Posted in Baptism, Doctrine, Evangelism, New Testament

Has the Great Commission Been Fulfilled?

By Mac Deaver

Tarlac Bible Forum

[The Tarlac Bible Forum was conducted in November 2014 at the Nick Hotel in Gerona, Tarlac, in the Philippines. Five lectures were presented by Mac Deaver on the theme of “The Baptism of the Great Commission.” We are publishing his teaching outlines here in the order delivered.]

Lesson 5: Has the Great Commission Been Fulfilled?

Note: The “great commission” has been fulfilled because the purpose of its completion was to make all men answerable to the gospel. The book of Acts is not basically about conversions or even about kingdom entry, though it certainly discusses this in detail, but it is about how God changed human accountability for all time from Gentile-ism and Judaism to Christianity, thus making it possible for the reconciliation of two heretofore separated groups of people (to each other and of these people to God) by means of one divinely authorized approach (Eph. 2:13-22; cf. Acts 19:9). We cannot now do what the apostles were commanded to do (see chapter 15, “Facts That Paint the Picture of Acts” in Except One Be Born From Above).

  1. The apostles were the ones to whom the commission was given (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:44-49; Read carefully Mark 16:15-20; cf. Heb. 2:1-4; cf. Acts 8:1-4).
  2. The ones responsible to the great commission were the “ambassadors” of Christ, distinguished from the rest of the church (Acts 1:21-26; 26:16; 2 Cor. 5:18-20; Acts 1:22).
  3. Two of the apostles were even given special assignments entailed in their great commission (Matt. 16:19; Acts 1:8; 2:1-4; 8:14-24; 10:44-48; Gal. 2:7; Acts 9:15).
  4. Each apostle had “witnessing” power unavailable to other Christians (1 Cor. 12:11; 14:1, 13; 1 Tim. 4:14; 1:6; 2 Cor. 12:12).
  5. Not all Christians were given the gift of tongues (1 Cor. 14:6, 22).
  6. Even if it could be proven that the early church bore the same relationship to the commission that the apostles did, we today still could not have that relationship to it (Eph. 2:20; 4:11; Heb. 2:1-4; the apostles were in a category all their own: Acts 2:42; 1 Cor. 4:9-13; 2 Cor. 12:12; Matt. 18:18 with Matt. 16:18-20; 19:27-28).
  7. During the thirty year period of evangelism in all the world, God was miraculously managing the whole affair (Acts 13:1-4; 16:6-10; cf. 1 Cor. 13:8-13; Acts 14:27; 1 Cor. 16:8, 9, 11; Rev. 3:7; Col. 1:16, 23).
  8. Passages that obligate Christians today to teach cannot in and of themselves prove that the evangelism is to be based on the great commission (1 Tim. 3:15; 2 Tim. 2:2; 1 Tim. 3:2; Matt. 22:37-40).
  9. God has withdrawn all miraculous assistance, which was absolutely necessary to carrying out the commission in the first century (Mark 16:15-20; 1 Cor. 13:8-13; cf. Acts 17:27; Matt. 7:7-11 with Luke 11:13; 2 Pet. 3:9; 1 Tim. 2:4).Note: Our world is not like that of the first century (transition era)! Today all men outside the church die in sin when they die without obeying the gospel. In the first century, there was a way (Judaism and Gentile-ism) for men outside the church to be saved before the gospel reached them because of the religious arrangement that had been made by God for them! Gentile-ism (Patriarchy) and Judaism were finally superseded by Christianity!

Consider these arguments:

Argument #1:

  • All assignments that the apostles were given to do that required the capacity for inspired speaking and miracle working are assignments that Christians today cannot carry out.
  • The assignment that the apostles were given to go into all the world and to preach the gospel to every creature was an assignment that the apostles were given to do that required the capacity for inspired speaking and miracle working (John 14:26; 15:26-27; 16:13; 1 Cor. 2:12-13; Heb. 2:3-4).
  • Therefore, the assignment to go into all the world and to preach the gospel to every creature was an assignment that Christians today cannot carry out.

Argument #2:

  • Any assignment that the apostles were given which changed human amenability on earth for all time is an assignment that cannot be carried out following its fulfillment.
  • The assignment that the apostles were given to go into all the world and to preach the gospel to every creature is an assignment which changed amenability on earth for all time (Col. 1:23; Acts 10:36; 17:30-31).
  • Therefore, the assignment that the apostles were given to go into all the world and to preach the gospel to every creature is an assignment that cannot be carried out following its fulfillment.
Posted in Baptism, Doctrine, Salvation

Correct and Incorrect Reasons for Rebaptism

By Mac Deaver

Tarlac Bible Forum

[The Tarlac Bible Forum was conducted in November 2014 at the Nick Hotel in Gerona, Tarlac, in the Philippines. Five lectures were presented by Mac Deaver on the theme of “The Baptism of the Great Commission.” We are publishing his teaching outlines here in the order delivered.]

Lesson 4: Correct and Incorrect Reasons for Rebaptism

I. Some incorrect reasons for rebaptism:

  1. I knew only a little truth when I was first baptized (cf. Heb. 6:1-3; 1 Cor. 3:1ff.).
  2. Others for whom I have love or respect have been rebaptized (cf. Acts 19:1-7).
  3. I would feel better if a certain preacher baptized me (cf. 1 Cor. 1:10-17; 3:4-9).
  4. To increase the “chances” of my eternal salvation (cf. Col. 2:12; Luke 10:31; Eccl. 9:11).
  5. My baptism was ineffectual because I could not make the confession with my mouth or I did not make the confession before many men (cf. Matt. 10:32-33; Rom. 10:9-10; Rev. 3:5; 1 Tim. 6:12).
  6. I’m not sure the water was pure (cf. Heb. 10:22; Acts 22:16; Eph. 5:26).
  7. The person who baptized me was not a Christian or later apostatized from the faith (cf. Luke 8:11; cf. Demas in 2 Tim. 4:10; Col. 4:14; Philem. 23).
  8. I did not realize at the time that I would receive the actual baptism of the Spirit (Acts 2:38).
  9. I was baptized because I didn’t want to go to hell (cf. Acts 2:40; 1 John 4:18).

