Answering the critics: Answers for Mr Matthew Slick’s “Questions for Christadelphians.”
An abridged version of this rebuttal to Slick's thesis first appeared on another Christian apologetics discussion form at the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (CARM), where it was posted on the author's behalf, by a Christadelphian member of the CARM forums. A counter-rebuttal from Slick (not to mention an apology for his gross misrepresentation of Christadelphian theology) remains outstanding to this day. Slick's comments appear in the quotation boxes; my rebuttal follows in regular text.
|(1) According to Christadelphian theology, Jesus had a sinful, fallen nature.|
This is a patently misleading statement. It attempts to ascribe a certain meaning to the term "sinful nature" that evangelicals accept but Christadelphians reject. Your argument therefore begins with a deliberate attempt to misrepresent our theology. When you say “sinful, fallen nature”, you do not mean what I mean when I refer to “sinful nature.” You believe in the dogma of “Original Sin”, which states that all men are sinners by virtue of their fallen nature, regardless of whether or not they have sinned. Christadelphians do not believe this. Christadelphians believe that men are only counted as sinners when they have sinned. For this reason, we see Jesus as a man who possessed sinful nature (a nature that is both capable of sin, and prone to performing it), but one who never actually sinned. This is shown to us by Scripture:
- Hebrews 2:14-28.
Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;
And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.
Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.
For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted.
Christ was subject to that same “bondage of death” – for he (like us) was mortal.
|(2) Deut. 17:1 says, "You shall not sacrifice to the Lord your God an ox or a sheep which has a blemish or any defect, for that is a detestable thing to the Lord your God," (NASB, See also Ezekiel 43:22-23, 25; 45:18, 23). Of course, Jesus is not an animal. The point is that the sacrifice to a holy God must have no blemish or defect. "defect" in Hebrew is ra. In this verse, it is translated as "evilfavourdness" in the KJV, as "defect" in the RSV and NKJV, and as "flaw" in the NIV.|
This is all perfectly true, as far as it goes. But it is not a complete picture. The Law of Moses only foreshadows the sacrifice which Christ would accomplish; the perfect covering for sin.
|(3) Question: If Jesus had a sinful, fallen nature, then isn't that a defect?|
Absolutely. But this defect is irrelevant in the context of the atonement, because the atonement only required a sinless life, not a perfect nature. The former is merely a representation of the latter. First the natural, then the spiritual. That is the Biblical order.
|(4) Question: If Jesus' sinful nature is not a defect, then what would you call it?|
It is indeed a defect, but not one which has any relevance to the atonement.
|(5) Question: If Jesus sinful nature is a defect, then doesn't that mean His sacrifice is insufficient?|
Not at all, because Christ’s redemptive sacrifice finds its power in his sinless life, and not in the state of his flesh.
This is confirmed by the Trinitarian theologian Marvin R. Vincent, in his popular and highly engaging work, Word Studies in the New Testament (1933):
Heb 9:12 - By the blood of goats and calves (δι' αίματος τράγων καὶ μόσχων)
Διὰ with, as Heb_9:11. Μόσχος originally a tender shoot or sprout: then offspring generally. Everywhere in the Bible calf or bullock, and always masculine.
His own blood -
The distinction is not between the different bloods, but between the victims. The difference of blood is unimportant. Regarded merely as blood, Christ's offering is not superior to the Levitical sacrifice. If Christianity gives us only the shedding of blood, even Christ's blood, it does not give us a real or an efficient atonement. Whatever significance may attach to the blood is derived from something else. See on Heb_9:14.
Offered himself without spot (εαυτὸν προσήνεγκεν άμωμον) -
The two other elements which give superior validity to Christ's sacrifice. It was voluntary, a self-offering, unlike that of brute beasts who had no volition and no sense of the reason why they were offered. It was spotless. He was a perfectly righteous, sinless being, perfectly and voluntarily obedient to the Father's will, even unto the suffering of death. The legal victims were only physically unblemished according to ceremonial standards. Άμωμος in lxx, technically, of victims, Exo_29:1; Lev_1:3, Lev_1:10, etc.
|(6) Question: If you state that being obedient is what makes a person "unblemished," then why are we damned by nature (Eph. 2:3) if it is only our sinful deeds that condemn us?|
But the apostle does not say that we are “damned by nature” in the sense to which you refer, for he places his emphasis on our surrender to “the desires of the flesh and of the mind”, which occurs when we actively sin.
