Post 37 identifies the following takeaways from my observation of Colossians 12:6-19, and in particular Colossians 2:11-14.
First, Paul reminded his audience that they were believers whose substance of their instruction was consistent with Paul’s teaching (vv. 6-7). The substance of Paul’s gospel was faith alone in Jesus Christ (e.g., Ephesians 1:13; 2:8-9; 1 Corinthians 1:21-25; 15:2, 11; Galatians 3:22; 2 Thessalonians 1:10; 2:11-12; 1 Timothy 1:16; Titus 3:8; Romans 1:6; 3:22, 24-25; 4:3-5, 24: 10:9-9-14). Water baptism was not a necessary element of Paul’s gospel message.
Second, Paul warned his audience that not to be taken captive by false teaching (v. 8). These false teachings included “food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day,” (v. 16), self-abasement, the worship of the angels, and visions (v. 18).
Third, using the metaphor of physical circumcision for spiritual circumcision, Paul reminded his audience that Jesus Christ is the One who saved them (v. 11).
Fourth, using the metaphor of water baptism for spiritual baptism, Paul reminded his audience that they had been immersed into union with Christ so as to be dead to sin and resurrected with Christ to the Christian life.
THE DOCTRINE OF ANALOGY OF FAITH
Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics
One crucial exercise is to measure an interpretation against the whole of Scripture. It is important to appreciate that Scripture is in harmony and consistent. Per the Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics, ARTICLE XVII reads:
We affirm the unity, harmony and consistency of Scripture and declare that it is its own best interpreter.
The Exposition of the Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics reads [in part]”
Interpretation should adhere to the principle of harmony in the biblical material. Scripture exhibits a wide diversity of concepts and viewpoints within a common faith and an advancing disclosure of divine truth within the biblical period. These differences should not be minimized, but the unity which underlies the diversity should not be lost sight of at any point. We should look to Scripture to interpret Scripture and deny as a matter of method that particular texts, all of which have the one Holy Spirit as their source, can be genuinely discrepant with each other. Even when we cannot at present demonstrate their harmony in a convincing way, we should proceed on the basis that they are in fact harmonious and that fuller knowledge will show this.
Other Bible Study Resources
Many other Bible study resources makes it abundantly clear that any interpretation of a passage must be consistent and in harmony with the balance of Scripture. For example, R. C. Sproul (Knowing Scripture at page 51) describes the “analogy of faith” to mean [emphasis added]:
The analogy of faith is the rule that Scripture is to interpret Scripture: … This means, quite simply, that no part of Scripture can be interpreted in such a way as to render it in conflict with what is clearly taught elsewhere in Scripture. … This principle rests on the prior confidence in the Bible as the inspired Word of God. It is, therefore, consistent and coherent. Since it is assumed that God would never contradict Himself, it is thought slanderous to the Holy Spirit to choose an alternate interpretation that would unnecessarily bring the Bible in conflict with itself.
Kay Arthur in her book How to Study Your Bible (Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR (1994)) writes on page 62:
The best interpreter of Scripture is Scripture. Remember, all Scripture is inspired by God; it is God-breathed. Therefore, Scripture will never contradict itself. If it appears to, then your interpretation of at least one passage is incomplete or wrong.
J. Robertson McQuicken in his book An Introduction to Hermeneutics – Understanding and Applying the Bible (Moody Press, Chicago, IL (1983)) writes on page 48:
If, indeed, the Bible is true in all its parts, a true unity must be sought by the one who would understand Scripture. Scripture must be compared with Scripture, and the context of the writer and the first receiver of the writing must be examined. … But we must begin with the basic principle that because all parts of Scripture are true, the harmony is already there, and out task is to search it out.
In his book Oneness Pentecostals and the Trinity (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI 49516 (1992)), Gregory A. Boyd writes on page 136 after saying that water baptism was an essential action connected with the salvation experience in the 1st Century [emphasis added]:
This is not, however, the same as saying that salvation was ever seen as being directly contingent upon baptism. The continual insistence in the New Testament that it is by faith, and faith alone, that saves a person is itself enough to prove that (e.g., John 3:15, 36; 5:24; Acts 2:21; 10:43; 15:9; 16:31; Rom. 1:17; 3:22-30; 4:3, 5; 5:1; 9:30; 10:9-13; Acts 15:9, etc.). At least sixty times in the New Testament, eternal salvation is explicitly tied to faith and/or repentance with no mention of baptism. … The fact that the thief on the cross could be saved without being baptized further corroborates the point (Luke 23:42-43; cf. 18:9-14).
In the context of this series of posts, the harmony of Scripture is a determinative principle. Very briefly, many passages teach that water baptism is not necessary for salvation.
