Baptist error in common with Judaizers?

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MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Insofar as Larry has stated things I agree with I have agreed with the broader principles of viewing baptism and the Lord's Supper as Gospel.

Sorry that I missed this earlier, Rich. To help us think through the ramifications of what Larry is proposing, may I ask why the gospel is ministered indiscriminately to all but the sacraments are not? I believe the answer will reveal that baptism and the Lord's supper are not gospel, but divine confirmations of the benefits offered in the gospel.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Sorry that I missed this earlier, Rich. To help us think through the ramifications of what Larry is proposing, may I ask why the gospel is ministered indiscriminately to all but the sacraments are not? I believe the answer will reveal that baptism and the Lord's supper are not gospel, but divine confirmations of the benefits offered in the gospel.

That's an interesting point. Maybe my language is sloppy. I would only distinguish between the fact that one is a proclamation while the others signify that proclamation to the Covenant community. Insofar as there is a message of promise in the Sacraments there is a Gospel emphasis upon the work of God over and against the work of man.

I would agree that we don't baptize every man, woman, and child that we encounter so I understand what you're saying. Nevertheless, Paul calls what the Judaizers are doing in Galatians "another Gospel" and much of what they're about is a corrupted sacramentology and not merely a false message. There is a "message" in the Sacraments.

I know you're preparing for a sermon but if you want to tighten down any loose bolts in my thinking then it would be appreciated.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Nevertheless, Paul calls what the Judaizers are doing in Galatians "another Gospel" and much of what they're about is a corrupted sacramentology and not merely a false message. There is a "message" in the Sacraments.

It appears to me that the corrupt sacramentology pertains to making the sacrament of circumcision "something" in relation to salvation. Hence the apostle has to say that circumcision and uncircumcision availeth nothing, but faith which worketh by love, Gal. 5:6. Again, neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature, chap. 6:15. The problem then would seem to be that they were making the sacrament gospel, believing in the need to be circumcised in order to have what the gospel offers.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
It appears to me that the corrupt sacramentology pertains to making the sacrament of circumcision "something" in relation to salvation. Hence the apostle has to say that circumcision and uncircumcision availeth nothing, but faith which worketh by love, Gal. 5:6. Again, neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature, chap. 6:15. The problem then would seem to be that they were making the sacrament gospel, believing in the need to be circumcised in order to have what the gospel offers.

I don't disagree with this but I think the primary error for the Judaizers was their desire to join Gentiles to the Law and circumcision was their initiation to this False Gospel. Paul's use of the term circumcision in Galatians could be substitued with Torah keeping. This is why he cannot just stop with Abraham with whom the rite was initiated but it is necessary for him to underline that the Law only brings about a curse to all those who believe they will be justified by its deeds.

I did not mean to imply that the tenor of Galatians was sacramentology and fully grant that Paul is demonstrating that faith is what has united the Galatians to Christ and they already possessed the inheritance that the Judaizers were trying to make them jealously seek after. I only was pointing out that a defect in sacramentology (mainly the Judaizers here) can cause one to undermine even the message of faith itself. Hence, a proper sacramentology either undermines or undergirds a proper view of the Gospel.

Thus, in the sense that the proper significance of baptism is promise it supports rather than undermines a message of salvation by faith alone.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Rich, thus far we have the gospel indiscriminately preached to all, whilst sacraments are administered to those in the visible church. We also have faith in the gospel essential to salvation whilst sacramental participation is not essential to salvation. The third and final point I am fairly sure you will concur with is that the gospel offers salvation as a present need, whereas sacraments are administered on the basis that salvation is a reality. Hence, the gospel is really and fundamentally a promise, whilst sacraments point to the fulfilment of the promise. Given these three qualifications, I would say the idea that sacraments are gospel is an unhelpful one, and it is best to distinguish Word (gospel) and Sacraments. Blessings!
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Rich, thus far we have the gospel indiscriminately preached to all, whilst sacraments are administered to those in the visible church. We also have faith in the gospel essential to salvation whilst sacramental participation is not essential to salvation. The third and final point I am fairly sure you will concur with is that the gospel offers salvation as a present need, whereas sacraments are administered on the basis that salvation is a reality. Hence, the gospel is really and fundamentally a promise, whilst sacraments point to the fulfilment of the promise. Given these three qualifications, I would say the idea that sacraments are gospel is an unhelpful one, and it is best to distinguish Word (gospel) and Sacraments. Blessings!

When I think of promise in the Sacraments, I'm thinking along these lines:

WCF Chapter XXVII
III. The grace which is exhibited in or by the sacraments rightly used, is not conferred by any power in them; neither does the efficacy of a sacrament depend upon the piety or intention of him that does administer it: but upon the work of the Spirit, and the word of institution, which contains, together with a precept authorizing the use thereof, a promise of benefit to worthy receivers.

Heidelberg:
Question 66. What are the sacraments?

