The Importance of Baptism
Carl Brumback in his book “God in Three Persons” remarked that the very heart of the Oneness Movement is in its doctrine of Baptism in Jesus Name. In a sense this is true. Baptism in Jesus Name was the first Truth recovered after the Latter Rain outpouring of 1900, and in the words of E.N. Bell “it was the vehicle God used to roll up to our astonished eyes a greater vision of Jesus than we had ever seen before.” Baptism in Jesus Name was the first step in a doctrinal chain reaction that led to the revelation of the Truth of Oneness and the Biblical New Birth. Therefore, it is only logical that this doctrine would receive the fiercest assaults from our enemies, and in the case of Dr. Boyd and other Neo-Trinitarians, the most bizarre and desperate mechanization ever brought forth, against a truth . Argue is so desperate that . many fellow Trinitarians refuse to endorse them. It is in his theories concerning Baptism in Jesus Name that Dr.Boyd has ventured the fartherest; pressing the very limits of blasphemy, he drives his leaky vessel ever onward through his ocean of confusion and apostasy.
God has always tested and proved his people through means of water. When the Bible opens there is water.(Genesis 1:2). No mention is made of its creation, though it surely was created. The Spirit is also there, brooding over the waters. Right from the start of the Biblical record there is a combination of water and Spirit that results in creation. Thousands of years later the Master tells Nicodemus that another combination of water and Spirit would result in a “new creation.” “Verily, verily, I say unto you, unless a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God” (John 3:5). God proved Noah with an earth wide water test, “Wherein few, that is eight souls were saved by water” (I Peter 3:20). God tested the children of Israel at the Red Sea, in which “they were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea” (I Cor. 10:2). Another water and Spirit event. Also in Gideon’s day, God told Gideon “The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there” (Judges 7:4). Out of 10,000 only 300 passed the water test. In the New Testament John the Baptist brought a water test to the people in preparation to receiving Christ, and the Pharisees failed it by rejecting “the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him” (Luke 7:30). On the day of Pentecost Peter put the water test to the assembled multitude, men responsible for the Crucifixion. When they, pricked in their hearts, desired to know what to do to be saved, Peter told them: “Repent, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sin, and ye shall receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38). “And they that gladly received his word were baptized” and about three thousand souls passed the water test into the Kingdom of God (Acts 2:41).
HISTORY OF THE REVELATION OF BAPTISM IN JESUS NAME
In the year 1913 a world wide camp meeting of “Spirit baptized” Pentecostal believers was held in Arroyo Seco, California. A name which means “Dry Gulley” in Spanish . How Significant – “yet that valley shall be filled with water, that ye may drink” (II Kings 3:17). God had alerted the saints beforehand through the Spirit, that he would “Do a New Thing” and proceed to do a “marvelous work among the people, even a marvelous work and a wonder” (Isa. 29:14). Therefore, an air of expectancy prevailed over the Camp ,Meeting. It came quietly at first. A Bro. McAllister from Canada, while preaching a sermon on water baptism, remarked that if they were to follow Apostolic precept they would baptize their candidates once by immersion in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. This sent spiritual waves throughout the assembled congregation. Shortly after that, A Bro. Sheppe, an immigrant from Danzig, Germany, received a tremendous revelation concerning the Name of Jesus and dutifully woke his fellow campers up in the midnight hour to share it. A great searching of the scriptures began concerning the subject of the Name of Jesus Christ.
Bro. Frank Ewert was the first to see the relationship between Matthew 28:19 and Acts 2:38. Guided by the Spirit of God he clearly saw, by placing all the scriptures together, that the reason Peter commanded baptism in Jesus Name at Pentecost was due to the fact that the name “Jesus” is the one name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit referred to by our Lord in Matthew 28:19. He immediately baptized Glenn Cook who in turn baptized him and a spiritual fire of truth was lit that now encircles the globe. From this small beginning an international movement for the restoration of true New Testament Apostolic religion exists earth wide in the Oneness Pentecostal Revival.
