Baptism, Church Membership, And Landmarkism

Baptism, Church Membership, And Landmarkism

            In previous articles we have considered the significance of baptism, the baptism that is in Romans 6:1-7and Galatians 3:27, the administrator of baptism, and the authority of the churchin receiving members; so in this article we shall try to build upon these things and briefly deal with the issue of baptism and church membership.

            The pressing question of Landmarkism that was posed by James Madison Pendleton in his, “An Old Landmark Reset,” was, “Ought Baptists to invite Pedobaptists (That is, those who baptize babies.) to preach in their pulpits?” A.C. Dayton also dealt with the issue of “Pedobaptist And Campbellite Immersions,” and whether they were valid or not. Both men concluded that the questions should be answered in the negative, and we certainly agree.

            The problem with inviting men to preach who have been sprinkled instead of baptized is the issue of their not truly being subject to the authority of a local church. Where there is no true baptism, there can be no true church nor true church membership. This is a matter of great importance, if we are to respect the biblical order of binding and loosing that Christ has instituted in His church. The body of Christ is visibly manifest in the local church, and the pattern found in Scripture is for believers to be baptized and then united with the local church. Where this is absent, those who lack baptism and church membership should not be received as valid members of a church. They can neither be recommended by a church, nor received by a church in any capacity until they have submitted to true baptism. This is a matter of obedience to Christ and His commands, so we must expect those who would be regular ministers of the gospel to set the example of obedience to Christ.

            Why should we not accept the baptisms performed by those who are Campbellites (Church of Christ or Christian Church Disciples of Christ), Pedobaptists, Methodists, Anglicans,  United Pentecostals, or those of similar beliefs? The answer is that they baptize for the wrong reasons. In some fashion or another, each of these groups speak of baptism as conferring some sort of spiritual blessing, and often demand that a person be baptized in order to have the remission of sins. That is not true baptism, as we have already seen. True baptism is symbolic in nature, and confers no grace to the one being baptized; but is simply their profession of faith. 

While Pendleton’s and Dayton’s conclusions were valid, their arguments were not. The important issue is not that of church authority in baptism, but rather of the validity of sprinkling as baptism and the validity of receiving the immersions performed by those who hold to erroneous views on baptism.

            Having said these things, it is my earnest desire that my Landmark Baptist brethren understand and accept that we arrive at the same conclusions regarding the above questions. Brothers, we are on the same team. We are brothers in Christ. We are members of the church that Jesus established and promised that He would build and be present with forever. The issues that are before us should be issues that we discuss with kindness and brotherly love rather than stridently and with anger. “Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.” (Romans 15:7) 

Romans 6:1-7 and Baptism

Romans 6:1-7 And Baptism

“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin.” (Romans 6:1–7)

Does This Text Speak Of Water Baptism?

Does the above passage speak of water baptism? This passage has been used to show that water baptism shows our identification and participation with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. Is this so? Does water baptism cause us to die with Christ and rise to walk in a new life? Does water baptism join us to the local body of Christ? To answer the question concisely, no, it does not. That is what we shall seek to establish in this article.

The first thing that we must do is notice the greater and the immediate context. The greater context shows us that Paul has been teaching the Romans about justification by faith rather than by works (Romans 1:16-17;2:27-30;3:21-28;4:1-5,24-25). The immediate context is that God’s grace in Christ reigns unto life where sin had once reigned unto death. “Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:20–21)

The opening verse asks if we should continue in sin that we might experience the abundance of God’s grace. After all, where sin is abundant, grace is superabundant (Romans 5:20-21). Yet grace reigns unto life. Grace conquers sin. For this cause we cannot sin in order to continue to receive great grace: we have died and are alive, as we see taught in Romans 5:20-21. God forbid that we think that the gospel encourages sin by giving grace to sinners (Cf Romans 3:1-8), when the gospel is the message of God’s conquering of sin.

