Thursday, March 24, 2011

Conversation with a member of the Church of Christ, chapter 3

Jeremy then pasted a glob of text from

  I Peter 3:21

…who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were savedthrough water, and this water symbolizes baptism which now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

Notice the phrases, “baptism, which now saves you”, and “it (“it” refers tobaptismsaves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” First Peter tells us baptism saves us. Then he not only restates this, but also tells us how and why baptism saves us. It saves us by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This ties directly into Romans 6:3-6

Peter tells us that the story of Noah and the ark is an illustration of how God saves through water.  In the days of Noah, God looked down on the earth and was grieved at all the evil he saw upon the world (Genesis 6). God used the waters of the flood to wipe out the old and bring about a new beginning. God “wiped the slate clean” and started all over again.

Many people become confused by this passage and the reference to Noah’s flood correlating to baptism. The phrase, “this water” is a reference to the water of Noah’s floodThe water of Noah’s flood is an illustration of baptismBefore Noah’s flood, the earth was filled with sin and corrupt. God “cleansed” (this is what I meant by saying that Noah corresponded to baptism) the earth with water and though this water a new beginning came about.

Understand there is nothing “magical” in the actual water itself. But when we obeyGod’s command to be immersed in water in order to have our sins forgiven,God is faithful and God cleanses our sins through the blood of Christ at this point of our obedience and faith. In other words, baptism is not a physical cleansing of dirt from our body, but a spiritual cleaning of sin from our souls by God.

Romans 15:4 teaches us…
 “For as many things as have been written in the past have been written for our instruction, that through endurance and through encouragement of thescriptures we might have hope.”

Here is another similar illustration, but this time it is Paul who speaks:

I Corinthians 10:1-4
And I do not wish you to be ignorant, brethren, that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, And were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of a spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ.

Paul says he does not want us to be ignorant that the Israelites were baptized into Moses. We know that Egypt is often referred to as the “land of slavery.”

God brought Israel :
out of Egypt (the land of slavery--i.e. sin)
through the sea (water -i.e. baptism)
and into the promised land ( Israel --i.e. salvation, redemption)

Baptism is nothing new in God’s plan. It is something He has always used to illustrate the separating of sin from mankind. God has always saved peoplethrough water. It was foreshadowed long ago in the Old Testament scriptures.

If you are interested, I can also give my reasons for Acts 2:38 & Galatians 3:26-27 as well. 

I don't know that I understand what your question was in James 2.. please refresh my memory or explain more thoroughly.  Thanks.  I hope this helps you understand.

I replied:

Hello Jeremy,

(By the way, before I go any further, I've been using the KJV since I figured you wouldn't object to it. I prefer the NASB; which is your favored translation? I don't have a problem with the KJV most of the time, so please let me know.)

OK, 1 Peter 3.
Part of the fault of this argument rests on equivocation on the term "**through** water". Those on the ark were not saved through water in the sense that the water saved them. The ARK saved them FROM the water. The "through" here is the sense that a firefighter might save a little girl by carrying her THROUGH the fire, to safety. The water was killing everything, condemning everything by its destructive smothering power. It was judgment. The ARK was salvation, not the water. 

The article said:
--"The phrase, “this water” is a reference to the water of Noah’s flood. The water of Noah’s flood is an illustration of baptism. Before Noah’s flood, the earth was filled with sin and corrupt. God “cleansed” (this is what I meant by saying that Noah corresponded to baptism) the earth with water and though this water a new beginning came about."

