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Baptism: Water and Spirit VIII

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Question #1:

Would you be open to discussing your views on baptism with me? my true and only sincere goal is to please the Lord, but I am confounded by the vast differences in doctrines of all type by people who call themselves "Christians". I am personally simply trying to seek Him with all my will. And lately my own life has been difficult because of the fact that so many people even in one congregation can differ on important topics of faith.

Please let me know. i just want a (relaxing?) conversation about a serious topic...No accusations desired or intended. But I want to learn more whatever direction that takes either of us...let me back up and preface what I said with the fact that i only emailed you because I've been reading your marriage questions and find you seem to be very logical in your interpretations (for lack of better word). so a discussion with you seemed like it may be worthwhile...

Response #1:

Good to make your acquaintance.

I have had occasion to write reams about water-baptism in the past. Much of this is posted at the site (links below). So I would be very surprised if there is any aspect of this question which you won't find already "in print", but one never knows. Do have a look at the links and do also feel free to write me back about any questions you may have on the topic:

Baptism: Water and Spirit VII

Baptism: Water and Spirit VI

Baptism: Water and Spirit V

Baptism: Water and Spirit IV

Baptism: Water and Spirit III

Baptism: Water and Spirit II

Baptism: Water and Spirit I

One Baptism: the True Meaning of Peter's Words at Acts 2:38.

John's Water-Baptism versus the Baptism of the Holy Spirit

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #2:

Greetings fellow believer,

Your article on water baptism was so good. Teachings on water baptism have driven me from many churches because the truth is very apparent to me. Your article confirmed what I was feeling on the matter based on what I had read in the bible. My current and previous pastors both seem to put a premium on water baptism and make it seem as if it is a necessary ingredient for one's Salvation. This is a dangerous teaching in my mind. These are such great guys though and I care about them very much, so now I am trying to accept that they may not fully understand the scriptures or are convinced they are being obedient to how they understand the scriptures. I know there were arguments among apostles and other disciples in the bible and they managed to work out their differences and love one another. I don't want to keep being compelled to leave church because the teachers aren't perfect, but I also don't accept when people equate water baptism with Salvation. Your article was so well written and spot on accurate in my estimation. I don't know who you are, but it was the first article that came up in my web search and I was so pleased because I was praying about this issue this morning looking for confirmation regarding what I felt the Spirit had revealed to me.

I get a little down when I speak with my brothers or sisters about this topic and they immediately stonewall me without offering biblical evidence for their position on water baptism. I see that you have a website with a large selection of studies. I plan on reviewing them as it appears to me from your water baptism study that you see the Truth.

I hope you have a blessed day!

Response #2:

Good to make your acquaintance. For more information about myself and this ministry, please see the link: "About Ichthys".

I'm very pleased to hear that these materials have been helpful. You mention, "your article"; I have written quite a lot on this subject – it is a concern to many – so I will give you a number of other links:

Baptism: Water and Spirit VII

Baptism: Water and Spirit VI

Baptism: Water and Spirit V

Baptism: Water and Spirit IV

Baptism: Water and Spirit III

Baptism: Water and Spirit II

Baptism: Water and Spirit I

One Baptism: the True Meaning of Peter's Words at Acts 2:38.

John's Water-Baptism versus the Baptism of the Holy Spirit

Please be of good cheer. The Lord certainly honors your determination to get to the truth. In our lukewarm era of Laodicea that is a rarity (see the link). I certainly pray that you will expand that desire into all areas of the truth so as to grow and earn the eternal rewards the Lord wants you to win (see the link), and you are very welcome to all of the materials at Ichthys in so doing. Please visit or write any time.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #3:

Hi Dr. Luginbill,

All I can say is "Wow!" I feel like I have stumbled upon a gold mine. I am excited to dig in to your studies. I don't want to pester you, but if I run into something I can't understand, would it be alright if I email you? My Grandfather was a huge proponent of "Rightly dividing" the Word, so much so that he attempted to write a book called "The Rightly Divided Bible". Unfortunately he was not a very talented writer and he could not get his work published. His name was Harry Wellington. It isn't likely that you know him. Thank you for freely sharing your body of work. I am hoping it helps me gain a deeper understanding.

Thank you sir, and God bless you

Response #3:

Good to hear that a love for the Word runs in your family (cf. 2Tim.1:5).

I would be delighted to hear from you. Do feel free to write any time.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #4:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

This question has been on my mind for a while and I searched the bible but can't find an answer. Who has the authority to baptize? Is it only Pastors? I know there were godly men and disciples who baptized people in the bible, but that's all the information I can gather. Thanks in advance!

God Bless you and your ministry,

Response #4:

Actually, the only legitimate baptism for the Church is the baptism of the Spirit, and everyone receives that baptism supernaturally when they believe. Water baptism was a Jewish ritual, "John's baptism", a rite which anticipated the coming of the Messiah and was designed to "make ready a people prepared for the Lord" (Lk.1:17). This was a baptism of believer-repentance, not a rite to commemorate or (a far worse heresy) "produce" the new birth; all in Israel were supposed to be believers already (though many were not) and the majority of those who came to John in good faith were believers already being led back into fellowship to prepare for the Messiah's ministry.

Water baptism in the book of Acts is confined 1) to the very first few years of the apostles' ministries, and 2) mostly done for Jews, those close to Judaism (Samaritans), and proselytes (such as Cornelius and his gentile friends). That is to say, it was a way of bringing that contemporary generation who had known about John's ministry into the fellowship without distinction from those who had actually been baptized by John. The only place we know of where gentiles were baptized with water is Corinth, and even here that is probably because Paul (even at the time) was thinking of the Church still more in Jewish terms, and the church at Corinth was composed originally of a large percentage of Jews, having begun as was common in the synagogue there. Later on, however, Paul says that he regrets having made use of that ritual (1Cor.1:17), and there is no command to baptize gentiles with water anywhere in the New Testament (Matt.28:19-20 is talking about the baptism of the Holy Spirit; the word water is not present; note also that the Jerusalem counsel says nothing about water-baptism in their letter to the gentiles: Acts 15:23ff.).

I have written a great deal about this issue because of the pervasiveness of the problem (it is a dangerous legalistic thing to engage in at best since it proclaims a Messiah not yet come). Here are some links to some of the more recent postings on the subject:

Baptism: Water and Spirit VII

Baptism: Water and Spirit VI

Baptism: Water and Spirit V

Baptism: Water and Spirit IV

Baptism: Water and Spirit III

Baptism: Water and Spirit II

Baptism: Water and Spirit I

One Baptism: the True Meaning of Peter's Words at Acts 2:38.

John's Water-Baptism versus the Baptism of the Holy Spirit

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #5:

Dear Bob,

I know you've dealt with this 100s of times, but I have a question I didn't see on the web site. I recently had an old friend visit that I haven't seen in years. Over the course of time, he's come to believe that water baptism is necessary for salvation. I don't, but I told him I would look into it.

In the new testament, I see five types of baptism. The "baptism of John," the baptism of the spirit, the baptism of fire, the baptism of repentance and the baptism of death. The baptism of John logically refers to water baptism. The others are self explanatory. What remains are the many references to baptism with no qualifiers. My question is, is there anything in the Greek that would restrict the apostles many acts of (unqualified) baptism to water? Could that not also mean bringing people to Christ? Ergo, the spirit baptism mentioned by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:11?)

