Denominational Doctrinal Discussions
These studies examine the traditional doctrines held by denominations by comparing those beliefs to the scriptures. My desire is that we walk righteously before God, not according to traditions of men. Bernie Parsons
|One Gospel: Baptism & Salvation
By Bernie Parsons - February19, 2002 I read still another article about how baptism has nothing to do with salvation because (1) Peter only preached baptism to the Jews, (2) Peter was young and untaught, and later changed his message, (3) Paul did not baptize for remission of sins, and (4) Peter preached a different gospel (one of baptism) to the Jews than Paul did (one of salvation by grace) to the Gentiles.
It is sad to see how far people will go to uphold thier particular religion's "church doctrines" without regard to the true message of the Bible. There is no excuse for perverting the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Galatians 1:6-9 "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed."
Point #1 "Peter only preached baptism to the Jews".
Acts 2:36-39 "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call."
The promise was to these Jews and their offspring, but it was also for the Gentiles--those who were "far off".
Acts 10:45-11:1 "And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days. And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God."
"Peter only preached baptism to the Jews" is clearly not a correct doctrine. As much as it pains me to say this, and I say it in gentleness and kindness, such a statement proves either a lack of diligent Bible study, or worse, a deliberate persversion of the scriptures to suit one's own doctrines.
Here is how Peter explained his preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles, after which he commanded them to be baptized in water--"can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized...?"
Acts 11:4-18 "But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them, saying, I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision, A certain vessel descend, as it had been a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came even to me: Upon the which when I had fastened mine eyes, I considered, and saw fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And I heard a voice saying unto me, Arise, Peter; slay and eat. But I said, Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth. But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. And this was done three times: and all were drawn up again into heaven.
And, behold, immediately there were three men already come unto the house where I was, sent from Caesarea unto me. And the Spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered into the man's house: And he shewed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter; Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.
And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?
When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life."
Peter preached the same gospel to both Jews and Gentiles.
Point #2 "Peter taught water baptism when he was young, but changed his mind--and his message--as he matured."
I almost fell over the first time I heard that, but I have heard it several times since. Again, let the scriptures speak to the truth of the matter.
1 Peter 3:20-21 "Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. 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:"
As Peter matured and grew older in the church, he not only continued to preach water baptism, but was specific in connecting baptism to salvation from past sins. He compares salvation by baptism to Noah's salvation in the ark--saved by water! As he hastens to clarify, it is not the bathing of the body that cleanses us, but the answer of a good conscience toward God. When does that clean and pure conscience occur? When our sins are washed away! When does that occur? When we are baptized in water!
Acts 22:16 "And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord."
Hebrews 10:22 "Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water."
1 Corinthians 6:11 "And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God."
Besides all the other scriptural evidence that baptism is crucial to salvation, how could anyone read the scriptures above and not be convinced? This is why I suspect deliberate perversion of the gospel in order to uphold traditional doctrines of men.
Matthew 15:8-9 "This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men."
Point #3 "Paul preached the gospel of salvation by faith--he did not baptize."
Our denominational friends offer as proof the folowing scripture:
1 Corinthians 1:17-18 "For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God."
They lift this entirely out of context, as they must with all the scriptures that they wrest (pervert) to their own destruction.
2 Peter 3:15-17 "And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness."
If you will read the first few chapters of I Corinthians, it is easy to understand the context of the message.
1 Corinthians 1:10-18 "Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name. And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other. For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God."
What Paul was denouncing was not baptism, but schisms in the Corinthian church resulting from what we hill-folk often call "preacher-itis". The church was being torn apart by partisanship, as Christians chose to follow their favorite preacher. Paul was reminding them that Cephas (Peter), Apollos, and he were merely messengers. He likened themselves to planters and nurturers of seed, while God provides the harvest.
1 Corinthians 3:5-11 "Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ."
Now, look a second time about what Paul was saying about his performing baptism:
"I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name. And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other. For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect."
Christianity is not about following a favorite preacher. It is about serving God through Christ. Paul said that he was glad that he had not baptized that many people, so that they would not try to follow him personally, as opposed to following Christ. Again,
"was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name."
Paul did not say that he should not have baptized anyone, or that no one should have been baptized! He is simply calling for unity in Christ, and not the divisiveness that comes from following men. He implored them to follow him, but only insomuch as he followed Christ.
