Those who hold to baptismal regeneration cannot understand our proclaiming salvation as the free and unmerited gift of God apart from works.
To them this amounts to a denial of the Scriptures and a bold departure from the truth of God. But since such a verse does not exist, we are compelled to ask what may be the seal of God upon the born-again believer. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
The question now arises, What Scriptural conditions qualify a sinner for the gift of the Holy Ghost? In reading Acts , —17, and —48, we must be impressed with the fact that the candidates in these three instances reveal a remarkable dissimilarity. In the next instance it appears that the Samaritans had been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus yet did not receive the Holy Spirit until Peter and John prayed and laid their hands upon them.
In the last passage, baptism was not administered until after the gift was received, and there is no record of prayer or the laying of hands. Some insist that repentance and baptism are qualifications for salvation; others add prayer and the laying on of hands; others take the position that faith in the Word alone qualifies a sinner for salvation, and that water baptism is not only unnecessary for the sealing of the Spirit but unscriptural in that it is premature.
Why baptize one who is unregenerate, not having received the gift of the Spirit? Which position should we occupy? The solution is a consideration of the differences in the people to whom the instructions were made to apply.
Baptism and Gifts of the Holy Spirit
God is not bound under differing conditions by laws or formulas which He designed in His wise providence for specific situations. What He required from the Jews on the Day of Pentecost as qualifying them for the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit He is not compelled to demand from Gentiles, who were presented before Him under different conditions. And it appears evident from the record that the Samaritans, upon whom apostolic hands were laid preparatory to their receiving the Holy Spirit, were denied the seal of their salvation for some time for special reasons.
In Acts , the remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Ghost were conditioned upon repentance and baptism for great reason. The ones to whom Peter spoke were guilty before God: they had been objects of privilege without parallel in human history. God Himself had stood in their midst. For three and a half years He had tabernacled among them. They had heard His gracious words. They had seen his mighty works. His ministry had been peculiarly to Israel. No doubt they wondered whether there was any hope for them in the light of the enormity of their crime.
Then they were to be baptized in His name. This was apparently required of them as a public testimony to Israel nationally, a confession that they had completely reversed their judgment concerning Jesus Christ! Upon the fulfillment of these conditions they were assured of receiving the remission of their sins and the seal of their salvation, the gift of the Holy Spirit. We read that Philip preached Christ unto them, the people gave heed, and there was great joy in the city.
Despite all this, verses 15 and 16 say that they were not yet the recipients of the Holy Spirit. The context informs us that they did receive this gift subsequently, but not until Peter and John had prayed for them and laid hands upon them v. Here we are introduced to a new condition: prayer and the laying on of hands. This leads to the reason for this innovation. The explanation is found in the spiritual history of the Samaritans. The relationship between them and the Jews was one of mutual antipathy.
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Pray about the color of the car. When we enter into a covenant with God, we promise to keep those conditions. The rules are quite simple, it continues. And except thou do this, where I am you cannot come. Yet keeping these is an impossible chore.
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After all, consider the following LDS scriptures:. Is this even possible? For the Latter-day Saint who suggests that this is not what is meant by repentance, consider the following quotes of President Spencer Kimball in his book The Miracle of Forgiveness.
For a review of this book, click here. Kimball , Latter-day Saint, perhaps you feel that I went out on a tangent. Mormonism places the carrot before the horse, but the promise is tied to a stick that is so long no horse could ever reach it. Salvation is a gift of God and is not based on how righteous a person can be. The outward ordinances of baptism and confirmation are inseparably connected with the inward works of faith and repentance. Some vainly imagine that under the Gospel dispensation, gifts and blessings were obtained not by external observances, or external works, but merely through faith and repentance, through mental operations, independent of physical.
But, laying aside the traditions, superstitions, and creeds of men, we will look to the word of God, where we shall discover that external works, or outward ordinances, under the Gospel dispensation, were inseparably connected with inward works, with faith and repentance. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified. The point is that good works never are credited for somehow attaining the justification and righteousness that God requires.
Today, Latter-day Saints whom I meet seem to try to be so politically correct and thereby pretend that there are more similarities between our views than differences. Yet here we see the church taking an intentional stab at biblical Christianity. Whether this involves baptism, regularly attending church services, or doing nice things to other people, the Bible is clear that these are not deeds we perform for attaining justification before the All-Holy God of the universe.
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Jesus was speaking to those who were His followers in name only but did not have accompanying actions. Christians would agree that a follower of Christ ought to do good works, such as displaying the fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5. In Revelation , Jesus explains to the church of Laodicea that He would rather have them be hot or cold, but lukewarm he would spit them out of His mouth. His desire is that we allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives, but this is not a condition for somehow earning justification.
Snow pulls out some common verses used by those who practice baptismal regeneration. This certainly would be supported by the rest of Scripture see Acts ; ; Rom. It is difficult to think that Jesus would have spoken in such a way that His meaning could not possibly be grasped.
His purpose was not mystify but to enlighten. The emphasis throughout the passage is on the Spirit, with no other reference to water. But, before attending to the outward work, the inward work must be performed—faith and repentance. Faith and repentance go before baptism; and baptism before the remission of sins and the reception of the Holy Ghost.
It is interesting to note that Peter made no reference to baptism in his next recorded sermon. The disagreement between Christian and LDS theology stems from the use of the word for in this verse. Those who accept baptismal regeneration argue that this means baptism grants remission of sins. However, the Bible emphasizes that it is the blood of Christ that cleanses a person from sin, not the water of baptism.
It answers the question, Why? The latter interpretation makes more sense. Explaining Acts , Christian commentator Richard N. But it runs contrary to all biblical religion to assume that outward rites have any value apart from true repentance and an inward change. Christian theologian G. Another biblical passage that should be considered is Acts —31, where the Philippian jailor asked Paul and Silas what he had to do in order to be saved. Consider Acts —48 as well. It would be strange indeed for the Holy Spirit to fall on these Gentiles if they were not already believers.