II. Some correct reasons for rebaptism:

  1. I was baptized simply because others wanted me to be (Rom. 6:17).
  2. I really didn’t understand what I was doing (John 6:44-45).
  3. I did not have faith that I was being saved from sin (Col. 2:12).
  4. I did not really repent of my sins (2 Cor. 7:10).
  5. I thought I had already been saved and that I was being baptized to join some church (Acts 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:21).
  6. Even though I was an innocent child (having no sin), I was taught that I should submit to baptism in order to be like Christ (Acts 22:16; Eph. 5:26; Tit. 3:5-6).
  7. I was “baptized” when I was a mere baby (cf. Matt. 18:1-6).
  8. I never heard anything about the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 19:2).
  9. I did not know that in baptism I was leaving the world and entering the church (1 John 4:4; 5:19).
  10. To have a clear conscience and make my calling and election sure (2 Pet. 1:10).
  11. When I was baptized, it was for the remission of sins, but I did not believe that Jesus was divine (cf. Matt. 16:16; John 9:35-37).
Posted in Doctrine, New Testament

What Happened in Samaria (Acts 8)?

By Mac Deaver

Tarlac Bible Forum

[The Tarlac Bible Forum was conducted in November 2014 at the Nick Hotel in Gerona, Tarlac, in the Philippines. Five lectures were presented by Mac Deaver on the theme of “The Baptism of the Great Commission.” We are publishing his teaching outlines here in the order delivered.]

Lesson 3: What Happened in Samaria (Acts 8)?

  1. This account of kingdom entry must correspond with Acts 2:1-4 and Acts 10, 11.
  2. Consider the background (Acts 1:8; Acts 8:1-11).
  3. Baptism in water only is baptism into the name of the Lord Jesus only (Acts 8:12, 16; cf. Acts 19:5).
  4. The Holy Spirit came as a result of prayer offered and hands laid (Acts 8:15-18).
  5. The hands identified those to receive the Spirit and provided the conceptual connection between the water and the Spirit (Acts 8:12, 14-19; cf. Acts 19:6; John 3:3, 5; cf. Heb. 6:2).
  6. Jesus was the One who administered Holy Spirit baptism (Matt. 3:11; Luke 3:16; John 1:33).
  7. With both water and Spirit, the Samaritans had been now baptized into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (cf. Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 2:33).
Posted in Baptism, Doctrine, New Testament, Salvation

Was the Baptism of the Holy Spirit a One Time Event Only?

By Mac Deaver

Tarlac Bible Forum

[The Tarlac Bible Forum was conducted in November 2014 at the Nick Hotel in Gerona, Tarlac, in the Philippines. Five lectures were presented by Mac Deaver on the theme of “The Baptism of the Great Commission.” We are publishing his teaching outlines here in the order delivered.]

Lesson 2: Was the Baptism of the Holy Spirit a One Time Event Only?

Discussion: No, because —

  1. There are no measures of the Holy Spirit (John 3:34).
  2. All who obeyed the gospel received the Spirit (Acts 5:32). [Question: Why didn’t the kingdom arrive ten days prior to Pentecost?]
  3. Baptism in the Spirit is no more miraculous than the forgiveness of sins is (Romans 8:2).
  4. There is only one way into the kingdom (John 3:3-5; Ephesians 4:4-5). [Note: If some entered at the point of Spirit baptism (Acts 2:1-4), and if some entered at the point of water baptism (Acts 10:44-48), then all entered when water and Spirit were combined in their human experience (John 3:3-5)!]
  5. Of the meaning of John 3:3-5.
  6. Of what Jesus did not say in John 3:3-5 —
    (1) Water must come first and then the Spirit;
    (2) Spirit must come first and then the water;
    (3) Water and Spirit must come at the same time;
    (4) One’s forgiveness had to occur at the moment of kingdom entry;
    (5) Forgiveness would occur in every case of water baptism;
    (6) One born of water only could enter the kingdom;
    (7) One born of Spirit only could enter the kingdom.
  7. Entering the spiritual body of Christ (the church) is accomplished by means of entering the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9-11; Galatians 3:26-27).
Posted in Baptism, Doctrine, Salvation

What Happens While We Are Under the Water

By Mac Deaver

Tarlac Bible Forum

[The Tarlac Bible Forum was conducted in November 2014 at the Nick Hotel in Gerona, Tarlac, in the Philippines. Five lectures were presented by Mac Deaver on the theme of “The Baptism of the Great Commission.” We are publishing his teaching outlines here in the order delivered.]

Lesson 1: What Happens While We Are Under the Water

  1. We are delivered, forgiven, and redeemed (Colossians 1:13-14; Acts 2:38; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 1:18-19; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
  2. We are regenerated by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5-6; Matthew 19:28; cf. Acts 3:19; Romans 6:3-4, 11).
  3. We are indwelled by the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:32; Romans 8:9-11; Ephesians 1:13-14).
  4. We are added to the saved (Acts 2:47; Matthew 12:46-50).
  5. We are transferred (Colossians 1:13).
  6. We are made sons by birth (John 3:3-5; Ephesians 1:3-5).
  7. We make the great escape (2 Peter 1:4; 2:20-22).
  8. Our nature is altered (2 Peter 1:4; Galatians 6:7-8; John 15:1ff; Galatians 5:22-24).
  9. We are spiritually circumcised (Colossians 2:11-12).
Posted in Doctrine

Blessing Backward

By Weylan Deaver

King Saul’s was the sad case of a career gone south due to his persistent refusal to obey God. Such colossal failure caused the Lord to tear the kingdom from Saul, giving it to a man more worthy (1 Sam. 13:14). The next king would be David, freshly pulled from the sheep pasture, but transitioning from Saul to his unwelcome successor took a long time, during which Saul did his utmost to track down and annihilate the young shepherd.

Jealousy had surfaced when David was given higher praise than Saul among the women singers (1 Sam. 18:6ff.). Saul feared David’s popularity and tried, surreptitiously, to get him killed by the Philistines (1 Sam. 18:25). That failing, Saul went for the direct approach by hurling his spear, in effort to “pin David to the wall” (1 Sam. 19:10). Then he thought to murder David in his own bed (1 Sam. 19:11ff.). Nothing worked. Perhaps the pinnacle of Saul’s perversity was reached when he executed eighty-five priests at Nob because Ahimelech, a priest there, had given aid to David (1 Sam. 21-22).

If ever a man had things backward, it was Saul. His skewed perspective is displayed when, learning David was in Keilah, Saul says, “God has given him into my hand” (1 Sam. 23:7). Saul seemed to think God was on his side, when reality was quite the opposite.

