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No one wants to go to heaven. This “innocent person” who just “wants to be with God” doesn’t exist. Before the conversion of a man’s heart it is only ever seeking after its own good and personal pleasure. Humbling itself before a holy and righteous God is the furthest thing from that mindset. We all want to be validated for our sins and to feel justified in our thoughts, intentions, and actions, but we don’t want an authoritarian figure to exist at all because, if one does exist, it could tell us that we’re wrong. The more you learn about scripture, the more you bathe yourself in it and allow it to teach you, the more you see that this is true.

Look at the Jews in the wilderness – the minute that the tower of fire and the tower of cloud went away, and only one generation after they were fed daily in the wilderness, that their clothes and shoes never wore out, and that all of their needs were met – once that generation of people who physically saw and experienced that were in the ground, they started following their own desires and seeking their own plans. God had literally wiped out the people who lived there before them, and they responded to this by seeking out the demonic worship of the people who lived there before and self-worship that they wanted in their hearts all along.

There’s only about 1-1.5 generations between a great act of God and rebellion. Read through Judges if you want a window into the heart of man – read the book of Judges.

When Joshua dismissed the people, the people of Israel went each to his inheritance to take possession of the land. And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great work that the LORD had done for Israel. And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of 110 years. And they buried him within the boundaries of his inheritance in Timnath-heres, in the hill country of Ephraim, north of the mountain of Gaash. And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers.

And there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD or the work that he had done for Israel. And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals. And they abandoned the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed down to them. And they provoked the LORD to anger. They abandoned the LORD and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth.

Judges 2:6–13 (ESV)

These literally are the genetic descendants of Abraham – whose fathers and grandfathers were fed by God in the wilderness, who were the children promised to Abraham when he had only one “official” child, in the land that God had promised to Abraham, and this people turned from the faith of Abraham and sought the “gods of the land” – they went after the things that the people in the area had known, thinking that they knew better how to appease the “gods of the hills” and the “gods of the valleys” in Canaan so they could get the best crops and get peace. They forsake the God of all CREATION – who created the WORLD AND ALL THAT’S IN IT, for the “gods” of a specific set of hills. Why? Because that one would probably let them do whatever they wanted.

Look at every one of these people – God allows them to live their lives to their own worship and to their own plans for their own glory.

Each of the stages in Romans 1 were led with God allowing, or giving people up, to whatever they wanted – and why? Because they, of their own desires, refuse to acknowledge him. They won’t, but he allows them to do it on their own, and those whom God allows to do anything on their own, using their own sovereign free will, only ever end up seeking their own worship and their own desires.

Now, look at those whom God has saved – it’s clear that God interferes with their lives:

God violates the “free will” and “free heart” of man which follows after whatever it wants to its own glory, and changes that heart by inserting his Holy Spirit. He regenerates our seared consciences and turns us from our self-worship to, first, acknowledge the authority of a creator, then to understand the commands of the creator, then to bring us to the point of sorrow over our sin where we see our lives in reflection of this perfect and holy God. Once that’s taken effect in the heart / soul of a man, then it works on the mind until we can do nothing else than to ourward repent of our sins – but even this is just the capstone on a building that God has been creating in our hearts – a temple within us to our God and King, not made with hands – of our own desires and plans to worship God – but by his own actions to his glory so that he, not us, is the one to get the glory for the transformation in our hearts and minds.

IF, therefore, in the kindness of God, he allows people to pursue that which they most want in the world – their own self-worship (today known as humanism) – no matter how they frame it, calling it Christianity, or whatever, and he knows that they are only seeking to gratify their own desires but they wrap it in this “religious” coat, but this self-gratification is what they want most in the world. So God allows them to do so, to pursue the deepest desires of their hearts. Their consciences which reflect God’s character and nature scream at them when they sin, but they don’t care because it’s merely a whisper against their real god – their own desires – and therefore when they die, none of them can say that they “didn’t know” that they shouldn’t do those things which led to death.