Here again we may benefit from Vincent’s analysis:
Eph 2:3 - Had our conversation (ανεστράφημεν) - Writing in his Commentary (1983-1999), James Burton Coffman (another Trinitarian) follows the same path:
See on the kindred noun conversation, 1Pe_1:15. Rev., more simply, lived.
Fulfilling (ποιουντες) -
Rev., doing. The verb implies carrying out or accomplishing, so that the A.V. is more nearly correct. See on Rom_7:15; see on Joh_3:21.
By nature children of wrath –
See on Eph_2:2. Children (τέκνα) emphasizes the connection by birth; see on Joh_1:12. Wrath (οργης) is God's holy hatred of sin; His essential, necessary antagonism to everything evil, Rom_1:18. By nature (φύσει) accords with children, implying what; is innate. That man is born with a sinful nature, and that God and sin are essentially antagonistic, are conceded on all hands: but that unconscious human beings come into the world under the blaze of God's indignation, hardly consists with Christ's assertion that to little children belongs the kingdom of heaven. It is true that there is a birth-principle of evil, which, if suffered to develop, will bring upon itself the wrath of God. Whether Paul means more than this I do not know.
It is evident in this verse that the
deadness of unregenerated people is a derivative, not of their birth,
but of their sins. Death always implies a change from the state of
being alive. Therefore, the thought of total human depravity as
something inherited must be incorrect. Sinners in their pre-Christian state were "dead in sins"; but that deadness was not something they inherited, but came about through the guilt of sins committed.
This refers to the behavior which is characteristic of unregenerated people. Such persons do what people are normally expected to do, from motives that are common to all, and invariably governed by selfishness. The course of this world is laid out in harmony with self and selfish desires. The person walking after this manner regards not the will of God but only the passions, appetites and ambitions of egocentric self.
|(7) According to Christadelphian theology, Jesus had to die in order to save himself. Yet the Christadelphians also maintain that Jesus was without blemish or defect.|
“According to Christadelphian theology”? No, not “according to Christadelphian theology” at all. In fact, this is what our Statement of Faith has to say about the work of Christ:
- TRUTH TO BE RECEIVED
8. That these promises had reference to Jesus Christ, who was to be raised up in the condemned line of Abraham and David, and who, tho wearing their condemned nature, was to obtain a title to resurrection by perfect obedience, and, by dying, abrogate the law of condemnation for himself, and all who should believe and obey him.
8. 1CO 15:45, HEB 2:14-16, ROM 1:3, HEB 5:8-9, HEB 1:9, ROM 5:19-21, GAL 4:4-5, ROM 8:3-4, HEB 2:15, HEB 9:26, GAL 1:4, HEB 7:27, HEB 5:3-7, HEB 2:17, ROM 6:10, ROM 6:9, ACT 13:34-37, REV 1:18, JOH 5:21-22, JOH 5:26-27, JOH 14:3, REV 2:7, REV 3:21, MAT 25:21, HEB 5:9, MAR 16:16, ACT 13:38-39, ROM 3:22, PSA 2:6-9, DAN 7:13-14, REV 11:15, JER 23:5, ZEC 14:9, EPH 1:9-10
9. That it was this mission that necessitated the miraculous begettal of Christ of a human mother, enabling him to bear our condemnation, and, at the same time, to be a sinless bearer thereof, and, therefore, one who could rise after suffering the death required by the righteousness of God.
9. MAT 1:18-25, LUK 1:26-35, ISA 7:14, ROM 1:3-4, ROM 8:3, ROM 8:3, GAL 4:4, 2CO 5:21, HEB 2:14-17, HEB 4:15
10. That being so begotten of God, and inhabited and used by God thru the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, Jesus was Emmanuel, God with us, God manifested in the flesh – yet was, during his natural life, of like nature with mortal man, being made of a woman, of the house and lineage of David, and therefore a sufferer, in the days of his flesh, from all the effects that came by Adam's transgression, including the death that passed upon all man, which he shared by partaking of their physical nature.
