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.

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