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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Why a 3-D Gospel Begins with a “Snake-on-a-Stick”

Part of a series of articles by Dr. Jim Reitman

In context, the setting of John 3 is the key to understanding the intended referents of 3:16. First, a contextually accurate translation of John 3:16:
For God so loved the world that He gave His one-of-a-kind [or unique, or one-and-only] Son, that everyone believing in Him might not perish but have life everlasting (John 3:16, my translation).

Some question exists over where Jesus’ dialogue with Nicodemus (Nic) in John 3 ends and John’s words resume. The dialogue is clear enough up to 3:14, but I would suggest it continues until 3:22, where the narrative marker “After these things…” explicitly redirects the reader from the dialogue with Nic back to the narrator, John. Thus, Jesus refers to himself in the third person as “the Son of Man” in 3:13-15 with grammatically uninterrupted sequential logic that continues for Nic’s benefit through 3:21—it is an argument designed for a first-century Jewish teacher. Jesus also refers to himself as the “one-of-a-kind Son” previously introduced in the prologue (3:16-18, cf. 1:14, 18). This designation will be a key specifier of precisely who Jesus is in the hearing of Nicodemus and in turn enable the reader to draw the intended inferences about what (or Who) God is really “offering” in John 3:16. Thus, 3:16 must be understood in the context of a coherent argument from 3:1 to 21. This post develops the argument from 3:1-15; we will not cover 3:16-21 until we first spend some time in the Garden in the next post.

The First Century “Hermeneutical World” of Nicodemus
What should Nic have “known” as a “teacher of Israel” (3:10) in order to understand what Jesus was talking about? Hellenistic Jews like Nic were very familiar with Rabbinic teaching methods (Midrash), especially Haggadah, in which a single allusion is assumed to “call back” or “draw out” all the OT contexts in which that same allusion plays a key role. This is precisely what Jesus is doing, as he becomes the “sign-validated” Rabbinic teacher Nic sought by night (3:2), and Nic the Pharisee becomes the one “taught.” Hence, Jesus’ teaching is saturated with OT allusions that Nic should have understood from a Rabbinic mindset (3:9-10).

The Spirit in the Wilderness
Right off the bat, Jesus hits Nic with his single highest priority—that he must be born “again” (or “from above”) to “enter” the Kingdom of God (3:3). How this would entail being “born of water and of spirit” (3:5, literally) should be evident to anyone who had heard what was going on at the time, as Jews focused intently on identifying the coming Messiah, expecting him at any moment. This is abundantly clear in the narrative of John the Baptist (JB), who played the key role of introducing the Jews to their Messiah and offered them “baptism by water and the Spirit” to align themselves with him (1:19-34). Jesus’ baptism by JB clearly and unambiguously identifies and authenticates him as Messiah before Israel (1:31), and JB testifies that he is the Son of God (1:34). Thus, for any Jews “willing to come” (a big deal in John 5:35-40), JB’s baptism by water would directly affiliate or identify them with this promised Messiah with the expectancy of a promised baptism by the Holy Spirit (1:31-34). God attested Messiah’s identity by the Spirit’s descent at his baptism (1:32), so that those who JB baptized were thereby identified with this same God-attested Messiah and would be “born from above” when they were baptized by that same Spirit (1:33; 3:3, 5). Indeed, the imagery strongly suggests that everyone who by faith had already undergone John’s baptism was already “in” Messiah and thus ready to receive baptism by the Spirit when he was sent. This is depicted most notably, perhaps, in Peter and Cornelius (Acts 10-11) and Paul’s Ephesian boyz (Acts 19:1-6). This, then, is what Jesus meant by “born of water and of spirit” (3:5).

Given that Nic should have known he needed to be “born from above” (3:9-10), how should he have “connected the dots” on “water and spirit”? From Jesus’ word play on pneuma (3:7-8), which can mean “wind,” “breath,” or “spirit” in both Greek and Hebrew, Nic would have to consider which meaning(s) Jesus intended by “born of water and of spirit.” Hmmm, let’s see….If in 3:5-7 Jesus meant “breath” or “spirit” (no definite article) he must at least be alluding to Gen 2:7 (when God breathed life into Adam) and Ezekiel 36:25-37:28, where Israel will be baptized with water and then filled with God’s Spirit, depicted as “breathing” into Israel’s dry bones. If in John 3:8 he meant “the wind” or “the Spirit” (with the definite article) which “blows” in such a way that no one can predict where it is “departing to” (or “leading out,” 3:8b), it should conjure up the Shekinah in the wilderness. In other words, whoever is born of the Spirit (3:8) will follow his unpredictable lead like God’s Shekinah on the way to the Promised Land.

Jesus is thus implying that Nic himself is “in the wilderness.” Since he has not accepted John’s “witness” (3:11, cf. 1:6-8), Jesus asks him a rhetorical question, implicitly inviting him to believe in order to know spiritual truth (3:12) and challenging him to follow the Spirit’s lead to the Light via John’s witness (3:8, cf. 1:6-9, 19-34). This challenge becomes more explicit in the light/dark imagery of 3:19-21 as Jesus concludes his teaching for the man who first came to him by night (3:1): “OK, Nic, what’ll it be…stay in darkness, or come to the Light?”

“Jacob’s Ladder” and the “Snake-on-a-Stick”
Jesus begins his formal Rabbinic instruction in 3:13 by alluding to a Torah narrative that recalls the image of angels ascending and descending at Bethel (Gen 28:12) and the associated covenant promise to Jacob with its Messianic promise of “blessing” to all the nations through “his seed” (28:13-15). None of this should be lost on Nic, especially Jacob’s “punch line” when he awoke from his “ladder” dream:
Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven! ” (28:16-17 NKJV, emphasis added).

What would Nic have pictured when Jesus implicitly offered “the Kingdom of God” (3:3) and then alluded to “heaven’s gate” (3:13)? In Rabbinic thinking, angels are God’s messengers, so Jesus is boldly claiming that he—like Jacob’s angels—was sent directly from God to speak for God. Since Nic had not accepted JB’s witness to the authenticating descent of the Spirit of God from heaven (John 1:32-33), Jesus ironically answers Nic’s inquiry (3:2) with a similar allusion in 3:13. Thus, if Nic is wearing his “Rabbinic thinking cap,” he should pick up Jesus’ implication that Nic himself is just like Jacob at “the gate of heaven”! Given the priority of entering the Kingdom of God that Jesus had initially introduced to the reluctant Nic (3:3), how ironically apropos of Jesus to allude to himself as heaven’s gate!

What then is keeping Nic from “entering” the Kingdom? To answer this, Jesus shifts to another metaphor that should echo in the conscience of a Pharisee: the “snake-on-a-stick” incident where sinful Israelites were dying of snake-bite in the wilderness by the thousands (Num 21:5-9).
“And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so it is necessary for the Son of Man to be lifted up, so that everyone believing in Him might not perish but have life everlasting” (John 3:14-15, my translation).

