I have written in defense of the Catholic Church’s teaching on Baptismal Regeneration. I have had some Protestants who are against Baptismal Regeneration give attempted rebuttals of my piece. My original defense of Baptismal Regeneration can be found here. I have decided to post the response of one of the Protestants who emailed me their objections to my original Scriptural citations that proved Baptismal Regeneration. This would be representative of other emails that I have received from those who object to Baptismal Regeneration. This is my response to him. His letter to me is in red and my response is in blue.
> 1. 1 Peter 3:20-21 “Which sometime disobedient, when once the
> long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a
> preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The
> like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the
> putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good
> conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:” Now the
> problem with this verse as a proof text is obvious. The reference is
> to Noah and the ark. Eight souls were saved by water. The ones that
> were “saved” never got wet! Everyone that was submersed in the water
> died and went to hell. Notice the first few word of verse 21 “THE
> LIKE FIGURE.” It is a figure of salvation. The rest of the verse
> tells you that it is not the putting away of the filth of the flesh,
> but the answer of a good conscience toward God. Baptism gives a good
> conscience for obeying God, not saving merit. Baptism can’t wash away
> any sins at all.
Ok, first off, we must take Peter at his word. Peter gives us in v. 20 the background. It says the “eight souls were SAVED BY water”. So what did the water do? According to Peter, it saved them. How could it save the people? It destroyed the world and all its iniquity, exactly as baptism in the NT does. In one sense you are right, literally they did not get wet, but this water destroyed the iniquity of the people and world surrounding them. And remember it says Noah and those with him were SAVED by the water. The next part, the translation in v. 21 says the Like Figure. Actually, the word (I don’t know Greek but have a concordance), is antitupon (Strongs Concordance #499), which means antitype. A type is one thing in the OT that foreshadows, prefigures a thing in the NT. The antitype is the fulfillment of the type. For example,. the lamb slain in the OT, is a type of Jesus of the NT. Adam is seen as a type of Christ. The type is talking about the OT precedent, and what it foreshadows in the NT. The antitype is the fulfillment of the type. The water that SAVED the people (Noah, etc.) is the type. Baptism is the antitype, the FULFILLMENT of the type. What does baptism do? according to Peter? “EVEN BAPTISM DOTH ALSO NOW SAVE US.” Those are Peter’s words, not mine. Inspired by God, Peter wrote that baptism does now save us. As the waters of the OT cleared out the sin and iniquity of the world during Noah’s time, the waters of baptism clear the conscience, through the power of the resurrection. We should let Peter mean what he says, and not let our preconceived notions (anything to do away with baptismal regeneration in the hope of salvaging Sola Fide) wish those words away.
> 2. Acts 22:16 “And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and
> wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” Look at verse
> 13 where Ananias calls Saul “Brother Saul.” A brother is one that has
> been born again. Paul was already saved when he met the Lord Jesus on
> the Damascus road. Water couldn’t wash away his sins in the sight of
> God. Revelation 1:5b “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our
> sins in his own blood.” Jesus Christ is the one that washes us from
> our sins and he does it in his own blood, not water. So why was Paul
> commanded to be baptized? Think about the reason Paul was going to
> Damascus. He was to persecute and even kill Christians, as he did in
> the past. The Christians that dwelt there obviously knew who he was
> and for what purpose he came. While Paul’s sins where washed away by
> Jesus Christ when he submitted to His will, the Christians still
> feared this man. Paul was to be baptized as a testimony to his
> conversion and to be associated with the name he hated, The Lord Jesus
> Christ. By being baptized publicly he was assuring the entire world
> that he was now a Christian and on the Lord’s side.
There are several problems with this. First, it does not say anywhere that Paul was born again prior to this meeting with Ananias. Next, you said a brother is one who is born again, and that supposedly explains how Ananias called Paul brother. There is no doubt brothers and sisters in Christ terminology, but the use of the word brother (Adelphos, Strongs Concordance, 80) does NOT ALWAYS MEAN a brother who is already in Christ. For example, when Peter was speaking to those who as of yet, were unbelieving Jews, referenced them as Acts 2:29: “Men and BRETHREN,” (adelphos). In fact, the unbelievers addressed to the apostles as “Men and BRETHREN” (adelphos, same as Acts 22:13), what shall we do”., Acts 2:37. These people had not been saved yet, and in fact were asking how they could be saved.. In fact, when Steven is talking about Christ to the Jewish people who were about to martyr him, because of his faith in Christ, he refers to them as brethren (adelphos) and uses the term brethren in many ways in most cases even talking about unbelievers (Chapter 7, vv. 2, 13, 23, 25, 26, 37.). The children of Israel were Stephen’s brethren. Are you arguing that these people who martyred Stephen were brothers and sisters in Christ? Thus, the argument that his sins were already washed away because of the use of this term brother does not hold up.