Answer: The sacraments are holy visible signs and seals, appointed of God for this end, that by the use thereof, he may the more fully declare and seal to us the promise of the gospel, viz., that he grants us freely the remission of sin, and life eternal, for the sake of that one sacrifice of Christ, accomplished on the cross.
Especially in Question 67, the Heidelberg underlines that both word and sacrament ar meant to point us to Christ. I realize that, after reading this, the Heidelberg distinguishes as you do from the teaching of the Gospel and assurance by the Sacraments. I need to be cleaner in my terminology. I won't say they are Gospel but I will say they direct our faith to the same object that the Word does.
Question 67. Are both word and sacraments, then, ordained and appointed for this end, that they may direct our faith to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, as the only ground of our salvation? (a)

Answer: Yes, indeed: for the Holy Ghost teaches us in the gospel, and assures us by the sacraments, that the whole of our salvation depends upon that one sacrifice of Christ which he offered for us on the cross.

In Question 69, I love the way the Heidelberg links the sacrament as a visible sign that can be used to help us remember what was done for us by the sacrifice of Christ for us who have faith:
Question 69. How art thou admonished and assured by holy baptism, that the one sacrifice of Christ upon the cross is of real advantage to thee?

Answer: Thus: That Christ appointed this external washing with water, (a) adding thereto this promise, (b) that I am as certainly washed by his blood and Spirit from all the pollution of my soul, that is, from all my sins, (c) as I am washed externally with water, by which the filthiness of the body is commonly washed away.
And to anticipate the objections of those who believe too much is being promised here:
Question 71. Where has Christ promised us, that he will as certainly wash us by his blood and Spirit, as we are washed with the water of baptism?

Answer: In the institution of baptism, which is thus expressed: "Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost", Matt.28:19. And "he that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not, shall be damned.", Mark 16:16. This promise is also repeated, where the scripture calls baptism "the washing of regenerations" and the washing away of sins. Tit.3:5, Acts 22:16. (a)
or from those who think that the water is somehow magical...
Question 72. Is then the external baptism with water the washing away of sin itself?

Answer: Not at all: (a) for the blood of Jesus Christ only, and the Holy Ghost cleanse us from all sin. (b)
But yet there is still something fundamentally spiritual going on in the Sacrament.
Question 73. Why then does the Holy Ghost call baptism "the washing of regeneration," and "the washing away of sins"?

Answer: God speaks thus not without great cause, to-wit, not only thereby to teach us, that as the filth of the body is purged away by water, so our sins are removed by the blood and Spirit of Jesus Christ; (a) but especially that by this divine pledge and sign he may assure us, that we are spiritually cleansed from our sins as really, as we are externally washed with water. (b)
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I won't say they are Gospel but I will say they direct our faith to the same object that the Word does.

Yes -- they direct our faith to the same object. :up: :up: Robert Bruce's sermons on the sacrament are exceptional on this point:

But leaving the ambiguity of the word, I take the word Sacrament, as it is taken and used this day in the Church of God, for a holy Sign and Seal that is annexed to the preached word of God, to seal up and confirm the truth contained in the same word: in such sort that I call not the seal separated from the word, a sacrament. For as there cannot be a Seal but that which is the seal of an evidence; and if the seal be separated from the evidence it is not a seal, but simply what it is by nature, and no more. So there cannot be a sacrament except it be hung to the evidence of the word. Was it a common piece of bread? It remains common bread, except it be joined to the evidence of the word. Therefore the word only cannot be a sacrament, nor the element only; but word and element conjointly, must make a sacrament. And so Augustine said well, "Let the word come to the element, and so you shall have a sacrament." In such sort then, the word must come to the element: that is, the word preached distinctly, and all the parts of it opened up, must go before the hanging to of the sacrament; and the sacrament as a seal must follow and be appended thereafter.

http://www.archive.org/details/sermonsonthesacr00brucuoft
 

Larry Hughes

Puritan Board Sophomore
That's an interesting point. Maybe my language is sloppy. I would only distinguish between the fact that one is a proclamation while the others signify that proclamation to the Covenant community. Insofar as there is a message of promise in the Sacraments there is a Gospel emphasis upon the work of God over and against the work of man.

This is a good clarification, and perhaps my language has not been exacting here. But it goes back to what I’m arguing against the Credo position. Because they have to answer, as do we, when an infant is baptized, did a baptism take place? As pointed out on another post its one thing to say infants are not to be baptized, quite another to say no baptism took place at all. If we admit the later, then rebaptism is viable the Baptist position is established and Paedeo is over thrown entirely. For is a baptism didn’t take place then it is manifestly obvious that if they later come to faith as an adult they must really baptized. BUT, I must say emphatically, the GOSPEL IS IN the Sacraments, because that is what feeds and sustains faith its merely a matter of how it is to be used. There are NO elect accept those whom trust alone in Christ alone.

