Friday, March 30, 2012

The Pentecostal Doctrine of Faith-Healing and James 5:14-20, part 2

            “The prayer of faith”[i] is a specific,[ii] Divinely enabled and energized[iii] petition for healing, for the person to be healed and raised up from his bed of sickness.[iv]  As faith is a gift from God (Philippians 1:29; James 1:17-18), so when a particular healing is in the will of God, the Lord can enable the sick person, the elders, or the church to present the prayer of faith to Him, giving them belief that this specific healing is His will (cf. Matthew 21:22; Mark 11:24), and then answering their Divinely-produced faith.  Only when healing is God’s will, giving Him greater glory and bringing a greater benefit to the sick believer than the spiritual strengthening that comes through trial (James 1:2-3, 12) does the Holy Spirit enable any group or individual among the saints to offer the prayer of faith, one free from any doubt (cf. James 1:6), for healing.  The prayer of faith cannot be offered by Christians simply convincing themselves that a particular healing is going to take place—supernaturally produced faith must undergird the prayer, and such faith is only at times, not all the time, produced by God in accordance with His will.
            Furthermore, James 5:14-15 does not specify that the healing is miraculous.  Whenever a person recovers from illness, whenever he is enabled to arise from a sickness that had left him bedridden, it is truly affirmed that the healing comes from the Lord and that it was the Lord who raised the sick one up (James 5:15).  Nothing in James 5 requires that the healing be miraculous any more than the promise that the Lord gives wisdom to those who ask Him for it requires the performance of a miracle (James 1:5).  Indeed, James does not speak of healing through the sign gift of miraculous healing that was limited to certain Christians (1 Corinthians 12:9, 28, 30), but of healing in answer to prayer that could be offered by any Christian (James 5:16) without any regard for miraculous gifts.  When Epaphroditus was sick, and was not miraculously healed, but recovered through the less dramatic means that God uses to cure the overwhelming majority of non-fatal illnesses, Paul could still affirm that Epaphroditus’ recovery was because “God had mercy on him” (Philippians 2:27).  James 5:14-15 does not limit God to the exertion of miraculous power in His work in delivering the sick—James recognizes that every good and perfect gift, including recovery from sickness through non-miraculous means, comes from the Father (James 1:17).  When God answers prayer and a sick believer recovers, whether because of a special supernatural intervention or through the mechanisms the Creator has placed within the human body, sustained by the strength of Him in whom we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28; Colossians 1:17) and because of His gracious Divine decree for the restoration of physical health (Ephesians 1:11), it is true that the Lord was the One who healed and raised up the sick.  God heals, when in accordance with His loving will and in answer to the Divinely-enabled prayer of His obedient people, He uses medicine to cure maladies.  James 5:14-15 never specifies that the healings in question were miraculous, instantaneous, or in other ways identical in character to the miraculous healings Christ and the Apostles performed—both on those with faith and on those without faith—as signs to validate their Divine authority.
            Furthermore, the “anointing . . . with oil” of James 5:14 actually requires the use of medicine, rather than prayer alone, for the healing of the sick.  The use of oil for healing was accepted medical procedure at the time, and James commends the use of medical means with his reference to anointing with oil.  The verb to anoint in James 5:14 is not the verb expected for ceremonial anointing, but a general anointing that would include the use of oil for physical and psychological well-being.  The oil is to refresh, strengthen, and heal the body through the natural means God has created in the physical realm.  The good Samaritan, to assist physically the wounded man in the Lord’s parable, “went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him” (Luke 10:34).[v]  “[W]ounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores” are to be “closed . . .  bound up . . . [and] mollified with ointment [oil][vi]” (Isaiah 1:6).  The “balm in Gilead” was for use by the “physician” so that “health” might be “recovered” (Jeremiah 8:22).  Extrabiblical literature contains abundant references of a similar nature to the medicinal use of oil.  The evidence for the medicinal use of oil in James 5, and its use outside of Scripture as a medicine, will be examined, Lord willing, in following posts.


[i]           hJ eujch\ thvß pi÷stewß.  Note the use of the article.

[ii]           The use of the words eujch/ and eu¡comai for prayer in 5:15-16 supports the character of the prayer in question as a specific petition, here for healing (cf. the use of the words for a specific vow).  Other words for prayer are much more common.  The noun eujch/ appears in the New Testament in Acts 18:18; 21:23; James 5:15, and in the LXX in Genesis 28:20; 31:13; Leviticus 7:16; 22:21, 23, 29; 23:38; 27:2; Numbers 6:2, 4–9, 12–13, 18–19, 21; 15:3, 8; 21:2; 29:39; 30:3–15; Deuteronmy 12:6, 17, 26; 23:19, 22; Judges 11:30, 39; 1 Samuel 1:11, 21; 2:9; 2 Samuel 15:7–8; Job 11:17; 16:17; 22:27;  Psalm 21:26; 49:14; 55:13; 60:6, 9; 64:2; 65:13; 115:9; Proverbs 7:14; 15:8, 29; 19:13; 31:2; Ecclesiastes 5:3; Isaiah 19:21; Jeremiah 11:15; Daniel 6:6, 8, 13; Jonah 1:16; Nahum 2:1; Malachi 1:14; 1 Esdras 2:4, 6; 4:43, 46; 5:52; 8:57; Judith 4:14; 2 Maccabees 3:35; 15:26; Ode 3:9; Sirach 18:22; Baruch 6:34.  The verb eu¡comai appears in the New Testament in Acts 26:29; 27:29; Romans 9:3; 2 Corinthians 13:7, 9; James 5:16; 3 John 1:2, and in the LXX in Genesis 28:20; 31:13; Exodus 8:4–5, 24–26; 9:28; 10:18; Leviticus 27:2, 8; Numbers 6:2, 5, 13, 18–21; 11:2; 21:2, 7; 30:3–4, 10; Deuteronomy 9:20, 26; 12:11, 17; 23:22–24; Judges 11:30, 39; 1 Samuel 1:11; 2:9; 2 Samuel 15:7–8; 2 Kings 20:2; Job 22:27; 33:26; 42:8, 10; Psalm 75:12; 131:2; Proverbs 20:25; Ecclesisastes 5:3–4; Isaiah 19:21; Jeremiah 7:16; 22:27; Daniel 6:6, 8, 12–14; Jonah 1:16; 2:10; 1 Esdras 4:43–46; 5:43, 52; 8:13, 49; 2 Maccabees 3:35; 9:13; 12:44; 15:27; 4 Maccabees 4:13; Ode 3:9; 6:10; Wisdom 7:7; Sirach 18:23; 34:24; 38:9 Baruch 1:5; 6:34.  The usage in both the New Testament and the Greek Old Testament and Apocrypha supports the sense of a specific petition in James 5:15-16.
            Furthermore, hJ eujch\ thvß pi÷stewß is characterized at the end of James 5:16 as a de÷hsiß, an “urgent request to meet a need, exclusively addressed to God, prayer,” used “to denote a more specific supplication” than “proseuch/, the more general term” (BDAG).  proseuch/ [is] . . . prayer in general, de÷hsiß [is] . . . prayer for particular benefits” (pg. 188, Synonyms of the New Testament, Trench).

[iii]          That is, in 5:16 e˙nergoume÷nh is passive, referring to a prayer the believer is enabled to pray by the Holy Spirit, a de÷hsiß . . . e˙nergoume÷nh, v. 16.  Compare e˙nerge÷w in Philippians 2:13; Colossians 1:29.

[iv]          hJ eujch\ thvß pi÷stewß sw¿sei to\n ka¿mnonta, kai« e˙gerei√ aujto\n oJ Ku/rioß. sw¿sei is here used for physical salvation or deliverance of the sick one (to\n ka¿mnonta), and e˙gerei√ refers to being “raised up” from the sickbed (cf. Mark 1:31; Luke 5:24-25; Proverbs 6:9, LXX).