Baptism, as I understand it is purification. Water is symbolic, the spirit is actual. Acts 19:2 suggests to me that water baptism is a waste of time and, in fact, something of a rejection of Christ's work on the cross. Am I off base on this?

I hope I expressed this rationally.


Yours in Jesus Christ,

Response #5:

Good to hear from you, my friend. I find myself mostly in agreement with what you have said here. I think if you read some of the more recent postings on the subject you will see that indeed I also believe that continued water-baptism is not only ignorant but by its symbolism proclaims a Messiah not yet come – because all water-baptism is John's baptism which was to "make ready" a people to receive the Messiah (latest link: "Baptism: Water and Spirit VII").

As far as Acts is concerned, it's important to remember that the last mention of water is somewhere around the early 50's (Acts 18:8); this is roughly more than half-way through the book of Acts but still in the early days of the apostolic period (which ends ca. 68 A.D. with the death of the last apostle, John). So it's easy – without giving the matter much thought or research – to assume that "there's a lot of water-baptizing going on in Acts" when it's not that simple. Also, all such baptizing takes place within a Jewish or proselyte milieu – it was never meant for gentiles per se.

The contrast John uses as does our Lord is the distinction between John "baptizing with water" and the Lord "with the Spirit" (Matt.3:11; Mk.1:8; Lk.3:16; Jn.1:33; Acts 1:5). So without an indicator to the contrary, we rightly conclude that all instances of baptism in the epistles which are not otherwise qualified have to do with the Spirit. That is so in any case.

The proof of this pudding is in individual verses in their contexts, so please feel free to ask about any that give you pause. There is only "one baptism" in Ephesians 4:5 – Spirit baptism. The Israelites were "baptized into Moses" – an identification baptism (one of the exceptions but not a "water baptism").

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #6:

Thanks, Bob,

In reading the link, you reminded me of the criminal next to our Lord on the cross. Very helpful. Thank you.

As it turns out, my friend is an Elder in the Church of Christ and was proselytizing quite vigorously on the requirement of water baptism. Since I long ago accepted that water baptism is invalid, I couldn't remember all the reasons why, so I didn't have a good response. I told him I would consider his arguments. Now, I pray that the Holy Spirit will guide me in saying the right things as I respond. I don't have a particularly good track record of evangelizing and it's unlikely he would accept my rebuttal.

Thanks again.

Yours in Jesus Christ,

Response #6:

You're most welcome.

Some folks are gifted at verbal sparring and some are not – it's not a spiritual thing. For one thing, people such as you describe are probably not likely to be convinced just because someone makes a strong apologetic argument and good debate points. Sometimes a simple question which cuts to the quick of the issue and exposes the problem with their thinking is the best approach since it may get them to think – if only later. E.g., "Isn't salvation 'by grace through faith' alone?"

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #7:

Dear Bob,

You were absolutely right when you said I would probably not get through. I asked, "Why did John the Baptist say that Christ would baptize with the holy spirit and fire? Why did Christ say that all who believed in him should not perish? Why is water baptism referred to as 'The Baptism of John' in contrast to the bare word baptism? How did Hebrews 6:1-2 fit in?" Of course, some other questions were involved as well, but I tried to concentrate on questions. I never got an answer to the first three and the question on Hebrews bypassed the baptism issue as though it were given and I got a mini-sermon, instead, on spiritual maturity.

I'm not criticizing him. As you know, I can sometimes ask opaque questions but I thought the first three were reasonably explicit. Perhaps they were the wrong questions. This clearly isn't my calling.

In any event, thanks for the advice. Perhaps one of those questions will stimulate some thought at least.

Yours in Jesus Christ,

Response #7:

Nicely done!

If our ministry efforts were to be judged by the responsiveness of our audience, nearly all of the Old Testament prophets would have to be considered failures! Our job is to put forward the truth – accepting it or rejecting it is the responsibility of the recipient.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #8:

Hi Dr. Bob.

I want to thank you for your teaching ministry; that your standards of study and professionalism are high and so the depth you are able to bring to the topics is deep. Thank you for that.

In studying your portion on Christ, I have been led into an understanding of exactly what Jesus went through here on earth in that every single decision required perfection from his birth to ascension. Obedience to God. That it was the three hours of darkness that he truly suffered for our sins. Jesus has become like a “friend” or more human like; not just a cut out two dimensional picture or idea that we believe because we are Christians. But a Person. A person I respect greatly and not just because he was also God.

In looking at the Holy Spirit I can see, in detail, that he is the agent of everything. We can’t come to God or believe in God without the agency of the Spirit. Once again, a very in-depth study.

How did people of the Old Testament come to know God? Without the same functioning of the Holy Spirit or was it the same before as after?

Thank you for the effort and time and depth that you put into your ministry and that it is free and available to all who want to know more about the spiritual things of life.

Response #8:

Thanks for the encouraging email! I greatly appreciate it. That's the purpose of all godly Bible study, after all, to draw closer to Jesus Christ.

As to your question, all believers today have he Holy Spirit through Spirit baptism which takes place automatically and supernaturally when we believe (Rom.8:9); so the Spirit is "in us" now, and that is an incredible blessing and advantage (which, sadly very few believers today take even slight advantage of); but even before the glorification of Christ (cf. Acts 1:4-5), He was always "with you" before this gift of His baptism (Jn.14:17). God has never allowed any believer to lack the support necessary to learn and live the truth. Just look at the example of David and you will see that most believers today with the Spirit don't come close to his spiritual accomplishments – and because of his willingness to respond to the truth he was given the Spirit, a special unction of the Spirit, though it was not permanent as our indwelling is (which is why he prays for it not to be removed: Ps.51:11). Please see the link: The Spirit's Ministry before the Cross and Resurrection of Christ (in BB 5).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #9:

On a different thought, may I ask how you would explain the meaning of Matthew 28:18-20 to those who are traditionally interpreting it as a local church authority received from Jesus Christ to evangelize the world (do mission work/church planting), water baptize those who believe so that they become local church members, and teach-how-to-serve-the-Lord in the church/do discipleship program to them. The usual explanation is based on the 3 verbs which are commands, imperatives - preach, baptizing, teaching. I have an idea on how to explain this passage based on the articles at ichthys particularly about baptism. If it is not too much to ask, please explain the passage.

Response #9:

Then Jesus came over and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me, so go and make all nations my followers by baptizing them [with the Spirit] into the Person (i.e., “name”) of the Father and [into the Person] of the Son and [into the Person] of the Holy Spirit, and by teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you.”
Matthew 28:18-20a

This is indeed our Lord's mandate to His Church for its proper operation going forward, and I would agree that the three verbs in verse 19 contain the essence of that mandate. The first verb in question, "make [all nations my] followers", is a main verb, the other two are participles which split up the command into its two essential or component parts while the main verb, "make disciples", sums up the mandate. The first participle, "baptizing", is speaking about evangelizing which leads to the reception of the Spirit: His baptism results from our giving of the gospel to those who respond. The second participle, "teaching", comprises everything that should happen next after a person becomes a believer: spiritual growth and progress through the truth of the Word of God.

