Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Obvious Disconnects for Evangelicals and Inerrancy

When I was in jr. high, a friend of mine was wearing a completely white suit with white shirt, white tie, and white shoes to church, and then he spilled his little cup of grape juice from the Lord's Table on himself.  It was just a little cup, but it was so obvious.  How could so little juice get so much coverage?  He could act like nothing happened, but it was too obvious.  It doesn't make any sense not to admit the obvious.  You've got a nasty big grape juice stain on the front of you, and we all know what it is.

What motivated this post is something that I sympathize with, that is, an inerrancy summit in Southern California, March 3-8, at Grace Community Church with John MacArthur.  A load of evangelicals will show up and in advance, the conference has kept posting articles and videos about inerrancy by well known conservative evangelicals.  All of this interests me.  I'm happy to know that they want people to believe in an inerrant Bible and to encourage trust in the Bible.  However, I see a big nasty grape juice stain.  It's obvious, but they act like it doesn't exist.  A few will read this, but I predict the grape juice will remain.

I know God isn't happy, because He wants to be believed.  He wants His Word treated like fact.  He doesn't want it replaced by scientific naturalism.

The conservative evangelical version of inerrancy is a modernistic invention, made up in the last a little over hundred years out of sheer cloth.  They act like it's historic doctrine, as if it's been around for centuries.  They are leaving the house and you're supposed to think that grape stains are stylish. They've always been around -- where's yours?

What's wrong with "inerrancy"?  Nothing would be wrong with it, if it were inerrancy.  What I'm talking about can be illustrated by one of the more recent articles posted on the site by a Matt Waymeyer and entitled, "Can We Trust the New Testament Text?"  He starts the essay with a story of an evangelism opportunity with a pantheist, who told him that "now we have no idea what the original actually said!"  That brought Waymeyer to the questions:  "If the original manuscripts of the Bible no longer exist—and if the existing manuscripts do not completely agree with one another—how can we have confidence in the Scriptures we possess today? Can we really trust the Bible as it has been handed down to us? Can we really insist that it is nothing less than the inerrant Word of God?"

How does Waymeyer answer this question?  Of course, he goes to the Bible and shows what it says about preservation.  We can trust the Bible has been handed down to us in and with perfection for the same reason we can trust that God created the heavens and earth.  That's what he says, right?  Wrong. He writes;

In response to this question, I would like to focus specifically on the New Testament and suggest three reasons why the differences between the manuscripts should not shake our confidence in the reliability of the biblical text. Those three reasons are the abundance of existing manuscripts, the insignificance of most textual variants, and the preservation of primary biblical doctrines.

That is inerrancy?  I don't think most people would think so.  They may have thought that you meant without error, but that's not what you meant.  You just used a word that sounded like it was that. Three of the main speakers from the conference made a video about preservation as it relates to inerrancy.  I listened carefully.

If you break down what they said, you don't hear that the Words of God were preserved.  You don't. Ligon Duncan says, "It's the best it's ever been."  And how do we know that?  Albert Mohler says, "No one questions the Bible we have is almost without question right down to every single particle exactly in the original autographs."  The contradiction in the statement is humorous:  "No one questions the Bible we have is almost without question."  If no one is questioning, then it is without question, but he says it is "almost" without question.  So it is with question.  So someone is questioning.  If there was no question, then textual criticism would be over, but we know it isn't, so in that sense it is a lie.  The grape juice is obvious.

Mohler keeps going, and again, it's funny to me.  "Not one major doctrine, not one major text, on any major issue related to the Gospel, related to Christ, to, to, to anything has ever been controverted." Does anyone know what he's talking about?

First, he says, major doctrine, major text.  Hint:  minor doctrines, minor texts, yes.  The very nature of this new definition of inerrancy says that minor things are now in question.  This isn't as objective as science.  You've got some fudge room in here.  And then he starts listing what he's talking about -- the Gospel, Christ, and then he stutters...to, to, to....hard to say.  So much deniability in here.  Major doctrine or major text related to anything!  Not exactly anything, because it's only the major anythings, not minor ones, despite the fact that almost every single particle is without question.  And does he or anyone listening really believe that it is incontrovertible?  There is no more argument about the text among evangelicals?  Their text changes all the time.  New translations are being made all the time.  The English Bible they use is a new one, improving on the last new one, which came from the last new one.

These men want to try to inspire confidence with their words.  But they are not deriving that confidence from the Word of God, so they are ambiguous.  There is no reference to the biblical doctrine of preservation. Why?  Because it clashes with their application of those passages.  It clashes with the historic doctrine of preservation.  They can't take their doctrine of preservation from the Bible, because it contradicts what they believe happened.  This is the big grape stain that is obvious.

You have this white suit.  It's the Word of God.  But it's got a grape juice stain.  It's obvious.  But they say, "It's white anyway. It's inerrant."  Anyone looking knows it isn't.  They say it anyway loaded with the adjectives that signal that they don't believe what they're saying.


The Word of Truth Conference at Bethel Baptist Church is November 11-15, Wednesday to Sunday again this year, beginning on Wednesday evening with morning sessions Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.  For anyone who wants to come, Bethel will help with meals and very limited housing on a first come, first serve, basis.  The theme of this year's conference and one main speaker will be announced soon.  This is a beautiful time of the year in Northern California.  Flights are inexpensive. You can come year after year and never run out of things to do before and after the conference.

One book has been published from previous conferences, A Pure Church.  Another book will be coming, I-Magination: The God of Truth Replaced in an Age of Apostasy.  We will let you know when that is finished.  You can listen to audio from previous conferences at the conference website.

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Inspired Books of Seventh-Day Adventists, Mormons, Christian Scientists, Muslims, and Others

Having grown up in a non-Christian home, and having done a decent amount of work in Christian apologetics and having spoken to many people of all sorts of backgrounds, from atheists, agnostics, materialists, communists, etc., the evidence for the Bible is irrefutable and incredibly powerful.   (For example, see the evidence here and here.)  The Bible contains vast numbers of specific and detailed predictive prophecies that cannot be explained away.  Many other categories of evidence, from incredible scientific facts, to pinpoint archeological accuracy, etc. validate the Bible (and, of course, it is self-attesting and self-authenticating as God's Word;  "never man spake like this Man," Jn 7, etc.)  I have never spoken to an atheist, agnostic, or other skeptic. who has what approaches anything like a decent explanation for the predictive prophecies and other categories of evidence for the Bible.  When I speak to people like that, I never go away saying, "Boy, I wonder if the Bible is really true--they have such great stuff against it!"  On the contrary, it is always, "Wow, how incredible God's Word is--it's too bad, because of his sin, he isn't willing to listen to the evidence for it and makes up such foolish reasons to reject it!"

Now let's contrast that with the writings of Ellen G. White, founding prophetess of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination.  Even looking at the most voceiferous defenders of her writings, there is nothing in them that is like the specific predictive prophecies and other categories of evidence for the Bible.  Even if one were to set aside the plain false prophecies in her writings (see here) as the inventions of evil people who have some kind of irrational hatred of the SDA movement, there simply is nothing comparable in what she wrote to the evidence for Scripture.  Christian apologists regularly debate skeptics on college campuses and in other places and crush them with the intellectual power of the Bible, but I can't imagine a Seventh-day Adventist even trying to do that with Ellen White's writings against an equally intelligent and well-researched opponent.

Now let's compare the size of the Bible and Ellen White's writings.  A typical Bible has around 1,000 pages, but EGW's writings are around 100,000 pages, according the White Estate.  How reasonable is it that only 1% of God's revelation, the Bible, is attested in such an incredible way, by apostles, etc. who raised the dead, reattached missing limbs, and so on, but 99% of God's revelation, EGW's writings, were composed by one person who did no apostolic miracles (and admitted she couldn't), and whose writings simply have nothing like the overwhelming evidence for them that the Bible has?

