The Baptism debate

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by The Biblicist, Jul 25, 2012.

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  1. The Biblicist

    The Biblicist
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    My Lutheran friend,

    Below is the summation of my soteriological position on the purpose of baptism in the New Testament:

    The question is not whether baptism saves, as the scriptures clearly says it does. The question is not whether baptism washes away sins, as the scriptures clearly says it does. However, the question is HOW does baptism save and wash away sins - literally or figuratively. The scriptues clearly says it does as a "FIGURE" - 1 Peter. 3:21.

    Moreover, the same can be said of the sacrficial and ceremonial system in the Old Testament. The language of redemption was always directly connected with sacrifices and ceremonial cleansings ("for sins" "for thy cleansing") however, Hebrews 10:1-4 informs it did not LITERALLY remit or wash away sins at all but only did in figure as a "shadow."

    Jesus illustrates this clearly in Luke 5:12-15 with the cleansing of the leper:

    12 ¶ And it came to pass, when he was in a certain city, behold a man full of leprosy: who seeing Jesus fell on his face, and besought him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.
    13 And he put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will: be thou clean. And immediately the leprosy departed from him.
    14 And he charged him to tell no man: but go, and shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing, according as Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them
    .

    He was LITERALLY cleansed "immediately"

    He was nevertheless told to go "offer for thy cleansing according as Moses commanded." This involved a sacrfice "for thy cleansing." Did he offer the sacrifice in order to be cleansed but because he had been cleansed? Both! He offered a sacrifice in order to be cleansed CEREMONIALLY or FIGURATIVELY because he had already been cleansed LITERALLY.

    Bottom line it was "for a testiomy unto them." Likewise with baptism and the Lord's Supper as they are New Testament counterparts to Old Testament ceremonial institutions.

    So it is very simple. When one believes they are saved LITERALLY. When one submits to baptism they are saved FIGURATIVELY. Scripture must be compared to scripture if truth is to be arrived at.
     
  2. The Biblicist

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    Below is my response to the correlation between circumcision under the Old Covenant with baptism under the New Covenant in regard to justification before God. I deal with the Roman Catholic correlation in particular which in essence is the basis for all Reformed Roman Catholcism.

    Rom. 4:6 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,
    7 Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.
    8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin
    .

    Abraham is being used to illustrate Paul's doctrine of justification by faith without works.

    1. Abraham lived 430 years before Moses and the Old Covenant Law

    2. Abraham's "works" cannot be construed to be of the Old Covenant

    3. Abraham was the "father of circumcision" and therefore what role does circumcision play in justification by faith.

    The subject is Justification and two requiresments must be met for the "ungodly" to be justified before God:

    1. Imputed righteousness - v. 6
    2. Forgiveness of sins - vv. 7-8

    The man in possession of these two requirements is the "blessed" man and this is the state of "blessedness"!

    The argument on this forum is how does such a man obtain this state of "blessedness" and thus be a "blessed...man."

    The answer is provided in Romans 4:9-12

    9 ¶ Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.
    10 How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.
    11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:
    12 And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.


    Again, Catholic Church Catechism makes it very clear that circumcision plays the same sacramental role under the Old Covenant that baptism does under the New Covenant and they argue that point using Colossians 2:12.

    "Jesus' circumcision, on the eighth day after his birth, IS THE SIGN of his incorporation into Abraham's descendants, into THE PEOPLE OF THE COVENANT. It is THE SIGN of his submission to THE LAW and his deputation to Israel's worship, in which he will participate through his life. THIS SIGN PREFIGURES that 'circumcision of Christ' WHICH IS BAPTISM." - #527 Catholic Church Catechism, 2nd Edition, p. 133

    "CIRCUMCISION: The rite prescribed in Judaism and other cultures which involves the cutting off the foreskin of a male. Circumcision was a SIGN OF THE COVENANT between God and his people Israel and PREFIGURED THE RITE OF CHRISTIAN INITIATION IN BAPTISM. " - Glossary, Catholic Church Catechism, 2nd Edition, p. 871

