November 22, 2017

Whosoever Will – Excerpts (Part 1)

FrontLine May/June 2017 | VOLUME 27 | NUMBER 3

As a preview to our current issue, the following are excerpts from some of our main articles for this month. We encourage you to subscribe to FrontLine if you don’t do so already.

Grace from Eternity to Time
Fred Moritz

As we examine the biblical teaching on the various doctrines of salvation, Scripture describes a sequence in which they take place. Theologians identify this “order of salvation” by the Latin term ordo salutis. Some of these events occur before salvation; some happen at the time of salvation; and some will take place in the future. …

Does regeneration precede faith? Most Reformed theologians teach that regeneration precedes faith. This discussion might be lightly dismissed as inconsequential since we are discussing events that occur simultaneously. However, many Reformed theologians view regeneration and faith as chronologically sequential. This produces a serious problem. …

When we deal with the biblical issues surrounding a person’s salvation, it is a mistake to separate them in time. God planned salvation in eternity past. We clearly understand that. We also know that glorification and heaven await the believer in the future. When we speak of the events surrounding a person’s coming to Christ in time, the order is logical, not chronological.

A Gospel Worthy of Global Proclamation
David Saxon

Baptist history includes several unfortunate examples of well-meaning Baptists allowing theological systems to mitigate or even annul clear biblical teachings. Two of these examples come from the eighteenth century and are diametrically opposite. At that time, Baptists in England were divided into two groups: the General Baptists, who espoused Arminian theology, and the Particular Baptists, who were Calvinists. Both groups allowed theological systems to lead them astray between 1700 and about 1770.

Many General Baptists, perhaps influenced by an “Enlightenment” belief in autonomous human reasoning, allowed their Arminian emphasis on human freedom to gradually erode belief in a divine Christ. …

A contemporary development was occurring among the Calvinistic, or Particular, Baptists. A rationalistic emphasis on the logical inner workings of the Calvinistic system led some of them seriously to debate what became known as “the modern question”: should the gospel be freely offered to unregenerate people without respect to whether or not they may be elect? …

Fortunately, God sent revival into both groups of Baptists in the latter half of the eighteenth century as part of the larger Evangelical Awakening that had burst forth in Britain through the preaching of George Whitefield and John and Charles Wesley. This revival first impacted the General Baptists. A Wesleyan convert, Daniel Taylor, converted from Methodist to General Baptist views and discovered that he was one of the few General Baptists who believed in the full deity of Jesus Christ. Through his determined efforts and the Lord’s blessing, a New Connection of General Baptists arose in Great Britain in 1770, and the killing effects of Socinianism were reversed. The revival also entered the ranks of the Particular Baptists. The story of this revival—and its enormous worldwide implications — is one of the great stories in Baptist history. The central figure in this story was Andrew Fuller. …

Three years later he produced a seminal work in Baptist thinking, The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation, or The Duty of Sinners to Believe in Jesus Christ. It would be difficult to overstate the impact of this book on the British Particular Baptists. Fuller’s devastating critique of the major arguments of Hyper-Calvinism turned the tide and spurred Baptist evangelism and missions.

The Water That Divides
Larry R. Oats

Baptism divides Baptists from almost all other denominations. In the current culture, baptism is frequently denigrated—the mode is unimportant, the recipient can be almost anyone, and the meaning is uncertain. The purpose of this article is to look briefly at various views on baptism and compare these views with the significance of baptism for Baptists. …

Under Catholicism, pedobaptism stood for “truth” and adult baptism for anabaptist “heresy.” Under Lutheranism, pedobaptism symbolized state Christianity, while adult baptism symbolized voluntary Christianity. With Calvin, pedobaptism came to represent a predestinarian view of salvation, while adult baptism accompanied an emphasis on human responsibility.

Standing in opposition to both Catholicism and the Reformers during the Reformation were the Anabaptists, the “re-baptizers.” They condemned Catholicism as antiscriptural and the Reformation as an incomplete return to the truth of Scripture. They rejected pedobaptism and baptized only adults upon a confession of their faith in Christ; the Catholics and Reformers viewed this as “rebaptism,” but the Anabaptists protested that this was the only true baptism. Theologically, the Anabaptists viewed baptism as an act of obedience by an adult believer. For them, it became an eloquent way of rejecting Christian sacramentalism and all it stood for. For the next three hundred years, little changed with respect to baptism in Catholicism and Protestantism. When the modern Baptists began, the truth of believers’ baptism became more prevalent. …

Baptism is truly the “water that divides.” Baptists historically have held to the immersion of believers, upon their confession of faith, as the initiatory rite of obedience to Christ and, with rare exception, entrance into the membership of the local church. This is not merely a denominational difference. Baptists hold to their belief because it is based upon the authority of Christ and Scripture, because of the significance of the act, because of the biblical necessity of baptism only for believers, because it symbolically connects the believer to Christ, and because of its relationship to the local church. Some believe baptism creates an “unhappy division” in Christendom. Baptists argue, instead, that it creates a joyful obedience to Christ and to His commandments. This is why Baptists baptize their converts but not their infants.

Look to tomorrow’s post for excerpts from three more articles.

(Originally published in FrontLine • May/June 2017. Click here to subscribe to the magazine.)

Although Proclaim & Defend is the blog of the FBFI, the articles we post are not an expression of the views of the FBFI as a whole, they are the views of the author under whose name they are published. The FBFI speaks either through position statements by its board or through its president. Here at Proclaim & Defend, we publish articles as matters of interest or edification to the wider world of fundamentalist Baptists and any others who might be interested.

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