By Larry Ray Hafley
(1) Often we are asked that if baptism is for the remission of sins, then why do we not baptize a child of God every time he sins? Those who ask the question think that it poses a dilemma for those of us who believe what Acts 2:38 says. So, if baptism is “for the remission of sins,” why not baptize a child of God every time he sins and seeks forgiveness?
Those who ask the question believe one should be baptized because his sins have been forgiven. When one is forgiven, he should be baptized “because of” the remission of sins, Now, turn their question back on them. If one is baptized because he is forgiven, why do you not baptize a child of God every time he sins and seeks forgiveness?
Baptists have argued this case for years. Since we teach that a sinner must be baptized to be saved and forgiven (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16), then when one sins as a child of God, why do we not have to baptize him again “for the remission of sins”? Well, they believe that one should be baptized “as an outward sign” of his forgiveness when he is saved. When their convert sins, repents and is forgiven, do they take him and baptize him again because his sins have been forgiven? No, they do not. When they explain why they do not baptize again a penitent brother of theirs, they ought to be able to see why we do not baptize a penitent child of God (Acts 8:22; 1 Jn. 1:9).
(2) Those who believe in the impossibility of apostasy argue that sins of the flesh, the outer man, do not affect the condition of the soul, the inner man. Hence, the inner, spiritual man, the soul, cannot be lost because of the deeds or sins performed by the flesh. A number of passages knock this idea in the creek (Matt. 15:18,19; 2 Cor. 7: 1; Col. 3:5,6; Eph. 5:3-6; Rom. 8:12,13; Gal. 5:19-21; 6:7,8).
However, two are especially simple, useful and easy to be understood. “Abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul” (1 Pet. 2:11). Sins of the flesh do affect the soul. They “war against the soul.” Further, in 2 Corinthians 5:10, the Spirit saith, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that which he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” Could language be plainer? How, then, can Calvinists argue that sins of the flesh do not jeopardize the destiny of the soul?
(3) Catholicism says that the Lord gave prominence, preeminence and primacy unto Peter in Matthew 16:18,19. If that is true, the apostles and Zebedee’s wife did not know it. They argued over which of them should be considered the greatest in the kingdom (Matt. 18:1-3; 20:20-28; Lk. 9:46; 22:24). If the Lord had given Peter his papal primacy papers, nearly a year before Luke 22:24, why did he not simply settle the matter and remind them that he already had appointed the apostle Peter Pope in prospect? It would have been the logical thing to do if the Catholics are right about it. But, alas, they are not right. Jesus further blasted “Petrine” papal presumptions when he spoke of their pretensions of dominion and authority and said, “But it shall not be so among you.” In other words, the very thing that Catholics claim for Peter, his dominion and authority, Jesus said is “not so.”
(4) Pentecostal people cite Jesus’ words in John 14:12, “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do.” Then they say that we must not be believers because we do not do the works or miracles of Jesus. If we were truly believers, we would do the works (miracles) of Jesus and even “greater works than” Jesus did. What shall we say to this?
First, Pentecostal preachers cannot do the works of Jesus. They cannot walk on water. I have tried to get them to take just one step across a baptistry (length-wise) by walking on the water, but they have never done so. They cannot feed 5,000 people with 5 loaves and 2 fish and take up 12 garbage bags of fragments. They cannot raise the dead. No, they cannot do the works of Jesus. Neither can they do “greater works than these.” Are they really believers?
Second, these promises are made to the apostles. They did the works of Jesus, as all of us, even our Pentecostal friends, admit (Acts 2:43; 3:6; 5:15, 16; 9:36-42; 14:3; 19:10). But what of those “greater works”? What are they? I purposely left off, because Pentecostals often do, the last clause of John 14:12. Jesus said, “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” Note it. Why were their works to be greater? “Because I go unto my Father.”
Jesus had to go unto the Father, “for if I go not away, the Comforter (“which is the Holy Spirit” – Jn. 14:26) will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you” (Jn. 16:7). The apostles will do “greater works than these,” “because I go unto my Father.” But Jesus went unto the Father so that the Holy Spirit would be sent to them. Hence, the “greater works” were tied to the coming of the Spirit. So, Jesus ascended to the Father. The Spirit came, guided the apostles into “all truth” and convicted “the world of sin, and of righteousness and of judgment” through them (Jn. 16:7,8,13; 17:20; Acts 2:36,37). These, therefore, are the “greater works.”
Third, “Oneness,” “Jesus only” Pentecostals had better not cite this verse. It has Jesus going unto His Father. That is two persons, or did he go unto himself? Jesus (that is one) went unto the Father (that is two), and he sent the Holy Spirit (that is three). Or did he go unto himself and send himself?
Guardian of Truth XXXVI: 15, pp. 456-457
August 6, 1992