Next, you argued that Paul was to be baptized in front of the Christians to show that he was already saved and this was to demonstrate to the Christians this. That is not what Ananias says. He says to Paul. “Arise, and BE BAPTIZED, and WASH AWAY THY SINS....” He says absolutely nothing about doing this in front of other people so they could see this. He baptizes him right then and there. If he wanted to say what you said, Ananias should have told Paul “Arise, let us go meet the Other Christians, and in front of them get baptized to show that you have been saved by Faith Alone which washed away sins.” We don’t get that. What is the purpose of baptism according to Ananias? To wash away his sins!!!! To miss this is to avoid clear scripture.
> 3. John 3:3-5 “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily I say
> unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of
> God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old?
> Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?
> Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born
> of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”
> Simple English grammar will clear this up. The context is being born
> “again” obviously meaning that one birth has already happened. Verse
> 5 couldn’t mean being born of water (baptism) and the spirit, as both
> happen at the same time. Therefore it is being born twice, not
> “again.” Also look at the context of verse 4. Nicodemus is referring
> to the first birth (physical) by asking if a man could go back into
> his mother’s womb. Jesus answers by saying that he must be born of
> water (physical), which he was, but also of the Spirit. Now everyone
> is born into this world in water. That is common knowledge. When the
> baby is due the mothers WATER breaks. Simple, right? Well, lets look
> at the further context of verse 6 “That which is born of the flesh is
> flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” Jesus further
> clarifies what he is saying by substituting the word flesh for water,
> thereby explaining that the first birth is your physical, fleshly
> birth and the second is a Spiritual birth. How does one get into the
> kingdom of God? Read on my dear Catholic friend. John 3:15
> “Whosoever believeth” verse 16 “Whosoever believeth” verse 18 “He that
> believeth is not condemned” verse 36 “He that believeth on the Son
> hath everlasting life.”
We must see the context both before and after this talk. First, we see just prior to this section, when our Lord Jesus got baptized, how did he get baptized? (Jn 1:29-34) With Water and Spirit from above (Jn 1:33,same word, anothen, was used in John 3:3, 5). The word Anothen can also mean begotten from above . The Holy Spirit came upon him. What happened exactly after this conversation with Nicodemus? As I spelled
out in my essay, Jesus and his apostles went baptizing (v. 22)!!! The only time
in all the gospels where they went baptizing. This specifically shows
water and Spirit, AT THE SAME TIME. On top of that in John 3:31, in the context of baptism, the word Anothen, from above, is used. Are you seriously saying that the surrounding context is only an incredible coincidence? And the apostle John, just happened
to place this saying of being born from above of Water and Spirit with baptism just
before and after this conversation with Nicodemus?
Another point is that even in the immediate preceding chapter there is
baptismal allusions. He performs His first miracle in John 2:1-11 by
transforming water into wine. Notice, that He used water from "six stone
jars . . . for the Jewish rites of purification." According to the
Septuagint (Greek) canon of the Old Testament, these ritual purification
waters were called baptismoi, in essence, the Old Testaments "baptismal"
waters (cf. Numbers 19:9-19). The Old Testament rites and sacrifices were
only "a shadow of the good things to come" (Heb. 10:1). They could never
take away sins. Scripture scholars point out that the number six was
often used to denote imperfection. Christ transformed the Old Testament
water of "ritual washings" into wine, a symbol of New Covenant
perfection. (cf. Joel 3:18, Matt. 9:17).
Where in the world is water placed as in opposition to the Spirit in the
context? Remember, earlier, he was baptized with water AND Spirit.
There is no context anywhere in the gospels or any epistle that makes any
allusion to amniotic fluid water. Where is there anywhere else in the
gospel any mention of amniotic fluid as water being an interpretation. Nowhere.