The gotquestions.org website (link: Is salvation by faith alone, or by faith plus works? | GotQuestions.org) presents an article entitled “Is salvation by faith alone, or by faith plus works?” This article reads in part [italics in the original]:
Is salvation by faith alone, or is salvation by faith plus works? This is perhaps the most important question in all of Christian theology. This question was the cause of the Reformation, the split between Protestantism and Catholicism. This question is a key difference between biblical Christianity and most of the cults. Is salvation through faith alone or through faith plus human works? Stated another way, am I saved by trusting in Jesus, or do I have to believe in Jesus and, in addition, do certain things?
The works in addition to faith needed for salvation differ in various religious circles. Many groups point to water baptism as a work that must be added to faith for salvation—if you’re not baptized, you’re not saved. Some go even further: you must be baptized by the right minister, using the right method, saying the right words.
Others suggest different rites to be observed in order to be saved, but the formula is always faith + [fill in the blank]. Salvation is through faith + receiving Mass, faith + going to confession, faith + tithing, etc.
Many passages of the Bible teach that salvation is through faith alone, not faith plus works. Ephesians 2:8–9, for example, is clearly worded and unequivocal: “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Of great importance is the word grace, which refers to God’s blessings on the undeserving. The very idea of grace negates all attempts to earn salvation. Paul makes that argument when teaching on God’s choosing of the remnant of Israel: “Since it is through God’s kindness, then it is not by their good works. For in that case, God’s grace would not be what it really is—free and undeserved” (Romans 11:6, NLT).
Other passages that clearly teach salvation through faith alone include Acts 16:31; Romans 3:28; 4:5; 5:1; Galatians 2:16; 3:24; Ephesians 1:13; and Philippians 3:9.
The following passages from 1 John supplement the above passages: 1 John 3:23; 5:1, 5, 10, and 13. Water baptism appears not necessary for salvation per the account in Acts 10:1-11:18 about the salvation of Cornelius et al.
Any interpretation of 1 Corinthians 12:13 must be consistent with the entirety of Scripture. For this discussion, I looked at Pauline passages that use pisteuō in the context of salvation. However, all other passages that teach salvation is by faith alone in Jesus Christ are relevant to the application of the doctrine of the analogy of faith to the interpretation of Colossians 2:13. This is especially the case for the passages in the Gospel of John and the epistle 1 John as referred to above.
The below passages are from the Pauline epistles and are relevant under the analogy of faith.
Paul wrote that those who believe (no mention of baptism) are saved according to 1 Corinthians 1:21-25 (NASB95):
21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
According to Paul, faith alone in Christ is all that is necessary for salvation per 1 Corinthians 15:2, 11 (NASB95):
2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. … 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.
Faith alone in Christ is all that is necessary for salvation per Galatians 3:22 (NASB95):
22 But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.
Paul set out a sequence of listening, believing (Alone) and being sealed with the Holy Spirit in Ephesians 1:13 (NASB95):
13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,
Faith alone in Christ is all that is necessary for salvation per 2 Thessalonians 1:10 (NASB95):
10 when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed—for our testimony to you was believed.
Failure to believe the truth, not failure to be baptized, is what condemns according to 2 Thessalonians 2:11–12 (NASB95):
11 For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, 12 in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.
Faith alone in Christ is what leads to eternal life per 1 Timothy 1:16 (NASB95):
16 Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.
Paul wrote that faith alone in Christ results in salvation per Titus 3:8 (NASB95):
8 This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men.
Paul clearly says that faith alone in Christ is all hat is necessary for salvation per the following passages:
Romans 1:16 (NASB95) – 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
Romans 3:22, 24-25 (NASB95) – 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; … 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed;
Works do not save. Paul taught against a works-salvation soteriology through a passage that faith alone in Jesus Christ per Romans 4:3-5, 24 (NASB95):
3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. 5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, … 24 but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead,
Paul set out an evangelistic plan that required faith alone in Jesus Christ per Romans 10:9–14 (NASB95):
9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; 13 for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?
The above passages taken from the Pauline epistles shows that salvation is by faith alone in Jesus Christ and water baptism is not a requirement for salvation.
INTERPRETATION OF COLOSSIANS 2:11-14
My interpretation of Colossians 2:11-14 reads:
11 and in Him you were also spiritually circumcised with a spiritual circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; 12 having been spiritually entombed (or placed) into union with Him by the Holy Spirit, in which through the act of entombing or placing you into union with Christ, you were also raised with Him through your faith in the effectual working energy of the God who raised Him out from among the dead. 13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
In view of the above interpretation of Colossians 2:11-14, Colossians 2:12-14 does NOT support the doctrine of baptismal regeneration.
