Water Has Never nor Will Ever Save a Single Soul.
A River Baptism
A Nearly Scripturally Correct Water Baptism
A couple of Sundays past, I was invited to attend the baptism of young man dear to my heart and my family. Considering the denominational persuasion of the one doing the baptism, I was planning on being disappointed. I was pleasantly surprised as everything was following a solid doctrinal course. He used the Acts 8 passage (Philip and the Eunuch) and even included verse 37 (the needed testimony to a changed life) which in most bibles is either in italics or omitted. Then, like a lousy ending to a good movie, the testimony was replaced by a question and answer session. In short, there was no testimony, just a couple of yeses and now your baptism really means something? I happen to know this young man very well and I would love to believe him. Sadly, the absence of a testimony did not surprise me
Caveat: we must never take one solitary verse or passage, then base an entire doctrine without multiple other scriptures to reinforce, to deepen our understanding and to perfectly agree with the whole of scripture. All we know from Acts 8:35, is that Philip began in Isaiah and preached Jesus. When one truly preaches Jesus; repentance from our dead works is a key ingredient. (More later.)
Back to the baptism; where was his testimony? A yes does not speak of a Holy Spirit inspired confession to the person of Jesus, being forgiven and becoming a new creation in Christ. How can anyone be born-again and not overwhelmed by our Lord’s grace and mercy? The eunuch’s testimony of Acts 8 demonstrated that he could not hold it back.
Again, the proverbial light came on: the testimonies I have heard at water baptisms over the last thirty or forty years seldom spoke of repentance and the unquenchable joy of being forgiven. It seems it has become of a rite of passage from being an outsider to being included. Baptism is not a rite, it is a privilege and a testimony, not to the Church alone but also to the lost. When the lost hear a fellow reprobate make a confession of Faith, they will then keep a wary eye upon them. If one who professed goes back to their sinful ways; they will know there was no truth in what transpired … but, if a noticeable change becomes clearly evident, one’s actions will speak louder than words.
Philip and the Ethopian Eunuch
A Detailed Lesson Concerning Baptism and Its Relationship to Salvation
The Lost Cannot Testify to the Person of Christ.
A great deal of confusion surrounds the 1 John 4:1-3 passage concerning the testing of the spirits.
(1) Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. (2) Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: (3) And every spirit that confesseth NOT that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
The KJV is the only bible translation, I have found, that uses the present tense of “to be” in verses 2 and 3 as it states “… that Jesus Christ ‘is come’ in the flesh …”; all other translations use the past tense, ‘has come’ for both verses. Trivial you may say but it is it’s eternal impact that sets the other translations apart. (SEE FOOTNOTE) Anyone can say that Jesus was a man for a season, believing that He is now a spiritual entity in the cosmos of heaven … no longer in the flesh. Not so, for our Savior is fully man and fully God. He appeared to the apostles and fellow disciples for 40 days in the flesh; remember doubting Thomas? “… for a spirit hath not flesh and bone, as ye see Me have.” Luke 24:39 When He ascended to heaven in the clouds, two angels stood by to let us know “… this same Jesus which is taken up from you to heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen Him go to heaven.” Acts 1:11 He was in the flesh as they watched Him disappear into the heavens and when He returns … ALL peoples will know that Jesus Christ IS come in the flesh.
When Elohim created man in their image, Adam came with a body, soul and spirit, a perfect image of the triune God. Jesus has always been the embodiment of God with several theophany's in the Old Testament, including the Garden. In Philippians 2:7 when it speaks of Jesus being made in the likeness of men; it means that He set His glory aside for a season. When John saw the glorified Christ in Revelation, terror filled his being and he fell down as if dead. Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever. He has always had a body and one day we shall see Him as He is.
The Conversion of the Ethiopian Eunuch.
He was a Jew either by birth or a proselyte for he had been to Jerusalem for the Passover festivities to worship. He was well educated for he was responsible for the accounting of his queen’s wealth and could read. As he was reading from Isaiah, he had no clue as to the meaning of a passage when Philip, by God’s providence, should appear to give him understanding as to the who was being spoken of “… like a sheep being led to the slaughter …”. His spiritual eyes were opened for the Holy Spirit had given him the seal of the promise. He was overcome with joy and desired to testify to the world via water baptism. Philip did not ask the eunuch what he believed but simply stated (no questions), if you believe, if you believe, if you believe I will then baptize you. Belief MUST precede water baptism, for there is only one Lord, one Faith and one Baptism (Ephesians 4:5) that matters for eternity and that is the baptism of Christ by the Holy Spirit.
