By Mac Deaver
For several years we have maintained that in order for a person to enter the church, several things must occur. Most of us are very familiar with the plan of salvation or the steps of obedience, so that we are clear on the fact that one must move from personal faith to repentance to confession of his faith and then to baptism. We have believed and taught this developmental procedure for years and years. And we have been correct.
But there is another procedural point that is not at times rightly comprehended because insufficient thought has been given to it, and that is that sinners must become saints before they can enter the kingdom. Now why is this so? It is so because it is either the case that (1) the Lord adds sinners to the church or (2) the Lord adds saints to the church. And to get the matter straight in our heads, we have got to comprehend when forgiveness transpires. Furthermore, we need to know just who it is that God forgives in the act of conversion. God either forgives (1) the sinner, or he forgives (2) the saint. Whom does he forgive?
I have explained both in book and in public debate that in the process of conversion, a person is forgiven of his sins (Acts 2:38), then he is regenerated by the Holy Spirit (Tit. 3:5, 6), and then he is indwelled by the Holy Spirit (Gal. 4:6), and then he arises to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:3, 4). This is the chronologically correct conceptual order and actual event order. Now, to be sure, the forgiveness, regeneration, and indwelling, all take place within the blink of an eye. And they all take place while the human body is under the water! Following these conceptually distinctive events, the baptized person is then lifted up. He breaks the surface of the water, but by that time, he is already a forgiven, regenerated, indwelled Christian. He arises to walk in newness of life. This is the essential conceptual and actual event order in the process of conversion as it entails the momentary transition from sinner status to saint status. Scripture makes it plain that this order cannot be gainsaid. When one attempts to change the sequence of events in the process, he faces doctrinal implications that are incoherent regarding the nature of salvation.
Let us make this inquiry as simple as we can. Let us, then, imagine an alien sinner responding to the gospel invitation, stating his desire to become a Christian. Based on his repentance and now on his having-been-taken confession of faith, he withdraws to the dressing room, from which he then enters the baptistery. Who walks into the baptistery? A sinner or a saint? Unlike most denominationalists, we in the churches of Christ have for years correctly defended the view that a sinner enters the water (Acts 22:16)! Faith alone cannot save (John 1:11, 12); faith with repentance alone cannot save (Acts 2:37, 38), and the confession must be followed by baptism in order for it to contribute to salvation (Rom. 10:9, 10; 1 Tim. 6:12; Rom. 6:3, 4).
Now, the baptizer and the alien sinner stand in the water before the audience. The sinner is then lowered (immersed) in the water. What happens while he is under the water? The first thing that happens is that God forgives the man, and that forgiveness takes place in the mind of God. God no longer counts the man a sinner! Since he has done everything that the New Testament requires of him to become a child of God, God now grants that much desired forgiveness (Acts 2:38; 22:16). The human spirit is now clean (Eph. 5:26; Heb. 10:22). Second, God regenerates that human spirit since it is now forgiven of all sin. This means that the Holy Spirit actually and personally and directly contacts the human spirit and changes its nature! The human spirit is revitalized; it is given spiritual life (Tit. 3:5, 6). Its nature is now altered (2 Pet. 1:4). Now, why must regeneration follow forgiveness? It must follow instead of precede because if the alien sinner were still in his sins, then God would be giving spiritual life to one who remained guilty of his sins. Any sinner must be forgiven before he can be granted spiritual life! If someone objects to the Holy Spirit’s being placed within the body of the baptized person in order to regenerate the spirit of that person, he must remember that the Holy Spirit is being given to a forgiven person! At this point of the process, the Spirit is within the body but outside the spirit of the person. He works from the outside of the human spirit or heart to regenerate it. Why? Because the nature of the forgiven person must be changed before the Spirit can take up his permanent abode! But if someone objects and says: “Yes, but Mac is saying that the Holy Spirit is within the body of a person not yet in the kingdom,” my response would be that (1) certainly he is within the body of a person not yet in the kingdom, but (2) he is in the body of the person who is about to enter the kingdom and who is under the water, and (3) he is in the body of the person who stands already forgiven!
