By Larry Ray Hafley
Our sights are drawn in on several statements made by Baptist preachers.
” `Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’ (Matt. 3:2) . `He that believeth on him is not condemned’ (John 3:18. `Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shaft be saved’ (Acts 16:31. ‘. . . except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish’ (Lk. 13:3).
“These passages are not contradictory. In each case when belief is mentioned, doubtless repentance is assumed, and so when repentance is commanded, belief is assumed. There is no other explanation. In Mark 1:15 both are specified by Jesus: ‘. . . repent ye and believe the gospel’ ” (L.D. Capell, editor, Missionary Baptist Searchlight, February 10, 1978).
Now, if editor Capell could use the above reasoning to show that repentance and faith are “assumed” even though they are not specifically mentioned, he ought to be able to do the same with respect to baptism. Observe a parallel to Capell’s conclusions:
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:3)!. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mk. 16:16). “Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). “Whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43).”
These passages are not contradictory. In each case when belief is mentioned, doubtless baptism is assumed, and so when baptism is commanded, belief is assumed. There is no other explanation. In Mark 16:16 both are specified by Jesus: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.”
The comparison is a counterpart to Mr. Capell’s. But there is one further point. The passages which I cited do not mention repentance. Mr. Capell’s do not refer to baptism. The verses I noted do not exclude repentance. The ones quoted by Capell do not exclude baptism. Repentance may be “assumed” in the Scriptures which I gave. Baptism may be “assumed” on the same basis in the ones given by Mr. Capeli. If not, why not?
“Important To Note”
Mr. Capell makes another sensible statement to which one we may effect a parallel. “It is important to note that though a man truly repents and believes, he does not save himself by this means. The repenting and believing merely brings him to the point where God saves him. Salvation is wholly by the grace and work of God. Man’s part is only to submit himself in the position that God can save him.” Aside from a qualification or two, I can accept Mr. Capell’s view.
Let us apply his paragraph to belief and baptism: It is important to note that though a man truly believes and is baptized, he does not save himself by this means. The believing and being baptized merely brings him to the point where God saves him. Salvation is by the grace and work of God. Man’s part is only to submit himself in the position that God can save him.
For years, Baptist preachers have charged that the command to be baptized negates the grace and work of God. They say that if baptism is essential it nullifies the grace of God. However, Mr. Capell shows the issue, the distinction. With faith and repentance, he sees how that obedience to the commands to repent and believe do not do away with God’s grace and work. He believes that one must repent and believe, but “it is important to note” that these two conditions do not reflect of mitigate against the grace of God. Well, that is exactly what a Christian says concerning baptism. Surely, Mr. Capell and the Baptists can see that!
“Whatever Baptism Does It Does It Figuratively”
So says Bedford Andrews in the name issue of the Searchlight. Hear him: “Whatever baptism does it does it figuratively. It is a figure or likeness according to 1 Peter 3:21. We read in Acts 22:16, . . . be baptized and wash away thy sins . . .’ Now if baptism literally washed away sins, we would have two saving elements. Because we have the Bible saying we are `washed from our sins in His blood’ (Rev. 1:5). Do we thus have a choice-water of baptism or the blood of Jesus? No! of course not. We are actually and really cleansed from sin by the blood of Jesus, and figuratively show it in baptism in water. Everyone knows that.”
So, according to Mr. Andrews, baptism does not save us. It only does so figuratively. It does not literally wash away sins. It only does so figuratively. The Bible says we are “baptized into Jesus Christ” (Rom. 6:3; Gal. 3:27). Is that only figuratively, Mr. Andrews? Baptists teach that baptism is what puts one into the fellowship of a Baptist Church. Of course, baptism could not really do that. No, we are not “baptized into one body,” because, according to Andrews, “Whatever baptism does it does figuratively.”
The literal blood of Jesus Christ does not literally wash or cleanse us from sin. God cleanses, washes and saves us by the blood of Christ, but the literal blood that literally dropped from the cross does not literally wash the literal soul. The water of baptism does not literally wash or cleanse us. God does that. But when does God do it? He does it when we obey from the heart that form of doctrine that is delivered to us. Then we are made free from sin by the blood of Christ (Rom. 6:17, 18). Acts 22:16 and Revelation 1:5 do not contradict another. God forgives us of sin by the blood of Christ when we are baptized. In the scheme of redemption, the blood of Christ had to be shed “for the remission of sins” (Matt. 26:28). Without the shedding of Jesus’ blood, there could be no forgiveness (Heb. 9:22). Still, God does the forgiving or remitting. Baptism in water is one of the conditions or terms of pardon; without obedience in baptism, there is no forgiveness (Mk. 16:16; Acts 22:16). But, God does the saving.
Mr. Andrews, where does the Bible say that we figuratively show our salvation in baptism in water? 1 Peter 3:21 does not say it. The water of baptism is a true likeness of the salvation of Noah and his family by water. The salvation and deliverance of Noah is a type of the salvation which we receive in baptism. Baptism is not said to be the likeness or type of our salvation. It is the likeness of Noah’s deliverance from the old world of sin. So, corresponding to Noah’s salvation “by water,” “baptism doth also now save us.”
Acts 2:38 “Because Of”
Again, Andrews avers, “Some think Acts 2:38 teaches baptismal regeneration. There we read, ‘. . . Repent, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins . . .! Mainly the thought is based on the word ‘for’ as employed here. ‘For remission’ should be understood to mean ‘with reference to’ or ‘because of remission let everyone be baptized. Baptism is with reference to sin already forgiven.”
Note a parallel which will show the folly of Mr. Andrews’ reasoning: Some think that Matthew 26:28 teaches blood regeneration. There we read, “”This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Mainly the thought is based on the word “for” as employed here. “For remission” should be understood to mean “with reference to” or “because of” remission Jesus shed His blood. The blood of Christ is with reference to sin already forgiven.
The expression “for the remission of sins” is the same identical phrase in Matthew 26:28 and Acts 2:38. That being so, let Mr. Andrews try his hand on my parallel to his statement.
But that is not all. If baptism is “because of sins “already forgiven,” then so is repentance. Acts 2:38 joins repentance and baptism. Both are “for the remission of sins.” Let us read a corollary to Mr. Andrews: Some think Acts 2:38 teaches repentance regeneration. There we read, “Repent, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” Mainly the thought is based on the word “for” as employed here. “For remission” should be understood to mean “with reference to” or “because of remission let everyone repent. Repentance is with reference to sin already forgiven.
We have drawn our bead and pulled the trigger. If Mr. Capell or Mr. Andrews would like to respond, I am certain that Truth Magazine would be happy to carry their replies, provided of course, that we are given equal space in the Searchlight. Will they draw a bead and fire back? Or will they stay behind the cover of silence and hide behind the shield of their paper without opening it to differing views?
Truth Magazine XII: 37, pp. 598-599
September 21, 1978