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Question 1: “Why then does the Gospel of John, written under the superintending guidance of the Holy Spirit, through the Apostle John, for the expressed purpose of explaining how to have eternal life (John 20:30) never mention water baptism at all?”
I glad that we can both agree that God’s word is indeed inspired. Let’s look at the two versus that I believe you are referring to.
“And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” – John 20:30-31
When you break down these two versus keeping it in context we can see the following:
“And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples,”
a. Jesus did many things not written in a relatively short book like John.
b. John 2:23 mentions the miracles which Jesus performed at a Passover, but we are not
told what they were.
c. John 12:37 mentions the fact that Jesus performed many miracles and people still did
not believe, but we are not told what these miracles were.
“which are not written in this book;”
a. Some of the things Jesus did that are not written in the book of John are written in the
books of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
b. There is no doubt, many things that Jesus did are not written anywhere.
c. “Which are not written” is an indirect expression which uses a present tense verb
with a perfect verb to indicate the things that do not stand written in this book, nor are
they described in this book.
“But these are written, that you might believe the Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God;”
a. “These are written” is a perfect verb indicating they stand written. The antecedent to
the demonstrative pronoun is “signs,” in the previous verse.
b. “That,” or in order that, introduces the purpose for which “these” have been written.
c. On “might believe,” there are variances in the Greek text.
1). If it is a present tense verb, the idea would be “that you might continue to
d. The purpose of none of the gospel writers was to write a biography of Jesus.
e. Notice two things in this statement:
1). Jesus was the anointed one, the Messiah, in contradiction to the Cerinthian heresy.
2). Jesus was a real person in a real body, in contradiction to the Docetic Gnostics.
“And that believing you might have life through his name.”
a. The word “believing” is a present tense participle, literally, therefore, “the keeping on believing ones.”
But exactly what is the biblical “belief” of which God approves?
Some have defined the term as simply an acceptation of the historical facts regarding Christ, along with a willingness to trust him as Savior. This is the view of those who advocate the doctrine of salvation by “faith alone.” But the truth is, there is more to faith than a mental disposition.
The verb “believe” in the Greek New Testament is pisteuo. In addition to the acknowledgment of the historical data, and a trusting disposition, the word also includes the meaning, “to comply,” as Liddell & Scott observe in their Greek Lexicon, (Oxford, 1869, p. 1273); and, as they further point out, it is the opposite of apisteo, which means “to disobey. . . refuse to comply” (p. 175).
Prof. Hermann Cremer noted that “faith” (pistis) both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament “is a bearing towards God and His revelation which recognizes and confides in Him and in it, which not only acknowledges and holds to His word as true, but practically applies and appropriates it” (Biblico-Theological Lexicon of the New Testament, T. & T. Clark, 1962, p. 482; emp. added). W. E. Vine declared that faith involves “a personal surrender” to Christ (Expository Dictionary, Vol. II, p. 71).
Lexicographer J.H. Thayer noted that belief is “used especially of the faith by which a man embraces Jesus, i.e. a conviction, full of joyful trust, that Jesus is the Messiah — the divinely appointed author of eternal salvation in the kingdom of God, conjoined with obedience to Christ” (Greek-English Lexicon, T. & T. Clark, 1958, p. 511; emp. added).
Saving faith cannot be divorced from obedience as the following evidence clearly reveals.
Belief and disobedience are set in vivid contrast in the Bible. Note this verse: “He that believeth on the Son hath eternal life; but he that obeyeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36 — ASV; emp. added). Similarly, the Israelites of the Old Testament that were “disobedient” were condemned “because of unbelief” (see Hebrews 3:18,19; 4:3,6).
While John 20:31 and 3:16 promises eternal life to him who believes, Hebrews 5:9 attributes eternal salvation to such as who obey, thus demonstrating that the two are not mutually exclusive, rather, saving faith includes obedience!
The New Testament often uses “faith” as a synecdoche (a figure of speech whereby the part is made to stand for the whole) to denote the sum total of gospel obedience.