So, those who pass into hell are doing so because God is allowing them to go to hell. The thing they want most is validation and to be left alone, so God gives them their hearts’ desire.

But for some people, those of the elect, we don’t get that. We don’t get to experience our hearts’ desires, nor do we get God leaving us alone. He interferes with our lives – he reaches into our chests and removes our sin-hardened hearts and replaces it with a heart that can hear his commands. He transforms our thoughts so that we no longer long to seek for our own desires, but instead we desire his thoughts, and his desires. He conforms our views to his views, and reveals to us the breadth and depth of our sins against him, and the impact of that sin, then, when we can stand it no more, our mouths erupt in repentance – revealing a faith which we’ve had since God first converted our hearts, but now can no longer be hidden within us.

And eventually, our thoughts, now God’s thoughts, and our desires, now God’s desires, are revealed in new decisions and new actions from a changed heart and the rest of the world can’t ignore this change within us.

That’s the true picture of what salvation looks like, and how God handles the sin of mankind. God doesn’t play “duck duck goose” and randomly pick people to save while maliciously choosing to condemn the rest – but God, choosing to allow his creation to live life as they want to live it, will allow them to do so – even if it means that they will ultimately be condemned, but because the heart of man only wants to serve itself, he chooses to save some and does so in a way that only he can get the glory for that conversion, because if it were up to us, we’d only worship ourselves for our “decision to follow Jesus”.

In a discussion with someone who is a believer in infant baptism, he had the same responses which I’ve read time and time again. Basically, that Baptism is today’s Circumcision. That Circumcision was applied liberally to all who were genetic descendants of Abraham, and therefore we, as Christians, should apply Baptism to all of our genetic descendants. So, this was my response:

Here’s three things to note:

1) The baptisms of John performed before the start of Jesus’ ministry are not the same thing as a Christian baptism. It was a ceremonial rite for those in the Jewish faith to “prepare” them to enter into the sanctuary. It was a ritual cleansing, but did not symbolize Jesus’ sacrificial death and rebirth on our behalf. Those who were baptized into John’s baptism were not baptized into the family of Christ.

2) Read through the new testament. I mean the whole thing. Numerous times. Every time the “Circumcision” is brought up, it’s to refer to the “old ways”. Circumcision is a term that Paul uses to refer to the Jewish ways which were hung on legalistic following of the Mosaic law. Could they keep it? NO! The law was never intended to be kept, but to be used as a sign that pointed us to God as our savior. Men-only, in the old covenant, were circumcised to show that they were in the people of Israel. But what does Paul say?

Romans 2:29 – But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.

Circumcision as a rite is of little overall value, but it points to a generalized fact that you are related to those in the chosen people of God. Nothing more. Now, in Rom 3, Paul asks “what is the value of circumcision”, again referring to belonging to the “chosen people of God” and not the actual rite, because if it did, then it wouldn’t include the women, would it? And, he says “much in every way”. They were taught the laws of God, they were brought up in the fear and admonition of the Lord, etc. But did their circumcision guarantee salvation? No.

Romans 4:9–10 – Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? For we say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised.

3) What is the value of baptism on your infant children? This is where it gets tricky. In the middle ages, children didn’t live that long, so they were baptized as a “salve” and the parents were told that their children would be in heaven with them, or at least purgatory, and wouldn’t be lost to Limbo (which the RCC in the last 10 years finally did away with) or cast into hell. It was used as a method to control people with fear. Moreover, as men and women were allowed to read the text of scripture on their own during and after the reformation, they started to see the same themes repeated in scripture – that unlike circumcision, which was an outward sign on men to remind them that they belong to the “people” of God, and is applied to them whether they know it and follow after the faith of Abraham or not, baptism is a ritual that links us with Christ in his death and resurrection on our behalf, and is only conferred upon his believers.

There was a lot of confusion about this in the past, and given that Jews (those of the “circumcision party”) were the first believers, they tended to carry over their old ways with them. But what does Jesus say about this?

