When is a Believer Saved by Grace and Raised with Christ?

When does God save a believer by grace and raise that person with Christ? 

Ephesians 2:4–6, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with ChristRaisedby grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,” (ESV, emp. added).

Must a believer die with Christ for God to raise that believer to life?

2 Timothy 2:11, “The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him;” (ESV).

Romans 6:8, “Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Must a believer be buried with Christ in baptism for God to raise that believer with Christ?

Romans 6:4–6, “Therefore, we were buried with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too can walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin” (ESV).

Is a believer raised alive from death in sins by forgiveness of sins?

Colossians 2:12–13, “having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses.

Acts 2:38, “And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'” (cf. Acts 10:47–48).

Acts 22:16, “And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.

Is faith necessary to know the power of the resurrection?

Philippians 3:8b–11, “For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faiththat I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”

Is Jesus’s resurrection necessary for a believer to be born again?

1 Peter 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,” (cf. 1 Pet 1:23).

When are believers saved through the resurrection of Christ?

1 Peter 3:21, “Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

John 3:5, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”

Does a believer become a child of God when that believer is born again?

John 1:12–13, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”

Galatians 3:26–27, “for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

1 John 5:1, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.”

Must a believer die with Christ to become a new creation?

2 Corinthians 5:14–17, “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (ESV).

What happens when one becomes a new creation?

Ephesians 4:20–24, “But that is not the way you learned Christ!—assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

Colossians 3:1–3, 9–10, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. […] Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.”

Is baptism in Jesus’s name necessary for salvation by faith?

Mark 16:16, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”

Acts 8:12, “But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

Acts 18:8, “Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized.”

Acts 19:2–5, “And he said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ And they said, ‘No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.’And he said, ‘Into what then were you baptized?‘ They said, ‘Into John’s baptism.’ And Paul said, ‘John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.’ On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

When is one saved and added to the Church?

Acts 2:41, “So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls” (cf. Matt 28:19).

Acts 2:47, “praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”

1 Corinthians 12:13, “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — Jews or Greeks, slaves or free — and all were made to drink of one Spirit.”

About Scott Shifferd Jr.

Minister, church of Christ in Jacksonville, FL. Husband and father of four. Email: ScottJon82[at]yahoo.com
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57 Responses to When is a Believer Saved by Grace and Raised with Christ?

  1. Phil says:

    In reality it is sin that is most associated with grace, not water baptism. Grace is invoked through sin, not water baptism.

    Romans 5:20
    Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:

    Ephesians 1:7
    In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

    Ephesians 2:5
    Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

    Which verses that mention grace also mention water baptism? Can’t find them. Being buried with Christ is a Spiritual burial since Christ is Spirit. You’ve gotta match like with like.


    • Should we ignore the Scriptures above? Should we ignore the whole council of God?


      • Phil says:

        So i twisted scripture by saying that grace is for the purpose of forgiving sins, as stated in the scriptures above? And you have given no scriptures that support that water baptism is associated with grace.



        • Phil says:

          There is not one thing in Eph. 2 that refers to water baptism. How can you conclude that grace is associated with water baptism?

          Your methodology makes it possible to associate anything with grace if one wants.


  2. Phil says:

    If history is your proof of the the validity of how things should be done then show me where sprinkling was administered as a way to baptize. You are very inconsistent with your analogies.

    You and Scott have already shown your fallibility in calling me a Docetist. By definition I’m not. I do believe that Jesus was on earth in the flesh.

    We’re all fallible and thus should look to God for grace and mercy. He realizes our fallibility and saves us anyway. He requires faith. End of story.

    Salvation can be summed up in the following passage.

    Ephesians 2:7-9 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.


    • Phil,

      Salvation can be summed up in all of Christ’s words including Ephesians 2:1-10 and not just 2:7-9.

      Why then did Jesus command baptism in water if He was only spiritually resurrected? You know that Jesus commanded baptism in His name, and that baptism in His name is in water according to the Scriptures (Acts 10:47-48; cf. Matt. 28:19, Acts 2:38).


      • Phil says:

        I’m not denying water baptism. I’m questioning that you think salvation occurs only after immersion in water. This passage does not address this issue.

        The issue of when salvation occurs has been debated since the bible was given.

        Your theology says the that we are saved by grace and faith, through baptism. The NT says that we are saved by grace, through faith. That’s it!