Then, following the forgiveness and regeneration, the Holy Spirit moves to within the spirit or heart of the person who is immersed in water. How do we know that this act takes place at this time? We know it because Paul tells us. “And because ye are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father” (Gal. 4:6). Paul doesn’t simply state that the Spirit moved to within our bodies, but into our hearts. And he cannot take up his abode in an unholy place. His “abiding” in this permanent location is the indwelling of the Spirit, which takes up his abode for holy purposes (Rom. 8:9-11; cf. 1 Thess. 4:1-8; Gal. 5:22-24; Eph. 1:13, 14; 1 Cor. 6:12-20).
Now, as proven in our book, Except One Be Born From Above, the water in baptism is for the remission of sins. John’s baptism was water baptism, and it was for the remission of sins (Mark 1:4). But water baptism alone could not and did not ever put one into the kingdom. This is what Jesus was telling Nicodemus. It is likely that Nicodemus himself had already received John’s baptism, but whether he had or had not, the Lord made it clear that water baptism alone could not secure entry into the kingdom (John 3:3-5). But another point that we have often overlooked is that the continuation of the fact that water alone as continued under the “great commission” assignment could not provide entry into the kingdom any more than it could during the days of John’s ministry. As I explained in tedious detail in our book, this is what Luke is telling us in Acts 8:12-17 and in Acts 19:1-7. Water alone never put anyone into the kingdom even under the “great commission” assignment given the apostles! Water, in the story of redemption, has always been for the remission of sins (of course, in the sense of a stipulated requirement). But it has never been by itself a way into the kingdom. It has been a requirement of the gospel because only forgiven people can enter the kingdom!
Now, let us seriously consider Acts 2:47. “…And the Lord added to them day by day those that were being saved.” The KJV has “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” Actually the word “church” is not in the Greek text. But clearly, somebody was being added to something or to somebody else. The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament by Marshall puts it, “And the Lord added the [ones] being saved from day to day together.” The words “being saved” come from an accusative, plural, masculine, present, passive participle. The word “added” is a 3rd person, singular, imperfect, active verb. So, the verb indicates that at the time that Luke was recording the account, God had been adding together or placing together (and Luke says it was on a day by day basis) some people. Now who exactly were being placed together? The “being saved” ones. So, as sinners were being saved, they were being added to the rest of the saved. But the question with which we are now most interested is, “Were these people sinners or saints at the time that they were on a day by day basis being added together by the Lord?” Precisely, the question entails the following theoretical possibilities: That is (1) the Lord was adding together all saved people, or (2) he was adding together all lost people, or (3) he was adding together some lost people to already saved people, or (4) he was adding some saved people to already lost people. Now, dear reader, which is it? To a Bible student, the answer is obvious! The tense of the Greek verb by itself cannot answer this question. Dana and Mantey inform us that “…in dealing with the present tense we must consider not only the fundamental force of the tense, but also the meaning of the verb root, and the significance of the context” (A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament, p.181).
Now, we know that those referenced by Luke in Acts 2:47 were not being added to the church or to the rest of the saved prior to their own conversion. If the saved constituted the group to which others were added, obviously then those being added could only be more people who were being saved without destroying the nature of the group. This much should be certainly clear. But the point of controversy is the point at which the being-converted ones or the being-saved ones are precisely being added to the rest of the already-saved. We know that it happens while the person being baptized is still in the water. But we are attempting to point out that there is even more explanatory precision that is provided for us in the New Testament. Our concern just now is to locate the exact point at which the being-converted ones are being added to the rest of the saved. So, let us consider, in the light of Acts 2:47, some True-False questions:
- T/F 1. God added forgiven sinners as sinners to the church. (False)
- T/F 2. God added saved men as saved men to the church. (True)
- T/F 3. God added neither sinners nor saved men to the church. (False)
- T/F 4. God added both saved men and sinners to the church. (False)
The reader should have absolutely no trouble whatever in coming up with the correct answer to the above. So, now let us move on.