Even apart from other facts, like the fact that 99%+ of the Bible was written by holy men, not by women (because men are to lead/have authority), the striking difference between 66 books in Scripture and only one lady writing 99 times as much as all the other inspired authors combined--Ellen White's writings  do not meet the standard for something that is the Word of God. There is no proof of their inspiration at all.

The same sort of argument is valid for the allegedly inspired books of Mormonism, the Christian Science cult of Mary Baker Eddy, the Koran, and all other books that claim to be inspired outside the Bible--including the Apocrypha. Even apart from the way that they contradict Scripture and are filled with factual errors--the negative disproof of them as God's Word--there is no positive proof for any of them.  Only the true God can bring about the predictive prophecies found in the Bible (Isaiah 44)-- that is why no other book claiming inspiration has anything like them.

Readers who think that something outside of the Bible is inspired ought to consider these facts and reject their nonbiblical books. They can get further help here.  Christians can use the facts above to help unconverted cultists consider their ways.

By the way, if you are a Ruckmanite who believes that the King James Version was produced in 1611 by the miraculous inspiration of the Holy Spirit the way that the original manuscripts were, you need to consider what evidence there is for your view also. Could you win a debate with an atheist on a college campus with the alleged evidences for the miraculous giving of the King James Version by the Holy Spirit in 1611? As readers of this blog know, I am passionately KJVO, with a knee-jerk reaction to defend the translation of the King James whenever it is criticized, am totally committed to the perfect preservation of Scripture in the Old Testament and New Testament's Textus Receptus, etc. (see here), but you can't defend with Scriptural exegesis a move from the Holy Spirit in 1611 like that which took place in the production of the original manuscripts of the Bible, so if you are going to take that view, you are going to have to do better than the weird and totally unconvincing things that people like Gail Riplinger make up to support it.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Political Candidates and the Evolution Question

The liberal news media plays a political 'gotcha' game with conservative or even just Republican candidates that they do not with liberal or even just Democrat candidates.  They did this last week (Feb 11, 2015) to thrice elected governor of Wisconsin and possible 2016 Republican presidential candidate, Scott Walker, when they asked what he believed about evolution(news here, and recent columns here, here, here, and here).  Let me lay out my take on the politics of this first.

You can believe in evolution and win a Democratic primary.  You can believe in evolution and become president.  If you believe in evolution, you might lose a Republican primary.  You will lose a large enough percentage of primary voters as a Republican that it could sink your race.  Quite a few people still reject evolution in this country, despite its stranglehold in the public schools, but almost all of them are Republicans.  The media wants Scott Walker out as fast as possible, probably because they fear and hate him more than the other Republican candidates.  They promote a Republican moderate until he passes through the primary into the general election, where they savage him as he has already depressed the conservative turnout.

Walker's present strategy, which I think he had already formulated -- this wasn't off-the-cuff, is as he put it, "to punt" on the question.  He's not going to answer it.  And then he adds something about faith and science being compatible, something like that -- he thinks you can believe both.  Both.  Faith and science.

I'd like to digress a moment, because a Christian worldview does not bifurcate faith and science. Those two aren't separate entities -- there is only one truth.  You've already played into the world's hands, the secularist humanists, when you place science on a different plane than faith, as if science is the objective, fact-based, head-oriented side, and faith is the subjective, feeling-based, heart-oriented part.  What explains it all is that God created everything, including earth, which then fell into and was ruined by sin, but all of that still can and will find redemption through Jesus Christ.  That is the only explanation for everything.

I know, you think that Walker will lose if he answers differently and the point is to win.  We're not hiring a pastor-in-chief, but a president of the United States.  He's got to do what it takes to win, even if it means such a political answer such as he gave.  Not answering gives Walker a sense of deniability, and then when the media hounds him, they might look like bullies and it could have a counter effect on behalf of Walker.  You've already asked that question, he's answered, so please leave the guy alone.  "After all, he's not going to allow his view on origins to influence his governing."

What Walker thinks he gains by losing could actually be, and I believe is, a loss by winning.  He wins a battle by losing the war.  It also runs against the Walker narrative of conviction and courage.  It doesn't mean that I don't still like him better than the other candidates.  However, I think he should go back to the drawing board and take a stand on a consistent Christian worldview, to study and formulate some beautiful talking points that will accomplish even more than his political answer.  If he loses because of his answer, then he loses with the truth still intact, which is greater than he is. If he is operating according to God's cultural mandate in Genesis, he can fulfill it by bringing a Christian worldview to his career and work.

The right answer to the question about evolution dovetails with the historic American view of liberty. The founding fathers said God endowed men with inalienable rights.  The Civil War was fought in part based upon that contract (I will delete comments in the line of a war of northern aggression). The thought of evolution undermines Americanism, the founding beliefs of our country.  We did not receive our rights from government, but from God.

So what would be the succinct, wonderful wording of the right answer to the question about evolution?  What should Walker say?  What should he have said?  I'm going to write an answer, but maybe you could help me.  Think about it and write something in the comment section.  You've got until Monday.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

I Don't Choose What Distinguishes Our Church, But It Still Does

Our church believes in one God, Who Is Three Persons -- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  That belief distinguishes us from others, but I didn't choose that it would distinguish us.  We believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God.  The Bible is our sole authority for faith and practice.  Those qualities distinguish us as a church.  We teach that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone.  That doctrine sets us apart from many others, even though I would have everyone to believe that same way. Many don't.

Evangelical churches, fundamentalist churches, Baptist churches, and independent Bible-believing churches are different than what they were fifty years ago.  I've watched them change.  If your church and another church are the same, and then one of them changes, that change now distinguishes your church from that other church.  You didn't choose to distinguish yourself from that church, but you're still distinguished.  You're not different because you changed.  You're different because the other church did.  Someone might say that you are trying to be different.  You're different, but not because you're trying to be.

I know that our church has changed too.  Every church should change.  True churches are made up of saved people (position), who are also being saved (process), which is sanctification.  Sanctification is change.  The people in our church the longest, who could give good testimony of what has happened in our church, I believe would say that it has changed because of the effect of the Word of God over 25 years.  A church should be ready to submit to the Bible as it learns God's Word together.  I've changed as the leader of our church and then our church has changed too.  My thinking, beliefs, and practices are closer than ever to what the Bible teaches.  I'm not saying that I haven't sinned or made mistakes, but my positions have been honed and perfected, so I've grown.

When I say our church has changed, I'm not saying that our church has taken on some new fad.  I mean that we have become more precise to and with scripture.  I've learned in certain instances what the biblical and historic position is.  In certain instances, we've just become better prepared to defend what we already believe.  However, what has distinguished our church more than anything is how everything else and many others have changed.  The areas where we differ from and concern other churches and folks outside of our church are those where everyone was taking our position at one time, but now have moved from that position.  We didn't move on those areas. The world and then churches have moved from us.  Now they would treat us like we're strange.

What I'm describing above is bound to happen.  Nations rise and fall.  They fall because they turn from God.  That turning occurs gradually over time.  Things rarely get better.  What I'm reporting here is what it looks like in the Bible.  People really should suspect it.  Things will get worse before they will get better.

Some people act like our church, and those like us, somehow major on issues with which we are different than them -- that this is what we preach about all the time.  I repeat, the areas with which we differ, are our major focus.  There is a reason why these are the distinguishing issues:  they are not popular.  They are the very doctrines and practices that rub against the world system the most.  In Corinth, bodily resurrection was a controversy.  You were crazy there and then if you believed that you would get a new body.  For that reason, bodily resurrection distinguished that church.  Bodily resurrection isn't the issue in the United States, but a list has developed as the U.S. has ejected Christian values among other reasons.  What is this list?