As the pursuit continued, David went to Ziph, when, of all things, the Ziphites contacted Saul and offered to turn David in to the bloodthirsty king (1 Sam. 23:15ff.). Saul was elated, and said to the Ziphites, “May you be blessed by the Lord, for you have had compassion on me” (1 Sam. 23:21).

The chase will continue, but let us pull in the reins as we ponder verse 21 — a statement of thick irony from a man of thin conviction. When the Ziphites offered to hand David over, Saul said, “May you be blessed by the Lord, for you have had compassion on me.” Think of it. God had already disowned Saul and told him his reign was over (1 Sam. 15:23, 28). Saul was rebellious, wretched, rejected. David was chosen by God to succeed Saul, and Saul wanted David dead. David was being helped by God, while Saul was multiplying his own mistakes. In spite of it all, Saul still thought he could tell the Ziphites, “May you be blessed by the Lord, for you have had compassion on me.” In truth, Saul was not enjoying the Lord’s favor, and he really had no right to speak as though he and God were on the same page. His blessing of the Ziphites was as backward as could be.

Which brings us a sober reminder. Not everyone who says “God bless you” is on God’s side. Not all who talk about the Lord in a pleasing way are actually pleasing the Lord. Talk is cheap if your sins are costing your soul. Look at Saul. Look at the oceans of churches out there, teeming with schools of conflicting theology. Denominational differences form a palette of clashing colors to paint a portrait of Christianity scarcely resembling anything in the gospel. Yet, every such church thinks itself on God’s side, thus combining a legacy of rebellion with the language of righteousness. God does not intend that we ask his blessing while avoiding his Book. “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21).

Posted in Debates, Doctrine, Marriage

Giving New Life To Old Error

By Mac Deaver

The Bales-Deaver Debate on marriage, divorce, and remarriage was published by the Firm Foundation Publishing House in 1988. That is twenty six years ago now, and a lot has changed in our world and in the brotherhood since that time including the continuing demise of morality in our country. Many who are young adults now were at the time of the great controversy in the church over marriage and divorce unaware as to what all was being said and done regarding the discussion of the proper application of the Lord’s teaching in Matthew 19:9.

On April 19, 1977 Roy Deaver and James Bales met on the campus of Harding College (now University) to discuss the issue of the application of Matthew 19:9. Later Thomas B. Warren hoped that he and brother Bales could debate the issue orally. Bales declined, for health reasons, but proposed a written debate between the two. Warren turned down that offer, and finally an agreement was reached between Bales and Roy Deaver for a written discussion. It lasted about five years. Bales, Deaver, and Warren were all friends and each respected the ability of the others. Bales had the year before moderated for Warren in Warren’s debate with the atheist, Antony Flew. Deaver also had assisted Warren in that momentous discussion held in September of 1976. When Bales learned that I was to teach a course on Acts in Tennessee Bible College in the early 1980s, he mailed me a thick notebook full of his own notes. It was a most generous gesture. He had a great mind and had done a tremendous amount of good through his teaching and his writing. He had been a great force for good. But now his talents had come to be employed in the defense of a position on Matthew 19:9 that was “new ground” for the brotherhood. The question was whether or not the novel position was scriptural.

In his own personal study, Bales had concluded that the church as a whole had misunderstood the application of the Lord’s teaching in Matthew 19:9. He had decided that Matthew 19:9 applied only to marriages that were composed of a Christian married to another Christian. The passage did not, according to him, apply to a non-Christian married to another non-Christian or to a Christian married to a non-Christian. This novel approach to the passage he attempted to defend in his time consuming written debate with my father. The reader can still purchase that written account and study it carefully. I cannot here go over everything or even most of what was said between the two participants. Very few things from the debate will be discussed.

In completion of my work at Tennessee Bible College for the terminal degree in Christian Apologetics, I presented to the faculty of the graduate school there my dissertation in January of 1991. It was entitled “Moral Law, The Law Of Christ, And The Marriage-Divorce-Remarriage Issue.” In that paper I discussed the existence and nature of moral law, the moral law and positive law, some implications of denying the existence of moral law, and moral law in some recent discussions on the marriage-divorce-remarriage issue. That last part entailed a critical analysis of the (1) Warren-Fuqua Debate, (2) McClish-Billingsly Debate, and the (3) Bales-Deaver Debate. It was clear to me then, and it is clear to me now that the effort to deny the universal application of Matthew 19:9 to all marriages was completely without evidential support.

It came to pass in time that I debated Dan Billingsly in January of 1995 in Arlington, Texas (Dallas-Fort Worth area). He affirmed: “The Scriptures teach that Matthew 19:9 is not New Testament doctrine.” The following September I debated Olan Hicks on the marriage-divorce issue in Robertson County, Tennessee. Brother Hicks affirmed: “The Scriptures teach that God approves marriage for every person, including all who have divorced or have been divorced by a mate, regardless of cause.” The reader can still obtain a written copy of that debate and study carefully what was said. Then in April of 2004, I engaged Dan Billingsly in a second debate in Bedford (Fort Worth area). He affirmed that the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were all a part of the Old Testament. Of course, if he could have proven that (which he could not and which was exposed as false), he could have gotten rid of the “troublesome” passage (Matthew 19:9). The position taken by Billingsly in this debate showed the extent to which some of us were willing to go to get rid of the “bothersome” passage. The morality of the country was degenerating, and Christian families were certainly involved. Surely, there had to be a way to get around the restriction of Matthew 19:9.

At the end of my doctoral dissertation, at the end of my polemic encounters with Billingsly and Hicks, I was convinced that the application of Matthew 19:9 is today for all men, both Christians and non-Christians. I never faced a sound argument that proved the contradiction, and I presented many sound arguments in the discussions to verify that for which I was contending. It was and remains clear to me that fornication is the one and only reason for a divorce that allows the innocent (other) party to scripturally remarry.

Now, why do I at this time bring all this back up to view. I do it because recently a book has been published by Weldon Langfield entitled The Truth About Divorce And Remarriage. It claims to be “A Politically Incorrect View of Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in Today’s Church.” The purpose of the book is to resurrect the idea that 1 Corinthians 7:15 does, in fact, supply the Christian with a reason for divorce and remarriage other than fornication (as provided by the Lord in Matthew 19:9).