[v]           “The good Samaritan used oil and wine to treat the wounds of the injured man (Lk 10:34). Because of its alcoholic content, the wine would have an antiseptic action, but at the same time would tend to coagulate the surface of the raw wound and permit bacteria to thrive under the coagulum. The oil, by its emollient effect, would tend to nullify this latter undesirable side effect of wine and would also be soothing due to its coating action. A dressing was then applied, and the patient was taken to a resting place” (pg. 1430, Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible, W. A. Elwell & B. J. Beitzel.  Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1988).  “[O]live oil and wine . . . were the provender that the Samaritan had with him on his journey. A mixture of them for medicinal purposes is known from Theophrastus, Hist. plant. 9.11, and from the later rabbinic tradition (m. Šabb. 19:2). In the OT olive oil is said to be a softener of wounds (Isa 1:6); elsewhere in the NT it is used to anoint the sick (Mark 6:13; Jas 5:14). The acidic nature of wine would serve as an antiseptic” (pgs. 887-888, The Gospel According to Luke X-XXIV, J. A. Fitzmyer, on Luke 10:24).

[vi]          NRmRv.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Who Is Killing Who? The Real Issues in the Trayvon Martin Situation

We don't want murder.  We want to protect life.  If the real issue is keeping more people alive, then media and popular culture are missing with their emphasis on the Trayvon Martin death.   First, do we want to protect more life, to keep more people alive?  Second, are we interested in keeping more black people alive?  If that is truly what people wanted here, then they are obviously missing it.  What am I talking about?

Juan Williams, writing in the Wall Street Journal, reports that in the most recent comprehensive study on black-on-black crime from the Justice Department, 93% of black murder victims were killed by other black people.   You can read the same bank of statistics at the Bureau of Justice, and you will see that consistently from 1976 to 2005, a white person was more than twice as likely to be killed by a black person than the opposite.  When we honestly evaluate how people are dying by murder in this country, there is almost zero threat that a black person would be killed by a white person.  Black people really shouldn't be fearing that they might be killed by a white person.  In 2005, the last year of the statistics, 692 white people were killed by black people in the United States.   During the same year, 254 black people were killed by white people.  Those statistics are very consistent every year.   Relative to black people killing white people, black people are not being killed by white people.  If black people are going to be concerned about actually getting killed, then they should consider that black people killed 2,646 black people the same year in 2005.

Alright, so now that we know this isn't about protecting the life of people and specifically black people, then what is it?   I have no statistics for my evaluation here.  This can only be my opinion and it won't necessarily be in order.  First, it is about President Obama's reelection.   The media didn't even react immediately to the Martin shooting.  It had to be finished first with the Sandra Fluke case.  All of this is about fomenting the Democrat base, those who can be counted upon to vote for the President.  Reelection malaise can be fired up with these types of issues for the special interests of the Democrat party.  It is also a distraction away from the bad news of gas prices, mortgage crisis, national debt, and the Supreme Court swatting down the federal health care law, passed by party line in 2010.  Guilt can also go a long way toward a reelection.  The Democrats will keep using white guilt as a reelection ploy.  And many people play right into the hands of this strategy, feeling as though now they've got to pander to show their racial sensitivity.  I think it shows just the opposite, that is, they are not color blind, but obsessed with race out some kind of guilt over their own racism.

Second, it is about a victim culture.  The victim has power.  The Martin family wasn't playing the victim card, but they were handed a whole stack of those cards by the media.  Black people aren't being killed by white people at some uniquely dangerous rate.  It's even a shrinking number.  It's all about making people feel like white people hate black people.  That can go a long way toward the power of those who are utilizing this situation for their own benefit.

Third, it is about dividing the country into groups.  A divided country is more easily manipulated by a few.

Fourth, it is about taking guns away from people.  If people can't defend themselves, the government itself has more power.  All the statistics have proven that people are safer with more gun ownership.  Gun control is about bigger government and less power for the people.  The gun control advocates are those who love this situation.

The issue here is not about white on black crime.  Zimmerman wasn't even white.  His name works well, but his mom is Latina.  It's convenient for him to be white in this situation, so he is.   Since this issue is not about protecting black people, it's got to be about something else, and I think it's one or all of the four above.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Lie about the History of One Bible Onlyism

Several weeks ago I was listening to an audio interview (2/20/12) of Kevin Bauder by Scott Oakland, who produces his own online show, called Reformed Cast.  Oakland was asking Bauder about his contribution to the book, The Spectrum of Evangelicalism.  At only the 12:30 mark of the interview, Oakland asks Bauder to comment on how King James Onlyism (KJVO) worked its way into the movement of fundamentalism.  He had segued to that part of the conversation from a discussion of inerrancy.  Bauder said that inerrancy was important to the gospel, because it relates to trust in God---if someone can't trust the Bible, which is God's Word, because there are errors in it, then he can't trust God.  From there, Oakland went to KJVO, which to me is interesting.  Perhaps it was subconscious with Oakland, because KJVO does relate to the doctrine of inerrancy.  God said He would preserve every Word.  Can we trust that God did what He said He would do?

Kevin Bauder says that the KJVO position (at about the 13:20 mark) "actually started out in Seventh Day Adventism."   That is a lie.  I'm guessing Bauder would defend himself by saying that the modern day KJVO movement started with a Seventh Day Adventism book by Benjamin Wilkinson in 1930.  This is straight from the James White playbook.  However, it is a lie.  Then he says that David Otis Fuller, a fundamentalist pastor from Grand Rapids, MI, took those ideas from Seventh Day Adventism and began to propagate them in fundamentalism.  That's all I'm going to report of what Bauder said, but it is something that needs to be put on the shelf once and for all.  Either Bauder is so ill-informed as to be ignorant, which is hard to believe, or it is a blatant and bold-faced lie that he is espousing.

David Daniell in his The Bible in English (p. 619) writes the following.  Of course, he is writing with a particular bias against the KJV.

By the end of the 1760s, another view was appearing, one that itself became a myth, supported by carefully manufactured other myths. This was the birth of ‘AVolatry', the elevation of KJV to such heights of inspiration as to be virtually divine and untouchable. From 1769, effectively, there grew the notion that KJV was peculiarly, divinely, inspired. To bolster the supposition it was announced that this translation had been especially venerated from the moment in 1611 that it appeared.

Here's a quote from a religious journal, the Herald of Gospel Liberty, in 1912 (p. 196), far before the Seventh Day Adventist book to which Bauder refers:

We are thinking now of a letter we received a few days ago a most sincere Christian who attacks the use of any other than the King James Version on the ground that this version was as he declares authorized by God. This conception of the King James Version is more or less general in many communities.  They attach to it a God endued sanctity and authority different from other versions and hence they look with much suspicion upon all other versions and upon those folks who prefer other versions.

That was in 1912.   A family Bible printed in 1873, The New Devotional and Explanatory Pictorial Family Bible, published by The National Publishing Company, writes on pp. 10-11:

We are very sure that the results of all such investigations will be to heighten confidence in the present version, and fill the heart with unfeigned gratitude to God, for that blessed book which we now enjoy, and which, for nearly two centuries and a half, has been pouring its light and consolation wherever the English tongue is spoken. Let science toil, and diligence labor . . . let literature hold up her torch, and cast all possible light upon the sacred text, but we must and ever shall deprecate any wanton attacks upon our received version--any gratuitous attempts to supersede it by a new and different translation. It is the Bible which are godly fathers have read, and over which they have wept and prayed. It is the good old English Bible, with which are associated all our earliest recollections of religion. As such let it go down unchanged to the latest posterity.

A Rosicrucian Fellowship in 1911 made this criticism:

There is a large number of people in this country who insist that the English text of the King James version is absolutely correct from cover to cover as though the Bible bad been originally written in English and the King James version were a certified copy of the original manuscript.