        • We believe in salvation by grace and faith through Christ’s resurrection from baptism.


          • Phil says:

            The debate is about when salvation occurs. It is ongoing and has been the subject of debate for longer than you can imagine.

            You said, “We believe in salvation by grace and faith through Christ’s resurrection from baptism.”

            Eph. 2:8 says: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:”

            You have added to the NT what is not there.


          • Salvation by grace is when a believer is raised with Christ according to Ephesians 2:4-6. This is the immediate context of Ephesians 2:8-9.

            The remote context includes the parallel passages of Colossians 2:12-13 and Romans 6:1-7.

            Salvation is at the point when we are raised with Christ. No debate – ever.


    • Take time and honestly reconsider Jesus’ words.

      “And He said to them, ‘Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.'” (Luke 24:38-39).


      • Phil says:

        Obviously Jesus came back to the Disciples as human and appeared for awhile, but then disappeared as Spirit back into heaven. How do you account for flesh and bones ascending into a timeless realm. And how do you account for the fact that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God? I would ask you to take time and honestly consider this, also.

        This is not a salvation issue. It does not really matter whether Jesus was Spirit or Flesh after death, but it does show where ones emphasis is. Mine is on Spirit, and Spirit is invisible.


        • I take it that you have changed your understanding from what you wrote previously, “There was no physical body raised from the grave of Jesus. It was and is still Spiritual (invisible) in nature.”


          • Phil says:

            No, not at all. Why would you think that? He died to the physical body and was raised as a Spiritual Body. Nothing spiritual has form. Tell me what you have seen that is spiritual and has form. By definition spirit is invisible.


          • Phil says:

            Luke 24:31
            And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.

            He vanished and turned invisible! Why would it be different from the grave?


          • I can see how it can be confusing to understand the glorified body. It is like understanding spiritual beings like angels appearing as men.


  3. Phil says:

    Scott said, “Regarding “intellect” and “logic”: Well, I think we should try to love God with all all our heart AND mind, not just our heart. Again, this illustrates the Catholic “both/and” way of thinking and the Protestant [not always] “either/or” way of thinking.”

    That’s interesting considering that man is made up of heart mind and intellect mind. The intellect is incapable of love. It can only process facts. It’s basically a computer. So the it’s impossible to love God with anything but your heart. Absolutely impossible!


  4. Phil says:

    For the record, I have always believed that Jesus was present in human form, so apparently I’m not a Docetist. You both are wrong and did not bother to ask me what my understanding was on this subject. YOU ASSUMED! Jesus died as a human and was raised as a Spirit. Wow, imagine what this represents? We are to die to the flesh to be spiritually renewed. Did a light go on?


  5. Phil,
    Wordpress alerts me when my comments are responded to, so I didn’t mean for your comments here to go unnoticed — sorry.

    There’s a lot here! I’ll address one of your sentences that I think shines a light on our differences. You wrote, “Mark 16:15,16 does not specify water as the baptism referred to here, yet those in the coC assume it is water.” Actually, those in groups like yours (I don’t know what “kind” of group you’re in exactly) assume it is not water! The very word “baptism” ordinarily (there are extraordinary exceptions) presuppose the presence of water, and that fact has been recognized for thousands of years. At what point in history are you able to find a scrap of evidence that supports your theory? I ask because heresy always follows orthodoxy.

    And this is a perfect example of the point(s) that I’ve been making throughout this post, because your interpretation says “no water” and Scott’s says “with water.” So who’s right, how do you “know” who’s right? You said you “feel” what is right, but I guess you don’t like how I’ve presented that word??? If I’ve incorrectly nuanced that word then I’m sorry — that is how I read your comment.


  6. Phil says:

    Patrick, do you know the difference between a “feeling” and an “understanding?” I’d like you comments on this since you have assigned me as one who “feels.”
    Where do “feelings” originate?
    Where does “understanding” originate?


  7. Phil says:

    Interesting that those who have left both the Catholic and coC have very similar issues with the after effects of their belief. I’ve interviewed many of both religions and there are strong similarities.


  8. Phil says:

    It’s also interesting how the Catholic Church has associated Grace with Baptism. As far as I know it is only the coC and the Catholic church who do this. Not judging, just observing.