- T/F 5. God added forgiven men who were not yet regenerated to the church. (False)
- T/F 6. God added only regenerated men to the church. (True)
- T/F 7. God added neither regenerated nor non-regenerated men to the church. (False)
- T/F 8. God added both regenerated and non-regenerated men to the church. (False)
Is this hard? Surely, any member of the church ought to be able to answer all of the above with ease. If someone is not clear on the last set of questions, he should realize that to regenerate is to give life to, to make alive, to revitalize. It is not the same thing as forgiveness. That is why we know that regeneration follows (rather than precedes) forgiveness. If it preceded forgiveness, then we would face the absurd situation of a sinner’s being made spiritually alive while still in his sins! Most members of the church understand that in some situations there is the necessity of conceptual order (for example, faith must precede repentance, and repentance must precede baptism).
But just here and before proceeding with what happens while a person is in the water of baptism, let us go back for a moment and revisit the concept of a necessary sequential order in the plan of salvation before one enters the baptistery. And we see that it is not simply a conceptual order but it is a chronological order as well. That is, just as there is a conceptual order to the topics of faith, repentance, confession, and immersion in the life of any man who becomes a Christian, just so there is a time sequence in which each item must exist. I am reminded that years ago I received a phone call from a Baptist preacher whom I was about to engage in public debate. He assured me on the phone that when he said that we are saved by “faith only,” that he was including repentance! My, my! How convenient, but it is ludicrous. “Faith only” is not only faith if repentance is added to faith. Language cannot cover such misguided conceptual confusion. My opponent’s definition of his expression contradicted the words of the expression. If I were to claim that “baptism only” saves us but then added that by “baptism only” I mean to include faith and repentance, “baptism only” is not only baptism.
In his second negative of the Warren-Ballard Debate, brother Warren said regarding Ballard, “He said repentance and faith are joined together. Where is the Scripture that says it? Where is the Scripture that says repentance and faith are joined together?” (p. 44). Of course, there is none! The steps in the plan of salvation are not simultaneous steps. That is, since one can come to faith without yet repenting, we know that faith must come before repentance can occur (Acts 2:37, 38). And since one can arrive at faith and yet refuse to confess his faith, and since we know that one cannot rightly confess what he does not believe, we know that confession of faith follows the initiation of faith (John 12:42, 43). And since baptism transfers a person into Christ (Gal. 3:26, 27), we know that faith, repentance, and confession must precede baptism.
Now, let us get back to the baptistery and again focus on the conceptual distinctions and the chronological order of the sequence of events that transpires while the person being baptized is in the water. We have already determined that prior to the sinner’s entering the baptistery, (1) he has come to faith, (2) he has repented of his sins, and (3) he has confessed his faith. Now he steps down into the water, and someone (usually the preacher) then immerses him in that water. Now, regarding the most serious topic of salvation and kingdom entry, what is the order of spiritual events that transpires while the person being baptized is yet under the water (immersed in or submerged in that water)?
Is water baptism for or unto the remission of sins? Yes (Mark 1:4; Acts 2:38). Can God regenerate or make spiritually alive a person who is yet dead in his sins while he is still in his sins and yet to be forgiven? No. Then, regeneration must follow forgiveness (Tit. 3:5, 6). So now we have the chronological order of (1) forgiveness of sins and then (2) regeneration. Now, notice that regeneration is changing the nature of the dead human spirit into a live human spirit by virtue of its having its nature changed. This is 2 Peter 1:4. While in the water, the baptized person’s nature is changed, so that now he is considered not only forgiven, but regenerated or revitalized by God’s Holy Spirit so that he is now at a higher level of association with God than his being in sin allowed him to be (See the discussion of this vital point in chapter 13 of our book, Except One Be Born From Above—especially look at the “Scale Of Connection” on page 218). Now, understand that it is the regeneration (which is what being born from above means) that makes one finally fit for the kingdom. It is the “regeneration” that belongs to the washing, that now causes God to consider this forgiven person as now finally his child! Forgiveness alone doesn’t make him a member of the church; it does not transfer him to the kingdom. It takes both the water of forgiveness and the regeneration of the human spirit by the Holy Spirit to make one fit for the kingdom! Read Titus 3:5-6 very carefully along with John 3:3-5.