Obviously the ideas of KJVO have been around for a long time.  But where did they come from?  They came from the doctrine of one Bible, which is found in the Westminster Confession of Faith and the London Baptist Confession.  The idea that there is more than one Bible is really the new belief.  It began to make way for textual criticism in the late 1800s.  If Words will not pass away and jots and tittles will not pass away, then surely the one Bible that God inspired, He also would preserve.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Pentecostal Doctrine of Faith-Healing and James 5:14-20, part 1

The Pentecostal and charismatic movement generally claim that healing from sickness is guaranteed to everyone on earth, if he can simply work himself into enough faith.  A variety of passages are alleged to prove this unbiblical assertion.  James 5:14-15 is, however, perhaps the most plausible.  Thus, Pentecostalism appeals to James 5:14-15 to prove that the ability to heal like Christ and the Apostles did continues throughout the church age.  However, the passage proves no such thing.  James 5:14-20 reads:
14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:  15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.  16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.  17 Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.  18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.  19 Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him;  20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.
James[i] instructs one who is very ill, who is unable to go to the elders but must summon the elders to come to him (v. 14),[ii] to call for church leadership[iii] to come and pray for him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.[iv]  The elders are called for as men who are able to give spiritual and godly counsel and comfort to one who is suffering, and as those who are men of prayer (cf. Acts 6:4), although the entire congregation has just as much access to the Father in prayer, including prayer for healing (James 5:16).  As some sickness, but not all, is caused by sin (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:30-32; 3 John 2) or, under Divine permission, by Satan (Luke 13:16),[v] the elders can examine the ill person to see if he is sick as a Divine judgment upon him for his sin (cf. Hebrews 12:6-11).  James specifically indicates, in agreement with the rest of the canon, that some sickness, but not all, is the result of personal transgression (James 5:15).[vi]  If the sick one is not right with God, but is backsliding and sinning, he can confess his sins to God and have them forgiven (1 John 1:9);  if he has committed faults against his brethren, he can both confess them to God and also confess them to those men he has offended.  Such confession will lead to the removal of the Lord’s chastening hand and restoration to health, even as staying right with God and quickly confessing one’s faults against another to the offended party will prevent those illnesses that are Divine chastisement from coming upon believers in the first place (James 5:15-16);[vii]  on the other hand, a refusal to repent under sicknesses that are the Father’s chastisement will lead to untimely death (James 5:19-20;[viii] 2 Chronicles 16:12-13).  The sinning believer cannot pray and receive answers from God (James 4:3), so he will not be able to offer “the prayer of faith” for his own healing (James 5:15), nor will the elders be able to offer the prayer of faith for the healing of the sick believer.


[i] Merrill Unger comments:
Is the practice of the early Hebrew Christian church reflected in James 5:14–16 identical with divine healing as it should be practiced in the church today or does the rest of the New Testament warrant, and does human experience necessitate, making a careful differentiation? . . . The following reasons are offered to show why this of necessity is so, and why modern “faith healers” who ignore the historical context and time setting of the passage fall into fanaticism or the unwitting practice of magic.
First, James 5:14–16 was never addressed to the Gentile Church. It was written to “the twelve tribes” in the dispersion (James 1:1), that is, to the very earliest Jewish converts to Christ during the transition period (Acts 1:1—9:43), before the gospel had been released to the Gentiles and the first Gentiles were added to the church and before God’s purpose for the new age to visit the Gentiles to take out of them a people had been announced at the first church council A.D. 48 or 49 (Acts 15:14–15). Internal evidence places this epistle as one of the earliest of all New Testament books to be dated, possibly as early as A.D. 45. . . . Believers still assembled in the “synagogue” (James 2:2).
The Epistle is also shown to be very early by the exceedingly elementary character of its doctrinal content. There is a silence with regard to the relation of the church to the non-Jewish world. No evidence appears of the church as the Body of Christ, nor of the distinctive teachings of grace revealed in Paul’s letters. Indeed the question of the incorporation of Gentile believers does not appear to have been broached, indicating a date of authorship before the Jerusalem council in A.D. 48 or 49. There is no more Jewish book in the New Testament. Indeed, if the several passages referring to Christ were eliminated, the whole Epistle would be as proper in the canon of the Old Testament, as in the New Testament. The Epistle could be described as an interpretation of the Mosaic law and the Sermon on the Mount in the light of the gospel of Christ.
Second, James 5:14–16 is based on the healing covenant made with Israel. . . . This healing covenant concerned Israel only, the people of the covenants (Rom 9:5). . . . As a healing covenant it was operative upon Israel from its constitution as God’s chosen nation at the Exodus to the nation’s setting aside in unbelief (Acts 28:23–29), the Epistle of James being written before this climactic event.
When the nation Israel will be saved and restored to national blessings at the second advent (Isa 53:1–12) the healing covenant will be reinstated, accompanied by the restoration of miracles of healing and other supernatural powers (Isa 35:5–6; Heb 6:5). . . . [T]he healing covenant with Israel guaranteed early Hebrew Christians instantaneous and complete healing in response to faith in Christ. Healing “in the name” and “through faith in the name” brought such miraculous deliverance as was manifested in the cripple at the Gate Beautiful (Acts 3:6, 16). Such hearings among Hebrew Christians were the order of the day until the setting aside of Israel in unbelief and with this event, the abrogation of the healing covenant with the nation (Acts 4:30; 5:12–16; 6:8; 8:7–8).
The use of oil also connects with the Jewish setting of James 5:14–16. Such anointing with oil was a general Jewish practice, as shown by the Talmud. The Lord and His disciples adopted this custom (Mark 6:13). . . . [E]fficacious faith for healing was divinely imparted to the Apostolic Jewish Christian elders as they claimed the promises of Israel’s healing covenant (Exod 15:26). But the all-important point for the correctly instructed Christian minister to see, now that the nation Israel and her healing covenant have been set aside while the great “Gentile” church is being called out, is that such “prayer of faith” is divinely given and divinely operative in the established Gentile church only when it is God’s will to heal. The great Epistles addressed to the church clearly teach that it is not always God’s will to heal, nor is it always for the believer’s highest good to be healed. Chastening, testing, molding into Christlikeness and other factors condition the Lord’s healing of a Christian’s sicknesses (1 Cor 5:1–5; 11:30–32; 2 Cor 12:7–9; 1 Tim 5:23; 2 Tim 4:20).
This is the reason why nowhere in any of the church Epistles is anything said about anointing the sick with oil (cf. 2 Cor 5:7) and the prayer of faith saving (healing) them. “The prayer of faith,” however, does save (heal) them, but it is only given when God’s purpose is determined in each case, and such prayer is offered in God’s will. For so-called “faith healing” to teach that it is always God’s will to heal believers and to command “God in Jesus’ name” is a Satanic snare, into which so many modern faith healers have fallen. It is an open door to “white magic,” where despite the use of God’s name and religious pretentions, the creature dares to make the Creator his lackey. By so doing he captures the very essence of “magic,” which is Satanic opposition to God’s will and desire to be like God and use His power independent of Him (Isa 14:12–14; 2 Tim 2:26). To accomplish such a misguided purpose, however, innocent or sincere as it may be, is an open invitation for demonic deception and operation, and it is high time for all who seek physical healing to realize this peril. (“Divine Healing,” Bibliotheca Sacra 128:511 (July 1971) 234-244)
Unger’s comments are worthy of consideration, especially in connection with the Jewish practice of using oil for healing.  The view that the promise of James 5:14-15 “applied only those miraculous days [of the first century], and is no longer to be claimed . . . seems to have never been without advocates among leading Protestants” (pg. 229, Counterfeit Miracles, Warfield).  Nonetheless, even if James 5:14-15 is valid for the entirety of the dispensation of grace, it does not even come close to proving the Faith Cure theology, as demonstrated in the text below.

[ii]  The passage speaks of pastors engaging in hospital visits, as it were, not going to help those who have the sniffles.

[iii] Only true churches really have church leaders such as elders.  Thus, those not associated with true churches—historic Baptist churches—do not really follow the practice of James 5:14-20, for the leaders of their religious organizations are not truly church elders any more than the leaders of any secular corporation, such as leaders in a restaurant chain or a department store, are church elders.  However, God in His great mercy can grant answers to prayer for healing to those not members of true churches, especially since in James 5:13-18 the emphasis is not upon the office of elder, but the elders are simply representatives of the congregation;  thus, in 5:16, all the congregation is commanded to pray, so that healing may come.