10. MAT 1:23, 1TI 3:16, HEB 2:14, GAL 4:4, HEB 2:17
DOCTRINE TO BE REJECTED
5. That Christ's nature was immaculate.
Clause #5 (under “Doctrine to be Rejected”) constitutes our rejection of the doctrine which teaches that Christ had a nature which was incapable of sin. There is nothing in the Christadelphian confession of faith which says that Jesus sinned. There is nothing in the Christadelphian confession of faith which says that Jesus was considered a sinner by God. There is nothing in the Christadelphian confession of faith which says that Jesus was in need of salvation, as we sinners are. Any Christadelphian who goes further than this, is speculating unnecessarily and (in all probability) inaccurately. We do not believe that Jesus sinned. We do not believe that Jesus was a sinner. We believe that he was morally perfect; the sinless Lamb of God who died for our sins. To say that “According to Christadelphian theology, Jesus had to die in order to save himself” is to confuse the issue with language that is found nowhere in our confession of faith, and imply that we believe something that we clearly do not. As for you, Mr Slick, I have read your Website, and it clearly implies that you believe Christ could have sinned. But how could he have sinned unless his nature was imperfect? With this very confession that Christ could have sinned, you deny that Christ’s nature was perfect, and with the same confession you deny that this supposed “perfection of nature” was a necessary part of his sacrifice. It is a confusing Christology that you hold, to be sure.
|(8) Question: If this is so, why would Jesus need to save Himself if He had no sin?|
Jesus did not need to “save himself”, but he certainly needed to be saved from death, for his nature (being both mortal and capable of sin), was condemned to death.
The apostle Paul makes this clear:
needed to be saved from death, and he prayed for this to happen. His
prayer was heard, for God did not allow his body to suffer corruption.
He raised up His Son, and granted him eternal life.
Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;
Thus, the Son was saved from death.
|(9) Question: If Jesus needed to save Himself, then that means He was not without defect. If that is the case, then how can he be a pure and unblemished sacrifice?|
The question is misguided to begin with. It implies that we believe Christ to have been a sinner, in need of salvation. But we do not believe any such thing, and so your objection is both meaningless and irrelevant.
|(10) Thomas said to Jesus, "My Lord and my God," (John 20:28). He was not sinning by using God's name in vain.|
I agree that Thomas does not use God’s name in vain, for he does not actually use the name of God! (The name of God is Yahweh, and it appears nowhere in this verse.)
He merely uses the title of theos, which was in common use during the 1st Century AD, and was applied not only to Caesars and kings, but also demigods and high-ranking magistrates.
|(11) Question: Can you, like Thomas, say to Jesus, "My Lord and my God"?|
Following the example of Thomas, I certainly can – and I long to do so when Christ returns to this earth.
|(12) Question: If you do call Jesus your Lord and your God, since you believe Jesus is a creation, isn't that idolatry?|
Not at all. Would you ask God’s inspired authors if it was idolatrous for the psalmist to call the Jewish king “God” in Psalm 45?
- Psalm 45:6.
Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever: the scepter of thy kingdom is a right scepter.
Do the Catholic translators of the New American Bible err when they when they include the following footnote against Psalm 45:6?
- O god: the king, in courtly language, is called ‘god,’ i.e., more than human, representing God to the people. Hebrews 1:8-9 applies Psalm 45:7-8 to Christ.
- O God. The king is clearly the addressee here, as in vv. 2-5 and 7-9.
Rather than taking the statement at face value, many prefer to emend
the text because the concept of deifying the earthly king is foreign to
ancient Israelite thinking (cf. NEB ‘your throne is like God’s throne,
eternal’). However, it is preferable to retain the text and take this
statement as another instance of the royal hyperbole that permeates the
royal psalms. Because the Davidic king is
God’s vice-regent on earth, the psalmist addresses him as if he were
God incarnate. God energizes the king for battle and accomplishes
justice through him. A similar use of hyperbole appears in Isa 9:6,
where the ideal Davidic king of the eschaton is given the title ‘Mighty
God’ (see the note on this phrase there).
Ancient Near Eastern art and literature picture gods training kings for battle, bestowing special weapons, and intervening in battle. According to Egyptian propaganda, the Hittites described Rameses II as follows: ‘No man is he who is among us, It is Seth great-of-strength, Baal in person; Not deeds of man are these his doings, They are of one who is unique’ (see M. Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, 2:67). Ps 45:6 and Isa. 9:6 probably envision a similar kind of response when friends and foes alike look at the Davidic king in full battle regalia. When the king’s enemies oppose him on the battlefield, they are, as it were, fighting against God himself.
