Aug 31, 2009

Debate on Eternal Security

John Gentry and I have agreed to debate the eternal security question (or "once saved always saved") on Tuesday and Thursday nights, November 5th and 6th.

If I cannot obtain permission to hold the debate on the campus of SBTS in Louisville, we will hold it in the "Church of Christ" meeting house in Galena, Indiana (not far from Louisville).

I e-mailed the proper department at SBTS this morning asking for permission and help. Is there anyone who can help with this? John thinks we will have more people to attend than who can be accomodated at the church building. I hope SBTS will allow us use of a meeting hall for this debate. If any of the Gadfly's readers knows who may be contacted at SBTS to help with this, please let me know.

I will be posting more details in the future.

All Will Persevere

"And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." (I John 3: 3 KJV)

"Every man," that is a universal. "Hath this hope," that is, this Christian hope, springing from faith. "Purifieth himself," that is, he perseveres. He does not lose salvation. Once saved always saved is taught in many scriptures as this one and is stated very plainly.

If some who genuinely have the Christian hope fail to persevere and are finally lost, then how could the Apostle John's statement be true? Would he not say it thusly - "and some of those who have this hope purify themselves"?

Accusatory Comment

A commenter named "Russ" posted the following comments about my comment on the desiringgod web site concerning whether Esther 9: 1 (or the rest of the Book of Esther) "pointed to Jesus," whether, per John 5: 39, the Book of Esther "testified" concerning Christ.

Russ wrote:

Stephen is tragically irrational in his absurd self-righteousness (contradicting and violating Romans 2 & 1 John 1:10) in pretending to make a case for Esther and Mordecai as the "rebel, disobedient, secular, or worldly Jew" since we weren't there and don't know of their actual thoughts or actions concerning the return from exile, thereby in no way being able to make a case against them without witnesses, just facile speculation. Since Esther is GOD's Word, I'll take that any day over man's any day, especially such pathetic, idle speculation.

For the few who take God and HIs Word seriously, David Mathis's Biblical observations of the matter to which Stephen vainly attempted a refutation/reply )at
are Biblically substantial and truly edifying in contrast.

Instead of this kind of rebuttal, why didn't Russ simply give us the canonical proofs of the inspiration of Esther? Why did he not defend Mathis' attempt to find Jesus' death and resurrection in Esther 9:1?

Russ also said, in another comment:

Care to try eisegesIs instead of eisegesUs? If one can't even get the spelling right I doubt we need to worry so much about David's alleged reading of Jesus into Esther, the sole canonical book that doesn't mention the name of God, just because he makes a comparison. Talk about straining at gnats! If the Church had held to such an absurdly limited view of inspiration, Esther would have never made it into the canon, in view of lacking the name of God. Thankfully Stephen's sectarian views were not held and so we have this wonderful narration of God's grace. Soli Deo Gloria!

So I misspelled "eisegesis"! It's not like I haven't spelled it correctly before! So, how does this prove I am wrong on Esther? So, not only does Russ not show how Esther meets the canonical rules laid down by Christ and his apostles, and does not show how Esther 9: 1 "points to Jesus" (thereby justifying my remark about this type of "interpretation" being "eisegesis"), but he shows that he cannot reason logically.

Who can come forward and debate the legitimacy of the Book of Esther without resorting to this kind of rebuttal? Does it not show how weak is the position of those who defend Esther?

Aug 30, 2009

Esther 9: 1 Postscript

First of all, the "Jew" who "got the mastery" over the Persians was the rebel, disobedient, secular, worldly Jew, represented by Esther and Mordecai, who did not return from the exile with the godly and faithful "Jew," to Jerusalem, per the words of the prophets. Their obtaining this small victory over a Persian anti-Semitic conspiracy, was not by some miraculous intervention by God, but by the political machinations of Mordecai. His "mastery" was to exact unjust cruelty on his enemies. His political mastery came by intrigue, cunning craftiness, deceit, and worldly means. He represents Apostate Jewry, secular Judaism, the kind associated with godless, money and power hungry Jews. In the feast of Purim today (which is not an ordained feast of God) we see the non-religious nature of the feast, the carnival atmosphere, and intemperance, and the "we are superior" attitude that prevails in the participants during the reading of Esther, during Purim, and is thus quite unlike the ordained feasts of God as given by Moses.

Parable of the Soils

I have said before that the parable of the Sower and Seed, or of the Soils, given in Matthew 13, Mark 4, and Luke 8, with explanations by Christ, is fundamental. If one errs in understanding this parable, he will err in understanding the way of salvation. The Hardshells err on this parable.

All of them affirm that the parable teaches Hardshellism, that men are saved and born again before, apart from, and without the preaching of the gospel. Their contention is that the soil was made "good" (equated with an "honest and good heart") by "regeneration" and this was prior to, and necessary before one could receive by faith the seed that produces fruit. Sadly, some non-Hardshell Hyperists have also held this erroneous view.

The first Hardshells who argued that regeneration precedes faith, and is wrought by God without the means of gospel truth, believed that only the "good ground" hearers were the children of God. As time went on, however, many Hardshells began to preach that not only the "good ground" hearers were children of God, and born again, but the other three also. To these later Hardshells, they were all born again children of God. The purpose of the parable, then became, to show the various reactions the word of God has with the elect. The non-elect, or unregenerate, are not even included or under consideration in the parable, according to these later Hardshell apologists, such as the great debater and Hardshellism defender, Elder C. H. Cayce. Why did later Hardshells come to believe that all four hearers or soil types represented born again children of God, rather than only the "good ground" hearers?