[iv] James’ emphasis upon prayer, rather than upon the anointing with oil, is seen in both the fact that the imperative in v. 14 is to pray, while anointing is a dependent participle (proseuxa¿sqwsan e˙p∆ aujto/n, aÓlei÷yanteß aujto\n e˙lai÷wˆ), and in the fact that v. 15 mentions hJ eujch\ thvß pi÷stewß without any mention of anointing.  That the main subject of James 5:13-18 is prayer appears from the occurrence of the word prayer in each verse of 5:13-18;  indeed, only in this section of James’ epistle is prayer mentioned at all.  The shift from the present tense verbs afflicted, pray, merry, sing psalms (Kakopaqei√ . . . proseuce÷sqw . . . eujqumei√ . . . yalle÷tw) of 5:13 and sick (aÓsqenei√) of 5:14 to the aorists call, pray, anointing (proskalesa¿sqw . . . proseuxa¿sqwsan . . . aÓlei÷yanteß) in 5:14 and then back to present imperatives confess and pray (e˙xomologei√sqe . . . eu¡cesqe) in 5:16 indicates that the call for the elders and the anointing with oil is to take place only one time, while the confession and prayer of 5:16 and the imperatives of 5:14 are to be the normal character of events.

[v] It should be noted that just as Satan, to advance his overall plan, can allow unconverted false teachers who are under his control to cast out demons (Luke 11:19), so he can allow false teachers to supernaturally heal diseases that were Satanically caused in the first place, so that, by means of these supernatural exorcisms and healings, people come to follow the false teachers as if they are proclaiming the truth (cf. Revelation 16:14) and come into a worse place of deception than before the “good” of the demonic healing wonders took place.

[vi] ka·n aJmarti÷aß hØ™ pepoihkw¿ß, aÓfeqh/setai aujtwˆ◊. ka·n is kai÷ + e˙a¿n, and so the statement presents a third class condition, not a first class condition.  Sin causing the sickness is only possible, not presented as true.  Similarly the subjunctive mood in the perfect periphrastic hØ™ pepoihkw¿ß indicates the possibility, but only the possibility, not the certainty, that the sick person committed sin in the past with results that continued into the present (that is, the sin was not confessed and repented of), so that sin was the cause of the sickness.

[vii] In 5:16, “healed” is from i˙a¿omai and is clearly used for physical healing, in accordance with the large majority, but not the totality, of its uses in the New Testament (Matthew 8:8, 13; 13:15; 15:28; Mark 5:29; Luke 4:18; 5:17; 6:17, 19; 7:7; 8:47; 9:2, 11, 42; 14:4; 17:15; 22:51; John 4:47; 5:13; 12:40; Acts 3:11; 9:34; 10:38; 28:8, 27; Hebrews 12:13; James 5:16; 1 Peter 2:24).  The verb always refers to physical healing in the New Testament when it is not in a quotation.  James moves from the specific case of sickness in 5:14-15 into the general principle, enunciated in 5:16, that being right with God will keep believers free from sickness as Divine chastisement.

[viii] James 5:19-20 uses the verb convert (e˙pistre÷fw) in the same sense as Luke 22:32 for the restoration of a backslider.  The sins of the backslider will be forgiven, and he will not suffer physical death as chastistement for continued impenitence (James 5:20), including physical death as a result of sickness decreed by the Father as chastening (5:14-20).

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Judging People to Be Unsaved

The point of church discipline is restoration.  It is.  We want to reclaim a person who has turned away from the truth in some fashion.  When someone has been disciplined from a church, should he be judged to be unsaved?  Yes and No.  Yes, in that Jesus said in Matthew 18, "let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican."  It doesn't say that we think he's unsaved.  We are to regard him as unsaved.  We don't really know.

Why else would we regard someone as unsaved, who has been disciplined from a church?  Consider 1 John 2:19:  "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us."  Here it's a matter of what "were not of us" means.  If a person was "of us," he no doubt would be with us.  "Of us" is expressing salvation, especially as you look at the context (1 John 2:3-4; 2:15-17).  He's not with us.   He's in the world.  He loves the world more than us.  The love of the Father is not in him.  If the love of the Father is not in you, then you aren't saved.  God is love.  No love, no God.

The point of church discipline is not condemnation.  However, we are instructed to regard people as not saved.  It's like this.  We don't know someone is saved just because he professes to be saved.  That is clear from James and 1 John.  Jude says that they creep in unawares.  Creeping in unawares means that we don't know it.  Churches have unsaved people in them, so we're not even sure if everyone in a church is saved.  Remember Judas.  Nobody but Jesus knew he was lost.  And he was nasty.

Here is a list of points to remember.

1.    There is a faith that does not save.

John 2:23-25:  "Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did.  But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man."

James 2:17:  "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone."

2.    So someone who professes faith may not have a faith that saves.

3.    We do not judge whether someone has faith by his profession, but by his lifestyle (that's how he even judges his own faith).

Matthew 7:21:  "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."

4.    The ultimate manifestation that someone is saved is that he endures or overcomes to the end, because faith that saves will endure.

James 1:12:  "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him."

Revelation 2:7:  " To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God."

Matthew 10:22:  "And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved."

5.    People who will not endure shouldn't be regarded as saved people.

We don't help them by regarding them as saved.  We should say like Paul, "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith" (2 Corinthians 13:5).

Friday, March 16, 2012

Spirit Baptism--The Historic Baptist View, part 22

As I bring this series on Spirit baptism to a close, I would note that in addition to Romans 6:3-4, which has just been examined, Galatians 3:27; Colossians 2:12; & 1 Peter 3:21 are also used, on occasion, as evidences that Spirit baptism continues to take place today, but the only substantial argument that these texts do not refer to immersion in water lies in the assumption that they would teach baptismal regeneration were they accepted as references to the church ordinance of baptism.  However, none of these verses by any means proves baptismal regeneration, as I have proven in my book Heaven Only for the Baptized? which can be accessed at or purchased in Kindle format from, and which will hopefully be available in print soon.  I will, therefore, refrain from comment on these texts here, referring interested readers to my book.

Since none of the alleged references to Spirit baptism in the epistles teach baptismal regeneration when analyzed with grammatical, historical hermeneutics, the affirmation that one must abandon the natural interpretation of these passages, which recognize them as references to immersion in water, and refer them instead to Spirit baptism, fails to convince.  The historic Baptist position, which considers all these texts as references to immersion in water, should be maintained.  Indeed, since none of the passages, interpreted naturally, has anything to do with Spirit baptism, arguing that they teach baptismal regeneration if interpreted of immersion in water actually plays into the hands of the advocate of sacramentalism, since he can demonstrate that the texts in question do not deal with Spirit baptism.  Whenever baptism is spoken of in the epistles of the New Testament, immersion in water is in view.  This is not unusual in light of the transitional and temporary nature of the baptism of the Holy Ghost.  The Pentecostal events of Acts 2 were already over when the epistles were written.