- El Gibbor
is probably an attributive adjective (‘mighty God’), though one might
translate ‘God is a warrior’ or ‘God is mighty.’ Since this title is
apparently used later (10:21, but cf. Hos. 3:5) for God, some have
understood it as pointing to the king’s deity. Others
argue that the title portrays the king as God’s representative on the
battlefield, whom God empowers in a supernatural way (see Hayes and
Irvine, Isaiah, 181-82). The latter sense seems more likely in the
original context of the prophecy. Having read the NT, we might in retrospect interpret this title as indicating the coming king’s deity, but
it is unlikely that Isaiah or his audience would have understood the
title in such a bold way. Ps 45:6 addresses the Davidic king as ‘God’
because he ruled and fought as God’s representative on earth.
Everlasting Father. This title must not be taken in an anachronistic Trinitarian sense. (To do so would be theologically problematic, for the ‘Son’ is the messianic king and is distinct in his person from God the ‘Father.’) Rather, in its original context the title pictures the king as the protector of his people. For a similar use of ‘father’ see Isa 22:21 and Job 29:16. This figurative, idiomatic use of ‘father’ is not limited to the Bible. In a Phoenician inscription (ca. 850-800 b.c.) the ruler Kilamuwa declares: ‘To some I was a father, to others I was a mother.’ In another inscription (ca. 800 b.c.) the ruler Azitawadda boasts that the god Baal made him “a father and a mother” to his people. (See J. Pritchard, ANET, 499-500.)
The use of ‘everlasting’ might suggest the deity of the king, but Isaiah and his audience may have understood the term as royal hyperbole emphasizing the king’s long reign or enduring dynasty (for examples of such hyperbolic language used of the Davidic king, see 1 Kgs 1:31; Pss 21:4-6; 61:6-7; 72:5, 17). The New Testament indicates that the hyperbolic language (as in the case of the title ‘Mighty God’) is literally realized in the ultimate fulfillment of the prophecy, for Jesus will rule eternally.
- Exodus 7:1.
And the LORD said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet.
|(13) Question: If you do call Jesus your Lord and your God, is Jesus the true God or not?|
No, Jesus is not the true God, for he himself declares that the Father only is the true God.
- John 17:1-3.
These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:
As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
- I John 5:20.
And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.
- A. T. Robertson (1933), Word Pictures in the New Testament:
This (houtos). Grammatically houtos may refer to Jesus Christ or to ‘the True One.’ It is a bit tautological to refer it to God, but that is probably correct, God in Christ, at any rate. God is eternal life (Joh_5:26) and he gives it to us through Christ.
- Harris, M. (1992), Jesus as God, The New Testament Use of Theos in Reference to Jesus:
Conclusion: Although it is certainly possible that houtos refers back to Jesus Christ, several converging lines of evidence points to ‘the true one,’ God the Father, as the probable antecedent. This position, houtos = God, is held by many commentators, authors of general studies, and significantly, by those grammarians who express an opinion on the matter.
- Zerwick/Grosvenor (1981), A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament:
Houtos: as a climax to vv.18-20 the reference is almost certainly to God the real, the true, opposite of paganism (v.21.)
- William Loader (1992), The Johannine Epistles, p.79:
1 John 5.20-21. Knowing the true God;... The Greek of 5:20 has only the true (one) and reads literally: we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding 'so that we know the true (one) and we are in the true (one)', in his Son Jesus Christ. 'This (one) is the true God and eternal life.' It is clear from this that 'the true (one)' is God throughout. Christ is his Son.
In the final sentence this (one) most naturally refers still to God, not to Christ, as some have suggested. It is not unknown for Christ to be given God's name (Phil. 2:9-11) or even to be called 'God' (Heb. 1:8-9; John 1:1), but that would run contrary to the theme here, which is contrasting true and false understandings of God for which Christ's revelation is the criterion. '5:20 reminds us of Jesus' prayer according to John 17:3: 'This is eternal life: to know you the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent....’
|(14) Question: If you do not call Jesus you Lord and your God, why not? It is biblical.|
- There is nothing in Scripture which requires me to do so.
Christ returns, I look forward to addressing him by this great title,
in person. Until then, I prefer to wait “until he comes whose right it
- The phrase is open to misinterpretation by others,
who might be left with the impression that I am a Trinitarian or
Oneness Pentecostal (or at any rate, that I believe Jesus to be
literally God in some form or another), and I would not wish to offend
them by giving an erroneous impression.