The response to the question is that we are dead to sin. How shall those who are dead to sin continue to live in sin? We know that is logically impossible. Scripture tells us that we are new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) who are crucified with Christ. “For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” (Galatians 2:19–21) We are also risen with Him. “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved.)” (Ephesians 2:4–5) (See also Galatians 2:19-21) This came through the grace of God when we believed.

Paul asked the Romans if they were aware that they, by way of being baptized into Christ, died to sin and risen to walk in a new life (Romans 6:3-4). Ask yourself this question: Does water baptism bring about this great change, or is it the free, justifying grace of God in the believer that makes this change? We have already seen that it is the work of free grace that changes us.

Paul continues and tells the Romans that in baptism we share in Christ’s death and resurrection, that the body of sin is destroyed, all to the purpose that we would not serve sin. Does water baptism do all of this? We have already seen that this occurs by the free grace of God when one trusts Jesus and is justified by faith. Furthermore, Paul teaches us in Colossians that it is by the blood of Christ that we are forgiven our sins, rescued from the power of darkness, and made citizens of the kingdom of Christ (Colossians 1:13-14). This deliverance from sin is the very essence of the doctrine of redemption through grace. “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;” (Ephesians 1:7) The context of this passage speaks of God’s grace in Christ being to God’s glory. We do not contribute anything to our salvation. Redemption and deliverance from sin come because Christ died for us and rose again. This is why God gets the glory and not man (Cf Ephesians 2:8-10).

Then we find that Paul states that the person who is dead is freed from sin (Romans 6:7). Interestingly enough, the word “freed” is the same word that is more often translated “justified.” Dare we say that water baptism justifies us and frees us from sin? Dare we, who contend for the free grace of God in the gospel and justification by faith, proclaim that this is water baptism in Romans 6:1-7, if the text tells us that this great change is wrought by baptism? The Word of God does not allow us to do so.

What Baptism Is This?

If this is not speaking of water baptism, then of what does the text speak? What baptism is this? This can only be the promised baptism of the Spirit. Let us consider what the promise was.

The promised outpouring of the Spirit was to give to God’s people cleansing, new life, and liberation from sin. “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God. I will also save you from all your uncleannesses: and I will call for the corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you.” (Ezekiel 36:25–29) God promised Israel that He would put His Spirit in them, change them, and liberate them from sin. In a similar manner, He said, “Upon the land of my people shall come up thorns and briers; Yea, upon all the houses of joy in the joyous city: Because the palaces shall be forsaken; The multitude of the city shall be left; The forts and towers shall be for dens for ever, A joy of wild asses, a pasture of flocks; Until the spirit be poured upon us from on high, And the wilderness be a fruitful field, And the fruitful field be counted for a forest. Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, And righteousness remain in the fruitful field. And the work of righteousness shall be peace; And the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever. And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, And in sure dwellings, And in quiet resting places;” (Isaiah 32:13–18) Again, notice that there is great liberation from the curse of sin when the promised outpouring of the Spirit comes.

Again he says, “And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh: that they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.” (Ezekiel 11:19–20) Once more we see that the promise of the Spirit will bring a change of heart in the people so that they will be liberated from sin to serve God. This promise is also given in Joel and fulfilled in Acts 2. “But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: and on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: and I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: and it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Acts 2:16–21) “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.” (Acts 2:38–40) It is quite evident that the promised gift of the Spirit is given in order that we might be saved, cleansed, delivered, forgiven, and made anew.

Paul spoke of this when he referred to the seal of the Spirit that is given to us: “in whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13–14) This seal is not one such as we think of on a jar of beans, but a seal such as we see when papers are notarized. It is a mark that signifies that something is official or genuine. Thus we read, “And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.” (1 John 3:24) The Spirit within us is what signifies that we are God’s children. When we trust Jesus we receive the promised gift of the Holy Spirit and the love of God is poured out (See Romans 5:5, where the text tells us it is “shed abroad in our hearts,” or poured out.) in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.

Thus we see that the baptism which clothes us with Christ (Galatians 3:26-29), buries us and raises us through faith (Colossians 2:12), and causes us to die, buries and raises us, and justifies and liberates us from sin (Romans 6:1-7) is nothing less than the promised baptism of the Holy Spirit, which is given to all who trust Jesus.