Again, as a first century Rabbinic teacher, Jesus cites a relevant OT narrative to clarify Nic’s own desperate situation: barred from the Kingdom of God by sin’s “snake-bite.” Whereas John’s readers would immediately have recognized Numbers 21 as an allusion to Jesus’ own crucifixion (3:14, cf. 12:32, 34), Nic would have wondered how the Son of Man could “ascend” and open “heaven’s gate” (3:13) by analogy with Moses’ snake-on-a-stick. This should leave Nic in quite a pickle: “So, how will you take care of this sin problem, Bubba? Jesus said you should ‘know these things’ [John 3:10b], so let’s see what kind of Pharisee you really are.”

Here’s what we’ve got so far:

  • explicit and implicit allusions to entering “the Kingdom of God” and “heaven’s gate” in the context of the covenant promise of Messiah (John 3:3, 13);
  • some Galilean “teacher” who calls himself the “Son of Man,” is attested as Messiah by JB’s witness, has “descended” from heaven, and will “ascend” back again (3:13-14);
  • a pesky analogy between the “snake-on-a-stick” in the wilderness generation and this “Son of man” who will be “lifted up” (3:14).
So, let’s put on our Rabbinic thinking caps and tackle ‘em one by one:
  • The Kingdom of God is frequently alluded to in the prophets in close connection with the Promised Land the Israelites hoped to enter; in fact, this is the main theme of Daniel. In the “Glorious Kingdom” (Dan 11:20, 41, 45), there is a promised resurrection of “saints” (12:1-3) soon after Gentile domination is terminated (11:41-45), and these saints will inherit a Kingdom. Conclusion: Jesus is inviting Nic to join the OT saints in resurrection to inherit the everlasting Kingdom of God.
  • The “Son of Man” title would have evoked heavy-duty imagery from key places in the OT, especially Daniel 7:13-14 and Psalm 8:4-6. The former citation unmistakably refers to Messiah himself who reigns in the everlasting Kingdom of God. Psalm 8 also refers to God’s reign over the earth through “the son of man” who is “for a little while lower than the angels” (8:4-5, Septuagint [LXX]). Thus, Jesus wants Nic to see him as the same Son of Man who descended “below the angels” but will ascend to reign over the Kingdom (Dan 7:13-14); indeed, over the world (Ps 8:6). If we doubt the latter connection, Psalm 8 is cited in Heb 2:5-8 and applied to Jesus himself in just this way (2:9), and in his capacity as “Son of Man” he will “bring many sons to glory” (2:10) and rule with them together (2:5, cf. Dan 7:18). Conclusion: Jesus has frankly claimed to be Messiah (John 3:13-14) in the context of entering the Kingdom (3:3, cf. Dan 7:18), and if Nic is willing, he can deliver Nic into this Kingdom when he ascends to God, thereby implying his own Resurrection.
  • The most intriguing allusion is perhaps the “snake-on-a-stick” episode in Numbers 21. Nic would have been expected to pick up at least two other allusions if he was thinking like a Rabbi: The snake-bitten Israelites were resisting their calling to enter the Promised Land and dying in sin. If they merely looked at the bronze serpent they would be healed of snake-bite and live. But if we return to the Exodus, we find that Moses “lifted up” another serpent which became a rod (Ex 4:1-5), so that Israel might “believe that the Lord God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you” (4:5). What is it with Moses, snakes, and sticks? It appears that whenever Moses picks up snakes, Jews are to remember the covenant promises to the fathers and their descendants and that the Lord God Himself has appeared. Conclusion: If Nic “gets it” that he himself is “snake-bit” because of sin, he should then remember JB’s introduction of Jesus as “the Lamb of God who takes away that sin (1:19). He should also sense that God’s power displayed in Moses’ remedy for sin will somehow again be displayed when Jesus is “lifted up” (3:14-15), and perhaps even that “the Lord God of his fathers has appeared.” What kind of Messiah is this guy through whom God can reverse fatal wounds?
The answers to Nic’s questions are waiting in John 3:16-21, but we’re not done with snakes yet. Thus far, we have an offer of salvation that begins with “entering heaven’s gate” but it should be seen as inheriting the Promised Land; thus, the atonement for sin implied in 3:14-16 promises a redemption that entails inheritance in the Kingdom of God. But the deeper significance of “lifting up the serpent” is rooted in the fate of the original serpent himself through the promised “seed of the woman” in Gen 3:15-21. In the next post we will therefore take a trip back to the Garden to see how the three-dimensional gospel in John 3:1-21 has never really changed since the promise of life in the “seed” of the woman: We will find that the real analogy in John 3:14-15 is not between a bronze serpent and the Son of Man but rather between a crushed serpent and what happened at the Cross, as attested in John 16:11.


Blogger David Wyatt said...

Excellent bro. Jim!

10/24/2009 11:52:00 PM  
Blogger audrey` said...

Yeah! Our Brother is blogging again =)))

10/25/2009 03:43:00 AM  
Blogger Missy said...

Check, bro! I understood it all again.

Jim, I don't require an answer or discussion on the following, because I know it would take us far off track, but I want you and KC to know what I'm thinking at this point.

Now baptism is an issue I'm stuck on, and you have raised more questions here with your teaching on JB's baptism and the significance of that baptism to being in Christ. Free Grace has eluded me primarily on this issue alone, as I see that the Gift of the Spirit is given at baptism (post-resurrection) and that the Spirit is our seal guaranteeing eternal life. Of course, Acts 10 keeps me guessing...

Anyway, that's what I'm thinking.

10/25/2009 06:41:00 AM  
Blogger agent4him said...

Good to see you, Bro David!

Nice to meet you, Audrey.

Hi Missy. Glad to see you're keeping me honest. Could you give me an idea of what you felt I was implying as significant about JB's baptism? I agree with what you are saying about the post-resurrection significance of baptism by the Spirit. Are you wondering about the significance of water baptism in Free Grace thinking?

10/25/2009 08:15:00 AM  
Blogger Missy said...

In short, yes. :)

10/25/2009 02:35:00 PM  
Blogger agent4him said...


While I appreciate the distinctions Hodges tried to make in Harmony with God, I'm not sure I totally agree with Hodges' view on baptism in the Gospels and Acts. This is my current thinking on the issue:

Clearly, JB was introducing Israel's Messiah; the main point of his "baptism of repentance" was to mark those who affiliated with that Messiah as belonging to Him and thus destined to receive baptism by the Holy Spirit when he was given. "Repentance" was required, because they could not affiliate with this Messiah until they "turned" to him from whatever they were trusting for life. I don't see that as fundamentally different from "faith alone in Christ alone," so I would have to say that "repentance" here is in some sense entailed in faith---not a separate "works" issue (cf. e.g., Acts 19:4). This is therefore not the same "repentance from sin" as Hodges decries in his Harmony with God, where he is battling the call to repent and believe, as if there were two separate things involved in salvation.

Water baptism for JB was similar to post-resurrection water baptism in this sense: It is a public statement of consecration (being "set apart") to identify (or affiliate) with Israel's Messiah. When the specific identity of Messiah is revealed, both Cornelius and Paul's boyz in Ephesus are water baptized again, but their baptism by the Holy Spirit is distinct, in one case before water baptism (Acts 10:44-48) and in the other case after (19:5-6). In both cases the only criteria for receiving the Holy Spirit was "believing" (10:43; 19:2), and I am convinced that both Cornelius and the Ephesian boyz were already believers. (I therefore believe that Hodges' explanation of Cornelius' conversion only confuses the issue. I really can't buy the theory of repenting before believing.)

