Archive for the ‘Salvation’ Category


“God can forgive the worst sinner on earth.” How many times have you heard a preacher say something like that? Or, “God loves everyone. He doesn’t want anyone to perish. There is no sinner too sinful for God to forgive, if that person will repent and come to Christ in faith.” And do we believe it? Of course we do. We believe that Jesus Christ would have forgiven Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him, if he would have truly repented.

Question: Would Jesus have forgiven Adolf Hitler? Perhaps survivors of the holocaust couldn’t…and we could understand their difficulty in forgiving.  But Jesus could have forgiven Hitler…if he would have changed his life instead of ending his life by blowing his brains out in a Berlin bunker.

Let’s bring it on down to today.

Would God be willing to forgive a repentant Jeffrey Dahmer, the mass murderer of Milwaukee?

How about Sadaam Hussein, the bloody butcher of Baghdad?

What about General Manuel Noriega, the former Panamanian drug Lord? General Manuel Antonio Noriega was found guilty of international drug trafficking and sentenced to 40 years in the federal penitentiary.

“Noriega, a former Roman Catholic known to have dabbled in the occult, embraced evangelical Christianity and prayed for forgiveness in a three-hour session in May 1990, the Times reported.

“I received Jesus Christ as my Saviour the 15th May of 1990 at 11 a.m.,” he wrote in letters about his conversion. In some letters, he wrote that he had suffered from “illusions of grandeur and a heart hardened to the Gospel.”

His attorney confirmed his conversion at the time, dismissing questions about whether it was all a ploy to curry favor with the judge. “There are people who are just cynical about everything,” the attorney told the Times.”

A prison guard witnessed Noriega’s life after his conversion “I’ve seen seriousness and I’ve seen the lack of it,” said one of the guards who monitor the fallen leader daily. “I haven’t seen any dedication or seriousness greater than his.” 

Stop the questions!

It’s not a moot question anymore. For on October 24, 1992, in a baptistry provided by American Rehabilitation Ministries, General Manuel Noriega was immersed in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the chambers of the Honorable William M. Hoeveler, United States District Judge, Federal Court House, Miami Florida.

Noriega was “Public Enemy No. 1” during the time leading up to the U.S. invasion of Panama in December 1989. How did it come to pass that the former general of Panama was buried in baptism in Florida in an A.R.M. baptistry?

The story begins in a maximum security cell in the federal prison in Miami where General Manuel Noriega was awaiting trial on charges of international drug trafficking.

Early in January 1990 a copy of a Spanish New Testament came into the notorious prisoner’s hands. On January 10, 1990, the editor of the Soul Winner’s New Testament (Evangelismo Personal), Clift Brannon, a former attorney turned preacher, received a letter from Noriega.  In the letter, Noriega expressed his appreciation for the copy of the Scriptures. Brannon immediately applied for a visitation permit for the purpose of religious instruction under the rights granted Noriega under the Geneva Accords.

Accordingly, on May 15 and 16, 1990, Brannon and a Spanish interpreter, Rudy Hernandez, were allowed to visit Noriega for a total of 6 hours in the Metropolitan Correctional Center of Dade County, Florida. Following their visit, Noriega wrote Brannon as follows:

On completing the spiritual sessions that you as a messenger of the Word of God brought to my heart, even to my area of confinement as Prisoner of War of the United States, I feel the necessity of adding something more to what I was able to say to you as we parted.  The evening sessions of May 15 and 16 with you and Rudy Hernandez along with the Christian explanation and guidance were for me the first day of a dream, a revelation.  I can tell you with great strength and inspiration that receiving our Lord Jesus Christ as Savior guided by you, was an emotional event. The hours flew by without my being aware. I could have desired that they continue forever, but there was no time nor space.  Thank you for your time. Thank you for your human warmth, for your constant and permanent spiritual strength brought to bear on my mind and soul.

With great affection.

Manuel A. Noriega

Following another visit in July, 1990, Noriega enrolled in a 16-week Bible correspondence course. At the conclusion of his personal study the former drug lord requested permission of the prison authorities to be baptized in accordance to what he had learned from Matthew 28:19,20.

His request, however, was denied upon the advice of his attorneys.

On September 25, 1992, Brannon wrote to the Honorable William M. Hoeveler, united States District Judge in Miami, pleading the court’s permission to immerse Noriega. “Only in this way can he (Noriega) genuinely show his faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Romans 6:3-5).”

The former attorney went on to write:

On October 24th, we ask your authority to have a fiberglass baptistry taken into the court room and for General Manuel A. Noriega to be immersed in accord with the Holy Scriptures and in obedience to the command of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Sincerely submitted for Your Honor’s favorable consideration.

Clifton W. Brannon

In the meantime, it was necessary to secure a portable baptistry. To whom would they turn?

To the same ministry that has for the past 31 years placed more than 1000 baptistries in American prisons nationwide. A.R.M. not only responded with a communion table baptistry, but also provided two in-depth Spanish Bible correspondence courses for General Noriega’s study.  A variety of Spanish DaySpring greeting cards were sent from A.R.M. along with several New Testament Gospel tracts in Spanish.

On October 24, 1992 (United Nations Day!), A.R.M’s baptistry arrived at the back door of the Federal Court House in Miami. A Deputy Marshall helped Brannon and his associates take the baptistry into the courtroom and fill it with water.

Noriega’s baptism almost didn’t happen because of his high security status, opposition from the Catholic chaplain and daunting logistical problems.

The baptism was arranged to take place in the courthouse, in an atrium outside the door of one of the courtrooms, using A.R.M.’s Communion Table Baptistry.

“That was a first”, Brannon said. “We were told this had never taken place in a federal courthouse before”.

When the baptistry was filled, the Deputy Marshall brought General Manuel Antonio Noriega into the courtroom to be baptized. Surrounded by 12 guards, Noriega, wearing civilian clothes, took off his jacket and shoes, and got into the baptistry. Brannon preached on the meaning of baptism as Hernandez interpreted, followed by prayer and Scripture reading. Brannon then baptized Noriega in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Brannon says that when Noriega “came up out of the water” you could feel the presence of the Holy Spirit in the room. “Rudy had an accordion, and we all sang Amazing Grace, which reverberated off the marble floor”, Brannon said.

“It’s one of those sacred moments,” Brannon said. “I could feel God speaking that He was well pleased.”

Noriega was allowed to give a brief testimony and be served the Lord’s Supper before being escorted back to his maximum security cell.  Here, in part, is the testimony of General Manuel Antonio Noriega, the notorious international drug lord and ruthless dictator of Panama:

Before, Jesus to me was only an image of that which was learned from Catholicism, an historic being who worked miracles. All was transformed when on Tuesday, January the 16th, 1990, Dr. Clift asked me in a telephone conversation, he in Texas and I in a preventive prison of the court, “Do you know that Jesus loves you?”

Today, this is what He means to me:

He is the Son of God, who died on the cross for our sins, who arose from the grave and is at the right hand of God the Father and who above all things He is my Savior, and has mercy on me, a sinner.”

Sources:  (CAUTION: ARM holds to a doctrinal position resembling baptismal regeneration, which do not)

Question. Are you saved? Have you made peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ? God made His plan of salvation simple enough for anyone to understand:

First, believe that you are a Hell-bound sinner that is totally unacceptable to God in your present condition: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God . . . the wages of sin is death” (Romans 3:23; 6:23)

Second, believe that Jesus Christ died for your sins so you could be acceptable to God through Him: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8)

Third, believe that Jesus Christ will save you if you will simply believe in Him with your whole heart and call on His name right now: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in  thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation . . . For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:9-10, 13)

If you have just trusted Christ as your Lord and Saviour, please contact Dr. Mike for a FREE 8 lesson Foundations of Theology Bible study to help get you started right in your New Life as a believer in and follower of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Categories: Evangelism, Salvation


October 21, 2017 Leave a comment


Dr. Mike Johnston


Being forgiven of our sin and given a standing of righteousness before God is a prerequisite for Heaven. But is forgiving others a foregone requirement for salvation like many have led us to believe? Scripture studied in context teaches it is not!

Jesus prayed: And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors (Matthew 6:12), and Paul wrote: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32).

I don’t see how it could be any more clear. Horizontal forgiveness (man forgiving man) is predicated upon and patterned after vertical forgiveness (God forgiving man).


What part does forgiveness play in a Christian’s salvation?

Again, bear in mind that forgiveness restores relationships. You can’t have a relationship with a person where unforgiveness reigns. Webster defines forgiveness as follows: “the pardon of an offender, by which he is considered and treated as not guilty.” This is precisely what happens through redemption in Christ:


  • We are born sinners and thus are separated from God (Isa. 59:2; Rom. 5:12).
  • We cannot go to Heaven while God holds these sins against us. We must obtain forgiveness which is offered through Christ’s blood (Eph. 1:7) to all who personally go to God through Jesus for it. It is not automatically extended (Rom. 10:9-10, 13; John 6:37).
  • We all continue to sin after we are saved and need forgiveness; not for redemption, but for restoration. Again, we are required to go to God and confess our sins in order to receive forgiveness and cleansing (1 John 1:8-9). It is not automatic.


Aren’t we told that if we don’t forgive we won’t be forgiven?

Yes. However, the teaching is taken out of context and misapplied causing undue guilt and self condemnation. Here is the verse often quoted in support of this: For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses (Matthew 6:14-15).

Here is the teaching in context: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him (Luke 17:3-4).

I don’t see how this could be any clearer. If he repents forgive him, regardless of how many times he repeats his offense. If he turns to you again and repents, honor the request and be restored to the relationship. That is the stipulation from Christ. The problem is that when quoting the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 6:14-15), the entire truth is not represented regarding forgiveness. The fact is that in every Scriptural instance where forgiving others is presented, it must be interpreted within the context of Christ’s teaching that forgiveness requires repentance. Anything else is not rightly dividing the Word of Truth (2 Tim. 2:15).


Are there examples in the Bible to prove what you are teaching?

Absolutely! I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish (Luke 13:3).