The list isn't a list that our church has chosen.  We haven't concocted hot buttons to make us stick out. These are areas that churches have left behind, and the churches that have kept them are often treated with disdain by them.  What are they?  Not in any particular order --

Dress  -- Here is modesty like it was for all the rest of Christian history.  We're actually not as good, but far better than 95% plus.  Here is gender distinction.  There were items that pertained only to the man and only to the woman, symbols of male headship and female submission.  The crowd melts almost as fast as they did at the feeding of the 5,000 if you bring this up.

Music -- A Christian worldview requires objective beauty.  There is music that reflects the nature of God.  Music is not amoral.  Certain music is profane and worldly and can't be used in worship.  Few take this position any more.  Almost everyone rejected Christian rock to begin.  Now only Christians say music amoral.  We practice the historic regulative principle of worship.

Separation -- This is an exegetical issue, not applicational, but churches don't practice biblical separation when this characterized New Testament churches through history.

Pointed Application of Scripture in the Preaching -- Many churches leave the applications ambiguous today.

Preservation of Scripture -- Some call this the version issue, or extreme onlyism.  No.  This is believing what God said He would do.

Evangelism --  We preach the gospel to every creature.  I don't run into people who do that.  When people know we do, they run from us.  People want an easier way or they won't join.

Church Discipline -- This has made a come back in some circles.  We take it seriously.

Biblical Church Growth -- We follow the biblical pattern and strategy.  There are many inventions and new measures for this everywhere to which churches bow.

Male Headship -- The man is the head of the home.  He's the breadwinner.  He makes the decisions. Sometimes the word complimentarianism is used.  The men make the decisions of our church.  This is controversial.

There are some other ways we are distinguished from others.  We do one on one discipleship.  We encourage our people not to go to the movie theater and movies are not something you'll hear discussed at our church very much or at all.  We believe the evangelist is the person who evangelizes an area with the prospects of starting a church, not an itinerant preacher.  We practice courtship and not dating.  We believe churches send missionaries.  We believe scripture teaches corporeal punishment for child training.  We teach that someone must believe in the Lordship of Christ to be saved.  We don't believe in extra-scriptural revelation of any kind.  There are others.

These distinguish our church.  Not the Trinity, even though we believe that. Not salvation by grace alone, even though we talk more about that than any of them.  Not even expositional preaching, which we do.  I've preached through every verse of the New Testament.  We don't talk about the above list of things at our church very much, but they are still the types of things people notice when they decide not to join.  A very, very few join because of them.  Those people make these a big deal.  If we dropped even half of them, we'd be maybe five, ten, twenty times bigger than we are.  We didn't make up this list, but it still exists.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Bribery and Pandering: Ties that Bind Modern Church Growth (that neither Jesus nor the Apostles Used), pt. 2

I discovered I'd already written on this part of the two (here as well).

When I think of pandering, normally I imagine what political candidates do to win voters.  They invent and reinvent themselves to conform to whatever group they're campaigning.  I don't remember the word "demographic" back as I grew up, but now a population is categorized by many different characteristics, such as age, race, gender, wage, and employment status, usually for marketing purposes.  I could hardly believe the relevance when reading the following, entitled Present Day Problems:  Why Men Do Not Go to Church, Some Faults in the Church, written by W. C. King in 1903:

Earnest men are losing faith in the sincerity of the churches, and weary with the insipid sentimental forms and empty platitudes often emanating from the pulpit, and the futile attempts of church organizations to improve society by imitating its weaknesses: sugar coating theater-going, dancing, and card playing with a religious flavor. No longer the fosterer of the family and the guardian of social purity, churches pander to self-indulgence and anti-social practices which are destructive of domestic life and imperil the existence nations.

This isn't new!  Pandering is most often the choice of the evangelical (versus a fundamentalist), who doesn't trust God or find His ways sufficient or satisfying.  I'm not the only who has noticed.  I like the way James Rasbeary puts it:

I suppose this “church shopping” mindset has come about with the commercialization of churches. It is no secret that churches compete with each other for members instead of trying to reach the unsaved; it is also no secret that many churches pander to people in exactly the same way that businesses do to their customers.

Thomas Clothier writes:

Sola Scriptura is fundamentally opposed to relativistic individualism. In a culture wherein the individual reigns supreme, and churches pander to “keep the customer satisfied,” the doctrine of Sola Scriptura states that all individual ideas and behaviors must be in submission to, and aligned with, Scripture. This opposes those in the church, and the culture, who justify their sinful behavior, and consequently their disobedience to Scripture, with a self-centered perspective wherein the individual’s desires are preeminent.

Dr. Dave at Truth Really Matters declares:

Seeker-sensitive market-driven churches are pandering to the worldly inclinations of the lost world, and not establishing their foundations on Biblical truth. Scripture has much to say to condemn this approach (1 John 2:15-17, James 4:4, 2 Peter 2:1-3).

In his book, Making Peace:  A Guide to Overcoming Church Conflict, Jim Van Yperen concludes (p. 50):

Of course conflict will result when the church panders to a sinful culture.  The church's tacit agreement with modernity before, and post-modernity today, had undercut the truth of the Gospel and bred a shallowness of faith that compromises the veracity of Scripture.

Alex Green writes:

The main focus of the activities of the church or services becomes ‘putting on a show’ for people, resulting in the attendees turning up to be entertained without anything being asked or expected from them. People don’t feel engaged or part of something, they come purely to take from and not give to the experience. The structure of the services and activities run by the church panders to the consumerist expectations, demands and lifestyle of the people that attend. Emphasis is on ‘looking right’ or ‘looking good’, on having the latest technology or most recent, most popular songs. The focus is not so much on Jesus as a living, active presence in our lives but on a sanitised, domesticated Christ that is cool or fashionable, grabs a coffee from the foyer on the way in and subtly confirms our underlying desire for everything to be about ‘me’, that life is about talent or appearance and not about character.

All of the above pretty much say it.  But I want to add some more.  You can't anymore go long before seeing a church pandering for attenders.  Even if they aren't attempting to add to their numbers through pandering, they are sending the signal that certain qualities will be tolerated.  The most conservative evangelical, John MacArthur, says that music is the gateway to Charismaticism, but rest assured that you won't need to reject that very music at Grace Community.  Just know it is a gateway that you can continue keeping in your life.

Pandering goes by many different names:  seeker sensitive, contextualization, indigenization, inculturation, missional, emergent, resurgent, third wave, even new Calvinism.  Pandering conforms to the spirit of the age.  It conforms to the world.  Here's some of the reasoning that leads to pandering to the youth culture, as written by Dan Phillips:

a.  Some people insist that no yoots will come if we don’t change our music/worship style from X to Z. Hence: church's sell-by date is coming due.
b. Others insist they will leave instantly if we don’t keep our music/worship style at X, and shun Z. Hence: church's sell-by date comes due even faster.

It meets people at their social level. They need associations, friends, singles need to meet singles, let's have restaurants for them, let's have recreation. That's the first wave that connects with them socially.

The pandering is called the "third wave," because it begins on a social tier, the first wave, which then connects psychologically, the second wave, and finally identifies with people at the level of sensuality -- rock music, coarse language, dancing, and crudeness.  This is why evangelical churches are even pandering to same-gender couples today.  Scripture on the other hand calls for watchful self‑discipline that refuses to pander to the appetites of the body at the soul’s expense.

Selfishness contaminates the Gospel. Personal ambitions, goals, dreams, and personal plans being fulfilled contradict the true essence of the Gospel.  Sinners in their natural decadent state do not accept a message that does not pander to their sinful whims.  Sowing to the flesh, like Galatians 6 talks about, panders to rather than crucifying the flesh.

Loving the world means having your primary hankering or longing or desire those things which gratify your flesh, to pander your physical, fleshly appetites, the things you feel.  Churches use this method to grow with their choice of music, dress, activities, and style.  When the Spirit of God transforms a heart, spiritual instincts draw that person away from those things that pander to the flesh.