Matthew 9:17 – Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.”

This is a new thing and with it come new rites.

So, I ask you. What is conferred upon the infant in their baptism? Is it that you’re marking them for God for conversion? If you believe that, then you’re as bad as my wife’s grandmother who condemns herself to this day that she only baptized 2 of her three children, and the one she didn’t is an outright atheist, unlike her other two children, which seem to worship at the altar of therapeutic moralistic deism (which itself is not Christian, though they think it is).

Infant baptism merely gets babies wet, which they are perfectly content to do on their own anyway. It’s a salve for the parents to think that their children are “in the family of God” and to presume that their children will follow after Christian principles. But you can’t expect a non-Christian to act like a Christian as an adult, nor as a child, and if you merely teach them to live that way because they’re “little Christians” then you’re teaching them moralism, not Christianity. Christianity isn’t based on rules, or moral commands, but on Christ who died in our place. His salvation is purchased for his elect and we cannot control who his elect will be. If God saves me, my wife, and both of my kids, then God is to be praised in this, not me for baptizing them, and not me for training them properly, and not me for keeping them saved. God is the one who does this, not me, and it’s not on me to keep them there.

Your salvation must be your own. That’s what’s meant by Paul in Philippians 2:12 – that we must “work out” our own salvation – we must do the work of believing, and acting in faith upon that belief, on our own. We are not catholics, who believe that you may be a son of the devil, but if you were baptized as an infant, and after you died, your holier aunt or uncle can make a payment or perform some penance and get you sprung into heaven.

To that end, your baptism must also be your own. Read throughout the new testament. Baptism is performed on believers. What about those in the Cornelius’ “household” (Acts 10)? “Household” must also include infants, right? If it did, it was wrong. More than likely, it meant those who were in the house at the time whom Cornelius had brought together (Acts 10:24) to hear the word of God. Those whom, God placed outward signs
of this revelation on them so that these Jewish Christian could see that God had given to them the same thing that he had done with others (Acts 10:44-45). Now, it’s also likely that if there were infants there, that those same infants would have had manifested the outward signs of the Holy Spirit. So, I ask, would you wait for an outward sign of the Holy Spirit’s manifestation on those infants, as Paul did in withholding baptism from those in the “household” of Cornelius until they also had this same manifestation (Acts 10:47-48)?

As you can see, the process is simple. We are to repent and believe, then we are to be baptized. There is no different formula based on age or size. Scripture is clear.

“assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus”

~ Ephesians 4:21

As the truth is in Jesus. This contains a reproof of that superficial knowledge of the gospel, by which many are elated, who are wholly unacquainted with newness of life. They think that they are exceedingly wise, but the apostle pronounces it to be a false and mistaken opinion. There is a twofold knowledge of Christ,—one, which is true and genuine,—and another, which is counterfeit and spurious. Not that, strictly speaking, there are two kinds; but most men falsely imagine that they know Christ, while they know nothing but what is carnal. In another Epistle he says, “If any man be in Christ, let him be a new creature.” (2 Cor. 5:17.) So here he affirms that any knowledge of Christ, which is not accompanied by mortification of the flesh, is not true and sincere.

Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentaries on the Epistles of Paul to the Galatians and Ephesians (p. 294). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

 

be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. 

Ephesians 4:23-24 (ESV)

“Be” is a verb. It is the essence of “being” or a continual state of action. We, as Christians, are to live in the constant state of being renewed – purging the old self and its ways – our old manner of life and thoughts. We are also to put on, embrace, the new self. The life of a Christian is one who rejects his previous ways, mindset, and views, and who embraces that which is outside of himself – that which is in Christ.