It is very easy to demonstrate that historic Baptist doctrine has taken all the alleged verses on Spirit baptism in the epistles to refer to immersion in water.  In addition to the historical material referenced earlier, one notes, as a sampling, that the Baptist Confession of 1689, agreed to by over one hundred Baptist churches in England and Wales and signed by such men of God as Hanserd Knollys and William Kiffin, affirms in Article 29, “Baptism is an Ordinance of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, to be unto the party Baptized, a sign of fellowship with him, in his death (Romans 6:3, 4, 5; Colossians 2:12; Galatians 3:27) and resurrection; of his being engrafted into him; of (Mark 1:4; Acts 26:16) remission of sins; and of his (Romans 6:2, 4) giving up unto God through Jesus Christ, to live and walk in newness of life.”  The same language and passages were employed in the Baptist Orthodox Creed of 1679, the famous American Baptist Philadelphia Confession of Faith of 1720, and the Second London Confession of Faith of 1677.  Among Baptists outside of the English-speaking world, the 1879 French Baptist Confession, “received by all the Baptist churches of France, Belgium, and Switzerland,” affirms in Article 9, “We believe that baptism is, for Christians voluntarily dead to the world and to sin, the striking and solemn emblem of burial and of resurrection with Christ, to whom they are united by faith, to live in Him a new and holy life.  We believe, after the order of Christ, His example and that of the apostles, that the immersion of believers must precede admission into the local church and participation in the communion . . . Romans 6:3, 4; . . . Galatians 3:27; Colossians 2:12; . . . 1 Peter 3:21).  The German Confession of Faith and Constitution of the Churches of Baptized Christians commonly called Baptists originally composed in 1847 and commonly received into the twentieth century, affirms in Article 8 that “Baptism is a first-fruit of faith and love to Christ, the entrance into obedience toward the Lord . . . and his church (1 Corinthians 12:13; Acts 2:47).  It is the solemn declaration, the confession of the sinner (1 Peter 3:21) . . . who has recognized the frightfulness of his sin and the damnability of his whole being . . . that he sets all his hope solely on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ his Saviour (Acts 2:38; Romans 6:3, 8) . . . and believes on him as the Redeemer from the curse and wages of sin[,] . . . that he consecrates himself with body and soul to Christ and puts him on (Galatians 3:26-27), as his righteousness and strength[,] . . . that he gives his old man to death and wishes to walk with Christ in a new life (Romans 6:4-6).”  Indeed, it is questionable if there is any Baptist confessional support at all, anywhere, for the view that the texts in question refer to Spirit baptism rather than to immersion.[1]

Conclusion to the Entire Study on Spirit Baptism

Scripture teaches the Baptist doctrine that Spirit baptism was a historical event completed in the first century.  Both the post-conversion special power (PCP) and the universal church dispensational (UCD) views of Spirit baptism are erroneous.  The references to Spirit baptism in the Old Testament, in the Gospels, and in Acts all corroborate the classical Baptist view and contradict both the UCD and PCP positions.  Passages that speak of baptism in the epistles and that are used by PCP’s and UCD’s to support their respective doctrines fail to do so because in every case the texts refer to the church ordinance of believer’s immersion.  Believing the Biblical, historic Baptist doctrine of Spirit baptism will protect God’s people from serious and harmful errors in pneumatology, soteriology, and ecclesiology.  It will preserve them from false religious systems, such as Pentecostalism, that are largely based upon erroneous views of the baptism of the Holy Ghost.  It will enable them to more effectively grow in grace and in the knowledge of their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18) as they have a more Biblical understanding of the doctrine and practice of sanctification.  Most importantly, it will enable them to more greatly love, honor, and serve the Triune God as they live by every word that proceeds out of His mouth (Matthew 4:4; John 14:15).  To Him alone be the glory for the wondrous truths about Himself and the ineffable graces bestowed on His saints that were authenticated and enacted in the Biblical, Baptist doctrine of Spirit baptism.

Note that this complete study, with all it parts and with additional material not reproduced on this blog in this series,  is available by clicking here.


[1]            All confessions and documentation above were accessed on the Baptist History Collection CD, ver. 1. Paris, AK: Baptist Standard Bearer, 2005.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Writing a Blog 'Nat

I've been blogging since 2005, as you can see in my right hand column.  The audience is bigger than ever for those wondering, thinking that it's probably shrunk.  I've truly had no strategy for keeping readers, except to keep writing.  And I don't write for the readers.  I write whatever it is that I want to write at the time.  If I'm not motivated to write it, it won't get written.  And I'm usually motivated to write something now about twice a week.  Thomas Ross fills the other slot.

Sometimes I do write when I'm not motivated.  That happened on Monday.  I didn't have anything left to say, but I hadn't really finished that series, so I actually labored through a blog post, which I don't like to do.  Very few times have I ever written here on something I wasn't interested in writing about.  Monday was one of them.   And I would say that it showed.  But it does happen occasionally.

So what's coming up here.  I have a few series that I've never finished that I'm still interested in writing about.  I started to write a series over at Jackhammer, entitled, Why I'm Not a Calvinist.  It was the last thing ever written over there.  I'll probably cross post the first two here again and start up that series, because I have rarely, almost never written about that here.

What else?  I'm going to write on Maranatha's new promotional video.  Somebody challenged me to do it, and I've got something to say there.  I'll finish the series on Applying Holiness.  I want to write some more about evangelism, what I think churches should be doing, based on Scripture.   I started a series in January and wrote two or three on Schemes That Avoid Consequences Scripture Guarantees for True Followers of the Lord.  I think I'll be motivated to keep doing that.  One thing I know I want to write is my present thinking about sending your kids to college.  I've got one in his third year and another on her way, as she graduates this May.

Then 'Nat.  I worked for someone who ended half his sentences with 'Nat.  I want you to clean the bathrooms 'nat.  Then make sure you sweep those steps 'nat.  Then punch out when you're done 'nat.  He became in mind as Mr. 'Nat.

This year is a book year.  We are finishing the first book out of our Word of Truth Conference.  It is coming along, entitled A Pure Church.  I suspect, since it already has 205 single space 8 x 11 pages, that those will translate to 3-400, I guess.  It's a biblical theology of ecclesiastical separation.  Thomas Ross will have a book hopefully out, entitled Heaven for the Baptized?  It's a refutation of baptismal regeneration.  I think it will be best you will have seen on that subject.  And I hope my book on dress will come out.  I wrote it awhile ago, but it is unpublished and generally not seen by human eyes.   We'll start to write another book for our Word of Truth Conference.  We've decided to write a book a year now.  And I'll be letting you know what this year's conference is about soon.  We haven't started writing our chapters, but we will be writing all of them for this one year, and putting out a book, if we follow through with the plan,  June of every year.  The separation book will come out this year in June.

I'm leaving tomorrow night out East to teach Greek for a week, stopping in New York to spend three days with my son and see what his first car will be.  I'll be doing other work too.  I hate Kentucky basketball, but they're my pick for the NCAA tournament.  It's not like it's that hard to pick Kentucky this year.  But I think this year is John Calipari's year.  His tournament futility reminds me of Roy Williams' at Kansas.  It's the best of two worlds.  If he wins, my prediction was true.  If he doesn't, I'll be happy.  Who do I want to win?  Our local team, California, lost the play-in game tonight, I noticed.  Does that make it a play-out game?  And so we've got St. Mary's, which is 30 minutes from my house in Moraga.  My daughter has been accepted there for college, but we haven't decided where she will go yet.  But I hope they win it all.  I don't think they'll get past Purdue though, a university that I grew up about 45 minutes away from.


Monday, March 12, 2012

Reductio Ad Absurdum: Conservative Evangelicalism Meets the Doctrine of Separation pt. 3

This is part three of a series.  It would help to have read parts one and two first.


At the beginning of the video that I posted in part one of this series, Todd Friel dialogues with Phil Johnson about a contemporary situation or issue in evangelicalism with a conference called the Elephant Room.   They are bemoaning the error of the leadership of the Elephant for inviting speakers to the conference, whom Phil later calls heretics.  At 6:45 in the video (watch here), Friel asks Johnson, if invited, would he go to speak at or participate with the Elephant Room.  Johnson says, "No," and explains the differences he has with those men that would lead  him to decline the invitation.  What is this refusal of an invitation?  What is this exposing of men who are inviting these "heretics" to participate with them in this conference?  What is this?   You know that they think that men should reject the invitation.  They think there is something wrong with either joining or inviting "heretics," but what is it?  Are we to assume that the audience knows why someone shouldn't attend?  What is the scriptural basis for refusing?  This would be a great opportunity to lay out the doctrine of separation.  Scripture talks about it and gives sufficient teaching to know what to do.  Lacking in discernment is lacking in an understanding of what the Bible says about when, how, from whom, and for what reasons to separate.