This novel interpretation of the characters in the parable renders totally untenable the leading Hardshell argument on the parable, one made by Hardshell debaters, J. R. Daily and Lemuel Potter, which attempted to prove the Hardshell "born again before faith" error by arguing that the soil was made "good" by "regeneration" before the creation of faith and repentance, and other "fruit," by the sowing of the seed of the gospel. However, making the soil "good" is now not equated with "regeneration" since all the four characters are "regenerate," as the majority of today's Hardshells affirm. All four soils (hearts) were not "good" and "honest," however, as the plain reading shows. Only one was good soil, prepared and equipped for productivity.

However, as I have written previously, in my book on the Hardshell Baptists, and elsewhere in the Gadfly, this view of the parable is unscriptural and not in keeping with historic creedal Baptist teachings on it. Certainly Spurgeon did not believe that the making of the soil "good" was equal to "regeneration" but to "preparations" that precede regeneration.

See here

And here

And here

And here

I have also stated in debate with Campbellites (aka "Church of Christ," "Christian Church," "Disciples of Christ") how both Hardshellism and Campbellism, historical "twins," err on the parable of the Soils.

Today's Hardshells believe all four soils describe born again children of God. Today's Campbellites believe three out of the four were children of God, at least once in their lives.

The most important thing to understand about the parable is that it deals with how one becomes a "child of the kingdom," and thus with salvation.

Another important thing to understand is that the parable tells us who is lost. On this all except today's Hardshells agree. The first hearer, whose heart was like the beaten path, is plainly said to have dismissed the word "lest he should believe and be saved." (See Luke 8: 12) His lost and damned condition is without question, except for today's Hardshell few.

The second hearer, the shallow ground hearer, is also a lost soul. He is the temporary believer, the apostate, and no such person will be finally saved. No "believer," no matter how "joyous" he was at first hearing the gospel, who later became "offended" at Christ and the gospel, and who "falls away," will be finally saved. The only dispute here is really over whether this hearer was ever saved to begin with.

The third hearer, the thorny ground hearer, also is lost. No one who has a faith that can be "choked out" by the "cares of this world" will be saved. Again, none but the few Hardshell heretics disagree. Again, the only difference is over whether this thorny ground hearer was ever saved to begin with.

Another important thing to understand is that none of the "good ground" hearers failed to persevere. None of them fell way. All these began saved and remain saved.

Also, in the New Testament descriptions of people's reactions to the preaching of the gospel, everyone will fit one of these four categories of hearers.

Three of the four hearers became professing Christians, but only one was saved.

Esther Spoke of Jesus?

In a blog posting at John Piper's "Desiring God" web site, David Mathis posts a short article titled Esther & Jesus: "The Reverse Occurred" in which he tries to demonstrate, from one verse in the Book of Esther, that Jesus' death was foretold in the Book of Esther. Those who are familiar with the Gadfly blog know that I have challenged others to demonstrate where Esther was inspired scripture, and how it meets one of the "canonical rules" by testifying of Jesus. See the Mathis posting here

Mathis wrote:

"The Hebrew Scriptures point to Jesus in a myriad of ways. One way is narrative patterns, like the one in Esther 9:1:

On the very day when the enemies of the Jews hoped to gain the mastery over them, the reverse occurred: the Jews gained mastery over those who hated them.

And so it happened at the cross. At the very moment when the Enemy of the True Jew hoped to gain the mastery over Jesus, the reverse occurred: Jesus gained mastery over the one who hated him.

God has innumerable ways of pointing us to his Son—after all, according to Colossians 1:16-17, all the universe is in Jesus, through Jesus, and for Jesus.

If all the universe, then how much more the Scriptures."

This is that testimony of Christ that is essential to being "scripture"? (See John 5: 39) If a man can make Esther 9: 1 "point to Jesus," he can find Jesus anywhere. Is this not eisegesis? Is this not the thing that brother Piper ought to be against?

Aug 28, 2009

Quality Bible Studies

By Pastor Bruce Oyen
700 South Prairie Street Miles City, MT 59301

Have you ever seen an announcement on TV about a bank robber the police are seeking help to apprehend? They tell his height, weight, color, clothes he might be wearing, and other features such as tattoos, so that you might recognize him and turn him into the police.

On the positive side, how do you recognize a good Bible study class? What are some of it characteristics? It is my goal to give four characteristics of good Bible classes so that teachers will know if they are doing a good job, and so students will know if they are helping or hindering Bible classes study the Word of God.

So, what are some characteristics of good Bible classes? Might they be the following?

Everyone uses the same Bible translation.

Many translations are used.

The teacher teaches directly from the Bible’s original languages.

Study guides and handouts are used.

Only the Bible is used.

The class starts and ends on time.

The teacher lectures without giving ample time for questions and discussion.

The teacher maintains a good balance of lecturing, questions and discussion.


The main concern of this article is the fact that in many classes very little direct Bible teaching is given because the time is taken up by too much discussion. Everyone is encouraged to share his or her opinion on the subject under consideration, the end result of which is little more than the sharing of anecdotes and personal opinions. Many times these anecdotes and opinions reveal ignorance of the Word of God instead of feeding people the Word of God.

Here is an example of what I mean: One time when visiting a church Bible class, considerable discussion had to do with the rightness or wrongness of a Christian marrying a non-Christian. One man told the class to keep in mind that many non-Christians have gotten saved as the result of marrying Christians. This seemed to end the discussion. But I pointed put that, though that might be true, it does not justify violating the Bible’s prohibition of doing so, and supported my statement with 1 Corinthians 7:39, which says a Christian should marry “in the Lord,” meaning a Christian should marry a Christian.

Class discussion is good, so long as it is not allowed to encroach upon the direct teaching of the Bible. But this is what takes place week after week, so we need to get back to providing good Bible classes. Therefore, let us now consider some characteristics of good ones.