For instance, Paul wrote: "Being therefore justified by faith, we have peace with God. . . " (Romans 5:1). That this means more than mere mental faith is proved by Paul’s own conversion. He believed in Jesus’ Lordship while yet on the road to Damascus (Acts 22:10), but he enjoyed no peace for three days subsequent thereto; until he was baptized in water in obedience to the Lord’s command (Acts 22:16; 9:18,19).
Other components in the plan of salvation sometimes figuratively represent the entire process. Repentance is said to result in life (Acts 11:18), but certainly not repentance alone! And baptism saves (1 Peter 3:21), but not baptism by itself.
Biblical faith, therefore, is the faith that lovingly works (Galatians 5:6) in obeying the Lord’s requirements for implementing the new birth (John 3:3-5). And in the maintenance of the Christian life. The notion that salvation is effected by “faith alone” is strictly a human doctrine.
b. The “life” is spiritual life, and may only be had “through his name.” (Literally, “in”
his name, or by his authority.)
c. Can there be any doubt that “faith” leads to “eternal life”?
d. Eternal life is here promised to those who pursue the life of obedient trust.
But exactly what is eternal life?
a. Most assuredly it is not mere eternal existence, for the wicked will exist eternally. Eternal life is the exact opposite of everlasting death. The final abode of evil persons is called “the second death” (Revelation 2:11; 20:6,14). Since “death” always connotes the idea of separation, in some form or another (cf. Ephesians 2:1), the final death is obviously eternal separation from God (cf. Matthew 7:23; 25:41; 2 Thessalonians 1:9).
b. Conversely, eternal life is everlasting communion with God, along with all the wonders that involves. It is a state of glory (Romans 2:10; 2 Corinthians 4:17), rest (Hebrews 4:11), and happiness (Matthew 25:21).
You are right baptism is not mentioned here but in context the miracles proved that he was/is the messiah, the Son of God despite what others were saying and teaching at the time. Belief is more than just accepting, obedience is needed. I encourage you to look at the words of Christ in Mathew and Mark. We see him advising the apostles the following.
“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
“And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned”
I hope this answer helps.
Question 2: “The household of Cornelius was saved before being water baptized... that happened later (Acts 10:44-48)”
First, Cornelius’ reception of the Holy Spirit represented a very unique situation. He was the first Gentile to be offered the gospel. This was a revolutionary step in the unfolding of God’s scheme of redemption.
The fact is, the supernatural work of the Spirit in this case had nothing at all to do with Cornelius’ personal salvation. The outpouring of the Spirit was to persuade the Jews that Gentiles had a right to the kingdom of heaven, as well as Jews. Note these passages.
“And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.” – Acts 10:45
“If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?” – Acts 11:17
“So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.” - Acts 15:8-9
Second, the apostle Peter, in his defense of the Gentiles’ acceptance into the church, made it very clear that God “made no distinction between them [Gentiles] and us [Jews]” in the matter of salvation (Acts 15:9). If one can learn, therefore, what the Jews were required to do in order to secure the remission of their sins, he will be forced to conclude that the identical process applied to Cornelius and his household.
Acts 2 contains the record of the first Jewish response to the gospel. Believers who had been convinced of the message regarding Christ were instructed: “Repent and be immersed ... for the forgiveness of your sins” (2:38). Baptism was crucial to their obedience.
One must conclude that Cornelius was under an equal obligation. No wonder Peter “commanded” the Gentile soldier to be immersed (10:48).
Third, according to Peter’s rehearsal of these events, which is more chronological than is Luke’s original record (cf. 11:4), the Spirit fell upon Cornelius just as the apostle “began to speak” (11:15), and therefore, before this Gentile even heard the message, hence, before he had faith (cf. Rom. 10:17). If the argument mentioned above is valid, then Cornelius was saved without faith — which is quite unreasonable.
Underscore “began” in verse 15, and marginally note this point.
Question 3: “Since the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16) but God did not send Paul to baptize, but rather to preach the Gospel (1 Cor 1:17), why think that water baptism saves?”
This is another one of those passages that we need to look at the context.
“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.” – 1 Corinthians 1:17
In this setting Paul is addressing a problem in the church at Corinth. Some of those Christians were inordinately enamored with the person who had immersed them — even to the point of adopting the baptizer’s name as a religious appellation (versus 12-13). In view of such a perversion, the apostle was thankful that he had personally immersed only a few of these people (versus 14-16).