The pandering extends in many varied directions and manners.  A church might stop door-to-door evangelism.  Any music tolerated.  Hair length on men, not an issue.  Casual clothing welcomed for worship.  Unfaithfulness to services permitted.  No entertainment prohibited.  Social activities and occasions scheduled for almost every demographic on a regular basis.  None to little standard of modesty upheld.  Preaching toned down in its application.  Often sermon length shortened or number of meetings reduced.  Hymnbooks replaced by the screen.   Pop style syncopated, sensual rock rhythm added to many of the songs.  Singing styles tend towards performance.  All of these strategic toward or techniques of church growth.

Any church that is different than the previous paragraph knows it is different.  It knows it is being out-marketed.  None of the above criteria are biblical, but they are major.  Everyone knows it.  They aren't treated as important in a discussion, but they are a priority in the making of a decision.  Some know that they get less bible, less doctrine, and fulfill God's will less, but it is worth it for the creature comforts.  Anyone who goes to church on a regular basis knows these things are so, but also won't likely admit that he had succumbed to pandering.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Bribery and Pandering: Ties that Bind Modern Church Growth (that neither Jesus nor the Apostles Used)

How much is an eternal soul worth?  We could or should say eternal value or incalculable worth. Jesus said a soul was worth more than the whole world, let alone individual things in the world.  With that in mind, if bribery was a means to the salvation of a soul, we can't put a price tag on that.  If you do, you either don't understand the value of a soul or you don't love souls -- one or the other.

Many churches utilize some evangelistic strategy of offering people something for visiting the church. Bribery is "the giving or offering of a bribe," and a bribe is

money or favor given or promised in order to influence the judgment or conduct of a person in a position of trust, or
something valuable (such as money) that is given in order to get someone to do something.

Sometimes churches go to especially poor neighborhoods and use promotions to bribe those kids to church.  Very often they give them candy or soda every Sunday, some on the bus and some when they get there.  During big pushes they use other bribes, like kites or sno-cones or pumpkins or pizza or ice cream or even money, varied to tailor to the audience.  Some of the same churches bribe the workers to motivate them to bring in more children.  Whoever brings or gets the most, using whatever promotion, gets a prize and then a whole lot of recognition.  The idea is, if you can get these people to church, they might make a salvation decision, so this is an evangelistic strategy.

The above strategy through the years has "worked."  Actually, I've never seen it work.  It works at getting a crowd.  I grant that.  It's a crowd attracted by a temporal, fleshly thing.  It's a crowd that has been gathered through bribery.  I say it never works, because it results in an amazing turnover rate that poisons the ground for the future.  The future soil is ruined in favor of short-term gratification.

Almost everyone, maybe even everyone, has a price.  Some people won't come for a kite or a rodeo or a magician or a soda, but they might come for ten dollars or twenty dollars or a hundred or a thousand.  The crowd will get even bigger if the bribe is bigger.  There may be some mathematical or scientific principle, some law -- maybe Barnum's law or something like that.

I'm not going to delve into the theology of bribery.  Most people who defend it argue from silence -- silence equals permission.  Some excuse it as a reward, when they know it's a bribe -- the difference between those two is easy to ascertain.

I have a question though for those who use bribery.  If a soul has eternal value, why don't you do more?  If this works, and it could result in one more person being saved, then these churches should use every possible cent of their savings, sell their belongings, and raise even more, to bribe as many people as possible to church.  If this is a legitimate means, what is holding them back?  They believe in it, so if there was such a thing as a faithful bribe, they should sell out to that method.  I don't believe in it, so I don't do it, but if you do believe in it, then you should really believe in it. These half or less measures aren't belief, but pathetic pragmatism.  They are saying that a soul is worth a piece of candy or corn dog.

When someone comes to someone's door and announces the promotion, and asks if the child will come, and the family says, "no," why not ask what it will take?  "We want you to come -- how about ten dollars?  Twenty?"  Offer something for everyone, not just poor people.  Get the middle class to come with bigger prizes and the rich with even bigger ones.

Anyone with a brain knows what's going on.  The bribery strategy isn't worth that much money.  It's a matter of degree.   You can get poor people there for less, so that's your target.  You don't have to spend that much.  Of course, this cheapens one's estimation of Christ and the Bible and eternal things. A person won't come for that reason.  He doesn't estimate Jesus as better than these things, so he is offered these things.  It truly is a bait and switch.  It isn't a method that glorifies God and the Bible denounces it (1 Cor 1-3).  The biblical method is preach the gospel -- period.

A whole lot of corollary issues surround bribery, theological ones.  When the kids arrive, they didn't come for Jesus or the Bible, so the style of meeting must correspond to that type of crowd.  They don't know what church is now, and they can't know, because they aren't there for church.  The whole nature of church changes, because it has to conform to the nature of an unbeliever, and it does. Church itself becomes an evangelistic activity (as much as this can evangelize), when it's an edification one in the Bible.  All of this perverts the church.  Altogether it perverts the name of Jesus.  That should matter, but growth, numbers takes the priority.

What's sad about the above stuff is that it works at drawing a crowd and getting a big crowd is considered success.  You're some kind of genius if you do it.  It's also a way people judge spirituality. You must have amassed your crowd through being more spiritual and working harder.  That's the fiction associated with it.  It's a lie.  It's none of that, but it is said to be that, so it must be that. This engenders horrible discernment.  See all that is lost?  And so it spreads -- more and more of this rubbish.  It profanes the name of the Lord and much more, if that isn't enough.

Enough on bribery.  Now to pandering. (I'll cover that in a part two)

Other posts on this and related subjects:  here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here.

Friday, February 06, 2015

Acts 2:38--Baptism Essential to Salvation?