Johnson says first that the reason for not inviting a couple of the men, and what made inviting them wrong, was that they had methodological differences.  One of the men, a Perry Noble, has used the rock song, Highway to Heaven, as a special for an Easter service in his church.  That was the most obvious reason that Todd and Phil thought he should not have been invited to the Elephant room.  They didn't say why that was wrong, but they did say that it was a violation worthy of non-attendance and non-inviting.  A methodological difference, by the way, is not the gospel.  It isn't even a doctrinal difference.  It is a difference in the way someone practices.  I don't know of a Bible verse that says that a church can't use a rock song in their service.  Is that "teaching for doctrines the commandments for men?"

At about 8:40 or so, Johnson explains why you can't have a man like T. D. Jakes at your conference and he spends a little time breaking down 2 John, saying that you don't invite someone like that into your house or even give him greeting.  He also says that in Galatians 1 we see if someone preaches another gospel, let him be accursed.  A little after 9:30, Phil says that it assumes that you are not to welcome someone like Jakes as a brother.  He doesn't say how someone doesn't welcome someone as a brother, but that it is something we are to refrain from doing with a false teacher.  And the Elephant Room did welcome him.  Now this could have been separation that Phil Johnson was talking about, but he never used the word.  It is an aspect of separation, however.  You don't accept invitations to participate with false teachers who preach a false gospel.

At about the 27 minute mark, Friel begins engaging Johnson about what's worth battling over.  Johnson says that you couldn't get him to debate about eschatology, just not worth it.  Everybody else likes to argue that, but not him.  They aren't talking about separation here, just on what's worth even quarreling about.  This is where discernment becomes about figuring out which doctrines are important and which ones aren't.   Truth is a gradation between important and not too important and Friel and Johnson say that discernment is figuring out where to place them on that chart.  At about 29:20 Johnson says that the "rule of thumb is that the closer it is to gospel truth the more its worth kicking up a fuss over."  Friel asks, "Essentials?"  Johnson answers, "Yes, essentials."  And he continues by saying that the biggest failure of the early fundamentalist movement was that it didn't show the difference between fundamental and secondary doctrines.

Then comes the part transcribed in part one.  We hear no clear doctrine of separation.  The word isn't even used until we get to the problem of "hyper-separation" that Friel suggests to Johnson.  An evangelical audience is not familiar with the scriptural verbiage of separation, the passages that teach it and what they require for obedience to God.

Evangelicals don't practice biblical separation.   The conservatives, like Johnson, are practicing some form of separation.  He wouldn't join the Elephant Room.  He didn't call it separation, but it is.

The conservative evangelical knows about separation.  He knows he should separate over the gospel.  He knows he should separate over more the gospel.  But he doesn't know what that is.  And perhaps until he does, he won't talk about separation at all, except to put down those who do separate.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Pagan Worldview of Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism

Sometime Monday, I'll continue my series Reductio Ad Absurdum: Conservative Evangelicalism Meets the Doctrine of Separation (parts one and two).  This brief break is directly related to those posts.


There is only one God.  The one God is the Truth and, therefore, there is one truth.  These first two statements are foundational to a Christian worldview.  The two are also interdependent.

Enter evangelicalism and fundamentalism.  I'm sure all fundamentalists and most evangelicals would say "yes" to both statements.  They agree.  But they really don't.  They probably both believe the first statement, but, again, the two statements are interdependent.  You can't have one without the other.  God is Truth.  There is one God.  If you believe in more than one Truth, you are now not talking about the same God.  The one and only God is defined by Truth.  He defines Himself by Truth.  The God is the Truth that He says about Himself.   He is Who He is.  Our understanding of Him is the Truth.  And there is one Truth.

Evangelicals and fundamentalists think and believe a world of more than one Truth. They say there is one.  But two or more is actually fine.  They even encourage a world of more than one.   And if you believe in a  world of one, you cannot continue with them.  You won't fit in with evangelicalism and fundamentalism with only one Truth.

I'm asking you to think about this, to give it strong consideration.  Don't just dismiss it because it seems extreme and over the top.  More than one Truth can coexist in an evangelical and fundamentalist world.  Not in God's world, but in their world.  And once you've allowed for that, you are now on common ground with paganism.  Paganism lives in the worldview of evangelicalism and fundamentalism.  The two would deny paganism, but paganism lives in their worldview.

The very existence of evangelicalism and fundamentalism depends upon paganism.  It depends upon more than One Truth and, therefore, more than one God.  No Christian should think or believe that way, but evangelicalism and fundamentalism both encourage that thought and belief.

Your head may be wagging fast and hard back and forth (try going up and down).   What I'm saying is truth.  Just consider it.   The two truths of evangelicalism and fundamentalism they call an essential truth and a non-essential truth.  Instant protest.  I know.  You say those aren't two truths.  But they really are.  Scripture does not provide this designation to truth, essential and non-essential.  Truth, by its nature, is all essential.  It is One, because God is One.

The two truths, essential and non-essential, really are about allowing for error.  When something is non-essential, you really don't have to be right about it.  You must be right on the essential truth in this worldview.  And the modern version of this was invented by evangelicalism and fundamentalism.  The line that falls between essential and non-essential is regularly changing.  It's a big and common argument among evangelicals and fundamentalists.   I believe they put more intensity into where that line is drawn than they do about the defense of the actual truth itself.  For instance, as someone reads this, he would be more angry about this than he would be if I said that it doesn't matter if there were three conflicting beliefs about eschatology.

Sometimes I talk about pagans borrowing from a Christian worldview, which they must do in order to argue for any view.  However, Christians borrow from a pagan worldview for their essential and non-essential truth view.  They live in a world of contradictions and conflict.  This is not the Father's world.

So why?  Why have this pagan worldview?  I can't say that the reasons are in this order or especially that these are all of them, but here are some.

First, getting along is more important than the Truth.  Some say that the gospel is first in importance, but they act like getting along is first in importance.  We don't need large coalitions.  The Bible is against them.  I could, at this point, explain why getting along is so important to evangelicals and fundamentalists, but it's not my emphasis here.

Second, evangelicals and fundamentalists don't believe in one Bible.  They are fine with two or more sets of Words.  That makes a difference.  If you don't know what the Words are, then you can't know what the interpretation is.  You, therefore, must give leeway.  I could say that the 'two Bibles' is the second reason with a closely related third reason that we then can't be sure what the Bible says.  This abolishes the doctrine of perspicuity.  They will say they believe it, but, in fact, do not.

Third, a wrong ecclesiology.  I'm not going to elaborate on this, as I have many times before, because I don't want to take this post off course.

Fourth, rationalism, modernism, secularism, and humanism.  Humanism sees truth as relative, not objective.  Truth is arrived at through dialectics.  You may say that that evangelicalism and fundamentalism don't believe this.  They practice it.  I see them as influenced by the worldly philosophy like the Corinthians were by the worldly philosophy of their days (which Paul deals with in 1 Cor 1-3).