    • When I was in the CofC, I thought Catholics were wrong about a lot of things, but at the same time, I thought, “Wow, those Catholics are probably our closest brothers!” I thought that because they (Catholics) seem to interpret the Bible similarly when it comes to initiation into the Church, and I couldn’t (still can’t) figure out how the link between baptism and grace is not noticed by our co-Protestants (though we would never call ourselves “Protestant”). So I think you’re right in that we are very similar in this regard — good observation. Of course, the CofC’s beliefs in this regard are simply remnants of older (prior) Catholic theology that it has retained.


  9. It’s great that your sect has retained so many truths about the sacrament of Baptism. You’re more Catholic than you think, brother Scott!


    • Phil says:

      Somehow Grace got associated with water baptism even though there is nothing in the bible about this. Grace is most always associated with faith and not water baptism. Interesting how the scriptures can get so twisted.


      • Phil,

        Scott is wrong only about 10% of the time (100% when he speaks specifically to Catholicism), but he is right on Baptism (for adults; infants is another story). I’m sure he’s given you many verses that integrate water with grace, so the Bible does suggest that God uses matter (stuff/water) to communicate His grace — we are embodied spirits, and God ordinarily works on both the material and immaterial levels to communicate grace.

        The Christian Church has always believed in baptismal regeneration — that’s just a fact, Phil. But you disagree, so at what point in time did your interpretation become “true” and the historical interpretation become “twisted”? You see, truth always precedes heresy, and you are unable to provide an apologia for your interpretation that precedes the historical understanding. In other words, the chronology alone proves that Baptism [that now saves you] is historical/true, and that your belief is “twisted”.

        Your comment does raise two questions that have never been answered on this blog — avoided, in fact. 1) Where does the Bible teach that everything you believe must be stated in the Bible? 2) How do you know your interpretation is correct and not “twisted”?



        • Phil says:

          How do you know that physical water baptism is the baptism spoken of when neither water or spirit are mentioned. It is “assumed” (by those who are into the physical aspects of NT Christianity: the Catholics and the coC’ers) that physical water is the baptism that saves. Yet the new covenant is one of the Spirit and not the letter. This being true why would a physical act put one into a Spiritual Kingdom? It would be totally against the spiritual principles that are the essence of NT Christianity. The NT make it clear that we are saved by grace, through faith. We are not saved by grace through baptism as the Catholic and coC teach.

          This article by Scott says very little about faith (as compared to baptism). This hyper-focus on the physical baptism by immersion really minimizes the power of faith and reduces it to a novelty. The new covenant is clearly one of the Spirit (inner) and not of the letter (outer). It is about the transformation of mind from flesh to Spirit, and water has no power to produce this. Only faith can do this. It’s not even a question, unless you believe that the outer is more important than the inner.

          BTW, how do you know that your own interpretation is correct and not twisted???

          Here’s my answer:

          The truth will set you free. I don’t experience freedom from any physical act I perform, including water baptism. I did not experience freedom only after emerging from water. It was faith that produced the freedom, not water. If water had the power to produce freedom then I certainly would have known it the second I was baptized.


          • Phil says:

            Patrick, I have not found one verse in the NT that associates grace with water. maybe you or Scott can show me.


          • You write the same foolish talk and prejudice accusations throughout all of your comments. All of these things have been addressed thoroughly. You know well that Jesus instituted baptism in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19). You know this baptism is in water (Acts 8:38, 10:47-48, 1 Pet. 3:20-21). As for grace, read the Scriptures above.


          • Phil,

            First, I appreciate your civil tone — it is one that I never expect on a CofC website! Secondly, thanks for taking a stab at answering my question. Thirdly, there’s a lot here. You asked me a lot of questions, and Scott has taken the fun from this post; I’ll be brief with what I think are your big points.

            •There is nothing “hyper” about recognizing that Baptism includes water. You again implied that baptisms as recorded in the NT are without water but that just isn’t the case (the Apostles being given the Spirit at Pentecost was not their Baptism, but rather, it was their Confirmation — a different Sacrament and topic altogether). I could give you a catalog of verses that portray Baptism with water, but I’ll let you consult a concordance. If you’d like, I have a book available about baptismal modes that shows how water was present (I won’t link to it because I don’t spam sites, but you can find it on Amazon under my name).

            •Also, water (matter) does not offend the effect of conversion (I guess what you would call a waterless “baptism”). Suggesting that it does offend the effect makes no sense to me. In fact, your offense to matter reminds me of the early Manichaeans who too were offended by matter. I’m Catholic, not Manecahaen, and if God chose to create physical matter that mysteriously washes away matter-less sin form my invisible soul, then praise Him all the more!