A Christian rejects his previous state of being – the state which is derived from a self-worship and self-gratification. The convert to Christ will understand that his old ways and futility of his previous life in incapable to save them – is incapable of producing a new person in them. There is no good day for an unrepentant man upon whom the Holy spirit has impressed the sinfulness of their lives, thoughts, and actions. They only see their sin as it really is until they finally repent and believe; surrendering the control and direction of their lives to the God who died in their place to save them. It is that person who lives their life in a constant state of renewal – converting their thoughts into God’s thoughts, and replacing their desires with God’s desires. It is in this recreated heart and mind where we are able to join with Jesus and pray “in His name” – praying the thoughts of God back to him, asking for his intentions to be fulfilled in out lives and in the world, and preparing our lives to pursue his glory rather than our own.

This is what it means to be renewed in the spirit of our minds, and is the practical application of “putting on” this new self. Our old self is dead. Wholly worthless, and nailed to the Cross of Christ. But our new self – that will last us forever. Created for God’s purposes to his glory, and for our sanctification until our eventual glorification with him in Heaven.

Let us “be” in our God and King, preparing ourselves for our full and eternal purposes in the Kingdom of our Creator, to his glory alone. Amen.

Put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. ~ Eph 4:24

The Christian walk is one of constant renewal.

We are first renewed in our hearts when the Holy Spirit infiltrates our self-focused and self-worshipping lives and replaces our stone hearts that cannot care about the things of God – and puts a heart of flesh in its place. Once this transformation takes place, we begin to see our sin as it is, and we are ashamed of it. God then starts to infiltrate our thinking with His truth in whatever method he chooses to insert it – pastors, preachers, evangelists, past Christian experiences, lay Christian interactions – however he brings it upon us, he converts our minds with these things. Our minds, now renewed, begin to ruminate on the truths of God – first in anger, then with open minds, then in obedience. Finally, our speech is renewed as we confess with our mouths that Jesus the Lord is the Christ of God, and that his salvation is both sufficient to cover the full breadth and depth of our sin debt before our creator, and also efficient in that it is applied to our lives and that we now walk in light of this change in our being.

That mass of renewals is merely the first step of our walk in Christ. That’s our first external understanding that our lives have been converted to Christ for his glory and not our own. The next set of renewals begin to change our interactions with the world. Our old habits and old thoughts begin to bother us. The Holy Spirit, finished with the replacement of our hearts, now reignites our consciences that have been seared from years of neglect and abuse. This God-fueled conscience now begins to whittle away at our idols and prompting us to abandon them for the sake of Christ. They are different for all people , but all have the same focus – to take our eyes off of Christ and to fall back into the old patterns that we are comfortable with. For some people it comes quickly – this abandoning of our old ways, but for most it takes time. We begin to learn about who God really is, in contrast to what we think he is. We start to desire to know God more intently, and seek him out in both good teaching, and in study of his word.

In this new understanding of who God is we learn that he is not on our side, but God is on his own side. God was not created for our good pleasure, but we were created for his. Our lives are not created for pursuit of our own desires, but to serve him in all that we do. Whatever we do, wherever it is done, is to the glory of God and Jesus his Christ. Our salvation was purchased so that we would be purchased back from our slavery to our own desires, and instead to glorify God in truth.

This is the “new self”. The “old self” was that which we were before, but that “self” is dead. It rots in the coffin of our salvation – forever dead and gone. Any time we try to revert back to our old ways, we bear the stench of that rotting corpse and it burdens us until we forsake it again in repentance and rush to wear again the “new self”.

This “new self” is free from the burdens of our old self. It no longer desires the things that we loved in the past. The “new self” is created much like Adam was – free from the hard-wired desire for self pleasure, and free to worship and serve God as he is. As Adam was created “in the likeness of God”, so we are created in same likeness – in true righteousness and in holiness.

