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Friday, March 4, 2011

Can God use the Physical World when it comes to Grace?

As seen from the Theological forum.

The efficacy of Baptism doesn't depend on me the individual. It depends on God. Accepting a gift through physical means isn't works righteousness! And so Baptism, isn't a work I as an individual do for God (something alot of Baptists say and what I use to say back when I was a Baptist). It's a work God does for the individual through the Church. We can see this in John 1:11-13


"He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God."

We see from the text:

1.) God gives the right to become children of God

2.) Children born not of natural descent

3.) Children born not of human decision

4.) Children born not of a husband's will

5.) But Children born of God

And so the efficacy of Baptism comes from God. Baptism is rightly called Grace! We have been Saved by Grace through faith and this not from ourselves, it is the gift of God!

When God healed Naaman he did it through a means. Naaman was upset at first because he wanted it without means. Without anything physical, but God wanted to clean Him through something physical. He had to go to the prophet and the prophet told him to go to the water. Also, God gave Naaman the right to be healed, Naaman went into the water, but it was God that healed him.

2nd Kings 5:14

"So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy."

In a similar manor, God wants to clean us through water Baptism. For we can't make ourselves clean. It is God who makes us clean! It is God who unites us with Christ!

Job 14:4

"Who can bring what is pure from the impure?
No one!"

No one but God! What is impossible with man is possible with God!

Ezekiel 36:25

Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.

Acts 22:16

"And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’"

The Ancient Faith is one that embraces the rightful place of water Baptism being what it is:

"This meaneth, that we indeed descend into the water full of sins and defilement, but come up, bearing fruit in our heart, having the fear [of God] and trust in Jesus in our spirit."

"They were obliged," he answered, "to ascend through water in order that they might be made alive; for, unless they laid aside the deadness of their life, they could not in any other way enter into the kingdom of God. Accordingly, those also who fell asleep received the seal of the Son of God. For," he continued, "before a man bears the name of the Son of God s he is dead; but when he receives the seal he lays aside his deadness, and obtains life. The seal, then, is the water: they descend into the water dead, and they arise alive. And to them, accordingly, was this seal preached, and they made use of it that they might enter into the kingdom of God."

Justin Martyr
"As many as are persuaded and believe that what we teach and say is true, and undertake to be able to live accordingly, are instructed to pray and to entreat God with fasting, for the remission of their sins that are past, we praying and fasting with them. Then they are brought by us where there is water, and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated. For, in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing with water. For Christ also said, "Except ye be born again, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven."

And when we look at the ancient creed we see:

"I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins."

When one looks at the canons of the councils then they will see how they understood water Baptism, and so we looked at Scripture, the early Christians as well as an ancient ecumenical creed in regards to this issue and all three were in perfect harmony! If you reject Baptismal Regeneration it's because of what happened later in time with somebodies group. It's because of other ideas that one holds to. Back when I was a Baptist, I would normally question other groups when they didn't agree with us. I pointed the finger at them as being the problem. What I didn't do was point the finger at myself and the Baptists. What I didn't do was ask why the Baptists believe the way that they did. What I didn't do was question myself and the Baptists! I thought I was following Scripture, but I really wasn't. I was following a foreign developed system of thought that handled and interpreted the Scriptures in a certain way. A certain fashion. Other groups would slightly handle the Scriptures differently, in a different fashion.

And so, if you belong to a new Christian group that just began yesterday, then question yourself and your group and not just those that oppose you. The Apostles handed something down to the next generation of believers, if Baptismal Regeneration is that view ......which I believe it is, then one should point the finger back on themselves and their group as to why they don't embrace the Mystery? One should investigate the cultural, philosophical and theological influences of their group's rejection of Baptismal Regeneration.


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