            Acts 2:38 reads, “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”  This verse is the favorite proof-text for many who defend salvation by baptism.  It is usually argued that Peter affirms that one must repent, and then be baptized, in order to receive (“for”) the remission of sins, after which one receives the Holy Spirit.[i]  The dogmatic crux on which the argument turns is the assertion that baptism is “for” the remission of sins in the sense that it is administered “in order to receive” forgiveness.[ii]  Careful study will demonstrate that Peter does not assert baptism is administered in order to receive forgiveness in Acts 2:38, nor is such a view of the verse consistent with the apostle’s teaching elsewhere in the book of Acts.
            While the baptismal regenerationist insists that “for” in Acts 2:38 means “in order to” receive remission of sins, those who give credence to the overwhelming testimony of Scripture in general to justification by faith alone usually[iii] contend that the “for” signifies “with respect to” or “on account of” remission of sins already received.  A poster with a picture of a criminal affirming that he is “wanted for robbery” asserts that he is wanted “on account of” a robbery already committed, not (hopefully!) “in order to” commit another robbery.  The English of Acts 2:38 is consistent with the view that Peter affirmed that the crowds at Jerusalem needed to repent, and then be baptized “on account of” the remission of sins that they received when they repented, rather than repenting, and then being baptized “in order to obtain” the remission of sins.
            An examination of the Greek text underlying Acts 2:38 similarly harmonizes with justification by faith.  The word translated “for” is the Greek preposition eis.  The second most common preposition in the New Testament, it appears 1,767[iv] times.  As one might expect with a word this common, eis has a great variety of meanings in different contexts—as does the English word “for.”[v]  The preposition eis can signify “on account of” or “with respect to,” as it does, for example, in Matthew 12:41 and 10:41-42 (3 times):
The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas [Greek, eis, “on account of” the preaching of Jonah, not “in order to obtain” the preaching of Jonah]; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. (Matthew 12:41)
41 He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet [Greek eis, “on account of” or “with respect to” the name (or character) of a prophet—hardly “in order to obtain” the name of a prophet] shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in [Greek eis, “on account of” or “with respect to”] the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. 42 And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in [Greek eis, “on account of” or “with respect to”] the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward. (Matthew 10:41-42)
Among the many uses of the word eis, the meaning “on account of”[vi] or “with respect to” is clearly found in Scripture.  This sense of eis represents Acts 2:38 as “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ on account of the remission of sins [received at the time of repentance].”  The baptismal regenerationist concludes too much when he affirms that Acts 2:38 proves his doctrine that baptism is administered “in order to obtain”[vii] forgiveness.  The verse can easily convey a meaning perfectly harmonious with justification by faith before baptism.[viii] 
            To determine more exactly the significance of eis in Acts 2:38 requires consideration of the verses where the preposition appears in connection with baptism.  While the word can signify “on account of” and “with respect to” in reference to other objects, if, in verses that associate eis and baptism, the sense is clearly “in order to” obtain, the baptismal regenerationist argument in Acts 2:38 might carry some weight. However, no such connection is found in the sixteen verses that associate baptism and eis in the New Testament.[ix]  The clear sense of the word in many of these verses is “on account of” or “with respect to.”  Not one of the uses must signify “in order to” obtain; indeed, such an idea is impossible in a number of passages.[x]  For example, John the Baptist preached, “I indeed baptize you with water unto [eis] repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire” (Matthew 3:11).  Here it is obvious that John baptized people “on account of” their prior repentance; he certainly did not wrestle unrepentant sinners into the water “in order to” get them to repent![xi]  The affirmation that Acts 2:38 proves that baptism is “in order to” obtain the remission of sins does not take into account the use of eis in connection with baptism in the rest of the New Testament.
            Indeed, John’s preaching of a baptism on account of (eis) repentance (Matthew 3:11), a baptism that is the result of repentance (Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3; Acts 13:24; 19:4),[xii] controls a proper understanding of Acts 2:38.  John had “preached . . . the baptism of repentance [the baptism that is the result of repentance] to all the people of Israel” (Acts 13:24), and his message of baptism on account of repentance had filled “all the land of Judea . . . of Jerusalem . . . [and] all the country about Jordan . . . [so that] all men [came] to him” (Matthew 3:5; Mark 1:5; Luke 3:3; John 3:26).  Peter and the other apostles had been baptized by John (Acts 1:22).  When Peter preached,  “[Y]e men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem . . . [r]epent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for/on account of (eis) the remission of sins” (Acts 2:14, 38), his Pentecostal message of baptism on account of the remission of sins was one with which both the apostle and his audience were familiar from the preaching of John the Baptist.  The message of John, baptism on account of repentance (Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:4), was what Peter preached in Acts 2:38.  Peter’s Pentecostal sermon was no more “Repent, and be baptized in order to obtain the remission of sins” than John’s message was “I indeed baptize you with water in order to get you to repent.”  The context and historical setting of Acts 2:38 within the framework of the baptism of John do not merely make it possible that Peter’s message was baptism on account of the remission of sins, but clearly establish this sense of the command.
            The grammatical structure of Acts 2:38 connects the receipt of the Holy Spirit (and thus the new birth “of the Spirit” (John 3:5-8) and its associated receipt of eternal life) with repentance, not baptism.  The section of the verse in question could be diagrammed as follows:
Repent (2nd person plural aorist imperative)
            be baptized (3rd person singular aorist imperative)
                        every one (nominative singular adjective)
                                    in (epi) the name of Jesus Christ
                                    for (eis) the remission of sins
            ye shall receive (2nd person future indicative) . . . the Holy Ghost
Both the command to repent and the promised receipt of the Holy Spirit are in the second person (i. e, “Repent [ye]” and “ye shall receive”).  The command to be baptized is in the third person singular, as is the adjective “every one” (hekastos).  Peter commands the whole crowd to repent and promises those who do the gift of the Holy Ghost (cf. Acts 10:47; 15:8).[xiii]   The call to baptism was only for the “every one of you”[xiv] that had already repented, received the Holy Ghost, and become the children of God.  The “be baptized every one of you” section of the verse is parenthetical to the command to repent and its associated promise of the Spirit.  Parenthetical statements, including those parallel in structure to Acts 2:38, are found throughout Scripture.[xv]  That is, the grammar of Acts 2:38 requires the connection “Repent ye, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost,” not “Be each one baptized, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”  The connection in Acts 2:38 between the receipt of the Holy Spirit and repentance, rather than baptism, overthrows the assertions of baptismal regenerations on the verse.
            Peter also clearly affirmed elsewhere in Acts that at the moment of repentant faith one receives the Spirit and eternal life. As taught in all the rest of the New Testament, Peter believed that one “receive[s] the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Galatians 3:14), not by baptism. In Acts 10:34-48, just as on the day of Pentecost (11:15, 17), eternal life, and the gift of the Holy Spirit, was received at the moment of repentant faith (11:18; 10:43-48) and before baptism.  Peter explicitly stated that God “purif[ied] [the] hearts by faith” (Acts 15:9) of those given eternal life in Acts 2 and 10, when they “heard the word of the gospel, and believe[d]” (15:7, cf. v. 11), at which time they received the Holy Spirit (15:7-9).  Furthermore, in the rest of the book of Acts, Peter proclaimed justification by repentant faith alone.  He preached, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19).  He associated “repentance . . . and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31).  He commanded men to “repent . . . and . . . be forgiven” (Acts 8:22).  In Acts 10:43, he preached that “through [Christ’s] name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.”  If Peter taught forgiveness by baptism in Acts 2:38, why did he teach justification by repentant faith, as the other apostles did (Acts 13:39; 16:31), in all the rest of Acts?  Did he change his mind in Acts 10-11 and 15, and, twice, inform the very church at Jerusalem that included numerous converts from his sermon in Acts 2 that they were saved by faith, not by baptism?  Did the entire Jerusalem church agree with Peter’s new teaching and “glorify God” (11:18) for it, including those that were supposedly baptized in order to receive the remission of sins on that first Pentecost?  The allegation that Acts 2:38 conditions forgiveness of sins on baptism ignores the clear statements of Peter about what happened on that day, his preaching of the gospel everywhere else in the book, and the numerous affirmations of salvation by repentant faith alone by others in Acts.
            Acts 2:38 does not by any means prove that one must be baptized in order to receive the forgiveness of sins.  This assertion not only exceeds the English of the verse, it ignores the variety of usage of the Greek preposition eis in the New Testament, the Biblical uses of eis associated with baptism, the grammatical structure of Acts 2:38, the commentary of Peter upon the events of Acts 2, the teachings of Peter elsewhere in Acts, and the teachings of every other preacher of the gospel in the book and in the rest of Scripture.

This is part of an entire study that can be accessed here, or purchased for $0.99 for Kindle here.