This having more than one Truth has brought disaster.  It has ruined worship, art, literature, the roles of men and women, education, and the family.  It will only get worse without consideration and then a change.  The right view of the world must be believed to be more important than what seems to be gained from the pagan worldview that I've described.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Spirit Baptism--The Historic Baptist View, part 21

Not only does the context of Romans 6:3-4 nullify the affirmations of baptismal regenerationists, but a study of the Biblical uses of eis + Christon (“into . . . Christ,” Romans 6:3) and en + Christo (“in Christ”) demonstrate the fallacious nature of the baptismal regenerationist assertion that one only becomes en or “in” Christ at the time of baptism.  There are nineteen verses where the word “Christ” is the object of the preposition eis in the New Testament.[i]  Examination of these verses demonstrates that the fact that the word “baptize” follows the preposition eis twice proves nothing about how one gets en or “in” Christ.  If baptism eis Christ proves one literally enters into Christ at the moment of the ordinance, then one also believes eis Christ to get in Him (Acts 20:21, Galatians 2:16, Colossians 2:5)—believing eis Christ is found more often than baptism eis Christ is.  In fact, one is said to believe “into” (pisteuo + eis) the Lord Jesus Christ in 45 verses.[ii]  If baptism eis proves one is “in Christ” only after the ordinance, why does one not actually speak eis or “into” Christ (Ephesians 5:32), or even sin eis or into Christ (1 Corinthians 8:12)?  Why is it that baptism eis proves that one is not “in (en) Christ” until baptized, and baptism is the means through which one becomes “in Christ,” but belief eis Christ does not prove that one is “in Christ” at the moment of faith?  Why not affirm that one is eis or “into” Christ whenever he speaks, or that one must actually sin eis or “into” Christ?  Baptismal regenerationists who argue that baptism eis Christ proves one is unforgiven until he receives the ordinance are either ignorant of or deliberately misrepresent the preposition eis as found in New Testament Greek.  Romans 6:3 simply asserts that one is baptized “with reference to” Christ when it employs the preposition eis.

Furthermore, the New Testament does not associate the state of being “in (en) Christ” with baptism.  Eighty-five verses in the New Testament contain the phrase “in (en) Christ,” but not one connects baptism with it.[iii] This is a devastating fact for one who would assert that one is en Christ through baptism.  It is further compounded by the fact that the forty-six verses that speak of being “in the Lord” (en Kurio),[iv]  the fifty-two verses that use “in Him” (en auto) with reference to Christ,[v] the twenty-three verses where the phrase “in Me” (en emoi) references being “in Christ,”[vi] the references where “in Thee” is used of being “in Christ,”[vii] the twelve references to being “in God” (en Theo),[viii] the references to being in the Father or en Patri,[ix] to being in the Son or en Huio,[x] and to being en the Spirit (en Pneumati)[xi] never state or even hint that one enters into the state of being in Christ, or God, etc. through baptism.  If one was en Christ through baptism, one would expect to find a great number of verses that connect the two;  but never once, in the two hundred and seventy-nine verses which deal with the appropriate phrases in Scripture, does such an assertion appear.

While Scripture never affirms that one is “in Christ” (en Christo) at the moment of baptism, it does make affirmations about the “in Christ” state that are incompatible with the doctrine of baptismal regeneration.  Nothing can remove one “in Christ” from that state;  he is eternally secure therein (Romans 8:37-39).[xii]  All who are “in the Spirit” are saved (Rom 8:9), but people were so before water baptism (Acts 10:44-48).  Only en the Spirit can one name Jesus as Lord (1 Corinthians 12:3), but this must be done before baptism is Biblically possible;  indeed, the Spirit leads one to submit to baptism (1 Corinthians 12:13), for one has Him before immersion (Acts 10:44-48).  Men are “in Christ by the gospel” (Ephesians 3:6), and it is “the gospel . . . by which also ye are saved” (1 Corinthians 15:1-2).  God’s “purpose and grace, which was given [the elect] in (en) Christ Jesus before the world began” is “manifest by . . . our Saviour Jesus Christ . . . through the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:9-10, note v. 12), but the gospel is defined with no mention of baptism (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) and is contrasted with baptism (1:17).  These references alone would refute the notion that one is en Christ by means of baptism.

Christ’s high priestly prayer in John 17 demonstrates that one is “in Christ” by faith, not by baptism.  The Savior asks His Father that “them . . . which shall believe on me . . . may be one in (en) us . . . I in (en) them . . . that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me” (John 17:20-23).  Since all Christ’s prayers are answered, all who believe on Him are in the Father and the Son.  Christ is also in all of them (v. 23, note also 2 Corinthians 13:5, “in the faith . . . Jesus Christ is in you,” Galatians 2:20, “Christ liveth in me . . . I live by the faith of the Son of God”).  The Lord’s intercessory prayer never mentions baptism, but it indicates, as do other passages of Scripture, that one is in Christ by faith, and that the Son likewise indwells all believers.

The book of 1 John devastates the idea that one is “in Christ” only upon baptism.  It affirms that we can know that we are in Him if we are keeping His Word, not if we are baptized (1 John 2:5-6, 3:24);  spiritual union with Christ, and its transforming power, is altogether different from the ordinance of baptism.  All who are in Him have the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and they can know they are saved because of it (1 John 4:13), but the Spirit is received before baptism. God the Spirit also guarantees that all truly in Christ “shall abide” in Him (1 John 2:25-27), so if one was “in Christ” through church membership, then church discipline or excommunication would be impossible.  Those in Christ cannot live in sin (1 John 3:5-6, 9), but church members can do so.  God dwells in all who confess Jesus (1 John 4:15), but this is a prerequisite to baptism.  Similarly, all who love God, which they begin to do when they first know and believe the love God has for them, are in Him (1 John 4:16).  If baptismal regeneration is true, one must baptize someone who does not have the Spirit and so is not led by Him into its waters, who does not confess Jesus as Lord, who does not obey God’s Word, who lives in sin, and who does not love God, but hates Him.  When he baptizes this Spirit-resisting, non-confessing, disobedient, sinful, God-hater, he cannot subsequently be removed from the church rolls, for one “in Christ” remains there forever.  Either all this is true, or baptismal regeneration is false, and one is “in Christ” before baptism.  Furthermore, John writes “unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life,” and this life “is in (en) his Son.” (1 John 5:13, 11).  His audience is “in (en) him that is true, even in (en) his Son Jesus Christ.  This is the true God, and eternal life” (1 John 5:20).  If his audience is believers, and his audience is en Christ and has eternal life as a consequence of it, believing, not baptism, gets one in or en Christ.

Indeed, the Bible indicates that one is “in Christ” or en Christo by faith.  In Galatians, Paul associated being en Christo and faith, declaring that “a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ,” so “even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified . . . we seek to be justified by (en) Christ” (Galatians 2:16-17).  In Galatians 2:20, Paul asserts that “Christ liveth in (en) me . . . by the faith of the Son of God” (cf. 2:21, 3:2).  Galatians 3:14 is similar:  “That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through (en) Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”  Galatians 3:26 reads, “For ye are all the children of God by faith in (en) Christ Jesus.”  Galatians 5:5-6 state, “we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in (en) Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.”  Galatians repeatedly associates the en Christ state with faith.

The book of Ephesians also indicates that one is in or en Christ by faith.  Ephesians 1:1 refers to the “faithful [pistos; translated “believing” in John 20:27; Acts 10:45; 16:1; 2 Corinthians 6:15; 1 Timothy 4:10; 5:16; 6:2] in (en) Christ Jesus.”  Ephesians 1:12-15 declares we “trusted in (en) Christ . . . [upon hearing] the word of truth, the gospel of . . . salvation,” and that when one “believe[s], [he is] sealed with that holy Spirit of promise . . . the earnest of your inheritance,” for “faith [is] in (en) the Lord Jesus” and God demonstrates “the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe” (v. 19).  All the spiritual blessings “in Christ” of Ephesians 1:3-14 are given to those who believe or trust in Him (v. 12-19).  Ephesians 2:6-10 clearly links being in Christ with faith, stating that God “hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in (en) Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through (en) Christ Jesus. For 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 (en) Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”  Ephesians 3:11-12 states that we are “in (en) Christ Jesus our Lord: in (en) whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.” Ephesians 1-3 repeatedly link the state of being in or en Christ and faith, but baptism is not mentioned anywhere in these chapters.