  • God is angry with the wicked every day (Psalm 7:11). The unforgiven aren’t given a free pass into glory they are judged and sent to the Lake of Fire for eternity (Rev. 20:15).
  • Jonah preached to Israel’s enemy Nineveh, if they didn’t repent they would be destroyed.  They did repent and were temporarily spared (Jonah 3).
  • David wrote what we call imprecatory Psalms where He invoked God’s wrath on his enemies (Psalm 7, 35, 55, 58, 59, 69, 79, 109, 137 and 139). While some water this down, the fact is, David was a man after God’s own heart, so was he wrong?
  • Jesus excoriated the Pharisees throughout His ministry for being hypocrites and sinners (Matt. 23). Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41). They weren’t forgiven because they hadn’t repented.
  • Paul complained about the problems Alexander the coppersmith caused him in his ministry right up until his final days (2 Tim. 4:14). If blanket forgiveness was in order, wasn’t Paul in danger of not having his sins forgiven as maintained by some today?
  • A quick look at the souls under the altar in Heaven cried out for vengeance unto the Lord. Instead of rebuking them for their unforgiving attitude, they were given white robes signifying purity and righteousness (Rev. 6:9-11; 19:8).
  • The tribulation is filled with judgments against men who refused to repent (Rev. 9:20-21; 16:9, 11).


But didn’t Jesus and Stephen ask God to forgive those who murdered them?

Yes (Luke 23:34; Acts 7:60). However, it wasn’t  meant as an exoneration of their sin (see Luke 12:47-48), or they would have been saved in a manner inconsistent with Scripture (Luke 13:3; John 3:16-18). Greek scholar AT Robertson says Jesus was asking that the sin not be placed on the soldiers who were merely obeying orders, but directly upon the powers who ordered it. Vincent renders Stephen’s words: “fix not this sin (permanently) upon them.” If it were, they would not ever be able to be saved. It is in this light forgiveness was requested.


How do we respond to someone who hurts us?

Go to them. If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him (Luke 17:3). The moment we are aware of a strained relationship, we need to initiate reconciliation (Matt. 5:22-24). “The goal” says Gary Inrig, “is not to express anger or get something off our chests, but to bring about repentance, restoration, and reconciliation.” [1] However, not every person you humbly approach in this manner will be receptive or restored. Pride will continually produce in them the fruit of the flesh, which is impervious to your love and is never good (Ga. 5:19-21).

Pray for them. Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you

(Luke 6:28; see also Rom. 12:14, 20). In Joseph we see the pattern given for not holding a grudge. He saw things from the divine perspective and God rewarded him. How much different his life and our world have been if he would have given his brothers what they really deserved for selling him out like they did, or for Potiphar’s lying wife for falsely accusing him?

As you know, we are far from perfect, and frankly we all struggle in some area. Obviously unforgiveness haunts you since you requested this info. While this subject is spoken of often in Scripture, the flesh cannot produce anything that comes close; in fact, it seeks retaliation and vengeance. God says: Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord (Rom. 12:9). The best brotherly advice I can offer is that you pray for reconciliation, take whatever humble steps you can to achieve it, and wait upon God to bring it about. In the mean time, let go of all bitterness or it will eat you alive: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled (Hebrews 12:15).

For further study, please write to RBC Ministries – POB 2222 – Grand Rapids, MI 49501-2222 and request What is True Forgiveness? #HP071

[1] RBC BOOKLET: What is True Forgiveness?

Eternal Security Brief

September 2, 2017 Leave a comment


Dr. Mike Johnston

The following factors underwriting eternal security are expressive rather than exhaustive.

  1. We are saved as a result of the finished work of Jesus Christ at Calvary (John 17:4; 19:30; Heb. 4:3). If it depends on us in the least little bit, we become Co-Redeemers with Him.
  2. It is believing, not performing, that saves us: (Eph. 2:8-9).
  3. If our faith fails, His sustains us: (2 Tim. 2:13).
  4. Salvation by faith alone glorifies Christ who died for us and will one day present us to the world as trophies of His grace: (Eph. 5:25-27).
  5. It is Christ, not ourselves, who makes us acceptable before God: (Eph. 1:6).
  6. Redemption is a present possession of every born again believer in Christ: (Eph. 1:7).
  7. If the dos and don’ts of the Mosaic Law didn’t save anyone then, why would any set of dos and don’ts save anyone, or keep anyone saved now (Rom. 3:19-20; 10:3-4)?
  8. Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Rom. 10:13). If salvation can be lost, this verse is not true.
  9. We are born again (regenerated) from above: (John 3:3-5). There isn’t a verse anywhere in the Bible teaching this process can be reversed!
  10. We have been redeemed by His blood: (Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14). Redemption means to be purchased, like from a slave market.
  11. It is Christ’s righteousness not our own, that provides us right standing before God: (Rom. 3:21-28; Phil. 3:9; Titus 3:5).
  12. We have been forgiven all sin: (Rom. 4:7; Eph. 1:7).
  13. We are now and forever, the children of God: (John 1:12).
  14. We are never to be condemned: (John 3:18; 5:24; Rom. 8:1) This includes future condemnation in Hell, dear friend.
  15. We can’t be lost by Christ: (John 6:39-40).
  16. If salvation can be lost, how strange that no theologian in the history of the church has ever been able to set forth the precise moment is will be taken from us.
  17. We are in Christ’s hand and in the Father’s hand never to be removed (John 10:28-29).
  18. Verses promising everlasting life to those placing faith in Christ must be extracted from Scripture is salvation can at any point, for any reason, be forfeited.
  19. We are reckoned by God to be sinless: (Rom. 4:7-8; 8:33; Col. 2:13).
  20. We are citizens of Heaven: (Eph 2:19; Phil. 3:20).
  21. We have entered into His rest: (Heb. 4:3).
  22. We have been made perfect forever by the offering of Christ: (Heb. 10:14).
  23. We can never ever be snatched out of Jesus’ hand: (John 10:28)
  24. We can never ever be snatched out of the Father’s hand: (John 10:29)
  25. We have been delivered from the wrath to come: (1 Thess. 1:10)
  26. We are dead: (Col. 3:1-3). Death permanently removes us from the earthly realm as Paul explains in this passage of Scripture.
  27. We have been justified (declared not guilty of all sin) by faith: (Rom. 3:28) If right living got us declared not guilty, Christ died for nothing – (Gal. 2:21).
  28. We furthermore, have had all charges dropped against us: (Rom. 4:7-8; 2 Cor. 5:19; Col. 2:13-14; Heb. 10:17-18).
  29. We are (spiritually and positionally) in Christ: (Ephesians 1:1,3,10,12,20; 2:6,10,13).
  30. We are being kept secure by God: (Phil. 1:6; Col. 3:3).
  31. We are sanctified (set apart permanently): (1 Cor. 6:11; Heb. 10:10).
  32. We are seated in Heaven with Christ now: (Eph. 2:6; Col. 3:1-3). Nowhere in Scripture are we ever removed or unseated from this lofty position.
  33. We are sealed unto the day of redemption (Eph. 1:13-14; 4:30). The redemption spoken of here is the ultimate deliverance of all believers by the Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:14).
  34. We are a brand new creation; a new person: (2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15; Eph. 4:24).
  35. We have everlasting life as a present ongoing possession: (John 3:16, 36; 5:24; 6:47) Greek scholar AT Robertson’s Word Studies says that we have this here, and now, and for all eternity.
  36. We are as righteous as the Lord: (1 Cor. 1:30; Rom. 3:25; 2 Cor. 5:21) Righteousness comes purely from believing in God, not in doing a thing- (Rom. 3:22). It gives us the same standing with God as Christ has with Him, since His righteousness has been transferred to us through faith (Rom. 3:25).
  37. We are saved completely by grace apart from personal worth, merit, or ability (Rom. 1:15; 4:16; Eph. 2:8-9).
  38. We were chosen to be saved on the basis of God’s foreknowledge (Rom. 8:29-30) before God created the world (Eph. 1:4) If we could lose our salvation, then God is not omniscient in that He made a mistake choosing us.
  39. We are preserved in Christ: (Jude 1:1) The Greek word here, according to Strong is tay-reh’-o, and it means to guard from loss or injury, properly keep an eye on; in other words they live in complete protection. Scofield wrote: “Assurance is the believer’s full conviction that, through the work of Christ alone, received by faith, he is in possession of a salvation in which he will be eternally kept.”
  40. For every verse submitted by limited security advocates to “prove” salvation can be lost, a plethora exist to contradict it.



I need to make this as frighteningly urgent as possible …

You can be certain if you DO NOT know Christ personally as YOUR Lord and Saviour, you have an appointment to face Him as YOUR Judge at the Great White Throne judgment where you will be pronounced guilty and cast into the Lake of Fire!

Revelation 20:12-15 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. (13) And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. (14) And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. (15) And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

–Dr. Mike Johnston

Eternally Secure in our Salvation

October 10, 2016 Leave a comment

 Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer

(Major Bible Themes)

From chapter entitled Security and Assurance of our Salvation

Major Bible Themes by Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer

(Founder of Dallas Theological Seminary)



Collateral reading and reporting is part of your required coursework. When summarizing material, refrain from opining or you will have to redo your assignments. I am not interested in your opinion; I want to see how well you can read, analyze, and then communicate the material- as it is presented- in writing.

  • Make a Title Page for this collateral project called Security and Assurance.
  • Read this booklet at least two times and state you have done so on your Title Page.
  • Write out and then answer all questions on the pages listed below.



This chapter is concerned with the Biblical answer to the question, “Could a person once saved ever be lost again?” Since fear of eternal perdition must destroy the believer’s peace, and since to suppose that one once saved might be lost again, of necessity, limits the saving grace of God as it is in Christ, the subject of this chapter is of utmost importance.

The claim that one who is once saved might be lost again is usually based on a form of rationalism which, emphasizing certain passages of Scripture, does not consider sufficiently the testimony of all the Word of God. Concerning this question, church creeds have taken opposing sides; but it will be observed that belief or disbelief in the security of all who are saved is more personal than creedal. While the great body of New Testament Scriptures which bear directly or indirectly on this question declare the believer to be secure, there are upwards of twenty-five passages which have been cited in evidence by those who maintain that the believer is insecure. It is certain that an individual could not be at the same time both secure and insecure. Therefore, of these two bodies of Scripture, one body of Scripture must of necessity conform to the other.