    "SIGNS OF THE COVENANT. The Chosen People received from God distinctive SIGNS and SYMBOLS tht marked its liturgical life. These are no longer solely celebrations of cosmic cycles and social gestures, but SIGNS OF THE COVENANT, SYMBOLS of God's mighty deeds for his people. Among these liturgical SIGNS FROM THE OLD COVENANT are CIRCUMCISION, anointing and consecration of kings and priests, laying on of hands, sacrifices, and above all the Passover. The Church SEES IN THESE SIGNS A PREFIGURING OF THE SACRAMENTS OF THE NEW COVENANT." - #1150, Catholic Church Cathechism, 2nd Edition, p. 297

    Therefore, if we replaced the words "circumcised" and "circumcision" with any of the New Testament SIGNS and SYMBOLS in Romans 4:9-12 we would have the Apostles view of the Roman Catholic application of such signs in regard to justification by faith:


    9 ¶ Cometh this blessedness then upon the BAPTIZED only, or upon the UNBAPTIZED also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.
    10 How was it then reckoned? when he was in BAPTISM, or in UNBAPTISM? Not in BAPTISM, but in UNBAPTISM.
    11 And he received the sign of BAPTISM, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being UNBAPTIZED: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not BAPTIZED; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:
    12 And the father of BAPTISM to them who are not of the BAPTIZED only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he being yet UNBAPTIZED.
     
  3. billwald

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    In other words, the person was immediately saved from his problem but had to conform to the ritual to be socially acceptable. Baptists infer that the purpose of baptism is to confer "Baptist" acceptability to a previously saved person.
     
  4. The Biblicist

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    No! Baptism is "for a testimony" as it symbolizes the gospel and thus is a preachment of the gospel. Baptism is also a visible identification with the doctrine of Christ or an authorized administrator which believed in the same gospel, same baptism and same faith and order as Jesus Christ (Mt. 28:19-20). That is what a "disciple" of Christ is and that is what it means to make disciples of Christ.
     
  5. Wittenberger

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    Dear Biblicist, my brother in Christ:

    I want to cover a few fundamental points so that we can debate intelligently and know where the other person is coming from:

    First I am willing to debate individual verses that discuss Baptism and/or Justification/Salvation in the context of the surrounding verses/chapter.

    We will only be butting our heads if either one of us refuses to believe the literal interpretation of one verse (in context with surrounding verses) because another verse, in another chapter or another book of the Bible, doesn't seem to agree with the literal interpretation of the verse in question.

    Secondly, I am not "married" to being a Lutheran. I am "married" to Jesus Christ. I am a Lutheran because I believe that Lutheranism comes the closest of all Christians denominations to the true Gospel of Christ.

    If you can convince me that I am wrong, I will be more than willing to admit it. I seek the truth, where ever that may be. If I continue to disagree with you it is because you have not convinced me that you are right, not that I am stubbornly clinging to Lutheranism, and not wanting to "raise the white flag" of surrender. If you can convince me that the Baptist position is right, I will leave Lutheranism and become a Baptist (again).

    Third, I would like to start off debating the meaning or purpose of Baptism, then we can move to the issue of Infant Baptism, then, if you like, we can even discuss the method/mode of Baptism: immersion, pouring, etc.

    Why this order? If Lutherans believed as Baptists that Baptism is simply OUR act of publically professing our faith, I would bet good money that we Lutherans would stop baptizing our infants/children.

    We believe Baptism is God's act, not our act. That is why we baptize our children because we believe God has commanded us to do so.

    Let the debate begin!
     
  6. Wittenberger

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    I, and I think most Lutherans, would agree with you regarding your interpretation of the above verses. The leper was healed by the power of the Word of God, "Be thou clean". He was healed immediately upon Christ pronouncing those words.

    Christ then tells the man to go make an offering for his cleansing. It is very clear that his healing occurred before he makes the offering.

    However, Christ does not make any comparison here to baptism. To try and do that is a stretch, my friend. I suggest we stick to scripture that clearly involve Baptism or discuss "water" and those that discuss salvation.

    The verses above give no clear indication of this. The literal reading can only be that Christ healed a man and then told the man to go make an offering and show the priests as a testimony.
     
  7. Wittenberger

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    At the top of your comments you use I Peter 3:21 as proof that baptism is figurative.