Hence, JB's baptism was to mark those from Israel who identified with Messiah; whereas post-resurrection water baptism was to mark believers who identified with the named Messiah as members of His joined Body---Jews and Gentiles no longer separated but together.

Does that make sense, Missy?

10/25/2009 04:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Bobby Grow said...

Look forward to more, Jim.

As far as your response to Missy, just to help bolster your points, what you're saying is no different than many conservative biblical exegetes. In fact it is common knowledge, viz. that baptism in the first century Judea was a way of identifying or associating with a particular Rabbi --- so what JB did was common practice, and what he did, which wasn't, was to point those he baptized into another name (not his own) --- the name of the Messiah.

I think Hodges, not to pick on him, was reacting to Federal Calvinism, and the dogmatic categories associated with that --- i.e. repentance correlating to prepatory faith (or preparationism) and then believing or trusting correlating to 'real saving faith'. I think all Hodges really does is cut off the first part of that equation (and rightly) but then leaves us with the second (when the framework from whence this actually comes still has force -- which is why FG'rs today still are arguing with Classic Calvinists --- FG'rs haven't effectively articulated their position in a way that is positively distinct, or categorically, from the paradigm they are seeking to critique. Which is why I think what you're doing here, Jim, is fruitful; but it probably lands you outside the walls of FG, and not within (unfortunately).

I have alot of ambiguity here in my comment; if you want me to flesh it out futher let me know.

10/25/2009 05:53:00 PM  
Blogger agent4him said...

Hi Bobby,

Frankly, I didn't even know there was a preparationism, but that makes sense as an attempt to reconcile what appear to be different phases of the process of salvation.

As to my differences with "FGers," it's no secret that the whole movement is going through a huge identity crisis, and I'm not sure we can come up with anything close to a monolithic definition of FG. We desperately need to flesh out many other areas of our theology, but even our soteriology is still underdeveloped, and that's what I'm trying to address with the notion of the 3-D gospel.

My aim is not to agree with as many as I can but simply to look at the metanarrative of Scripture in retreating from the many errors that have arisen from a too rigid application of the analogia fidei in the past. If my hunch is correct, we've got a lot of "cleaning up" to do.

With my deficiencies in historical theology, it's nice to have someone around :-) who can tell me all those who have already thought what I'm thinking. KC and I thought we were the only geniuses around ;-) but it's obvious we're not reinventing the wheel...just putting on better lenses to see it more clearly (and holistically?)...I'm hoping. As I put these threads together in this series, I keep learning new things myself, and previous areas of controversy even seem to be better delineated; maybe we can shed more light on them in community.

...like taking Missy's question and rethinking the issue of baptism from a narrative perspective.

10/25/2009 08:11:00 PM  
Blogger Missy said...

Jim, yes, thank you, that makes sense, if not a conviction yet.

I appreciate how you are looking at all of this as a narrative - what I might not have a grasp of regarding any theological understanding, always seems to be clearer to me in this way.

10/25/2009 08:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Bobby Grow said...


I like your approach; you're "just" being an exegete, and that is the most commendable thing. You're also demonstrating how to study the Bible for folks, which is just as fruitful as the conclusions you're drawing from your work.

Believe it or not, I like the narrative approach --- better than the Dogmatic --- too. It's how God chose to disclose Himself to us in His written Word; which of course is always held together by the "Eternal Word" (Jn 5.39) analogia fidei which is akin to another way of saying this analogia relationalis (analogy of relationship) --- in other words, the story is centred from God's love for us in Christ by the Spirit --- a true love letter! Which is why I like "this story," keep tellin' it, Jim!

I realize FG is *quagmired* in an identity crisis, so you're right Jim; this is a perfect opportunity to provide a fresh way forward, I think you're providing a good first step forward! And best of all you're doing it from the Gospel of John, the FG's favorite 'Gospel' ;-)!

10/25/2009 08:31:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Audrey Jim is the author here but this is MUCH better than me blogging! ;-)
(We love you Sis!)

10/26/2009 06:38:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

I think we’d be missing a great opportunity if we weren’t “taking Missy's question and rethinking the issue of baptism from a narrative perspective”. I’ll offer an overview of my understanding for all to critique in the hope that any error I hold can be corrected and any weakness made stronger.

I perceive that every “type” of scriptural baptism signifies either a change in relationship (position/standing) or orientation to (attitude/heart and mind) God resulting from belief or submission to His word. This is typified in Israel’s baptisms by the cloud and by sea and exemplified by the Holy Spirit and water baptisms. Covenant theologians might perceive each in relationship to an agreement whereas Dispensationalist might perceive them in terms of progressive revelation but I simply see each as consequential to believing God or submitting to Him regardless of the age or agreement.

The Baptism of John seems unique in that it stood alone. Given my perception above I understand that the Israelites who were contemporary to Jesus were already “positioned” as God’s chosen people, however their orientation was away from God and repentance for remission of sin was required in order to “reorient” them toward Christ. John’s Baptism signified this reorientation and was specific to the contemporary Israelites alone. The only change in John’s Baptism occurred after the Resurrection during which time “the contemporaries” were baptized in Jesus name.

It should be noted that Jesus’ baptism signified His orientation toward the Cross and the “re-baptism” of the twelve Ephesian “boyz” ;-) was indicative of their lack of position with God prior to the Resurrection.

With respect to “3-D” salvation the Holy Spirit Baptism signifies (verifies/attest to) our new position in Christ and our Baptism by the Body signifies our orientation as a follower of Jesus.

10/26/2009 06:40:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Mr. Grow, if Jim fails to earn at least one charge of semi-pelagianism from you I shall be highly offended! (hehe)

10/26/2009 06:42:00 AM  
Blogger agent4him said...

Hey, I hear you, man, on the charge of semi-Pelagianism. :-) But I'm not sure I fully grasp your position on water baptism vis-à-vis Holy Spirit baptism. Let me see if I can restate what I think you're saying.

You said every “type” of scriptural baptism signifies either a change in relationship (position/standing) or orientation to (attitude/heart and mind) God resulting from belief or submission to His word. Although the terms "position" or "standing" are accurate reflections of one aspect of what happened (the "forensic" aspect, which boils down to "imputation"), I would not restrict the significance of "position" to imputation alone but rather expand it to include the "3-D" sense of identification or assimilation.

As to the "change in orientation (heart/mind attitude)," do I hear you saying "baptism of repentance" in different words? If so, I would restate you're dual classification of baptism as: "every kind of baptism mentioned in the Bible is a 'mark' of either new identity or repentance."

You said, I simply see each as consequential to believing God or submitting to Him regardless of the age or agreement. I would say "consequential to believing God or a consecration to submitting to Him." I agree with your emphasis on "regardless of age" and thus differ with my CD colleagues by saying that there is more continuity than discontinuity in this regard from one dispensation to the next.

As to John's baptism, I agree it is unique; it is indeed defined as "a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins," however the "repentance" is not actually turning from sin but the acknowledgment of sin and of the need for cleansing from sin. When JB blasts the Pharisees for not "bearing fruit worthy of repentance" as they come to him, it is because they haven't really acknowledged their need for cleansing so that they can bear "righteous" fruit---the ultimate goal of their "reorientation."