[1]           Some baptismal regenerationists affirm that the Holy Spirit is received immediately after baptism. Others add requirements not found in Acts 2:38 by any stretch of the imagination; for example, Oneness Pentecostalism makes speaking in tongues after baptism a necessary sign of the receipt of the Spirit (see “Salvation, the Spirit, and Tongues,” pgs. 197-213, Oneness Pentecostals & The Trinity, Gregory A. Boyd, Grand Rapids, MI:  Baker Books, 1992).  Roman Catholicism teaches that “the effect of the sacrament of Confirmation [which generally takes place years after infant baptism] is the full outpouring of the Holy Spirit as once granted to the apostles on the day of Pentecost,” so that what Peter preached in Acts 2:38 is received only after a bishop “anoint[s] the forehead of the baptized with sacred chrism . . . together with the laying on of the minister’s hand and the words . . . ‘Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit’” (sections #1302, 1320, pgs. 330, 333, Catechism of the Catholic Church, Mahweh, NJ: Paulist Press, 1994).  Apparently Peter’s promise “ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” to his audience upon complying with Acts 2:38 would have been better stated as “ye shall only receive the gift of the Holy Ghost if, continuing faithful for some time after baptism, ye speak in tongues/get oil put on your forehead by a properly ordained bishop [or priest if it is an extreme emergency and you may die without the seal of the Holy Spirit] and submit to other ritualistic requirements.”
[1]           It is noteworthy that most baptismal regenerationists believe that baptism only forgives past sins, not all sin, but Peter never makes this qualification in Acts 2:38.  Would not “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ in order to receive the forgiveness of past sins,” or “in order to receive the forgiveness of some sins,” have been more appropriate? 
[1]                 Some who reject baptismal regeneration hold other views on the verse.  For Acts 2:38 to function as a proof-text for advocates of forgiveness by baptism, they must prove the text teaches the ordinance is administed “in order to receive” remission of sins.  Opponents of baptismal salvation do not need to prove anything from Acts 2:38.  They simply must show that it can reasonably mean something other than that baptism is a prerequisite to forgiveness.  Having accomplished this, the verse can no longer be used as a proof-text to (attempt) to negate the immense numbers of verses that clearly promise eternal life to all believers.
[1]                 This statistic was obtained by a search of the Greek Textus Receptus using Accordance Bible software.  The same figure is given on pg. 357 of Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, Daniel Wallace (Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan, 1996).
[1]                 In the best (and the standard) New Testament lexicon, BDAG, (A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (BDAG), 3rd ed., rev. & ed. Frederick William Danker, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2000), the preposition eis has ten listed main definitions, with twenty-nine subheadings classifying different senses under the main headings.
[1]                 Eis . . . [can be] use[d] . . . causally [as] ‘on account of,’ . . . Matthew 12:41. . . . [In] Matthew 10:41 . . . the sense here called for is a causal one, for which the preposition eis is suitable, just as the Semitic equivalent le admits not only a final but also a causal sense” (para. 98, 106, Biblical Greek Illustrated by Examples, Maximilian Zerwick.  Eng. ed. Joseph Smith.  Rome:  Scripta Pontificii Instituti Biblici, 1963).  Eis can mean “because of” (pg. 103, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament, H. E. Dana and Julius R. Mantey, Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1957).  Concerning “eis . . . some contexts would certainly suit a causal sense: Matthew 3:11, because of repentance . . . 10:41; 12:41=Luke 11:32 metenoesan eis to kerugma Iona: they repented because of the preaching of Jonah . . . Acts 2:38 be baptized eis aphesin ton hamartion, on the basis of . . . Acts 7:53; Romans 4:20, on account of the promises of God, Abraham did not waver . . . Romans 11:32 God has imprisoned all because of disobedience . . . Titus 3:14, to maintain good works, because of the compelling need of them; Hebrews 12:7 [v. l.], you are enduring because of discipline . . . 1 John 5:10” (pgs. 266-267, 18:4:1c, Moulton, J. H. A Grammar of New Testament Greek. 4 vols. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1908-76. Vol. 3 (1963): Syntax, by Nigel Turner).  See J. R. Mantey, “The Causal Use of Eis in the New Testament,” Journal of Biblical Literature 70 (1951) pgs. 45-48, and “On Causal Eis Again,” Journal of Biblical Literature 70 (1951) pgs. 309-311.  In addition to quoting Matthew 3:11; 12:41; Acts 2:38, and other inspired texts as examples of a causal (“because of”) use of eis in the New Testament, Mantey provides evidence from uninspired Greek, such as Genesis 4:23 (LXX):  Andra apekteina eis trauma emoi kai neaniskon eis molopa emoi, “I killed a man for [on account of] wounding me, and a young man for [on account of] striking me.”  Mantey also mentions contemporary secular Greek examples such as Lucian, The Dead Come to Life, Vol. III, 12: ta hremata panu hetairika, kai epainoumene hupo ton heraston eis kallos echaire, “Her words are always those of a courtesan, and she delighted in being praised by her lovers for [because of] her beauty.”  B. H. Carroll provides evidence “from Aristophanes: ‘To jeer at a man eis his rags’ . . . [f]rom Plato . . . ‘To differ from one eis virtue.’ . . . [He concludes,] the meaning of eis in Acts 2:38 is . . . with reference to remission of sins. I am willing to risk my scholarship on that” (pgs. 81-82, An Interpretation of the English Bible, sec. 8, “The Theory of Baptismal Regeneration (concluded): Acts 2:38,” elec. acc. AGES Digital Software Library vol. 11, B. H. Carroll Collection. Rio, WI: 2006).  Indeed, the “illustrations of . . . [the usage of eis as] because of . . . are numerous in the N. T. and the Koiné [Greek outside of the Bible] generally” (Word Pictures in the New Testament, A. T. Robertson, Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1960, note on Acts 2:38). 
[1]           The preposition eis can signify “to” and convey a meaning of “in order to” (e. g., Colossians 1:29), although this usage is hardly the predominant or majority one.  However, it is not enough for the baptismal regenerationist to show that the word may signify “in order to” in a few of its 1,767 appearances.  He must prove that it can signify nothing other than “in order to” in Acts 2:38.  If he does not prove this sense is required in the verse, it does not establish his position.
[1]                 Some baptismal regenerationists attempt to support their view that eis aphesin hamartion in Acts 2:38 (“for/on account of the remission of sins”) means “in order to obtain” the remission of sins by cross-referencing Matthew 26:28, which states that Christ shed His blood eis aphesin hamartion.  However, this comparison of texts overlooks a number of facts.  The shedding of blood by Christ, not our baptism, is in view in Matthew’s gospel.  There are two other instances (aside from Acts 2:38 and Matthew 26:28) where the eis aphesin hamartion construction appears in the New Testament—Mark 1:4 and Luke 3:3.  In both of these instances, the phrase is used in connection with baptism (unlike in Matthew 26:28) and signifies “on account of the remission of sins.”  To use Matthew 26:28’s eis aphesin hamartion to support the idea of baptism “in order to” obtain remission of sins in Acts 2:38, while ignoring the sense of Mark 1:4 and Luke 3:3, where the word baptism is actually used with the phrase, is faulty exegesis.  Furthermore, “remission of sins,” aphesin hamartion, is promised elsewhere in Scripture to all who believe.  Acts 10:43 states, “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins (aphesin hamartion).”  Acts 26:18 likewise reads, “[T]hey may receive forgiveness of sins (aphesin hamartion) and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”
[1]           It is worth mentioning that, although the KJV translates eis forty-eight different ways, it never renders the preposition as “in order to.”  Indeed, even Alexander Campbell’s own Bible version, the Living Oracles, only manages to render eis as “in order to” in eleven out of its 1,767 appearances—and this eleven includes a number of verses with an eis + to + infinitive construction entirely unlike Acts 2:38.  Nevertheless, Campbell did remember to make Acts 2:38 one of the 0.6% of references in his own Bible version where eis is rendered “in order to.”
[1]                 In addition to the very obvious Matthew 3:11, it is hard to see how “in order to” can fit many other Biblical texts.  Is Matthew 28:19 “in order to” obtain the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost?  (Compare eis used with baptism and “name” in Acts 8:16; 19:5.)  Is Mark 1:9 “in order to” obtain the Jordan river? Is Acts 19:3 “in order to” obtain John’s baptism?  Is 1 Corinthians 1:13 (also 1:15) “in order to” obtain the name of Paul?  Is 1 Corinthians 10:2 “in order to obtain” Moses?  The only remaining verses containing eis and baptism can at least as easily signify “with respect to,” “on account of,” or one of the other senses of eis.  Not one verse must signify “in order to” obtain (Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3; Acts 2:38; Romans 6:3, 4; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:27).