Wrong application, as noted above. The water is not a saving thing with Noah. It doesn't cleanse in the same way Christ's salvation does; not even close! You and I are sinful men, and we're fools if we wish for God to repeat the judgment of the Flood, for God's judgment will sweep us away with everyone else b/c of our sin. With the Flood, God DESTROYED SINNERS. With baptism (ie, salvation), God SAVES sinners by dying IN THEIR PLACE. Jesus is the ark for sinners.
So, all of that is to help you know that you're buying too heavily into Peter's metaphor. It is certainly true, on the other hand, that the water as discussed by Peter here destroys the sinful man, putting him to death, and the new man is resurrected in the water.
Which brings me to my other point - Peter himself shows us that he wasn't holding strictly to baptism=salvation here. The water isn't magical, holy, or blessed or something. That's more like a Roman Catholic viewpoint, and it's strange that a Campbellite would be so eager to lock arms with Rome. Peter says "NOT THE REMOVAL OF DIRT FROM THE FLESH" - ie, it's not the water. As I explained before, you have it exactly backwards. The baptism is a symbolic act of obedience to one's newfound Lord - God, you've awakened my conscience to desire to serve You, so now I am entering into baptism to obey You and thus have a clear conscience. And that is b/c of the just-experienced HS baptism, which accompanies regeneration and justification.

The article said:
--"God has always saved people through water. "

More like - God has always saved people by grace alone through faith alone - Habakkuk 2:4 cf Romans 1:16-17.
What good did the baptism do Simon Magus? Those who were baptised into Moses through the Red Sea who didn't have faith? They fell in the desert, didn't they? Why? B/c they didn't have faith! I know you can fit this into your framework - you'd say they lost their salvation. Fair enough, you're consistent on that point, but what I'm saying here is that they were not in fact saved from God's wrath and judgment. Why? Precisely b/c they fell in the desert!
Contrast that with Jesus' words about the people that He will save: "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me, And I give unto them eternal life; and ***they shall never perish***, neither shall any [man] pluck them out of my hand." (John 10:27-28)

It won't do to say that they can walk away from God of their own volition - Jesus said they will never perish! And if you walk away from God, you perish, don't you? 

You'd said:

--The reason I say this, is exactly why I asked if you were Calvanist, you believe that it is all of God and nothing is required of us....

Just for the sake of your education, let me rundown briefly what Calvinism teaches about man and salvation.

Man is depraved from birth, and dead in sin (Eph 2:1-3). He does not desire to follow God (Rom 8). He is God's enemy (James 4:4). He will not do anything that pleases God, ever (Rom 8, Heb 11:6), and he doesn't want to.
God knows this, and His plan from eternity past (Acts 2:23, 4:28) decided that Jesus would die on the Cross and rise again in order to save a particular group of people (Titus 2:14). On what basis He decided whom to save is a mystery (Deut 29:29), but we know that it was b/c of His good pleasure. Certainly not b/c of anything good that anyone has done (Rom 5:18)!

When the time comes for God to save someone, a time that He has decided, He regenerates them and they are born again (John 3, 1 John 5:1). Thus, their desires change and they want to follow Christ, and so they have faith in Christ. Before, they didn't want to follow Jesus. After the new birth, they do want to follow Jesus.

God uses means to accomplish His purposes. You believe that as much as I do. He SPOKE to create the universe. Why speak? Well, b/c He wanted to.
He uses angels to communicate a lot of the time. Why not just zap the message into the man's brain? He wanted to use angels!
He uses the Red Sea to destroy Pharaoh's army, plagues to destroy Egypt. Why not just zap and teleport ppl? He wanted to do it that way!
So... the means by which God has ordained and decided for ppl to be saved is faith in Jesus, through the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the Gospel is the very power of God unto salvation (Rom 1:16-17). God uses means. Another means He uses to affect ppl is apologetics, debate, polemics, Scriptural exegesis. That's what we're doing right now. I told you you need to repent and that my hope is in God alone, whereas yours is in God and the water you got dipped in once. You challenged me and asked me why. I am now carrying out the command to give everyone a reason for the hope I have - 1 Peter 3:15.

So, to say "all of God and nothing required of us" is totally wrong, for this reason: It BEGINS with God 100% and 0% from us, but God works in us and transforms us so that we act out of our new desires and have faith and profess faith in Christ. The thing is, nothing less than perfection is required from us (James 2:10). None of us are perfect, so Christ is our perfection for us, on our behalf (2 Cor 5:21).

Hope that helps. In the future, if you're ignorant of a particular belief or system, *ask* what the other person believes, don't tell them what they believe. Please take that in the gentlest way possible, and I mean that. I've had to learn that myself, and I've learned it the hard way. :-) 

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