John 1: 29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the One I told you about: ‘After me comes a man who has surpassed me, because He existed before me.’ 31 I didn’t know Him, but I came baptizing with[w] water so He might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John testified, “I watched the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He rested on Him. 33 I didn’t know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The One you see the Spirit descending and resting on—He is the One who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen and testified that He is the Son of God!”
Luke 3: 3 John went into all the vicinity of the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins….7 He then said to the crowds who came out to be baptized by him, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Therefore produce fruit consistent with repentance. And don’t start saying to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you that God is able to raise up children for Abraham from these stones! 9 Even now the ax is ready to strike the root of the trees! Therefore, every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”
10 “What then should we do?” the crowds were asking him. 11 He replied to them, “The one who has two shirts must share with someone who has none, and the one who has food must do the same.” 12 Tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they asked him, “Teacher, what should we do?” 13 He told them, “Don’t collect any more than what you have been authorized.” 14 Some soldiers also questioned him: “What should we do?” He said to them, “Don’t take money from anyone by force or false accusation; be satisfied with your wages.”
15 Now the people were waiting expectantly, and all of them were debating in their minds whether John might be the Messiah. 16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with water, but One is coming who is more powerful than I. I am not worthy to untie the strap of His sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
We could ask what John the Baptist was preaching. What was his doctrine, the content of his preaching?
Was John the Baptist preaching that there is eternal life in hell because the fire there in unquenchable and therefore does not consume and therefore the dying never die but are tortured instead?
Was John the Baptist preaching the Marrow, that Jesus was going to be “dead for you” and wanted the non-elect to be saved, and therefore was going to die to make salvation “available” for the non-elect, and so it would be their fault if they had to live in hell forever because Jesus wanted to be their Savior also?
Was John the baptist preaching repentance without faith? or what he repenting repentance before faith? Was he preaching that you needed to know the law before the gospel, so that you would first see your need and repent, and if you get to that point, then everything is easy because everybody already knows who Jesus is and knows that Jesus loves them and died for them and wants to save them?
Was John the Baptist saying to repent of certain wrong ideas about doctrine and the gospel, or was John the Baptist preaching that to repent of being so selfish and so sinful, so that you will be enabled by the Holy Spirit to produce the fruit which will be the evidence that you have believed the gospel (which everybody knows already, but the proof is in if you believe it, and if you can prove by your life that you believe it)
Was John the Baptist preaching that walking in the light is not sinning so much that you need to hide it, and instead to be changed enough so that you become the light to prove that you believe the gospel and others should believe also?
But before I ask what John the Baptist was preaching, I want to know if he was preaching to the church, or to those outside the church. Did John the Baptist have a para-church ministry or did John the Baptist “administer the sacraments”.
Yes, I know John the Baptist was not preaching in the temple or in the synagogue. But was John the Baptist preaching to those “in the covenant”? Weren’t all the people John the Baptist was preaching to already circumcised? So doesn’t that mean that John the Baptist was still preaching to “the church”?
We are told by (some) paedobaptists that parents can’t properly raise their children unless those children are “in the covenant”, because they say that the commands of God are only for those “in the covenant”– God will be their God, only for them and only to them can the law and gospel be preached and the sacraments adminstered (water because they are in the covenant, but not bread and cup yet even though they are in the covenant).
So why did John the Baptist address the tax-collectors and the Roman occupation soldiers? Were some of these taxpayers and foreign military folks “in the covenant”, born Jewish or circumcised? Is it really true that John the Baptist was preaching to the church and only to those in the covenant.
I know things have changed today, because now collecting taxes can be a Christian vocation if you have read enough to have a Reformed worldview. And also now, Christians can and should defend their countries and occupy other countries, even if it means killing other Christians. No problems there! But let’s talk about John the Baptist. Wasn’t he a minister of “the church” who was preaching to those in the covenant? if you don’t think so, then maybe you are a dispensationalist who thinks that God changes and that the gospel changes and that the covenants change. Surely if there is only one church in history, and John the Baptist was preaching the truth, then surely John the Baptist was a ruling and preaching elder in that one church, and his water baptism was the replacement and fulfillment of physical circumcision.
But here’s the question. Were all the people John the Baptist watered already circumcised? We know Jesus Christ was circumcised. But were those tax collectors and Roman soldiers watered? And were they all circumcised before they were watered?
Since we know that water is not a repeat or a substitute instead of circumcision, and since we know that water is the fulfillment of circumcision, is the water of John the Baptist valid for those who have not been circumcised? But if there are two water baptisms, and the water of John the Baptist is not the same as the water of the one church, it begins to look like John the Baptist was not talking to the “one unchanging church”.
Acts 19— While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior regions and came to Ephesus. He found some disciples 2 and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? “No,” they told him, “we haven’t even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 “Then what baptism were you baptized with?” he asked them.“With John’s baptism,” they replied. 4 Paul said, “John baptized with a baptism of repentance, telling the people that they should believe in the One who would come after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Physical circumcision in part does signify “heart circumcision” in Romans 2 (along with other things signified, the seed and the seed for Abraham, the land). But physical circumcision also refers to “the righteousness” in Genesis, Romans 4, and in Galatians 2. And this righteousness signified is NOT “heart circumcision” but rather “the obedience of Christ even to death, which is the “righteousness revealed in the gospel” (Romans 1) Physical circumcision is about the bloody death of Abraham’s seed, Christ.