Other books of the Bible also associate faith and the “in (en) Christ” position.  Colossians 1:4 refers to “faith in (en) Christ Jesus,” 1 Timothy 1:14, 3:13 to “faith . . . in (en) Christ Jesus,” and “faith which is in (en) Christ Jesus,” 2 Timothy 3:15 to “faith which is in (en) Christ Jesus,” 1 Corinthians 4:17 to those who are faithful/believing “in (en) the Lord,” Philippians 2:19, 24 to “trust in (en) the Lord Jesus . . . trust in (en) the Lord,” Colossians 2:5 to “faith in (en) Christ,” 2 Thessalonians 3:4 to “hav[ing] confidence [or trust][xiii]  in (en) the Lord,” 1 Timothy 6:17 to “trust . . . in (en) the living God.”  We are “found in (en) him, not having [our] own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith” (Philippians 3:9).  Dozens of passages indicate that one is “in (en) Christ” by faith, many others that do not make the connection explicit nevertheless are incompatible with baptismal regeneration, and not one of the two hundred and seventy-nine relevant texts connect being “in Christ” and baptism.[xiv]

Romans 6:3-4 provides no support whatever for baptismal regeneration.  Neither the passage in its context, nor the phrase “into (eis) Christ,” nor the phrase “in (en) Christ,” give any evidence whatever for baptismal regeneration.  Faith gets one in Christ, and the Lord Jesus indwells all believers, not the baptized only.  Those who argue for baptismal regeneration using passages such as Romans 6 “do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God” (Matthew 22:29).  Furthermore, since Romans 6, interpreted naturally as a reference to baptism in water, does not support baptismal regeneration, there is no reason whatever for affirming that the passage is about the baptism of the Holy Ghost.

Note that this complete study, with all it parts and with additional material not reproduced on this blog in this series,  is available by clicking here.


[i] The nineteen references are: Acts 19:4 (“believe on (eis) him . . . on (eis) Christ Jesus,” Acts 20:21 “repentance toward (eis) God, and faith toward (eis) our Lord Jesus Christ,” Acts 24:24, “the faith in (eis) Christ,” Romans 6:3, “baptized into (eis) Christ,” Romans 16:5 “firstfruits of Achaia unto (eis) Christ,” 1 Corinthians 1:9, “called unto (eis) the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ,” 1 Corinthians 8:12, “ye sin (eis) against Christ,” 2 Corinthians 1:21, “he which stablisheth us with you in (eis) Christ,” 2 Corinthians 11:3, “the simplicity that is in (eis) Christ,” Galatians 2:16, “even we have believed in (eis) Jesus Christ,” Galatians 3:17, “the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in (eis) Christ,” Galatians 3:24, “the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto (eis) Christ,” Galatians 3:27, “baptized into (eis) Christ,” Ephesians 5:32, “I speak concerning (eis) Christ and (eis) the church,” Philippians 1:10, “ye may be sincere and without offence till (eis) the day of Christ” Colossians 2:5, “steadfastness of your faith in (eis) Christ,” Philemon 6, “every good thing which is in you in (eis) Christ Jesus,” 1 Peter 1:11, “it testified beforehand the sufferings of (eis) Christ,” 2 Peter 1:8, “neither be barren nor unfruitful in (eis) the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
[ii] Matthew 18:6; Mark 9:42; John 1:12; 2:11, 23; 3:15-16, 18, 36; 4:39; 6:29, 35, 40, 47; 7:5, 31, 38-39, 48; 8:30; 9:35-36; 10:42; 11:25-26, 45, 48; 12:11, 36-37, 42, 44, 46; 14:1, 12; 16:9; 17:20; Acts 10:43; 19:4; Romans 10:10; 1 Timothy 1:16; James 2:19; 1 Peter 1:21; 1 John 5:10, 13.
[iii] The verses are Romans 3:24; 6:11, 23; 8:1-2, 39-9:1; 12:5; 15:17; 16:3, 7, 9-10; 1 Corinthians 1:2, 4, 30; 3:1; 4:10, 15, 17; 15:18-19, 22, 31; 16:24; 2 Corinthians 2:14, 17; 3:14; 5:17, 19; 12:2, 19; Galatians 1:22; 2:4, 17; 3:14, 26, 28; 5:6; 6:15; Ephesians 1:1, 3, 10, 12, 20; 2:6-7, 10, 13; 3:6, 11, 21; 4:32; Philippians 1:1, 13, 26; 2:1, 5; 3:3, 14; 4:7, 19, 21; Colossians 1:2, 4, 28; 1 Thessalonians 2:14; 4:16; 5:18; 2 Thessalonians 1:1; 1 Timothy 1:14; 2:7; 3:13; 2 Timothy 1:1, 9, 13; 2:10; 3:12, 15; Philemon 1:8, 23; 1 Peter 3:16; 5:10,14; 1 John 5:20.
[iv] Romans 14:14; 16:2, 8, 11-13, 22; 1 Corinthians 1:31; 4:17; 7:22, 39; 9:1-2; 11:11; 15:58; 16:19; 2 Corinthians 2:12; 10:17; Galatians 5:10; Ephesians 1:15; 2:21; 4:1, 17; 5:8; 6:1,10, 21; Philippians 1:14; 2:19, 24, 29; 3:1; 4:1-2, 4, 10; Colossians 3:18; 4:7, 17; 1 Thessalonians 3:8; 4:1; 5:12; 2 Thessalonians 3:4; Philemon 1:16, 20; Revelation 14:13.
[v] Matthew 10:32; 13:57; Mark 6:3; Luke 12:8; 23:22; John 1:4; 6:56; 7:18; 10:38; 13:31-32; 15:5; 18:38; 19:4, 6; Acts 17:28; Romans 1:17; 1 Corinthians 1:5; 2:11; 12:9; 2 Corinthians 1:19-20; 5:21; 13:4; Ephesians 1:4, 9, 11; 2:16; 4:21; Philippians 3:9; Colossians 1:16-17, 19; 2:6-7, 9-10, 15; 2 Thessalonians 1:12; 1 John 1:5; 2:5-6, 8, 27-28; 3:5-6, 9, 24; 4:13, 15-16.
[vi] Matthew 10:32; 11:6; 26:31; Mark 14:27; Luke 7:23; 12:8; 22:37; John 6:56; 10:38; 14:10-11, 20, 30; 15:2, 4-7; 16:33; 17:21, 23; 2 Corinthians 11:10; Galatians 2:20.
[vii] Matthew 26:33; Luke 3:22; John 17:21, three references.
[viii] John 3:21; Romans 2:17; 5:11; Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 3:3; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2:2; 2 Thessalonians 1:1; 1 Timothy 6:17; 1 John 4:15-16; Jude 1:1.
[ix] John 14:10-11, 20; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1; 1 John 2:24; Jude 1:1; seven references.
[x] John 14:13; Hebrews 1:2; 1 John 2:24; 5:11, 20; five references.
[xi] Matthew 3:11; 12:28; 22:43; Mark 1:8, 23; 5:2; 12:36; Luke 1:17; 2:27; 3:16; 4:1; John 1:33; 4:23-24; Acts 1:5; 11:16; 19:21; Romans 1:9; 2:29; 8:9; 9:1; 14:17; 15:16; 1 Corinthians 6:11, 20; 12:3, 9, 13; 2 Corinthians 6:6; Galatians 6:1; Ephesians 2:18, 22; 3:5; 5:18; 6:18; Philippians 1:27; Colossians 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 1:5; 1 Timothy 3:16; 4:12; 1 Peter 1:12; Jude 1:20; Revelation 1:10; 4:2; 17:3; 21:10; forty-six references.
[xii] Compare the “bookends” of being “in Christ” which are found in Romans 8:1 and 8:39;  the chapter contrasts those in Christ with those who are not.
[xiii] Gk. pepoithamen, the perfect active indicative first person of the verb peitho, translated “trust” in Matthew 27:43; Mark 10:24; Luke 18:9; 2 Corinthians 1:9; Philippians 2:24; Hebrews 2:13; 13:18.
[xiv]  It should be specifically pointed out as well that while the New Testament never says one is baptized en Christ, men do believe en Christ;  see Mark 1:15, “And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe (pisteuete en) the gospel,” Romans 3:25, “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in (pisteos en) his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God,” Galatians 3:26, “For ye are all the children of God by faith in (pisteos en) Christ Jesus,” Ephesians 1:15, “Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in (pistin en) the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,” Colossians 1:4, “Since we heard of your faith in (pistin . . . en) Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints,” etc.