“I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” This testimony of the eunuch being a Jew is incredibly powerful. Jesus was crucified for claiming to be the Christ, the Son of God. Why, because it was blasphemy to the Jew; for anyone who said this of themselves; they would be declaring that they were God Almighty. Rabbis and Pharisees conveniently forgot the passage in Isaiah 53 stating that we would not esteem Him: Jesus did not come ‘their’ way. The Romans still held sway over Judea and the King of Kings was not sitting on the throne as they had envisioned. For a learned Jew, this was an amazing revelation and could only have been powered by the presence of the Holy Spirit.
The Only Test You Should Take ...
Five Simple Questions
Were you saved by grace through faith?
- If yes, the saving faith was not yours. Ephesian 2:8-10 God's grace through the agency of the Holy Spirit gave you a gift of faith that you should believe. It was not because of works (baptism) for then you would be able to boast; that which it not tolerated by God. Not only did you receive a gift, something that was never yours: God ordained you to good works as the result of His grace of which you had no merit.
How many of your sins were forgiven by the death of Jesus Christ upon the cross?
- If you say all, would this not include past, present and future sins? Would not that include failing to be water baptized, if you consider this a sin? If not, tell us what sins were not covered by the shed blood of Christ for those He came to redeem. Ephesians 1:7 "In whom we have redemption through His (Jesus) blood, the forgiveness of sins, according the the riches of His grace." Is His grace lacking sufficiency towards us or are His riches limited? God forbid such heresy.
Is your salvation secure?
- If you had problems with the first two questions, are you walking on egg shells in your ?Christian? life? Ephesians 1:13 - The Doctrine of Salvation - hear the Word logos 3026 of Truth, the Gospel of your salvation, THEN ye believed and (that which follows belief?) ye were sealed (marked with the signet of God Almighty, we are now His possession) with the Holy Spirit of promise. Water baptism seals nothing for eternity; every cult seems to utilize water ... what good does it do them? Roman 8:38-39 ... there is NOTHING that can separate us from the love of God; John 10:28-30 ... no one can pluck anyone from God's hand ... Jesus and the Father are one.
- 2 Timothy 2:13 lets His own know that if we act in unbelief, He remains faithful for He cannot deny His own ... those sealed with the Holy Spirit.
- Revelation is for believers only ... read the two introductory verses to this amazing book found in Jude, verses 24 and 25.
Is your God absolutely sovereign?
It comes down to your will versus the will of God. It seems everyone knows John 1:12, but verse 13 is too often purposefully avoided by those who desire to be in charge of their own salvation. John 1:13 "Which were born ...
- ... not of blood - neither your heritage or a heroic life giving death can save you, for your blood is sinful.
- ... nor the will of the flesh - God does not give you a test where only the religious get the answer correct but our gift is a broken and contrite heart, crying out over our sinfulness begging for mercy.
- ... nor the will of man - neither you nor anyone can talk or coerce yourself into heaven
- ... It is God and God alone.
Are you a Berean?
- If the previous means little or nothing to you, a Berean you are not.
- If what I have written either troubles you or has brought some confusion to your beliefs, you may well be on your way to becoming a Berean
- Search the scriptures thoroughly to test what I have written; prove me either right or wrong, for you will live with the results. Sola Scriptura
A closing thought: Grace Cannot Be Grace … If Works Are Required
For those who should agree with my position, I pray I have strengthened your beliefs in some way. May God richly bless.
Literal Greek reading of portion of 1 John 4:1 "... every spirit which confesses Jesus Christ, in flesh come of God is ..." come erchomai 2064 is only used in the present or imperfect tenses ... is esti 2076 is in the 3rd person, singular, indicative. All of this to show His own, that He, Jesus, is the I AM, the always existent one. He was in glorified flesh before creation, He came in non-glorified flesh as a man and now sits at the right hand of the Father in His eternal glorified flesh. He is God Almighty, to which the Holy Spirit will always attest.