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Do “Campbellites” use Acts 2: 38 to prove that repentance + baptism = remission of sins. Do they believe that baptism is necessary for salvation? Does the message of Acts 2: 38 differ from that of Acts 10: 43?
First, let me say that although my roots are in the Restoration Movement, I do not consider myself to be a “Campbellite”. Neither do I consider myself a spokesman for that movement. Indeed, I have my differences, but I continue to worship with the churches of Christ. This is not because I agree with all that’s taught, but because I believe their teaching concerning salvation will produce a child of God.
Do “Campbellites” believe that baptism is the ground or the foundation of salvation?
Some might, but I have never met or heard any that thought baptism was the basis of salvation. Even the staunchest legalist among us does not teach or advocate baptism as the ground of salvation. This is a charge made by those who do not consider baptism to be necessary to salvation. We believe that baptism is necessary for salvation, but that the grace of God is the foundation of salvation. Neither do we believe that “faith” is the ground of salvation; “faith’ is our connection with the Lord.
Do “Campbellites” believe that salvation is conditional?
Unfortunately, in my experience, most believe that salvation is conditional. I do not. I believe that the new covenant is not built on the “law principle” but upon the “promise principle”. For example I do not understand the statement, “the just shall live by faith” to be conditional. It is not saying, “if you have faith you shall live”. It is making a statement of fact; “the just shall live by faith”. Similarly Acts 2: 38 does not say “if you repent and if you are baptized” your sins will be remitted, rather it is a promise. Those that repent and are baptized shall receive remission of sin and the gift of the Holy Spirit. In order for grace to be grace, God cannot be under obligation.
Do “Campbellites” believe in justification by faith?
In my experience, all, so called “Campbellites”, believe in justification by faith. Some however, unfortunately see faith as subordinate to obedience. I do not share that view. Certainly the Scriptures teach justification by faith. Faith is the principle of life. The just shall live by faith. The Scriptures also teach us that “the faith which justifies and saves” is dead and useless if alone. The latter is one of our distinguishing traits and has created more animosity than any other. Faith cannot be in us, in our ability to keep God’s commandments. Neither can faith be in our religious heritage, such as being a “Campbellite”. Many people in the Christian community, I fear, “believe” in God but are not “trusting” in God.
What is the “Campbellite” theology of salvation?
We believe, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” This is a true statement, but it is far from complete. To often we have focused on that and have rightly been criticized for neglecting other factors. A more complete statement, I believe, is,” Salvation is by the grace of God through faith which obeys (repents and is baptized) through love.”
Is obedience in order to be saved or because we have been saved?
Both! I don’t know how you can read 2 Thessalonians 1: 8-10 and not conclude that obedience is essential to and comes before salvation. You know “the obedience “ passages. If you are a “faith only” person, they are the ones your minister doesn’t mention (Matthew 7: 21; Mark 16: 16; Acts 2: 38; 5: 32; 22: 16; Romans 6: 3-7; 17, 18; Galatians 3: 26, 27; Philippians 2: 12.13; Colossians 2: 9-14; Hebrews 5: 9). By the same token, we recognize that we were created in Christ for good works (Ephesians 2: 10). The one does not negate the other. The one is not an explanation of the other.
Does the message of Acts 2: 38 differ from that of Acts 10: 43?
This is the most outrageous suggestion I have heard in a long time, but if you read Questions and Answers, PG 108, by Edward Fudge, there it is. He apparently assumes “Campbellites” think they are contributing to the work of Christ when they are baptized. Nothing can be farther from the truth. These kinds of accusations will continue to come. Let us receive them with grace and calmness.
In the account in the conversion of Acts 2, faith is not mentioned until after the fact. When they asked the question, “Brethren, what shall we do?” they were believers. But they were not saved; unless they were saved before their sins were remitted. The hearts of Cornelius and his household were cleansed by faith (Acts 15: 9) but they were saved in the same way as those on Pentecost (Acts 15: 11). What should we conclude? There is only one conclusion that encompasses both accounts. That conclusion is “cleansing you heart by faith” includes “repenting and being baptized for the remission of sins”.
When we obey God (and it is His counsel in regard to baptism) we are submitting to God. Our obedience is God working in us both to will and to do. This response is not our response; it is the work of God. God frees us from our sins when we are obedient to that form of teaching (Romans 6: 17, 18) This is not our idea; this is God’s idea.
Is Acts 2: 38 normative or is Acts 10: 43 normative?
This is another absurd question. Everyone who trusts in Jesus will repent and be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as both those at Pentecost and Cornelius did. Do all evangelicals quote the great commission? Perhaps they do, but that does not mean they accept it. I have received correspondence from evangelicals who do not see baptism as part of the salvation process. We, “Campbellites”, are not without fault, but our error is not in maintaining that forgiveness of sins follows baptism, it is that we have neglected grace, faith and love. At least, that is the opinion of one old “Campbellite”.
Please note, the promise was to you and your children (the Jews), and to all who are afar off (the Gentiles), as many as the Lord shall call to Himself. This includes everyone, including Cornelius. The statement, “that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins”, was made to Cornelius but includes everyone including those who were saved at Pentecost. To promote this promise and this statement as two separate ways of salvation is the height of irresponsibility.
May God bless the “Campbellites” and all truth seekers.
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