1. Good Bible classes have teachers who teach Biblical content, rather just guiding or facilitating group discussions on Biblical subjects.

For example, if the subject is “What the epistle of James says about temptation,” the teacher will not just ask the class what they think James wrote about this matter, and then let the discussion go in all directions like a sailboat on Lake Superior without anyone holding the rudder.

Instead, though the teacher might ask that question and allow time for discussion, he or she will always tell the class what James actually does say about temptation in James 1:2 & 3, and 12, 13, & 14.

2. Good Bible classes have teachers who believe the Bible to be the Word of God, and who, therefore, accept its teachings as absolute truth.

If a teacher does not have this opinion about the Bible, he or she will call its teachings into question, which, of course, will undermine the students’ faith in the Bible. Therefore, such persons should not be allowed to be Bible teachers in churches, schools, or anywhere else.

Several years ago, an embittered divorcee told me in private conversation that the apostle Paul’s teaching on marriage and related subjects was in error. Think of the negative impact she would have had on others if she had been a Bible class teacher. No doubt, she negatively influenced her children’s view of the Bible’s teaching.

But that is exactly what many are teaching week by week in their “Bible classes,” on that and many other subjects.

On the other hand, think of the positive impact of one who does believe in the divine inspiration of the Bible, just as we read of it in 2 Timothy 3:16 and 2 Peter 1:21. Many of you reading this article were greatly influenced for good by the teaching of your parents, a Sunday school teacher, or a pastor who told you many times the Bible is the Word of God.

3. Good Bible classes have teachers who know that a Biblical statement means what its author meant by it, and they know it means nothing else.

Such teachers try diligently to determine the author’s meaning of a statement, and then communicate that to their students.

In 2 Corinthians 11:8, the KJV, New KJV, NASB, and NIV say the apostle Paul said he had “robbed” other churches to minister to the Corinthian church. It is the teacher’s job to find out what that means, for it means only one thing. It would be a serious mistake for the teacher to ask the class what they think the statement means, and then give them the impression the various and contradictory opinions might all be right. Rather, the class should be told that Paul used the word “robbed” in this case to mean he received financial support from other churches to serve the Corinthians, but he did not receive support from them for his own good reasons.

Sometimes a teacher might be unsure of what a Biblical statement means. This is common and acceptable. In such cases, the teacher should be honest with students, and perhaps open it up for discussion. But the teacher must never imply that all opinions are right, or that a statement means what we want it to mean. It always and only means what the author meant by it, even if we don’t know what that is.

As we try to determine what a Biblical statement means, it will cause our minds to work up a sweat. Research is hard, mental work, but it must be done. This work yields the best discoveries in the Bible. It reminds me of when we lived on the island of St. Croix, in the U. S. Virgin Islands. We would go to the beach to swim and hunt for sea shells. Many shells were found right in plain sight on the shore. But the best ones were found by turning over rocks, or by looking between rocks. That took more work, but was worth the effort.

So, don’t shy away from the hard work of Bible study. Prayerfully and carefully use commentaries, Bible dictionaries, Bible handbooks, and other Biblical reference works that will help you unlock the meaning of a Biblical statement.

4. Good Bible classes have teachers who not only seek to inform their students’ minds, but who also seek to transform their lives with the Bible.

That classic text about the inspiration of the Bible, 2 Timothy 3:16 & 17, tells us the Bible is of divine origin. But it does much more than that: it tells us it has life-transforming power. It is “profitable for doctrine (teaching), for reproof, for correction, and instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

We can know the Bible well without it doing us any good. This was made clear to me one day in 1974 or 1975, when I was selling Christian books door-to-door on the island of Nassau, Bahamas. As I walked down the street, a man walked in my direction on the same side of the street. I could tell he had become good friends with Jim Beam or Johnny Walker, for he was drunk. When he learned what I was selling, he gave me a Bible test: “How many times is God directly referred to in the book of Esther?” Fortunately, I could tell him the answer, “Not once.” This man had obviously stored the Bible in his memory, but he had not hid it in his heart.

Though, ultimately, the student must decide for himself or herself what impact the Bible will have on daily life, the teacher seeks to transform lives with it, not just inform minds.


It is hoped that this article will help both teachers and students seek to have these characteristics of good Bible classes in our churches and elsewhere. Teachers can work harder at teaching the Bible, and students can cut back on the amount of discussion that uses up the time needed for genuine Bible study.

Moreover, it is hoped that pastors will take greater oversight of the Bible classes sponsored by their churches, so those classes will more effectively expose those in attendance to the Word of God. One way this can be done is to have required classes on teaching for teachers, even teachers who have been at it for years. It might be better for a pastor to simply announce such classes will be held, and that teachers will be required to attend, than to sit in on classes and then have to correct the faults observed. However it is done, great tact must be used.

Thanks Bruce!


Aug 27, 2009

Correct English James!

A year or two ago, James White criticized my "internet search engine" abilities - see here. I thought his criticism was inordinate, especially when there were larger issues he could have addressed. Well, "what goes around, comes around."

In Jame's recent blog post, here, he titled the entry - "Something that Made Phil Johnson and I Both Wince." I am sure it is just a "slip up," but correct English would say "Phil and me," for you do not say "something that made I wince."

"What's good for the goose is good for the gander."

