet. 3:21. Read each passage in its context and I would encourage you to read the Greek. The original language actually strengthens the argument for baptism being necessary for salvation. I believe once people view baptism as a visualization of faith rather than an act of obedience, they will begin to see it more clearly. Please feel free to disagree in the comments below. Have a blessed day!

A Friendly Dialogue Concerning Baptism

 

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I had a great conversation with a man named David concerning Baptism. Below is our full conversation. Whether you agree or disagree with our positions, it may help you better understand what baptism is and it’s relation to the gospel. Enjoy!

ME: Hey David, thanks for your comments concerning baptism. I appreciate your interpretation of Colossians 2:11-13. It is indeed an important defense for baptism by immersion. As you stated, it clearly symbolizes our own death, burial, and resurrection into Christ.

However, you seem to end water baptism there and disassociate it from “Spirit baptism.” Do you believe water baptism occurs after you are born again and receive the Spirit? If so, are you suggesting there are two baptisms, a water baptism and a spirit baptism? How do you interpret 1 Corinthians 12:13 when it says one faith, one Lord, one baptism?

Also, you mentioned Romans 8. In the two chapters preceding it, the Apostle Paul goes into detail about baptism. Scripture says, “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self[a] was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.”

Do you believe Romans 6-8, in terms of our union with Christ, is figurative speech? In other words, is Paul talking about the spiritual reality, the water baptism, or both. If it’s only talking about the spiritual reality, then can we be buried into “the spirit” and raised out of “the spirit?” How are we buried into the spirit and raised out of the spirit? I think spirit only would present itself a problem. That’s why most covenantal theologians have no problem with sprinkling instead of immersion because Romans 6 is merely symbolic.

It seems to me this passage is conjoining water and spirit baptism. Of course, its not the water that saves, but an appeal to God for a good conscience (1 Pet. 3:21). However, you appealing to God for a good conscience happens when you repent of your sins and trust God by faith that He will save you “at that moment.”

Also, I am interested in your interpretation of Colossians 2:11-13. I think the strongest argument is not just baptism by immersion, but what water baptism is. First, baptism is not an act of obedience, it’s a testing of faith. “You were raised with Him through faith.” Second, its not a work of obedience. This passage says the opposite. We were raised through faith in the working of God.” Therefore, baptism is more of a promise than an act of obedience post-conversion.

These are just a few thoughts I had. I know there are many questions I have asked you. Thanks for your time. I appreciate your blog and passage to serve the Lord. Have a great night!

DAVID: Thank you for your interest and your comments; I shall try and address your questions in order.

You asked, “Do you believe water baptism occurs after you are born again and receive the Spirit?”

Yes, I do believe that. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is the spiritual mechanism by which we are born again into the body of Christ and occurs at the point of salvation.

You asked, “are you suggesting there are two baptisms, a water baptism and a spirit baptism?”

Yes, I believe there are two baptisms, the baptism of the Holy Spirit and water baptism.

You asked, “How do you interpret 1 Corinthians 12:13 when it says one faith, one Lord, one baptism?”

The reading of 1 Corinthians 12:13 tell us:
“Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.”
This is a reference to the unity we all enjoy as Christians; we have all been joined into one body by the baptism of the Holy Spirit at the point of salvation.

You asked, “Do you believe Romans 6-8, in terms of our union with Christ, is figurative speech? ? In other words, is Paul talking about the spiritual reality, the water baptism, or both.”

I believe Romans 6-8 is referring to spiritual reality, not water baptism.

You asked, “If it’s only talking about the spiritual reality, then can we be buried into “the spirit” and raised out of “the spirit?” How are we buried into the spirit and raised out of the spirit?”

You do not specify any verses and I cannot find your specific language in the Bible. If you are referring to the area around Romans 6:4-11 it is translated:

“4 For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.
5 Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. 6 We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. 7 For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. 8 And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. 9 We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him.10 When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. 11 So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.”

You asked, “First, baptism is not an act of obedience, it’s a testing of faith. “You were raised with Him through faith.” Second, its not a work of obedience. This passage says the opposite. We were raised through faith in the working of God.” Therefore, baptism is more of a promise than an act of obedience post-conversion.”