So this passage is a wonderful gift from our Lord, breaking down for us what it is most important for us as believers to do. We believers are to be followers of Christ as "disciples" (literally, "learners"), and our role after salvation is, through our gifts and the ministries He assigns, meant to help others also through the truth, to become believers (at which point they are baptized into Him by the Spirit = "baptizing") and to become spiritually mature (through "teaching" them the Word of God). And while not everyone has a teaching gift (evangelism for the "baptizing" part or pastor-teacher for the "teaching" part), all true spiritual gifts and truly Christ-given ministries in His Church contribute to this bipartite process of leading to salvation and furthering growth after salvation – either directly or through supporting ministries which do.

They preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said.
Acts 14:21-22 NIV

The problem is the way this passage is twisted by those who have little interest in the truth. First, for many such persons and groups, "make disciples" has been corrupted from its true meaning (a "disciple" in Greek and in Latin, the source of our English word, is a "student" – one dedicated to learning/believing/following the truth) to a legalistic monstrosity wherein accommodating to the legalistic church/group and being accountable to that church/group's false standards while being manipulated by other members who take away a Christian's free will in "judging" them is usually what is meant – exactly the opposite of what a true disciple of Christ should aspire too, namely, being able to walk with Him in the truth independent of Pharisaical rules or only to be an "eye servant" to the judgmental interference of others (see the link).

Second, all wrong-headed groups want to find physical water in Matthew 28:19. But there is no water present in Greek or in any English version I've ever seen. We know (or ought to) that baptism is not just with water. John baptized with water. But John as recorded in this same gospel said very directly, "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire" (Matt.3:11; cf. Mk.1:8; Lk.3:16; Jn.1:33). How is it, then, that all such churches/groups want to go backward to what John did – ignoring what he said – when this passage at the end of this gospel is spoken by our Lord? He is speaking of the Spirit, and that also explains the further comment, "[baptizing them] into the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit". No one can be baptized "into" a spoken name; but we believers are indeed baptized "into" the person of Christ – and so also into the persons of the Father and the Spirit when we believe (that is what "Name" means, the Person Himself since it stands for the Person). We are one with Christ through the baptism of the Spirit and thus come to be "partakers of the divine nature" (2Pet.1:4 KJV). See the link: "The Spirit's Baptism of Believers into Christ".

Third, "teaching" means teaching. But almost without exception all such churches/groups do little actual teaching, even though this is the last part of the command and for that reason of the utmost importance. They substitute initiation into (often cultic) rites, false and legalistic regulations which are not scriptural, and all manner of folderol which has nothing to do with the Bible, the source of the truth they are supposed to be teaching. In other words, all such churches/groups misuse this passage as support to do all the wrong things they are doing and yet avoid doing the right things our Lord tells us to do here.

Question #10:

This is with ref. to you Q&A titled “Is Baptism Essential for Salvation?”.

There are some in our church (including myself) who have been water baptized by immersion while there are others who have not done it. The first group of people is telling the second group that they will not be saved unless they are baptized in water. I am currently leading this church. I have already spoken on this subject and explained to them that water baptism does not save anyone. However, people are asking whether baptism is necessary at all. I could see that you are holding the view that water baptism is unnecessary. Can you please clarify the following?

1. Can I tell our church members that water baptism is not necessary at all? If yes, can you provide some scriptural support that it is not necessary for us in any sense whatsoever?

2. You wrote “Matthew 28:18-20 is actually also talking about the baptism of the Spirit.” When baptism of the Spirit is something only God can give, how could Jesus command the disciples to give it to others?


Response #10:

I will be happy to give you the gist here and then will point you to some links where this subject is treated in detail.

In a nutshell, baptism in the New Testament epistles refers to the baptism of the Holy Spirit: that is the baptism to which John looked forward and to which our Lord told the disciples to look to. That is the baptism that forms the Body of Christ and empowers believers to learn the truth, walk with the Lord, and serve Him according to their Spirit-given gifts. Water-baptism has nothing to do with any of this. The only genuine water-baptism outside of the Law was John's baptism, a Law-related ritual designed for the repentance of the Jewish people of the generation to which our Lord came – all of whom were supposed to be believers. The water-baptism symbolizes the forgiveness of their sins as they "come back" to the Lord – thus John's mission was "to make ready a people prepared for the Lord" (Lk.1:17). Water is continued on only a very few occasions in the book of Acts, always either to Jewish converts or those closely related thereto (Samaritans, or gentile proselytes, or mixed congregations which start in synagogues), and ends long before the apostolic period does. It made sense for Peter and Paul, e.g., not to "deny the water" to those who knew of John's ministry and who were part of the generation of Jews (or their close associates) to whom the Messiah came. But the utility of the continuation of that ritual ran out quickly and soon began to cause more harm than good (cf. 1Cor.1:13-17) – as has been the case ever since. It is also borderline blasphemous: John's ritual proclaimed the coming of the Messiah and was meant to prepare the people to meet Him. But He has now come, He has now suffered and died for the sins of the world, He has now been raised and ascended to the Father and awaits the time of return. Being water-baptized sends the message that He has not yet accomplished these thing upon which the entire plan of God depends.

As I often say, one of the sure ways that anyone with a lick of spiritual common sense can see that there is "a problem" with baptizing in water is that no two people can agree absolutely about the timing, or the method, or the meaning, or the effect of the ritual. If it were important to do, wouldn't that be clearly delineated in scripture? But water-baptism is nowhere discussed in those terms after the coming of the Spirit and His baptism.

"I baptize you with water (i.e., physically) for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire."
Matthew 3:11 NIV

(4) And gathering them together [Jesus] commanded [the disciples] not to depart from Jerusalem, but to await the promise of the Father (i.e., the Holy Spirit) "which you heard about from Me. (5) For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Spirit not many days from now".
Acts 1:4-5

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth".
Acts 1:8

So that is another down-side of continuing this obsolete rite of John's baptism, namely, it takes away from the truly important baptism of the Church, that of the Spirit.

As to Matthew 28:18-20, the disciples-cum-apostles were intermediaries of the baptism of the Spirit in the very early days of the Church. They mediated the baptism on a number of occasions through the laying on of hands, a provision given to them no doubt to support their authority while the incipient Church was just being formed (e.g., Acts 8:17). Later, this Spirit baptism would begin to happen automatically without any apostolic intermediation as the Word spread finally to the gentiles as well beyond the orbit of Judaism (cf. Acts 10:44ff.). Even then – and now – however, they and we do play a role in "having people baptized with the Spirit". That is because when we give someone the gospel and they respond, they immediately receive the Holy Spirit in every case (e.g., Rom.8:9). Thus our Lord's words at the end of Matthew comprise evangelism ("baptizing them" = seeing to it that they are saved and thus receive the Spirit) and edification ("teaching them"), summing up the job of the Church in its two fundamental parts.

Here are those links (and they will lead you to many others):

Baptism: Water and Spirit VII

Baptism: Water and Spirit VI

Baptism: Water and Spirit V

Baptism: Water and Spirit IV

Baptism: Water and Spirit III

Baptism: Water and Spirit II

Baptism: Water and Spirit I

One Baptism: the True Meaning of Peter's Words at Acts 2:38.