Regarding "position," the Israelites were externally "positioned" as God's people, but they still had hearts of stone and needed cleansing and then Baptism by the Holy Spirit in order to have the "flesh" hearts that truly "know God" and obey him in New Covenant terms (Ezek 36:25-27), which is exactly what Jesus was alluding to in John 3:5. Thus, JB's baptism signifies the "water baptism" of Ezek 36:25, and when Messiah is then "named" (i.e., specifically designated) by JB, those who identified with him by submitting to JB's baptism will receive the Holy Spirit baptism after his resurrection/ascension after the Spirit is given and they identify their Messiah with the "name" of the crucified and resurrected Jesus. Exactly what happened to both Cornelius (Acts 10:36-44) and the boyz (19:2-6).

The fact that Cornelius was a Gentile explains why JB's baptism is not mentioned for him---only the criterion of "belief" (10:43) which is equivalent to the OT notion of "fearing God" (10:35). (NB: in 10:35, the goal [for both Jew and Gentile] of "fearing him" is to produce "works of righteousness," just as JB had made so painfully clear to the Pharisees.) That Cornelius was already bearing the fruit of righteousness attests his prior repentance our of "fear" ("belief"), so all he needed was baptism by the Spirit to identify him as belonging to the "named" Messiah and therefore a candidate for water baptism into the Body of (that "named") Christ, which up to that point had not (supposedly) included Gentiles.

Hence, my position on Jesus' baptism is that it was a baptism of identification---the "named" Messiah of Israel, attested by the descent of the Holy Spirit, so that everyone who subsequently affiliated themselves with him would also receive the HS and then water baptism to signify their inclusion in the Body of (that same "named") Christ. This is exactly what Bobby G. has been trying to say with his vocabulary of "participation."

10/26/2009 09:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Bobby Grow said...


I see the outer logic (the exegesis) being discussed here; of course there is inner logical presuppositions (dogmatic) that hold the outer together. If we get into that discussion, which we should, then the charges of semi-pelagianism might come ;-).

We have to get into a discussion on how sin/grace is defined. How the image of God is defined. How, most importantly a Doctrine of God/election is defined, etc. But, I see that taking this thread afield, a bit . . . so I'm keeping my mouth shut on that so far (except for my alluding to union with Christ or participation).

What Jim says of what I've been "trying" to say is almost right --- but not really --- I am even more objectivist than what he says of me (which is only focusing on the subjective side). If we take the vicarious life of Christ seriously, in the Incarnation and thus atonement, then we will say that all humanity is in union ('carnal') with Christ (by virtue of His assumption of HUMANITY); but we won't say all humanity is spiritually in union with Christ, which is grounded upon the Holy Spirit's work of conviction (which is where I would agree with Jim).

It is ever only semi-Pelagianism when we give man an autonomy that only God has (and God's autonomy is actually different since it is always shaped by love for the 'other').

10/26/2009 02:11:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Jim, again thanks so much for all your time and effort in this.
I should have noted that the semi-pelagian comment was a bit of an inside joke but I’m confident we’ll get around to discussing it soon enough! ;-)

I agree the terms identification or assimilation better illustrate the relational change given that position and standing are almost always used forensically rather than relationally.

I can agree with the term “mark” though I’m not sure it can be directly tied to repentance. Wouldn’t orientation fit better considering the Baptism of Jesus?

You wrote, “…I would say "consequential to believing God or a consecration to submitting to Him”. Am I correct in guessing you mean that baptism in the latter case signifies (is a “mark” of) our consecration rather than being a consecrating “act”?

I agree with your understanding on the repentance required for John’s Baptism. They were not turning from sin to righteousness but turning to God for relief from sin rather than continuing to trust in their own works based righteousness.

I’m afraid to delve too far into the identification and assimilation aspect of the Israelites at this point because it will involve a discuss on election, which I think is a little premature at this point. ;-)

10/26/2009 02:47:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Bobby, I understand and you know I’m sensitive to your position.

I would say that we are approaching this from the “inside out” but as long as we carefully monitor the trajectory of our discussions we should arrive at a valid perspective on all. ;-)

10/26/2009 02:51:00 PM  
Blogger Duane WATTS said...

Hi Jim, KC, and All!
Congratulations on beginning a very interesting study. I admit that I am somewhat timorous, as I have seen the fruit of the other schools, and know they can go out on a limb and get stuck there (e.g. Martin Luther, John Calvin)

"I therefore as a prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that you walk worthy of your vocation wherewith you were called: with all lowliness and meekness, with long suffering forbearing one another in love. Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, even as you are called in one hope of your calling. One Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all & through all & in you all." (Eph 4:1-6)
Just a reminder that for many out there, water baptism is salvific. I believe that, just as true circumcision had nothing to do with the cutting of physical flesh, the baptism by which we are saved does not require water.

Peace and Love,
IN Him who calls,


10/26/2009 02:58:00 PM  
Blogger agent4him said...

Thanks Bobby for the "clarification," and sorry for putting words in your mouth. Maybe your position will crystallize with me as we go on in the series. I think I understand the union of Christ with all humanity, which is exactly how I see it in Romans 5:18. I plan to finish up this series with an exposition of that passage to connect the notion of a multi-faceted atonement with that of a 3-D redemption. My next post will introduce the concept of blood-atonement from Genesis 3 (coming up later today, D.V.).

KC, thanks for the reply. Let me try to answer your points:

I can agree with the term “mark” though I’m not sure it can be directly tied to repentance. Wouldn’t orientation fit better considering the Baptism of Jesus?
When I said "mark" I meant "designate" these individuals as destined for receiving the Holy Spirit, because their repentance/faith orientation has "enabled" God to "cleanse" them. The "mark" thus "confirms" them in the sight of all as belonging to Messiah and therefore to God and therefore "marked" as future recipients of the HS, just as at the Baptism of Jesus. We're real close, here, yes.

Am I correct in guessing you mean that baptism in the latter case signifies (is a “mark” of) our consecration rather than being a consecrating “act”?
No, and thanks for asking. The word "consequential" only applies to the first "baptism" of the two; hence, "consecrated" in the second of the two means "set apart for the intent of submitting to him," not because they have already submitted to him. In this sense, the latter baptism is analogous to flesh circumcision in Genesis 17, which begins with the intent that Abraham "Walk before me and be blameless." Again, this is directly relevant to the "heart of flesh" issue in relation to the "baptism" in Ezekiel 36:25-26.

Hi Duane, good to meet you. I agree with your point about what "many out there" hold regarding water baptism as salvific. In that light, we do need to be "crystal clear" in this discussion of baptism; thanks for the clarification, agree entirely.

10/26/2009 03:49:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Jim, given your understanding how do you perceive the re-baptism of the twelve Ephesians?

10/26/2009 04:33:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Duane, thanks for joining in! We agree concerning water baptism.

10/26/2009 04:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Tim Nichols said...

Greetings, all.
If I may drop in my $.02 on baptism, particularly John's baptism, I think maybe we're missing some important points of narrative relationship.

Think about the setting. In, say, AD 15, if a Zacchaeus type had a sudden pang of conscience and repented of his many sins, what would he do? He would go down to the Temple, offer the appropriate sacrifices, and then return home and do much as Zacchaeus later did.