Another problem with this amniotic fluid interpretation is besides ignoring the context both before and after the conversation with Nicodemus, it makes a separation
that Jesus himself does not make. It is Nicodemus who makes the 2 event argument, not Jesus. Jesus is correcting this argument. In John 3:5, Jesus is not speaking of two events, but one. Jesus would have had to say “No one can enter the kingdom of God without being FIRST born of water and then being born again of spirit.” He is speaking
of the event of water baptism, the effects of which were depicted for us
in Jesus own baptism. (Jn 1:33, compare also, 3:31) “begotten from above” Anothen, same as was used of John 3:3, 5 : He went down into the water, the Holy Spirit descended on Him, the voice of the Father was heard saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
> 4. Acts 2:38 “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every
> one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and
> ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Who is them? The Jews
> that rejected their Messiah. Repent of what? Rejecting Jesus Christ.
> What is the Question that Peter answered? “Men and brethren, what
> shall we do?” verse 37. This is the Jews asking what to do in light
> of the fact that they crucified their Messiah. It is the national
> repentance of Israel, not individual salvation. Besides, verse 41
> says they gladly received his word and then were baptized. They
> received Jesus Christ as their Messiah due to Peters preaching in
> verses 1-37 and baptized as a result of it.
Of course it is individual salvation. In fact those individuals were cut to the heart, and they were asking how they were to be saved, and Peter answers in that very context. Repenting and getting baptized were for, according to Peter, the remission of sins. Only when they do that will they receive the Holy Spirit. Water AND SPIRIT (John 3:3, 5). They became believers, repented and were baptized then and there for this remission of sins. It does not say that baptism is only the result of it, but through belief, repentance and baptism they were saved that very day. 3000 souls were added when they received this water and Spirit. Peter did mention the nation of Israel, but he is specifically talking to these people and how they are to be saved. These specific people responded when they saw that repentance and baptism were necessary for this remission of sins.
>I think the verse you
> need as far as individual salvation is Acts 16:30-31, which see.
Actually, right in Acts 16:30-34, they get baptized then and there, for this salvation. Notice, salvation is intimately tied in with baptism again. Nothing about waiting to show other people, and demonstrating it. Yes, Paul said believe and you will be saved, but that very moment he is also baptized. It is thus part of the same package. If one eats a hot dog, does one have to say you must have the bread with the hot dog, or is not assumed that the bread goes with the hot dog. Even if one sounds like he is eating the meat alone, the bread is part of the hot dog package. Same thing as belief. When one says believe and you will be saved, baptism is part of this same package, as exactly shown in the passage that you alluded to.
> 5. Galatians 3:26-27 “For ye are all the children of God by faith in
> Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ
> have put on Christ.” Verse 26 says it is by faith, so where does this
> baptism come in? The word baptism means to be submersed. All born
> again believers in Christ have been submersed into the body of Christ
> by the Spirit. This is known as Spirit baptism, where the Holy Spirit
> places the believer in the Body of Christ.
Exactly, the faith is intimately tied in with this salvation, and with the Holy Spirit. Remember, the Holy Spirit comes when? At Baptism FOR THE remission of sins (Acts. 2:38). The Spirit is not separated from this water. Faith, water, baptism, makes one this Child of God. It does not say Faith only. This water baptism makes one put on Christ, as Paul writes here and he himself learned from Ananias (Acts 22:16). Water and Spirit, one event, John 3:5, Acts 2:38. Nowhere in the New Testament does the Bible say “Spirit Baptism is when you accept Jesus as Savior and Lord”, and Water Baptism is something that happens later. Paul does not differentiate this Baptism as being separate from the water baptism that washed away his own sins.
> And that is that. Now all you need to do is repent of your sins and
> trust Jesus Christ only for your salvation.
Been there, done that.
>Your righteousness is not
> good enough to get you to Heaven, so you must trust in Christ’s
> finished atonement for your sins.
Exactly. My righteousness on my own power is not worth a hill of beans. However, when Christ gives me his righteousness into my life, and he looks at the righteousness through the eyes of his grace, then I can be saved.
>2 Corinthians 5:21 “For he hath
> made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the
> righteousness of
> God in him.”
Exactly, and this righteousness of God that justifies is not extrinsic to the person, as Protestants believe. It must be actually put into the person, and one must cooperate with that righteousness.
> Do it before it is too late. 2 Corinthians 6:2 “For he
> saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of
> salvation have I succoured thee; behold, now is the accepted time;
> behold, now is the day of salvation.”