In talking with Nicodemus, Jesus said that a person cannot enter the kingdom unless he is born of water and Spirit. If to be born of water is to be baptized in water, then it cannot be successfully gainsaid that to be born of Spirit is to be baptized in Spirit (See our book, pages 109-117, for a more thorough discussion of this point and for refutation of the suggestion that to be born of Spirit simply means to be baptized in harmony with the teaching of the Holy Spirit). And for the elaborated proof that water-only baptism has always been baptism into the name of Jesus only (and not into the names of the Father and Holy Spirit), see our book, chapter 1 (as well as pages 61-68).
Follow this carefully. It is at the point when a person (still being under the water) is not only forgiven but now has been regenerated in his spirit by the Holy Spirit of God, that God now sees that person as a spiritual child of his! That is the time at which God then, because he now recognizes him as no longer guilty and no longer dead, sees him as a son! Notice that Paul tells us specifically that God sends the Holy Spirit into the hearts of those whom he considers his children (Gal. 4:6). Please observe that God does not send the Holy Spirit into the hearts of (1) those not yet sons, (2) those not yet sons in order to make them sons, and not even (3) those not yet sons who are already forgiven! It is when a forgiven person is completely regenerated by the Holy Spirit of God (and, of course, while the person is still in the water), that God moves the Spirit from the outside of the heart to the inside of the heart as well. Now, not only does the Spirit enclose the heart, but it indwells the heart. I discuss this point in detail in our book to show why the idea that we are “in” Spirit is equally accurate to the expression the Spirit is “in” us. This is what makes it possible for the person under the water to arise to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:3, 4; 2 Cor. 5:17)!
If someone objects to the foregoing and says that there is no detailed chronological order to the events that transpire while the person is under the water, he must face the numerous logical contradictions that his suggestion necessarily entails. If someone says that what we claim is false because we have a “forgiven” party not yet “regenerated,” and we have a “regenerated” party not yet in the kingdom, the first thing that we need say is that the not-yet-in the-kingdom-party is still in the water. And we are, after all, discussing the transition from sinner status to saint status! And secondly, we must remember that Jesus told us that the birth of water and Spirit was required in order for any man to enter the kingdom (John 3:3-5). Unless we are born both of water and Spirit, we cannot enter the kingdom! We can only enter by virtue of our being baptized in both water and Spirit. Read John 3:3-5 very, very carefully.
Now, we see the person being baptized in the baptistery. And we know that while his body is submerged in the water, that God forgives him. And we know that forgiveness alone is not enough to catapult him into the kingdom. But we do know that birth of water along with birth of Spirit can do that very thing. Thus, today when the believing penitent who has confessed his faith now has (1) a body under the water, and (2) a human spirit or heart regenerated by the Holy Spirit himself, having been dispatched to that person from Jesus Christ (Matt. 3:11; Luke 3:16), he satisfies the twofold requirement that the Lord gave Nicodemus. He is now born of water and Spirit, and just as the person’s body immersion is a baptism in water, just so his spirit or heart immersion is a baptism in Spirit!
If someone objects to the order of events as here described as occurring while a having-confessed, penitent believer is being baptized in water, and claims rather that everything happens simultaneously (forgiveness, regeneration, indwelling), then (1) he faces not only the logical contradictions that his denial implies, but (2) he contradicts the very notion of the essentiality of sequential events as described in Scripture.