All through the book, Langfield refers to preachers who hold that Matthew 19:9 is of universal application and gives us the only scriptural basis for a divorce and a remarriage as “politically correct” preachers. He calls them “PC” preachers. Thus, in informing us that 1 Corinthians does give us an additional reason for divorce and remarriage, he is providing the “politically incorrect” view by which, of course, he attempts to endear his position to our brethren (who generally despise “political correctness”). On page 88 he concludes, “A critical examination of the PC position shows it to be without support.” Again, on page 153 near the end of the book he writes, “Two-thirds of denominational scholarship and many distinguished brotherhood preachers and scholars are correct in their understanding that 1 Corinthians 7:15 provides grounds for remarriage.”

If the reader hopes to find conclusive proof for this position, he will be disappointed. If he searches for a sound argument to prove it true, he will search in vain. He will find many gospel preachers of the past quoted to lend support to his position, but he will not find where a sound argument is ever provided by these quoted preachers to prove the contention true. And this is the very thing that Langfield needs: a sound argument (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:21; Romans 12:2). We all should know that we prove nothing about the alleged accuracy of a conclusion by citing an approving quotation from someone who also believed it to be true. If the quoted party provided the “proof,” then provide his proof. Langfield couldn’t do this because there was no “proof” from anyone that he quoted to show that 1 Corinthians 7:15 provided an additional basis for divorce and remarriage in addition to what the Lord had provided in Matthew 19:9.

Langfield refers to many preachers on both sides of the issue. He refers to brother Bales several times in the book, but only mentions my father twice in the text, once in connection with his brief debate with Gus Nichols in their 1973 encounter at the Harding Graduate School in Memphis (p. 69) and the second reference (p. 126) is by means of a quotation taken from the July, 1980 Spiritual Sword periodical, the quotation being a description given by my father of the devastating nature of brother Bales’ position to the gospel. However, Langfield never refers to the Bales-Deaver Debate at all, a debate in which my father exposed Bales’ contention that 1 Corinthians 7:15 does provide, after all, an additional basis for divorce and remarriage other than that provided by the Lord in Matthew 19:9.

And this is the very position to which Langfield attempts to lend support in his new book. Brother Bales believed that Matthew 19:9 only applied to Christians married to Christians and that 1 Corinthians 7:15 applied to Christians married to non-Christians and to non-Christians married to other non-Christians. If the reader has not read that debate, I would suggest that he do so. It is indeed interesting and somewhat curious that Langfield, while referring to many books regarding the marriage-divorce controversy, never quotes from this pivotal debate in which Bales himself tried to prove the position to which Langfield in his new book attempts to lend support. Again, I remind the reader that Langfield refers to Bales several times, but he never quotes from Bales or from my father in their debate which was a discussion of the very issue that concerns Langfield in his recently published book.

Bales took the position that the Lord had addressed one group of married people in Matthew 19:9 and that Paul was addressing another group of married people in 1 Corinthians 7:10-15. The Lord had only the “covenant people” in mind (Christians only), and Paul had in mind non-covenant people (non-Christians) and especially Christians married to them, so that Matthew 19:9 did not even apply to the group that Paul was now addressing. It is clear to me that my father exposed this contention conclusively and in several ways. However, among the many things that he taught in the debate, in my judgment, if he had only said one thing that he did to Bales, it was absolutely devastating. And it is something that either Langfield does not know or chose not to notice in his new book. Langfield shows familiarity with some of the crucial material written during the controversy, but for some reason, he never quotes my father (nor James Bales) in the Bales Deaver Debate.

In my father’s second affirmative, he presented his argument on the tense of a crucial verb in 1 Corinthians 7:15. He wrote, “The word ‘bondage’ is the translation of the Greek dedoulotai which is perfect passive indicative, third person singular of the root word douloo. The perfect tense is significant. The force of the perfect tense here is: the deserted believer is not now and in fact never has been under the kind of bondage signified by the word douloo—the kind of bondage which would compel the Christian to give up his or her Christianity in order to preserve the marriage” (p. 61). Bales wasn’t impressed and called for proof that this was the meaning of the tense (p. 90). Of course, all Bales had to do was consult a Greek Grammar and think about the description of the perfect tense (for example, Essentials of New Testament Greek by Ray Summers).

Summers points out that the perfect tense “…indicates completed action with a resulting state of being. The primary emphasis is on the resulting state of being…The real nature of the Greek perfect is seen in the passive voice better than in the active” (p. 103). The verb (“under bondage”) in 1 Corinthians 7:15 is in the passive voice. Summers points out that there are three ideas involved in the perfect tense: “an action in progress, its coming to a point of culmination, its existing as a completed result” (p. 103). He illustrates the force of the tense by appealing to the verb gegraptai (“it is written”). [The reader can consult Matthew 4:1-11 and see where the Lord three times uses a perfect tense verb when he says, “it is written”]. According to Summers the meaning is that “it has been written and stands written” (p. 103). If this had been a negative remark (as we have in 1 Corinthians 7:15), it would have meant: “it has not been written and it stands not written.”

Therefore, the meaning of the verb (“under bondage” with the negative word “not”) is that the brother or sister “has not been and is not under bondage.” The force of the tense means that the brother or sister in the case being described has never been in the bondage to which reference is made! That is one way that my father knew that it could not be referring to the “marriage bond.” The brother or sister had been in that bondage (the marriage bond) if they had been joined in marriage by God (Matthew 19:6; Romans 7:2). But the bondage to which Paul refers is one that had never entailed them at all. It is a kind of bondage different from what the marriage bond is. The marriage bond never entails the “slavery” involved in the word used for “bondage” in verse 15!

My father knew that the verb for “under bondage” in verse 15 could not possibly refer to the marriage bond. Furthermore, he knew that in verse 27, we find another perfect tense verb referring to a “bondage” which in the passage is undoubtedly the “marriage bond.” The words “Art thou bound unto a wife” certainly refer to the marriage bond. But, it is a different Greek word! The word in verse 15 is doulao and the verb in verse 27 is deo! Therefore, in verse 15 Paul had said that a believer married to a non-believer had never been, and was not at the time he was writing, in slavery that would compel the believer to pursue the marriage at the expense of his soul. In verse 27 he said that if anyone was married he had been and now remained in that same condition (perfect tense) in a state of “bondage,” but he clearly used a different word for this “marriage bond”!

But, even if we knew nothing about Greek tense, shouldn’t Paul’s last words in verse 15 (“but God has called us in peace”) and the words following in verses 16-24 show us what he had meant in verse 15? If the non-believer has left the believer (“let him depart”), the believer is to remain in peace, and not feel compelled to go after the non-believer with the hope of converting him/her. Paul is anticipating the thinking of the deserted believer. “If I can only find him, I can surely convert him and bring him home.” Paul says that you do not know that you can convert him (v. 16), and you are not (given the fact that he has departed) to feel obligated to go after him.