A movement that Dr.Boyd claims he was once part of for a number of years: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us ” I John 2:19 . Now he feels he must work diligently to turn this thing back. This will prove a most difficult and dangerous task for him, “for whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder” (Matt. 21 :44).
EFFICACY OF BAPTISM
The opening volley of every attack on water baptism in Jesus Name is always an attempt to minimize the importance of baptism in general. For our opponents know that if people are taught that baptism is not “all that important,” certainly not “essential for salvation,” then they will not feel so compelled to give diligent search as to the proper mode or formula. And a diligent search in scripture and history is the last thing our detractors want! For they know it is fatal to their position. Dr. Boyd is no different in this respect, for he writes: “This is not, however, the same as saying that salvation was ever seen as being directly contingent upon baptism. The continual insistence in the New Testament that it is faith, and faith alone, that saves a person is itself enough to prove this… ” (Boyd, p. 136).
WORDS OF CHRIST
So Salvation was never “seen as being directly contingent upon baptism.” Conspicuous by its absence in Dr. Boyd’s discussion are the extremely “contingent” words of Christ in Mark 16:16 “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be damned.” Seems like quite a direct contingency to me -belief plus baptism yields salvation.
WHAT COULD BE PLAINER?
Dr. Boyd’s omission of this passage may be due to the fact that he does not consider this portion of Mark as part of the Word of God, a view held in common with Jehovah’s Witnesses, who print it reluctantly in the margin of their New World Translation. This is an old dodge often-employed -“It’s not in the original Greek.” But it is, and the weight of scholarship now leans ever increasingly in its favor. Phillip Shaff’s Companion to Greek New Testament, page 190 proves the passage is included in 500 ancient manuscripts! Schaff says: “The section is found in most of the unical and in all the cursive manuscripts and in most of the ancient versions, in all existing Greek and Syriac lectionaries as far as examined; and Irenaeus, who is a much older witness than any of our existing manuscripts quotes vs. 19 as part of the Gospel of Mark.”
GOOD BYE TO AUGUSTINE AND FRIENDS
It is amazing to see how quickly Dr.Boyd has parted company with the “great saints of the church” including Augustine, Aquinas, and the Cappodocian Fathers. For they all believed strongly and fervently in “baptism for remission of sins.” They were baptismal regenerationists to a man! Dr. Boyd is quite content to soak up their wisdom in regards to the Trinity (and pass it on second hand to us), but when it comes to their equally dogmatic position on baptism for remission of sins, they are no longer so wise nor great. Surely if these fathers were so “divinely illuminated” as to discover such teachings as the Perichoresis doctrine, they could not have missed something so elemental as baptism. Why doesn’t he quote them now on this question? He doesn’t dare, because he is again impaled on the horns of a dilemma. If he quotes them on baptismal regeneration he will have to admit that it is either a valid doctrine or that they were deceived and unenlightened! Neither of which would be pleasant for him. The only alternative is to let “sleeping dogs lie.” But I insist on waking them and hearing them bark!.
“So in the case of baptism … a man is brought down into the water and washed to the accompaniment of a few words, and comes up again little or no cleaner, therefore, it is regarded as incredible (to unbelievers-ed.) that he should thereby obtain eternal life.” (Gore, Reconstruction of Belief, p. 645).
“No one is allowed to partake of it (the Eucharist) unless he believes that what we teach is true, and has been washed in the laver for the remission of sins and for regeneration.” (Gore, p. 918).
Baptism confers “supernatural grace upon those who receive it” and “expunges the stain of original sin from them.” (Encyclopedia Britanica, Vol III, p. 138).
Baptism is a “means of grace,” “admits to membership in the visible church;” and “sin, both original and actual is forgiven” (Encyclopedia Britanica, Vol. III, p. 139).