[1]                 Further evidence that John’s baptism was not “in order to” the forgiveness of sins comes from the lack of Pharisaical challenge to his ministry on that account (cf. Matthew 3:7).  Christ did claim the power to forgive sin (although He did not baptize, John 4:2—note that the Lord Jesus did “make” disciples before having them baptized, evidencing that one is not made a disciple by baptism, but is one previous to it), and the Jewish religious leaders contended with Him on that ground (Matthew 9:3; Mark 2:7; Luke 5:21; 7:49).  They did not make a similar challenge to John because his baptism was not a means for the receipt of forgiveness.  It was an evidence that pardon had already been received.
            Josephus, the first century Jewish historian, when describing John’s baptism, stated that it was performed on account of already forgiven sin, not in order to obtain forgiveness. “John, who was called the Baptist . . . was a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as to righteousness towards one another, and piety towards God, and so to come to baptism; for that the washing [with water] would be acceptable to him, if they made use of it, not in order to the putting away of some sins, but for the purification of the body; supposing still that the soul was thoroughly purified beforehand by righteousness” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 18:5:2:117).  Similarly Eusebius, the first known writer in Christiandom to compose a church history, slightly altered the statements of Josephus but agreeed with his conclusions, writing:  “John who was called the Baptist . . . said that baptism would prove acceptable . . . only in those who used it not to escape from any sins but for bodily purity, on condition that the soul also had been previously cleansed thoroughly by righteousness” (Ecclesiastical History, I. XI:5, cited in Loeb Classical Library ed., trans. Kirsopp Lake, pg. 81).  While neither the writings of Josephus nor of Eusebius are inspired Scripture, of course, if John publicly proclaimed that his baptism was a prerequisite to forgiveness, would not the ancient historical record have indicated, rather than contradicted, this view?
[1]                 John’s “baptism of repentance for (eis) the remission of sins” (Mark 1:4, Luke 3:3) was not one administered “in order to” obtain remission by baptism but “on account of” remission already received by repentance and faith in the Savior (Acts 19:4-5).  The genitive construction “baptism of repentance” (Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3; Acts 13:24; 19:4) is a result/reason construction, meaning “baptism [result] on account of repentance [reason],” similar to the phrases “work [result] of faith [reason], labour [result] of love [reason], and patience [result] of hope [reason]” (1 Thessalonians 1:3; cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:11; Hebrews 6:10) or “obedience [result] of faith [reason]” (Romans 16:26).  (Compare the discussion of the genitive of production/producer on pgs. 104-106 of Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, and the genitive of source or origin analyzed on pgs. 109-110, which Wallace says “stresses cause,” that is, reason.  The connection between production/producer and reason/result can be seen, not only in the texts above, but in verses such as 1 Peter 1:3, “sanctification of the Spirit” or Galatians 3:13, “curse of the law”; cf. also Galatians 5:22; 2 Corinthians 11:26.  Note, outside the NT, texts such as 1 Clement 50:5, “harmony of love,” or Amos 6:12; Sirach 45:11 (LXX); or Philo, Allegorical Interpretation 2:68.)  Baptism is one of the “works meet for repentance” (Matthew 3:8; Acts 26:20) that follows receiving the gospel.  The record of John preaching “I indeed baptize you with water unto (eis) repentance” (Matthew 3:11) is simply a statement explaining the summary phrase that John preached a “baptism of repentance for (eis, on account of) the remission of sins” (Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3).  Since the phrase “a baptism of repentance” is a result/reason genitive construction indicating that baptism is a result of repentance, Matthew 3:11 means that John baptized with water “on account of” or “as a result of” repentance, defining eis in the text as “on account of/because of” repentance.  One notes further that even apart from this strong syntactical evidence from related passages, the natural and obvious sense of Matthew 3:11 is eis in the sense of “on account of” in any case.
[1]                 Peter’s use of kathos kai, “even as,” in Acts 10:47; 15:8 provides further support for the fact that the Holy Spirit was received before baptism in Acts 2:38.  Peter explains that in the same way that the Holy Spirit was given before baptism in the account of Acts 10:43-48, the Jews who responded to the gospel in Acts 2:38 likewise received the Spirit before baptism.  Compare the other uses of kathos kai in the New Testament (Luke 6:36; 11:1; 24:24; Acts 2:22; 10:47; 15:8; Romans 1:13; 15:7; 1 Corinthians 10:6, 9–10, 33–11:1; 13:12; 14:34; 2 Corinthians 1:14; 11:12; Galatians 5:21; Ephesians 4:4, 17, 32; 5:2, 25, 29; Colossians 1:6–7; 3:13; 1 Thessalonians 2:14; 3:4; 4:6, 13; 5:11; 2 Thessalonians 3:1; Hebrews 5:6; 2 Peter 1:14; 3:15).
While the fact that Peter preached the receipt of the Spirit upon repentance, and before baptism, in Acts 2:38; 10:47 & 15:8 refutes all versions of baptismal regeneration, it is especially worthy of note as a response to the Oneness Pentecostal doctrine that people do not receive the Holy Spirit until after they have received anti-Trinitarian Oneness baptism and spoken in tongues.  Acts 2:38 promises the Spirit before baptism, and far before the time advocated by Oneness doctrine.  The Bible also teaches the doctrine of the Trinity, that the one and only God has existed from eternity in three distinct Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (1 John 5:7; Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14; John 1:1-4).  Furthermore, even before the gift of tongues, the miraculous ability to speak in known foreign languages, ceased (1 Corinthians 13:8; cf. “1 Corinthians 13:8-13 and the Cessation of Miraculous Gifts,” R. Bruce Compton. Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal 9 (2004) 97-144), it was never for all believers (1 Corinthians 12:30), and certainly was not a prerequisite to justification.  Additionally, in Acts 19:2 the aorist participle “believed” (pisteusantes) is dependent upon the aorist verb “received” (elabete), and the verse indicates (consider also the use of ei in the question) that Paul assumed that the Holy Spirit was received instantaneously upon believing (that is, with temporal simultaneity but logical subsequence to faith), not at some later period when some sort of second blessing took place.  “[W]hen the aorist participle is related to an aorist main verb, the participle will often be contemporaneous (or simultaneous) to the action of the main verb” (pg. 624, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, Daniel Wallace).  Paul’s question to these professed disciples assumed the reality of an immediate receipt of the Spirit at the moment of faith.  “[In Acts 19:2] there is no question about what happened after believing; but the question rightly relates to what occurred when they believed. . . . [The verse could be rendered] rightly, ‘Did ye receive the Holy Ghost when ye believed?’” (Word Studies in the New Testament, Marvin Vincent, vol. 1, note on Acts 19:2, elec. acc. in AGES Digital Software Library, Classic Commentary collection).  The post-believing coming of the Spirit in miraculous power recorded in Acts 19:6 employs a different Greek word (erchomai) than that generally used for the simple receipt of the Spirit as in verse 2 (lambano).  The word in verse 2, when employed after the historical event of Spirit baptism ceased by Acts 19, always refers to the receipt of the Spirit at the moment of faith.  This use is universal in the epistles (Romans 8:15; 1 Corinthians 2:12; 2 Corinthians 11:4; Galatians 3:2, 14, cf. the prediction in John 7:39).  In contrast, the word in Acts 19:6 is never used in the New Testament of the believer’s receipt of the Spirit at the moment of faith and regeneration.