It was within that context that Paul said: “For Christ sent me not to baptize.” The word “baptize” here denotes “to administer the rite” of baptism (J.H. Thayer, Greek Lexicon, p. 94). Paul was not sent to be an administrator of baptism; his primary mission was to proclaim the gospel. But the inspired apostle was not disassociating baptism from the gospel; rather, he was suggesting that no special adoration was to be attached to the one administering the rite.
Underline the word “baptize” in this passage and observe: The act of baptizing. Emphasis is upon the administrator, not the act itself.
Since baptism puts one “into Christ” (Romans 6:3; Galatians 3:27), Paul is not going to suggest that baptism is no part of the gospel.
Question 4: “Why does Paul say to the Ephesians that they were saved after hearing and then believing? (Ephesians 1:13-14)”
“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” – Ephesians 1:13-14
This goes back to the thought process of what true biblical belief is. These were already baptized Christians he is addressing. Refer to Answer 1: But exactly what is the biblical “belief” of which God approves?
Question 5: “The first century Christians were aware of many types of baptism (Hebrews 6:2), but there's only one baptism (Ephesians 4:5), it would seem that the Spirit baptism of 1 Cor 12:13 is the _one_ of significance. Not to say that water baptism isn't important, it just not the one that places us into the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:12-23)”
Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.” – Hebrews 6:1-2
a. "Doctrine" or teaching. Some think this ought to be translated: "Not laying again
as the foundation the teaching of baptisms."
b. "Baptisms," or washings. Baptism is a burial, or dipping in water.
1). First there was the baptism of John, then the teaching of Christ on baptism, and even Holy Spirit baptism for the purpose of establishing the teaching at first.
2). Why go over all of this again?
3). Even after we are baptized according to the great commission, we need to go on, and build on that, leaving that behind us.
c. "Baptism" is one of the basic elements of Christianity.
If one has already laid the "foundation," why would he want to lay it again? That
is the time to build upon it, growing and going on to maturity. These passages discuss maturing as a Christian.
“For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.” – 1 Corinthians 12:13
1. “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body,”
a. The KJV translators felt this to be the Holy Spirit. If this is the case, then it means that the Holy Spirit taught us how to be baptized into the one body.
b. Literally “in one spirit” suggests a better explanation. It is that this refers to the
attitude of the heart and mind of those being baptized into the body.
1). We must have the right attitude, based upon being taught correctly.
2). Romans 6:17 says our obedience is “from the heart.”
2. “And have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”
a. Again the KJV translators felt this was the Holy Spirit.
b. A better explanation is that this means a spirit of faithful obedience.
1). The N.T. only knows of one way to get into Christ. (Romans 6:3,4; Galatians 3:27)
2). Does it not say something that every one coming into the body of Christ in the book of Acts came in the same way? Everyone did exactly the same thing.
So then there is the thought process of the Holy Spirit baptism today:
Holy Spirit promised to all flesh
Centuries before the birth of Jesus, the prophet Joel foretold of a time when the Holy Spirit would be poured out upon “all flesh.” The expression “all flesh” obviously is not employed in an unrestricted sense (which would include every human being — or even animals, since they have “flesh”). Rather, the phrase “all flesh” merely embodies the two major segments of humanity, from that ancient vantage point, i.e., the Jews and the Gentiles.
Joel’s prophecy in fulfillment
On the day of Pentecost, Peter quoted Joel’s prophetic declaration (see Acts 2:16ff), thus revealing that the prophecy was beginning to enjoy its fulfillment that very day. Since, however, only the apostles (all of whom were Jews) received this outpouring of the Spirit on that occasion, one must look for a further bestowal of the Spirit to exhaust the scope of Joel’s prediction.
Holy Spirit outpouring a “baptism”
This outpouring of the Holy Spirit is metaphorically designated as a “baptism” (see Mt. 3:11; Acts 1:5; 11:16) because it involved an overwhelming miraculous bestowal of divine power (Thayer, 94).
Fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy completed
The final demonstration of “Holy Spirit baptism” occurred when Peter and his Jewish brothers visited the family of Cornelius in the city of Caesarea (Acts 10). The Spirit of God was “poured out” (10:45) on Cornelius, his family, and near friends at that time.