From careful study it will be seen that the so-called “insecurity passages” are not such in reality, that they do not oppose the positive doctrine of security, and that they seem to teach insecurity only when they are misunderstood or misapplied. Certain, of these do not apply to the Christian since they belong to another dispensation (Matt. 24:13; Ezk. 33:7, 8; Matt. 18:23-35; 25:30). Other passages refer only to false and unregenerate teachers of the “last days” (1 Tim. 4:1, 2; 2 Pet. 2:1-22; Jude 1:17-19). One passage describes that which is merely a moral reformation (Luke 11:24-26). Several of these Scriptures bear on the important fact that Christian profession is justified by its fruits. Salvation which is of God will, under normal conditions, prove itself to be such by its own fruits (1 John 3:10; John 8:31; 15:6; 2 Pet. 1:10; Jas. 2:14-26; 1 Cor. 15:1, 2; Heb. 3:6, 14). In addition to this, there are certain passages that contain warnings which, when rightly interpreted, do not imply the insecurity of the believer under grace. Jews are warned that since their sacrifices have ceased they must turn to Christ or be lost (Heb. 10:26), in like manner, unsaved Jews as well as Gentiles are warned against “falling away” from the illuminating, converting work of the Spirit (Heb. 6:4-9). So, also, unspiritual Jews are warned that they will not be received into the coming kingdom (Matt. 25:1-13), and Gentiles are given a corporate warning which has no reference to the individual believer (Rom. 11:21). Again, the one who is saved and safe may lose his reward (1 Cor. 3:15; Col. 1:21-23), and be disapproved concerning his service for Christ (1 Cor. 9:27). Likewise, he may lose his fellowship because of sin (1 John 1:6), and he may be chastened of God (1 Cor. 11:29-32; John 15:2; 1 John 5:16). And, finally, it is possible for the believer to “fall from grace” (Gal. 5:1-4), which, however, is never accomplished by sinning; for the Christian falls from grace only when he turns from his true liberty under grace to the bondage of the law.


The positive doctrine of security rests upon an extended body of truth in which no less than twelve unchangeable facts of divine grace and its accomplishments are declared; any one of which alone would suffice to form an adequate basis for perfect rest and peace.



The direct, unqualified promises of security (John 5:24; 6:37; 10:28) form an unconditional covenant in which God simply declares what He is going to do, which is also an expression of His unchangeable will. In Romans 8:29, 30 this eternal purpose is revealed and its realization is assured through sovereign grace and apart from every human work and merit.



As being absolutely free from every limitation the Scriptures assert that God is able to keep all who are saved through Christ (John 10:29; Rom. 4:21; 8:31, 38, 39; 14:4; Eph. 3:20; Phil. 3:21; 2 Tim. 1:12; Heb. 7:25; Jude 1:24).



Not only is God revealed as one who is able to do according to His eternal purpose, but His love for His own is a motive which can never fail. In Romans 5:8-11 that love is declared to exceed even His love for sinners because of which He gave His Son to die (John 3:16). The argument is simple: If He loved men enough to give His Son to die for them when they were “sinners” and “enemies,” He will love them “much more” when, through redeeming grace, they are justified in His sight and reconciled to Him. Such knowledge-surpassing love for those whom He has redeemed at such limitless cost is sufficient assurance that they could never be plucked out of His hand until every resource of His infinite power has been exhausted.



While here on earth Christ prayed that those whom the Father had given Him should be kept (John 17:9-12, 15, 20) and this prayer which had its beginning on earth, we may believe, is continued in Heaven (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25. Note, also, Luke 22:31, 32). Considering this, there is abundant assurance of security in the fact that no prayer of the Son of God could ever be unanswered.



The death of Christ is the sufficient answer to the condemning power of sin (Rom. 8:34). When it is claimed that the saved one might be lost again, that claim is usually based on the fact of possible sin. Such an assumption of necessity proceeds on the supposition that Christ has not borne all the sins the believer will ever commit, and that God, having saved a soul, might be disappointed and surprised by unexpected, subsequent sin. On the contrary, the omniscience of God is perfect. He foreknows every sin or secret thought that will ever darken the life of His child, and for those sins the sufficient, sacrificial blood of Christ has been shed and by that blood God has been propitiated (1 John 2:2). Because of that blood which avails for the sins of both saved and unsaved God is as free to continue His saving grace toward the meritless as He is to save them at all. He keeps them forever; not for their sakes alone, but to satisfy His own love and manifest His own grace (Rom. 5:8; Eph. 2:7-10). It is because of the fact that salvation and safe-keeping depend only on the sacrifice and merit of the Son of God that all condemnation is forever removed (John 3:18; 5:24; Rom. 8:1. R.V.; 1 Cor. 11:31, 32).



The eternal security of the believer is made certain through two vital facts connected with the resurrection of Christ:


  1. The gift of God is eternal life (John 3:16; 10:28; Rom. 6:23), which life is the resurrection life of Christ (Col. 2:12; 3:1), eternal as He is eternal, and as incapable of dissolution or death as Christ is incapable of dissolution or death.


  1. Likewise, by union with the resurrected Christ by the baptism with the Spirit and the impartation of His eternal life, the child of God is made a part of the New Creation in which he stands in the federal headship of the Last Adam. Since the Last Adam cannot fall, there is no fall possible for the weakest one who is in Him.





The present ministry of Christ in glory has only to do with the eternal security of those on earth who are saved. Christ both intercedes and advocates. As Intercessor, He has in view the weakness, ignorance, and immaturity of the believer — things concerning which there is no guilt. In this ministry, Christ not only prays for His own who are in the world and at every point of their need (Luke 22:31, 32; John 17:9, 15, 20; Rom. 8:34), but on the grounds of His own sufficiency in His unchanging priesthood, He guarantees that they will be kept saved for ever (Heb. 7:25; Rom. 5:10; John 14:19).



The present ministry of Christ as Advocate has to do with the Christian’s sin — that concerning which there is guilt. Since sin is always sinful in the sight of God and can be cured only on the ground of the blood of Christ, the death of Christ is efficacious as much for the sins of the saved as for the unsaved (1 John 2:2). God is infinitely holy; therefore the Christian’s sin in every case merits eternal condemnation, and that judgment would of necessity be executed were it not for the fact that, a Advocate, Christ pleads the saving value of His own blood before the throne of God (1 John 2:1; Rom. 8:34; Heb. 9:24). This He does, not after the Christian sins, which would imply that there might be even a moment of insecurity in the believer’s position before God; but when he is sinning he has an Advocate with the Father.



By the regenerating work of the Spirit the believer is made a child of God (John 1:13; 3:3-6; Titus 3:4-6; 1 Pet. 1:23; 2 Pet. 1:4; 1 John 3:9), an heir of God and a joint-heir with Christ (Rom. 8:16, 17). Having thus been born of God, he has partaken of the divine nature and that nature is never said to be removed or disannulled.


The fact that the Spirit now indwells every believer (John 7:37-39; Rom. 5:5; 8:9; 1 Cor. 2:12; 6:19; 1 John 3:24) and never leaves him (John 14:16) should be recognized by every Christian. The Spirit may be grieved by unconfessed sin (Eph. 4:30), or He may be quenched in the sense that He is resisted (1 Thess. 5:19); But He, as the divine Presence in the heart, is never removed. For this reason, the child of God continues as such forever.



By the Spirit’s ministry in baptizing, the believer is joined to that body of which Christ is the Head (1 Cor. 12:13; 6:17; Gal. 3:27) and he is therefore said to be in Christ. To be in Christ, constitutes a union which is both vital and abiding. In that union, old things — as to position and relationship which might be the ground of condemnation — are passed away, and all positions and relationships have become new and are of God (2 Cor. 5:17, 18). Being accepted for ever “in the beloved,” the child of God is as secure as the One in whom he is and in whom he stands.



Finally, it is declared that all true Christians are sealed with the Spirit unto the day of redemption (Eph. 4:30; 2 Cor. 1:22; and Eph. 1:13 which should read “having believed ye were sealed”). Since this sealing is of God for His own purpose and glory, and since it is unto the day of redemption, this ministry of the Spirit also guarantees the eternal security of all who are saved.



It may be concluded, then, from this extensive body of truth that the eternal purpose of God which is for the preservation of His own can never be defeated. To this end He has met every possible hindrance. Sin which might otherwise separate has been borne by a Substitute who, in order that the believer may be kept, pleads the efficacy of His death before the Throne of God. The believer’s will is held under divine control (Phil. 2:13), and every testing is tempered by the infinite grace and wisdom of God (1 Cor. 10:13).


It cannot be too strongly emphasized that, while, in this chapter, salvation and safe-keeping have been treated as separate divine undertakings as an adaptation to the usual ways of speaking, the Bible recognizes no such distinction; for, according to the Scriptures, there is no salvation purposed, offered, or undertaken under grace which is not infinitely perfect and that does not abide for ever.



  1. What is the fundamental question involved in the doctrine of Security?
  2. Could both the doctrine of Security and the doctrine of Insecurity be true?
  3. In what ways are the so-called “insecurity passages” misinterpreted and misapplied?
  4. What form of covenant do the promises of saving grace constitute?
  5. In what ways do the power of God and the love of God guarantee the believer’s safe-keeping?
  6. What peculiar certainty is there in the prayer of Christ?
  7. How does the death of Christ provide for the Christian’s eternal security?
  8. Name two assurances of security which are provided in the resurrection of Christ.
  9. Distinguish between Christ’s intercession and advocacy.
  10. Might the divine nature within the believer be disannulled?
  11. a. Does the Spirit indwell every true Christian?
  12. Does He ever leave the one in whom He dwells?
  13. In what way does the baptism with the Spirit guarantee the security of the child of God?
  14. What time limit is placed on the Spirit’s sealing?
  15. Why is it that the believer’s sin, his own will, or his own liability to be tempted are unable to break his eternal security in Christ?



The theme of this chapter should be distinguished clearly from that of the preceding chapter. Security relates to the absolute, eternal safety of those who are in Christ, while assurance relates to a personal confidence in a present salvation.


According to the Scriptures, that assurance of salvation which is justifiable rests upon two lines of evidence:


(a) normal manifestations of the indwelling Christ, and

(b) the veracity of the Word of God.