    In the King James, verse 21 starts out thus: "The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now saves us..."

    I don't speak 17th century English, so it's hard for me to say what the firrst four words are saying. Let's look at a more updated, and more literal translation, the English Standard Version, which if I understand correctly, is widely used by Baptists:


    1 Peter 3:17-22

    English Standard Version (ESV)


    17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil.

    18 For Christ also suffered[a] once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, 19 in which he went and proclaimed[c] to the spirits in prison, 20 because[d] they formerly did not obey, when God's patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. 21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.

    The literal reading of this verse says to me that the Flood is an Old Testament picture, related event, corresponding event, to New Testament Baptism. And that baptism is not a simple washing of the flesh to get rid of filth/dirt. It has a much higher purpose.

    Notice if in verse 21, in the King James, if you remove the part in parenthesis, what does the verse say:

    "...even baptism doth also now save us by the resurrection of Jesus Christ."

    There sure seems to be alot more going on there than just OUR public profession of faith, my brother.


    Added comment: 7/25/12 1:32 PDT

    If you stay with the King James, it is very clear that verse 21 is a continuation of verse 20. It is not the beginning of a completely new topic. The two verses are tied together in thought. What is said is this: X is the like figure whereunto even Y. X is a figure of Y. It is not saying that Y is a figure. So the Flood is a figure of Baptism.
     
    #7 Wittenberger, Jul 25, 2012
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  8. Yeshua1

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    just a clarification!

    Do you hold to there being grace to regenerate/wash away original sin, as the RCC does?
     
  9. The Biblicist

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    I think you are missing my point. The same God who established external rites in the Old Testament is the same God who established external rites in the New Testament. Agreed?

    The Old Testament assigns the language of redemption ("for thy sins" for "thy cleansing" to these external rites just as it does for the New Testament rites.

    However, the New Testament interpretation makes it clear that the previous rites with such associated redemptive language was not to be understood to LITERALLY remove sins or LITERALLY cleanse a person. This is made clear by Christ's interpretative language in Luke 5:12-15 and the cleansing of the lepor "for thy cleansing" and this is made clear for all sacrificial offerings in Hebrews 10:1-4. This is made clear in regard to circumcision in Romans 4:5-12 which the Jews did interpret to LITERALLY save (Acts 15:2). This is made clear again by Peter in Acts 10:43.

    Hence, there is precedence that such language attached to external rites is not to be understood to cleanse a person of sins LITERALLY!

    However, Judaism interpreted the language of Old Testament divine rites LITERALLY exactly as Catholics and Reformed Catholics do today in regard to the very same language.

    This precedence established by Christ and other New Testament writers places a completely different picture on such redemptive langauge attached to external rites in the New Testament.

    In addition, 1 Peter 3:21 and the words "like figure" seems to support that God looks and treats the language of redemption in regard to external rites in the New Testament just as he did in the Old Testament and in particularly as described in Acts 10:43 and Hebrews 4:2.

    There seems to be ONE GOSPEL and it is the same Gospel in both Testaments in regard to "remission of sins" the only differnce is that the Old Testament was progressive in revelation as to the details and looked forward to the coming of Christ whereas the New Testament gospel is completed revelation and looks backward but both are the good news of remission of sins by faith without works as illustrated with Abraham in Galatians 3:6-8 and Romans 4.

    You are interpeting the language of redemption in connection with divine external rites EXACTLY as did the Jews and they were wrong! What makes you think God has changed his views on such language in connection with his external rites in the New Testament??? Your only basis is ASSUMPTION that the very same language in connection with divine external rites is now to be interpreted differently! But upon what grounds? No different grounds than the very same basis the Jews assumed it and they were wrong!
     
    #9 The Biblicist, Jul 25, 2012
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  10. Wittenberger

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    In your comments you discuss the issue of Circumcision and the Catholic/Lutheran view that Baptism is the New Circumcision.

    So what was the purpose of Circumcision in the Old Testament? Did getting circumcised automatically save you?

    God had told Abraham to be circumcised as well as all the men in his household as a sign of his promise/covenant with Abraham and his descendants. Lutherans agree that Abraham was saved by faith. He was saved before he was circumcised.