            •The New Covenant is of the “inner” as you say; I would agree! But so what? the application of water, again, does not offend the effect of what Baptism does to the inner. So I don’t know what the problem is — sorry, I just don’t see the problem.

            •Water does not minimize the power of faith as you suggest. Show me a man’s faith, and I’ll show you the man’s actions. Baptism in water is commanded in Scripture, there are examples in Scripture, there is plenty of inferences in Scripture, and the Church has interpreted it as such for as long as there has been a Church. Your theory, however, is absent from history, which suggests that neither the Apostles nor their successors taught it (an indication that your position is newer, and therefore, most likely a result of a “twist”).

            •You have wrongly equated “feeling free” with “freedom”. If you are basing your “truth” on the feeling you get from XYZ, then you and I are not both discussing Christianity. Faith produces freedom, I would agree with you. Faith, however, leads a man to obedience (even to a not-so-good feeling on a cross), and Baptism, even in a manner that you might “feel” is wrong, is the result of faith. A faith that does not prompt action is not faith, a faith that has a motionless result is not faith, a faith that leads you to think Christianity is a “state of mind” without love and obedience is not faith.

            • Baptism in water is not a “physical act” in the way that I think you are trying to present it as — we are not “performing” it. Baptism, when the rubber meets the road, is done TO you. Consider infants; do infants “perform” Baptisms? Of course not! The faith of the parents bring their children to Jesus and they enter into the New Covenant through Baptism (nobody can accuse an infant of “works” or “labor”. The infants “feel” nothing — Jesus nor the Apostles never taught that Baptism will give you a good feeling. However, the Scriptures do teach that false teachers offer good feelings (Zing!).

            • I don’t think “the outer is more important than the inner.” That is a false dichotomy, and it is indicative of most of the Protestant mindset. Protestants think in “either/or” ways, and Catholics think in “both/and” ways. We Catholics don’t differentiate nearly as much between “inner” and “outer” as Protestants because we believe we are embodied spirits. God created us with both natures, and every valid Sacrament (like Baptism) recognizes that God created us that way.

            If I understand your position, you seem to operate on the theory that Christianity is invisible. The invisible nature of Protestantism has evolved into your paradigm (not so much with Scott’s), but I think I understand its roots. Docetism is an early heresy, which taught that Jesus’ physical nature wasn’t real, and Jesus was only a spirit (physical attributes were illusions). The heresy is easy to detect because Jesus was clearly born of a virgin and became man. The heresy still lingers in Protestant circles, and has evolved into many Protestant ideas such as the “invisible” nature of the Church (ecclesial Docetism), the “invisible” nature of history (historical Docetism — the theory that people in history believed in a manner that only modern people believe, such as with the CofC theory of autonomy), etc. Baptismal Docetism seems to be what you have opted for, which is a denial of physical attributes and a preference for only invisible attributes. Look, Jesus was real. He had real flesh. He fed people with real food and spiritual food. He was raised again in the flesh. Nowhere in Scripture or Christian history will you find any endorsement of any form of Docetism. So why do I believe that the visible and invisible elements of Baptism set us free and save us? Because it is true :) I believe Jesus was real. I trust He built a Church. I trust that He gave that Church the charism of infallibility (protection from teaching error; not a quality of perfection — big difference), and that Church has consistently interpreted her Scriptures as such. If I cannot trust the Catholic Church’s interpretation of her own Scriptures, then I cannot trust that the Bible is even the word of God. In other words, if Baptism with water does not save, then all of Christianity is a hoax, and I lose nothing.



      • Would Jesus’ infallibility mean that His words are infallible? Is He not also sinless, perfect, and complete, so that we need not add to Him? Are His words also sinless, perfect, and complete? Did Jesus not say that He would give His words to His Apostles by His Spirit (John 15:20, 16:13, 17:8)? Are those words infallible too? Did Jesus not say that we can know the Truth that will set us free (John 8:32, 17:17)? Or, has Jesus imperfectly and incompletely communicated the Gospel?

        Where can we find Christ’s words? How well do we know Jesus Christ and His words? Can you have spiritual life without His words (John 6:63)? If you love God, will we not hear and keep His words (John 8:47, 14:21)? How will we stand on the Day of Judgement being judged by His words (John 12:47-48)?