And please notice that Paul then declares that no one has the right to use his conversion as an excuse to alter a non-sinful state. It was not sinful for a Christian to be married to a non-Christian (see verses 12-14). And it does not matter whether one is converted while he is in the condition of circumcision or non-circumcision (v. 18-19), or as a slave or a free man (v. 21-23). But please notice that each condition is an illustration of a non-sinful state. Paul does not say that it is all right to remain in any sinful condition, including adultery! Repentance precedes baptism.

But now, let me make one more basic point in addition to all that has been said in the past to falsify the contention that 1 Corinthians 7:15 provides an additional reason for divorce and remarriage. My father took the position that Matthew 19:9 was universal teaching covering all marriages today. Brother Bales took the position that it applied only to Christians married to Christians. He took it that when Paul said “to the rest” (v. 12) he was referring to those other than Christians married to Christians, and he took it that “not under bondage” (v. 15) gave the deserted believer the right to remarry without fornication being committed against him/her per Matthew 19:9.

Notice, please, that the passage says that if the non-believer departs from the believer that then “the brother or sister is not under bondage in such cases” (v. 15). But the question arises, “What if the non-believer chooses not to depart but to remain with the believer?” If Matthew 19:9 applies only to Christians married to Christians, then (1) what is the relationship of the Christian to his non-Christian mate who chooses to remain with him/her and (2) what is that Christian’s relationship to the marriage bond? Notice that Paul did not say that the brother or sister was “not under bondage” in the case where the non-believer chooses to remain with the believer. If anyone today were to take the position that brother Bales did on verse 15, claiming that it was the marriage bond as such, then he would need to face these questions.

Paul said, “Yet if the unbeliever departeth, let him depart: the brother or the sister is not under bondage is such cases” (v.15). But what is the Christian’s obligation and what are his rights if the unbeliever remains (does not depart)? Now, if we were to allow Bales to assume that the marriage bond is being referenced in verse 15 (although we have already shown it is not), then Bales would face the following problem. Notice what Paul would be and would not be saying:

  1. Paul would not be saying that a Christian married to a non-Christian is “not under bondage.”
  1. Paul would be saying that a Christian married to a non-Christian is “not under bondage” if the non-Christian departs.

And remember, that Bales believed that Matthew 19:9 did not apply to the case of the believer married to the unbeliever at all, period. Then that would mean that (1) if the unbeliever chose not to depart but to remain with the believer and (2) if Matthew 19:9 never applied to the case of the believer married to the unbeliever, then we would have to face the following facts:

  1. If the unbeliever who remained with the believer later committed fornication against the believer, the believer would have no right based on Matthew 19:9 to put away the unfaithful mate for his fornication and innocently remarry another (since Matthew 19:9 didn’t apply to him/her, according to Bales).
  1. The believer living with a non-believer who chose not to depart was under bondage to that non-believer.
  1. Since, per Bales, Matthew 19:9 had never applied to a mixed married couple, then we learn that Paul is saying for the first time in the New Testament that a believer is bound to an unbeliever if that unbeliever chose not to depart.
  1. Since Paul is telling us, per Bales, that Matthew 19:9 never applied to a believer married to an unbeliever, it would mean that Jesus in Matthew 19:6 was only talking about believers married to believers as well when he said, “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” [My father made this very point to Bales (Bales-Deaver Debate, p. 133)].
  1. Then if the unbeliever can depart and thus give the believer and himself the right to remarry (per Bales according to 1 Corinthians 7:15), then Matthew 19:6 never applied to unbelievers married to believers and believers married to unbelievers either.
  1. If Matthew 19:6 never applied to anyone in a “mixed marriage” (believer to unbeliever), and if it never applied to a marriage involving unbeliever to unbeliever (per Bales), then the only people whom God has joined in marriage are Christians married to Christians! All other “married” couples are not married at all!
  1. But this conclusion contradicts the position implied at point #2!

When my father engaged Bales in their encounter at Harding in 1977, he referred to a letter that he had recently received from a man in Africa desiring to become a Christian but who was living with several wives. What was he to do? My father asked brother Bales his counsel. Bales responded that the man would need to put away all the wives but the first! But this was completely contradictory to the position that he was taking on the world’s non-amenability to the Lord’s law on marriage and divorce. If God had, in fact, joined the man to these women in marriage (and polygamy has never been against moral law as such), then how could anyone suggest that an alien sinner separate from the wives to whom he has been joined by God?

Brother Bales was no adulterer, but he unintentionally took a position that sanctioned some cases of adultery. I think it is very sad and so unfortunate that we had to go through such a time in the church when there seemed to be so much uncertainty with regard to marriage and divorce.

Years ago, my father and mother were living with my wife and me in Wellington, Texas. I was preaching for the church there, and Daddy was still engaged in his Biblical Notes writing work. Not long before brother Bales passed away, he called the house. I answered the phone. Brother Bales was evidently satisfied to talk with me for he never asked to speak to my father. But he told me that he wanted us to know that he loved us. In the light of that call, I take it that in light of the tremendous battle over marriage, divorce, and remarriage in which we had all been engaged, he wanted us to know that there was no anger or bitterness involved at all. He wanted things to be right between us. He was calling to tell us that he loved us.

I’m sorry brother Bales made this doctrinal mistake. I know he meant well. He was a good and brilliant man. But all of us are responsible to God for our own lives and decisions. None of us can excuse himself for adultery (if he finds himself in that state) because of Bales’ unintentionally sanctioning some cases of it. Each of us must search the Scriptures for himself (Acts 17:11). I once heard brother Warren express himself as he reflected on brother Bales’ situation. He said, “There’s got to be some room for grace.” I hope he found it, too.

The ungodliness in American culture helped to create the situation in the church where we began to think that we needed some relief from the stricture of Matthew 19:9. May God help us never again to allow any cultural condition to weaken our resolve to stand with proven truth (1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 Corinthians 15:58). And may God give us the wisdom to reject any current effort at giving new life to old error.

