Dispensationalism - Miraculous Signs and Water Baptism
Miraculous Signs and Water Baptism
The Author of the book handles the first part of this chapter in much the same way that he did the chapter comparing Paul with the twelve. He draws the conclusion, that since the signs and wonders connected with the coming of Christ ceased after a time, the kingdom they proclaimed also ceased and another kingdom began. As stated earlier we must, as we read the scriptures he uses to establish this belief, ask ourselves. Do these scriptures proclaim a new kingdom or were these merely temporal aspects of the kingdom which were replaced with stronger gifts as the kingdom grew and matured?
Mr Stam tells us:
"It is not denied that even the most consecrated believer falls far short of God's standards of spirituality, nor that there is a particular lack of true spirituality among Christians today, but this does not explain their inability to perform miracles. Such an argument would be answered by the case of the Corinthians alone. Paul called them unspiritual babes (I Cor. 3:1)......
Paragraph 3 "Yet this same Corinthian church, at this same time, abounded in miraculous gifts (I Cor. 1:7, 2:8-11, 14:12,18,26). The absence of these miraculous powers in the church today must, therefore, have another explanation."
The author is scripturally correct up to this point. However, he presumes that the reason the Corinthian church was unspiritual, yet possessed the gifts, was that they were trying to apply the works of a "Messianic kingdom" to an "age of grace" where they didn't belong.
Let the student of God's Word determine for himself if this is so. Study the book of I Cor. and see if this is stated anywhere, it will be seen that it is not! What then is the explanation of the miraculous gifts being taken away?
The scriptures are very clear on this point. In order to understand this more completely, we will first look at the reason for these gifts. The verses the author uses on page 221 when he quotes Matt. 8:16,17. and Acts 2:22, give us this reason. THE GIFTS WERE GIVEN AS PROOFS TO THE WORLD THAT CHRIST INDEED WAS THE MESSIAH. They were in a sense the forms of the foundation of the church. As any builder knows, the foundations of a building many times must have forms laid, into which the concrete is poured. The forms, although solidly built, are only temporary and are removed once the concrete has cured to the point where it can support the building. Let us compare this analogy to the 13th chapter of I Cor. The outward physical signs of the kingdom of God are comparable to the forms and the spiritual signs of the kingdom are the concrete. In verse 8 we read that "though there be prophecies they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away." and in verse 9 "But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away."
Imagine what would happen if a building was built on the forms and not on the solid concrete. A builder I know of did just this, he leveled wooden 2x12's and used them for footers upon which he laid his block walls. After the walls were laid, the basement poured, and the back-filling of ground around the building was complete, the houses looked fine, however after only a few years they began to settle. The plaster began to crack, the doors and windows began to jam, even the basement walls began to crack and give way. The owners of the homes became alarmed and dug down to see what was happening, what they found was nothing but decaying wood holding up their homes. Needless to say the builder went bankrupt because he tried to save a few dollars where he thought it wouldn't show.
The same thing is true for the church, the temporary forms were not to be built on, tongues, miracles, prophecies, etc., the outward signs, would never be solid enough to support the church through the ages. God knew this and He instructed Paul to tell the church that they must not place their faith in trust in them for they would never endure the temptations that the world would throw their way. We have seen this principle brought to light in the past few years, in a very dramatic way. Many highly respected leaders of the charismatic church, who have built their faith on these outward signs have fallen. The gifts, although pleasing to the pride of man, were not able to withstand the onslaught of greed and lust in the world and many churches across the land today are now in shambles because their structure was built on these temporal foundations.
Paul tells us that faith, hope and love are the foundation on which to build. This foundation alone can support the church down through the ages, as has been proven through many times of tribulation and temptation. We are not a kingdom different then the one established in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, we are to be the same kingdom mature and solidly based on the same foundation which supported Christ when He walked on this earth.
FAITH- John 10:7-29
HOPE- John 14:2
LOVE- John 15:8-13
In the second section of this chapter the writer of the book attacks those who believe in baptism for the present church.
Mr Stam tells us:
Page 26 last paragraph; "Water baptism and miraculous signs both belong to the so-called "great commission" (Matt.28:19, Mark 16:16-18, Acts 1:8), yet strangely, many pastors who would excommunicate any of their members for speaking in tongues or seeking to perform miracles, nevertheless cling tenaciously to the practice of water baptism."
I myself know of no pastors who have excommunicated members for speaking in tongues and seeking to perform miracles, although I'm sure it has happened frequently. I can understand, however, why they would disagree with the charismatic gifts and "cling" to baptism. Perhaps it is because the Word of God states that the gifts were to be done away with but nowhere gives the command that the rite of baptism is to be abolished.
The rite of baptism is an action of man toward God (I Pet.3:21) the physical gifts were actions of God toward man (John 15:21-24, Acts 2:22) and were replaced by the spiritual gifts as we saw in I Cor.13:|8-10, thus the action of salvation continues to be seen. God saves a soul and bestows upon him the gifts of faith, hope and love, man in turn shows his commitment to God through the physical action of baptism.
