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THE TRANSITIONAL INTERPRETATION (2)
The Transitional Interpretation
“Acts 2: 38 is not telling anyone how to be eternally saved, justified, regenerated, or how to avoid the lake of fire.” Lanny Thomas Tanton
This statement is based upon two assumptions; first, repentance and baptism in the name of Jesus have nothing to do with eternal salvation, justification, regeneration, or how to avoid the lake of fire and second, these blessings are conveyed by faith alone.
What do the Scriptures tell us about the relationship of repentance to these blessings?
· First, repentance for the forgiveness of sins was not for just the Palestinian Jew, but it was to all nations and all men everywhere. (Luke 24: 47; Acts 17: 30)
· Second, repentance leads to eternal salvation. (2 Corinthians 7: 10) If repentance leads to eternal salvation, then eternal salvation is not by faith alone and the introductory quote is inaccurate,
· Third, repentance leads to eternal life. (Acts 11: 18) If repentance leads to eternal life then life is not by faith alone and the introductory quote is inaccurate.
· Fourth, Repentance and return results in the blotting out of sins in order that the times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord. Plain Talk suggests that this refreshing is a reference to the regeneration. (Acts 3: 19)
· Fifth, the failure to repent will result in death. (Luke 13: 3)
What do the Scriptures tell us about the relationship of baptism in the name of the Son with these blessings?
· First, baptism in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit is to not just for the Jews but also to all nations. (Matthew 28: 18-20)
· Second baptism has to do with eternal salvation. (Mark 16: 16; Acts 2: 40; 1 Peter 3: 21) The introductory quote is inaccurate
· Third, baptism has to do with eternal life in the Son as we are baptized into the Son wherein is life. (1 John 5: 11- 13; Romans 6: 3, 4)
· Fourth, baptism has to do with justification, as we are clothed with the righteousness of Christ at baptism. (Galatians 3: 26, 27)
· Fifth, baptism has to do with becoming a child of God at regeneration. When one repents and is baptized in the name of the Lord, Jesus abundantly pours the Spirit out upon us. As he comes forth from that experience, he is born of water and the Spirit and receives the Holy Spirit as a gift. (Galatians 3: 26, 27; Acts 2: 38, 39; Titus 3: 5, 6)
Contrary to Lanny’s statement, repentance and baptism in the name of Christ has to do eternal salvation, life, regeneration and forgiveness of sins. The statement is deceptive and regrettable.
Does regeneration occur at the moment of belief? Lanny quotes Hodges who refers to 1 John 5: 1 and John 20: 31 as support for this view.
· First, Jesus tells us that we are born again when we are born of water and the Spirit. For centuries both the eastern and western church held that water referred to water and Spirit to Spirit and that the two elements were present at baptism. This was all to change at the reformation because most adopted a “salvation by grace through faith alone” agenda. Baptism did not fit into that agenda. To be fair we must admit that the sacramental view of baptism missed the mark also. (John 3: 3, 5)
· Second, John had earlier shown that regeneration did not occur at the moment of believing in Jesus. On the contrary the recipients were given the right to become children of God, regeneration was in the future. (John 1: 12, 13)
· Hodges seems to fall into the confusion over the translation of gennao in 1 John 5: 1. The word can mean either beget or bear; in the verse in question the passage should read, Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten of Him,” The New Greek Interlinear Translation has “Everyone that believes that Jesus is the Christ has been begotten of God and everyone that loves Him that begat, loves also him that is begotten of Him.” In the natural realm and in the spiritual realm the begettal precedes the birth.
· In John 20: 31 the question is at what point does faith result in life? Is faith a singular term or is it comprehensive? Should we consider the ‘faith” of this verse as faith alone or comprehensive. To help us decide, remember that the term “faith alone” occurs one time and that is to deny that justification is by “faith alone.” (James 2: 24) As we examine the Scriptures we find that faith is revealed at three different levels: assent, reception of Christ and the “perfected” level or complete level.
· Saving faith is a perfected faith. When we recall that faith without love is nothing, we have our first clue as to a perfected faith. Until faith is combined with love it is nothing, so for faith to be meaningful and effective it must be perfected by love. Love is the greater valu8e of the two because it is the very nature of God. Loves makes its contribution, as it is the impetus to the obedience of faith. In the scheme of salvation the obedience of faith is God’s gift to us so that we might have the assurance that our faith is effective in conveying the blessing of His grace to us. The faith of John 20: 31 is a perfected faith, a faith that works through love. (Galatians 5: 6) A perfected faith is never alone; it must be clothed with love, which constrains our willing obedience.
Not surprisingly, Lanny attempts to marginalize the forgiveness of sins. I say “not surprisingly” because this is what faith alone people have tried to do with baptism. Quite frankly this is my first experience with the marginalization of forgiveness and I am appalled. The Scriptures tell us that the wages of sin is death; if that link between sin and us is not broken by God’s forgiveness, the result will be death. Jesus shed hid blood for the remission of sins (Matthew 26: 28) and if forgiveness is really not a necessity, then He died in vain.
The more I study the Scriptures; I become more convinced that they are true. They really tell it like it is. Another aspect of truth is consistency. To me, this transitional interpretation just does not have the ring of truth; it appears to be contrived and is certainly inconsistent with the Scriptures. Judge for yourself.
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