The list could go on indefinitely, and Dr. Boyd well knows it. The unanimous testimony of every early Church document (Apostolic Fathers, Ante-Nicene, Post-Nicene), reveals that Baptism is for the remission of sins. All the early church Fathers, and “great saints” of the church all proclaim with one united voice the same doctrine–baptism for remission of sins. The same men, and the same voices, Dr. Boyd is so happy to refer us to on the Question of the Trinity; of them he says on page 161: “And each of these figures understood himself to be simply passing on the Faith that had been handed down by the Apostles from the beginning” (Boyd p. 161). And that includes Baptismal Regeneration!
SCHOLARS AND CREEDS
All scholarship is agreed on this point: “On the basis of these and similar declarations by the writers of the New Testament it may be concluded that in the Christian Community of the 1st Century baptism occupied a place of great importance and was regarded as essential to the New Birth and to membership in the Kingdom of God” (Encyclopedia Britanica, Vol III., P. 138).
And what of the Creeds? These creeds, that are such doctrinal fortresses for Trinitarian Belief, also shelter within their walls the teaching of Baptismal regeneration! On pages 172 and 173, Dr. Boyd takes great pains to point out the correct interpretation of what the “ancient confessions” really meant in regards to the Trinity, less we become guilty of a “misapplication of the creedal language.” But he is awfully silent on how to apply the “creedal language” of these “ancient confessions” where they announce such “orthodox teachings” as “we acknowledge one baptism unto the remission of sins” Nicene Creed. If the first half of the Nicene Creed (which speaks of the Trinity) is true and applicable, why such “deafening silence” o n the second half, which puts forth baptism for remission of sins?
Its sad but true; Dr. Boyd and other Neo-Trinitarians must bid a reluctant farewell to “church Fathers,” “church traditions,” “Reputable Church historians,” “ancient Fathers, ” “Cappodocians,” Augustine” and “Acquinas.” For they all held unequivocally to baptism for remission of sins. Allies on the Trinity; enemies on baptism. How much reliance can one place in that divided camp!
BAPTISM FOR (EIS) REMISSION OF SINS
The first gospel sermon preached in the newly opened church age -was delivered by the Apostle Peter on the Day of Pentecost and climaxed with these immortal words: “Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38). This has always been taken to mean just what it says-baptism is the means of obtaining remission of sins. All the early writings of the church, Fathers and Apologists, so understood it. Church ,history for 1500 years knew of no other meaning. The Greek Church, in whose language the verse was written, knows of no other meaning. Dr. Martin Luther, founder of Protestantism knew of no other meaning. But Neo-Trinitarian “easy believeism” advocates know of another meaning! “The preposition ‘eis’ in Greek can simply mean ‘with a view towards,’ ‘in connection with,’ or ‘in the light of’. If this interpretation is meant, Peter is in this passage simply saying that baptism should follow the repentance that has brought about the forgiveness of sins.” (Boyd, p. 136). In other words this is the old worn out argument, “spruced up” somewhat, that the word “for” in Acts 2:38 really means “because of.” Hence according to this theory we are baptized “because of” the remission of sins, which we already received when we “signed a decision card,” or “slipped up a finger” or “allowed” Jesus to come into our heart. This nonsensical interpretation has been answered repeatedly in the past.
The preposition “eis” does not mean “because of” or “in the light of.” It means “in order to obtain.” Thayer, in his Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, defines it: “a preposition governing the accusative case and denoting entrance into, or direction and limit, into, towards, for among. ” (Joseph H. Thayer, Thayers Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, 4th ed.)
Arndt and Gingrich, unquestionable authorities agree with Thayer: “of place into, in, toward to” (William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature). For the Acts 2:38 passage they have this to say: “to denote purpose, in order to …for forgiveness of sins, so that sins might be forgiven.” This certainly kills Dr. Boyd’s innovative translation and lays
it in its well deserved grave.