    But what about all the men, young men, boys and male babies in the household? Did they all believe first before they were circumcised? We don't know. The Bible doesn't say.

    So as generation after generation of Abraham and Isaac's descendants were circumcised, is that what saved them? Is that what made them righteous in God's eyes?
    The Bible doesn't say. But what it does say, is that to be a partaker of God's covenant with Abraham, a male, absolutely HAD to be circumcised. Genesis 17:14 is very clear: if a "man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant."

    "If you are not circumcised," God is saying, "you have broken my covenant, my promise to you."

    So does that mean that if parents did not circumcise their male children then that meant they could not be "saved" and have eternal life? Again, the Bible doesn't say, but it sure sounds like it.

    So could a Gentile male in the Old Testament be "saved" without being circumcised? Could a Gentile male be "saved" without obeying the command to be circumcised, without converting to the Hebrew faith, and without following the Law?" The Bible doesn't say, but it sure seems unlikely. Is there any mention of any Gentile male after Abraham being deemed "righteous" simply by believing and having faith in the One,True God, without submitting to the Law of the Hebrews? Naaman was healed, but the Bible doesn't say he was "saved".

    So how were the children of Abraham made "righteous"? Did circumcision for males and ritual washing for females confer salvation or did it just bring him into the earthly covenant of inheriting the land of Israel and later in life they had to have a conversion experience where he or she expressed faith in the God of Abraham and strove to follow God's Law?

    Again, the Bible doesn't say. My guess is that Circumcision brought the child into the covenant, but that the child must at some point have faith in God and seek to follow God's Law to be deemed "righteous", otherwise his place in the spiritual covenant would be lost. But that's my speculation. Bottom line: no one knows for sure. All we know is that Abraham's faith was counted for righteousness.

    More later
     
  11. The Biblicist

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    The overall context is warning the believers not to suffer persecution due to justly deserved consequences due to their own sins but rather let such persecution be undeserved because of their righteousness.

    Christ is then presented as one who suffered both ways. He suffered unjustly because no sin could be found in him and they hated him without a cause but he also suffered justly for sin as a substitute for his people on the cross. However, it is the resurrection by the Spirit that justified him both ways as the resurrection proved that God had accepted his sacrifice for sin or otherwise there would have been no resurrection as death would have claimed him and kept him justly in the grave.

    In contrast, those who suffered the wrath of God during the days of Noah were now in hades suffering justly for their own sins due to no fault but their own as the Spirit of Christ had preached through Noah warning them of the wrath to come.

    The flood and lifting up of the Ark is presented as a "figure" of the gospel of Christ death burial and resurrection as the flood waters came from both beneath and from above completely immersing the ark in water. However, more significantly, all eight in the ark (symbol of in Christ) were already in the ark and the door closed by God before one drop of water fell from above or came up from beneath. Noah found "grace" in the eyes of the Lord nearly one hundred years prior to the flood.

    They were LITERALLY "saved by water" because they water LITERALLY lifted the ark up and it is this lifting up the ark that is the "like figure" to baptism which also when the candidate which is "buried" in water (Rom. 4:6; Col. 2:12) is also lifted up which presents the "figure" of the "resurrection of Jesus Christ" which LITERALLY saves as it is the resurrection life that proves God has accepted the sin payment of Christ on the cross or otherwise sin would have kept him in the grave dead and buried.

    So, LITERAL grace in salvation preceded even the building of the Ark nearly 100 years (Gen. 6). The ark and flood provided LITERAL physical salvation but in addition provided a CORRESPONDING "figure" of salvation that is also found in baptism.

    The parenthesis is a denial that baptism LITERALLY saves but rather is the "answer" or "RESPONSE" of a conscience ALREADY CLEANSED by faith inthe gospel. It is the conscience that is cleansed by the blood of Christ by faith (Heb. 9:14-17).

    Hence, Peter is claiming in the most direct fashion that neither the ark and water or baptism LITERALLY provided Spiritual salvation for anyone but were PHYSICAL external types or FIGURES of what really washes away sins and that is the Person and work of Jesus Christ as expressed by the very same writer - Peter - in Acts 10:43. This verse is found at the bottom of my posts.
     