The Significance Of Baptism pt 2

Baptized In The Name…

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” (Matthew 28:19)

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 2:38)

            What does it mean to be baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost? What does it mean to be baptized in the name of Jesus? Is this a series of words that must be said over the one being baptized, or is there another significance? 

            The preposition ες is often translated in, into, unto, or for and is seen in both of these texts as well as 1 Corinthians 10:1-4, where Israel is spoken of as being baptized unto Moses. “Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.” (1 Corinthians 10:1–4) 

(It is interesting to note that there is a parallel to be seen here: Israel was redeemed by blood and then baptized in the Red Sea, and the saints are redeemed by the blood of Jesus and then baptized in water.) Notice that Israel was baptized unto Moses. Just as we are baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in the name of Jesus Christ, unto repentance, and for the remission of sins, Israel was baptized unto Moses. Were they baptized in order to receive Moses into their hearts? Were they baptized to be joined unto Moses? No, they were baptized in identification with Moses. They were identified with Him as their leader as they followed the visible presence of the LORD in the fiery and cloudy pillar.

            What, then, does it mean when we read of being baptized unto repentance, for the remission of sins, in the name of Jesus Christ, or in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? It simply means that we are identifying with repentance, the remission of sins, Jesus Christ, or the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As we saw earlier, baptism occurs after repentance, which brings the remission of sins (Luke 24:47;2 Corinthians 7:8-10). Baptism neither saves, nor brings the remission of sins. Neither does water baptism join us to Jesus Christ, or the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Baptism is an outward sign that identifies us with all of these.

            Thus it is that, when we are baptized, we are saying that we have repented of our sins, received the forgiveness of our sins, are joined to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and are thus identifying ourselves as such.

The Doctrine of Sanctification

Sanctification/Holiness

Defined

As with most Biblical issues one must begin their study by asking the basic meaning of the issue that they are studying.  What does sanctification mean?  Simply put, sanctification is being separate, or set apart. One who is sanctified, or holy, is set apart from the run-of-the-mill person.  

God is alone in His holiness, and we can learn much about holiness by considering the holiness of God.  God’s holiness sets Him apart from all others.  It is not that God is distant from us.  God’s being separate from us means that He is far greater than we are.  He spoke to us through Isaiah saying, “To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One.”  (Isa 40:25) KJV  There is no comparison to Him, because there is no equal to God. That is why Hannah would say, “There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God.”  (1 Sam 2:2)

KJV  Even among the gods so-called there is none like Him.  God is alone in His holiness.  There is none other than He who is so far above men, angels, and all that may be called “god.”  

On the other hand, God calls His people unto holiness.  He has said, “ ye shall be holy; for I am holy.” (Lev 11:44) KJV  Note that God does not say that we become holy as He is holy.  We are called to be holy because God is holy.  In other words, though we will not become holy as God, we are to seek to be holy and set apart unto God.  

Sanctification Exemplified

There are two Biblical examples of sanctification (setting apart, making holy) that will be helpful to our understanding of this topic.  The first example is the Sabbath day.  The Scripture says, “God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.”  (Gen 2:3) KJV  God made the seventh day a holy day. He used Moses to elaborate upon the Sabbath saying “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.  Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:  But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:  For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.”  (Ex 20:8-11) KJV  The Sabbath is holy because  it is set apart from all other days of the week.  There is no other day of the week that is quite like the Sabbath day.  The LORD spoke further to Moses saying,“Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you.   Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people.   Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.   Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.   It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.”  (Ex 31:13-17) KJV  The Sabbath was sanctified so that God’s people would know that He was the one who made them different from all other nations. Had they been permitted to work on the Sabbath day, perhaps they would have felt that they deserved the blessings they had due to their hard work.  Being compelled to rest on the Sabbath meant that there were things that would have to be left undone until the first day of the week. These things may have urgently needed attention, but the work had to be left until the Sabbath day had passed.   This was to remind Israel that God, not themselves, set them apart from the nations around them.  It was a holy day for them to observe, and it was set apart to be the Lord’s day.