“If righteousness be taken as a general term for uprightness, holiness will be something higher, or that purity which lies in being devoted to the service of God. I am rather inclined to consider holiness as referring to the first table, and righteousness to the second table, of the law, as in the song of Zacharias, “That we may serve him in holiness and righteousness, all the days of our life.” (Luke 1:74, 75.) Plato lays down the distinction correctly, that holiness (ὁσιότης) lies in the worship of God, and that the other part, righteousness, (δικαιοσύνη,) bears a reference to men. The genitive, of truth, (τῆς αληθείας,) is put in the place of an adjective, and refers to both terms; so that, while it literally runs, in righteousness and holiness of truth, the meaning is, in true righteousness and holiness. He warns us that both ought to be sincere; because we have to do with God, whom it is impossible to deceive.1

1 Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentaries on the Epistles of Paul to the Galatians and Ephesians (p. 296). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.”

So that old “self”, being dead to us, is also dead to the world – therefore we only live in the “new self”. We now live our lives, reborn through the work of Christ, initiated by the work of the Holy Spirit, and saved to the glory of God the Father. These lives are revealed in our holiness from the world to God, and in lives bathed in the righteousness of God, revealing our new self to the world.

As Jesus says in John 15:14, we are his friends when we do what he commands of us, then in the next verses he explains that it’s not we that hold ourselves to him, because it’s God that chose us for salvation, and that he is the one who binds us to him, so we, living our new lives that are borne in us through his sacrifice on our behalf, and the renewal of our lives to his praise and glory. So we are his friends; we are brothers and sisters with him in glory, not “IF” we do what he commands us, but since we do it. He will bring us to himself, and birth the obedience in our lives, to his glory in the world. This is the life that is found in the “new self”.

So, with Paul, I agree and say that we should, in our rejection of old ways and our old lives, put on the new self – the self that’s created for worship of our God and King. Separating ourselves from our lives in the past, rejecting the snares and temptations of the world, and replacing everything with that which is in the pursuit of God’s intentions and that which glorifies him who died for us. May we all walk in this pursuit, forsaking all else, and bring glory to our Creator.

Jesus’ rejection of men does not come from their continual rejection of him. God, if he is incapable of saving people whom he has intended to save, is not God, but a mere reactor to the will of mankind. Every soul whom God has elected for salvation will be saved – from birth to the grave, their salvation is sure. They, however, cannot see it on their own and from their experience they only know their own walk in rebellion, their conversion, sanctification, and eventual glorification.

God’s rejection of men comes from their relentless attack against his character and nature. They are born without hearts that can understand him or his nature, they live their lives in self-worship, which is sin in that it rejects God’s role in creation, salvation, and his sovereign rule over their lives. That said, they have his laws written upon their heart in their conscience – they know of their relationship with him through the revelation of God through nature, and no man has an excuse before him that they did not know. Their consciences battle within them against them all the days of the lives, but they are still living in rebellion – focusing on their own self-worship and appeasing their own self-glorification.

God rejects the world and the non-elect, in his love for them – in giving them exactly what they want. They want self-autonomy from God’s laws, so he gives it to them. They want self-managed gratification by fulfilling their evil hearts desires, so he gives it to them. They want to reject everything that God has given them, yet still using the gifts he’s provided for them (the wealth, food, clothing, shelter, and freedom) to pursue their own destruction. And God gives it to them. At no point were they approved by God, not from birth to their deaths, but God, in love for his creation, grants to them what they want because they know the result is their destruction, but the draw to worship themselves and their own desires is too much for them to stop them from serving it.

God rejects men, because their desire is that he reject them.

God’s saving of men is where God stops giving men what they want. Salvation requires that God inject himself, against the will of men, into their hearts. He converts their self-focused hearts to understand their sin against him and their rejection of him. He fills them with His Holy Spirit and converts their soul to break their hearts over their sin against him. He reveals to them the love of God in that he has stood idly by as they sin against him, and he still served them in taking care of all of their needs. He then opens their minds to the reality of their sin debt against him, and the eventual end of that path which is their eternal destruction. God reveals to them his glory, his power, and his nature – and turns their hearts and minds from worship of self to worship of him until they can do nothing but fall on their knees in repentance and faith. Once it leaves their mouth that they repent and believe, it merely represents a wholly converted mind that has been transformed by their converted heart.