Among the various divine accomplishments which together constitute the salvation of a soul, the impartation of a new life from God is, in the Bible, given the supreme emphasis. Upwards of eighty-five New Testament passages attest this feature of saving grace. Consideration of these Scriptures disclose the fact that this imparted life is the gift of God to all those who believe on Christ (John 10:28; Rom. 6:23); it is from Christ (John 14:6); it is Christ indwelling the believer (Col. 1:27; 1 John 5:11, 12), and therefore is as eternal as He is eternal.


On the basis of the fact that Christ indwells him, the believer is appointed to judge himself as to whether he is in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5); for it is reasonable to expect that the heart wherein Christ dwells will, under normal conditions, be aware of that wonderful Presence. However, the Christian is not left to his own misguided feelings and imagination as to the precise manner in which the indwelling Christ will be manifested, it being clearly defined in the Scriptures. For the Christian who is subject to the Word of God, this particular revelation serves a two-fold purpose: it protects against the assumption that fleshly emotionalism is of God — a belief far too prevalent at the present time — and sets a standard of spiritual reality toward which all who are saved should ceaselessly strive.

It is obvious that an unsaved person, be he ever so faithful in outward conformity to religious practise, will never manifest the life which is Christ. In like manner, the carnal Christian is abnormal to the extent that he can in no way with accuracy prove his salvation by his experience; for all normal Christian experience (but never the imparted divine life) is limited, if not dissipated, by that which is carnal (1 Cor. 3:1-4). It should be recognized that a carnal Christian is as perfectly saved as the spiritual Christian; for no experience, or merit, or service can form any part of the grounds of salvation. Though but “a babe” he is, nevertheless, in Christ (1 Cor. 3:1). His obligation toward God is not one of the exercise of saving faith, but rather one of adjustment to the mind and will of God. It is of fundamental importance to understand that a normal Christian experience is vouchsafed only to those who are Spirit-filled.


The manifestations of the indwelling Christ which are mentioned in the Scriptures are:


  1. The Knowledge of God as Father.

In Matthew 11:27 it is declared that no one knoweth the Father save the Son and he to whom the Son will reveal Him. It is one thing to know about God, which, experience is possible to the unregenerate; but quite another thing to know God, which can be realized only as the Son reveals Him, “And this is life eternal that they might know thee the only true God” (John 17:3). Fellowship with the Father and with the Son is known only by those who “walk in the light” (1 John 1:6). A normal Christian experience includes, therefore, a personal appreciation of the Fatherhood of God.


  1. A New Reality in Prayer.

Prayer assumes a very large place in the experience of the spiritual Christian. It becomes increasingly his most vital resource. By the indwelling Spirit the believer offers praise and thanksgiving (Eph. 5:18, 19), and by the Spirit he is enabled to pray according to the will of God (Rom. 8:26, 27; Jude 1:20). It is reasonable to believe, also, that since Christ’s ministry both on earth and in Heaven was and is so much one of prayer, the one in whom He dwells will if normal be moved to prayer.


  1. A New Ability to Understand the Scriptures.

According to the promise of Christ, the child of God will understand through the Spirit the things of Christ, the things of the Father, and things to come (John 16:12-15). On the Emmaus road Christ opened the Scriptures to His hearers (Luke 24:32) and their hearts to the Scriptures (Luke 24:45). Such an experience, though so wonderful, is not designed alone for favored Christians; it is the normal experience of all who are right with God (1 John 2:27), since it is a natural manifestation of the indwelling Christ.


  1. A New Sense of the Sinfulness of Sin.

As water removes that which is foreign and unclean (Ezk. 36:25; John 3:5; Titus 3:5, 6; 1 Pet. 3:21; 1 John 5:6-8), so the Word of God displaces all human conceptions and implants those ideals which are of God (Psa. 119:11), and by the action of the Word of God as applied by the Spirit the divine estimate of sin displaces the human estimate. It is impossible that the sinless Christ who, on becoming a sin offering, sweat drops of blood, should not, when free to manifest His presence, create a new sense of the sinfulness of sin in the one in whom He dwells.


  1. A New Love for the Unsaved.

The fact that Christ has died for all men (2 Cor. 5:12) is the grounds upon which the Apostle Paul could say “Henceforth know we no man after the flesh” (2 Cor. 5:16). Apart from all earthly distinctions, men were seen by his spiritual eyes only as souls for whom Christ had died. Likewise, for the lost he ceased not to pray (Rom. 10:1), to strive (Rom. 15:20) and for them he was willing to be “accursed from Christ” (Rom. 9:1-3). As a result of the divine presence in the heart the divine compassion should be experienced by every Spirit-filled believer (Rom. 5:5; Gal. 5:22).


  1. A New Love for the Saved.

In 1 John 3:14, love for the brethren is made an absolute test of personal salvation. This is reasonable, since by the regenerating work of the Spirit the believer is brought into a new kinship in the household and family of God, wherein alone the true Fatherhood of God and brotherhood of man exist. The fact that the same divine Presence indwells two individuals relates them vitally and anticipates a corresponding bond of devotion. The Christian’s love one for the other is therefore made the insignia of true discipleship (John 13:34, 35), and this affection is the normal experience of all who are born of God.


  1. A Manifestation of the Character of Christ.

The believer’s subjective experiences which are due to the unhindered divine Presence in the heart are indicated in nine words: “Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Gal. 5:22, 23), and each word represents a flood tide of reality on the plane of the limitless character of God.


This is the life which Christ lived (John 13:34; 15:11; 14:27); it is the life which is Christ-like (Phil. 2:5-7), and it is the life which is Christ (Phil. 1:21). Since these graces are wrought by the Spirit who indwells every believer, this experience is provided for all.


  1. A Consciousness of Salvation through Faith in Christ.

Saving faith in Christ is also a definite experience. The Apostle related of himself, “I know whom I have believed” (2 Tim. 1:12). A personal reliance upon a Saviour is so definite an act of the will and attitude of the mind that one could hardly be deceived regarding it. But it is the purpose of God that the normal Christian shall be assured in his own heart that he is accepted of God. To the spiritual Christian the Spirit beareth witness that he is a son of God (Rom. 8:16). Similarly, having trusted in Christ, the believer will have no more the consciousness of condemnation because of sin (Heb. 10:2; Rom. 8:1; John 3:18; 5:24). This does not imply that the Christian will not be conscious of the sin which he commits; it rather has to do with a consciousness of an eternal acceptance with God through Christ (Eph. 1:6; Col. 2:13), which is the portion of all who believe.


In concluding the enumeration of the essential elements of a true Christian experience, it should again be stated that mere fleshly emotionalism is excluded, and that the experience of the believer will be normal only as he is “walking in the light” (1 John 1:6).



Above and beyond all that the believer may experience — which experience is too often indefinite and overshadowed because of carnality — there is given the abiding evidence of the dependable Word of God. In addressing believers the Apostle John states, “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). By this passage assurance is given to every believer, carnal or spiritual alike, that they may know that they have eternal life. This assurance is made to rest, not on a changeable experience, but upon the things which are written in the unchangeable Word of God (Matt. 24:35; Psa. 119:89, 160; Matt. 5:18; 1 Pet. 1:23, 25).


The written promises of God are as a title deed (John 6:37; 5:24; 3:16, 36; Rom. 1:16; 3:22, 26; 10:13; Acts 16:31) which challenge confidence. These promises of salvation form the unconditional covenant of God under grace and call for no human merit, nor are they proven to be true through any human experience. These mighty realities are to be reckoned as accomplished on no other ground than the veracity of God. God hath spoken. It becomes man to believe, and all lack of assurance concerning personal salvation will be found to be due to one or the other of two forms of unbelief:


  1. Doubting One’s Own Committal.

Multitudes are in no way certain that they ever have had a personal transaction with Christ regarding their own salvation. And while it is non-essential that one should know the day and the hour of his decision, it is imperative that he should know that he is now trusting Christ without reference to the time it began. The Apostle states that he is persuaded that God is able to keep (Lit., guard his deposit) that which he had committed unto Him (2 Tim. 1:12). Obviously the cure for any uncertainty as to one’s acceptance of Christ is to receive Christ now, reckoning that no self-merit or religious works are of value — Christ alone can save.


  1. Doubting the Faithfulness of God.

Others who lack assurance of their own salvation do so because they, though having come to Christ, are not sure that He has kept His word and received them. This state of mind is usually caused by looking for a change in their feelings rather than looking to the faithfulness of Christ. Feelings and experiences have their place; but, as before stated, the final evidence of personal salvation, which is unchanged by these, is the truthfulness of God. What He has said, He will do, and it is not pious or commendable to distrust one s salvation after having definitely cast one’s self upon Christ.



QUESTIONS to answer

  1. State the difference between the doctrine of Security and that of Assurance.
  2. State the lines of Biblical assurance.
  3. What one aspect of salvation is made the test of the believer’s experience?
  4. Wherein may this experience fail or be misleading?
  5. Prove that a carnal Christian is saved and safe in Christ.
  6. State the meaning of Matthew 11:27.
  7. How might the indwelling Christ inspire the believer to pray?
  8. State the normal effect of the indwelling Christ on the believer’s knowledge of the Scriptures, upon his sense of sin, and his love for the unsaved.
  9. a. On what basis is 1 John 3:14 a reasonable test of a real Christian experience?
  10. Why is it reasonable to expect Christ-likeness in the believer?
  11. What passages indicate that a spiritual Christian will be conscious of his acceptance with God?
  12. Is a normal Christian experience essential to salvation?
  13. On what certainty does assurance rest apart from experience?
  14. What should one do who doubts his own trust in Christ?
  15. What should one do who doubts Christ’s promise to receive even after having trusted Him?























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Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

September 28, 2016 Leave a comment


But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine (Titus 2:1)

PUBLISHER’S NOTE: Amos warned about a coming spiritual famine involving God’s Word (Amos 8:11). Jesus warned about false prophets in the last days (Matt. 24:11, 24) to which Paul revealed as seducing spirits bringing doctrines of devils. To safeguard you against their intrusion, the PMI Center is proud to publish this booklet as part of our Sound Doctrine Series. We trust it will bless you.


by Jonathan Edwards


Jonathan Edwards (October 5, 1703 – March 22, 1758) was a great and powerful Christian preacher and intellectual. Some regard him as America’s original and most important philosophical theologian. Edwards played a critical role in shaping the First Great Awakening, and oversaw some of the first revivals in 1733–35 at his church in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Edwards delivered the sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”, a classic of early American literature, during another revival in 1741, following George Whitefield’s tour of the Thirteen Colonies. He was the grandfather of Aaron Burr, third Vice President of the United States.” Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” preached in Enfield, Connecticut on July 8, 1741, is a classic sermon every preacher in the world should be required to read. It remains Edwards’ most famous written work, and is widely studied both among American Christians and historians, due to the glimpse it provides into the theology of the Great Awakening of c. 1730–1755. 