Later, as Peter defended their acceptance of the Gentiles (to the Jewish church) he identified the Caesarean experience with the events that occurred “at the beginning” (i.e., on Pentecost). He further tied the circumstance to John’s prophecy of a “baptism” in the Spirit; he even called it a “like gift” (Acts 11:15-17).
Moreover, the evidence of the Spirit’s endowment was demonstrated similarly. Both the apostles on Pentecost, and the Gentiles during this incident, were empowered to speak with languages they previously had not known (2:4ff; 10:46).
What Was Purpose of Holy Spirit Baptism?
The fact that the apostles received a supernatural outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, and the further reality that the Gentiles also were given a similar experience a while later, does not mean either of the following:
- that the same purpose obtained in both cases; or,
- that equivalent authority was bestowed in each instance.
In fact, in each of these cases, a different purpose and scope of authority was manifested by the overwhelming reception of the Holy Spirit.
Why Did the Apostles Receive the Holy Spirit?
The purpose for which the apostles received the Spirit on the day of Pentecost was unique. The background of this matter is vividly described in John’s Gospel account. The Lord promised his apostles that they would receive an unparalleled measure of the Spirit’s power to guide them in teaching the gospel in an infallible way.
The Spirit would bring to their memories the things they had learned from the Savior (Jn. 14:26). He would guide them into all truth and declare unto them things to come (Jn. 16:13). The Lord promised they would be able to proclaim his message, unfettered by the need of personal preparation; rather, gospel truth would be “given” to them as they required it (Mt. 10:19-20; cf. Lk. 21:14).
The apostles have no successors today; the gospel message is embodied in the sacred Scriptures of the New Testament. These documents carry the same weight as the messages proclaimed by Christ’s original disciples (cf. Mt. 19:28; 1 Cor. 13:8ff; Eph. 2:20). [Note: For a discussion of Matthew 19:28, as pertaining to the present authority of the apostles of Christ, see McGarvey, 170.]
There is no need today, therefore, for a replication of Holy Spirit baptism, such as was received by the Lord’s apostles.
Why Did Cornelius Receive the Holy Spirit?
The baptism of the Spirit at the house of Cornelius was different in design from that received by the apostles (though the manifestation of speaking in foreign languages was the same). There is no evidence that Cornelius had teaching powers analogous to the apostles. Certainly there is no indication that the centurion could lay his hands upon other people, thus imparting to them spiritual gifts, as an apostle could do (see Acts 8:18; 19:6; 2 Tim. 1:6).
The purpose for which Cornelius was granted the Spirit was to demonstrate to the Jews that God was ready for the gospel to be offered to the Gentiles — which circumstance constituted a problem in the thinking of the Hebrews.
This was evidenced by the fact that even Peter initially resisted the idea that the Gentiles could become Christians (Acts 10:14ff), as did the Jews of Jerusalem when they learned of the matter (Acts 11:2-3).
It was the miraculous demonstration of the Spirit upon Cornelius and his associates that turned the tide (cf. Acts 11:4ff; 15:7ff). The effect of this divine documentation of Gentile acceptance remains intact to this very day.
Accordingly, there is no need for a modern, supernatural outpouring of the Spirit to accomplish the same purpose.
Those who argue for a “Holy Spirit baptism” today misconstrue the design of that experience, as bestowed upon the early apostles, and then the first Gentiles to be admitted into the church. Holy Spirit baptism is not requisite to one’s salvation today, nor is it a demonstration of such. It was a phenomenon of the first century, unique to those circumstances.
When Paul wrote his epistle to the Ephesians (c. A.D. 62), he affirmed that there was but “one baptism” (Eph. 4:5). Clearly, this was “water” baptism — the rite that was to continue to the end of the age (Mt. 28:19-20).
Consequently, by default, Holy Spirit baptism is eliminated as a modern endowment.
I hope these answers some of the questions you had and I pray you study what was stated here. I agree this is a topic that needs to be studied more also if you have any other questions please let me know. A lot of the information above came from my time studying and various good works in the brotherhood. (Apologetics Press, Christian Courier, Max Patterson, Bible Institute of Missouri, Wayne Jackson, etc.)