We also find people being sanctified for specific tasks.  Aaron and his sons are example of this.  The Lord told Moses, “For Aaron’s sons thou shalt make coats, and thou shalt make for them girdles, and bonnets shalt thou make for them, for glory and for beauty.   And thou shalt put them upon Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him; and shalt anoint them, and consecrate them, and sanctify them, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office.”  (Ex 28:40,41) KJV  Aaron and his sons were set apart  from the other people in Israel that they might be the LORD’s priests.  They were set apart from the people, but to the Lord.  This separateness was not a physical separation, but a separation of service, duty, and life.  The priest’s lives, livelihood, and duties were separate from those of the people of Israel.  Thus they were sanctified people.

Christ Our Sanctification

To get to the heart of the matter, we must study the sanctification of the Christian.  The first thing that must be understood about the Christian’s sanctification is the fact that it is not brought about due to one’s will and determination.  Will power does not a holy man make. Many people have been led away into a performance based sort of holiness and a “holier-than-thou” attitude because they have missed the most crucial of all points concerning sanctification: which point is that Christ is our sanctification.  Apart from Jesus we will never be holy.  Because of Jesus, however, His children are holy.

Jesus’ death was for the purpose of sanctifying His church.  “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;  That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”  (Eph 5:25-27) KJV  When Jesus went to Calvary He did so that through His work He might make His people holy.  “When he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law;  Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.   By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”  (Heb 10:8-10) KJV This sanctifying work is a work that will be perfected by Jesus.  His death is spoken of as being “once for all”, meaning that it is sufficient to accomplish the purpose for which it was intended.

Paul spoke of Jesus as the one who sanctifies us saying, “Of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:  That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”  (1 Cor 1:30,31) KJV We can never boast of our holiness: it is of Christ alone.  We have no holiness in and of ourselves: Christ is our sanctification.

Positional

The Christian’s sanctification is first of all positional.  That is, it is our standing before God.  When we are saved we are set apart as holy.  “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.   And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”  (1 Cor 6:9-11) KJV  While there may remain much that is wrong in our lives, God has set us apart as special unto Himself, and His purpose is to accomplish a further work of sanctification in our lives.  “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 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.”  (Eph 1:3,4) KJV  As Paul exhorted the Ephesians unto godliness he told them to “put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” (Eph 4:24) KJV  In other words, being new creatures in Christ (2Cor 5:17) we now are holy people.  Being such, we are to live out that holiness in our daily walk.  

As Paul spoke of his conversion he told us of God’s command to him: “Rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee;  Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee,  To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”  (Acts 26:16-18) KJV  Notice that sanctification is by faith in Christ. Those who are sanctified through faith in Christ have the forgiveness of sins and an inheritance.  It is obvious that the people of whom he speaks are those who are saved.  These people who are sanctified are not some super-holy people, but common run-of-the-mill people who have been set apart from the world by the saving grace of God.  

Positional sanctification has much to do with the purpose of God in saving sinners. God has set us apart for Himself so that we might live unto His glory.  That is why He said, “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.   For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”  (Eph 2:8-10) KJV  God has saved us that we might walk in good works.  Peter told us that “ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” (1 Peter 2:9) KJV  God has sanctified us that He might be glorified in us.  For this reason John said “I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake.”  (1 John 2:12) KJV  We are saved, sanctified, set apart as holy unto God that He might be exalted in and through our lives.

Practical Holiness

Sanctification is not all about our standing with God (positional sanctification): it is also directly related to our lives today.  As we have already seen, we have been saved for the purpose of giving glory to God.  This means that holiness must be a part of our daily lives.  After all, if the goal of saving grace is to make us holy (Eph 1:3,4), then God’s purpose shall be accomplished in us.  Paul was confident in this fact saying, “He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”  (Phil 1:6) KJV  He also told the church at Thessalonica the same thing: “The very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.   Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.”  (1 Thess 5:23.24) KJV  If God is determined to accomplish holiness within His people, we can assuredly say that where there is no sanctification there is no salvation.  “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.”  (Heb 12:14) KJV In fact, if Christ is our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption (1Cor 1:30), those who belong to Him must manifest holiness.  We cannot have a partial savior.  Either Christ is all of these to us, or He is none at all.   