Now let us consider one final point. One is either in the kingdom or out of the kingdom. Our discussion of what happens while a baptized person is under the water, helps us to see where the line is crossed from being outside the kingdom to being inside the kingdom. According to the Bible, since God can only add the saved to the rest of the saved (the church), a person has to be not only forgiven but regenerated. And today in every occurrence of kingdom entry, it is always at the point of regeneration that one is added to the church. [I have to say “today” because in the cases involving initial entry of the three major ethnic groups (Jews, Samaritans, Gentiles) into the kingdom in the first century era, there was a time lapse that occurred (1) between the time that some entered the water and the time in which they received the Spirit or (2) between the time in which they received the Spirit and the time in which they entered the water (see Mark 1:4 with Acts 2:1-4; Acts 8:12-17; Acts 10:44-48)]. Today every person who enters the kingdom enters the water first before he can receive the Spirit.
Following regeneration, the person is now a son into whose heart the Spirit then goes. So, notice the following conceptual stages: (1) forgiven, (2) regenerated by Holy Spirit, (3) identified as spiritual kinfolk (sons and daughters of God), so that we are then (4) indwelled by Holy Spirit. Since point (2) is the point at which our nature is changed, that is where we become the sons and daughters of God. Because we are his children, then, he sends the Spirit to abide in our hearts (Gal. 4:6).
So again, if objections come which claim that this makes no sense because we then face the fact that (1) a forgiven person is not yet in the kingdom, and (2) a regenerated person is not yet indwelled, and that (3) a son of God is recognized as a son without his having the indwelling Spirit within his heart, remember that all of these events take place in the blink of an eye while the baptized person’s body is under the water as he is being changed from sinner to saint. And the process is not over until each stage is reached. And the complete process is ever so quickly completed while one is still under the water! But conceptual distinctions must absolutely be observed. If we deny them, we wind up in conflict with the doctrine of salvation as explained in Scripture and have to face the logical contradictions that are by the denial implied.
To clarify, let us say again that (1) we are not added to the kingdom at the point of forgiveness because we have not yet at that point been immersed in Spirit. (2) We are then regenerated by the Holy Spirit, which regeneration constitutes the baptism of the Holy Spirit. (3) We are not yet added to the kingdom at the point of regeneration, but we have by this point been born of water and Spirit. The body is immersed in water and the human spirit is immersed in Holy Spirit. (4) Now we are added to the kingdom because as recognized children of God, God sends his Spirit into our hearts per Galatians 4:6. This encompassing Holy Spirit (surrounding my human spirit in regeneration) now moves to the inside of my heart. His now being within my heart constitutes the indwelling. It is now true that (1) a person is then “in Christ” and that (2) Christ is “in him” or, to say it differently but equally truthfully, that (1) a person is now “in Spirit” and (2) the Spirit is “in him.” And when a person is in Spirit and has the Spirit within him, he is in the kingdom (Rom. 8:9-11; Luke 17:20, 21). God only adds his spiritual children to the kingdom. He only adds saints (and not sinners) to the church!
If one attempts to deny the “process” of salvation (whether before the water or while one is under the water), he faces great difficulty. We have historically known about (1) the difficulties that denominationalists have faced when attempting to dismantle the logical steps in the plan of salvation or by combining concepts that cannot be joined (cf. Warren-Ballard Debate again). But what about (2) the difficulties that we face as brethren if we attempt to deny the process and the distinctions that the Bible makes as to the sequence of events that transpire while the baptized person is under the water? What if someone claims that there is no process so that everything takes place at once? What if all that occurs, occurs simultaneously? Well, let’s consider that.