Aug 24, 2009

Obedience Before Baptism

Syllogism #1

1. Believing = Obeying (Scripture says this and John agrees)

2. One believes before baptism.

3. One obeys before baptism

Syllogism #2

1. Repenting = Obeying

2. One repents before baptism

3. One obeys before baptism

Syllogism #3

1. Confessing = Obeying

2. One confesses before baptism

3. One obeys before baptism

Syllogism #4

1. Calling upon the name of the Lord = Obeying

2. One calls upon the Lord before baptism

3. One obeys before baptism

Syllogism #5

1. Humbled and contrite = Obeying

2. One is humbled and contrite before baptism

3. One obeys before baptism

Syllogism #6

1. Knowing God = Obeying

2. One knows God before baptism

3. One obeys before baptism

Syllogism #7

1. Coming to Jesus = Obeying

2. One comes to Jesus before baptism

3. One obeys before baptism

Now, it was agreed, in my debate with John Gentry (and other "Church of Christ" apologists also), that faith saves when it is coupled with active obedience. The disagreement came over the precise time when one "obeys" the Lord. John contended that one does not obey God till he is baptized in water. Prior to that time, he is possessed of a "dead faith" and a "disobedient faith." Thus, I could reconfigure the syllogisms above in this form.

1. One does not obey God till water baptism.
2. One believes, repents, and confesses before water baptism.
3. Believing, repenting, and confessing, are not acts of obedience to God.

Audio of Debate online

John Gentry has informed me that the audio of our recent debate is available online. See here

Also, my friend, "Seeking Disciple," has posted a short review of the debate. See here

Aug 20, 2009

Work Schedule

Due to my recent debate on the purpose of water baptism with John Gentry of the Galena, Indiana "Church of Christ," I was forced to interrupt my regular writings and research to prepare for the debate. I still have another debate being planned, possibly in November, in Galena, for two nights, with John, on the question of whether true believers may lose salvation. I will have to devote some time to this debate also.

Presently I have several books partially written. These are:

1. The "Hardshell Baptist Cult" (see link) wherein I have published 89 chapters. I have plans to write at least another fifty chapters before it is concluded.

2. "Theology of Job" (see link) wherein I have published 5 chapters and plan to have about 24 chapters.

3. "The Ordo Salutis Debate" (see link) where I have no chapters published as yet but much material collected and some chapters in draft form.

4. "My Daily Bread" (see link) where I have a bible study lesson for each day of the year. I have plans to make both a "morning and evening" lesson and re-edit.

5. "The Second Coming" (see link) where I present my views on this subject. I have numerous sections already written but still have much to add and re-edit. I will be showing how the "pre-tribulation rapture" theory is novel and unscriptural.

It is my intention to work hard on these books in the months ahead. For this reason my postings in the "Gadfly" may be greatly lessoned.

I still have plans to write upon the Old and New Covenants under title of "New Wine in Old Bottles?" I plan to show how the New Testament Church has brought in parts of the law of Moses and Old Covenant into the New Covenant Church, such as keeping Sabbath laws, tithing laws, etc., thereby mixing law and grace, or putting old wine in new bottles, or vice versa. I also plan to address how sinners were saved before the death of Christ and how they could be saved by the New Covenant even before it came into "force." I will refute the Scofield idea that no one was born again till after the death of Christ. I will also deal with the place of John the Baptist, respecting the New and Old Covenants, and whether his baptism was Christian.

I also have plans to write a book against the "Heresies of Campbellism." I will cover their idea of baptismal salvation, of "word alone" regeneration, and their Pelagianism.

With all these writing projects, I hardly have time for anything else. Yet, I am back heavily into my Greek studies. Also, John Gentry is talking to me about a four night debate, next year, on the origins of the Baptist versus the Campbellite church. He wants the proposition to be the same as it was between my dad and Thomas Thrasher that read - "the church of which I am a member is scriptural in origin, doctrine, and practice." I believe this is too broad and will be looking at other propositions.

Keep us in your prayers as I work on these projects.


John's pre-Baptism Condition

John Gentry's condition when he physically entered the waters of baptism. By his own admission. If the experience of water baptism is salvation, then John's condition, when he walked into the water, was...

1. An "enemy to God in his mind by wicked works" for this is the state of the unsaved, and according to John, one is not saved till baptism. (See Col. 1: 21)

2. Possessed a "dead faith," for faith is dead before baptism, according to John. (See James 2: 17-26)

3. Possessed a "disobedient faith," for faith is not obedient till baptism, according to John.

4. Not "converted" in his heart to the Lord, for baptism is conversion, according to John.

5. One who had not yet "called upon the name of the Lord," for baptism is such calling, according to John.

6. One who had not yet "received" Christ by faith, for this occurs in baptism, according to John.

7. One who had not yet "died to" sin, the law, the world, or to self, for this is the condition of the saved, and one is not saved before baptism, according to John.

8. One who did not know nor had heard the voice of Christ, for this is salvation, and no one is saved before baptism, according to John.

9. One who still had a carnal mind, and impenitent heart, and who had not received the "new heart" and "new spirit" promised by God, for this does not occur till baptism, according to John.

10. One who had not as yet "received the atonement" for this is done in baptism, according to John. (See Rom. 5: 11)

11. One who had "uncircumcised" and "stiffnecked" heart and ears, for these are removed when one is saved, and one is not saved before baptism, according to John.

12. One who had not yet "come to Jesus," for this is done when one is saved, and one is not saved before baptism, according to John.

13. One who had nothing "old passing away" and nothing "becoming new" till he was baptized, for this occurs in salvation, and one is not saved before baptism, according to John. (See II Cor. 5: 17)

14. One who had an "evil conscience" for a "good conscience" is not created till one is saved, and one is not saved till baptized, according to John. (See Hebrews 10:22)

15. One who had not the "love of God shed abroad in his heart" because this occurs when one is saved, and one is not saved before baptism, according to John. (See Rom. 5: 5)

16. One who had not yet "justified God" or "accepted the counsel of God" or "set to himself that God is true," for this occurs in salvation, and one is not saved before baptism, according to John. (See Luke 7: 29, 30; John 3: 33)

17. One who had not yet "confessed" sins for cleansing and forgiveness, for this occurs in baptism, according to John. (See I John 1: 9, 10)

18. One who had not the "word of God written upon his heart," for this occurs when one is saved, and one is not saved till baptism, according to John. (See Jer. 31: 33)

19. One who was not yet spiritually "enlightened," for this is salvation, and one is not saved before baptism, according to John. (See Eph. 1: 18)

20. One who was not "spiritually minded," but "carnally minded," for the former is salvation, and salvation is not experienced before baptism, according to John. (See Romans. 8: 6)

21. One who did not love God's begotten people, for this occurs in salvation, and salvation does not occur till baptism, according to John. (See I John 5: 1)

22. One who had a filthy mind, for the mind is cleansed in salvation, and one is not saved till baptism, according to John.