        Christ’s Spirit said, “If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing,” (1 Tim. 6:3-4a).


        • Brother Scott,

          Nobody here, I don’t think, is arguing that Jesus’ words in the Bible are not trusted — what people are arguing is that your interpretation of Jesus’ words are often wrong (you’re just a dude reading other people’s mail); so, for your own sake, please stop assigning infallibility to your interpretation and calling it God’s word.

          Fortunately, your interpretation about baptismal regeneration is in agreement with the Church (and therefore, correct), but you didn’t answer the questions. (I’m not trying to change the topic of your post.) True, you just quoted Scripture that all Christians, especially practicing catholics, agree with, but you communicated nothing (words need context, Scott). Do you not realize you are quoting words written by the Catholic Church (the New Testament) to argue* against the Catholic Church, and therefore, proving your argument’s intention false and silly?

          So I’ll ask again:

          1) Where does the Bible teach that everything you believe must be stated in the Bible (I’m being specific, Scott)? 2) How do you know your interpretation is correct and not “twisted”?

          I’ll help you. There is no verse in the NT that teaches Bible-only Christianity — sola Scriptura is an illogical and anti-biblical theory/premise that your sect cannot acknowledge. The Church (not the Bible) is the pillar and foundation of truth (1 Tim 3:15), and through the Church (not the Bible) the manifold wisdom of God might be known (Eph 3:10). So clearly, any interpretation that does not agree with the Church that matter-of-factly created the Bible is wrong (and now you’ll probably argue with that fact again instead of answering the questions). In other words, your sect’s model cannot provide a way for you to know if your message is accurate — “orthodoxy” = your sect’s most persuasive members’ self-interpretations.

          So it’s great that you quote Scripture, but your understanding of it is often messed up and limited (your sect was not given the Spirit of truth that would be guided into all truth). The Bible itself teaches that “the word of God” is not only the Bible (Sacred Scripture), but it is also the Church’s teachings (Sacred Tradition). Why have you usurped the pattern? How do you know you’re not a “know -nothing”? How do you know your interpretation of another Faith’s book is correct? Will you ever answer these questions?

          *Without context, it is difficult to know what you’re trying to communicate.


          • Patrick,

            Please, don’t get away from Christ and where we agree. You say that I misinterpret Jesus’ words. When and where? You consider yourself knowledgeable about the churches of Christ. Can we not discuss interpretation?

            What is there to misinterpret about Christ’s words? Do we not both understand, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved”? You can interpret without a priest, and so can I. We agree on the meaning, but it is the application for which we disagree. Likewise, you apply Matthew 16:18 to a Petrine lineage of the Pope, and I apply it to only what I can read from Christ about Peter’s statement of faith. Is it not rather the application of Jesus’ words than the interpretation for which we are not united? We can discuss and pray for wisdom to resolve disagreements of interpreting Scripture (Jas. 1:5), but to avoid misapplication starts with Christ and an honest heart opposed to not adding to His perfect and infallible words.

            It does not matter if our background is Catholic, Orthodox, or even atheist. We can all read and interpret, but it is application for which you and I disagree. I cannot apply additional traditions to Christ’s word or those of His Apostles and prophets.

            As far as things must be stated in the Bible, this is seen again in the previous comment. Jesus’ words are infallible and so are those words given to His Apostles and prophets. “We have no creed, but Christ” is a representation of faith in Christ and thus in His written Word — sola scriptura. We believe in the infallibility of Jesus’ words throughout Scripture, and that the Scriptures are the only God-breathed and Spirit-guided revelation authorized directly by Christ’s words (John 16:13, 17:8, 1 Cor. 2:13, 2 Pet. 1:20-21). We find that every good work for the complete equipping of the people of God is in Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16-17). What do you disagree with besides wanting to add your interpretation of which church is the best interpreter of Christ? Such is self-popery to agree with the pope as much you deem that you want to agree with his applying of additional traditions to Christ.

            My plea to you is that Christ’s words are as infallible as His ability to communicate without misinterpretation by His honest followers.


          • Scott,

            Regarding baptismal regeneration, your interpretation is mostly correct — I thought you were responding in general to my question to Phil — how you, in general, interpret scripture (I did not try to change the topic).