John's Water-Baptism versus the Baptism of the Holy Spirit

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #11:

Hello again Dr. Luginbill,

Just wanted to share something that I was shown from a German translation of the Bible which was translated by Martin Luther.

Acts 22:16
"Und nun, was Zoegerts du? Steh auf und rufe seinen Namen an und lass dich taufen und deine Suenden abwaschen."

Acts 22:16
"And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name."

Does the way that this verse in German is written imply that baptism washes away your sins? Being a former Catholic, which Luther also was, Luther sometimes mis-translates, in my view, many verses, probably because of his Roman Catholic background.

Invariably, when people are reading the Bible and see the word "Baptism", they immediately think it is "water" baptism. In this case, when Romans Catholics read this scripture, they say, see, here it says that water baptism washes away sin. (Original Sin), which I have taught in one of the Bible Classes, explaining that this is a false doctrine pushed by the Roman Catholic church. The reason I use the words Roman Catholic is because that what they are. As you well know, Catholic means "universal", but that is not what they are.

We know that this verse is speaking of "Spiritual baptism" which is given when one is Born-Again, supported by numerous verses, John 3:3,5,7, but not taught or mentioned in the Post-Modern churches. I preach it because it is biblical. The people that attend Chapel services and Bible studies are Presbyterians, Methodist (but not Wesleyan), United Church of Christ, Lutheran, Catholic, and ? meaning, and some I don't know what they are. They tell me quite often that what is being taught, they have never heard before and they have gone to their congregation all their lives. God deserves the glory, not me.

"Get up and call on the Name of the Lord" which appears first in the verse upon which the emphasis should be placed. But the Roman Catholic church and the people they mislead, take for granite that they are correct in their interpretation, after all, the priests are the only one, and the Romans Catholic church have the only valid interpretation.

The name of the Lord in that verse is important, "God Saves", and when we believe and confess Him, we are born-again and receive the Holy Spirit.

I grew up in the Roman Catholic church and a number of times and others who have as well will ask me or wonder about some of the scripture verse read from the German Bible. It is good for us to discuss these, because we think about what we were taught when we part of this false doctrine and never questioned it.

Just yesterday, one of the Catholic ladies from our Bible Study stopped by and asked me "Did I believe in purgatory"? Of course I said no, because , I told her to really think about what she is asking. I said, the doctrine of Purgatory adds to the salvation that Jesus bought for us on the Cross, and purgatory says that His sacrifice on the Cross is not sufficient, we have to do something.

As you well know, there are so many, many, many, false doctrines in the Roman Church, that when I think about them, I am appalled. Sadly, there are many millions of Roman Catholics who do not have the truth, and will die in their sin. I just wish that somehow, I could teach them the truth. I don't say that I know it all, but I know what I know, and would like to share it.

This verse is one of many that are not only misinterpreted by the Roman church, but also by many millions of Protestant church goers who don't bother to study to show themselves approved unto God, a workman that does not need to be ashamed. They need to know "Why' they believe what they believe, not what someone told them; everyone needs to know why, and on what basis a person believes what they believe, and many don't have a clue, so sorry to say.

Well, my friend, please pray for me that God will use me to touch many more lives before I go home. That is my desire and my longing, so that He will be glorified. I am thoroughly tired with men and women taking credit for some things they do, when only God is worthy to receive the Glory, for without Him, we are nothing, absolutely nothing.

I could write for a long time in this email, but I think you know what I am striving to get across.

Would thoroughly appreciate your comments.

I cherish them much.

P.S. As you have said many times in your Eschatology studies, and it will come true, no doubt about it, "many shall fall away from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of demons." Christianity, as a whole is despairingly unprepared for the Tribulation. By God's grace I will be.

May God continue to be glorified through the ministry that He has given you.

Your friend,

Response #11:

Always good to hear from you, my friend, and thanks for this very thoughtful email – and an encouraging one to me too, as it illuminates your strong faith and deep understanding of the truth (even though it touches on many problems concerning those who have not advanced in the same way and to the same degree as you have).

As to Acts 22:16, I have covered the verse previously inasmuch as this is a common incident people bring up when they have questions or are trying to advance false positions. I'll say a few things here.

The German translation is inaccurate. In the Greek, "calling on the Name of the Lord" is linked with "wash away your sins" and not with "be baptized". That is very important especially in regard to e.g. Romans 10:8-13 where we are assured that "whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved" (quoting Joel 2:32) – because it is calling on the Name of the Lord, expressing to Him (verbally or not) the faith that is in one's heart which saves . . . NOT being water-baptized. This is what Ananias says, but Luther's translation makes it sound as if "calling" goes with "be baptized" which is absolutely wrong. No doubt his incorrect understanding of the issue led him to make this mistake as if he were helping by making the passage seem more clear rather than reversing its true meaning. Luther may not have understood the limits of water baptism, but Ananias clearly did. My rendering:

"But now, why are you waiting? Get up and be baptized! And wash away your sins by having called upon the Name of the Lord!"
Acts 22:16

Clearly, water cannot wash away sin because water is physical and sin is immaterial and invisible. Even people who believe (erroneously) that water-baptism leads to forgiveness cannot seriously think that the physical water does anything; rather they must be imagining some supernatural and mystical process whereby participating in this ritual with some holy person in charge produces the forgiveness by symbolically "washing away sin". So whether a person has the correct view or an erroneous view, there can be no question of physical water being able to do this. And indeed the process of forgiveness is supernatural, but there is nothing mystical about it. Only God can forgive sin – and blessedly He does so whenever a person turns to Jesus Christ in faith (Mk.2:7-11). I cannot forgive your sins if I baptize you in water or do anything else for that matter, and there is no person on earth so holy that they have the power to forgive sins; only Jesus Christ can forgive sins (Matt.9:6; Mk.2:10; Lk.5:24). So only by calling upon Him can a person have their sins "washed away" . . . by His blood. That is the symbol. The blood of Christ (a symbol for His work in dying for our sins) is what cleanses us from our sins (e.g., 1Jn.1:7), and this is what produces our forgiveness when we "call upon the Name of the Lord", when, that is, we express in our hearts our faith in Him for salvation and life eternal. Mixing up these elements in this verse as the "Luther Bibel" does confuses the sense absolutely.

Secondly, Ananias was Jewish and Paul was Jewish, and both of them lived in the time of transition between Israel and the Church Age before the Church had even spread widely to the gentiles. Both of them were well aware of John's water-baptizing ministry; that ministry was one of "repentance for the forgiveness of sins" (Mk.1:4; Lk.3:3) – for the Jewish nation. All Jews were supposed to be believers, so the offer of the Messiah comes to them not as to unbelievers (which admittedly many of them were) but as believers who need forgiveness – and many of them were already believers but still needed this ritual cleansing in order to "make ready a people prepared for the Lord" (Lk.1:17). No doubt at this point, please note, Paul had already been saved. He had had several days to think about it and we are told that he was praying (Acts 9:11), and in my view Paul believed immediately when the Lord appeared to him as evidenced by Acts 22:10 when he asks, "What shall I do, Lord?". So whatever we may wish to think about the water-baptism in this passage you ask about (and there is at least a case to be made that this is Spirit baptism not water baptism as you will find discussed at the site), it is done to someone who is already saved. So what is the purpose? The purpose was for Paul to do what all other Jews of his time had done when they responded to the preaching of John (cf. his circumcision of Timothy for similar reasons: Acts 16:3). This water-baptism thus was important . . . for Jews of THAT day. For gentiles of another day the wrong message is sent entirely by water-baptism because it proclaims a Messiah not yet on the scene, forgivable and possibly important in that early day (how was Paul to minister to other Jews without having responded to John's ministry himself, the ministry that heralded the Lord he now embraced?), but a mark of dangerous ignorance if done in our day, and of blasphemy if connected to salvation in any way.

