Dear Brother G:
My son brought home a pamphlet on baptism given to him by a professing Christian. I was shocked to find that it taught that baptism is a work of regeneration. To me this was a denial of the efficacy of the blood of Jesus Christ. It seemed to me that the writer had no clear conception of the difference between baptism by water and baptism by the Spirit. Would you be kind enough to deal with this question in the Forum?
Yours by grace,
J. S. R.
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Dear brother R:
It is no wonder that many young believers, and older ones as well, are confused by the Babel voices of Christendom. So frequently human opinion is taught as if it were divine truth.
Your conclusion regarding baptismal regeneration is perfectly correct. Such teaching is a disparagement of the finished work of Christ. We know that it was impossible for the dying thief who believed to be baptised; nevertheless, he went directly to be with Christ.
It is interesting that we have no record of the baptism of Peter and some of the other Apostles. I do not assume that they were not baptized, but call attention to the fact that there is no record. From this we must conclude that for them baptism was secondary to faith in Christ, and quite apart from their salvation.
The differences between the baptism of the Spirit and the baptism of water are fundamental. We might notice a few contrasts: the baptism of the Spirit was accomplished without human responsibility; the baptism in water results from human responsibility. The baptism of the Spirit was an act of divine power; the baptism of water an act of human obedience. The baptism of the Spirit is common to all believers in the Church; obviously, the baptism of water is not, although it should be. As we shall see, the baptism of the Spirit was performed by Christ; whereas, baptism in water is done by some servant of His.
Let us examine the teaching of God’s Word on the subject, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles” (1 Cor. 12:13). The attention should be called to the fact that the preposition “by” is actually “in.” The Holy Spirit is the element in which all believers have been baptized, not the baptizer. It is the Lord Jesus Himself Who baptizes as is evident from Matt. 3:11.
Now when did this wonderful act take place? Very definitely it was future when John the Baptist spoke, but it was past when Paul wrote the Corinthians, “For by (in) one Spirit are we all baptized into one body” (1 Cor. 12:13). When it took place the body of Christ was completed, “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body; so also is (the) Christ” (1 Cor. 12:12). This surely must refer to the baptism of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), for since then, God looks upon the body of Christ as being complete. We do not add members to a body, that would be evolution, although we add stones to a building. The Lord uses both of these figures in regard to the Church. The first points to the act by which the Church is seen complete in Christ; the second points to progressive acts by which the Church is seen in its gradual development throughout time.
When a person accepts Christ, he enters upon the good of that one baptism of Pentecost, and as a stone is added to the building.
Sincerely in Christ,
Dear Brother Tharp,
I have inserted this letter from you in this issue of “The Forum” because it emphasizes the supremacy of our Lord Jesus; the accomplishment of His power on the cross; and the full extent of His authority as He now is, risen and glorified in heaven.
Your application of this particular rendering of 1 John 5:18, is valuable. How necessary it is for each to rely implicitly upon His power and authority! The more we realize that we are confronted by the force of the rulers of darkness, spiritual wickedness in high places, the more readily will we cast ourselves upon the Lord. Thank God! We are those “who are kept by the power of God through faith, unto salvation” (1 Pet. 1:5).
On behalf, not only of those who have written in, but, also, on behalf of the many who have spoken of help received through your articles, I would thank you in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Sincerely in Him,
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If you find yourself beginning to love any PLEASURE better than your PRAYERS, any BOOK better than the BIBLE, any HOUSE better than the HOUSE OF GOD, any TABLE better than the LORD’S TABLE, ANY PERSON better than CHRIST. — take alarm.