Posted tagged ‘Spirit baptism’

The Holy Spirit Does NOT Baptize Us Into Christ

December 2, 2016

In Romans 6, Paul describes being baptized into Christ, with no mention of the Holy Spirit in the chapter. Romans 6:7 gives as its answer to antinomianism not a new enablement by the Holy Spirit which allows us not to sin (so much) Romans 6:7 is about being justified from the power of guilt because of legal identity in Christ’s death is about the indicative of being united to Christ in His death.

All the New Testament texts teach that Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit, and NONE of the texts teach that the Spirit is the agent who places the elect into Christ. Should the texts be understood (even if they don’t say) that “John baptizes with water, but Jesus baptizes with both water and the Spirit, and (also) the Holy Spirit is the one who baptizes when Jesus baptizes ”

So when Jesus baptizes with the Spirit, it’s really the opposte of that, so that the Holy Spirit baptizes with Christ?

I agree that it is not possible to receive Christ without receiving His Holy Spirit, but that in no way proves that the Holy Spirit unites us to Christ. We should not assume that the “reality” of regeneration by the Spirit has priority over God’s legal imputation with Christ’s death “We have have been baptized into Christ” is NOT about the water ritual. The baptism on view in I Peter 3 and Colossians 2 and Romans 6 Is NOT ‘an outward sign of an inward change”. Water does not fulfill the type of physical circumcision…

One, I am not giving “the baptist view”. Most baptists I know are as likely to assume that “baptism” means water as any paedobaptist. (See for example, though I like Robert Haldane’s commentary, his remarks on Romans 6.)

Two, I believe in Holy Spirit baptism, but Holy Spirit baptism does NOT mean that the Spirit “baptizes into” Christ, at least not so far as any Bible text teaches. I Cor 12:13 correctly translated reads –”in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.” The text does not say “by the Spirit” or teach that the Holy Spirit is the baptizer. The I Cor 12:13 agrees with the other six Spirit baptism texts in teaching that Christ is the agent who gives the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit does not give Christ, and the Holy Spirit is not mentioned in Romans 6. Yes, even Many credobaptists assume that the Holy Spirit is the agent in Romans 6, but they also wrongly agree with paedobaptists who assume that any text with the word “baptism” must have reference to the work of the Spirit and read that idea into Romans 6 and Colossians 2 and I Peter 3.

Do you assume that there’s water somewhere (at least implied) in Romans 6 and in Colossians 2 and I peter 3? There is no text anywhere that talks about “baptism by the Spirit”. These three specific texts a. don’t refer to water but instead to something that actually saves and b. don’t refer to the Spirit or to the new birth. All three texts are about legal identity with Christ’s death. They don’t use the word “imputation”, but their legal context has nothing about the Holy Spirit or regeneration (or water).

I never teach that Romans 6 or Colossians 2 or I Peter 3 are about the Holy Spirit. I teach that the three texts are NOT about water. If not water, then what? Not water, but the Father’s imputation of Christ’s death to the elect. I agree that other “baptism” texts ARE about water, and about some texts, I might still be agnostic. But we need to stop assuming “water” or “water as a reference to the Spirit”. That paradigm does not fit the biblical evidence.

Christ, who was far off, is brought near by the news of the gospel (Romans 10:8), and united to the elect when God credits them with His righteousness (which is the value and merit of Christ’s death) and effectually calls them. The elect don’t first get Christ and then get His death . The elect cannot first “put on Christ”, and only after that get “baptized into His death”. Being placed into Christ’s death is in order to being in Christ and then having Christ in us. Being baptized into Christ in Romans 6 (which is NOT regeneration by the Spirit, which is NOT baptism by the Spirit) is another way to talk about God’s imputation. And this means that Christ baptizing the elect with or into the Spirit (I Corinthians 12:13) is not first in the appllication of salvation to an individual sinner.

Berkhof—-“It is sometimes said that the merits of Christ cannot be imputed to us as long as we are not in Christ, since it is only on the basis of our oneness with Him that such an imputation could be reasonable. But this view fails to distinguish between our legal unity with Christ and our spiritual oneness with Him, and is a falsification of the fundamental element in the doctrine of redemption, namely, of the doctrine of justification. Justification is always a declaration of God, not on the basis of an existing (or future) condition, but on that of a gracious imputation–a declaration which is not in harmony with the existing condition of the sinner. The judicial ground for all the grace which we receive lies in the fact that the righteousness of Christ is freely imputed to us.”

Cal Beisner— “First, the term baptism did not mean, primarily, a ritual application of water. Second, commentators argue in two ways that in Romans 6 baptism does not denote the rite: (a) consistent application of that sense in the immediate context (verses 1-10) would yield the conclusion (contrary to other passages of Scripture) that all, without exception, who undergo the rite are regenerate, converted, justified, sanctified, and finally glorified, and (b) Paul himself, who certainly views circumcision and baptism as type and antitype (Colossians 2:11-12), had already written in the same epistle that it was not the rite of circumcision but the spiritual reality designated by it….

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Paul Helm—Is not the granting of Christ’s gifts also a work of Christ? Is this giving not something that Christ does? Giving us gifts is not atonement, Giving us gifts is the result of atonement. But in giving justification Christ is at work.