But if more proof is desired, it is available. In Matthew 26:28 Christ uses the exact same phrase, word for word, as found in Acts 2:38 – eis ophesin hamartion: “for the remission of sins.” The context in this case is the Last Supper and the Lord is speaking of his blood. “This is my blood…….which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” There it is, “for the remission of sins” -exactly the same as in Peter’s sermon. Now did Christ mean his blood would be shed because the believers already had remission of sins, or did he mean it would be shed for them to obtain remission of sins? Obviously to obtain remission of sins. Therefore, Peter’s command in Acts 2:38, which is a perfect parallel to Matthew 26:28, means exactly the same – baptism “in order to obtain” remission of sins.
And with this conclusion agree all major Greek scholars, all “apostolic fathers” all “the great saints of the Church,” all reputable historians of Early Christianity, The Greek Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, the Lutheran Church, etc. The same sources, by the way, that are appealed to by Dr. Boyd and other Trinitarians, in support of the Doctrine of the Trinity. In his section On “Baptismal Regeneration” (pages 134-139), Dr. Boyd doesn’t mention even one time “the church,” “the fathers,” scholars, theologians, church history, or orthodox tradition – sources he is so fond of appealing to in his Godhead discussions. Why? He knows he’s “changed hats” for awhile and can’t use them; for they oppose his doctrine on baptismal efficacy, with a vengence!
BORN OF WATER – JOHN 3:5
Next the statement of Christ himself must be attacked in order to depose Baptism from its scriptural essentiality. Those who relegate Baptism to a mere “outward sign of an inward work” are always nervous around John 3:5 – almost never quoting it when mentioning the New Birth. “Jesus answered, Verily, verily I say unto thee, Except a man be born of the water, and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.” This is so obviously a reference to baptism of water and Spirit that our opponents become almost frantic in their efforts to escape its impact. Their fertile imaginations go into overdrive!
Through the years I have heard that “water” refers to the birth fluid surrounding the fetus, or the Word of God, or the preaching of the Word, or waters of salvation, or Christ’s “belly,” anything but baptism in water! Jesus in John 3 talks about births involving Spirit, water, and flesh. All agree flesh is literal, all agree Spirit is literal, but when we come to water it suddenly becomes symbolic in some people’s minds. In almost any Bible the marginal references will direct you to Acts 2:38, Mark 16:16, I Peter 3:21, and Titus 3:5; all water baptismal references. Again, all the early church fathers and apologists, ante and post Nicene writers, interpreted it to mean water baptism. There is no other view point in the early church. The Cappodocians, Augustine, and Aquinas would be quick to explain it as baptism and would be “astonished beyond measure” at any other interpretation, and would brand as a heretic anyone who taught otherwise!
But,of course, Dr. Boyd must again bid them Adieu, for he has yet another interpretation: “Turning to John 3:5 there is simply no decisive reason to think Jesus is referring to baptism when he says that one must be ‘born of water,” (Boyd. p. 138). What is the reason? Why, Nicodemus would not have understood, that’s why! “It is certainly difficult to suppose that Nicodemus would have understood ‘water’ as referring to the not-yet-existent ritual of Christian baptism” (Boyd, p. 138).
HOW DID NICODEMUS UNDERSTAND IT?
The implication is that Nicodemus had no experience with the practice of baptism, and hence would never have made the connection between “born of water” and “baptized in water.” Therefore Christ certainly would not have brought up something, still future, that Nicodemus couldn’t possibly comprehend. This is absolutely untrue. John the Baptist had just finished a mass water baptismal campaign in preparation for the Messiah’s arrival (Luke 3:3) in which a “multitude” of Jews,”Came forth to be baptized of him” (Luke 3:7), and “went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins” (Matt. 3:5-6). In Addition, Nicodemus would have been very familiar with the Jewish practice of baptizing in water all proselytes to the Jewish faith: “Baptism … was already in the time of our Lord (with circumcision and sacrifice) the rite for the incorporation of the Gentile proselytes into the community of Israel. The whole ceremony was their ‘New Birth’ as Israelites” (Gore, 672). Gore also quotes the distinguished Hebrew scholar Eldrsheim who adds: “as he (the proselyte) stepped out of these waters he was considered as ‘born anew’- in the language of the Rabbis, as if he were a ‘little child just born'” (Gore, P. 672). In the light of all this it would ,seem incredible if Nicodemus didn’t associate our Lord’s phrase with water baptism. It would be the first thing to come to this mind!
