August 18, 2018

Response To A Letter From Arnold Hardin

 

(Editor's Note: I am producing below an exchange between Larry Hafley and Arnold Hardin which occurred as a result of an article which brother Hafley wrote in Guardian of Truth. The exchange is revealing because it demonstrates the weakness which the grace-unity advocates have in the area of baptism. Those who start off stating that the Lord forgives a man of sins which he commits of which he might be ignorant or which he commits inadvertently are logically compelled to make the same application on the subject of baptism as they make in other areas. The result is-that men begin to question whether or not one must be baptized for the remission of his sins in order to be saved. I think our readers will profit from reading these letters.)

Hafley's Controversial Remarks

(5) Design. What is the aim, the object, the purpose of New Testament baptism? Remember, we shall answer the question by appealing to the word of God. There are numerous, diverse responses from the creeds and churches of men, but we are going to be guided by the Bible. But, first, why was Christ's blood shed? Jesus said it was "shed . . . for the remission of sins" (Matt. 26:28). Now, if you were asked for the design, the purpose, for the shedding of the blood of Jesus, you could correctly say that it was shed "for the remission of sins." In Acts 2:38, the apostle Peter said that one is baptized "for the remission of sins." Would you deny that the precious blood of our Lord was shed "for the remission of sins"? No! By the same token, then, you will admit that baptism is "for the remission of sins." Suppose I said that the Lord shed His blood because we are already saved; or, suppose I said He poured out His blood to show that we were saved before His death on the cross? You would not like it if I advocated that. Well, baptism, like the shedding of the blood of Christ, is "for the remission of sins" (Matt. 26:28; Acts 2:38). Jesus said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" (Mk. 16:16). Ananias, a preacher sent of God, told Saul to "arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord" (Acts 22:16). On two occasions, Paul said that we are "baptized into Jesus Christ" (Rom. 6:3; Gal. 3:27). Peter said that "baptism doth also now save us" (1 Pet. 2-11). What do you say? (Guardian of Truth, September 15, 1983, page 562)

Brother Arnold Hardin's Letter

9/25/83
Scyene Church of Christ
2920 Prairie Creek Rd.
Dallas, Texas 75227

Dear brother Hafley,

I have read your article, "Five Components of Baptism," and I am concerned about point five - Design.

I did not desire to write anything about it until I had an opportunity to ask you about it. What you had to say seems typical; yet going even farther than others. As written, it seems no conclusion can be drawn than that you are equating the design, purpose of baptism and the blood of Christ as being "for the remission of sins." How can you remotely draw such a conclusion? There is only one thing designed or for the purpose of washing away sin. How can baptism be equated with the blood of Christ for the purpose of washing away sins?

Baptism is essential to one's reaching the blood as it is faith objectified or embodied and just as it expresses a sinner's repentance and confession. But to say baptism is for the remission of sins just as the blood is saying that which is unknown to the Bible. Or am I misunderstanding what you were seeking to say?

I would appreciate it if you would clarify this matter.

Sincerely,

Arnold Hardin

Brother Larry Hafley's Reply

September 30, 1983
Northside Chuch of Christ
P.O. Box 1187
Pekin, IL 61554

Dear Brother Hardin,

Thank you for your letter.

You stated that my article "seems typical." First, will you please explain what you mean? Of what is it typical? Second, you state that my comments went "farther than others." Farther than what? And who are the "others," and what did they say that I exceeded? Your answers to these questions will give me more insight to answer your queries.

Now, your questions:

(1) "As written, it seems no conclusion can be drawn than that you are equating the design, purpose of baptism and the blood of Christ as being 'for the remission of sins.' How can you remotely draw such a conclusion?"

Reply: Christ's blood was shed "for the remission of sins" (Matt. 26:28). It is the basis, the grounds, of our salvation. Repentance and baptism are said to be "for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38). They are the terms or conditions salvation.

(2) "How can baptism be equated with the blood of hrist for the purpose of washing away sins?"

Reply: Jesus "washed us from our sins in his ow blood" (Rev. 1:5; 7:14). Ananias told Saul, "And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord" (Acts 22:16). Christ sanctified and cleansed the church "with the washing of water by the word" (Eph. 5:26). We art sanctified by the blood of the covenant (Heb. 10:29). We are sanctified by the truth (Jn. 17;17). We are sanctified "in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God" (I Cor. 6:11). The blood of Christ is the basis, the grounds, of our sins being washed away. Baptism is one of the conditions we must meet in order to have our sins washed away (1 Pet. 1:18,19,22; 3:21; Rev. 1:5; Acts 22:16; 2:38; 3:19).

(3) "Or am I misunderstanding what you were seeking to say?"

Reply: Brother Hardin, what is water baptism for? What is its purpose or design, according to Acts 2:38? 1 say it is "for the remission of sins," do you?

A few parallel propositions may assist you in reaching an understanding of my remarks.

I. At least three things are said to justify.

(A) "Justified freely by his grace" (Rom. 3:24).

(B) "Justified by faith" (Rom. 5:1).

(C) "Justified by his blood" (Rom. 5:9).

I preach justification by grace, but when I say we are justified by grace, I am not negating or equating either faith or the blood of Christ. I preach justification by faith, but when I say we are justified by faith, I am not negating or equating either grace or the blood of Christ. I preach justification by the blood of Christ, but when I say we are justified by the blood of Christ, I am not negating or equating either grace or faith.

Suppose you were to write an article on faith, as I did on baptism. Suppose you mention that we are justified by grace, faith and the blood of Christ. Then suppose I write you a letter and inquire, "As written, it seems no conclusion can be drawn than that you are equating the design, purpose of faith and the blood of Christ as being that which Justifies.' How can you remotely draw such a conclusion? But to say faith justifies just as the blood justifies is saying that which is unknown to the Bible. Or am I misunderstanding what you were seeking to say?"

Brother Hardin, how would you respond to that hypothetical letter? Perhaps your response to such a given circumstance will serve to "clarify this matter."

II. Further, imagine that you have preached a sermon as per Acts 2. At the conclusion of your lesson, you exhort the audience of sinners, "Save yourselves from this untoward generation" (Acts 2:40). At this point, a man from the audience replies, "No, we cannot save ourselves. Jesus is our Savior" (Matt. 1:21). The respondent continues, "What you had to say seems typical; yet going farther than others. As stated, it seems no conclusion can be drawn than that you are equating man with Jesus as his own Savior. How can you remotely draw such a conclusion? There is only one Savior from sin. How can a sinner be equated with Christ as Savior? To say man can save himself just as Christ saves is saying that which is unknown to the Bible. Or am I misunderstanding what you were seeking to say? I would appreciate it if you would clarify this matter."

Brother Hardin, perhaps your clarification and explanation of such it situation will answer your reservation regarding my article.

Brotherly,

Larry Ray Hafley

Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 3, pp. 68-69
February 2, 1984

Share