This/these text(s) comprise part of your collateral reading requirements for your study track. Complete these assignments and return them as follows:


  • Prepare a separate Title Page for text.
  • Read text carefully. Take notes.
  • What is the theme of this book? Explain in about 50-75 words how the author developed and/or proved the theme.
  • Prepare 30 true and false questions 1/2 each on text.
  • Prepare 10 substantive essay questions and answer them in at least 25 words.
  • Write a 300-500 word summary of the text. Prepare a 10 word synopsis of your summary.
  • Return all of the above including your notes to PMI.


Their foot shall slide in due time Deut. xxxii. 35

That they were always exposed to destruction; as one that stands or walks in slippery places is always exposed to fall. This is implied in the manner of their destruction coming upon them, being represented by their foot sliding. The same is expressed, Psalm lxxiii. 18. “Surely thou didst set them in slippery places; thou castedst them down into destruction.”In this verse is threatened the vengeance of God on the wicked unbelieving Israelites, who were God’s visible people, and who lived under the means of grace; but who, notwithstanding all God’s wonderful works towards them, remained (as ver. 28.) void of counsel, having no understanding in them. Under all the cultivations of heaven, they brought forth bitter and poisonous fruit; as in the two verses next preceding the text. The expression I have chosen for my text, Their foot shall slide in due time, seems to imply the following doings, relating to the punishment and destruction to which these wicked Israelites were exposed.

  1. It implies, that they were always exposed to sudden unexpected destruction. As he that walks in slippery places is every moment liable to fall, he cannot foresee one moment whether he shall stand or fall the next; and when he does fall, he falls at once without warning: Which is also expressed in Psalm lxxiii. 18, 19. “Surely thou didst set them in slippery places; thou castedst them down into destruction: How are they brought into desolation as in a moment!”
  2. Another thing implied is, that they are liable to fall of themselves, without being thrown down by the hand of another; as he that stands or walks on slippery ground needs nothing but his own weight to throw him down.
  3. That the reason why they are not fallen already, and do not fall now, is only that God’s appointed time is not come. For it is said, that when that due time, or appointed time comes, their foot shall slide. Then they shall be left to fall, as they are inclined by their own weight. God will not hold them up in these slippery places any longer, but will let them go; and then at that very instant, they shall fall into destruction; as he that stands on such slippery declining ground, on the edge of a pit, he cannot stand alone, when he is let go he immediately falls and is lost.

The observation from the words that I would now insist upon is this. “There is nothing that keeps wicked men at any one moment out of hell, but the mere pleasure of God.” By the mere pleasure of God, I mean his sovereign pleasure, his arbitrary will, restrained by no obligation, hindered by no manner of difficulty, any more than if nothing else but God’s mere will had in the least degree, or in any respect whatsoever, any hand in the preservation of wicked men one moment.

The truth of this observation may appear by the following considerations.

  1. There is no want of power in God to cast wicked men into hell at any moment. Men’s hands cannot be strong when God rises up. The strongest have no power to resist him, nor can any deliver out of his hands.-He is not only able to cast wicked men into hell, but he can most easily do it. Sometimes an earthly prince meets with a great deal of difficulty to subdue a rebel, who has found means to fortify himself, and has made himself strong by the numbers of his followers. But it is not so with God. There is no fortress that is any defence from the power of God. Though hand join in hand, and vast multitudes of God’s enemies combine and associate themselves, they are easily broken in pieces. They are as great heaps of light chaff before the whirlwind; or large quantities of dry stubble before devouring flames. We find it easy to tread on and crush a worm that we see crawling on the earth; so it is easy for us to cut or singe a slender thread that any thing hangs by: thus easy is it for God, when he pleases, to cast his enemies down to hell. What are we, that we should think to stand before him, at whose rebuke the earth trembles, and before whom the rocks are thrown down?
  2. They deserve to be cast into hell; so that divine justice never stands in the way, it makes no objection against God’s using his power at any moment to destroy them. Yea, on the contrary, justice calls aloud for an infinite punishment of their sins. Divine justice says of the tree that brings forth such grapes of Sodom, “Cut it down, why cumbereth it the ground?” Luke xiii. 7. The sword of divine justice is every moment brandished over their heads, and it is nothing but the hand of arbitrary mercy, and God’s mere will, that holds it back.
  3. They are already under a sentence of condemnation to hell. They do not only justly deserve to be cast down thither, but the sentence of the law of God, that eternal and immutable rule of righteousness that God has fixed between him and mankind, is gone out against them, and stands against them; so that they are bound over already to hell. John iii. 18. “He that believeth not is condemned already.” So that every unconverted man properly belongs to hell; that is his place; from thence he is, John viii. 23. “Ye are from beneath.” And thither be is bound; it is the place that justice, and God’s word, and the sentence of his unchangeable law assign to him.
  4. They are now the objects of that very same anger and wrath of God, that is expressed in the torments of hell. And the reason why they do not go down to hell at each moment, is not because God, in whose power they are, is not then very angry with them; as he is with many miserable creatures now tormented in hell, who there feel and bear the fierceness of his wrath. Yea, God is a great deal more angry with great numbers that are now on earth: yea, doubtless, with many that are now in this congregation, who it may be are at ease, than he is with many of those who are now in the flames of hell.

So that it is not because God is unmindful of their wickedness, and does not resent it, that he does not let loose his hand and cut them off. God is not altogether such an one as themselves, though they may imagine him to be so. The wrath of God burns against them, their damnation does not slumber; the pit is prepared, the fire is made ready, the furnace is now hot, ready to receive them; the flames do now rage and glow. The glittering sword is whet, and held over them, and the pit hath opened its mouth under them.

  1. The devil stands ready to fall upon them, and seize them as his own, at what moment God shall permit him. They belong to him; he has their souls in his possession, and under his dominion. The scripture represents them as his goods, Luke xi. 12. The devils watch them; they are ever by them at their right hand; they stand waiting for them, like greedy hungry lions that see their prey, and expect to have it, but are for the present kept back. If God should withdraw his hand, by which they are restrained, they would in one moment fly upon their poor souls. The old serpent is gaping for them; hell opens its mouth wide to receive them; and if God should perrnit it, they would be hastily swallowed up and lost.
  2. There are in the souls of wicked men those hellish principles reigning, that would presently kindle and flame out into hell fire, if it were not for God’s restraints. There is laid in the very nature of carnal men, a foundation for the torments of hell. There are those corrupt principles, in reigning power in them, and in full possession of them, that are seeds of hell fire. These principles are active and powerful, exceeding violent in their nature, and if it were not for the restraining hand of God upon them, they would soon break out, they would flame out after the same manner as the same corruptions, the same enmity does in the hearts of damned souls, and would beget the same torments as they do in them. The souls of the wicked are in scripture compared to the troubled sea, Isa. lvii. 20. For the present, God restrains their wickedness by his mighty power, as he does the raging waves of the troubled sea, saying, “Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further;” but if God should withdraw that restraining power, it would soon carry all before it. Sin is the ruin and misery of the soul; it is destructive in its nature; and if God should leave it without restraint, there would need nothing else to make the soul perfectly miserable. The corruption of the heart of man is immoderate and boundless in its fury; and while wicked men live here, it is like fire pent up by God’s restraints, whereas if it were let loose, it would set on fire the course of nature; and as the heart is now a sink of sin, so if sin was not restrained, it would immediately turn the soul into a fiery oven, or a furnace of fire and brimstone.
  3. It is no security to wicked men for one moment, that there are no visible means of death at hand. It is no security to a natural man, that he is now in health, and that he does not see which way he should now immediately go out of the world by any accident, and that there is no visible danger in any respect in his circumstances. The manifold and continual experience of the world in all ages, shows this is no evidence, that a man is not on the very brink of eternity, and that the next step will not be into another world. The unseen, unthought-of ways and means of persons going suddenly out of the world are innumerable and inconceivable. Unconverted men walk over the pit of hell on a rotten covering, and there are innumerable places in this covering so weak that they will not bear their weight, and these places are not seen. The arrows of death fly unseen at noon-day; the sharpest sight cannot discern them. God has so many different unsearchable ways of taking wicked men out of the world and sending them to hell, that there is nothing to make it appear, that God had need to be at the expense of a miracle, or go out of the ordinary course of his providence, to destroy any wicked man, at any moment. All the means that there are of sinners going out of the world, are so in God’s hands, and so universally and absolutely subject to his power and determination, that it does not depend at all the less on the mere will of God, whether sinners shall at any moment go to hell, than if means were never made use of, or at all concerned in the case.
  4. Natural men’s prudence and care to preserve their own lives, or the care of others to preserve them, do not secure them a moment. To this, divine providence and universal experience do also bear testimony. There is this clear evidence that men’s own wisdom is no security to them from death; that if it were otherwise we should see some difference between the wise and politic men of the world, and others, with regard to their liableness to early and unexpected death: but how is it in fact? Eccles. ii. 16. “How dieth the wise man? even as the fool.”
  5. All wicked men’s pains and contrivance which they use to escape hell, while they continue to reject Christ, and so remain wicked men, do not secure them from hell one moment. Almost every natural man that hears of hell, flatters himself that he shall escape it; he depends upon himself for his own security; he flatters himself in what he has done, in what he is now doing, or what he intends to do. Every one lays out matters in his own mind how he shall avoid damnation, and flatters himself that he contrives well for himself, and that his schemes will not fail. They hear indeed that there are but few saved, and that the greater part of men that have died heretofore are gone to hell; but each one imagines that he lays out matters better for his own escape than others have done. He does not intend to come to that place of torment; he says within himself, that he intends to take effectual care, and to order matters so for himself as not to fail.