            I tried to be clear, I know I was clear. I can’t understand why you/Bible-only Christians are unable to understand some basic facts (I asked Phil, but you chimed in).

            Fact #1) The Bible requires interpretation.
            Fact #2) Your interpretation is not God’s word.

            So we have three choices [here].

            Fact Choice #1) Your/any Protestant’s interpretation (in general; not about baptism) is correct
            Fact Choice #2) Catholic interpretation is correct.
            Fact Choice #3) Catholic and Prot’ interpretation is incorrect.

            Therefore, I ask: “How do you (any Prot’) KNOW your interpretation is correct? And so you see, quoting scripture BEFORE you establish your credential is meaningless. Please, please, try to understand this logic.


          • You interpret the Pope and interpret the Roman hierarchy. You follow your own interpretation of churches. You judge by double standard.

            You make out Christ’s words as those are your own through Roman descent, and yet you ignore the difference between interpretation and application as though you do not know the difference between exegesis and eisegesis.

            Until you honestly consider both sides and learn to defend both, you will not be able to see the truth as one sided reply and a skepticism that I have not done what I have suggestion shows your disregard for honesty.

            Show some integrity to Christ’s words and His Spirit’s revelation.


          • So…. you can’t or won’t answer the question, but instead, accuse me of a double standard. I wish I were surprised, but you’ve run from these sorts of questions ever since you first introduced yourself to me.

            I don’t self-interpret the Scriptures, Scott, so your accusation is silly; the Church that was given the Spirit of truth, and the Church that would be guided into all truth interprets her Scriptures. All I do is try to remain in that boat as best I can. In other words, I allow the Sacred Tradition that created (in concert with God) the Sacred Scriptures to infect my understanding (not interpretation). Put another way, I have both edges of the double edged sword (Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture); you have less than one (an abridged canon of Sacred Scripture).

            So what this exchange has shown is:

            1) Your model has no way of providing an accurate interpretation of the Bible; the Catholic model does.
            2) You have no way of establishing your credential as a guardian of the deposit of faith or legit interpreter; the Catholic Church can.
            3) And of course, it has shown your unwillingness to own up to any of it.

            I have a high regard for honesty, Scott, and I’ve given you no reason to accuse me of dishonesty. But if you are the “honest” one here, then please try to honestly answer my earlier questions (the ones you have refused to answer several times, but instead, insulted me).

            You had a fine post here, and I tried to keep it civil. It is unfortunate that you’ve again turned contentious.


          • Your reply shows your dishonesty. You are not willing to consider your interpretation of churches, traditions, and hierarchies as you speak against those, who believe that Jesus spoke and the Apostles wrote to communicate the Truth for Christians in churches to understand.


          • This will be my last response for now — I can’t shake the scales from your eyes; it’s up to God for that, so I’ll quickly respond for any reader. Of course Jesus and the Apostles spoke in ways that can be understood. Are not some people’s interpretations more credible, more accurate, more in line with Jesus’ intent? How, Scott, do you know you have figured out the pattern, cracked the code, deciphered the text more accurately than the other Protestants (non-Catholics) that must also rely on self-interpretation?

            •My model: God built an authoritative Church, which has the charism of infallibility, that created the Bible, and therefore, is the rightful interpreter of it. You disagree, but I have honestly stated my model and it is reasonable.

            •Phil’s [apparent] model: He “feels” like his interpretation is true, and therefore, it is true.

            •Your model: Whatever you believe the Bible says is absolutely God’s word and anyone who disagrees is a liar. You are the last word.

            You see, it’s just not as simple as you hope. If it were that simple, Protestants would agree with themselves. People aren’t “dishonest” when they disagree with your interpretation, they are simply left to their own devices (the Protestant paradigm that they’ve accepted) and they make best guesses (some are better guesses, such as yours about baptismal regeneration; some are bad guesses, such as Phil’s denial of it). That’s why some dance with snakes, some baptize, some gather weekly (at least), some always greet with kisses, some cover their heads, some allow music, some have women pastors, some won’t have kitchens, some divorce, some contracept, some speak in jibberish, some practice acts of charity, some women won’t speak a word even as a layperson, etc. They are not all dishonest — they have simply abandoned the teaching authority of the Church and are left with only half a deck (the NT was never meant to be divorced from the teaching authority of the Church). In other words, if your model worked or is Jesus’ intent, then you and Phil would agree! But you don’t agree, yet you both cite Scripture. Your model (baseball game) has no umpire to yell Strike! And so your game is chaotic, there is not final say, the Bible isn’t a final say because it just sits on the table and is used by arguers from both teams — nobody has the authority to say which team is right! That does not suggest that the Bible is wrong, it suggests that at least one team is wrong.