I believe water baptism is a matter of both faith and obedience. It is by faith Christians seek water baptism but by being baptized the Christian also follows the instructions given by Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20 where it is written:

“18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 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, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Thank you again for your interest and your thoughts.

ME: Thank you for the logical, orderly response. I would like to add a few thoughts to your comments and give you the final word.

Your Response: Yes, I do believe that. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is the spiritual mechanism by which we are born again into the body of Christ and occurs at the point of salvation.

My response: According to Acts 2:38-42, when were the people “added to the church?” Before or after water baptism? If believers are born again before water baptism and brought into the “universal church,” then why does the local church also require water baptism by immersion to become members? Doesn’t the universal and local church reflect the same reality?

Your response: The reading of 1 Corinthians 12:13 tell us:
“Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.”This is a reference to the unity we all enjoy as Christians; we have all been joined into one body by the baptism of the Holy Spirit at the point of salvation.

My Response: I agree. I think the focus of this passage is on the idea of unity within the body of Christ. But I don’t think water baptism and spirit baptism are therefore separate events. Let me explain. In the book of Galatians, the Judaizers were rebuked by the Apostle Paul for adding physical circumcision to the gospel. They are telling Gentile believers one must be “circumcised” in order to be saved.

Paul writes in Galatians 3:26-27: So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

If baptism were equivalent to circumcision, why does Paul still mention baptism as necessary to become united into Christ? Wouldn’t it have been better for him to say: “Look, people are also telling you one must be baptized in order to be part of the church just like they are doing with circumcision. Ignore these people. All one must do to be saved is “repent and have faith.” But he doesn’t say that and it would have been a perfect analogy since circumcision was the “covenantal rite” to become Jewish.

Your Response: I believe water baptism is a matter of both faith and obedience. It is by faith Christians seek water baptism but by being baptized the Christian also follows the instructions given by Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20:All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 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, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

My Response: The great commission is a great verse to reveal the new command Jesus gives. I am encouraged that you do accept water baptism as a matter of faith. There are many verses that explicitly categorize baptism as an act of faith (Gal. 3:26-27, Col. 2:11-13; 1 Pet. 3:21).

Mark 16:16 is the most notable verse since it corresponds with the great commission in Matthew 28:18-20. “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved.” Belief and baptism are conjoined here in the Greek as modifying one another. It’s also important to note that this is not spirit baptism since the great commission encourages the church to administer water baptisms to those who “have faith and believe”, like the Ethiopian eunuch and Philippian jailer.

In the Matthew 28:18-20 passage, notice the sequence. First, Jesus tells them to “make disciples.” Second, to water baptize in His name. Third, to teach them to obey. Fourth, to comfort them that His Spirit will be with the disciples to the very end of the age. According to this passage, is baptism mentioned before or after one teaches them to obey? Is baptism included in the “all” I have commanded you? If so, why would baptism precede teaching them to obey? Would you agree that the only way to “teach someone the ways of God” is to receive the Holy Spirit? If so, then why is baptism the start of conversion rather than the start of obedience?

In conclusion, I want to make it clear I don’t believe in baptismal regeneration defined as an automatic sacramental union. That is why I oppose infant baptism. I am a proponent of believer’s baptism since one must have faith and the “cognitive ability” to understand the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Thus, one who is baptized without true belief or repentance can not be saved, no matter how many times they go under the water.

But that doesn’t therefore exclude water baptism from the spiritual reality. It all comes down to “the timing” in which conversion happens. I agree with you that water, repentance, and even our own faith doesn’t save us. It’s God who saves us when he applies His atoning work on the cross for our sins. Does that happen before faith as the Reformed Baptists would argue? Does it happen by “faith only” as the Grace Evangelical Society would argue? Does it happen by “faith and repentance” as the Southern Baptists would mostly argue? Or, does it happen by faith, repentance, and baptism as the Restoration movement/Churches of Christ would argue?

When baptism is properly defined as “faith”, just like “repentance,” I think it needs to be included in the gospel. If it is an act of post-conversion, then ironically, I think those who hold this view are adding to the gospel. They may say one must repent and believe, but they take baptism to be an act of obedience. And if it’s a “gift” a “promise” something that we receive during the moment of our salvation, then essentially people are getting baptized for the wrong reason. They are getting baptized to “show the world what has already happened,” even though they haven’t been saved. They want to be more mature disciples of Christ, so they get baptized, not knowing that they can’t even grow in their faith without the promise of the Holy Spirit, which comes after baptism.”