23. One who was posessed solely of the "spirit that now works in the children of disobedience" for this is the state of the lost, and John was lost till baptism. (See Eph. 2: 2)

24. One who was not "led of the Spirit of God," for this is the condition of the saved, and one is not saved, before baptism, according to John. (See Romans 8: 14)

25. One who was "alive to sin" before baptism, because one does not "die to sin" till one is baptized.

26. One who was "under wrath" and "condemnation," for justification and pardon do not occur till baptism, according to John. (See John 3: 36)

27. One who had not yet "found" the Lord, for finding the Lord is salvation, and one is not saved till baptism, according to John.

28. One who was "hateful" and "hating others," for this is the condition of the lost, and John was lost till baptized in water. (See Titus 3: 3-5)

29. One who had not yet "looked" to Christ, for this is salvation, and one is not saved till baptized in water, according to John. (See Isa. 45: 22; John 3: 15, 16)

30. One who had not yet "laid hold of eternal life," which is salvation, for this does not occur till baptism, according to John. (See I Tim. 6: 12, 19)

31. One who was not yet a disciple or follower of Christ, for one does not become such, according to John, till baptized.

32. One who was not a "sheep," for one does not hear and follow the voice of the Shepherd till one is baptized, according to John.

33. One who was not attached in heart to Christ, which is salvation, for one is not saved till baptism, according to John.

Aug 19, 2009

Case of Cornelius

One thing is clear, Cornelius received the Holy Ghost when he believed the gospel and before his baptism in water. This never was disputed by John in the debate.

I showed that Cornelius had already heard the word prior to Peter preaching to him. That is, Cornelius had heard second hand the gospel message (Acts 10: 37 - "that word you know").

I showed that it did not take but a few words from the mouth of Peter to bring Cornelius to believe the message he had heard the reports about. Thus Peter says - "as I began to speak the Holy Ghost fell upon them." (Acts 11: 15) It was not said - "as I began to baptize them."

Cornelius was like Saul who also received the Holy Spirit when he believed, and before he was baptized in water. (Acts 9: 17, 18)

I showed also how one could not make this reception of the Spirit to be a non-salvation experience that wicked men, like the false prophet Baalim, experienced. The testimony of Peter was that Cornelius received the Spirit in the same manner as he and the Pentecostal believers had experienced.

Aug 18, 2009

Debate Videos Available

John Gentry, my opponent in the recent debate on the necessity of water baptism for salvation, has just informed me that anyone can have a free video of the debate by e-mailing him at the following address:

Debate Affirmative

The following are my notes for the Affirmative. I used many of these arguments.

The proposition for tonight is:

"The Scriptures teach that the alien sinner is forgiven of his past sins by faith, before and without water baptism."

By the Scriptures I mean the original inspired writings. By alien sinner I mean a lost condemned soul. "By faith" I mean by believing in or trusting in Christ. The other terms, I think, are self explanatory.

Further, though the proposition speaks only of the "forgiveness of sins," this does not rule out other aspects of salvation.

In the scriptures, initial conversion or salvation, is denominated by varied terms and figures, such as being saved, justified, washed, sanctified, renewed, regenerated, born again, re-created, redeemed, ransomed, etc.

Further, the experience of conversion, in scripture, is characterized by evangelical terminology. Thus, a converted or saved man is spiritually "gifted" or "endowed" by God.

For instance, a converted man is one who has been "given" faith. So Jesus said in John 6: 65 - "no man can come unto me (believe in me) except it were given unto him of my Father." Thus, a pardoned, justified, and saved man is one who has by faith come to Christ.

Also, a converted man is also given repentance. Wrote Paul in II Timothy 2: 25 - "In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth."

Further, the converted man is one who has been given the Holy Spirit. (Many passages)

You will notice two things about these terms that are descriptive of the Christian convert and of the conversion experience. Some of the descriptive terms speak of internal changes while others speak of purely external changes. An internal change is an actual change of the soul, heart, or mind. An external change is a change of state, or of legal status.

In the scriptures, these two types of changes, though distinct, nevertheless occur in conjunction. They are concurrent. That is, they occur together. Therefore, we say, that any man who fits any one of these terms fits them all. Thus, we cannot separate the terms and the experiences they represent. We cannot say of a man, for instance, that he is justified, but not saved, or that he is converted, but not born again.

Now, it is the view of my opponent that a man is not pardoned, washed, sanctified, justified, nor born again, till he is baptized in water. In the scriptures, however, salvation is promised to the one who simply "believes" penitently and sincerely in Christ, or to the one who has faith in God and Christ, or in the gospel.

When we say that a man is saved or forgiven simply "by believing," or by "faith alone," we are not talking about any kind of "believing," or any kind of "faith." The reasons for this are obvious.

The scriptures make a distinction between a believing that saves versus a believing that saves not, between a faith that is availing and one that is described as being vain or worthless, which is one that is hypocritical and insincere. The scriptures distinguish between real saving faith that includes trust in and love for Christ versus a mere faith in certain theological facts, or historical belief, such as the demons and ungodly men have. Faith, to be genuine faith, does not require water baptism! Faith is living and genuine before baptism.