But the foolish children of men miserably delude themselves in their own schemes, and in confidence in their own strength and wisdom; they trust to nothing but a shadow. The greater part of those who heretofore have lived under the same means of grace, and are now dead, are undoubtedly gone to hell; and it was not because they were not as wise as those who are now alive: it was not because they did not lay out matters as well for themselves to secure their own escape. If we could speak with them, and inquire of them, one by one, whether they expected, when alive, and when they used to hear about hell ever to be the subects of that misery: we doubtless, should hear one and another reply, “No, I never intended to come here: I had laid out matters otherwise in my mind; I thought I should contrive well for myself: I thought my scheme good. I intended to take effectual care; but it came upon me unexpected; I did not look for it at that time, and in that manner; it came as a thief: Death outwitted me: God’s wrath was too quick for me. Oh, my cursed foolishness! I was flattering myself, and pleasing myself with vain dreams of what I would do hereafter; and when I was saying, Peace and safety, then suddenly destruction came upon me.

  1. God has laid himself under no obligation, by any promise to keep any natural man out of hell one moment. God certainly has made no promises either of eternal life, or of any deliverance or preservation from eternal death, but what are contained in the covenant of grace, the promises that are given in Christ, in whom all the promises are yea and amen. But surely they have no interest in the promises of the covenant of grace who are not the children of the covenant, who do not believe in any of the promises, and have no interest in the Mediator of the covenant.

So that, whatever some have imagined and pretended about promises made to natural men’s earnest seeking and knocking, it is plain and manifest, that whatever pains a natural man takes in religion, whatever prayers he makes, till he believes in Christ, God is under no manner of obligation to keep him a moment from eternal destruction.

So that, thus it is that natural men are held in the hand of God, over the pit of hell; they have deserved the fiery pit, and are already sentenced to it; and God is dreadfully provoked, his anger is as great towards them as to those that are actually suffering the executions of the fierceness of his wrath in hell, and they have done nothing in the least to appease or abate that anger, neither is God in the least bound by any promise to hold them up one moment; the devil is waiting for them, hell is gaping for them, the flames gather and flash about them, and would fain lay hold on them, and swallow them up; the fire pent up in their own hearts is struggling to break out: and they have no interest in any Mediator, there are no means within reach that can be any security to them. In short, they have no refuge, nothing to take hold of, all that preserves them every moment is the mere arbitrary will, and uncovenanted, unobliged forbearance of an incensed God.


The use of this awful subject may be for awakening unconverted persons in this congregation. This that you have heard is the case of every one of you that are out of Christ.-That world of misery, that lake of burning brimstone, is extended abroad under you. There is the dreadful pit of the glowing flames of the wrath of God; there is hell’s wide gaping mouth open; and you have nothing to stand upon, nor any thing to take hold of, there is nothing between you and hell but the air; it is only the power and mere pleasure of God that holds you up.

You probably are not sensible of this; you find you are kept out of hell, but do not see the hand of God in it; but look at other things, as the good state of your bodily constitution, your care of your own life, and the means you use for your own preservation. But indeed these things are nothing; if God should withdraw his band, they would avail no more to keep you from falling, than the thin air to hold up a person that is suspended in it.

Your wickedness makes you as it were heavy as lead, and to tend downwards with great weight and pressure towards hell; and if God should let you go, you would immediately sink and swiftly descend and plunge into the bottomless gulf, and your healthy constitution, and your own care and prudence, and best contrivance, and all your righteousness, would have no more influence to uphold you and keep you out of hell, than a spider’s web would have to stop a falling rock. Were it not for the sovereign pleasure of God, the earth would not bear you one moment; for you are a burden to it; the creation groans with you; the creature is made subject to the bondage of your corruption, not willingly; the sun does not willingly shine upon you to give you light to serve sin and Satan; the earth does not willingly yield her increase to satisfy your lusts; nor is it willingly a stage for your wickedness to be acted upon; the air does not willingly serve you for breath to maintain the flame of life in your vitals, while you spend your life in the service of God’s enemies. God’s creatures are good, and were made for men to serve God with, and do not willingly subserve to any other purpose, and groan when they are abused to purposes so directly contrary to their nature and end. And the world would spew you out, were it not for the sovereign hand of him who hath subjected it in hope. There are black clouds of God’s wrath now hanging directly over your heads, full of the dreadful storm, and big with thunder; and were it not for the restraining hand of God, it would immediately burst forth upon you. The sovereign pleasure of God, for the present, stays his rough wind; otherwise it would come with fury, and your destruction would come like a whirlwind, and you would be like the chaff of the summer threshing floor.

The wrath of God is like great waters that are dammed for the present; they increase more and more, and rise higher and higher, till an outlet is given; and the longer the stream is stopped, the more rapid and mighty is its course, when once it is let loose. It is true, that judgment against your evil works has not been executed hitherto; the floods of God’s vengeance have been withheld; but your guilt in the mean time is constantly increasing, and you are every day treasuring up more wrath; the waters are constantly rising, and waxing more and more mighty; and there is nothing but the mere pleasure of God, that holds the waters back, that are unwilling to be stopped, and press hard to go forward. If God should only withdraw his hand from the flood-gate, it would immediately fly open, and the fiery floods of the fierceness and wrath of God, would rush forth with inconceivable fury, and would come upon you with omnipotent power; and if your strength were ten thousand times greater than it is, yea, ten thousand times greater than the strength of the stoutest, sturdiest devil in hell, it would be nothing to withstand or endure it.

The bow of God’s wrath is bent, and the arrow made ready on the string, and justice bends the arrow at your heart, and strains the bow, and it is nothing but the mere pleasure of God, and that of an angry God, without any promise or obligation at all, that keeps the arrow one moment from being made drunk with your blood. Thus all you that never passed under a great change of heart, by the mighty power of the Spirit of God upon your souls; all you that were never born again, and made new creatures, and raised from being dead in sin, to a state of new, and before altogether unexperienced light and life, are in the hands of an angry God. However you may have reformed your life in many things, and may have had religious affections, and may keep up a form of religion in your families and closets, and in the house of God, it is nothing but his mere pleasure that keeps you from being this moment swallowed up in everlasting destruction. However unconvinced you may now be of the truth of what you hear, by and by you will be fully convinced of it. Those that are gone from being in the like circumstances with you, see that it was so with them; for destruction came suddenly upon most of them; when they expected nothing of it, and while they were saying, Peace and safety: now they see, that those things on which they depended for peace and safety, were nothing but thin air and empty shadows.

The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked: his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times more abominable in his eyes, than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours. You have offended him infinitely more than ever a stubborn rebel did his prince; and yet it is nothing but his hand that holds you from falling into the fire every moment. It is to be ascribed to nothing else, that you did not go to hell the last night; that you was suffered to awake again in this world, after you closed your eyes to sleep. And there is no other reason to be given, why you have not dropped into hell since you arose in the morning, but that God’s hand has held you up. There is no other reason to be given why you have not gone to hell, since you have sat here in the house of God, provoking his pure eyes by your sinful wicked manner of attending his solemn worship. Yea, there is nothing else that is to be given as a reason why you do not this very moment drop down into hell.

O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in: it is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath, that you are held over in the hand of that God, whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you, as against many of the damned in hell. You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it, and ready every moment to singe it, and burn it asunder; and you have no interest in any Mediator, and nothing to lay hold of to save yourself, nothing to keep off the flames of wrath, nothing of your own, nothing that you ever have done, nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you one moment. And consider here more particularly

  1. Whose wrath it is: it is the wrath of the infinite God. If it were only the wrath of man, though it were of the most potent prince, it would be comparatively little to be regarded. The wrath of kings is very much dreaded, especially of absolute monarchs, who have the possessions and lives of their subjects wholly in their power, to be disposed of at their mere will. Prov. xx. 2. “The fear of a king is as the roaring of a lion: Whoso provoketh him to anger, sinneth against his own soul.” The subject that very much enrages an arbitrary prince, is liable to suffer the most extreme torments that human art can invent, or human power can inflict. But the greatest earthly potentates in their greatest majesty and strength, and when clothed in their greatest terrors, are but feeble, despicable worms of the dust, in comparison of the great and almighty Creator and King of heaven and earth. It is but little that they can do, when most enraged, and when they have exerted the utmost of their fury. All the kings of the earth, before God, are as grasshoppers; they are nothing, and less than nothing: both their love and their hatred is to be despised. The wrath of the great King of kings, is as much more terrible than theirs, as his majesty is greater. Luke xii. 4, 5. “And I say unto you, my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that, have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom you shall fear: fear him, which after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell: yea, I say unto you, Fear him.”
  2. It is the fierceness of his wrath that you are exposed to. We often read of the fury of God; as in Isaiah lix. 18. “According to their deeds, accordingly he will repay fury to his adversaries.” So Isaiah lxvi. 15. “For behold, the Lord will come with fire, and wifh his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire.” And in many other places. So, Rev. xix. 15, we read of “the wine press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.” The words are exceeding terrible. If it had only been said, “the wrath of God,” the words would have implied that which is infinitely dreadful: but it is “the fierceness and wrath of God.” The fury of God! the fierceness of Jehovah! Oh, how dreadful must that be! Who can utter or conceive what such expressions carry in them! But it is also “the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.” As though there would be a very great manifestation of his almighty power in what the fierceness of his wrath should inflict, as though omnipotence should be as it were enraged, and exerted, as men are wont to exert their strength in the fierceness of their wrath. Oh! then, what will be the consequence! What will become of the poor worms that shall suffer it! Whose hands can be strong? And whose heart can endure? To what a dreadful, inexpressible, inconceivable depth of misery must the poor creature be sunk who shall be the subject of this!

Consider this, you that are here present, that yet remain in an unregenerate state. That God will execute the fierceness of his anger, implies, that he will inflict wrath without any pity. When God beholds the ineffable extremity of your case, and sees your torment to be so vastly disproportioned to your strength, and sees how your poor soul is crushed, and sinks down, as it were, into an infinite gloom; he will have no compassion upon you, he will not forbear the executions of his wrath, or in the least lighten his hand; there shall be no moderation or mercy, nor will God then at all stay his rough wind; he will have no regard to your welfare, nor be at all careful lest you should suffer too much in any other sense, than only that you shall not suffer beyond what strict justice requires. Nothing shall be withheld, because it is so hard for you to bear. Ezek. viii. 18. “Therefore will I also deal in fury: mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity; and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet I will not hear them.” Now God stands ready to pity you; this is a day of mercy; you may cry now with some encouragement of obtaining mercy. But when once the day of mercy is past, your most lamentable and dolorous cries and shrieks will be in vain; you will be wholly lost and thrown away of God, as to any regard to your welfare. God will have no other use to put you to, but to suffer misery; you shall be continued in being to no other end; for you will be a vessel of wrath fitted to destruction; and there will be no other use of this vessel, but to be filled full of wrath. God will be so far from pitying you when you cry to him, that it is said he will only “laugh and mock,” Prov. i. 25, 26.