Posted in Doctrine

Joel’s Prophecy and Events Surrounding the Day of Pentecost (And Our Misunderstandings)

By Marlin Kilpatrick

I am not so naive as to think I know all that can be known about the prophecy of Joel 2:28-32. I am certain there are others who know more than I, but it seems to me there are some things which all of us can know and understand about the events that occurred on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), as well as other events which surrounded that memorable day. But first, we need to get a picture in our minds of the context of the events which Luke, the inspired penman, paints for us.

Jesus gives his final instructions to his apostles and then ascends into heaven (Acts 1:1-11). Among his instructions, Jesus promised his apostles they would be baptized in the Holy Spirit in just a few days (cf. 1:4, 5). Following his ascension, the apostles returned to Jerusalem as they had been instructed (vss. 4, 12). The apostles joined a group of disciples who were in an upper room, including several women, their number being “about 120,” and from this group Matthias was selected to take Judas Iscariot’s apostleship (vss. 15-26). The kingdom of God, our Lord’s church, was about to come into existence, and not a better group of men and women to comprise that kingdom could be found; for they were “all with one accord.” What a picture of unity! Most likely, the Lord’s church has never been as united as it was when it began on the day of Pentecost (Acts2)!

The day of Pentecost arrived and the Holy Spirit descended from heaven and it is here that we begin to divide, with almost every gospel preacher having his own “interpretation” of what happened, to whom it happened, and why it happened, etc. We are so divided over the issue of the Holy Spirit that we ought to be ashamed. The “gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38) is thought by some to be miraculous and given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, while others think the “gift” is our salvation. We have some who hold there are only two occurrences (Acts 2:1-4; 10:44-46) of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and, some cannot even agree that Cornelius was baptized in the Spirit. Recently, I was talking with a fellow gospel preacher about some of these matters and to my utter amazement he said, “I don’t believe the gift of the Holy Spirit is the Spirit, and I don’t believe Cornelius was baptized in the Spirit, either.” Well, whether he believes or does not believe, Peter said Cornelius, his household and near friends received “the like gift” as did the apostles (Acts 11:17). The Greek word which is translated “like” means an equal gift (Vine’s, p. 342). So, whatever the apostles received, Cornelius, his household and near friends, received the same or equal gift.

When the day of Pentecost was fully come, there came a sound from heaven like that of a “rushing mighty wind” (Acts 2:1-4) and “tongues like as of fire” sat upon each of them. When Jesus spoke to Nicodemus, he used the wind as an illustration and said, “so is everyone that is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8). One brother says, “Only the apostles were baptized in the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost” (Acts 2). Question: How does he know that? Answer: Most likely he read something written by J. W. McGarvey; or, possibly, he either read or heard the late brother Guy N. Woods say so. But, one thing for sure: he didn’t get it out of the scriptures. Someone may ask, “But wasn’t Jesus talking only to his apostles when he promised them they would be baptized in the Holy Spirit, not many days hence” (Acts 1:5)? Yes, and they were! But that doesn’t prove that only the apostles were baptized in the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). As far as the apostles are concerned, the only thing that is proven is that Jesus kept his promise! In the gospel of John, chapters 14-16, Jesus was speaking to only his apostles, but some of what he told them applied to more than just the apostles. For example, he promised his apostles he would not leave them as orphans (John 14:18), but are the apostles the only members of the church who are not orphans? Certainly not! If God is your heavenly father, you’re not an orphan! Too, when Peter defended, at Jerusalem, his preaching to the Gentiles (Cornelius’ household) he remembered the words of Jesus, “John indeed baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 11:16) and he applied Jesus’ words to more than just the apostles; he included both Jews and Gentiles (Acts 11:17, 18).

According to the apostle Peter, the events which were taking place on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) were the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy. In response to the people’s thinking that the apostles were drunk, Peter said, “For these are not drunken as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day, but this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel” (Acts 2:15, 16). Joel’s prophecy reveals that both men and women would experience the pouring out of God’s Spirit (cf. Joel 2:28, 29). Since none of the apostles were women, but God, through the prophet Joel, said both men and women would be affected by his pouring out of his Spirit (Acts 2:17, 18), which is a quotation by the apostle Peter of Joel’s prophecy, then I know that more than the apostles were baptized in the Spirit on Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). This conclusion should come as no surprise, for John the Baptist had said that the one coming after him (Christ) would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire (cf. Matt. 3:11; Luke 3:16).

It is admitted by some that God did pour out his Spirit upon all flesh, but the claim is made that he began pouring out his Spirit on the day of Pentecost and completed pouring out his Spirit upon “all flesh” in Acts 10, when the Gentiles (Cornelius and his household and near friends) entered the kingdom. If that is true, then when did Philip’s four virgin daughters enter the kingdom (Acts 21:9)? And, furthermore, since there are no “measures” of the Spirit (John 3:34), these four virgin daughters were baptized in the Spirit, just like everyone who enters the kingdom (cf. John 3:5). I imagine someone will say, “But, born of the Spirit is not the same as being baptized in the Spirit.” My response is: If one is in compliance with Jesus’ words “born of water” when he is baptized in water, then how does he comply with Jesus’ words “(born, implied MK) of the Spirit?” If “born of water” requires a baptism in water, why doesn’t “and of the Spirit” (John 3:5) require a baptism in the Spirit? After all, both phrases are joined by the conjunction “and.” There is nothing, absolutely nothing, in the context of John 3:3-5 to suggest that Jesus meant one must be instructed by the Spirit (which is the usual explanation of our Lord’s words). The new birth has two elements: water and Spirit.

It’s conceivable that someone might ask, “How do we know the women received the same baptismal measure of the Spirit as did the apostles on the day of Pentecost?” I’m glad you asked! We know the women received the same as did the apostles because, as stated earlier, there is no such thing as “measures” of the Spirit; hence, there is no “baptismal measure” of the Spirit. The scripture says, “for God giveth not the Spirit by measure” (John 3:34). The words “unto him” (KJV) were supplied by the translators. The ASV eliminates these words, as do most all other major translations. Since there are no “measures” of the Spirit given, then, in apostolic times, beginning at Pentecost (Acts 2), one either was/was not baptized in the Spirit. If one had the Spirit it was because Christ had immersed his human spirit in Holy Spirit (cf. Tit. 3:5, 6).

Finally, I would suggest that the question concerning what Jesus meant when he said to Nicodemus, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5), can be easily answered by observing what happened on Pentecost (Acts 2). The Spirit came. How did the disciples, including the apostles, enter the kingdom? They did enter, didn’t they?