Thirdly, this is what Ananias said and did. The book of Acts records what people said and did . . . without commenting upon whether it was good, bad or a mix of the two, or whether it was something appropriate only for the unique time and place it was said and done but not necessarily meant for all time and for all people in all places. The last caveat is the most important one. Following the day of Pentecost, for a time believers lived in Jerusalem without working and allowing those who had means to sell them to support the very small but rapidly growing seedling of a Church. It was good and right for that one unique time, but it would be a disaster today and totally unworkable. Nor is it repeated anywhere later in Acts. But a person without regard to the rest of scripture or for the proper use of the book of Acts might well exploit that event as a "proof" that communism is the proper state of the Church – and some have indeed done just that!

This situation between Paul and Ananias is a "one off" in many ways. First, we are not apostles in waiting. Secondly, the Lord has not appeared to us in glory personally. Third, we have not been stricken with blindness. Fourth, we have not been directed to go to a specific place and wait. Fifth, a third party has not been detailed by a personal visit from the Lord to come and minister to us to restore us from our blindness. And, VERY importantly, sixth, even though we have already believed in the Lord for some days before the person comes, one thing he will not be doing for us is mediating the Holy Spirit because we all already have the Holy Spirit, baptized by Him into Christ when we believed (e.g., Rom.8:9):

Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Acts 9:17 NIV

Ananias puts his hands on Saul/Paul to mediate the gift of the Spirit in the same way we see happening elsewhere in the very early days of Acts (e.g., Acts 8:17-19). Only believers can have the Spirit – so Paul was clearly a believer when Ananias placed his hands on him to impart the Spirit. But today, as was the case already by the time of Acts chapter ten, all who believe receive the Holy Spirit immediately without the need of any mediation (e.g., Rom.8:9). This reception of the Spirit occurs before or after the water-baptism? It happens before, not afterward: the water is in verse eighteen, the following verse . . . if it is water and not Spirit that is meant (I suspect that even if it were "wet", the purpose was to impart the Spirit as the hands were laid on in completing the ritual).

And to add a seventh and an eighth difference just for the record (there are probably many more), both Paul and Ananias were Jewish, and both lived in the generation and time of John and Jesus' ministries – which made Paul's participation in John's ritual of water understandable – and it certainly also made it radically DIFFERENT than any such thing which purports to be similar today.

I would give you links, but you are well familiar with Ichthys.

Do feel free to write back any time, my friend.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #12:

Dear Robert,

Your work on the "Salvation Ministries of the Spirit" is very insightful.

Not to make it a long biblical referenced discussion, a condensed resume. Dry-baptism before John the Baptist (Moses - Israel) and dry-baptism after John the Baptist (Christ - Jew and Believer), would then be the correct practice; the Holy Spirit's baptism into Christ. The dispensation for water baptism (John's baptism) for Jews and proselytes to Judaism had it's specific function and purpose? Even though the disciples and others were an extension to this practice (Peter in Acts 2:41 and Paul in his early ministry, as examples) not realizing that a change has come (He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit - Matt. 3:11c). Paul and Peter understood this change (For Christ did not send me to baptize and Peter proclaiming that we (Jews) will be saved as they the Gentiles are). Their understanding of the same principle came at a different time. This new means of baptism is by faith and baptism into Christ done by the Holy Spirit.

My question: Can a deduction be made that the dispensation of water baptism (Jews and proselytes to Judaism) was inaugurated by John the Baptist and concluded by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit?

Jesus' command to the disciples would therefore not have been a 'wet-baptism' after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. This would defy His own words as Acts 1:4-5!

Hope this is clear enough for you to respond to.

Grace be with you,

Response #12:

As Paul says about the Law:

It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience—concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation.
Hebrews 9:9-10 NKJV

I think if you reflect on it, you will see that characterizing the Law as concerned with "various washings" is absolutely correct. There are many occasions and procedures which required ablution, and of course the brazen laver was filled with water for precisely those sorts of purposes (e.g., Ex.30:19-20). So John's water-baptism certainly has a parallel in the Law, the reference being to the symbolic washing away of sin from the believer for resumption of fellowship (John's ministry was to Israel and assumed the participants were believers who needed to be restored).

Dry baptism, if you want to put it that way, never loses hold of the metaphor of water. Those whom John baptized were dunked under the water and came up "clean", symbolically. Those "dunked" into the Holy Spirit come up wet with the Spirit – so to speak (He is now in us and characterizes our walk when we are in fellowship with Him). We know that there is an identification in the first place because the person is visibly wet. In the latter case, the person – at the inauguration of this blessing – was clearly "wet" with the Spirit, speaking the good news to foreigners in their own tongue on that first day of Pentecost.

I certainly do agree with your conclusion in any case. Both John and our Lord made it very clear that the Messiah's baptism ministry was one of Spirit, not of water.

"I baptize you with water (i.e., physically) for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire."
Matthew 3:11 NIV

(4) And gathering them together [Jesus] commanded [the disciples] not to depart from Jerusalem, but to await the promise of the Father (i.e., the Holy Spirit) "which you heard about from Me. (5) For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Spirit not many days from now".
Acts 1:4-5

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth".
Acts 1:8

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #13:

My question: Reading the description of the temple in New Jerusalem, (the end of Ezekiel,) I have the nagging impression that I should be learning something from it other that it and New Jerusalem will be huge. To date, I don't know what. Can you shed some light for me?

My favor to ask: My friend wrote me again and asked how my study of baptism was going.

Please criticize and don't be gentle. I'm new at this and need to learn. This was my response:


My investigation into baptism morphed into a general question of the applicability of Mosaic law. Baptism, as such, is a growth of Levitical law - or so it seems to me. As I mentioned, John the Baptist is recorded as saying:

Mark 1:8
I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.

And then:

Hebrews 7:11,12
If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.

Our Lord said:

John 3:36
He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

The key, for me was belief. No mention was made of anything in the Mosaic law though, at the time, Mosaic law was in full force until our Lord's work on the cross was completed when He said, "It is finished."

Also here:

Luke 11:13
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

No mention here of anything in Mosaic law. That the Apostles did baptize with water for a short while with no mention thereafter suggests they, being human, had a little adjusting to do in accepting the new order of things. Later, Paul rails against false apostles trying to Judaize believers:

Colossians 2:16
Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days...

As gentiles, we have four requirements: Keep from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication. (Acts 21:25) Baptism isn't mentioned or anything else from Mosaic law. That the Eunuch asked Phillip to baptize him and Phillip agreed seems an isolated example of the transition phase.