How is this sanctification accomplished in us?  We have already seen that it is not the result of our efforts, but is the work of Christ within us.  Paul said, “My beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.   For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”  (Phil 2:12,130 KJV  God is at work in His people to accomplish His purpose in them, but how does He do it?  First of all, we must remember the fact that our minds have been renewed. We are new creatures in Christ. “Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;  And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.”  (Col 3:9,10) KJV  We now have the law of God in our hearts (Heb 8:10-12) and the Spirit of God within us as well.  That being so, we are called to work out this renewing of our minds in our lives.  “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,  Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.   But ye have not so learned Christ;  If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:  That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;  And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;  And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”  (Eph 4:17-24) KJV  That change which has been wrought within us is now to change our lifestyle. Our position must become our practice.   Just as as we were changed when we trusted Jesus we are also called to be changed by the Word of God directing our lives.  “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.   And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”  (Rom 12:1,2) KJV   How do we renew our minds?  There is no doubt that our minds are renewed by the Word of God. In fact, Jesus’ prayer was that we would be made holy by God’s Word.  “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” (John 17:17) KJV  In fact, Jesus died that He might renew our minds and sanctify us by His Word.  “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;  That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”  (Eph 5:25-27) KJV  Though our minds have been renewed by regeneration we are still in sinful flesh.  Because of this we battle with fleshly lusts (Gal 5:16,17;1Pet 2:11,12).  The only way to conquer sin is to allow the Word of God to work in us.  Paul stated that Scripture is sufficient and designed for this purpose. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:  That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Tim 3:16,17) KJV  It is by saturating our hearts and minds with Biblical truth that we correct our lives and keep from sin.  “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.   With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.   Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”  (Ps 119:9-11) KJV What a blessing it is to have the means by which we can be molded into the likeness of our Savior and be holy as He is holy!

Is The Saint’s Practical Sanctification Assured?

This final question is one which it is essential to consider.  Is the saint’s practical sanctification assured? To put it another way, will positional sanctification lead to practical sanctification?  We may also ask the question in this manner: Will the unholy inhabit heaven?  That is, is one whose life is not characterized by submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ a true Christian?  This question is essential for two reasons:  one, it should help the true Christian be assured of his standing with God by observing the sanctifying work of God in his life; two, it should help the careless to examine themselves so that they can ascertain if they are truly regenerate, and it should provoke them unto good works that are to the glory of God.

First of all we should remember the purpose for which we are saved.  “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,  Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”  (1 Cor 6:9-11) KJV  While there may remain much that is wrong in our lives, God has set us apart as special unto Himself, and His purpose is to accomplish a further work of sanctification in our lives.  “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 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.”  (Eph 1:3,4) KJV   The saints are God’s chosen whom He plans to cause to stand before Him holy and without blame in His love.  In fact, Jesus’ death (as we have already seen) was for the purpose of giving both positional and practical sanctification to His church.  “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;  That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,  That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”  (Eph 5:25-27) KJV  We have also seen that the same Jesus who is Savior is also redemption, wisdom, justification, and sanctification (See 1Cor 1:30).  This being so, we must accept that fact that God’s children will be sanctified.  After all, either Jesus is all of these to us or He is none of these to us. We do not have a partial Savior. To declare that there are Christians in whose life God does not do His sanctifying work is to denigrate the person of Christ as well as His sacrifice that is sufficient to accomplish this work.  