Paul is writing this letter to fellow believers. Salvation is not a one time past experience, but is an ongoing process, as he says NOW IS the accepted time. This passage shows that salvation is not guaranteed, so this extrinsic alien righteousness, faith alone idea is false. In fact the prior verse (which follows the 2 Cor. 5:21 passage you quoted earlier) says: (2 Cor. 6:1) “We then, as WORKERS together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.” In the context of talking about receiving this righteousness of God, he is writing about one being a worker with him, and it is possible to receive the grace of God in vain. If one was guaranteed salvation because one received this extrinsic righteousness of God using the instrument of faith alone, then what Paul writes makes no sense. It is obvious that this righteousness must be actually put into the person’s life, and one must work with God (2 Cor. 6:1) in order to attain that salvation, otherwise it would all be in vain.
> Make your choice now, for
> tomorrow it may be too late. James 4:14 “Whereas ye know not what
> shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour,
> that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
I have made that choice, and after much study, I have seen that faith alone idea is totally false and unbiblical. This idea makes people avoid clear passages such as the ones on Baptismal Regeneration, and the necessity of obedience for salvation. What is Grace according to Paul? God looking away from one’s sins because of an imputation of Christ’s alien righteousness? No, according to Paul, Grace is:
Titus 2:11-14 “For the GRACE of God has appeared for the salvation of all men, TRAINING US TO RENOUNCE IRRELIGION AND WORLDLY PASSIONS, AND TO LIVE SOBER, UPRIGHT, AND GODLY LIVES in this world, awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to REDEEM US FROM ALL INIQUITY AND TO PURIFY FOR HIMSELF A PEOPLE OF HIS OWN WHO ARE ZEALOUS FOR GOOD DEEDS.
The very purpose of sending his Son in the context of salvation is to give grace which cleanses from sin. The purpose is not for him to look away from our sins because of an imputed, alien righteousness. One must work out salvation with fear and trembling in order to attain that resurrection of life (Phil. 2:12-16) and any gospel that denies that is not the Gospel of Christ.
I challenge you to look at any judgment scene in the Bible and find me one scene where one goes to heaven based on faith alone and an alien righteousness. There is not one. Every single one that separates those from going to heaven and those going to hell is based on works and obedience to God. Look at Rev. 22:11-14, John 5:28-29, Mt. 25:31-46, Mt. 16:24-27, Mt. 12:33-37, Mt. 7:16-23, Rom. 2:4-13, 1 Cor. 3:10-17, Rev. 20:12-13. EVERY SINGLE one of them make this separation based on works and obedience, they are NOT IN regards only extra rewards or punishment. Only the active grace that God provides and when he looks through his eyes of grace is it possible attain salvation.
Baptism makes one put on Christ. Ensuing obedience when seen not through obligating God but by his merciful eyes of grace will help one to ultimately accomplish salvation. This separation is not based on purely an alien righteousness, as that is NEVER IN THE BIBLE THE BASIS FOR JUDGMENT.
The Bible says nothing impure shall enter the kingdom of God. Rev. 21:27 “But nothing unclean shall enter it, nor any one who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life.” Nowhere in the passage is there a mention a covering of an alien righteousness of Christ. The Faith Alone idea is thus based on a false premise, that one who is impure can get in because of this extrinsic righteousness. This idea is not in the Bible, but reflects the thought of Luther, who thought that we are too impure for even God to cleanse. For example, Luther wrote:
God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides. We, however, says Peter (2. Peter 3:13) are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth where justice will reign. It suffices that through God's glory we have recognized the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. No sin can separate us from Him, even if we were to kill or commit adultery thousands of times each day. Do you think such an exalted Lamb paid merely a small price with a meager sacrifice for our sins? Pray hard for you are quite a sinner.
Not only do you reject clear passages on Baptism but clear passages that shows the basis for getting to heaven or hell. Jesus' Blood must be applied to one’s soul so that Christ makes one a new creation, and one lives that life. Baptism is that first step. I encourage you to reject this false and unbiblical Faith Alone idea and accept the Bible on not only Baptismal Regeneration but the necessity of obedience for salvation.
©1998 An Attack on Baptismal Regeneration: Matt Responds....by Matt1618... This text may be downloaded or printed out for private reading, but it may not be uploaded to another Internet site or published, electronically or otherwise, without express written permission from the author.
Changes last made, June 7, 1998