And what does Dr. Boyd offer as an alternative interpretation to “born of water” as a reference to water baptism? Ever the innovator, he says “Hence it seems most likely that ‘water’ is being used as a metaphorical synonym for ‘Spirit’ in verse 5 “(Boyd, p. 138). This leads to the truly bizzare conclusion that what Jesus actually said was: “Unless a man be born of the Spirit and of the Spirit he cannot enter the Kingdom of God!” And of course, “Nicodemus would have readily picked up on this.” (Boyd, p. 139), And so have we!
BAPTISM SAVES – I PETER 3:21
The passage in I Peter 3:21 is next on the “hit” list: “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us, (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God)- by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” The connection between water baptism and the salvation it produces is so strongly linked here (“contingent” if you please) that “they who labor, labor in vain” to refute it. But Dr. Boyd says it means the “opposite” (p. 137), in other words it proves Baptism does not save! Hence Peter’s statement, “Baptism doth also now save use really means Baptism does not also now save us! To turn back this Niagara of proof he resorts to two different maneuvers. First he mentions that Peter, “is here talking symbolically” and this is “clear not only from the fact that he explicitly says he is talking symbolically, but also from the fact that he goes on to clarify that he is not talking about any literal washing or ‘removal of dirt from the body…’ (Boyd. p. 138). That there is symbolism is true; but it is not the symbolism Dr. Boyd would have you believe. It is the flood of Noah that symbolizes baptism. The flood is the symbol, not baptism! His beloved NIV translation brings it out clearly: “In it (the ark-ed.) only a few people, eight in all were saved through water, and this water (the Flood-ed.) symbolizes baptism that now saves you also…” (I Peter 3:21 NIV). The flood of Noah is the type, Baptism is the Anti-type or the reality. In the next clause Peter is quick to point out what gives baptism its saving efficacy, “the answer of a good conscience toward God.” The literal water, H2O, cannot, by itself, cleanse any sin! “The putting away of the filth of the flesh” or in other words the contact of water upon the skin, cannot by itself save. If this were true then any sinner splashing around in the lake or river where a baptism was in progress would be automatically saved. The whole idea is absurd and Oneness people have never taught that. The teaching that the mere application of water with a religious formula cleanses from sin, regardless of the subjects upon whom it is performed, is “baptismal regeneration;” This is Roman Catholic, but not Pentecostal teaching. It is for this reason that Catholic theology, dogmatically and “infallibly” teaches that if a baby, accident victim, comatose patient, lunatic, or whoever, has water applied to them, whether by sprinkling, pouring, or spitting(!), in “the Name of the Father, and of the son, and of the Holy Ghost,” that person receives a cleansing from sin and an incorporation in the body of Christ, regardless! That is “baptismal regeneration” and is miles apart from the teaching of the UPCI or any other Oneness Organization, and Dr. Boyd knows it.
We teach exactly what Peter expresses in this passage: that when the external rite of baptism is accompanied with “the answer of a good
‘conscience, “in other words, repentance and belief in Christ, then baptism will save or produce remission of sins. The “answer of a good conscience” is absolutely essential, otherwise all you are left with is an ineffectual bath of the “filth of the flesh:’ Dr. Boyd reverses the Bible completely when he says: “The reality that brings forth baptism is the act of repentance and the forgiveness of sins that produces the saint’s ‘good conscience’ “(Boyd, p.138). That’s not what Peter said! A “good conscience,” produced through repentance, “answers” God’s command by being baptized in water; and this is what saves! Christ said the same thing in more succinct phraseology, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16).