VERY IMPORTANT IF YOU BELIEVE IN BAPTISMAL REGENERATION
Finally, let me quote gotquestions.org (link: https://www.gotquestions.org/baptism-Mark-16-16.html ):
If you believe in baptismal regeneration, you would do well to prayerfully consider whom or what you are really putting your trust in. Is your faith in a physical act (being baptized) or in the finished work of Christ on the cross? Whom or what are you trusting for salvation? Is it the shadow (baptism) or the substance (Jesus Christ)? Our faith must rest in Christ alone. “We have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).
Please read and take to heart what I write in the section entitled “IF YOU ARE NOT A CHRISTIAN.”
IF YOU ARE UNSURE ABOUT YOUR SALVATION
If you are unsure about your salvation, you need to check out my book The Salvation Meter: Biblical Self-Diagnostic Tests to Examine Your Salvation and Spiritual Growth (book link at Xulon Press: https://www.xulonpress.com/bookstore/bookdetail.php?PB_ISBN=9781662828638 ). At Amazon the book link is https://www.amazon.com/Salavation-Meter-Biblical-Self-Diagnostic-Spiritual/dp/1662828632 . I also have a website in which I am updating the content in the book. The link to my website for the book is https://thesalvationmeter.com .
IF YOU ARE NOT A CHRISTIAN
… please (1) read through “God’s Plan of Salvation” so you can understand what God did for you through His only unique Son, Jesus Christ, and (2), from the bottom of your heart, pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” meaning every word. If you do, you will be reconciled to God – saved – through Jesus Christ.
God’s Plan of Salvation
In the beginning, God, who is holy, created the entire universe. As a part of His creative actions, He made humans in His image to know Him. For a while, everything was right between God and our ancestors, Adam and Eve. But Adam sinned, and his sin was passed down to all of humankind whereby we became separated from God. Nothing we could do on our own could bridge that separation so that without God’s intervention, hell would be our eternal destination.
Fortunately for us, in His great love and mercy God provided humankind with the only means of salvation, which is through Jesus Christ who is God’s only unique Son. While retaining His deity, God the Son became a man in Jesus, lived a perfect life, and died on the cross, thus fulfilling the law Himself and taking on Himself the punishment for the sins of all those who would ever repent and trust in Him for their salvation. Jesus rose from the dead, showing that God the Father accepted Christ’s sacrifice and that God’s wrath against us has been exhausted. He now calls us to repent of our sins and trust alone in what Christ did to save us.
If we repent of our sins and completely trust in Christ alone that He died for our sins and rose to life from the dead, we are born again into a new life, an eternal life with God.
Scripture References: Genesis 1:1, 27, 31; Habakkuk 1:13; Genesis 2:7, 18, 21-25; Genesis 3:1-7, 23-24; Isaiah 59:2; Romans 3:19-20, 23; 5:17-19; Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 6:23; John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Corinthians 15:3; 1 John 4:10; John 3:16-18; Mark 1:15; Romans 1:4; 4:25; John 3:5-8; 1 Peter 1:3.
Lord, Jesus Christ, the only unique Son of God, thank You for Your free gift of eternal life. I know I’m a sinner who cannot save myself no matter what I do, and I deserve to spend eternity in hell. But, I know that because You loved me so much, You voluntarily died on the cross for me taking my sins upon Yourself, and You physically bodily rose from the grave showing that Your sacrificial death was sufficient payment to give me eternal life in Heaven. I now repent of my sins and trust alone in what You did for my eternal salvation. Please take control of my life as I now receive You as my Lord and Savior. Thank You so much for saving me. I am now Yours forever! (Scripture references: John 1:1-4, 11-14; John 3:16; Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 3:21-26; Isaiah 53:4-6; Mark 1:15; Acts 16:31; Acts 4:12; Romans 10:9-10, 13; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; John 10:27-29).
Upon your salvation, you must find a spiritually solid Bible-believing church that (1) teaches that the sixty-six books of the Bible are the inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word of God, (2) believes in the doctrine of the Trinity, which means that there is one God who eternally exists as three distinct Persons — the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – and each Person is fully God, and (3) teaches that salvation is by grace through faith and not by works (e.g., water baptism by immersion).
ONE CAUTIONARY POINT. Please do not make the mistake of thinking that once you become a Christian, your life will become easy. Most likely, it will become more difficult. God’s blessing of salvation and life’s difficulties are not mutually exclusive. Jesus told His disciples, “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.” John 15:18 (NLT). Always keep in mind that you have an eternal home in heaven waiting for you per John 14:2–4 (NLT):
2 There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.”
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