The disciples of John (about 120), including the apostles, entered the kingdom when the Spirit descended from heaven (Acts 2:1-4); this was their baptism in the Spirit. All of John’s disciples had already been baptized in water and for the remission of their sins (John 3:23; Mark 1:4). All they needed, in order to enter the kingdom, was to be “born of the Spirit.” When the Spirit came from heaven, they were baptized, or born, of the Spirit (Acts 2:1-4). They had experienced one birth, the new birth, and, consequently, they constituted the kingdom of which the prophet Daniel foretold (Dan. 2:44). Think about it.

Precious people, it’s still the same today. To enter the kingdom of God, the church of Christ, one must be born again, born of water and of the Spirit (cf. John 3:5).

Posted in Doctrine

Blinders To Biblical Learning

By Marlin Kilpatrick

I do not gamble on horse races, but I do enjoy watching on television the Triple Crown of the sport. At times certain horses are equipped with blinders. These blinders are to help keep the horse from being distracted. A distraction at a critical time in the race can mean the difference between winning and losing. Occasionally, blinders may be an asset, but sometimes they may be a liability.

The apostle Peter told his readers to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. 2 Pet. 3:18). But such growth can be hindered by the “blinders” we often wear. No one will ever fully benefit from studying his Bible unless he is willing to “take off his blinders.” No doubt we have all worn “blinders” of which we were unaware, until someone helped us see more clearly the teaching of God’s word. The “give and take” of an honest and sincere discussion is invaluable, and will help us remove these “blinders.”

Some of the preaching we have heard over many years can cause us to put on spiritual blinders. All of my life I have heard preachers speak of the three “measures” of the Holy Spirit. And, because certain well known and highly respected preachers taught these “measures” of the Spirit, I, like most everyone, just accepted what was taught without ever questioning the teaching. I assumed I was hearing the truth, but such an assumption can become a “blinder” in the study of the Bible. The scripture says that God does not give the Spirit by measure (John 3:34). The words “unto him” (KJV) were supplied by the translators and are no part of the New Testament Greek. But all of my life I have heard this passage quoted as proof that the Spirit was given by measure. The ASV correctly omits the words “unto him.” By taking off my “blinders” and really looking at what the scripture actually says, I can see how, in apostolic times, one either had the Spirit or he did not have the Spirit. In reality, there has never been a “measure” of the Spirit given, to say nothing about three measures of the Spirit! This fact will help us immeasurably in understanding that when the apostles, on the day of Pentecost, received the Spirit by baptism, so did all who became Christians (Acts 2:1-4). And this also helps us understand what Jesus meant when he told Nicodemus, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). There is a baptism in the Spirit, but there is no “baptismal measure” nor any other “measure” of the Spirit.

Another “blinder” in my study of the Holy Spirit issue was that only the apostles were baptized in the Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). This “blinder” was coupled with another “blinder” concerning Cornelius, his household and near friends being baptized in the Spirit (Acts 10). Supposedly, Acts 2 and Acts 10 were the only occasions of Holy Spirit baptism recorded in the New Testament. In earlier years, when a discussion of the Holy Spirit came up in a Bible class or in a sermon, we were always assured that no one but the apostles and Cornelius, along with his household and near friends, were baptized in the Holy Spirit. Somehow we managed to leave out the apostle Paul! This teaching was accepted by most everyone. But when we take off our “blinders” we will see such is not the case.

The events of Pentecost (Acts 2) are a fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy (Joel 2:28-32). In his prophecy Joel foretold how God would “pour out my Spirit upon all flesh” (Joel 2:28). The “pouring out” of God’s Spirit would affect both men and women (vss. 28, 29). So when Peter says, “this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel” (Acts 2:16), we see how the baptism in the Spirit on Pentecost involved more than just the apostles. The “blinder” most of us have worn kept us from seeing that the pronoun “they” (Acts 2:1) is not limited to the apostles. Surely, more than just the apostles were “in one accord,” and, since men and women are involved in Joel’s prophecy, we must go back and take into account the about 120 disciples (Acts 1:14ff), which included the apostles. Now if anyone questions the foregoing, and claims only the apostles were baptized in the Spirit on Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4), then this question: How many apostles were women? That’s not a silly question; it cuts right to the heart of our problem. If only the apostles were baptized in the Holy Spirit on Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4), then Peter and Joel lied. The truth is, when Peter referred to the events which were then occurring on Pentecost, he said, “this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel” (Acts 2:16), and Joel said the Spirit would be poured out on both men and women (Joel 2:28, 29). Brethren, my seeing this did not come easily. But how can we hope to go to heaven if we’re not honest with ourselves and finally admit we have been honestly mistaken, all these years?

Brethren, if I know my heart as I believe I do, I hold no malice or unkind feelings towards anyone, including several gospel preachers who have taken me to task in several publications. Truth is not ascertained by emotion, but, rather, by logical argument (1 Thess. 5:21; Rom. 12:2). Brother Mac Deaver has met four capable opponents in public debate on the Holy Spirit issue. His arguments have yet to be falsified. My prayer is that we will all study our Bibles and come to the point in our studies that we will no longer put off admitting we have been mistaken, and this will only happen when we “take off our blinders” and prove our love for the truth. Think about it.

 

Posted in Baptism, Doctrine

A Brief Response To Massive Confusion

By Mac Deaver

The reader may be aware that not long ago I wrote a lengthy article exposing an unsound syllogism that had been written, the writer of which was trying to falsify our contention regarding what happens when a sinner is baptized into Christ. The article was entitled, “Who Is Added To the Church—Saint or Sinner?” The syllogism had been written by Daniel Denham whose name I did not call in the article. However, now he has placed a brief statement on Facebook which I have been sent. According to Denham, my whole article “can be falsified with one simple question. Mac Deaver, when an accountable person receives the remission of sins in baptism is he at that point saved or lost?” Then he goes on and refers to the law of excluded middle, showing that the man is either saved or lost, one or the other. My response: of course!

Denham’s confusion is apparent. He thinks that my article indicates that I would have trouble answering the question. Hardly! In baptism, when a person’s sins are forgiven, he is at that moment saved from those sins! But the problem is that Denham assumes (without proof) that the remission of sins is the same thing as entry into the kingdom. And this is where he is wrong!