- Only one man
in the whole of Scripture is on record as having addressed Jesus as “My
lord and my god”, and this occurred at the end of his ministry. The
phrase is notable – not for its constant repetition, but for its
relative obscurity! Certainly, we are left with the simple fact that
this was not the disciples’ usual mode of address, which means that I
cannot be accused of contradicting Scripture by refusing to use it
while my lord maintains his absence.
|(15) Jude 4 says, "For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ."|
I agree with this verse unreservedly, and I am happy to recite the words “my only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” without qualification, as often as anyone wishes to hear them.
|(16) Question: Can you call Jesus your only Master and Lord?|
I certainly can.
|(17) Question: If you do call Jesus your only Master and Lord, then what about God the Father? Is He not also your Lord and Master?|
Why, I do not believe that He is, for He has never told me so in His Word! I see no place in Scripture where the Father is called “Master”, though He is often called “Lord.”
In any event, He has invited me to call Him not “Master”, but “Father” – and so I do.
|(18) Question: If you call Jesus your "only" Lord and Master, aren't you committing idolatry?|
Not at all, for even Trinitarians confess that the Father is distinguished from the Son, and thus they confess two masters – God the Father and God the Son.
|(19) Question: If you do not call Jesus your only Lord and Master, then aren't you disobeying the truth of God's word?|
Not at all, for there is nothing in Scripture which tells me that I must not call Jesus “Master and Lord”, and there is nothing in Scripture which tells me that I must call the Father “Master and Lord.” Do you believe that you disobey the truth of God’s word when you call both Father and Son “Master and Lord”?
They are still “two persons”, you know.
John 1:12 says, "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the
right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His
Question: Have you received Jesus?
I certainly have.
|(21) In Matt. 11:28 Jesus says, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." The rest He is referring to is rest from the law, from trying to please God by your deeds.|
While I do not see here any explicit or implied reference to the Law of Moses, I shall accept this at face value for the sake of the argument.
|(22) Question: Have you gone to Jesus and rested are or you still trying to please God enough to be saved?|
Yes, I have gone to Jesus, and found rest in him. I know that there is nothing I can do to make God love me more, and nothing that I can do to assure my own salvation. I cannot earn my salvation by any work that I perform for God, no matter how hard I try. I am called to have a relationship with God and His Son – and I am required to maintain my side of this relationship by obeying both Father and Son in all humility and faithfulness.
Christ calls me to obedience, and speaks of it as a necessity for salvation:
- John 14:15.
If ye love me, keep my commandments.
- John 15:10-14.
If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.
These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
- Matthew 21:28-32.
But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard.
He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.
And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not.
Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.
For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.
- I Corinthians 7:19.
Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.
- I Corinthians 14:37.
If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.
- I John 2:4-6.
He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.
He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.
And hereby we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.
Contrary to the criterion accepted by many for determination if they are or are not saved, this denies that a person's "feelings" in such a question can be trusted. "It is all too easy to fall into illusions about ourselves if we make too much of our religious feelings, even those of an elevated kind." Keeping the commandments of God is the prerequisite and the test either of loving God (John 14:15) or of knowing God. Macknight supposed that John here was teaching against "the Nicolaitans and Gnostics who affirmed that the only thing necessary to eternal life was the knowledge of the true God."
Hereby we know ...
Similar words are used several times in this letter to introduce "tests" by which the validity of one's faith might be tested (2:5,29; 3:19,24; 4:2,6,13,; 4:2,6,13, and 5:2). In the last analysis, it is keeping the commandments of the Lord, walking in the light, doing the truth, obeying the word, etc., which are the final determinator of whether one is saved or lost. Which commandments are meant? All of them. There is no way to limit these to the ethical or moral commandments; those relating to the worship of God are likewise included.
He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him;
This is the negative of the same teaching given in 1 John 2:3. John's converse statement of the same principle here is blunt, powerful, and incapable of being misunderstood. It reminds one of Jesus' saying, "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" (Matthew 7:21). All talk of knowing God, loving God, or even of "believing" or "having faith" is meaningless in the mouths of people who dishonor the commandments of the Lord through disobedience and failure to do the "work of faith." It is even more than meaningless; it is falsehood.