Once years ago when I was teaching school I got involved in a discussion with some students on salvation. I made the comment that baptism was necessary for salvation. The next day one of the girls remarked to me that her preacher had told her the Bible never says you have to be baptized to be saved. I quoted I Peter 3:21 where it states, “Baptism doth also now save us” and asked her to show it to her preacher. The following day she returned to class and I asked her what her preacher had to say. She replied: “He said not to talk to you anymore .” That ended that!
Almost every text of scripture that touches on the subject of baptism indicates that it is essential to salvation. Baptism, coupled with repentance and faith, is the means by which the erring sinner is pardoned of his transgression. This is the New Testament message and the original plan of salvation. Also that is the only plan recognized by those who wrote immediately after the close of the New Testament canon; some of whom were contemporary with John and Paul. It is the ancient teaching of the primitive Church.
“WASH AWAY THY SINS” ACTS 22:16
There are other scriptures which bear this out. When Paul converted, he was instructed by Annanias in the following words: “And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the Name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). Baptism in conjunction with repentance (“calling on the Name of the Lord”) leads to a “washing away of sins.” Paul never forgot, or deviated, from the deposit of Truth he received that day .in the house of Judas, on a street called Straight.
BATH OF REGENERATION
We hear him telling Titus: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration (“bath of regeneration”-Greek), and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5). He likened baptism to a “bath” or “washing” of regeneration which was made possible “through Jesus Christ our Saviour” (v.6). How much more evidence is needed to establish the saving efficacy of baptism?
PUT ON CHRIST IN BAPTISM
Paul further teaches that we “put on Christ” by being “baptized into Christ” (Galatians 3:27). Do you want to be in Christ? Be baptized into him! Do you want to put on Christ? You put him on through water baptism. Therefore if you are not baptized “into Christ” you are still “outside” of him.
“Are you in the Church Triumphant?
Are you in the Savior’s bride?
Come and be baptized into the body
And for evermore abide!”
BAPTIZED INTO NEWNESS OF LIFE
Water Baptism is a pre-requisite for “newness of life” and participation in the future resurrection from the dead at his coming: “Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted (i.e. baptism) together in the likeness of his death, we shall also be in the likeness of his resurrection” (Rom. 6:3-5).
CIRCUMCISION OF THE HEART
Paul also compares baptism with the Old Testament rite of circumcision. In the Old Testament circumcision removed part of the literal flesh of the male and incorporated him into Israel. But in the church age, baptism (the “circumcision of Christ”) removes or “puts off the body of sins,” and simultaneously incorporates us into the church, the new “Israel of God.” This is brought out clearly in Colossians 3:11-12, “In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ. ‘Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.”
The writer of Hebrews says the same thing . Our hearts are “sprinkled from an evil conscience” through repentance. Then our bodies are “washed” with pure water. Without this we cannot “draw near” to God “with a true heart,” or have “full assurance of faith” (Heb. 10:23-24).
WHAT MORE IS NEEDED?
If God wanted to say that baptism was absolutely essential for securing remission of sins and obtaining salvation, what more could he possibly have said? Every word conceivable, every metaphor imaginable, every example observable is brought before us to drive home the point. Jesus said he that “believes and is baptized shall be saved,” unless a man is “born of water and Spirit he cannot enter God’s Kingdom.” Peter said to be baptized “for the remission of sins,” because “baptism doth also now save us.” Paul was told to be baptized to “wash away his sins.” He therefore called it a “washing of regeneration” which “saves us.” Baptism is the only means to “put on Christ,” to get “in Christ,” and to “rise with Christ.” It puts off the “body of sin,” and puts us in the “body of Christ.” Did the Bible leave anything out? I think not.