Faith or belief that lacks love for Christ, and lacks allegiance to Christ, and which does not produce good fruit, and good works, is not saving faith. True saving faith can only be known by the obedience that follows faith. Faith that lacks conviction of sin and repentance is also not saving faith.

The Lord Jesus distinguished between the "believing" of the shallow ground hearers and the "believing" of the good ground hearers, in the parable of the soils. The shallow ground hearers did not have true saving faith, for their hearts were lacking, not possessing a good and honest character, and therefore they only "believed for awhile" and "in time of trial" soon "fell away." Those who believe without sincerity, and without honesty and goodness of heart, have a dead faith, a faith that will not save. So, in this debate, the "believer" I am talking about is the good ground believer, not the shallow ground believer, one who has true, saving, penitent, lasting and enduring faith.

Argument #1 - Believing = Receiving

In the New Testament scriptures, salvation is experienced and promised to those who "receive" Christ. How and when does one "receive" Christ? This is a crucial question. Does one receive Christ when he believes in Christ or when, subsequently, he obeys Christ in water baptism?

Notice these passages.

"He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." (John 1: 11-13 KJV)

Here "receiving" Christ is equated with "believing" on the name of Christ, and "believing" and "receiving" are equated with being "born" of God.

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me." (John 13: 20)

Thus, to "receive" Christ is to receive his regents and to receive his words, or the gospel. Believing is receiving.

"Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls." (Acts 2: 41)

Notice that Christ was "received" prior to water baptism. This is conclusive proof of my proposition. Baptism follows reception of Christ. Baptism follows union with Christ, and salvation. To receive Christ is to receive salvation. These received Christ before baptism. Therefore, they were saved before baptism.

"To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins." (Acts 10: 43)

Notice again how, like John 1: 11-13, believing is equated with receiving. These words also imply that the forgiveness of sins is immediate upon believing. It is not what may or may not come to pass, but is rather what shall universally comes to pass without fail. According to my opponent, there are lots of folks who "believe" that never "receive remission of sins"! Many of these folks, with genuine saving faith, are never baptized! Thus, they never "receive remission of sins"! Yet, this passage affirms that all who "believe," ceremoniously baptized or not, "SHALL receive remission"!

"But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified." (John 7: 39)

When did they "receive" this "spirit" of God? When they believed or when they were subsequently baptized? When did Cornelius and his household receive the Spirit of God? Was it not before he and they were baptized? When and how did the Galatians receive the Spirit of God? Did Paul not clearly say it was "by the hearing of faith" and not by deeds performed?

My opponent believes that a man does not simply receive Christ by believing, but by acting out his faith in a ritual ceremony. His view is that a penitent believer, though having received the word of Christ, has nevertheless not yet received Christ himself, nor his Spirit, nor his salvation.

"As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him." (Col. 2: 6)

This verse is interesting because it is in the context where burial with Christ in baptism is mentioned. Verse 6 is part of Paul's introduction to the things he says later, in this chapter, about aspects of redemption and salvation, such as being identified with Christ, or united to him, in his death, burial, and resurrection, and in spiritual circumcision, and thus being accounted forgiven and justified.

In the ordo salutis as given by Paul, in this chapter, what comes first, at least in time? Is it not union with Christ by faith? Is it not the initial "receiving" of Christ? When did the Colossians "receive" Christ? Was it when they believed the gospel or when they were baptized? Is water baptism what Paul alludes to when he speaks of "receiving" Jesus? Or, does he allude to their receiving of Christ in "believing"? That is the chief question to be decided.

The scriptures also speak of believers

"receiving the atonement" (Rom. 5: 11)
"receiving abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness" (5: 17)
"receiving the Spirit of adoption" (8: 15)
"receiving the promise of the Spirit through faith" (Gal. 3: 14)

Believing is the vehicle for receiving Christ, salvation, and the Spirit of God, and not water baptism, nor any work done after faith. In fact, it is specifically required that a man first receive Christ and his word before he is eligible to be baptized. Salvation is immediate with a person's reception of Christ by faith.

These versus clearly affirm that a man "receives" Christ when he believes in Christ with a good and honest heart, and in thus receiving Christ, he is united to him, and thus partakes of all his benefits and spiritual blessings. Men are not united to Christ in baptism. Rather, a reception of Christ, and union with him by faith, is a prerequisite to baptism.

Argument #2 - No Internal Change in Baptism

The scriptures describe the state of soul of a converted or saved man as being the result of a radical change. This moral change involves, what we may appropriately call, psychological changes. They are internal changes. There are external changes of legal state and standing connected with the experience of salvation. as I have said. But, in this argument I focus only on the internal changes to the heart, soul, or mind. It is my contention that there is no internal change made to the soul of a believer, in being baptized, that has not already occurred in conjunction with the internal experience of faith and repentance. I want my opponent to tell us what change of heart, soul, or mind, took place in water baptism that had not already occurred at the point of penitent faith.

Let us then focus on the condition and character of the qualified baptismal candidate. Has his heart yet been changed? Or, must if yet be changed in the baptismal waters? When is the soul, heart, mind, or spirit of the sinner transformed? What changes occur in this transformation?

When does the spirit partake of Christ? When does it unite itself to him? When does it receive him? When does it become humble to salvation? When does it become penitent, or begin acknowledging and confessing truth about God and self? When are the words of life inscribe by divine hand upon the mind of the sinner? When does God breathe into the soul his very life?