The heart of man cannot, on his own, embrace the goodness and greatness of God. To state that man has this ability is to say that God is a liar when he says that the hearts of men are corrupt from the womb, and that the hearts of all mankind os desperately wicked. The salvation of mankind comes from God is directed to God for the glory of God, to the shame of man because our self-worship is too important to us.

Praise be to the God and King of all creation who interferes in the lives of his creation, who violates the self-destructive will of man, and saves men against their will, so that there are witnesses in this age to his glory, to his praise, and for his name.

I saw this statement on a Facebook group where I participate, and it made me wonder why he wouldn’t want to pursue rebaptism. Anyway, here’s my response.

Reformed Baptist church I attend Sunday mornings has a statement that lists criteria they ask for before partaking…the one we don’t meet is being baptized after conversion…me and my wife were both baptized as babies…my dad also is a pastor at a non-denomination church…there its usually taken the first Sunday of the month

What role do you see baptism playing in scripture? Was it administered before or after conversion?

Follow up question, in the great commission, given by our Lord Jesus, what is the pattern that we see there?

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
~ Matthew 28:19–20 (ESV)

The baptisms we see in scripture taking place before the conversions of the people (baptisms of John, for instance) are Jewish ceremonial washings which were common in that day. The baptism of a Christian is an uncommon baptism. Instead of it “cleansing you” of your past sins, it is a commanded act that we must engage in – one that aligns us with our King in his death (when we are placed under the waters of death) and raised anew in our new life in Christ. Also, the public act of our baptism stands witness against us, declaring our standing before God to all. This is why baptisms are public affairs for the whole church to participate in, because it is they who will watch over you, helping you on your path to sanctification, and they will lean on you as well for the same purpose. It openly declares that you are of the same family as those in the congregation, and that, as another of God’s children, you are under the same authority and expectations (that you’d seek to live a holy life, that you are bound to the Christ of scripture, that you are a sheep among sheep, and not a goat or wolf, etc).

When you were an infant, did you understand the role of Christ in salvation, who Jesus is, what his sacrifice on your behalf meant, or the full sin debt you owed to your creator? Did you understand that it was an unwritten contract with the body of believers that you were baptized into, where you hold Christ as your savior alone and that you’d seek to honor the commitment that comes with a public confession of faith in Christ? If not, then was it really a baptism of a believer into the kingdom of God or a baby getting wet to satisfy the fears of your parents, that somehow it may prophylactically apply some measure of God’s grace upon you, outside of the means we see in scripture, by their works upon you? That God would somehow break his own standard by which he holds men accountable, namely by faith, and that he would instead impart salvation (or the “seeds of salvation”) upon a child who cannot even speak or act under its own will, simply because the parents of that child got it sprinkled or dunked?

You’d just as well say that it has no part in the life of a believer at all.

But given that this is not what we see in scripture, that it is something that carries substance both publicly (in the eyes of those in your Christ-community (church), and commanded by our King after conversion, then why would you not follow in this example after your conversion?

(I’ll update this post if there are any further posts)

In follow up to the last question I was asked the following:

Now please enlighten me concerning the indwelling and infilling of the Holy Spirit. The baptism of the Holy Spirit and how whether it happens automatically after being saved or what.

The indwelling of the Holy Spirit, in some way or another, starts way before you are ready to repent. We are born with a sinful heart that hardens to our sin as we continue to battle against our God-given conscience and sin. By doing so it becomes easier and easier to continue in our sin, but it also makes it harder and harder to understand the message of freedom in Christ that is the Gospel. Therefore, in order to repent you must first have your heart reborn so that it can accept this news (not “accept Jesus” – he is the one who accepts us, not the other way around). So God elects us from the throngs who love their sin and want to stay in it, he forcibly replaces our hearts with those that are soft to his message, and he places the holy spirit in our lives to begin to work on us by leading us to ask questions that violate our sinful souls’ desires, but that begin reshaping our minds and wills to conform to that of God our King. Eventually God leads you to a place mentally and emotionally where you can do nothing but cry out to God in fear and thanksgiving as you repent of all of your former works in sinfulness, and trust in him alone as your salvation.