When I refer to the sacraments as Gospel its shorthand for what Rich just quoted here. A confirmation (i.e. corroboration, evidence, validation) is a GIVING, not an offering but an actual giving of a REAL thing, that’s the ENTIRE point of ANY kind of confirmation. If no objective baptism is actually given then NO confirmation is given, it becomes a fake, myth, vain subjective imagination or superstition but not a confirmation. So a thing is actually objectively GIVEN. What I’m getting at is not indiscriminately giving sacraments to all outside of the covenant church like the Word of Gospel, but that the proclamation to the Covenant community as Rich or “divine confirmations of the Gospel” well states it and is what MAKES the sacrament real, true, existing if you will and not the faith of the receiver, else you are taking a baptistic view.

The point of the Lutheran article I quoted without going into the mode of presence in order to focus on the objective reality of the supper (and by extension baptism) was the same regarding the Lord’s Table. When the bread and wine are given actual real and true evidence is presented before our very eyes (and even the eyes of the world, the world just denies it as they deny the Cross itself) that’s what it means to “proclaim the Lord’s death”, it matters not one wit that anyone believe it or not, it simply is as it is. And evidence and confirmation are not antithetical but analogous. When judgment comes this very evidence will bear witness against those who reject it, because they really reject a real objective thing. When the wine is before us, presented as evidence or confirmation is the blood required to fulfill the Old Covenant of works. When the bread is before us, presented in reality and objectively is the evidence or confirmation that the body of the sacrifice was killed to yield that very blood for the OC. Certainly only faith, naked trust, in that really “sees” it and rests in it, while unbelief says, “Nooo, its just a superstitious ceremony involving mere wine and mere bread…nothing to it.” The objective reality must first exist if the subjective reality is to have anything in which it may be confirmed and evidenced to. Otherwise it is pure fantasy built on a subjectivity with both feet planted firmly in mid air. Thus, again, on the day of judgment two men will stand before God both perhaps having received this bread and wine (or waters of baptism) WITHIN the church, this evidence and confirmation, which has an objective reality, one will have received it by faith and thus trusted and saved. The other will AT LAST see that what they rejected as unreal and false as VERY real and very true. That same bread, wine and water will bear witness AGAINST them because they deny the Word given to those witnesses. Men fail to see that inanimate objects in God’s court actually can and WILL bear witness for or against them, it need not be intelligence. That wine and bread was actually there, you drank it, but you denied it was anything. There is both great comfort and great severity in the sacraments.

If I could shorten the language very very very generically admittedly what MUST be recognized is that baptism, specifically, and the sacraments in general are objective and not subjective based upon the conditions, status or state of being of the receiver. They are not relativistic. It’s not indiscriminately ministered like the Gospel itself outside of the church, but among the covenant community. When Jesus words “this is my blood shed for the forgiveness of sins” are given to wine, there point blank is the Gospel Word and it is Gospel.

may I ask why the gospel is ministered indiscriminately to all but the sacraments are not? I believe the answer will reveal that baptism and the Lord's supper are not gospel, but divine confirmations of the benefits offered in the gospel.

This is a great partial answer, but not entirely. As Calvin points out an adult unbeliever who rejects the Gospel is not administered baptism because he point blank ALREADY rejects the Word of Gospel itself. Thus, rejecting the Word of Gospel which would be annexed to the water later is of no avail whatsoever to him, it would be to him nothing but a bath of water. There’s no point to baptizing an open rejecter he already rejects it. But if we do baptize what is later to be found a rejecting adult hypocrite, that did not make THAT objective baptism unreal or ‘not baptism’ one wit. Else the Baptist are correct and we need to stop baptizing our children. But they are not and our children must both be taught well the great severity of what befalls them if they reject their very real objective God GIVEN baptism on one hand and the GREAT comfort and surety of the same they have been GIVEN by BOLDLY trusting into the Gospel it has and to NEVER DOUBT IT (unbelief). They are not rejecting or trusting law, but Gospel. Nothing begets greater damnation than rejecting the Gospel, not even the Law itself. And what makes it all the more tormenting in hell, the very very real hell of hell, is the very realization that one rejected a pure love. Nothing points to self guilt more purely than “you yourself by your very own will rejected the gift”, you sought yourself and rejected grace. And that forever status of knowing “I” did it myself, rejected such great charity and love, is the very source of the eternal gnashing of one’s teeth and weeping against one’s self. Then you will receive your desires, yourself, and you will gnash your teeth and weep at this very self you so desired and received. In short you will forever hate what you wanted and the fact you wanted it makes it worse, and the fact you wanted it over pure grace infinitely expands the torment.

Rich and Matthew, thanks I appreciate always your insights, they help me to think, your much appreciated brothers of mine, even in debate. Though my flesh wars with wanting to be right (we all do, its pride), against my flesh it’s always my prayer, truly, that we all, Baptist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, other be pulled from our errors we all gravitate toward individually and corporately within our denominations and unto more and more the unity of Christ crucified and risen for us in all things, so we can really love. That’s something I learned from Spurgeon and Luther.

I hope you all have a great Saturday, it is Saturday in Australia isn’t it? If it stops raining I plan on doing some relaxing gardening today, I’m feeling better this morning.

Blessing grace and peace to all,

Larry
 
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