According to my opponent, a man, though having received Christ and his word, and even though he has repented or changed his mind about Christ, and has committed himself to him, to be his disciple, and even though he has believed in or trusted in Christ, has nevertheless not yet experienced the new birth, nor the new creation, nor spiritual resurrection from death, not renewal of heart or spirit! All this internal change, occurring before water baptism, is not salvation, according to my opponent. In fact, as I contend, my opponent's position posits no internal change occurring in the act of water baptism.

When does one eat Christ, the bread of life? In water baptism? Or, at the point of faith? When does one drink the water of life? In water baptism? When are God's words written on the heart?

Argument #3 - Baptism excluded from the Terms of Pardon

"Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord." (Acts 3: 19 KJV)

"To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins." (Acts 10: 43 KJV)

"Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses." (Acts 13: 39 KJV)

"And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." (Acts 16: 30, 31 KJV)

I cited these verses last evening. I affirmed that the absence of water baptism from the offered terms of pardon demonstrates that water baptism was not viewed as an essential condition of pardon. I showed how that water baptism would never be omitted by faithful evangelists were it an essential term of pardon. To omit it, as I said, would be a case of criminal negligence or malpractice. Now, we can either say that these evangelists were guilty of negligence, or that they did not believe water baptism to be essential to pardon.

Were the apostolic evangelists guilty of criminal neglect in failing to include water baptism in their formulas or prescriptions for pardon?

Argument #4 - Believer has eternal life

"He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." (John 3: 18 KJV)

"He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." (John 3: 36 KJV)

These verses affirm the character of the "believer" in Jesus. Notice how Jesus does not qualify "believer" with an adjective. He does not say "baptized believer." The question is - when is a person a "believer," as Christ here had in mind? Is it before baptism or during baptism? Jesus says that one who believes is alive. Does one believe before baptism? Then he is saved before baptism. He is spiritually alive before baptism. If my opponent argues that one is not a "believer," by definition, until he is "baptized," then he cannot require one be a believer before baptism. He must, to be consistent with such a view, admit to taking unbelievers down into the water, and by immersing them, make them believers.

But, let us see the state of the believer before baptism. He has spiritual life, said Jesus. He is "not condemned," thus justified and forgiven. The wrath of God is removed and he is now God's friend.

These verses affirm that faith alone, such as proceeds from the good and honest heart, is all that is required to unite the sinner to Christ.

Not only is penitent faith the "receiving" act or vehicle for obtaining Christ and his salvation, but it is the "uniting" act. Baptism is not the act of reception or union. Faith is the means of obtaining Christ, of participating in his death, burial, and resurrection, or of receiving his atonement.

Argument #5 - Union with Christ by Faith

"That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith" (Eph. 3: 17).

This union with Christ is typified in several metaphors in scripture.

First, Christ spoke of the union of himself with believers as like that existing between a Vine and its branches. (John 15: 1-5) The apostle Paul spoke of this union under the figure of a human body in which believers, as lessor bodily members, are mystically joined to Christ the head. Paul also spoke of this union under the metaphor of a marriage, of the union of husband and wife. Other apostles spoke of this union in terms of a likeness to the Temple's union with each stone member of it. Jesus and the apostles also spoke of this union with Christ as involving both identification and participation. One who receives Christ is also at the same time received by Christ. The believer welcomes Christ and Christ welcomes the believing sinner.

Jesus spoke of how receiving him involved participation in him.

For instance, he spoke of sinners "eating" his flesh and "drinking" his blood (John 6: 65) as being the sole condition of salvation. The question then becomes - how and when does a sinner eat and drink? Is it when he does it symbolically in the Lord's Supper? No; for if that were so, then we would have to affirm that no sinner was saved till he observed ceremoniously the Lord's Supper. And, we also ask - Is this done when Christ is believed on and trusted, or when one is baptized in water? Or, is it done when one receives Christ by faith? When he digests the gospel message?

Believing in Christ does not simply make union with Christ possible, as my opponent believes, but is that which actually does unite the sinner to Christ and brings him into participation with Christ and his death, burial, and resurrection. It is also what identifies him with Christ.

Argument #6 - "Things that accompany salvation" (Heb. 6: 9)

What are "these things" that the apostle says "accompany salvation"? What "things" are integral parts of salvation? What are the sine qua non aspects of salvation, the things that are necessary to it? Is faith? Certainly. Is repentance? Yes. Is spiritual union with Christ? Is spiritual baptism? Yes, yes. But, is water baptism? Is the Lord's Supper? Do these ceremonies "accompany salvation"? Are they essential to the change of heart that is the essential element of regeneration? Did water baptism "accompany" the salvation of Zaccheus? Of the publican in the temple? Of the thief on the cross? Of Abraham, David, and other Old Testament saints? It matters not when a person lived or died, whether before Christ or after Christ. All the "saved" partake of these "things that accompany salvation." Thus, if water baptism "accompanies salvation," then it would universally "accompany" it. We know that "faith" has universally accompanied salvation, but we do not know this of the ceremony of baptism.

Certainly there is a spiritual or mystical baptism that "accompanies salvation." This baptism of spirit is an internal change of heart and character, where the soul experiences the power of Christ's resurrection by being reborn, regenerated, re-created. When the soul penitently believes on Christ, he is at that moment "dead to" sin, and to self, and to the world. He is at that moment transformed in his thinking. He is at that moment, and in that experience, experiencing the power of Christ's death, burial, and resurrection. It is absurd to think that this radical internal change occurs in water baptism. Which brings me to my next argument.

Argument #7 - Paul sent to preach the gospel and to save sinners but he was not sent to baptize

"I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name. And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other. For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect." (I Cor. 1: 14-17 KJV)

"Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures." (15: 1-4 KJV)

"But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me." (Acts 26: 16-18 KJV)

Paul says Christ sent him not to baptize but he did send him to save. Conclusion? Baptism is not a means of salvation. Notice specifically how "forgiveness of sins" is the end in view in Christ's sending of Paul to preach. If baptism is the God ordained means of obtaining the forgiveness of sins, then Paul would not have said "Christ sent me not to baptize."