Paul says in his letter to the Hebrews:

Hebrews 6:1,2
Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God.

I could go on at length, but the long and short of it is that water baptism seems to me to be a "dead work." The danger of this and any other selective application of Mosaic law lies in relying on a "work" or ritual to ensure salvation instead of faith in our Lord. I believe that we are, in fact, baptized with the Holy Spirit when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and believe his work on the cross and resurrection just as John the Baptist said.

If you have a scriptural reference that indicates a requirement that, after the resurrection, we are to be baptized with water, please share it because I haven't found it.


I apologize for the length and appreciate whatever insight you can give me.

Yours in our Lord Jesus Christ,

Response #13:

The description of the temple in Ezekiel is not of the New Jerusalem. There is no temple in New Jerusalem (Rev.21:22).

The temple described in Ezekiel chapters 40-43 is the millennial temple. Its essential structure will be erected under the guidance of Moses and Elijah during the early days of the Tribulation, but the massive plan described in Ezekiel will be the result of the Messiah "building up" the temple (see the link). As to the "what am I missing?" question, here is how the Lord describes the reason for giving this elaborate description:

Son of man, describe the temple to the people of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their sins. Let them consider its perfection . . ."
Ezekiel 43:10 NIV

The people of Israel have always been a very "hands on" or as I sometime say "tactile" culture, so that all the paraphernalia of the Law, things which might make you are or I ask the question, "what am I missing here?", were designed specifically for the edification of their faith (e.g., Num.15:38; Deut.6:9; 11:20), and this elaborately designed temple is part of the same thing, meant to remind them of how they are falling short of the glory of God through sin (Rom.3:23) and to motivate them through this tangible proof of God's glory to return to Him.

As to water-baptism and legalism, this is quite a good way to approach the subject in my opinion, and I think you have done a great job (nothing to criticize); and in terms of length, it strikes me as quite pithy (though personally as your probably know I tend to write overly long . . .).

There is a great deal in scripture on the subject so one has to be selective. Given that it is, in my view, impossible to read Romans, Galatians or certainly Hebrews with even a passing degree of attention and not see that Paul for one was absolutely opposed to gentiles keeping the Law and definitely to any notion of Law keeping as having anything to do with spirituality, far less salvation. So it is best to keep to a few passages but have others at the ready. Here are two which recently have suggested themselves to me:

So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.
Romans 7:4 NIV

The reason I particularly like this one for our purposes is that it presents following the Law or following Christ as two diametrically opposed propositions: believers have died to the Law just as to a prior husband and now have a new Husband, Jesus Christ – and you can only have ONE husband at a time; which makes putative Christians who want to follow the Law, whether a little or a lot, adulteresses (cf. Jas.4:4).

But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.
Romans 7:6 NIV

From the same context, this passage makes the point that by Christ's death in which we have been united through Spirit baptism we have died to the Law. And it makes the further point that the reason for this is so that we may now live in a new way, the Spirit's way, rather than in the old way, the Law's way. Again, these two things are diametrically opposed to each other by Paul, so that no one can live in and by and through the Spirit while following the Law (cf. Gal.3:1-7).

Maybe this is why hyper-Messianic groups frequently try to diminish the authority of Pauline writings. But of course that is merely confirmation of their heresy because any person or group which rejects scripture a little or a lot has shown its true colors.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #14:

Dear Bob,

Thank you for your explanations. The purpose of the description of the temple was certainly fulfilled in my case. I sometimes, though, get confused between the new heaven and earth and the millennium and sometimes wonder if it's relevant for me at this juncture. In a sense, it makes no difference. If I'm deemed worthy, I'll see it fulfilled.

Thank you for the pointers on the baptism/legalism issue. I expect it will continue. I got a quick email in which he said he was concerned about my soul. I could quite honestly say the same about him. I don't have any serious expectations that I'll sway him in his belief as I'm sure you've experienced countless times with the emails that come in to you. Who knows though, something may get through.

It was difficult picking verses in my response to him. I was tempted to rhapsodize at length, but I was restrained. Your suggested verses are a great help and I expect I'll be using them shortly. While I wish I was, I'm just not very good at this sort of thing.

Thanks again.

Yours in our Lord Jesus Christ,

Response #14:

For what it's worth, I think you're doing just fine.

Please don't judge your effort by the response of others. First, as Paul tells us, we shouldn't make any such judgments "before the time" (1Cor.4:5). This is really all about the Lord. If the truth is rejected, it is Him those who have no use for it are rejecting, not us (e.g., 1Sam.8:7; Jn.12:47-50).

Amen! We will "know even as we are known" on that great day to come (1Cor.13:12).

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #15:

Hello, Bob,

Thanks for your comforting words. It never feels like I do just fine. When I lived on the East Coast, the well framed insult was one that didn't sink in until later that evening. Those days are
long gone, but maybe the principle still applies. Perhaps what I said may yet have an effect -- later some evening.

I thought the scripture was clear (and I get confused often enough.) I will say this, though, as you've seen from my earlier emails, shedding preconceived notions and traditional beliefs can be hard. It colors everything we read and even sense. My original message shows this. I've read Ezekiel 43:10 almost too many times to count, yet it never sank in. This is something I have to work on more diligently.

Thanks for your patience, comfort and tutelage.

Yours in our Lord Jesus Christ,

Response #15:

It's my pleasure!

Every believer experiences this, namely, seeing a passage read many times with new eyes. That is one of the reasons why we should read scripture daily. Perhaps this is an indication of a teaching gift?

Your friend in Jesus Christ our Lord,

Bob L.

Question #16:

Hola, Bob,

Reading every day is a given. Sometimes, after reading your email posts and following your references, I end up with too much to ponder, but there are rare days I miss. Seeing things with new eyes happens almost every time and it still amazes me.

I don't think I'm showing an indication of a teaching gift unless I'm to teach first grade. But thank you for the compliment. My assumption is that the Holy Spirit reveals to us what we are capable of grasping - gradually introducing meat instead of milk. I don't think I'm weaned yet, unfortunately. I'm reminded of the times our Lord asked the apostles, "do you still not understand?" I'm still not sure I do.

Your support and encouragement has been a God send. Thank you.

As an aside, I haven't heard back from my baptist friend. Either he's given up or he's getting out the heavy guns. Time will tell.

Yours in our Lord Jesus Christ,

Response #16:

I appreciate your humility. It's a good quality to have – up to a point (e.g., Num.12:3 compared with Ex.4:10-14).

Feel free to write me any time, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #17:

Dear Bob,

Mark 16:16
"He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."

This seems to be a major justification for the water submersion folks. I always read this as baptism of the Holy Spirit, just as the disciples were told to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit.

What have I missed? Is there anything in the original language that would qualify this in terms of the type of baptism? Am I correct in understanding the word from which baptism is translated simply means immersion in general?

If this does refer to Holy Spirit baptism as I believe, how would you rebut the water baptism folks?

Along those lines, there is mention of water sprinkling, as most denominations practice, in Numbers. If done over the age of consent, would that not be as valid as total submersion? Assuming, of course, either is valid today. Was not either form of water baptism symbolic
of the immersion in the Holy Spirit to come?


