Post 41D is the last of my 40+ posts that pertain to the doctrine of baptismal regeneration. Post 41D applies the single, definite and fixed meaning of Galatians 1:6-9 (see Post 41C) to the issue of:
Whether the doctrine of baptismal regeneration negates the salvific efficacy of an otherwise saving gospel.
The short answer is that it does negate the salvific efficacy.
In other words, for those who embrace the doctrine of baptismal regeneration, it is the road to hell.
This is not to say that all people who attend a religious body that teaches baptismal regeneration (e.g., Churches of Christ, United Pentecostal Church International (UPCI), etc.) are lost. After all, an attendee may not believe that water baptism is necessary for their salvation. Yet, it seems fair to presume that a person who attends such a religious body does not possess eternal life.
My more detailed discussion follows.
APPLICATION OF GALATIANS 1:6-9
The Proper Interpretation of Galatians 1:6-9
As set forth in Post 41C, the three main points Paul intended to convey to his audience by writing Galatians 1:6-9 are below.
First, he intended to tell his audience that faith, which inherently includes repentance, alone in Jesus Christ was the only true, saving gospel message. This was the message preached by Paul during his first missionary journey and throughout his writings.
Second, he intended to convey to his audience that there was only one true gospel, so any message that required faith in Jesus Christ, and circumcision for salvation was “different” from the true gospel message and not “another” saving message. Anyone who trusted, even in part, in their circumcision for their salvation was lost.
Third, he intended to convey to his audience that anyone who proclaimed a message different from the message of faith alone in Jesus Christ should be condemned to hell.
What this means is that the only proper interpretation of Galatians 1:6-9 is that there is only one saving gospel, which is salvation is through faith alone in Christ. The formula of the one saving gospel is:
Salvation = faith alone in Christ
If faith alone in Christ is the only saving gospel, then logic dictates that faith + something else (e.g., a work (ergon) such as the physical act of physical circumcision), no matter what it is, is NOT a saving message. No matter how sincere a person’s faith, it is the road to hell for a person to place their faith in a message that is not the one saving gospel. That is why a message of faith (in part) in Christ + faith (in part) in circumcision, which is a work (ergon), is not saving, and hence, is the road to hell.
Connecting the Dots
In reference to the doctrine of baptismal regeneration, there are three points to consider. First, when Paul writes that there is really not another gospel, he confirms that there is only one saving gospel of Jesus Christ which is a gospel of grace. This means that salvation is by faith alone in Jesus Christ. The logical implication is a message that relies on a person’s works (ergon) does not save.
Second, any other “gospel” than the one saving gospel of Jesus Christ is in reality a “different gospel.” A “different gospel” is not a saving gospel. Third, Paul’s desire for anyone preaching a “different gospel” to be accursed (or condemned to hell) confirms that any “different gospel” does not possess salvific efficacy.
In our issue-under-study, the message-in-question is salvific, except that it requires water baptism. Water baptism is a “work” (ergon) that is a physical action performed on a person that is an essential requirement for salvation. Like for the Judaizers’ message comprising a “different gospel” that does not save, so too, a message that includes the doctrine of baptismal regeneration is a “different gospel” per Galatians 1:6-9 that does not save.
In other words, the doctrine of baptismal regeneration negates the salvific efficacy of an otherwise saving message.
What about a convert who trusts in the message-in-question, can he or she be saved? My opinion is that a person who placed his or her trust or faith in a “different gospel”, i.e., a message that lacks salvific efficacy, cannot have been saved. While on the surface it seems harsh, my opinion makes sense. If a message lacks salvific efficacy, how can it save? It cannot save. No matter how sincere or committed the person, a non-saving message cannot save. This means that a person who placed their trust or faith in a message that includes the doctrine of baptismal regeneration cannot be saved, i.e., is lost and on the road to hell
This is not to say that all people who attend a religious body that teaches baptismal regeneration (e.g., Churches of Christ, United Pentecostal Church International (UPCI), etc.) are lost. After all, an attendee may not believe in baptismal regeneration. In other words, such a person may not believe that water baptism is necessary for their salvation.
Yet, it seems fair to presume that a person who attends such a religious body does not possess eternal life.
Confirmation with Other Sources
To make certain my application is not alone “in right field,” below are excerpts from a few commentaries that appear to be consistent with my application. One commentator [Bruce, F. F. (1982). The Epistle to the Galatians: a commentary on the Greek text (p. 80). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. (emphasis added)] writes:
No one would think of calling this substitute message a ‘gospel’, Paul implies, except with the intention of confusing the minds of believers. Gospel it is not; it is a message of bondage, not of freedom. It is a form of doctrine of salvation by law-keeping from which Paul himself had been liberated by the true gospel which he received on the Damascus road ‘by revelation of Jesus Christ’ (v 12). … But why should he express himself so vehemently against those who preached a different message from his own? Partly because he held the preaching of salvation by law-keeping to be a snare and a delusion, which put the souls of men and women in jeopardy; partly, also, because of its adverse implications for the authenticity of Christ.
A second commentator [George, T. (1994). Galatians (Vol. 30, pp. 93, 98-99). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers (emphasis added)] writes:
In these verses Paul intensified the antithesis between himself and his Galatian opponents by pronouncing a solemn curse upon anyone who proclaimed a counterfeit gospel. The fact that Paul issued this condemnation in the strongest words possible and then repeated it for emphasis makes this one of the harshest statements in the entire New Testament. It does not set well on modern ears accustomed to tolerance at any price and a doctrine of God devoid of the notions of judgment and wrath. Yet here it stands, stubbornly and ominously, at the forefront of Paul’s concern. How are we to understand this anathema?
What is the fate of one who thus perverts the gospel of Christ, be it Paul, any other human teacher, or even a messenger straight from heaven itself? The answer is given in two words: anathema estō, “let him be accursed!” Originally the word anathema, which literally means “something that is placed up,” referred to any object set aside for divine purposes, whether an offering in the temple set aside for divine blessing or the captured booty of Achan reserved for divine cursing (Josh 7:11–12). In time the negative sense of the word prevailed, and anathema became synonymous with anything or anyone under the “ban” (Heb., ḥerem) and hence delivered over to God’s wrath for final judgment. Later in church history anathema sit! became the standard postscript pronounced by the church on a notorious heretic. This is a derivative use of the word since, at best, the church’s decision can only be a ratification of the pronouncement of God’s own excluding wrath.
To be anathematized then means far more than to be excommunicated. It means nothing less than to suffer the eternal retribution and judgment of God. The GNB comes close to capturing the essence of Paul’s tone in this passage, “Let him be condemned to hell!”
In the AFTERWARD of an article by Lanny Tanton entitled “The Gospel and Water Baptism”, Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society, Autumn 12, Pastor Tanton writes [emphasis added]:
[p. 86] Thus, all efforts to explain Acts 2:38 in such a way as to maintain the purity of the gospel of grace by rejecting the idea of salvation occurs either because of, or, at the time of, one’s baptism, is to be highly commended. A gospel that does not require Christ’s cross is heresy.
[p. 87] First, I commend all who, in their writings on Acts 2:38, endeavor to maintain the purity of the gospel of God’s grace by rejecting a salvation of faith and works. It is my studied opinion that a false gospel of faith and works inevitably marginalizes or ignores the work of Christ on His cross—much like modern theological liberalism or ancient Pelagianism—and is, to be candid, no Biblical gospel at all.
These sources provide me with confidence that I am not incorrect in my assessment that the doctrine of baptismal regeneration negates the salvific efficacy of an otherwise saving gsoepl message.
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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