If it is true that, while a person is being baptized in water, “everything takes place at once,” it either takes place inside the kingdom or outside the kingdom. Which is it? We know that the sinner entered the baptistery. Now if, while he is under the water, “everything takes place at once,” then let’s consider the first option. Let us say that he is forgiven, regenerated, recognized as a child of God, indwelled by God’s Spirit while he is still outside the kingdom. Is this possible? Is it possible for a forgiven, regenerated, recognized, and indwelled child of God to be outside the kingdom? NO! Why not? In the first place, it is “no” because only those who are in the kingdom (or church) can finally enter heaven, and the indwelling Spirit is the earnest of that inheritance (Eph. 1:13, 14), and in the second place, when a person is indwelled by the Spirit, that means that since the Spirit of Christ is now “in” him, the kingdom is “within” him (Luke 17:20, 21). Consider the chart:
While Under The Water
Remission of sins → Regeneration → Recognition → Residence
It is at the point of “Residence” that the Spirit resides within the heart of the forgiven, regenerated, and now recognized person! At the point of “Residence” we have (1) the person’s heart residing within the Holy Spirit, and (2) the Holy Spirit residing within the heart of that person. This is why Jesus could say that “the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20, 21), and Paul could say, “But ye are not in flesh but in Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you. But if any man hath not Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Rom. 8:9). On the chart the transition of the forgiven, regenerated, recognized party takes place as the person moves from “Recognition” to “Residence.” One is not in the kingdom until he reaches the point where he resides in Christ by residing in the Spirit of Christ and where Christ by his Spirit resides in that person!
Let’s try the second option. The person in the water, let us say, is forgiven, regenerated, recognized as a child of God, and indwelled by God’s Spirit, and all of this while he is inside the kingdom. But we all surely know that if a person is forgiven and regenerated while he is inside the kingdom, we are saying that he enters the kingdom before he receives such forgiveness and regeneration. In other words, this position implies that one must enter the kingdom in order to receive forgiveness and regeneration! So, as it turns out, the claim that all that occurs while one is in the water occurs at the same time actually implies an impossible chronological process of its own! The view implies, if one takes the second option, that one must (1) enter the kingdom, or church, in order (2) to receive forgiveness and regeneration!
Now, if someone suggests that Paul did claim in Ephesians 1:3 that all spiritual blessings are “in” Christ rather than outside of Christ to bolster the claim that initial forgiveness of sins must be then found “in” Christ, we examine the claim first by asking, “What did Paul mean?” Consider the following argument that recently appeared in print:
Major Premise: If the Mac Deaver doctrine of present day Holy Spirit baptism is true, then the doctrine that alien sinners receive the remission of sins before and without entering the spiritual body of Christ is true.
Minor Premise: The doctrine that alien sinners receive the remission of sins before and without entering the spiritual body of Christ is not true (Eph. 1:3, 7).
Conclusion: Therefore, the Mac Deaver doctrine of present day Holy Spirit baptism is not true.
This is a valid argument form called modus tollens. However, it is not a sound or dependable argument because a sound argument is not only valid, but its premises are true as well. In this argument the minor premise is false. That means that the argument is not sound!
If the expression “all spiritual blessings” includes initial forgiveness and regeneration, and if the expression “in Christ,” means “the church of Christ,” then it is clear that one must enter the church of Christ before he can receive initial forgiveness and regeneration! That is, the sinner must enter the church as sinner, and then he must after being admitted to the church as sinner, receive forgiveness and regeneration, which means then that at first he is a sinner in Christ but afterward he is a saint in Christ! But we know that this is not so. The saved are added to the rest of the saved, as we have previously proven. So, this implication is false. It is simply false doctrine to contend that “initial forgiveness of alien sins” is found “in Christ,” taking that expression to mean in “the church of Christ.” That will not work! So, we have to determine what spiritual blessings are being contemplated in the passage and/or we have to more carefully define what “in Christ” in the passage means.
Look at it like this: Is the Bible a spiritual blessing? If we answer “yes,” then we can see that either (1) the Bible is being excluded from the category of spiritual blessings as contemplated by Paul in Ephesians 1:3 [so that only spiritual blessings that only Christians actually have access to are being included] or (2) the Bible is being included in the category of “spiritual blessings” being referenced by Paul, but if it is, then the expression “in Christ” must refer not to the church of Christ but rather to the person of Christ since many people outside the church of Christ have access to the Bible.