I was trained under The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary to include faith and repentance so I understand your perspective. I truly had this presupposition for a long time. I trust you are a Berean and will search the Scriptures to see if what I am saying is true. Keep up the good work brother. All praise and glory to God.

DAVID: Thank you again for your interest in the subject of water baptism and salvation.

Here are my thoughts on your questions and comments.

Your response: According to Acts 2:38-42, when were the people “added to the church?” Before or after water baptism? If believers are born again before water baptism and brought into the “universal church,” then why does the local church also require water baptism by immersion to become members? Doesn’t the universal and local church reflect the same reality?

My response: At salvation Christians are added to the true church at the time the Holy Spirit baptizes then into the body of Christ. Only after they are born again are they baptized in water.
Water baptism as required by churches for membership may be an effort to follow the great commission. The eternal true assembly of believers and the local church may or may not reflect the same reality; in such matters the Bible must be the final word.

Your response in part: why does Paul still mention baptism as necessary to become united into Christ?”

My conclusion: The baptism of the Holy Spirit is an integral part of salvation; this is the baptism Paul references, not water baptism. While the baptism of the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ is the essential starting point for being born again and adoption into the family of God, water baptism comes only as a result of the changed status of the individual and has no instrumental part in the process of salvation.

ME: David, thanks for your comments sir. The last point I want to make regarding the Romans 6 passage is it’s difficult, based on the context of these verses, to deny it’s relation to water baptism. Why then argue for the mode of baptism by immersion if it doesn’t accurately reflect our union with Christ through His death, burial, and resurrection? So, you would agree with the mode of baptism as immersion, but this event reflects a previous spiritual conversion? So then, does conversion happen before faith, at the moment of faith, or when one has faith and begins to repent of their sins?

Moreover, this is not just an isolated verse. Many scripture passages relate to being baptized into the “name of Christ (Mk. 16: Matt. 28; Acts 2:38; Gal. 3:26-27), calling on the name of the Lord to be saved (Acts 22:16; Rom. 8, 1 Pet. 3:21). And most of these passages have in mind water baptism. The great commission, Ethiopian eunuch, Philippian jailer, and most importantly, Saul of Tarsus. He was told by Ananias, “get up, be baptized, washing away your sins, calling on his name.” To get up is an action verb and it has in mind location. This is not spirit baptism, but the time in which he is immersed by Ananias. I think you would agree with this, but you would argue either he was saved “when blinded by the light” or “when he called on the name of the Lord” shortly before his baptism.

Dr. Schreiner, who is a great theologian that wrote the Baker Exegetical study on Romans admits this, but his presuppositions of Baptist teaching doesn’t allow him to ascertain the thought of water and spirit baptism being conjoined. This is what he wrote:“Christians would have inevitably thought of water baptism since it was the universal initiation rite for believers in Christ. Moreover, Paul probably loosely associated baptism with water and baptism by the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13), since both of these occurred at conversion. Thus any attempt to distinguish between Spirit baptism and water baptism in the Pauline writings goes beyond what Paul himself wrote. Thomas Schreiner, Romans: Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic Press, 1998), p.306-307. Stott is correct in saying that Paul was thinking of water baptism here, but it would never have occurred to Paul that baptism in water could be separated from baptism in the spirit (Contra Stott, 1994, p.173).

It’s amazing, based on his own commentary writings, that he still denies that water and spirit baptism happen at the same time. If Schreiner does, he would no longer be part of the Southern Baptist Churches because people would accuse him of “baptismal regeneration.” But the irony here is that he admits Pauline writings make it difficult to separate the two. When I asked Schreiner about Luther’s view on baptism (because Luther did hold to a sacramental idea of baptism, and of course, is the main proponent of justification by faith alone), Schreiner said Luther got it wrong. I think Luther was write when he said “faith has to cling to the water.”

It was a friendly dialogue. In my next post, I will explain each Scripture reference in detail. Thanks for reading. Have a blessed day!