Even Dr. Boyd is forced to admit after such a scriptural bombardment that these passages “…do show that baptism was regarded as being an essential aspect of the ordinary saving experience of early believers. In the strongest possible terms, baptism is associated with one’s being united with Christ (Rom. 6: 4-5), with one’s ‘putting on Christ’ (Gal. 3:27), with the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38) and …with one’s becoming a member of the New Covenant Community (Col. 2:11-12). There is nothing to indicate that this act was perceived as being in any sense peripheral to the gospel” (Boyd, p. 135). He uses the word “essential” which means “necessary; indispensable” (Webster’s Unified Dictionary). Therefore baptism was a necessary and indispensable “aspect of the ordinary saving experience,” according to what Dr. Boyd states! Now having said that baptism is essential or “indispensable” to salvation, he spends the rest of the chapter dispensing with it’s essentially! And this he begins to do on the following page: “This is not however, the same as saying that salvation was ever seen as being directly contingent upon baptism. The continual insistence in the New Testament that it is faith, and faith alone, that saves a person is itself enough to prove this” (Boyd, p. 136). Will he ever make up his mind? On page 135 baptism is an “essential aspect” of salvation, and “in the strongest possible terms, baptism is associated with …. the forgiveness of sins.’ By page 136, however, salvation is not “directly contingent upon baptism” and it is “faith, and faith alone that saves a person”! A lot can happen in one page! In the next nine pages follows the standard hackneyed arguments used to “explain away” the passages he previously designated as the “strongest possible terms!” In these type of books one must be very careful to mark your place when reading – for one page can make a tremendous difference. I assume Neo-Trinitarians must be under a burden to please everyone in their camp on the baptismal issue, for “some like it hot, some like it cold, and some like it in the text nine pages old!” If you believe it’s essential read page 135. If you believe its not “contingent” and “faith alone” is all that’s needed, then read page 136. While they’re doing that, we’ 11 be reading our Bible, all the pages!
MODERN DAY SUBSTITUTES
How the modern day “evangelicals” with their waterless “dry cleaning” salvation wish they had the scriptural armory that we Oneness Pentecostals have. They would love to have just one text where the apostles coaxed someone to “accept Jesus as their very own personal Savior”; but like old Mother Hubbard, they find that the cupboard is bare! They search in vain where the Apostles told the people to “just slip up a hand” (“I see that hand, God bless you!”). But the Apostles were too busy telling people to “Repent and be baptized in Jesus’ Name” for such nonsense. Now the 20th Century preachers even have Jesus running “for election” and the people are to “make a decision about Christ” ! Or better still, they send in their “absentee ballot’,’ by signing a decision card !(Can you imagine Peter passing out decision cards on the Day of Pentecost?). They then plead with the unrepentant prospect to “allow Jesus to come into his heart and live.” Reluctantly the new “convert” does this, but with the understanding that repentance is not needed (and is almost never even mentioned in these “plans of salvation”). And of course, no cleaning up or changing of lifestyle, for this would be “legalistic” and “bondage.” You may keep smoking, drinking, acid rocking, wife swapping, living together “without benefit of clergy,” – this will all “drop off” eventually, if ever, as you “grow” and “mature” But don’t worry about it. There’s “no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (as long as you don’t finish reading the verse, that is!). Yes, its all as simple as ABC – Accept, Believe, Confess – that’s it! You’re as good as signed, sealed, and delivered.
I know of an incident in Florida where a “worker” went into the laundromat and asked 16 people there, who were busy doing laundry, if they believed Jesus was the Son of God and their Savior. They all said “yes” and he proudly came out and announced that 16 people had just been born again! – Now if someone would just go in and inform them of the fact (before their clothes dry and they leave), I’m sure they would be quite surprised!!
SALVATION AND “WHAT ONE DOES”
Dr. Boyd criticizes the Oneness Movement in a number of places because we espouse a God who actually has requirements and conditions, starting with baptism, for those who would serve him: “One is not saved in this Theology (Oneness-ed.) by virtue of being in a gracious, loving relationship with Christ alone. Rather salvation is tied, in a most particular fashion, to what one does” (Boyd, p. 194). And we have “no motivation to love and accept people unconditionally – whether inside or outside the church” (Boyd, p. 194).