This is typically where the “indwelling” of the Holy Spirit is seen, but as you can see, we’ve had him working in our lives up to this point.

The Holy Spirit is the protector of our souls and our seal against the evil one (and even our own wills) (2 Cor 1:22; Eph 1:13; 4:30). He also is our interpreter between us and God the Father in our prayers, both interpreting what we say so that it’s presentable before our God and King, and also interpreting that which we mean to say, but cannot. (Rom 8:26). The Holy Spirit works always in our lives, commending us to righteous acts, conditioning our hearts to see that which brings God glory and leading us to his praise and worship.

The “baptism of the Holy Spirit” was a term used by the 2nd and 3rd wave charismatics to give credence to their supernatural powers which they used to attempt to create a second level of Christianity where their brand Christianity allows them to reach a higher plane of Christian understanding. I went to these churches (and was a member of one) for about 7 years. Basically it works by telling you that while you may be a Jesus-trusting, God-honoring, sin-hating Christian, you won’t be a /real/ Christian until you get the ability to speak in “tongues”. Now, “tongues” as a biblical term, merely meant to be able to speak in other languages that you weren’t trained in, but that were understandable to other cultures for the purpose of spreading the Gospel. A neat article on the sign gifts (including tongues) can be found here:

Berean Bible Society – When did the Gift of Tongues Cease

That said, as we mature in Christ, we lose the “puppy love” sentimentality of our initial conversion – often filled with emotion and “feelings” of oneness with Christ, and that develops into a firm trust in God alone. In my own marriage I saw this as the initial wave of emotional affection I had for my wife which carried me through our first years and marriage developed into a firm bond that I share with her. I cannot see where she ends and I begin, and neither can she. This is the same with our relationship with Christ. We become so tightly bound to him that we cannot see ourselves as anything separate from him. It is no longer a “does he accept me as I am” but a “I am forever grateful to be in his family, and I know that my sins and struggles will either fade away on this side of the veil of death, or will be forever removed upon my entrance into glory, and for all of this I stand before him in praise and worship.”.

In a conversation today, I had the following question posed to me and I thought I’d share my response here.

Saints. Is there a difference in being baptized in the name of Jesus and in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit?

Well, one is biblical:

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
~ Matthew 28:18–20 (ESV)

That said, it’s not a formula, but a statement. Baptism doesn’t guarantee or grant salvation as that would be a work that we perform to force God to do something else. If we could do something to force someone to be saved, we’d do it all the time. (insert joke about baptizing babies here)

The term “name” is exactly the same as it is used throughout scripture. The “name” of someone means their character and nature. Just as we are commanded to defend out “name” and Solomon says in Proverbs 22:1 that “a good name is to be chosen rather than great riches”, we are not to change our name to that of one that’s a “good” name – like if you like the name Balthazar and you’re named “Ted” and you’d rather to be called by this subjectively better name so you choose that.
What is meant is that your name, meaning your character and nature, should be well respected by those around you and that your name is a representation of that character and nature to other people. Like, so, I know Ian and he was a jerk back in the day but after God saved him, he is a totally new person. God has redeemed my name by transforming me into a new person with new desires.

So, to baptize in the “name” of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit means to do so following the character and nature of the Triune Godhead, not just to say verbally as you’re baptized “in the name of…”. Also, when you finish a prayer “in the name of Jesus Christ”, what you mean is, “I pray that my will and desires would be in line with yours, King Jesus, and that you would only provide to me that which accords with your character and nature”.