Yours in our Lord Jesus Christ,

Response #17:

Good to hear back from you, my friend.

The gospel of Mark ends at Mark 16:8. Everything else – found in some versions, notably the KJV – is the result of a latter interpolation . . . that is to say, someone sticking something in which is not what Mark wrote and not inspired by the Holy Spirit (see the link). There are a number of such interpolations in scripture (famously, the "cast the first stone" passage and the "Father forgive them for they know not" passage; see the link), but this one you ask about is perhaps the longest one and the most dangerous one: because it is replete with all manner of false doctrines (PLEASE do not start picking up snakes).

On the passages in the Law which deal with ritual cleansing, my answer is that if ritual cleansing were required for believers of the Church Age that would possibly be the case. But there is no requirement for any such thing – or for water-baptism. In fact, participating in made-up rituals is the very definition of legalism, an extremely dangerous thing, spiritually speaking. We have been released from the Law, so that a person can serve the Law or Jesus Christ . . . but NOT both (Rom.7:4-6).

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #18:

Hello, Bob,

I can assure you, I don't pick up snakes. In fact, I killed a couple of rattlesnakes recently copulating in my lane. (Don't want dozens of babies running loose.) I have been accused of speaking in tongues on occasion because I mangled the English language so badly though there was nothing spiritual about it.

I've read what you've said about Mark after 16:8, but it's still an argument of those who espouse immersion baptism. Your points will become part of my rebuttal if there's an opportunity for one. After all, and I can't recall exactly where, with a priesthood change, a change of the law was required. I can certainly see where adhering to any part of Mosaic law is rejecting Christ's sacrifice. I'm not sure I understand why others don't.

This issue may be dead at this point. Perhaps I offended him without meaning to do so, or better, I gave him something to think about. Only time will tell. I think I've said all that can productively be said unless he opens a door for more conversation.

Thanks for babysitting me again and I apologize for sending my questions at the time you were trying to get the email postings prepared. Sometimes my fingers leap to action before my brain

Thank you for your guidance -- again.

Yours in our Lord Jesus Christ,

Response #18:

You're more than welcome, my friend.

When you say, "but it's still an argument of those who espouse immersion baptism", it might be good to point out to them that the Bible is the only source of faith and practice for Christians. The Roman Catholics use the Apocrypha to support, e.g., how to get bailed out of a supposed purgatory, and the Mormons use the Book of Mormon to support all manner of crazy things, but Christians are not supposed to look to any other source other than the Bible. Mark ends at Mk.16:8, so that verse is not in the Bible. Wanting it to be part of the Bible does not make it part of the Bible. And this is a zero sum question: either it is a part of the Bible or it is not . . . and it is NOT.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #19:

Dear Bob,

I didn't know about all the other variations on the theme. Thank you, I think. That may explain some of what I'm dealing with. I'm not sure I can deal with that very effectively. In my experience, what the Bible says is of little import to these folks. Some use special translations that say what they want and some listen solely to priests and never refer to the Bible. I guess I can only say what I can say and be done with it. Curiously, in looking at 14 translations, none agree with some of these people.

Gut instinct says drop it. I've had no direction from the Holy Spirit, so I guess I can only say what I can say and go on from there. (Maybe I had direction from the Holy Spirit and didn't recognize it,) but I don't know where to take it,

Yours in our Lord Jesus Christ,

Response #19:

"For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater,
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it."
Isaiah 55:10-11 NKJV

Anyone privileged to proclaim the Word should always keep in mind that it is God's Word, not ours, and that it is the Holy Spirit who does the evangelizing / persuading, not us. So if we have done our job, we need to remember any results are of the Lord and for the Lord – and that if there are no apparent results, that is only what the eye sees. Whatever purpose the Lord had for the delivering of truth, as in the passage above was met whether we can see it or not.

One thing I have learned and observed many times, however, is that if the person we are discoursing with does not respect the authority of the Bible, there is very little point in continuing because it is only in the Bible that we find the answers to any questions we may have disagreements over. Sometimes this lack of respect for scripture is subtle – as in people who prefer their own logic, or the doctrines of their denomination, or the phraseology of their favorite version (as in our example with the KJV printing the long ending of Mark which we now know is not a part of the actual Bible). But when any person or group overtly places their own writings over the Bible and its authority (such as the RC's, the Mormons, the JWs, etc.), then there REALLY is little point in having a discussion. We can tell them the truth; we can show them that the Bible supports our statements – but they have "other authorities" to which they defer. It usually takes God intervening dramatically for any of these types to change – and if we are debating with them they are probably "front line soldiers" of the movement/cult/religion whose hearts have usually long since been hardened against the truth (see the link).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #20:

Hola, Bob,

You're quite right, of course, but it's still sad. He was one of four of us, a rat pack in high school and the only one besides me remaining. He recently lost his wife to cancer and had to resign as one of the church elders because he was no longer the husband of one wife. I suspect, from things he said earlier, that he's a preterist, too.

That I haven't heard back convinces me to drop the discussion.

It seems I get the people you describe rather consistently.

Thanks for your support, patience and good advice,

Yours in our Lord Jesus Christ,

Response #20:

I've never heard that one before! Of course these "husband of one wife" passages (1Tim.3:2; Tit.1:6) mean, as my old seminary professor at Talbot, Dr. Christian, once remarked, "one at a time", polygamy being the problem Paul is addressing here, something not uncommon in the ancient world.

The Lord has a purpose for everything we are doing for Him, so please don't get discouraged. I'm sure He has all manner of plans for you, my friend. So keep growing: He uses those who are properly prepared most of all.

In Jesus Christ our Lord,

Bob L.

Question #21:

Hello, Bob,

He married his wife right out of high school and never married another. That she passed on didn't change the fact that he was the husband of one wife. I didn't pursue it.

I'm not so much discouraged as saddened. I suspect that's something to which I should get accustomed. So many of these people are basically good in earthly terms but so indoctrinated as to be unreachable. I have no idea what seeds will be planted on fertile ground.

Keep growing is all I can do. The more I learn, the more I realize there is to learn and how far behind I am. To paraphrase an Old German Order expression, "The further I go, the behinder I get." Simply reading the Bible is a new experience every night. What I had read many times before is like I never read it and a new revelation. Does one ever get over that hump?

Thanks for your guidance, patience and support.

Yours in our Lord Jesus Christ,

Response #21:

It's a good point. And I would wager that for these type of places widowers who have remarried are OK to serve – but they are on their second wife after all, if that is the way you are looking at it. The phrase "husband of one wife" is not the same as saying "married". If that is what Paul had wanted to say, that is what he would have said, but that is not what he said, because a man can be "married" and be polygamous. Besides, while remarried widowers would be from one way of looking at it "husbands of two wives" (just not at the same time – that's the thing that is problematic), Paul, the one writing this instructions in the Holy Spirit was not married himself.

These verses, moreover, do not prohibit polygamy but serving in the top leadership of the church in such cases because of the bad example: polygamy always leads to trouble (just ask Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon – or anyone else who ever made that mistake).

