Sent: Monday, May 24, 2004 10:59 PM

In a message dated 5/24/2004 2:12:57 PM Central Daylight Time, a Baptist pastor writes:


Your reply is certainly on target.  Sadly, the "Reformed Baptists" seem
to have read more of the paedo "baptizers" than the historic Baptist
  Even more alarming is their attempt to force upon Scripture
what is patently not there regarding "covenant children" and the
"baptizing" of infants. Although we do not use the typical "altar call" it is our
practice to "invite" convicted sinners to make their concern known and to
instruct them in the Gospel.

It unfortunate that "names" of religious entities sometimes develop an "image" or "persona" which is not in the best interests of the New Testament church. Today there are many churches which even shun "labels" to try to avoid an identity associated with the bearers of certain names. In the case of some "Reformed Baptists," it appears to me that this label is becoming recognized as more of an indicator certain teachings of the Pedobaptists than with historic Baptists.

For example, as we have shown in recent articles, the theory of some Reformed advocates of the "regeneration" of children in infancy lays the foundation for the theory of "pre-faith regeneration" in adults as a matter of "consistency." If infant children are regenerated in a "hyper-physical" manner by the Spirit without the Word of God as the "means," then to be consistent the writers such as Reformed theologian Louis Berkhof postulate that regeneration does not involve the Word as a "means." This is also the type of argument offered by the Hardshell, or Primitive, Baptists.

When unsuspecting Baptists adopt this view, having adults "born again" as a prerequisite to faith, they are simply following the "ordo salutis" of the infant "regeneration" theory of the Pedobaptist theologians, not only as taught by Berkhof but likewise taught by Pedobaptists R. C. Sproul and Iain Murray. If the Pedobaptists admitted that the Word was used a means of creating faith, and this creation itself constitutes the New Birth, then it would conflict with their theory of the supposed "new birth" of infants, for with them infants are supposedly regenerated before they are able to believe, which faith theoretically is supposed to ordinarily result when they come to "maturity."

This theory also serves as a basis for attacks upon the indiscriminate public invitation, for this practice implies that the "new birth" or "regeneration" is more than a "hyper-physical" work of the Spirit apart from the use of means. It implies that upon hearing the Gospel, the hearer has become subject to the convicting Holy Spirit who accompanies the Gospel and brings him to repentance of unbelief and the exercise of faith, and as an act of voluntary surrender to Christ, he is moved to come out to confess Christ openly and publicly.

In reading a a recent Spurgeon sermon, I came upon the following remarks which seemed to be quite appropriate on the subject of the necessity of faith. This is excerpted from the sermon, Baptism Essential to Obedience, from Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Volume 39, Year 1893, sermon #2339:

That raises another question, — When is Christ to be trusted? And the answer is, Now.

He was never more worthy to be trusted than he is tonight, and you never more needed a Savior than you do tonight. You are, perhaps, talking about trusting Christ at some future time. . . . No, friend; if at any future time you should deem Christ worthy of your confidence, he is worthy of your trust tonight, for he is the same yesterday, and today, and
for ever.

Just as you are, in that pew, or sitting in the aisle, Christ deserves your confidence; and I pray you to give it to him. Cast your guilty soul on him this very moment; live not another second in unbelief, for that unbelief is a slander on my Lord, a grievous injury to his dear, faithful love. Now, while the word is quitting my lip, as it reaches your ear, say and mean it, “I do believe; I will trust Jesus; I yield myself to Christ, and take him to be my

“If I do that,” says one, “When will the blessing come?”

The text says, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved,” and the blessing will come at once. Swift as the lightning flash is the act which saves the soul. One moment, a man may be black with accumulated sin; the next moment, he may be white as the driven snow. It takes no time for God to blot out iniquity. We pass in an instant from death to life, from darkness into marvelous light. I am praying that, while I speak to you in feebleness, God may work with his almighty power, with that right hand that rent the Red Sea in twain, that the ransomed of the Lord might cross over dryshod. May he come, and save the people made ready by his grace for this night of his glorious power, leading them immediately to believe, and giving them at once, as the result of their faith, reconciliation to God and justification by Christ Jesus!

