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 http://sites.google.com/site/thross7 or purchased in Kindle format from amazon.com, 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.

--TDR

As an epilogue, please note that the entire study of Spirit baptism posted here at What is Truth? is available as an essay at http://sites.google.com/site/thross7 in the Pneumatology section.  The essay also contains both further exegetical information not posted here and further historical information, such as classic Baptist sermons by Baptist leaders of the past affirming the view of Spirit baptism exposited and defended above.


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

3 comments:

Steve Rogers said...

Thank you Bro. Ross. I have enjoyed reading the articles. I agree this is an important doctrine that affects many others especially soteriology and ecclesiology. I know you teach at Baptist College of Ministry in WI, I was wondering what the schools view is on ecclesiology and pneumatology? I was under the impression they were universal church and therefore held to the PCP or UCD positions. Just wondersing, I have some friends who were trained there and they seem to hold to the universal church interpretation of spirit baptism.

Thomas Ross said...

Dear Bro Steve,

Thanks for the kind words on the series. I am very thankful for the many good things at Baptist College of Ministry, and rejoice that the Lord has given me the opportunity to be an adjunct professor there. However, as an adjunct, I'm only there for two nine week blocks each year, teaching two classes a block (this year, I've taught and am teaching 2nd year Greek, the book of Ephesians, and the book of Romans in Greek). BCM's policy is that statements of doctrinal, etc. positions are pre-approved (which is wise) before being made. Thus, I have no ability to make an official statement about the school's position on ecclesiology or pneumatology. I would encourage you to call the office or speak to someone who is resident staff on that. BCM is (properly) concerned that, as they have adjunct faculty from a variety of places teach a variety of courses, that they don't get their own position misrepresented either intentionally or unintentionally. Furthermore, as someone who is not resident faculty or even a member of Falls Baptist Church, I would say that my comments on this blog rather represent my own view--and I can say that the church of which I am a member, Mukwonago Baptist Church, takes the view of Spirit baptism as a completed event that I have exposited here. I would also consider the "What is Truth" blog as something that is under the aegis of Bethel Baptist Church, as it is Pastor Brandenburg's blog.

Something else I would say is that here at Mukwonago Baptist Church we used to point our kids towards another school that was driving distance in the area, that is supposed to be a fundamental Baptist institution, and upon going there, the kids would often end up rejecting Biblical standards taught by our church, becoming worldly, and even leave the church. It was ridiculous and an awful situation. On the other hand, the kids that have gone to BCM tend to become stronger spiritually, be on fire for God, fervent in prayer and in evangelism, desirous to fit into our church and serve there, are committed to a faith-based method of finding a life's partner instead of the world's way of dating, continue to uphold our church's standards on issues such as music and dress, etc. All of that has been very refreshing. However, as for an official statement about their doctrinal position on ecclesiology, pneumatology, or anything else, for that matter, they want to have such statements issued directly on their part--which is perfectly reasonable.

I hope that helps. Sorry if it isn't more specific.

Steve Rogers said...

Bro. Ross,

I completely understand your explanation. BCM is one of a couple schools I actually still recommend. I prefer local church institute training myself, although the Lord used a parachurch bible college in my background. Thanks again.