Bavinck: Christ took on himself the task of really and fully saving his people. Christ will not abdicate as mediator before Christ has presented his elect– without spot or wrinkle – to the Father. The application of salvation is not less an essential constituent of redemption than Christ’s acquisition of salvation. Take away its application and redemption is not redemption. Christ continues his prophetic, priestly and royal activity. The application of salvation is Christ’s work. By an irresistible grace Christ gives himself and his benefits to his own. (Reformed Dogmatics, 3-523)

How Could Questions about “The Order of Salvation” Be Practical?

May 10, 2013

Edwards puritan: The Spirit is the Spirit of Christ. I am not sure how we can be united to one without being united to the other.  There is no  imputation of the righteousness of Christ before the actual union with Christ.

mark:  The puritan continues to say “actual union” in a question-begging fashion, and the problem is that he does not define what that means, except for his assumption that the “actual” is not the legal (which he does not deny). What he needs to do is find a term for what he’s calling “actual”. Is what he’s calling “actual” regeneration? Is what he’s calling “actual” the indwelling of the person Christ in us, so that (as in Luther), when faith is in us, Christ is in that faith and thus in us? In any case, he needs to explain what he means. Faith is an experience. Imputation (God’s legal sharing of the merit of Christ’s work) is not an experience.

I certainly agree that nobody can be united to Christ without also being united to the Holy Spirit. But the question concerns the Spirit’s priority in the “application”.  Calvin assumed this. But does this mean that the elect are united to the Spirit logically before they are united to Christ, and then the Spirit binds Christ together with elect persons? This is not a technical query about the order of salvation application (or even about the order of redemptive history). Rather, it’s a basic exegetical question about baptism in and with the Holy Spirit. Though the puritan agrees that Christ purchased the work of the Spirit for the elect, he still seems to think that the Spirit baptizes into Christ, but exegesis of all the seven texts (including Corinthians 12:13) tells us that Christ is the one who baptizes in and with the Spirit.

But how could this possibly be anything but a technical scholastic “order” question? Gaffin and all who dismiss the order question (Barth, Anthony Hoekema, Ferguson) as of no importance tend to have their own order, at the end of the day. Yes, you can’t have the Spirit without Christ, or Christ without the Spirit, but then it turns out that, when it comes to “actual union”, the priority always goes to the work of the Spirit in us, to faith as that which ‘applies” Christ. And this is practical, because that gets us away from thinking about the atonement or about the atonement being only for the elect, and gets us back to the place where we can work with Arminians–ie, the place where the atonement is for those who believe (whatever), the place where atonement is for those with the Spirit, the place where the atonement is not back there then but here now, so that the atonement becomes the application of the atonement, so that the “real” atonement becomes what the Spirit does with Christ.

if indeed the order is not practical and important, why is it that Gaffin and others spend so much time insisting on the priority of union with the resurrected Christ over any “legal union” with what Christ did in the past? If it doesn’t matter, then why not let us other folks keep on talking the way we do?

But the Confession says the Spirit applies, and Calvin did also. I won’t take the time to talk about the ambiguity in Calvin (or the Confessions), but I think the reason Calvin gives priority to the Spirit uniting to Christ has something to do with the way Calvin thought he had been baptized (in water). But why do puritan credobaptists also give the priority to the Holy Spirit? Some of them think water baptism is about Spirit baptism (or about both that AND baptism into the death of Christ, but my guess is that these puritan credobaptists give priority to experience. Imputation is not an experience..

A lot of the discussion of this is simply question-begging (probably mine also!).  Reasserting again that imputation can’t take place logically before the experience of faith. the puritans say imputation would be a fiction because imputation does not take place before the “actual union”. But if the Spirit (the blessing of Abraham) is given to sons, not in order to constitute sons (Galatians 3-4), then God’s imputation is first.

The puritans agree that Christ purchased the Spirit. they also agree that faith is not really the righteousness. But nevertheless they thinks it acceptable for us (and the Bible) to say that God counts our faith experience as the righteousness, and acceptable to say that the Spirit gives Christ (at least when it comes to “union”, as opposed to Christ giving the Spirit). But the result of that is always going to be us talking about regeneration and indwelling and our hearts instead of about Christ’s guilt-bearing for those elected in Christ.

I ask that we define “union”. It does no good to agree that “union” has various aspects (ie, it’s by election and it’s legal also) if we then go on from that to use the word “union” to mean “experimental break with the pattern of sin”.

Romans 6 is certainly a key text on the relationship of justification and the Christian life. Many read Romans 6 as if it were saying: don’t worry about that two legal heads stuff in Romans 5, because there is another answer besides justification as to why we don’t sin, and that is “union”. Or don’t worry about justification of the ungodly now, because God is not only looking to Christ’s death but also looking to what the Spirit is going to do in us in the future.

Others (like Robert Haldane) read Romans to say that the answer to the question about the Christian life is not something else besides justification, legal identity with Christ’s death and resurrection. We read Romans 6:7 as saying that the answer continues to be “justified from sin”. We insist on that because Christ became dead to sin, was justified from sin, and that certainly was NOT “regeneration” or the work of the Spirit in Him. We insist on reading Romans 6 in terms of “sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law”.

Others of course read Holy Spirit baptism into Romans 6. They don’t talk about Christ giving the Spirit (which also is not in Romans 6). They talk about the Spirit giving Christ (which is not in Romans 6). Others talk about the sacramental water of the church. But it is no way acceptable to these folks to think that Romans 6 is about justification and legal identification. They already have their minds made up that imputation is not a good enough answer to the question of Romans 6.

If this topic is not practical, don’t waste your time on it. If you spend time on it, let’s agree that “order” questions are important even for you.