Is one's eyes opened in water baptism or in believing? Is one turned from darkness to light in baptism or in believing?

Argument #8 - Penitent Man is Saved

" this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word." (Isaiah 66: 2)

When is a man humbled in heart? In water baptism? Or in the experience of repentance? God says he will "look" to a contrite man, that is, he will accept and favorably regard that man. Thus, as a man is made contrite before water baptism, he is accepted by God prior to baptism.

Argument #9 - Knowing the Lord is Salvation

One comes to know the Lord before water baptism. He who knows the Lord is saved.

"And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart." (Jeremiah 24: 7 KJV)

"And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest." (Hebrews 8: 11 KJV)

"I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning." (I John 2: 14 KJV)

"We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error. Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love." (4: 6-8 KJV)

Lost people are described as not knowing God. (I Thess. 4: 5; II Thess. 1: 8 KJV)

Do we come to know God when we believe his word or when we are baptized?

Argument #10 - Cleansed by Faith

The scriptures describe the salvation or conversion experience as one in which the sinner is bathed, washed, or cleansed. It is the purpose of this divine work to remove moral filth, both legally, in justification, and experimentally, in sanctification. In Christian jargon we refer to this as being "washed in the blood," of spiritually being "plunged in the crimson tide," or being spiritually bathed. This is both an external and internal work. Externally, there is legal or forensic "cleansing" or "purging." It is a judicial act that exonerates or justifies the accused.

The scriptures do say that sinners are saved by water. When they so say, however, they never refer to literal water, except in I Peter 3: 21. Natural water has no power to save or to wash a soul, heart, or mind.

What is the significance of "water" in scripture? When the work of cleansing the soul of sin is the subject, and water is either specifically mentioned or implied, where does water ever refer to the water of baptism, exepting I Peter 3: 21?

"Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you." (Ezekiel 36: 25 KJV)

"Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." (John 3: 5 KJV)

"Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water...Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." (John 4: 10, 13, 14 KJV)

"In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)" (John 7: 37-39 KJV)

"That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word." (Eph. 5: 26 KJV)

Baptism is the answer from a good conscience. A good conscience is one that has been made so by regeneration and the application of the blood of Christ. Cleansing of the conscience involves the removal of its guilt and the replacement of it with pardon and assurance of salvation.

Is this water baptism?

"In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness." (Zechariah 13: 1 KJV)

Is this fountain water baptism? Or is it the blood of Christ?

"And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." (I Cor. 6: 11 KJV)

"And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood." (Rev. 1: 5 KJV)

"Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you." (John 15: 3 KJV)

"Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." (II Cor. 7: 1 KJV)

"Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded." (James 4: 8 KJV)

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (II John 1: 9 KJV)

Argument #8 - Saved, Then Baptized

"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen." (Matthew 28: 19, 20 KJV)

Notice the order of salvation in these inspired words of the Great Commission.

1. Go to them
2. Teach or disciple them, that is, bring them to faith and repentance, or convert them, or make disciples of them.
3. Baptize them unto the name of the Trinity
4. Further instruct them in the teachings of the new covenant and of the new lawgiver.

Argument #10 - Love for Christ

Precedes water baptism. He who loves Christ is born again.

Argument #11 - Coming to Christ

Precedes water baptism. Comes by faith and repentance.

Argument #12 - Hearing and Following the Voice of Christ

Precedes water baptism.

Argument #13 - Eating Christ as the Bread of Life

Precedes water baptism.

Argument #14 - Receiving a new heart and spirit.

Precedes water baptism.

Argument #4 - Experiencing faith & repentance = experiencing spiritual death, burial, and resurrection of spirit

What does it mean to "take up the cross" to follow Jesus if it does not involve a death to sin and self? "Taking up the cross" is not a reference to the ceremony of baptism! Men "take up the cross" or "die to sin" when they, in faith, turn away from sin and self and turn to Christ. This is what it means to be "crucified with Christ." The sinner, in his receiving Christ, and believing on his name, "crucifies" and "puts to death" a number of things. This putting to death is immediately followed by a spiritual resurrection and cleansing. When and how does one "die with" Christ? When he believes or when he is baptized? Is it a one time event or a continuous process? I believe the scriptures teach that one, in heart and soul, dies to sin, dies to self, and dies to the world, when he receives Christ, when he believes on his name. A man dies to sin and self, and to the evil world, when he changes his mind and attitude about them. When does this occur? Does it not occur before water baptism? Does it not occur at the point when the man penitently believed?

There is a spiritual baptism of which Christian baptism is a picture.

1. Christ's baptism into sufferings and death, with his emersion from the same, or his own death, burial, and resurrection.

2. The believer's co-baptism, with co-Crucifixion, and co-resurrection, when:

A) Representatively or virtually when Christ was baptized, or when he died, was buried, and rose again.

B) Actually or experimentally when Christ is received and faith and repentance of given. In this spiritual baptism Christ identifies himself with his people.

3) The believer's formal or symbolic baptism in the rite of water baptism. In this baptism Christ further identifies himself with his people.

"Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked." (Duet. 10: 6 KJV)

"And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live." (Duet. 30: 6 KJV)

"Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings." (Jeremiah 4: 4 KJV)

This was done by Old Testament saints apart from baptism. It was done by the thief on the cross and the publican in the temple, without water baptism.

The change in the heart and soul of a sinner, when he believes on Christ, and turns to him and away from his sins, is when the sinner experiences the power of Christ's baptism, or of his death, burial, and resurrection. Spiritual baptism, or placement into Christ, occurs when one believes.