Here let me correct a mistake into which some people fall. They say, “Do you exhort us to believe?”

I do, indeed, with all my heart. “But, sir, faith is the work of the Spirit of God.”

Yes, did I ever say that it was not? I insist upon it continually that, wherever there is any faith, it is wrought in us by the Spirit of God. But listen. Did I ever tell you the Spirit of God believed for us, or did you ever read anything in Scripture approximating to that statement? No, the Spirit of God leads us to believe, but we distinctly believe, and it is our faith that saves us; it is not that the Holy Spirit believes instead of us, and we lie still, like a man under the surgeon’s knife.

Oh, dear, no! Every faculty is awakened and aroused by the Spirit of God. We see that Christ can save, and we believe it. We believe that he will save, and we trust him to save us. It is our own act and deed, it cannot be anybody else’s act and deed. You cannot believe for another; there can be nothing like sponsorship here; and the Holy Ghost himself cannot believe for you. It is not written, “Let the Holy Ghost believe for you;” that would be absurd; but it is written, “Believe thou,”

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”

With thine own proper mind and heart thou must believe in Jesus Christ if thou wouldst be saved. . . .

Come to him now, I beseech you. You who do not know so much about the plan of salvation, come to Jesus, come and trust him; trust him now.

II. Now, in the second place, a little CONCERNING BAPTISM: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” . . . 

First, let me remind you that our Savior’s words teach us that baptism follows faith: “He that believeth and is baptized.”

Never neglect the order of things in the Bible. If God puts them one, two, three, do not you put them three, two, one.  . . .

“He that is baptized and believeth.” . . .  I dare not turn my Master’s orders upside down. You have no right to baptize people till they have believed in Christ as their Savior.

Remember how Philip put it to the Ethiopian eunuch when that worthy man said, “See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?” Philip answered, “If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.” And if thou dost not believe with all thine heart, thou oughtest not to be baptized, thou hast no right to this ordinance of Christ unless thou art a Christian. “He that believeth and is baptized,” — that is the Scriptural order. . . .

This much also I must say, that it is not possible that there can be anything saving in the baptism itself. The act of applying water in any way whatsoever cannot wash away a single sin. . . .  In my text, while it says, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved,” yet, when the condemnation is announced, it is simply, “He that believeth not shall be damned,” and the matter of baptism is not mentioned, for there are many who believe, but who are not baptized, and who cannot be, as the dying thief, for instance, yet are they assuredly saved. Nevertheless, here stands my text, and I cannot alter it, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.”

Why do you suppose that baptism is put into this prominent position? I think that it is for this reason, Baptism is the outward expression of the inward faith. He who believes in Christ with his heart confesses his faith before God and before the Church of God by being baptized. Now, the faith that speaks thus is not a dumb faith; it is not a cowardly faith; it is not a sneaking faith. Paul puts the matter thus, “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

But why is confession so necessary to prove true faith? I answer that it is necessary to the very existence of the Church of God; for, if I may be a believer, and never confess my faith, you may be a believer, and never confess your faith, and all round we should thus have a company of men believing, and none of them confessing; and where would be the outward ordinances of the Church of Christ at all? . . .

And hence baptism, being God’s way of our openly confessing our faith, he requires it to be added to faith, that the faith may be a confessing faith, not a cowardly faith; that the faith may be an open faith, not a private faith; that so the faith may be a working faith, influencing our life, and the life of others, and
not a mere secret attempt for self-salvation by a silent faith which dares not own Christ.

Remember those words of the Lord Jesus, “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me” (and in that place it means, “he who does not confess me”) “before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.”

There is, therefore, no regenerating efficacy about water, or about immersion, or about baptism in any shape or form; but it is needful as the outward visible expression of the inward spiritual faith by which the soul is saved.

So a public invitation, wherever the Gospel is preached, gives a very suitable opportunity and an encouragement for hearers to confess faith and come forward to openly present themselves as subjects for baptism. They thus confess both with their mouth and in the act of baptism, which itself sets forth the believer's death to sin and resurrection to new life by the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. -- Bob L. Ross

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