Suppose a similar man encounters John the Baptist. What did John call him to do? Come out of Jerusalem into the wilderness to repent and pass through water for the remission of his sins. Simply by doing this, John is breaking the Temple monopoly on repentance, and in spectacular fashion. Typologically, he is labeling Jerusalem as Egypt and calling Israel into the wilderness to be reconstituted as God's people, and thereby delivered from judgment.

Jesus comes down and undergoes this baptism. Jesus' baptism is, of course, not merely the baptism of John; it's also the first trinitarian baptism: the Father speaks as water and Spirit are applied to the Son.

Trinitarian baptism is our baptism as well, and so Jesus is our paradigm case: water and Spirit together, in the gaze of the Father and following the Son's example. In the following story, we see water and Spirit together (Ac. 2), then the Spirit first, followed immediately by water (Ac.10). Absent from the account is any attempt to program a baptism (waiting for Sunday evening, gathering an audience, etc.)

This to say two things: first, John's baptism is distinct from Christian baptism, but in the way that an apple seed is distinct from the apple tree that grows from it, and not in the way that a ball bearing is distinct from a CD. Through Jesus, the one gives rise to the other.

Second, baptism is a composite event involving both water and Spirit. While there's no definite example of a private (= 1 on 1) baptism, the emphasis is on immediacy, to the point that Paul seems to have baptized the Philippian jailer and his family in the middle of the night. I'm not sure there's a sensible defense for the idea that public profession of anything is a major point of water baptism.

Which begs the question: what does the water do, if it's not a none-too-cleverly disguised occasion for sharing your testimony?

What it does do -- and I'm sure there will be further discussion, some of it warm, on the point -- is disciple the nations (Mt.28:18-20), unite the baptized to Christ's body (Rom.6), consecrate the baptized as a new covenant priest(Ex.29:4//Heb.10:22), and save the baptized from God's judgment on the pagan nations (1Pet.3:20-21).

I'd welcome your thoughts.

10/26/2009 05:02:00 PM  
Blogger agent4him said...


The 12 Ephesians had clearly undergone John's baptism, so I see them as OT saints, even before Paul arrives---they had clearly "believed" (19:2). Their baptism by Paul was "in the name of the Lord Jesus" (19:5); this was necessary because they had not yet identified with the named Messiah, Jesus Christ (19:4-5), so that they could receive the Holy Spirit, just like the named Messiah when he "came after" (19:4) and was baptized by John.

10/26/2009 05:27:00 PM  
Blogger agent4him said...


Finally! Where've you been, dude? I baptized this series in your name, man. :-)

I appreciate the additional color you have added to the two "baptisms" we have been talking about. I think it's entirely consistent with what we've got so far, so I would definitely agree with everything you added (love the Egypt/wilderness thing) but am not sure what you were implying about "public profession." I didn't use that term, but I would insist that both baptisms were/are intended to be an outward "mark" of an internal reality. Still, just like circumcision, the fact that someone goes through the motions does not guarantee that internal reality.

Welcome aboard!

10/26/2009 05:37:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Tim, I'll have to chew on those things for a bit. I'm really glad you made it too. ;-)

Jim, I guess I'm trying to understand, from your perspective, why it was that the twelve Ephesians required another baptism when all others baptized by John did not.

10/26/2009 05:58:00 PM  
Blogger agent4him said...


I guess my response would be that all the others baptized by John did need "rebaptism," once they ended up connecting JB's promised Messiah with the name of Jesus. For example, I would assume that among the 3,000 Jews who were baptized at Pentecost (Acts 2:38-41), many had undergone JB's baptism just like the boyz but not yet identified with the named Messiah. When you look at what Peter said to them in these verses, it really seems to be exactly the point: Note esp., "...every one of you...in the name of Jesus Christ...and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (2:38).

Do you see a significant disparity there in the two situations?

10/26/2009 06:31:00 PM  
Blogger Duane WATTS said...

Great Discussion Brothers & Sisters!

And Jim And KC, thanks for the acknowledgement.


10/26/2009 06:46:00 PM  
Blogger Missy said...

Oh, dear! I was not intending to take us all off track - I apologize, gentlemen! But I really do appreciate the discussion. There is at least one word I need to look up - maybe more. KC, you said something about half-pelicans? ;)

I shall chew, questions will soon follow...

10/26/2009 09:00:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Jim, I have to admit that I don’t share your perception that the Israelites converted on Pentecost had previously received John’s Baptism as they were only then convicted (Acts 2:37) and had need to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins (2:38). I would also point to another occasion concerning a certain Jew at Ephesus (Acts 18:25,28) where re-baptism did not seem to be warranted.

I’m going to shut-up and keep learning now. ;-)

10/26/2009 11:30:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Tim, I’ve chewed a little and I appreciate your points on immediacy and public profession. I would say though that water baptism is significant to the body. Regarding all you said that water does do, would you say it’s the water per se or rather our obedience in following the ordinance that conveys those things?

10/26/2009 11:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Tim Nichols said...

I agree that it's meant to be an outward sign of an inward reality, following the Ac.10 paradigm shift -- the HS is present; who can forbid water? I would say the primary audience of the sign is God, the baptized person, and the baptizer -- and it should be done as soon as practical, not put off for a month and a half to the next regularly scheduled baptismal service. There's no biblical precedent for delaying the baptism so we can gin up a crowd and make it suitably public. More to say here, but it will go below.

I agree that water baptism is significant to the body. As to whether it's the water or the obedience -- yes. Since they're hardly separable, I wouldn't try to separate them.

But it seems to me you're asking how much depends on underlying spiritual reality, and how much is ex opere operato function, and I would answer thus:
Suppose we have a young feller named Judah that lives in Jerusalem in AD 60. His daddy's an overbearing monster and a Saduccee. The love of Judah-ben-monster's young life, a girl he's had his eye on for years, has just converted to Christianity, along with her whole family. Young Judah can get back at daddy and win the girl, all in one fell swoop; all he has to do is convert. So he does. He (falsely) professes faith in Christ, is duly baptized, and begins to suffer for his faith, as they did in those days, enduring the theft of their goods, ostracism, and the resulting grinding poverty. He consoles himself that every humiliation he suffers embarrasses daddy that much worse, and so he endures. Come the Jewish revolt in 68, he renders to Caesar what is Caesar's, along with the rest of the faithful church, and thereby escapes the wrath of Titus.
Now, what benefits did Judah's baptism confer? Through it, ex opere operato, he was united with Christ's body on earth, and in that association was blessed with a believing wife and the fellowship of the believing community. Because he remained faithful to that association, he was delivered from the judgment Israel suffered for crucifying the Messiah. In his relationship with his wife, he received the benefit of having Christ's love for the church as his example, and insofar as he was able to apply that principle, his marriage was the better for it. These are not inconsiderable benefits. On the other hand, he lacked the indwelling presence of the living Christ, and therefore his treatment of his wife was a semblance of Christ's love, and not the real thing; at points of strain, the mask would slip. And on the last day, no matter how much Judah protests of great works done and persecutions endured in Jesus' name, Jesus will say, "Depart from Me, I never knew you."

Does this answer your question?