Both then are actions which show the regenerative work has been applied to the heart of the believer, as we see in Acts 2:38 "Then Peter said unto them, Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
Many fundamentalists are afraid of this verse of scripture because it implies to them that baptism is a prerequisite of salvation. They arrive at this misconception because they believe that repentance is a prerequisite to salvation. The scriptures tells us, however, that repentance is only seen in a heart that has been changed by the action of regeneration by God (II Cor.7:9-10, II Tim.2:24-26, Rom.2:4, Heb. 6:6). If we look at this verse in its true light we see then that Peter is telling those at Pentecost, If the Spirit of God causes you to repent you in turn will be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and God will send unto you the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Baptism was not a rite which was entered into on a whim in the days of the early church. If we lived in the time of the apostles we would see that baptism had much deeper consequences than it does today. The rite of baptism was given to people as a signature that they were rejecting their old beliefs and accepting a new way of life. An example is seen throughout Old Testament history, whenever a heathen desired to enter into Judaism he was publicly baptized as a sign to all that he was denying the religious beliefs he once held and was following after the sect of Judaism.
In the same way, when an early believer accepted the truth of the gospel, he or she being a Jew, entered in to the rite of baptism showing that they no longer adhered to the teaching of the scribes and the Pharisees but were henceforth following the teachings of Christ. As they were baptized the leaders of Judaism stood by and wrote down their names, thus ear-marking them for persecution and even death. So it was no light matter they undertook in being baptized.
As a further note concerning this verse, we can also see in the Word of God where a man, acting on his own, believed and was baptized but did not receive the sign of the Holy Spirit. Acts 8 gives us the account of one Simon a sorcerer vs.9 who believed and was baptized vs.13 but never received the Spirit of God vs.14-23. He believed that Christ was the Messiah but it was not the belief of a heart that had undergone the regenerative work of Christ. He was baptized yet it was not the action of a man who had undergone a change in his life. HE FULFILLED BOTH PARTS OF THE COMMAND GIVEN IN ACTS 2:38, WHICH ACCORDING TO THE AUTHOR OF THE BOOK WERE PREREQUISITES TO SALVATION, YET HE DID NOT RECEIVE THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. WHY? BECAUSE THE BELIEF AND BAPTISM WERE ACCOMPLISHED THROUGH THE WORK OF THE FLESH AND NOT THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN HIS LIFE. He fooled the apostles, they baptized him upon profession of faith, but he could not fool God and God knew he was not truly born again, physical desire caused this action in his life not spiritual renewal.
Mr Stam tells us:
Page 228 paragraph 3 ff; "Under the Old Covenant God had promised:
"Now therefore, if ye will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then ye shall be a particular treasure unto Me above all people: for the earth is mine:
"And ye shall be unto Me A KINGDOM OF PRIESTS, and AN HOLY NATION. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel (Ex.19:5,6).
Until they did obey God's voice indeed, only certain people in Israel were set apart as priests, but in connection with the coming Messiah and the conversion of all Israel, God later promised that they would indeed become a whole nation of priests through whom the Gentiles should approach God:
"BUT YE SHALL BE NAMED THE PRIESTS OF THE LORD: MEN SHALL CALL YOU THE MINISTERS OF OUR GOD....(Isa.61:6)"
Again the writer draws conclusions not found in the scripture. He tells us that the whole nation of Israel was to be saved. Look at both scriptures in their context. In Ex.19:5,6 the "if" is very important. The action of God hinged on the action of the Children of Israel. In Isaiah 61, vs.1-3 tell us who were to be the priests of the Lord, not all Israel as the author would have us believe, but only those who were meek, the brokenhearted, the captives, to comfort all that mourn. This is why John the Baptist denied the Pharisees and Sadducees the right of baptism, they did not fit into this category, instead they made their living off of these types of people.
The writer again makes the error in Mark 1:4 where, as seen in an earlier chapter, he combines water baptism with the baptism of the Spirit.
Mr Stam tells us:
He makes this claim on page 228: "Hence, as John proclaimed the kingdom at hand, in which all Israel should stand before God as priests, he demanded repentance and water baptism for the remission of sins (Mark 1:4)."
JOHN DID NOT DEMAND WATER BAPTISM FOR REMISSION OF SINS! As seen in this verse he baptized them and preached THE BAPTISM OF REPENTANCE FOR THE REMISSION OF SINS, TWO DIFFERENT BAPTISMS ARE SEEN IN THIS VERSE. ONE, THE ONE HE ADMINISTERED, WAS WATER, THE OTHER, ADMINISTERED BY CHRIST, WAS THE HOLY SPIRIT. Both baptisms are found in verse 8 where John makes the clear distinction between his baptism and that of Christ.
Water baptism cannot now, nor could it ever, cleanse a sinful heart. It's importance is seen as a physical rite performed by the believer as a witness to the world that they have been spiritually baptized into the death of Christ (Rom.6:3-4, Gal.3:26+27, Col.2:12).
God commanded the early church to carry out this rite and the only reason for discontinuance would be a command from the Word of God, which God has not given us.