We are therefore very wrong for not accepting “unconditionally ” into our church membership, fornicators, blasphemers, prostitutes and drug dealers! No conditions, just come in! God doesn’t require anything – (we are told) .But our God does require repentance and change of life (And we do too!) Dr. Boyd’s God does not: “Rather, we know that God is naturally being the infinitely loving God, who he eternally is, precisely when he enters into the unconditional relationship with us that he desires” (Boyd. p. 195). He further states: “Because God is essentially social and loving, our loving relationship with him is not a sort of bridge to God we construct with our ‘good behavior, as the Oneness Theology requires. Rather our relationship with him is something God himself accomplishes by opening up his loving sociability now to include us. Our acceptance before God is wholly based on God’s performance which manifests who God eternally is. It is not even related to our performance.” (Boyd, p. 196). And this spills over into Church discipline. We are told,” . .to love and accept people unconditionally – whether inside or outside the church” (p. 194). The results of this philosophy of God and salvation is tragic. The so called “church” of today tolerates every abhorrent behavior and sinful lifestyle in the name of “love” and “acceptance.” The plan of Salvation is reduced to a smile in God’s direction. The only standard most preachers require today is that you impose no standard, on yourself or anyone else. Love, mercy, acceptance, tolerance, unconstitutionality are in. Repentance, judgement, works, accountability and holiness are out. And hell, of course, is never mentioned!
David Wilkerson, who preaches a clear message of repentance and change, recently mentioned meeting certain so-called “born again believers” who could not see anything wrong with continuing in their jobs as “topless” dancers in a “nudie bar.” After all, Christ had accepted them just as they were (topless and all!). And, naturally, they could “witness” for Christ at work! This kind of “mentality” is the direct result of the type of salvation philosophy Dr. Boyd advocates. After all, “it is not even related to our performance” (Boyd, p. 196) And that must include those done in Go-Go Cages and on bar tops as well!
“Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord shall enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. ,7:20-21).”Doing the will of the Father certainly sounds like a condition to be performed. How does it sound to you, dear reader?
Much is said about the love of Christ, and the mercy of God. And this is certainly scriptural. But they have no use for the Christ who said: “Except ye repent, ye shall likewise perish” (Luke 13:3), or “If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: and cast it from thee, it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hellfire” (Mark 9:47). “Where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:48).
Though they love to quote Paul, selectively that is, they refuse to preach his gospel that men “should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance” (Acts 26:20). For it contains two words that do not fit into their “cheap grace” gospel, namely “repentance” and “works:” Paul’s audience didn’t like it either “For these causes the Jews caught me in the Temple, and went about to kill me” (v.21). Any preacher who does set that forth as a true requirement for salvation will be killed in the jumbo church ecclesiastical temples of today. “Faith” and Faith alone” is all they want to hear. It may be a “fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31), but please don’t mention it! For they like to picture God as a loving “Grandpa” in heaven who tolerates any behavior in the name of Love. And even though we shall “not escape if we neglect so great salvation,” it would not be polite to mention it. It would run contrary to their idea of a very “understanding” God. I recently talked to one of these new type “Christians,” a lady who owns a Christian book store, in which she offers for sale two blasphemous books. One of which offers up the idea that Jesus’ conception may have resulted from Mary having sex with Zecharias the Priest!! And the other book advocated the church accepting and blessing pre-marital fornication and homosexual marriages!! When I pointed out to her the blasphemous contents of these books, she quickly informed me she had read them and was surprised that I was not as broad minded as she, or as tolerant! She then proceeded to inform me that the Holy Spirit guided her in the selection of these books! Perfectly good books for evangelical Christians to feed upon according to her, because God gave us brains, and we are free to decide what to believe! And this, my friends is the end to which all such unapostolic, just belive, and faith alone preaching leads to people that believe anything that supports their corrupt lifestyle. And we must, according to Dr. Boyd, accept them unconditionally into the church. Out performance is not the issue remember.