10/27/2009 10:26:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Tim, yes, very well, thank you. ;-)

10/27/2009 10:41:00 AM  
Blogger agent4him said...

Hi Duane,

I'm going to answer your post on the following thread here, because it fits this comment thread more than that one. (Can Duane's comment be moved here, KC, above my response?)

Another Berean! Very nice exposition, and we are ever so close. I think you are absolutely correct, and this has been exactly my understanding as far as it goes. I just think Jesus has gone further than the simple allusion to natural birth in order to take Nicodemus to a higher plane, so that 3:3, 6 are more than just "bookends."

Jesus first meets Nic where he is in understanding both "natural" birth (thus, "of flesh") and "new birth" (thus the need to be born "again" by "spirit"). Then in 3:5 he introduces "water" and "spirit" not to parallel "flesh" and "spirit" but rather to emphasize the need for cleansing, by analogy with Ezekiel 36:25-27.
Here, the notion of "natural" flesh is clearly distinct from "water," as it is "sandwiched" between "water" and "spirit."

Consistent with this understanding, "water" in all of John's writings never signifies anything "natural" or "of flesh." Moreover, readers familiar with Torah would not have confused "water" with "natural birth." Hence, the water in this imagery is meant to signify cleansing of the "flesh" in anticipation of birth "from above" by God's "breath" or "Spirit," just as in Ezek 36. It is both "new" and "from above."

Just as "natural," sin-tainted things in Torah always need cleansing by water before they are fit to "house" God, so in John 3, Nic's "flesh" needs to be cleansed with "water" before the Spirit can come down "from above" to "birth" him "again." Thus, there is no connection at all between natural birth from "flesh" and heavenly birth (= "from above") by "spirit" (3:6), just as it is graphically depicted in Jesus' own baptism to "birth" him as Israel's Messiah (1:31-34). All Israel is therefore called to identify with Jesus through water baptism in order to be "born from above," as Nic exemplifies in his dialogue with Jesus.

10/27/2009 11:11:00 AM  
Blogger agent4him said...

Sorry, Duane, I meant 3:3, 7 are more than just "bookends."

10/27/2009 11:22:00 AM  
Blogger Duane WATTS said...

HI Jim!
Thanks for the compliment. By contrast, I find your knowledge base of the panoply of Scripture, and ancient cultures and the languages of the fathers to make my head spin to try to keep up.

I have spent some 20 years studying Scripture, not always consistently, and fighting (seldom actively) systems of works righteousness, even simple works like being water baptized, (which I have been IAWS). Any where in scripture I read something that is popularly construed as to require an act to receive The Gift, I want to know what is the correct alternative interpretation. Or is it possible that I have been wrong?

Your argument here sounds strong. It is bolstered by your charity.
It does not require a paradigm shift for me. In the Spirit we can chew on such things at our leisure.

Thank You Very much Brother, Professor, Dr. James

In Messiah, "the Anointed"


P.S. Say, anybody up for the marriage supper of the Lamb? Check out Rose's "Who is this? blog, comments.

10/27/2009 02:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Tim Nichols said...

Regarding your last paragraph in the above (10/27@11:11) response to Duane:

Seems a close look at Hebrews 10:19-22 (and the setup in 9:12-14, 19-21) would be instructive in connection with that thought.

10/27/2009 03:52:00 PM  
Blogger agent4him said...

Duane and Tim:

Duane, I like your style and I understand your aversion to anything that sounds like one has to "do" anything to be saved. I use the term "receive" because I am convinced that volition is involved in our salvation (John 5:35-40) and "receive" is the terminology in John 1:12 and Romans 5:17.

I am opposed to works of any kind, whether "front-loaded" or "back-loaded," because that's the clear testimony of Scripture; however, I also believe salvation entails free will, and that implies volitional assent to the offer of salvation, as I will get into in subsequent posts.

(I did see Rose's latest thread.)


You're scaring me, man. That was just the thought I had right after I hit the "publish" button.

10/27/2009 05:06:00 PM  
Blogger Duane WATTS said...

Hey Jim!
I sure appreciate your reassurance about works mingling with Grace in our salvation. I was pretty sure that is your stance, none-the-less, it's comforting to hear.

I have no problem with volitional "acceptance". The concept of nonvolitional conviction of propostional truth ala GES is relatively new to me.
I see arguments for both. Seldom would one exclude the other: e.g. If one believes that he has been saved by Jesus Christ, then he is accepting that gift.
Correct me if I'm wrong?



10/27/2009 06:19:00 PM  
Blogger agent4him said...

Right on, Duane. I think you've diagnosed one of the main issues of contention within GES.

10/27/2009 10:47:00 PM  
Blogger Duane WATTS said...

No Dr. Professor!
I did not diagnose anything. It was just a question.
O.K., For honesty sake, I have to admit that it seems a leetle too restrictive to me. I really don't want to admit it though because I know of nothing coming from any church, school or institution that's closer.
We "know" how deep is God's grace (absolutely free). Do we know how broad it is: Do we know what latitude God allows as definitions of "believe in HIM" vary between communities? This is my heart, not Scripture: I want to believe that many more "Christians" are Christians. But Truth is Truth.
This is one of the places I hope you are going with this. I pray to the FATHER OF LIGHTS that onlookers will FAITHFULLY take away with them everything that is of the TRUTH. I pray that The SPIRIT keep you focused, and concise. 'nuf said.

plebian brother Duane

P.S. Brothers, please do not feel obligated to respond to my every response. I know you are very busy.
Turn To!

10/28/2009 07:56:00 AM  
Blogger agent4him said...


As I mentioned early on in this series, KC is the only one who is "grandfathered in" to call me "Dr.," "Professor," or anything of the like.

My heart beats with yours, Bro, when you want to believe that many more "Christians" are Christians, and you have great insight into the subtext of what I'm attempting to do, all the while totally committed to Truth. Thanks for your "straight-up" contributions.

As to your caveat for answering your "every response," I am in truth a professional vagrant with no real "job" and more idle time than most anyone else here. I should probably be arrested for vagrancy every once in awhile, just to keep me honest.

10/28/2009 08:28:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...


I apologize for being so late with this explanation but I’ve been pressed for time lately.

You replied above:

I agree that water baptism is significant to the body. As to whether it's the water or the obedience -- yes. Since they're hardly separable, I wouldn't try to separate them.”

I think the distinction is critical because it clearly delineates the act as a reflection or symbol of grace received (the answer of a clear conscience) rather than being a ”means of grace” (the way to a clear conscience). Still I know we agree that symbols are important. ;-)

11/01/2009 02:21:00 AM  
Blogger Missy said...

Sorry to interupt, KC!

I really would like someday to get into a discussion about this - but always afraid to because it's seems such a hot-button. This is the topic that separates me from FG.

People always delineate the act as you describe saying it's critical to remember it's only a symbol, but I don't get the same delineation when I read scripture reqarding baptism.

Baptism is referred to as an act which saves (1 Peter 3:20-22), a participation in the death of Christ (Romans 6:3-5,Colossians 2:11-13), a unifying act with the Body (1 Corinthians 12:13, Galatians 3:26-28, Ephesians 4:4-6), the appropriate response to the Gospel (Acts 2:38) but never a symbol.