If we answer the question (“Is the Bible a spiritual blessing?”) with a “no,” we find ourselves having to face the implication that then it is either not spiritual or not a blessing. And since it is the most spiritual book we can have, being produced by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:12, 13; 2 Tim. 3:16, 17; 1 Pet. 1:10, 11; 2 Pet. 1:20, 21), we wouldn’t say it is not spiritual. And we certainly would not deny that it is a blessing!
So, the answer to the question (“Is the Bible a spiritual blessing?”) must be “yes.” But that means we have to face the implications that then (1) it is excluded from Paul’s comments in Ephesians 1:3 or it is being included. I do not think that the context will allow for its exclusion, but if someone suggested that it must be excluded because the expression “in Christ” can only refer to the church of Christ, then I would suggest that then on equal grounds, the concepts of forgiveness of sin and regeneration can be equally excluded from the expression as found in the passage, so that Ephesians 1:3 lends no support whatever to the view that “forgiveness and regeneration” take place “in Christ” meaning “the church of Christ.”
But, since there is no way to exclude the Bible from the category of spiritual blessings, the expression “in Christ” must mean, not the church of Christ, but the person of Christ himself! Paul elsewhere clearly does make the distinction between the Lord’s spiritual body (the church) and himself. In fact, later in the book of Ephesians, he does this very thing, distinguishing between glory being “in the church and in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 3:21). Furthermore, in the letter to the saints at Colossae, Paul claims that “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” are hidden in Christ (Col. 2:2, 3). This is claiming that it is by reason of the person of Christ (not the church of Christ) that this wisdom and knowledge are available! And this lends support to what we have said about Ephesians 1:3 not excluding the Bible from the category of spiritual blessings. It is by means of the Spirit of Christ that we have the Bible (1 Pet. 1:10, 11; 1 Cor. 2:12, 13), but people outside the church of Christ have access to it. It would be absurd to claim that Paul was excluding the Bible from the category of spiritual blessings to be found “in Christ” when writing to the saints at Ephesus, and yet locate all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge “in Christ” when he writes to the Colossian brethren (2:2, 3)!
So again, I reiterate: Anyone who says that since all spiritual blessings are in Christ (meaning the church of Christ), and since initial forgiveness of sins is a spiritual blessing to be found in Christ (meaning the church of Christ), is taking the Baptist position that one must get into Christ before he is baptized!
Finally, the reader by now should be able to answer the following True-False questions without difficulty.
Before One Enters The Water
- T/F 1. Before the sinner is immersed in water, all that he does he does outside the kingdom. (True)
- T/F 2. Before the sinner is immersed in water, all that he does he does inside the kingdom. (False)
- T/F 3. Before the sinner is immersed in water, some things he does he does inside the kingdom and some things he does he does outside the kingdom. (False)
As One Is Immersed In Water
- T/F 1. As the sinner is immersed in water, all that he experiences, he experiences outside the kingdom. (False)
- T/F 2. As the sinner is immersed in water, all that he experiences, he experiences inside the kingdom. (False)
- T/F 3. As the sinner is immersed in water, he experiences at least some things from outside the kingdom (forgiveness and then regeneration), and then he experiences at least one thing (indwelling) which transitions him from outside the kingdom to inside the kingdom. (True)
Note: At some point while under the water, the person has to go from outside to inside the kingdom!
- T/F 4. The sinner leaves sinner status and gains saint status while he is under the water so that he can arise to walk in newness of life. (True)
When One Arises From The Water
- T/F 1. As a saint all that he does he does inside the kingdom. (True)
- T/F 2. As a saint nothing that he does he does inside the kingdom. (False)
- T/F 3. As a saint only some things that he does he does inside the kingdom. (False)
May God help us to come to a greater understanding of and appreciation for the new birth. And let us all be united in the truth that the Lord adds only saved ones to the kingdom.