1 Corinthians 4:15-17 "For though ye have ten thousand instructers in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me. For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church."
1 Corinthians 11:1-3 "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you. But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God."
Point #4 "There are two gospels--the one that Peter preached to the Jews, which included baptism, and the one that Paul preached to the Gentiles, which was salvation by faith only."
I would be hard-pressed to come up with a more outlandish and erroneous claim than this! There is no doubt in my mind that whoever came up with this particular perversion did so strictly to justify their unjustifiable doctrine. It denies the very heart of Christianity, which is the oneness of the body of Christ, and the simpicity and clarity of one gospel, and one faith.
Ephesians 4:4 "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all."
Romans 1:16-17 "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith."
The Jews and Greeks (Gentiles) heard the same gospel. It does not matter whether Jew or Greek, the same Lord responds to all who call on Him.
Romans 3:21-23 "But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;"
Romans 10:11-14 "For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?"
Acts 15:7-9 "And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith."
Those who claim two gospels refer to the following scriptures:
Galatians 2:7-9 "But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision."
Paul did not state that there were two gospels--rather, he delineated two bodies of listeners: Jews, and Gentiles. However, the gospel message was the same for both groupings of listeners. Jesus died to take away the wall that separated Jews and Gentiles. Remember that the promise to Abraham was that through his seed (Jesus) all nations of the earth would be blessed.
Ephesians 2:11-22 "Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit."
Luke 24:46-47 "And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem."
Galatians 3:8 "And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed."
Paul further rebuked Peter for distinguishing the two groups, rather than encouraging a common gathering of Jew and Gentile as one.
Galatians 2:11-16 "But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.
But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified."
Ephesians 3:4-8 "Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:"
Jesus directed His followers to go into all the world and preach the gospel, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. There is one gospel, one baptism, one body, one Father, one Lord, and one Spirit.
Mark 1:1 "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God;"
Mark 13:9-10 "But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them. And the gospel must first be published among all nations."
Mark 16:14-20 "Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen."
This commandment, often referred to as "The Great Commission", was for all the world. The gospel was to be preached in all the world. One gospel for one world.
Matthew 24:14 "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come."
Matthew 28:18-20 "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen."
Acts 11:18-23 "When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life. Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only. And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the LORD Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord. Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch. Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord."
Acts 20:24-25 "But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more."
Some who pervert the scriptures, whether they do it wittingly or unwittingly, maintain that the "gospel of the kingdom" was preached to the Jews, while the Gentiles had preached to them the "gospel of salvation by grace". Paul preached the kingdom gospel among the Gentiles.
Romans 16:25-27 "Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen."
Sadly, those who espouse two gospels work in direct opposition to what the apostles sought to accomplish--that there is but one gospel for all the world. In fact, much of what Paul wrote about in most of his writings concerned his fight with the Jewish brethren who would pervert the unifying gospel of Jesus Christ. They followed him into the Gentile cities, trying to persuade the Gentiles to become "Jewish Christians". If you can grasp that, you are well on your way to truly understanding the many writings of Paul that are twisted to create strange, ungodly doctrines. Put in context, they are coherent and cohesive.
In truth, the very scriptures that are used to try and eliminate baptism as part of the process of salvation from past sins are those scriptures where the Apostle Paul was refuting the attempts by his Jewish brethren to force the Gentiles to keep the Law of Moses. His emphasis on salvation by God's grace and our faith was to counteract the Jewish group that followed him throughout the Gentile cities, trying to force the Gentiles to keep the "works of the law"--the Law of Moses!
Romans 3:22-30 "Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith."
Paul warned the Galatians not to seek salvation by the works of the Law of Moses.
Galatians 2:21-3:2 "I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?"
Salvation by baptism in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is salvation by grace, rather than salvation by works of the Law of Moses. Those who teach that "baptism is a work", therefore cannot save, simply refuse to study the scriptures with an open heart and mind. By the grace of God, He sent His son, Jesus, to tell us what to do. Jesus told us to baptize those who believe for the remission of their sins. That is salvation by the grace of God!
The gospel of Christ is simple and clear--it is the story of Christ, the Redeemer. Israel resulted when God separated Abraham from his brethren. God promised him that through his offpsring all nations would be blessed. Jesus is that offspring. Salvation is for all.
Revelation 22:16-19 "I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book."
Ephesians 4:4-6 "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all."
Love, in Christ,