  12. The Biblicist

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    Are they given as the example for "ALL WHO ARE OF FAITH"? No! Who is? Only the example of Abraham. What example is that? The example spelled out for you LITERALLY in Romans 4:1-12 and you admit to the truth of that example - remission of sins without circumcision/baptism!

    The rest of your post is human reasoning in complete contradiction to this explicitly and literally stated example!

    However, how does Peter say all in the Old Testament received remission of sins? - by faith like Abraham or by faith plus ordinances? Read his conclusion in Acts 10:43! Read his conclusion in Acts 15:7-11.
     
    #12 The Biblicist, Jul 25, 2012
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  13. Michael Wrenn

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    This is an excellent thread! I'm very glad to see this debated in-depth. I will try to constrain myself and not get into it because I don't want to say anything that might derail the thread. But I'm surely going to enjoy reading this!
     
  14. Wittenberger

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    I'm sorry, brother, but on this verse you have not convinced me.

    The literal interpretation says that X is a figure of Y, in this case the Flood is a figure of Baptism. You are bringing outside verses in to explain away the literal meaning. I agreed to debate only if we agree not to do that. We should stick to reading each contested verse of Scripture, in context with the surrounding verses, to arrive at the literal interpretation.

    If you feel that the only way you can explain what this verse means is by bringing in outside verses, not by reading the context of the verse, there is no point to debating because your extrapolations are just that, your opinion.

    Let's stick to the verse in question, and the surrounding context, brother.
     
  15. The Biblicist

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    The text itself depends upon the readers knowing the Biblical context from which it is pulled out of by Peter. If you are suggesting that we cannot use the very scriptures that Peter is alluding to when providing this example then you are abusing the literal interpretative principle of scripture.

    The context from which Peter draws this analogy forbids the idea that SPIRITUAL salvation is LITERALLY in view as the spiritual salvation of Noah occurred nearly 100 years prior to this incident. Moreover, "saved by water" cannot possibly refer to any literal sense as it is the water they were literally being saved from and that literal salvation was provided by the ark not by the water.

    What the water provided in the sense of "saved by water" was a FIGURE of the resurrection in the Old Testament that CORRESPONDS or is "like" baptism in the New Testament. The water in the Old Testament lifted up the ark just as the body in baptism is lifted up out of the water. That is precisely what the King James translation states "like figure" of salvation which the literal salvation is "by the resurrection of Jesus Christ."

    The Greek word is "antitupos" and is translated by the KJV translators "like figure" or more literally "corresponding type" as both the lifting up of the ark
    "by water" and "baptism" provide a "figure" of literal salvation obtained by the literal "resurrection of Jesus Christ."

    It is the literal resurrection of Jesus Christ that literally obtains salvation as it is the proof that God accepted the life and death of Christ as the full satisfaction of the Law's righteous demands and penalty against sin or else death would still have claimed him in the grave.

    Furthermore, the parenthetical explanation defies your interpretation. Literal water does in fact remove literal filth from the literal flesh but Peter is making a denial not an assertion as your position requires. He is denying that baptism removes the filth of the flesh and by his following assertion that it is instead the "answer" or "response" of a "GOOD CONSCIENCE" necessarily demands he is speaking of INTERNAL filth in regard to the fleshly nature as the conscience is not an EXTERNAL faculty but an INTERNAL faculty that is defiled by sin.

    The fact that he states that baptism is the response to a "GOOD" conscience is proof that the conscience has already been previously cleansed from the defilement of sin. Thus this is an explicit denial by Peter that baptism removes sin or rectifies the fleshly nature but instead is only the response to a conscience that is already "good."

    I think you now realize you have entered into a debate even on your terms that you cannot possibly win and are looking for a way to escape. I hope you are an honest man and will abide by your agreement. I have stuck to a very literal interpretation of this text. However, if by "literal" you mean that you can divorce this literal historical backdrop from this text than you are in reality abusing the literal principle of interpretation.
     