Remission of sins is one thing; entry into the kingdom is another. And according to the Lord, entry demands not only immersion in water for remission of sins, but immersion in Spirit as well (John 3:3-5). So, again I raise the question, “Who does the Lord add to the church?” Denham is already on record as implying that the Lord adds a sinner to the church so that the sinner can now “in Christ” receive the spiritual blessing of the remission of his sins! In other words, Denham has taken the position that requires the sinner to bring sins into the kingdom so that while in the kingdom he can receive the remission of those sins! And he incredibly thinks that his one question somehow destroys the force of my article. Amazing! Consider:

  • T/F 1. The Lord adds a sinner to the church (False). It is false because one has to be forgiven in order to be added to the church (cf. Acts 2:47). Denham is already on record as declaring that one must be in Christ in order for his sins to be remitted. He implies that a sinner must bring his sins into the kingdom, and then while being in the kingdom, he receives the spiritual blessing of forgiveness per his wrong understanding of Ephesians 1:3, 7. So, Denham has the Lord adding sinners to the church in order to be make saints out of them after they have been added to the church! Why must they bring their sins with them into the church? Because forgiveness is a spiritual blessing, and it is only granted to those who are members of the church (according to Denham’s wrong view of Ephesians 1:3, 7).
  • T/F 2. The Lord adds a saint to the church (True). Only the saved are added to the rest of the saved (Acts 2:47). Sinners must become saints before they can enter. They must be born of both water and Spirit, and not just water (John 3:3-5). Kingdom entry entails being born of both water and the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5). Water only is not enough.
  • T/F 3. The Lord adds both saints and sinners to the church (False). Obvious! If sinners could enter the church as sinners, then there would be no point in their becoming saints. God is in the church and the devil is in the world, and the world cannot enter the church while still existing as the world (1 John 4:4; 5:19; Acts 2:47)!
  • T/F 4. The Lord adds neither saints nor sinners to the church (False). Since a church exists, somebody has entered it.

Denham’s confusion centers on his assumption that forgiveness equals entry. And his assumption is false. If his assumption were true that all cases of forgiveness granted in association with water baptism and based on the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ equaled kingdom entry at that moment, then that would imply that all of John’s disciples including the apostles would have entered the kingdom ten days before Pentecost of Acts 2. Why would the implication follow? It would follow because all of those disciples were baptized in water for the remission of their sins (Mark 1:4; Matt. 3:11), and the Lord died for them, was buried for them, and was raised for them, and remained on the earth 40 days following his resurrection. The forgiveness of their sins was granted ten days prior to Pentecost! And yet they did not enter the kingdom until they were immersed in the Holy Spirit ten days following the Lord’s ascension (Acts 2:1-4). But, if Denham’s assumption that forgiveness equals kingdom entry is accurate, then these disciples entered the kingdom ten days prior to Pentecost! The fact is that the kingdom’s actual coming was identified by the empirical miraculous power that verified the presence of the Holy Spirit (Mark 9:1; Acts 1:8).

According to Paul in Romans 6:3-4, a person is baptized into Christ Jesus. He is not baptized in Christ. If he were baptized in Christ that would mean that his baptism took place while the man was already in Christ. And this is the Baptist position on baptism! Paul does not teach that, but Denham by implication does. Given his confusion on Ephesians 1:3, we face the following:

  • T/F 1. Every spiritual blessing is in the church of Christ (True per Denham).
  • T/F 2. Initial forgiveness of sins is a spiritual blessing (True per Denham).
  • T/F 3. Initial forgiveness of sins is found only in the church of Christ (True per Denham).
  • T/F 4. One must be in the church of Christ in order to receive this remission of sins (True per Denham).
  • T/F 5. One then must be in the church of Christ prior to the remission of his sins (True per Denham).
  • T/F 6. Remission of sins is granted only to those who are already in the church of Christ (True per Denham).

Does the reader detect a problem? Unlike Denham, Paul teaches that through baptism one is forgiven first and then the forgiven party is regenerated and indwelled by the Spirit so that the party can arise to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:3-4). It is certainly true that by means of baptism one enters Christ. But the problem for Denham is that he can’t see that the sinner cannot be added to the church while a sinner; rather, the forgiven party must then be regenerated by God’s Holy Spirit, and recognized as a son (Titus 3:5-6; Gal. 4:6). Then, based on this recognition as a child of God, God moves the Holy Spirit to within the heart of that child (Gal. 4:6). Only his children are added to the church. So again, which is it, Denham? Does God add sinner or saint to the church? All of us ought to know that we cannot enter Christ (the spiritual body of Christ, or, the church of Christ) as sinners. But we also need to know that forgiveness does not by itself equal kingdom entry. Kingdom entry requires not only the water of forgiveness but the regeneration of the Holy Spirit so that we become partakers of the divine nature (John 3:3-5; Titus 3:5-6; 2 Pet. 1:4)! In baptism the Holy Spirit enters the body of the forgiven party, regenerates the human Spirit, and moves into that spirit (or, heart) to indwell (Acts 2:38; Titus 3:5-6; Gal. 4:6).

The man who is baptized into the death of Christ is the sinner who needs forgiveness for his sins by means of the Lord’s death (Rev. 1:5). The man who arises to walk in newness of life is the saint who, because of his forgiveness and regeneration is now a child of God. The saint is the one who now arises to walk in newness of life with the Holy Spirit in his heart as God’s own pledge of heaven to come (Eph. 1:13-14). The sinner was forgiven and the saved man was then added to the church! Consider:

  • T/F 1. The sinner is baptized into the death of Christ in order to receive remission of his sins (True).
  • T/F 2. The saint is baptized into the death of Christ in order to receive remission of his sins (False).

If #1 were false then no sinner can be saved by water baptism. If #2 were true, it would mean that saints (those persons already forgiven) would have no sins to be forgiven.

  • T/F 1. The sinner arises to walk in newness of life (False).
  • T/F 2. The saint arises to walk in newness of life (True).

If #1 were true, then forgiveness is not granted in water baptism (and that would mean that water baptism is not for the remission of sins!) and the sinner arises still in his sins. If #2 were false, then the sinner does arise to walk in newness of life while still in his sins. So, just as the Bible teaches, while under the water the sinner is forgiven of his sins. The forgiven party (Acts 2:38) is then regenerated (Titus 3:5-6 —being made partaker of the divine nature— 2 Pet. 1:4), recognized by God as a son, then indwelled by the Spirit who moves to within his heart (Gal. 4:6). The child of God then arises to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:3-4). Denham cannot answer correctly the question, “Who does the Lord add to the church—sinner or saint?” without contradicting his position on Ephesians 1:3!