The true saint of God should find great assurance in the truth that God will indeed accomplish holiness in his/her life.  When one sees the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22,23) in their life they can be assured that such things are only the work of God within them. The characteristics of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, and faith are not produced by human will-power, but by the supernatural work of God as He uses His truth to transform us.  The obedient child of God will also find great assurance of his/her salvation when they read the words of Jesus Christ as He said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.   Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?   And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.   Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:  And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.   And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:  And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.”  (Matt 7:21-27) KJV While the immediate context is a warning about false prophets, this text also has an application that is relevant to all those who profess Christ.  Jesus stated that “whosoever” would hear and obey His words would endure thejudgment while “whosoever” would hear and not obey His words would not endure the judgment.  For those in whom Christ is working obedience and holiness this passage is a great comfort.  What a joy it is to find that the evidence of the work of Christ in our lives assures us that all will be well with us in the day of judgment!

Often there are those who profess Christ but do not live a life that is consistent with their profession.  What are we to think of these?  First of all we must understand that we cannot make an infallible judgment concerning them: judgment is the Divine prerogative (James 4:12).  It is true that we can know a tree by its fruits (See Mt 7:20), but there seem to be times when the fruit of the Spirit is not soon manifest in the lives of God’s children.  There are also those whose lives are characterized by immorality.  When we consider them we should remember that the Scripture calls the church to exercise discipline in these cases so that the erring one could be brought back to faithfulness. We should also understand that persisting in these things is often evidence of an unregenerate nature. “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,  Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Gal 5:19-21) KJV  People who commit sins of immorality should be very concerned about their spiritual condition and should ascertain whether they are truly saved or not.  If they are truly saved they should repent of their immorality and seek to walk closer to the Lord.  The Word of God does present to us several saints who did indeed have moral lapses in their lives, some of which were long-lived lapses.  Time would fail us to tell of David’s adultery, Lot’s drunkenness and incest, Peter’s nakedness and cursing, Noah’s drunkenness and nakedness, and many others.  The fact remains, however, that these people who lapsed are still characterized in their lives by righteousness.  Even Lot is referred to as a righteous person.  “If God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;  And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;  And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly;  And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)  The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.”  (2 Peter 2:4-9) KJV  Notice the pains which are taken, and the ends to which the Spirit leads Peter in assuring us that Lot was sanctified.  Lot is spoken of as just, righteous, as having a righteous soul, and as being godly.  Whatever else the case may be, many claims have been unjustly made about the life of Lot.  He was not one who lived in Sodom for many years while partaking of their sins. In fact, we cannot be sure that Lot was as fully responsible as we have declared him to be as concerning the sins committed when he lapsed.  The reader will no doubt charitably agree with the writer when he states that Lot’s daughters plotted to get him into an inebriated state so that they could accomplish their sorry goal.  Who knows to what pains they went to accomplish this so that Lot was not fully aware of what was being done to him?  In the end we must accept the Word of God and say that Lot, though lapsed, was a man in whom God did indeed work holiness.  From this we must conclude that, though the child of God may fall under the power of sin for a season he will not remain in sin. God will make him holy through chastening him (See Heb 12:4-11), or He will take the erring saint’s life (See 1Cor 11:30 and 1Jn 5:16).

The child of God who fears because he struggles with sin should take heart in the fact that the struggle of sin is part of the Christian’s life.  “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.   For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”  (Gal 5:16,17) KJV  The great truth that is found in this passage is the fact that, while we struggle with sin, the Holy Spirit is within us giving us strength so that we will not sin so long as we are walking in the Spirit.  The struggling child of God should not be discouraged either, because God promises to sanctify him.  “The very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.   Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.”  (1 Thess 5:23.24) KJV  “Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.   God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.”  ( 1 Cor 1:8,9) KJV  “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ”  (Phil 1:6) KJV  The children of God should take this great truth as an incentive to be attentive to God’s Word, obey it, and rely upon God’s strengthening grace, because He will work through these things to make us holy people.

What Is Baptism?