I don't know how or why God uses baptism in these ways, and that drives me crazy! That was my assumption of Tim's meaning in saying, "As to whether it's the water or the obedience -- yes..."

11/01/2009 03:52:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Sis, I know you know it’s safe to disagree here. ;-) How else could we possibly study these things, right? If we share our understanding of the scripture and respect one another’s responsibility in what we each believe then I think we should be able discuss anything. If it’s okay, I’ll start with the first scripture you offered.

I know there are a thousand explanations and arguments on 1st Peter 3 but let me ask. What is your understanding of Peter’s explanation, “not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience--through the resurrection of Jesus Christ”?

11/01/2009 05:06:00 PM  
Blogger Missy said...

Thanks, KC, for your patience with my sideline activitiy. :) Yes, you know I feel safe here asking my questions, and this is one of the many reasons I am so encouraged when you start posting!

After diagraming this sentence, as I still do all these years after my grammar classes have ended, I've concluded this understanding:

That in baptism, I am not cleaning away my sin (removing dirt from the body) but responding in repentence of my sin toward God (the pledge of a good conscience toward God).

I take it that Jesus died in atonement for my sin (vs 18), and just as those 8 obediently entered the waters in the ark and were saved from judgement, I obediently enter the waters of baptism, in Christ, as though He were my ark that saves me from judgement.

I think it is saying that simply entering the waters of baptism does not save - it only saves you by/because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ (vs. 21). Some of the other scriptures I gave talk about the participation in His resurrection through baptism.

So, in short, I believe this passage tells me in this act of baptism, the sin is not "washed" away, but forgiveness is received when I willfully participate in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.

11/01/2009 06:38:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Missy it has always been so easy and such a blessings to have a discussion with you.

I think it's important to note that, in a very real sense, Water Baptism (obedience) is critical to the second dimension of our salvation.

Romans 6:3-5 might be a little more controversial. Many, myself included, consider these verses are in reference to the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. This Baptism secures entrance into Christ whereas water Baptism secures entrance into the Church. Water Baptism would logically follow presenting ourselves “to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God” (6:13) which is the admonition here. Would you see these verses another way?

11/01/2009 08:13:00 PM  
Blogger Missy said...

Thanks, KC. I wholeheartedly agree with you about that second dimension application of obedience. I am open to the fact that someone MAY, for whatever purpose God intends, remain in that one-dimensional salvation, but I see no example of this in scripture. What I do see, is those that entered into that 1st dimension (fear/faith in God/Jesus) were never left in that dimension. They were all called to obedience. Specifically, water baptism.

With regards to Romans 6:3-5, I have difficulty, having no formalized theological construct, seeing how one can conclude as you have without such construct. How would I consider to look at this scripture with the assumption that it meant a spiritual baptism, unless I had a reason to offer an alternative to the simplist and most recently used references to baptism? Nothing in this passage leads me to conclude there is any inference to water baptism securing entrance to the Church apart from a spiritual baptism that secures entrance into Christ. In fact, it seems to me that one act would accomplish both simultaneously, as being secured into Christ unifies us in His body with others who have so been secured entrance into Christ.

I can, however, see the point you might be making with vs. 13, IF the audience spoken were not already water baptized and the illustration used to make the point that they are no longer under the law and slaves to sin, but under grace, is their being united in the death and the resurrection of Christ through baptism.

Previously, in Acts, those who accepted the message preached were immediately told in every conversion to be baptized - for the forgiveness of their sins AND then would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Only when Gentiles were first presented was this done in reverse, to show their approval by God. In all other conversions, the obedient response of water baptism was followed by the seal that guarantees eternal life (Ephesians 1:13-14) - not the other way around as it is so often taught today.

11/01/2009 09:42:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Sis there are at least one million worms in that can so let me take them one at a time, k? ;-)

What theological construct are you referring to?

11/01/2009 11:28:00 PM  
Blogger Missy said...

Only a million? You are generous, bro. I hope you know what I'm doing is not really "debating" per se. I've continually had trouble reconciling what it appears to say about baptism and works - so this conversation so far is very similar to the one in my head.

As to which construct, I don't know. I haven't had the stamina to see any of them through. ;)

I guess my reference would be closest to what I grew up hearing in the baptist church. I would read what it said as a child, then hear it preached as something like, "Well I know that's what it says, but that's not what it means." Even though, textually, I've found no clear distinction between the two baptisms - people keep teaching that distinction as though it's clear. If the distinction is not clear, then an assumption is being made. And of course, I'm assuming that the assumption is based on a theological construct already in place - even if it's simply, "There's nothing I can DO to get into heaven."

Does that make sense?

11/02/2009 06:14:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Missy, it does make sense and I think I see why you’re calling it a theological construct.

The term I used, “Holy Spirit Baptism”, refers to what the Apostles often called the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 11:15,16). John the Baptist (Mat 3:11) and Jesus (acts 1:5) referred to this as being Baptized with the Holy Spirit and it is significant (a sign or a symbol) to us regarding our spiritual union with Christ (as typified by the pillar of the cloud, an act of God). We are united with the visible body through water Baptism, which is significant (a sign or a symbol) to the Church of our obedience to Christ (as typified by going through the “parted waters”, an act of faith). (I think it should also be noted at this point that our love for one another is what is significant to the world that we belong to Christ.)

Bro. Tim pointed out there is no good reason to separate the two and it is only necessary because otherwise it is too easy to construct the idea that Water Baptism conveys life. ;-)

I understand that the object of the verses in Romans 6 is holiness and for this there is no good reason to separate the act of God from the act of faith. They are practically (in practice) inseparable.

Does that muddy the waters even more? ;-)

11/02/2009 07:13:00 AM  
Blogger agent4him said...

No, KC, it doesn't at all muddy the waters: That was precisely the point of "identification" I was trying to make with both JB's and Christian water baptism.

(Sorry for barging in, Missy...you rock.)

11/02/2009 07:26:00 AM  
Blogger Missy said...

Yes, it does. :)

That is helpful to have a better understanding of what Tim was saying. I certainly don't want to construct the idea that water baptism conveys life. But the significance of it and what it truly accomplishes baffles me. That in scripture it was immediately administered to every convert upon belief of the Gospel message and yet so many ignore it today baffles me.

If these two are practically inseparable, Ephesians 1:13-14 says that the seal of the Holy Spirit granted to us guarantees eternal life, then wouldn't it be at the point of baptism that the seal is conferred - which is to say WHEN one is saved?

(I'll be back to this as soon as I can, bro. Going to see a dr who's trying to convince me to take expensive experimental meds - sigh...)

11/02/2009 07:32:00 AM  
Blogger Missy said...

No, YOU rock, Jim. :)

I just have no problems whatsoever looking stupid. As a rock. I can only go up from there. ;)

11/02/2009 07:37:00 AM  
Blogger agent4him said...

Well, Missy, if you don't let those doctors pull the wool over your eyes any more than you let this one or "doctor" KC, then you're golden!

11/02/2009 08:00:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

We will continue in prayer for you Sis. May God bless those who treat you and the treatment as well.

11/02/2009 08:00:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Sis, maybe it's not so much what Water Baptism does as much as what it is. It is a clear demonstration of our love for God (possibly the first?) in that we obey His command.