            The Oneness Pentecostal idea that “the one name of Matthew 28:19 is Jesus, for Jesus is the name of the Father . . . the Son . . . and the Holy Ghost . . . the name of Jesus was orally uttered as part of the baptismal formula . . . the name Jesus was orally invoked at baptism” (The Oneness of God, David K. Bernard.  Hazelwood, MO: Word Aflame Press, 1995, Chapter 6, “Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,” elec. acc.) is entirely erroneous and heretical, and it cannot be sustained Scripturally.  If one must, as Oneness Pentecostalism affirms, employ the correct words at the time of baptism or salvation is impossible, which words should be employed?  Those of Acts 2:38, “in [epi] the name of Jesus Christ”; those of Acts 8:16 and 19:5, “in [eis] the name of the Lord Jesus”; or those of Acts 10:48, “in [en] the name of the Lord”?  Since there are three different groups of words, with three different prepositions employed (epi, eis, and en), and three different endings (“Jesus Christ,” “Lord Jesus,” “Lord,”—note that the last does not even have the name “Jesus” at all), which set constitutes the magic words without which salvation is impossible?  Would it also not be very unfortunate that, whichever of the three sets of words one determines is the true one, every person the apostles and first century Christians baptized employing the two “wrong” sets of words was eternally damned?  How many of the first century Christians must have missed heaven because they did not know which of the various sets of words were the magic keys to heaven!  How unfortunate, indeed, how misleading it is that Luke, writing under inspiration, does not give the slightest hint that either Acts 2:38, or 8:16, or 19:5, or any other verbal formulation whatsoever, is essential to salvation!  What errors the apostles made as well in allowing all those baptized in Acts into church membership, whichever set of words are recorded in connection with their baptism, although the two-thirds with the wrong formula were not truly saved!  Or is it not rather obvious that the Oneness Pentecostal notion that a certain set of words is essential to salvation cannot be sustained in the book of Acts or elsewhere in Scripture?  Since there is no consistent set of words recorded in Acts in connection with baptism “in the name of” the Lord, and so Acts is not giving a specific set of words that must be employed without sinning and facing eternal damnation, what does the “name” terminology really mean?
Baptism is “in the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 2:38), not because Jesus is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, nor because the words “in the name of Jesus” or some similar non-Trinitiarian formula was uttered when the ceremony was performed, but because baptism is performed with Christ’s authority.  The Lord Jesus, who has all authority or power (Matthew 28:18), commanded that baptism be performed with the Trinitarian formula of Matthew 28:19.  When this is done (and other requirements for baptism are met, such as that the person being baptized is a believer, not an infant), the baptism is performed with Christ’s authority, that is, in His name.  When Baptist churches employ the Trinitarian formula the Lord Jesus commanded for use until the end of the world (Matthew 28:20), they are baptizing in Jesus’ name.
            The fact that “in the name of” means “with the authority of” is evident in Scripture.  Several examples, out of many, will be given.  In Deuteronomy 18:5-7, the Levites were “to minister in the name of the LORD.”  Unlike the other tribes, they had Jehovah’s authority to do their Levitical work.  They did not go around all day long repeating His name in a sort of mantra.  Their ministrations in the tabernacle and temple, teaching the Law to God’s people and completing other work, was done with Divine authority, hence “in His name.”  In 1 Samuel 25:9, “when David’s young men came, they spake to Nabal according to all those words in the name of David, and ceased.”  David’s young men came to Nabal with David’s authority and gave Nabal a message from David.  They did not come to Nabal and say, “David, David, David, David.”  In 1 Kings 18:32, Elijah “built an altar in the name of the LORD: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed.”  Elijah built the altar with Jehovah’s authority (1 Kings 18:36).  The point was not that he repeated the Tetragrammaton over and over again.  In Esther 3:12, “the king’s scribes called on the thirteenth day of the first month, and there was written according to all that Haman had commanded unto the king’s lieutenants, and to the governors that were over every province, and to the rulers of every people of every province according to the writing thereof, and to every people after their language; in the name of king Ahasuerus was it written, and sealed with the king’s ring.”  The letter had the authority of king Ahasuerus, so all men in his empire needed to pay attention.  The words of the letter were not “Ahasuerus, Ahasuerus, Ahasuerus.”  In 2 Thessalonians 3:6, Paul wrote, “[B]rethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.”  The apostle commanded the church at Thessalonica with Christ’s authority.  Paul wrote under inspiration, and the command to practice church discipline was given by the Lord Jesus in Matthew 18:15-20.  In Acts 4:7, the elders of Israel asked Peter what authority the apostle had for his message.  Their question was, “By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?”  In Luke 24:47—which sets the background for the use of “in the name of” formulae in Acts, since Luke wrote Acts as the continuation of his gospel (Luke 1:1-4; Acts 1:1-4) and the preaching in Acts was in fulfillment of the command given in Luke 24 (cf. Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15)—“repentance and remission of sins should be preached in [Christ’s] name among all nations.”  That is, the Lord Jesus gave authority to the church to preach repentance and remission of sins, and so this preaching was done as recorded in the book of Acts.  “In the name of” means “with the authority of” in Scripture.
            Acts 19:1-7 demonstrates that the formula given in Matthew 28:19 was employed by the apostolic churches, corroborating that Trinitarian baptism is actually baptism with Christ’s authority (Acts 19:5).  When Paul found people who claimed to be “disciples” (v. 1) who had “not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost” (v. 2), the apostle, in shock, asked “Unto what then were ye baptized?”  Since the churches were “baptizing . . . in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19), employing the Trinitarian formula in their baptismal ceremony, Paul asks these alleged “disciples” how they could have been baptized and never have heard of the Holy Ghost, when He is mentioned in the baptismal ritual itself.  Paul’s question would not make any sense if the baptismal ceremony employed a formula such as “I baptize you in the name of Jesus.”  How would that formula be a guarantee that all baptized disciples had heard of the Holy Ghost?  Trinitarians correctly explain Paul’s mental process as, “How could these people be disciples in Christian churches—they have not even heard of the Holy Ghost, but He is mentioned in the act of baptism itself!  ‘Unto what then were ye baptized?’”  Oneness Pentecostals would have made Paul think, “How could these people be disciples in Christian churches—they have not even heard of the Holy Ghost—now He isn’t mentioned in the act of baptism, since only the word “Jesus” is used in the formula.  However, I’ll ask them what they were baptized unto anyway, as if that related to what they had just said somehow.”
Very early documents in church history demonstrate that even around the end of the first century baptism was administered employing the Trinitarian formula.  Near the end of the first century, it was written:  “Now concerning baptism, baptize as follows: after you have reviewed all these things, baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Didache 7:1). “For those things which the prophets announced, saying, ‘Until He come for whom it is reserved, and He shall be the expectation of the Gentiles,’ have been fulfilled in the Gospel, [our Lord saying,] ‘Go ye and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.’” (Ignatius to the Philadelphians, chapter 9).  Some decades later, declarations like the following are found: “For the law of baptizing has been imposed, and the formula prescribed: ‘Go,’ He saith, ‘teach the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.’” (Tertullian, On Baptism, Chapter 13).  In contrast, no extant patristic writer or ancient document says anything like “we should not baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, but in the name of Jesus Christ” or anything remotely similar.  True churches in the earliest centuries of Christianity employed the Trinitarian baptismal formula (as even proto-Catholicism did).
When Biblical churches employ the Trinitarian formula in baptism, they are baptizing in Jesus’ name, just like the first century churches did.  Oneness Pentecostals that employ the phrase “in the name of Jesus” when immersing people but believe the idolatrous heresy that Jesus is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit do not have any authority from God for their practice—they are the ones who do not really baptize in the name of Jesus Christ.
[1]                 “of you” (humon), is a second person pronoun in the genitive case.  It is a partitive genitive (see pgs. 84-86, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, Wallace) indicating the group from which each person was derived.
[1]                 Ephesians 4:26-27 is an example:
Be ye angry (2nd person plural imperative)
and sin not (2nd person plural imperative)
            [do] not . . . let go down (3rd person singular imperative)
            the sun (nominative singular noun)
                        upon your wrath
neither give place (2nd person plural imperative)
            to the devil.
Compare Joshua 6:10 (LXX, trans. Brenton):
And Joshua commanded the people, saying,
Cry not out (2nd person plural imperative)
            nor let any one hear (3rd person singular imperative)
                        your voice, until . . the time to cry out, and then

ye shall cry out (2nd person plural future indicative).