How awful are those words, Isa. lxiii. 3, which are the words of the great God. “I will tread them in mine anger, and will trample them in my fury, and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment.” It is perhaps impossible to conceive of words that carry in them greater manifestations of these three things, vis. contempt, and hatred, and fierceness of indignation. If you cry to God to pity you, he will be so far from pitying you in your doleful case, or showing you the least regard or favour, that instead of that, he will only tread you under foot. And though he will know that you cannot bear the weight of omnipotence treading upon you, yet he will not regard that, but he will crush you under his feet without mercy; he will crush out your blood, and make it fly, and it shall be sprinkled on his garments, so as to stain all his raiment. He will not only hate you, but he will have you, in the utmost contempt: no place shall be thought fit for you, but under his feet to be trodden down as the mire of the streets.

The misery you are exposed to is that which God will inflict to that end, that he might show what that wrath of Jehovah is. God hath had it on his heart to show to angels and men, both how excellent his love is, and also how terrible his wrath is. Sometimes earthly kings have a mind to show how terrible their wrath is, by the extreme punishments they would execute on those that would provoke them. Nebuchadnezzar, that mighty and haughty monarch of the Chaldean empire, was willing to show his wrath when enraged with Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego; and accordingly gave orders that the burning fiery furnace should be heated seven times hotter than it was before; doubtless, it was raised to the utmost degree of fierceness that human art could raise it. But the great God is also willing to show his wrath, and magnify his awful majesty and mighty power in the extreme sufferings of his enemies. Rom. ix. 22. “What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endure with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction?” And seeing this is his design, and what he has determined, even to show how terrible the unrestrained wrath, the fury and fierceness of Jehovah is, he will do it to effect. There will be something accomplished and brought to pass that will be dreadful with a witness. When the great and angry God hath risen up and executed his awful vengeance on the poor sinner, and the wretch is actually suffering the infinite weight and power of his indignation, then will God call upon the whole universe to behold that awful majesty and mighty power that is to be seen in it. Isa. xxxiii. 12-14. “And the people shall be as the burnings of lime, as thorns cut up shall they be burnt in the fire. Hear ye that are far off, what I have done; and ye that are near, acknowledge my might. The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites.”.
Thus it will be with you that are in an unconverted state, if you continue in it; the infinite might, and majesty, and terribleness of the omnipotent God shall be magnified upon you, in the ineffable strength of your torments. You shall be tormented in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb; and when you shall be in this state of suffering, the glorious inhabitants of heaven shall go forth and look on the awful spectacle, that they may see what the wrath and fierceness of the Almighty is; and when they have seen it, they will fall down and adore that great power and majesty. Isa. lxvi. 23, 24. “And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord. And they shall go forth and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me; for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched, and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.”

  1. It is everlasting wrath. It would be dreadful to suffer this fierceness and wrath of Almighty God one moment; but you must suffer it to all eternity. There will be no end to this exquisite horrible misery. When you look forward, you shall see a long for ever, a boundless duration before you, which will swallow up your thoughts, and amaze your soul; and you will absolutely despair of ever having any deliverance, any end, any mitigation, any rest at all. You will know certainly that you must wear out long ages, millions of millions of ages, in wrestling and conflicting with this almighty merciless vengeance; and then when you have so done, when so many ages have actually been spent by you in this manner, you will know that all is but a point to what remains. So that your punishment will indeed be infinite. Oh, who can express what the state of a soul in such circumstances is! All that we can possibly say about it, gives but a very feeble, faint representation of it; it is inexpressible and inconceivable: For “who knows the power of God’s anger?”

How dreadful is the state of those that are daily and hourly in the danger of this great wrath and infinite misery! But this is the dismal case of every soul in this congregation that has not been born again, however moral and strict, sober and religious, they may otherwise be. Oh that you would consider it, whether you be young or old! There is reason to think, that there are many in this congregation now hearing this discourse, that will actually be the subjects of this very misery to all eternity. We know not who they are, or in what seats they sit, or what thoughts they now have. It may be they are now at ease, and hear all these things without much disturbance, and are now flattering themselves that they are not the persons, promising themselves that they shall escape. If we knew that there was one person, and but one, in the whole congregation, that was to be the subject of this misery, what an awful thing would it be to think of! If we knew who it was, what an awful sight would it be to see such a person! How might all the rest of the congregation lift up a lamentable and bitter cry over him! But, alas! instead of one, how many is it likely will remember this discourse in hell? And it would be a wonder, if some that are now present should not be in hell in a very short time, even before this year is out. And it would be no wonder if some persons, that now sit here, in some seats of this meeting-house, in health, quiet and secure, should be there before to-morrow morning. Those of you that finally continue in a natural condition, that shall keep out of hell longest will be there in a little time! your damnation does not slumber; it will come swiftly, and, in all probability, very suddenly upon many of you. You have reason to wonder that you are not already in hell. It is doubtless the case of some whom you have seen and known, that never deserved hell more than you, and that heretofore appeared as likely to have been now alive as you. Their case is past all hope; they are crying in extreme misery and perfect despair; but here you are in the land of the living and in the house of God, and have an opportunity to obtain salvation. What would not those poor damned hopeless souls give for one day’s opportunity such as you now enjoy!

And now you have an extraordinary opportunity, a day wherein Christ has thrown the door of mercy wide open, and stands in calling and crying with a loud voice to poor sinners; a day wherein many are flocking to him, and pressing into the kingdom of God. Many are daily coming from the east, west, north and south; many that were very lately in the same miserable condition that you are in, are now in a happy state, with their hearts filled with love to him who has loved them, and washed them from their sins in his own blood, and rejoicing in hope of the glory of God. How awful is it to be left behind at such a day! To see so many others feasting, while you are pining and perishing! To see so many rejoicing and singing for joy of heart, while you have cause to mourn for sorrow of heart, and howl for vexation of spirit! How can you rest one moment in such a condition? Are not your souls as precious as the souls of the people at Suffield*, where they are flocking from day to day to Christ?

Are there not many here who have lived long in the world, and are not to this day born again? and so are aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and have done nothing ever since they have lived, but treasure up wrath against the day of wrath? Oh, sirs, your case, in an especial manner, is extremely dangerous. Your guilt and hardness of heart is extremely great. Do you not see how generally persons of your years are passed over and left, in the present remarkable and wonderful dispensation of God’s mercy? You had need to consider yourselves, and awake thoroughly out of sleep. You cannot bear the fierceness and wrath of the infinite God.-And you, young men, and young women, will you neglect this precious season which you now enjoy, when so many others of your age are renouncing all youthful vanities, and flocking to Christ? You especially have now an extraordinary opportunity; but if you neglect it, it will soon be with you as with those persons who spent all the precious days of youth in sin, and are now come to such a dreadful pass in blindness and hardness. And you, children, who are unconverted, do not you know that you are going down to hell, to bear the dreadful wrath of that God, who is now angry with you every day and every night? Will you be content to be the children of the devil, when so many other children in the land are converted, and are become the holy and happy children of the King of kings?

And let every one that is yet out of Christ, and hanging over the pit of hell, whether they be old men and women, or middle aged, or young people, or little children, now harken to the loud calls of God’s word and providence. This acceptable year of the Lord, a day of such great favours to some, will doubtless be a day of as remarkable vengeance to others. Men’s hearts harden, and their guilt increases apace at such a day as this, if they neglect their souls; and never was there so great danger of such persons being given up to hardness of heart and blindness of mind. God seems now to be hastily gathering in his elect in all parts of the land; and probably the greater part of adult persons that ever shall be saved, will be brought in now in a little time, and that it will be as it was on the great out-pouring of the Spirit upon the Jews in the apostles’ days; the election will obtain, and the rest will be blinded. If this should be the case with you, you will eternally curse this day, and will curse the day that ever you was born, to see such a season of the pouring out of God’s Spirit, and will wish that you had died and gone to hell before you had seen it. Now undoubtedly it is, as it was in the days of John the Baptist, the axe is in an extraordinary manner laid at the root of the trees, that every tree which brings not forth good fruit, may be hewn down and cast into the fire.

Therefore, let every one that is out of Christ, now awake and fly from the wrath to come. The wrath of Almighty God is now undoubtedly hanging over a great part of this congregation: Let every one fly out of Sodom: “Haste and escape for your lives, look not behind you, escape to the mountain, lest you be consumed.”














































PMI Center for Biblical Studies

POB 177 – Battle Creek, MI 49016-0177 –


Baptismal Regeneration?

September 27, 2016 Leave a comment

Dave Hunt

Christ commanded His original disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel (Mk 16:15). Those of every nation who believed in Christ as their Savior were to be baptized “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Mat:28:19). These new disciples were to preach the gospel everywhere and to baptize those who believed (v 20) through their testimony as Christianity spread worldwide.

Baptism in the early church was by immersion: “they went down both into the water….[W]hen they were come up out of the water” (Acts:8:38-39), etc. Why? Because baptism symbolizes the believer’s identification with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection: “we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead…we also should walk in newness of life” (Rom:6:4).

Unfortunately, various innovations and heresies were gradually introduced regarding baptism: that one must be baptized to be saved; indeed, that baptism itself saves the soul even when administered to infants. These heresies became known as the doctrine of baptismal regeneration. Most Protestants holding these beliefs today are not aware that they originated with the Roman Catholic Church in the Middle Ages.