11/02/2009 09:34:00 AM  
Blogger Missy said...

Thank you for the thoughts, gentlemen. I have that doctor right where I want him... ;D

KC, that is precisely the conclusion I came to the signified the end of my reasoning and choosing to get dunked! I figured if I had to know exactly how it all works before I would obey, I had the wrong heart altogether. The thing is, God knows my heart. He doesn't need me to DO anything to reveal that to Him. It seems water baptism does something TO me and/or FOR me, through that demonstration of obedience and/or participation in Christ, that allows or prepares me to be sealed with/receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

11/02/2009 12:21:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Missy, there are a few things I must ask from you now not of the least of which is, “How’d it go with the Doc?” ;-)

It seems you are saying that you/anyone didn’t/won’t receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Holy Spirit Baptism) until after you/they were/are prepared to do so by submitting to Water Baptism. Is that your contention?

11/02/2009 01:47:00 PM  
Blogger Missy said...

KC, the doc visit went well. This one's the skin doc and he's in contention with my rheumatologist (whom I LOVE!) as to the course of treatment. But he redeemed himself today and gave me a lot of great information and options - without telling me what I should do, of course. Kinda like you! ;)

In regards to your next question, I would answer it is not my contention, but what I think I see when I read these scriptures I've referenced, and I can't seem to fully reconcile it with the knowledge that I can't DO anything to be saved.

11/02/2009 03:34:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

I'm so thankful for the positive report! Thank you!

Sis if I could recap on those scriptures so far. I think we’re square on 1st Peter 3, right? Do you at least find my reasoning on Romans 6 plausible and can you see the the two baptisms as distinct?

11/02/2009 03:52:00 PM  
Blogger Missy said...

KC, I just wanted you to know I'm not ignoring you. 1) My Dad is arriving today for a 2 week visit, and I'm sooo excited! 2) You've asked me a conclusive question, and I'm thinking it through. As you know I'm not known for my "conclusiveness." ;)

11/03/2009 06:01:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

No problem Sis. You’re worth waiting for. ;-)

I’m really just hoping to expose our underlying presuppositions by examining the text but if you can think of a better method of approach to the discussion I’m open.

BTW I pray your Dad’s visit is a time of great joy for you all. Oh, and regards to the elusive Mr. R. ;-)

11/03/2009 09:05:00 AM  
Blogger Duane WATTS said...

Hi KC, Jim, Missy &

Missy, enjoy your time with your Dad.

Regarding people not moving into
2nd D, I can think of many that God allows not to. I do not believe HE purposed it, but having eternally known their choices, HE made use of them as "bywords". My frequent prayer is "FATHER please do not allow me to become a byword (object lesson). Please don't put an orange construction cone on my head to warn others of the dangerous pit fall that I have fallen into(too late on some things)." I think of Ananias and Saphira. Big Orange Costruction dunce caps on their heads!

Paul says to the II Corinthians:

I wrote to you not to keep company with fornicators; yet not altogether with fornicators of this world or else you'd just have to leave this world [or go monastic?]. But I'm writing to you not to keep company, if one is called a "brother" and is a fornicator, or covetous or an idolator,or a railer or drunkard.
with such do not even eat.

I believe he's referring to carnal Christians. Although some other constructs might say these gave false professions or lost their salvation. He spent too much time excoriating carnal Christians, to say that they are all pretenders



11/03/2009 10:13:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Duane, I agree with all you wrote. I've really enjoyed reading your comments around the blogsphere and I truly appreciate having them here! ;-)

11/03/2009 10:30:00 AM  
Blogger Duane WATTS said...

Hi again!

KC, I love this you wrote:

We are united with the visible body through water Baptism, which is significant (a sign or a symbol) to the Church of our obedience to Christ (as typified by going through the “parted waters”, an act of faith).

How important is initiation to "Delti Cappa Phi Rho Gamma Epsilon"?
The difference is, in a soro-fraternity, if you do not get hazed, you don't belong, plain and simple.
If you are not visibly baptized in water, how can the church know that you belong? "Show me your your faith w/o works and I'll show you by my works". It is plausible that The Spirit imbues within that ordinance a spiritual [tranmission?] that actually makes one a bonafide member of the body of CHRIST. I don't know.

Off to the dentist for my cleaning!
(dental baptism biannual:})


11/03/2009 10:36:00 AM  
Blogger Duane WATTS said...

Hi All!
I'm reviewing the series, comments included, It ocurred to me: I have long wondered about the presence and indwelling of the Holy Spirit. A good opportunity, since discussing the rebaptism of some Jews: Were not those believers who were rebaptized already regenerated as believers?
And is not regeneration the in breathing of the Holy Spirit? Then is this Holy Ghost Baptism a different KIND of indwelling?
I've heard before that it is different, and yet have not really grasped the explanation.


11/28/2009 03:08:00 AM  
Blogger Duane WATTS said...

Hi Again!

KC, You wrote to Missy, back on Nov 2:
"Sis, maybe it's not so much what Water Baptism does as much as what it is. It is a clear demonstration of our love for God (possibly the first?) in that we obey His command".

And then Missy you followed with:
KC, that is precisely the conclusion I came to the signified the end of my reasoning and choosing to get dunked! I figured if I had to know exactly how it all works before I would obey, I had the wrong heart altogether. The thing is, God knows my heart. He doesn't need me to DO anything to reveal that to Him. It seems water baptism does something TO me and/or FOR me, through that demonstration of obedience and/or participation in Christ, that allows or prepares me to be sealed with/receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

I heard recently that that may be one reason God led Abraham and Isaac through the whole drama of sacrificing Isaac. God already knew Abraham's heart, now Abraham knew Abraham's heart and God's Heart, and a little more of God's plan, because he was obedient.

It's like we don't really internalize 2nd D knowledge without a little drama in our lives.
My Supervisor is a real Marlon Brando: with drama that is in part intended to help us to remember why we don't want to screw up.

On a separate issue: I heard on the radio the other day, on "Prime Time America" a Moody news magazine, a lawyer proposing that the book of Acts was a legal brief written by Luke, to a Roman investigator The Most Excellent Theophilus, who was investigating Paul's legal case before Rome. That would make the entire book of acts legal evidence. I thought that was facinating, especially in light of our narrative study.
A link to the audio:

In Jesus,


11/28/2009 04:06:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Duane please forgive my tardiness! Our three little ones (3,2 and 7 wks) were deposited on our doorstep Wednesday and they’ve kept us busy to say the least! ;-) We’ll have the two boys (3 and 2) for another week or so and I hope to be a better blog host after then. ;-)

I may be wrong but I don’t think any of the Jews were re-baptized. Please correct me if I’m wrong on that point. I’m sorry I don’t have time to elaborate, and this may not go over well with everyone, but I think what’s critical concerning the twelve Ephesians is the fact that they were not party to God’s covenant at the time they received John’s Baptism.

I’m looking more and more at water baptism as a reciprocal act of love or “our” devotion to God. I really do think it’s critical that we understand we’ve made a clear choice to follow Christ command and not as an obligation or condition for restoration (1-D salvation).

(Thanks for the link too. I’ll check it out ASAP) ;-)

11/30/2009 04:37:00 AM  

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