What Is Baptism?
“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, evenunto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:18-20, KJV)

            A study of the doctrine and practice of baptism must begin with the definition of the word. The word baptize is from the Greek baptizo, which comes from the word “báptō, to dip. Immerse, submerge[1]” The Theological Dictionary Of The New Testamenttells us that the word was used to denote material dipped in order to be dyed, a ship that was submerged in a shipwreck, or even to drown. “The clearest example that shows the meaning of baptizo is a text from the Greek poet and physician Nicander, who lived about 200 B.C. It is a recipe for making pickles and is helpful because it uses both words.  Nicander says that in order to make a pickle, the vegetable should first be ‘dipped’ (bapto) into boiling water and then ‘baptised’ (baptizo) in the vinegar solution.[2]” It is even used of a person being “over the head and ears in debt.[3]

            “Prof. Moses Stuart, a Congregationalist, while listening to a class reading and translating from the Greek testament, was surprised to hear a student translate Mark 16:16, ‘He that believeth and is sprinkled, shall be saved.’

‘Sprinkled,’ replied the Professor, ‘is notcorrect.’

‘Is it not in accordance with the practiceof the denomination?’ asked the student.

‘That is not the question,’ replied the Professor. ‘You are now translating the Greek Testament, and the word means, immerse.”[4]

            Not only must we study the meaning of the word, but we must also yield to the authority of Scripture by learning how Scriptures uses the word: it is then that we can be assured of what baptism is. 

  1. In Matthew chapter three, when John came baptizing, it is stated, “Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.” (Matthew 3:5–6) Notice that those baptized were baptized in Jordan. If baptism were by sprinkling or pouring, then there would have been no need for them to have gone down into Jordan; but there was the need to go down into Jordan if they were immersed. No doubt this is also why we read, “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water…” (Matthew 3:16) It is obvious that they were immersed by going down into Jordan and then came up out of the water.
  2. “And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized.” (John 3:23) We can once again see that the usage of the word accords with immersion, because there would be no other reason to specify that there was much water there.
  3. “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:4) Here we see that the word is used to say that baptism is a burial. How is one buried? He is thoroughly covered, just as one who is baptized is thoroughly covered in water.  Once again we find that the word is used to signify immersion. We see similarly in Colossians 2:12.

History also testifies to baptism being immersion. Eusebius, in his Ecclesastical History, stated, “But Satan, who entered and dwelt in him for a long time, became the occasion of his believing. Being delivered by the exorcists, he fell into a severe sickness; and as he seemed about to die, he received baptism by affusion, on the bed where he lay; if indeed we can say that such a one did receive it.[5]” This is spoken concerning one Novatus, who lived in the third century, and is thought to be the first who was given what is called baptism by any way other than immersion. Eusebius was not convinced that Novatus was baptized, however, as we note his saying, “if indeed we can say that such a one did receive it (i.e. baptism).” And again, “Passing by a few things, he adds the following:‘For this illustrious man forsook the Church of God, in which, when he believed, he was judged worthy of the presbyterate through the favor of the bishop who ordained him to the presbyterial office. This had been resisted by all the clergy and many of the laity; because it was unlawful that one who had been affused on his bed on account of sickness as he had been should enter into any clerical office; but the bishop requested that he might be permitted to ordain this one only.’”[6]

This testimony from history indicates that pouring for baptism was both new and not fully accepted. There is no reason that would this be so unless it was understood that baptism is immersion. 

Thus we see that the meaning and usage of the word baptizomeans to immerse, and that baptism is immersion.


[1]Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament(Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[2]Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, Online Bible

[3]http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/morph.jsp?la=greek&l=BAPTI%2FZW#lexicon

[4]Clarence Larkin, Why I Am A Baptist pp 18-19, 1991, The Clarence Larkin Estate.

[5]Eusebius of Caesaria, “The Church History of Eusebius,”in Eusebius: Church History, Life of Constantine the Great, and Oration in Praise of Constantine, ed. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, trans. Arthur Cushman McGiffert, vol. 1, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Second Series (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1890), 288–289.

[6]Eusebius of Caesaria, “The Church History of Eusebius,”in Eusebius: Church History, Life of Constantine the Great, and Oration in Praise of Constantine, ed. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, trans. Arthur Cushman McGiffert, vol. 1, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Second Series (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1890), 289.