Question—is your “heart circumcision” the “righteousness of another”, because it’s God’s righteousness in you, infused and imparted to you? If so, you repeat the error of Osiander, and confuse the new birth with divine righteousness in you, instead of the righteousness obtained once for all time by Christ’s death. If the righteousness is in you, I don’t care if you call it divine, it’s not the righteousness of another.
Physical circumcision does not signify a “surgical separation” from your old immoral nature, because the “body of death” and “the old man” are not your old nature. Being placed into Christ’s death (non-water baptism by God into Christ’s death) is “surgical separation” from Adam’s body of guilt, a passing from death to life, with the result that one is no longer part of the “old man” but legally part of the “new man”.
Physical circumcision does not only signify regeneration, because regeneration is not justification, and physical circumcision also points to righteousness imputed, and this to justification. Justification means no longer being under the law (first, to be circumcised, and then all the rest of the law) but in Christ under grace.
Acts 21: 19 After greeting them, he related in detail what God did among the Gentiles through his ministry. 20 When they heard it, they glorified God and said, “You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are who have believed, and they are all zealous for the law. 21 But they have been told about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to abandon Moses, by telling them NOT TO CIRCUMCISE THEIR CHILDREN or to walk in our customs.
It was a false report. Paul’s letter to the Galatians did not say, Stop circumcision because it has been replaced by water baptism.
Acts 21: 26 Then the next day, Paul took the men, having purified himself along with them, and entered the temple, announcing the completion of the purification days when the offering for each of them would be made. 27 As the seven days were about to end, the Jews from Asia saw him in the temple complex, stirred up the whole crowd, and seized him, 28 shouting, “Men of Israel, help! This is the man who teaches everyone everywhere against our people, our law, and this place. What’s more, he also brought Greeks into the temple
In Acts 23, Paul does not say, “By mistake I made a compromise by doing that circumcision thing back in Acts 21, but rather “Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience until this day.”
Sarcasm—But maybe Paul wasn’t talking ONLY (sola, merely,alone) about having his conscience cleansed by the blood, and not being under the law because of Christ’s death, not to deny that, surely Paul was against “cheap grace assurance” and every day proved to himself (and others) by his living that he was a real believer.
Mark Jones—The Marrow Men ended up fighting a battle in order to defend the Auchterarder Creed.—-“It is not sound and orthodox to teach that we must forsake sin in order to our coming to Christ.” … Witsius, the so-called “middle-man” in the Antinomian-Neonomian debates that emerged in the latter part of the seventeenth century, asks whether repentance precedes the remission of sins. Does sorrow for sin precede justification as a disposing condition, prerequisite in the subject? An awakened sinner will, in his experience, have a previous (or, concomitant/accompanying) hatred for sin and purpose of a new life before receiving Christ.
Godly repentance can come only in light of the Gospel wherein Christ and His righteousness is revealed as the only difference between saved and lost This godly repentance includes new knowledge concerning the character of God (Who He is) and concerning the one and only reason God is just in justifying the ungodly elect. This godly contrition is a change of mind concerning our best religious efforts to remove the guilt and defilement of sin, our old efforts to recommend ourselves to God, our deeds motivated in the interests of attaining, maintaining, and entitling us to salvation.
The Apostle Paul illustrates this clearly in Philippians 3:3-10. In true Gospel repentance a sinner comes to see and trust that Christ’s righteousness alone entitles him to all of salvation, including the subjective work of the Spirit, BEFORE he makes any efforts to obey God and persevere. The godly contrite come to see that before faith in the true gospel, their best efforts at obedience, all that they highly esteemed and thought was profitable in recommending him unto God, is no more than “dung” (Philippians 3:7-8) in contrast with Christ’s obedience to death.
What they before thought was pleasing unto God and works of the Spirit, the repentant person now sees as “flesh” (Philippians 3:3-4). What they once highly esteemed, they are now ashamed of(Romans 6:21) and now, in light of the Gospel, counts it as fruit unto death, DEAD WORKS, and evil deeds.
The contrite person now sees that before believing that Christ’s righteousness alone entitled them to all of salvation, their thoughts of God were all wrong. In repentance, the contrite person turns from that old “give up enough of your sins to prove that you believed” idol to serve the true and living God (1 Thessalonians 1:9).
This kind of true godly contrition can only come in light of the Gospel as it takes this light to expose the sin that deceives us all by nature (John 3:19-20). Before we hear and believe the Gospel we are all deceived by sin (Romans 7:11). The sin that deceives us all by nature is not our immorality, but trusting in our trusting and contrition. We must repent of our old evil repentance.
“Without the knowledge of our sinfulness and misery, we cannot hear the gospel with profit; for unless, by the preaching of the law as touching sin and the wrath of God, a preparation be made for the proclamation of grace, a carnal security follows, and our consolation becomes unstable. Sure consolation cannot stand accompanying carnal security. Hence, it is manifest that we must, after the example of the Prophets and Apostles, start with the preaching of the law that men may thus be cast down from the conceit of their own righteousness and may obtain a knowledge of themselves and be led to true repentance. Unless this be done, men will become, through the preaching of grace, more careless and obstinate and pearls will be cast before swine to be trodden under foot.” Zacharias Ursinus, Body of Orthodox Doctrine…, on Heidelberg Catechism 2.