The Council of Trent (1545-63) stated that while Christ “merited for us justification by His most holy passion…the instrumental cause [of justification/regeneration] is the sacrament of baptism….If anyone says that baptism is…not necessary for salvation, let him be anathema.” 1 Vatican II (1962-65) reconfirms all of Trent 2 and reiterates the necessity of baptism for salvation, 3 as does the universal Catechism of the Catholic Church released by the Vatican in 1993: “Baptism is necessary for salvation…the Church does not know of any [other] means…that assures entry into eternal beatitude….” 4

Trent anathematizes all who deny that “the merit of Jesus Christ is applied…to infants by the sacrament of baptism” or who deny that by baptism “the guilt of original sin is remitted….” 5 Today’s Code of Canon Law (Canon 849) declares that those baptized are thereby “freed from their sins, are reborn as children of God and… incorporated in the Church.” Canon 204 states, “The Christian faithful are those who…have been incorporated in Christ through baptism” and are thereby members of the one, true Catholic Church.6

For centuries before the Reformation, baptismal regeneration was rejected by Bible-believing Christians, whom the Roman Catholic Church therefore persecuted, tortured and slaughtered by the millions. Non-Catholics taught from Scripture that baptism was only for those who had believed the gospel: “teach all nations…baptizing them [who have believed]” (Mat:28:19); “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized” (Acts:2:41); “[W]hat doth hinder me to be baptized?…If thou believest [in Christ] with all thine heart, thou mayest” (Acts:8:35-37). Infants can’t believe in Christ.

Consider Cornelius’s household: they heard the gospel, believed it and were baptized. That there were no infants baptized is also clear, for they had all gathered “to hear all things that are commanded thee of God” (Acts:10:33). “[T]he Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard [and, obviously, understood and believed] the word” (v 44); and they spoke with tongues (v 46). That they had “received the Holy Ghost” (v 47) convinced Peter that they were saved. Therefore, he baptized them (v 48).

Nor can infant baptism be supported from the case of the Philippian jailor who “was baptized, he and all his” (Acts:16:33). Again there were no infants present because Paul and Silas preached the gospel “to all that were in his house” (v 32), and “all his house” believed (v 34) and were then baptized.

The early Reformers such as Martin Luther were Catholics who, unfortunately, retained some Catholic dogmas, among them baptismal regeneration and infant baptism. These heresies are still held by some Protestant denominations today. The issue is a serious one. If baptism is essential for salvation, then to reject that gospel is to be damned. But if salvation is through faith in Christ alone, then to add baptism as a condition for salvation is to reject the true gospel and thus to be eternally lost. The Bible declares that it is wrong to teach salvation by faith in Christ plus anything else , such as keeping the Jewish law (Acts:15:24). Paul cursed (anathematized) those who taught this false gospel that damns the soul (Gal:1:89). A gospel of salvation through Christ plus baptism is equally false.

When Paul reminded the Corinthians of the essential ingredients of the gospel which he preached and by which they had been saved, he made no mention of baptism (1 Cor:15:1-4). In fact, he distinguished between the gospel and baptism: “Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel…” (1 Cor:1:17). He hadn’t baptized most of the Corinthians, couldn’t remember whom he had baptized, and was thankful that it had been very few (1 Cor:1:14-16)—a strange attitude if baptism is essential to salvation! Yet without baptizing them, Paul declared that he was their father in the faith: “in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel ” (1 Cor:4:15).

Then what about Mark:16:16: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved”? All who believe the gospel are saved, so of course all who believe and are baptized are saved; but that does not say that baptism saves or that it is essential for salvation. Scores of verses declare, with no mention of baptism, that salvation comes by believing the gospel: “[I]t pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe ” (1 Cor:1:21; see also Jn:3:16,18,36; 5:24; Acts:10:43; 13:38-39; 16:31; Rom:1:16; 3:28; 4:24; 5:1; 1 Cor:15:1-4; Eph:2:8, etc.). Not one verse , however, says that baptism saves.

Numerous verses declare that whosoever does not believe is lost, but not one verse declares that whosoever is not baptized is lost. Surely the Bible would make it clear that believing in Christ without being baptized cannot save if that were the case, yet it never says so! Instead, we have examples of those who believed and were saved without being baptized, such as the thief on the cross and the Old Testament saints (Enoch, Abraham, Joseph, Daniel, et al.), to whom Christian baptism was unknown.

It is essential to realize that some baptismal texts do not refer to Christian water baptism, but to one of the seven other baptisms in Scripture. There was the baptism of the Israelites “unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea” (1 Cor:10:2); the “baptism of John” (Mat:21:25; Mk 11:30; Acts:19:3, etc.), which was a baptism “of repentance” (Mk 1:4; Lk 3:3; Acts:19:4, etc.); the baptism attributed to Christ before the Cross—”Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples” did the baptizing (Jn:4:1-2; 3:22); the baptism Christ had to endure of suffering and death—”I have a baptism to be baptized with” (Lk 12:50; Mat:20:22; Mk 10:38, etc.); the baptism Christ now performs on His own “with the Holy Ghost and with fire” (Mat:3:11; Mk 1:8; Lk 3:16; Jn:1:33; Acts:1:5; 11:16); the baptism by the Holy Spirit “into Jesus Christ” (Rom:6:3; Gal:3:27) and thereby “into his death” (Rom:6:4; Col:2:12); and the baptism by the Holy Spirit into the church, the one body of Christ (1 Cor:12:13).

Then why does the Bible say, “There is …one baptism” (Eph:4:4-5)? The explanation is simple but carries profound consequences: baptism of any kind occurs only once and is never repeated. In that sense, then, there is only one baptism. Whether one believes that baptism itself saves, or that it symbolizes salvation through identification with Christ in His death and resurrection, the fact that it cannot recur proves that one’s salvation can never be lost. For if one must get saved again as a result of losing one’s salvation, then baptism must be repeated each time—but there is only one baptism .

This dogma of “falling away,” like baptismal regeneration, also comes from Roman Catholicism. No Catholic can be certain he is saved; for salvation, which is by works in Catholicism, could be forfeited at any time by failure to continue to perform the works prescribed. Trent declares, “If anyone says that in order to obtain the remission of sins it is necessary… to believe with certainty…that his sins are forgiven him, let him be anathema….If anyone says that he will for certain…have that great gift of perseverance [in the faith] even to the end…let him be anathema.” 7 While rebaptism is not practiced in Catholicism, the sacraments of penance and the Mass are said to restore saving grace and are thus repeated endlessly.

Yes, but Romans:6:4 states, “[W]e are buried with [Christ] by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead…even so we also should walk in newness of life.” That Paul is not speaking of water baptism, however, but of the spiritual reality it symbolizes, is clear, for he says that through baptism “our old man [sinful nature] is crucified with him [Christ], that the body of sin might be destroyed.” As a consequence, he urges believers to “reckon” themselves “to be dead indeed unto sin….[L]et not sin therefore reign in your mortal body” (vv 6-13).

Paul uses similar language concerning himself when he says, “I am crucified with Christ” (Gal:2:20). He is obviously speaking of that same spiritual “baptism” by which we have been placed in Christ and have thus passed with Him through death into resurrection life. If we were literally dead to sin, then we wouldn’t need to “reckon” it true or live the new life by faith; we would automatically never sin again. That a Christian may sin shows that water baptism doesn’t effect a literal crucifixion with Christ. It portrays a spiritual baptism into Christ which the believer must live by faith.

In that context, then, we can understand Peter’s declaration, “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us…by the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Pt 3:21). He is no more saying that the physical act of baptism literally saves us than Paul is saying that it literally makes us dead to sin. The few difficult, isolated verses such as these cannot contradict the overwhelming number of other scriptures which are crystal clear. Water baptism, says Peter, is a ” figure ” or symbolization of a spiritual baptism into Christ effected by the Holy Spirit and which is settled forever in heaven but which must be lived out by faith while we are here upon earth.

Significantly, though Paul baptized a few, Christ never baptized anyone (Jn:4:2)—very odd if baptism saves. The Savior of the world must have deliberately avoided baptizing to make it clear that baptism has no part in salvation. Yes, Christ said we must be “born [again] of water and of the Spirit” to be saved (Jn:3:5), but it is unwarranted to assume that “water” here means baptism. To do so would contradict the wealth of Scripture we have seen which proves salvation is not by baptism.

Jesus was speaking to Nicodemus, a rabbi to whom “water” would not mean baptism (which was unknown in Jewish law) but the ceremonial cleansing of someone who had been defiled (Ex 30, 40; Lev 13, 15, etc.). And that is what Christ meant. His death would make it possible to “sanctify and cleanse [His church] with the washing of water by the word [of the gospel]” (Eph:5:25-27). Christ said, “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken” (Jn:15:3). Like Christ, Paul put water and the Spirit together, referring to the “washing of regeneration” and linking it with the “renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus:3:5). We are born again by the Holy Spirit and by the Word or gospel of God, which is sometimes called “water” because of its cleansing power. As Peter said, we are “born again…by the word of God” (1 Pt 1:23).

It was obviously this figure of Old Testament ceremonial cleansing which Peter communicated to his Jewish audience in his Pentecost sermon: “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts:2:38). It is clear from the many other scriptures we’ve given that Peter wasn’t saying that baptism saves, but that it offered a ceremonial cleansing uniquely applicable to his Jewish hearers. To be baptized was to be identified before the fanatical Jews of Jerusalem with this hated Jesus Christ as one’s personal Savior. Baptism cost family and friends and endangered one’s life, as it still does in Israel and Muslim countries. Those who are afraid to take this public stand in such cultures are even today not considered to be true believers. Thus for a Jew to be publicly baptized at that time in that culture was, in a sense, to “wash away [his] sins” (Acts:22:16), as Ananias told Saul.

“[T]he gospel of Christ…is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth [it]” (Rom:1:16). That gospel, as Paul preached it, required faith in Christ’s blood poured out in death on the Cross for the sins of the world and said nothing about baptism. To preach baptismal regeneration is to preach a false gospel that cannot save, which is why Paul cursed those who did so. The difference between faith in Christ alone and faith in Christ plus baptism has eternal consequences. Let us stand firmly for, and faithfully preach, the true gospel that saves. TBC


  1. J. Schroeder, trans., The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent (Tan Books, 1978), 33, 53.

Vatican Council II, The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents , ed. Austin Flannery, O.P., (Costello Publishing Company, 1988), rev. ed., 412.

Ibid, 365.

Catechism of the Catholic Church ( The Wanderer Press, 1994), 224, 320.

Trent , 22, 23, 54.

Code of Canon Law (Paulist Press, 1985), 122, 614.

Trent , 44.






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