Verse 5 but whoso keepeth his word, in him verily hath the love of God been perfected. Hereby we know that we are in him:
Whoso keepeth his word ...
This is identical in meaning with "if we keep his commandments" (1 John 2:3).
- I John 5:2-3.
By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
- Revelation 14:12.
Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
|(23) Question: If you have gone to Jesus, how did you do this? In prayer to Jesus?|
No, not through prayer – through baptism, for that is the Scriptural precedent:
- Acts 2:37.
Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
- Acts 2:38-41.
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.
For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.
And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.
Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
- Romans 6:3-4.
Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
- Verse 3
Or are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
This verse is proof that justification by faith, as possessed by those Christians to whom Paul addressed Romans, included baptism. Not a single one of them was ever justified without it; for Paul wrote, "ALL WE who were baptized."
Paul's focal purpose in this paragraph was to stress the fact that Christians who were dead to sin should not continue to live wickedly; but the manner of their being dead to sin necessarily brought the ordinance of baptism into his thoughts, with the consequence that many of the most positive teachings concerning that ceremony were included in this letter. In this verse, Paul explained HOW it is true that Christians are dead to sin, and WHEN they became so.
Baptism being the ordinance which brings people "into Christ," as stated here and in Gal. 3:26, 27, and through means of the unity with Christ thus effected, the Christian actually enters the spiritual body of Christ, thus making it true that "in Christ" he is dead to sin, since Christ died. That is the thought here expressed by "baptized into his death," meaning "into the status of being dead to sin in Christ." Making the sinner dead to sin is a mighty act; and, as Wuest expressed it,
‘Paul now proceeds to show how this mighty cleavage was effected. He says that it was brought about by God's act of baptizing the believing sinner into Christ so that the person would share his death on the Cross, which identification of the believing sinner with Christ in his death, brought about the separation of that person from the sinful nature.’
Wuest's view of baptism as an act of God is correct, as a comparison with John 4:1,2 proves, thus making it impossible ever to classify baptism as a work of human righteousness. It is a work of God because God commanded it and because it is administered in God's name by God's servants. Nevertheless, inasmuch as this cannot be done except with the consent and submission of the believer, there is a sense in which baptism is an act of the believer himself.
When Paul himself was baptized, the believer's initiative in the act was clearly indicated in the divine command uttered by Ananias (Acts 22:16). Vine's Greek dictionary has this:
‘In Acts 22:16, it (Greek: baptizo) is used in the middle voice in the command given to Saul of Tarsus, ‘Arise and be baptized,’ the significance of the middle voice being, ‘get thyself baptized.’
|(24) When we sin, we sin against God because it is His law we are breaking. He is the one who must forgive us because we have offended Him. The one offended is the one who forgives. Someone or something else doesn't forgive us for our sins against God, only God can do that.|
Where is it written in Scripture that nobody but God can forgive us our sins?
If you have a passage of Scripture in mind, why did you not first present it?
|(25) Question: How is it that Jesus is the one who forgives sins (Luke 5:20) if Jesus is not God, the one who is offended?|
Because Christ, as God’s representative on Earth, had the power to forgive sins on God’s behalf.
Even the common people recognised this simple truth:
- Matthew 9:2-8.
And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.
And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth.
And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?
For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk?
But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.
And he arose, and departed to his house.
But when the multitudes saw it, they marveled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men.
Likewise the disciples themselves, who also received this authority:
- John 20:21-23.
Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.
And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:
Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.
|(26) Question: If you state that it is because Jesus was given authority by God to forgive sins (Matt. 28:19), then have you gone to Jesus and asked Him to forgive you of your sins?|
No, because now that he is risen into the heavens, Christ is become is our high priest and mediator. You do not ask the mediator to forgive your sins; you ask the one whom you have offended.
I do not believe that you understand the principles involved here. It is certainly obvious that you have never studied them.
|(27) Remember, to do that, you must pray to Jesus.|
Not so, Mr Slick. I do not need to pray to Jesus, and he has never asked me to do so. But you may rest assured that Jesus taught me how to pray correctly. He taught me the Pater Noster, which is recorded in God’s Holy Word:
- Luke 11:1-4.
And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.
And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.
Give us day by day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.
|(28) Is it right to pray to a creature?|
No, for that is the mistake of the pagans and Catholics, who treat men as gods.
It is also the mistake of the Modalists and Trinitarians, who treat the man Jesus Christ, as if he were Almighty God.