    #15 The Biblicist, Jul 25, 2012
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  16. Wittenberger

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    Dear brother,

    Please do not think I am being rude by not answering your question/questions right away, but I would like to concentrate on answering only Biblicist right now so that we stay on topic. At the end of the discussion if you feel I have not answered your question, feel free to ask me then.
     
  17. Wittenberger

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    Sorry, brother, you still have not convinced me. The "like figure" refers to the Flood being like figure to baptism, not salvation. You are taking the literal and forcing your theology into it. If you want to go to Genesis and discuss verses involving the flood, I am willing to do that.

    You seem very eager to declare me defeated. I hope when you are out on "visitation" trying to convert sinners to Christ that you are little more humble and compassionate.

    I am willing to listen to your position, but you throw in some much all at once that your point becomes very muddled to me. I am honestly trying to listen to you and be open to your position. You will see how open I am willing to be by reading my next comment regarding circumcision below.

    Many orthodox Christians are going to read this thread. You have the opportunity to share your beliefs about Christ and the Gospel and possibly win hearts to your way of thinking, or you can wage a slash and burn campaign to prove you are the better debater, the better theologian, and as a result you will alienate all of us from even listening to you. Show some patience and humility, brother. I am trying to debate you as you requested.
     
  18. Moriah

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    I hope neither one of you convince anyone to your beliefs.
     
  19. Wittenberger

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    Romans 2-4

    English Standard Version (ESV)


    God's Righteous Judgment

    2 Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. 2 We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. 3 Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed.

    6 He will render to each one according to his works: 7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 but for those who are self-seeking[a] and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. 9 There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11 For God shows no partiality.

    God's Judgment and the Law

    12 For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

    17 But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God 18 and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; 19 and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21 you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. 24 For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

    25 For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. 26 So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 27 Then he who is physically[c] uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code[d] and circumcision but break the law. 28 For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.

    God's Righteousness Upheld

    3 Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? 2 Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. 3 What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? 4 By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written,


    “That you may be justified in your words,
    and prevail when you are judged.”

    5 But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? ( I speak in a human way.) 6 By no means! For then how could God judge the world? 7 But if through my lie God's truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? 8 And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.

    No One Is Righteous

    9 What then? Are we Jews[e] any better off?[f] No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written:


    “None is righteous, no, not one;
    11 no one understands;
    no one seeks for God.
    12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
    no one does good,
    not even one.”
    13 “Their throat is an open grave;
    they use their tongues to deceive.”
    “The venom of asps is under their lips.”
    14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
    15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
    16 in their paths are ruin and misery,
    17 and the way of peace they have not known.”
    18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

    19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being[g] will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

    The Righteousness of God Through Faith

    21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

    27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

    Abraham Justified by Faith

    4 What then shall we say was gained by[h] Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:


    7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
    and whose sins are covered;
    8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

    9 Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? For we say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. 10 How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. 11 He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, 12 and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

    The Promise Realized Through Faith

    13 For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15 For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.

    16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17 as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. 18 In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead ( since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness[j] of Sarah's womb. 20 No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” 23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.
     
  20. Wittenberger

    Wittenberger
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    So what does this text of Scripture literally say? It seems to me it says that a Jew is not just a Jew just because he is circumcised, he has to also have a circumcision of the heart to be deemed righteous in God's eyes.

    Abraham was counted as righteous before being circumcised. Circumcision was a sign of God's saving act. It occurred AFTER Abraham was saved. Abraham was saved by his faith, prior to circumcision, not saved due to his circumcision.

    So I and Lutheranism agree with you on this point. The real issue here is, what about Abraham's infant male children who received the sign of promise as infants?

    If you are saying that circumcision was solely a sign that the believer had professed his faith in God, why didn't the Hebrews wait until the child was old enough to make a public profession of his faith and THEN circumcise him? Why would go tell Abraham to circumcise all male descendents on the eigth day of life?? If you are right, the sign should always come AFTER the expression of faith.

    If a Hebrew child died before the "Age of Accountability" what happened to them?
    What about a Hebrew child whose parents were wicked sinners and refused to circumcise him? Would he still be "saved"? Genesis chapter 7 says that child will be cut off.

    Lutherans believe that it is always God, and the power of his Word, the power of his promises that save, not any act of man.
     
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