As far as "getting over the hump", I hope I never get to the point where reading the scriptures and studying them no longer opens up new horizons to me every time I do so! The Bible is an endless font of truth and joy and encouragement in the Holy Spirit, and it's hard to know just how "wide and long and high and deep" while on this side (Eph.3:18), but on that great day to come we will "know even as we are known" (1Cor.13:12). But I would imagine that through all eternity we will never finish learning new things about God, such is the immensity of His love, grace and goodness.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #22:

Good Evening Brother Robert,

I don’t know if you remember me. Perhaps you can recollect our email exchanges a few years back. It’s been awhile! Hope you’re doing well. So recently I came across a “Church Of Christ” who teaches in water baptismal regeneration & told me that the moment I got saved was not genuine or real, and that I wasn’t really born again because I haven’t completed the water baptism. I immediately direct their attention to Acts Chapter 10 and Chapter 11 which show gentiles receiving The Holy Ghost without having first had water baptism, and they immediately decontextualize the plain text and start getting into “allegories” and “representations” - I mean, 1st Corinthians Chp 1:17 absolutely demolishes this doctrine, but I’d be curious to know your thoughts on some other scriptures pertaining to water baptism in the Church age as there seems to have been a clear transition from acts moving forward up until now, but yet a lot of confusion apparently amongst many churches. Below is a screenshot from one of the church members to which after I pointed out Acts Chapter 11 (no water baptism present) - she immediately said “well Christ hadn’t died yet” - to which that was immediately refuted (obviously) - and then she recanted her statement and that’s when she had the pastor contact me. In the screenshot she says “The Holy Spirit never saved them. The water baptism saved them” - the pastor finally responded to me (from her phone strangely enough) and then told me how “so deep” the gospel is. I believe every believer should be baptized, so I make no bones about that. But to reject what I had already received and then “really receive Christ” ? - is this a false gospel to you? Curious to know your thoughts. God bless.

Response #22:

Good to hear back from you, and nice job in your refutation (screen shot only captured part of it).

I suppose the question I would ask this person / this group would be "then why bother believing in Jesus Christ"? I mean, if getting sprinkled with or dunked in water totally or partially saves a person – like the Roman Catholic church seems to teach – then why bother with Jesus Christ? Indeed, if a person/group teaches that water saves, then by definition it has to mean that Jesus does not save.

"He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
John 3:18 NKJV

"Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved."
Acts 16:31

For you have been saved by (God's) grace through faith (in Christ); and this did not come from you – it is God's gift. Nor did it come from what you have done, lest anyone should boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9

Water-baptism is something you do – works. Salvation is something God does – grace. If you believe in Christ, you are saved (salvation by grace through faith). If you believe that a ritual saves you, you are no different from an animist or a Buddhist or a Roman Catholic – and you are NOT saved.

You cannot serve Baal and God. You cannot believe in water and in Jesus Christ. So while it is possible that these people are Christians (but not if they have always believed what they are teaching), at the very least then they are in the position of the Pharisees who "shut up the kingdom of heaven against men", neither entering themselves or allowing others to enter (Matt.23:13 NKJV).

As you have seen and understand yourself, there is no verse in the Bible which teaches that water-baptism has anything to do with salvation (if Mark chapter sixteen is quoted, you should know that the actual book stops at verse eight; verse nine and following was added by unknown persons centuries after Mark was with the Lord and it contains many lies; see the link). And, importantly, there is ALSO no verse in scripture which allows – let alone commands – water-baptism for believers after the early apostolic days. The baptism of the Church Age is Spirit baptism (see the link: "Baptism: Water and Spirit VII" and Q/A #13 for Matthew 28:19-20):

"I baptize you with water (i.e., physically) for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire."
Matthew 3:11 NIV

(4) And gathering them together [Jesus] commanded [the disciples] not to depart from Jerusalem, but to await the promise of the Father (i.e., the Holy Spirit) "which you heard about from Me. (5) For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Spirit not many days from now".
Acts 1:4-5

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth".
Acts 1:8

The only legitimate water-baptism was John's baptism, a "baptism of repentance" (Acts 13:4; 19:4) to "to make ready a people prepared for the Lord" (Lk.1:17 NKJV). It was a ritual for Jewish people who were all SUPPOSED to be believers, members of the one unique people who all followed the Lord, for the repentance from all backsliding to make them ready for the coming of the Messiah. But we are not Jewish (most of us); we are not part of the biblical nation of Israel constituted by God (it does not exist at present and will not until Christ returns); and we are not anticipating the Messiah's first coming: He has already come and died for us all – and has risen from the dead and ascended to heaven and sent us the Holy Spirit. So we believers all now have the Holy Spirit (Rom.8:9), having been received baptism of the Spirit when we believed.

On of the best indications that water-baptism is not currently authorized by God is the fact that no two groups do it the same way or understand or teach what it means in the same way – and on the latter point most of them are very confused if you ask them to explain the details because they either cannot or are aware that they don't make any biblical sense (as in your experience).

Most Christians churches baptize with water, it's true. They also do not teach the Bible in any depth, not to the point of anyone attending having a hope of becoming spiritual mature in many lifetimes of such attendance. But a group that teaches salvation by water is not in any sense Christian. It may be Mormon. It may be JW. It may be RC. It may be or be in sync with any number of religions which teach some sort of eternal life through works – falsely. But it has nothing to do with Jesus Christ.

And as long as we are talking about scriptures, what about this one?

But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
1st Timothy 2:12 KJV

Only men who are gifted to do so and who are prepared to do so have any business teaching the Word of God. Nowadays in most churches there is so little of the Word of God being taught, and what is "taught" is usually taught with such a great deal of the leaven of error, that it almost hardly makes a difference. Almost. But in this case, where salvation is at stake in the argument, it seems important to point out that this "pastor" cannot be one in God's eyes.

While there may be some value in trying to point out the truth to such individuals, for the most part I think you will find that they are either hardened in their beliefs and/or spiritually immature to the point of being "hard of hearing" when it comes to the truth – so please be careful.

Keep fighting the good fight, my friend!

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #23:

Hey Robert,

Thank you for the insight. You know, Mark 16:16 appears to be an eternal security verse upon further examination and cautiously, I say with discernment. Notice the exact words. 16 “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”

Notice how it doesn’t say the words, “and is baptized not” - you know why? Because once baptism of The Holy Ghost takes place, you cannot be “unbaptized” - which means the only ones left for condemnation in that end of the verse are unbelievers. I don’t know your stance on eternal security but I imagine if you’ve read Ephesians 4:30 that lines up with mark 16:16 in baptism of The Holy Ghost. Interesting. The woman and her husband would like to come to my house and hear what I have to say. I ask that if God so wills, that you’d pray for me that I could show them without eloquence of speech the plain gospel and not try to in my flesh reconcile them from their falsehoods. I appreciate the ear you’ve given unto me and I always love hearing from you brother.

God Bless,

Response #23:

You're most welcome – please feel free to write any time.

On the "passage", I hear what you are saying, but to me this is a little bit like arguing with the Mormons about passages in the book of Mormon, or with the RCs about passages in the Apocrypha. The point is, that passage is NOT in the Bible. So regardless of what it might be construed to mean, it is NOT any kind of message from God. Far from it. It is the worst kind of thing. A writing which purports to be from God but is not. That is diabolical in the extreme, and I would stay well clear of all such falsity.

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.


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