So, in conclusion, what you say when you baptize someone is less important than the intent with which they are baptized – in that we are trusting to God that the person who is baptized is a true Christian and not a mere false convert or a rocky ground/thorny hearer, who will fall away in the end. We are always hopeful, but know that God is the one who sees the hearts of men. We also know that those who are truly Christians will remain so until the end, even if they struggle in the way.

Last, as I said before baptism doesn’t save anyone, but the will of God upon the hearts of men. Pray for the salvation of all men, and God will inevitably save those whom he has elected to save, and trust the word of those who come to you saying that they are Christians until they show themselves to not be through their words or actions.

On Facebook I came across the following post in one of my Calvinist groups:

Spoke with my brother about my Calvinist theology and one question I struggled answering was “So you believe that there are just a set group of people that are hopeless and bound for Hell, that God won’t even give them a chance to believe?”

I also struggled a bit with the “God makes us robots” argument. Have any of you run into a situation like this, and, if so, how did you handle it?

Having encountered this myself, I’ve seen both bad and good arguments in response to the question. That said, here is what I typically aim for in that conversation:

God, in his kindness, allows all people to live on this life for their “best life now”. They can pursue that which their hearts desire to the fullest extent of that, until God directly prevents them from sinning beyond what he allows, or until he prevents their influence upon others.

That said, God has placed the conscience in the hearts of all men, and they have to overcome this conscience in order to begin pursuing this desire to sin. No one is just free to sin without the knowledge of the consequences that are at hand. You have to push past your conscience time and again before it becomes comfortable for you to just continue living in that way, and the reason most people rile against the teaching of scripture is that it reminds them that they’re living beyond the bounds of their conscience. So no one stands uncondemned before God. No one is pure from sin in the eyes of God. Also, due to our sin nature, no one lives their lives in any way that’s pleasing to God. The 10 commandments aren’t a simple rule set for a life of blessing, but it’s God’s holy standard of perfection. This is his “you must be this holy to enter My rest” marker that stands before the entrance before the gates of Heaven, and only a life spent in constant obedience to that will allow you to enter. As James 2:10 says, to violate one point of the law, you have failed in all of it.

More than that, no one, because of our self-focused, sin-sick hearts, would ever want to have a redeemer, much less would pursue this savior unless there’s a significant, personal pay off for that man. As we know from Psalm 51, the only sacrifice that God desires – the only one he acknowledges is one that comes from a contrite and humble heart. You cannot be truly contrite or humble if you’re coming to the throne of grace for how it will improve your life. If you’re looking for a salve for your conscience, or some kind of religious rite or procedure that will help you to balance out the sin you enjoy and the guilt you feel over it, then this is not the place for you. This is what the vast majority of Jews in Israel and Judah were pursuing prior to the Babylonian captivity and it led to their public humiliation and destruction.

Since we know that the heart of men only ever seeks its own interests and comfort, and since God has provided to all men both the natural revelation around them which point to his existence and guiding hand in all of creation, and the conscience which lives in their heart, revealing their sin to them, the question about those who are clamoring for salvation and are “turned away” just doesn’t happen. Sure, there are many in the church who are there for their own benefit, but those are the ones who will be told at the last day, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (Mt 7:23). God, knowing the hearts of men, and knowing that only those who enter the throne room of grace with a contrite and humble heart are those who are the ones who are there for God’s purpose and not their own, has chosen from the vast throng who are sprinting headlong into hell to interfere in the lives of his elect, to radically change the attitude of their hearts away from themselves and toward him, then to bombard them with his grace and mercy until they can do nothing but cry out in repentance and faith in the God and King of all creation who died in their place.

The kindness of God allows sinners to pursue their own desires – their own dreams, despite the fact that they’re both living in rebellion to him, but also knowing that they’re doing it to their own hurt. It is therefore the God who interferes, the God of the “but God” statements in the Bible, who steps in and violates the autonomous rule of man’s heart to turn him to Himself for the sake of the sinner, and for the glory of the King of mercy and grace.

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(e.g., John 1 or God's love)