            I seriously don’t know if you are pretending not to understand my question or if you honestly don’t get it. When the rubber meets the road, your (the CofC’s) model is that it somehow knows best, that it has rightly divided the Scriptures, and it binds the rest of humanity to its conclusions. It has never established its credentials, nor can it. YES, the Catholic Church binds others to her conclusion too, but she has credentials — can you not understand, even if you disagree, that my model is more reasonable, and that we (Catholcis) are able to articulate and answer the very basic question that you refuse to answer?

            And so you see, I am not “unwilling to consider my interpretation” (I think you are alluding to my epistemology). I have addressed it (I’m not dishonest). I’ve said many times and in many ways that I have hitched my horse to the logical conduit of truth, I try to remain in the boat that history and logic suggest (the Church that created the Bible, which is why you’ve tried to developed new ways to prove that the Catholic Church did not create the Bible). I believe an autobiographer knows more about her own “book” than people who simply take it and “see” different “things” in it or develop theories that the author rejects. So please realize that “interpretation” and “understanding” are not the same thing. I try to form my understanding (formation) to the Author’s interpretation; I do not self-interpret. If I were a self-interpreter, I probably would have built my own Church and called it “true” by now — I would be a Protestant.



          • Scott,
            Consider this video an olive branch. I think you’ll get a kick out of it as much as I did!


          • Patrick,

            Thanks for the vid. It is humorous.

            As long as we continue some dialogue, I am going to urge and admonish you to reconsider until you give me anything to consider. Consider me more a Lollard than a Restorationist, I am convinced that finding Christ’s Church means starting with Christ and going through Christ to know the Truth. I cannot interpret the merits of the interpretations of the Catholic Church, any restoration plea, or a group of preachers among the churches of Christ to find Christ’s Church. I must rely on Christ, and as you say that I cannot trust my interpretation. How can I trust my interpretation of the interpretations of others? Again, I return to Christ and an honest examination of the evidence. I know that I can know the Truth, and you can too.


          • I’ll try to think of you as a Lollard now, Ok. So I guess you think the pope IS the antichrist, then? :)

            I agree we can know truth too! Your problem is in “how” you believe you can come to know the truth.

            I said I’d give it a rest for now, so I’ll let you be.


  10. Pingback: kingdom1kid - God Loves You Best

  11. Phil says:

    The other point is that the NT makes it clear that Jesus’ words must fall on the heart. Why would it say this? Because man is divided in his carnal nature. He possesses both heart and intellect. Interesting that nowhere does Jesus say that His words are supposed to fall on your intellect. Why do you think Jesus and his Apostles made it clear that the heart is place to interpret his words. And what do you think happens when the intellect interprets His words? Lots of insight into this divided mind in the NT. Lots of warning not to let this divided mind lead you astray. Yet it does.


  12. Phil says:

    Patrick. I am unable to reply to your post above at the point of typical response. Scott may have disabled that. So my response is here.

    I’m not suggesting that water baptism has no value. It is just not able to transform the minds of the one being baptized. The initial transformation happened at the level of faith, not in water. Faith is the cause of spiritual transformation, not the effect. Water is the effect of faith, not the cause.
    I hope I did not lead you to believe that all baptism in the NT is spiritual baptism. I do understand that water baptism has value, and is mentioned often in the NT. However, it is assumed that when baptism is mentioned (without specifying whether it’s water or the Spirit) that it is referring to water. Mark 16:15,16 does not specify water as the baptism referred to here, yet those in the coC assume it is water. I think that’s wrong assumption because water does not create the union that the Spirit creates, anymore than the wedding ceremony creates the love that it represents. Were talking “cause and effect” here.

    The coC (and maybe Catholicism) see water as the cause of salvation. I think the bible teaches it is the effect of salvation. The inner is always the cause of the outer. The NT is one of the Inner (Spirit/spirit) and not of the outer (letter). And God’s laws are written on our hearts, not just in text. Everything physical is temporal. Nothing physical lasts forever. It is physical in nature and has physical form. The Spirit is invisible and formless, yes or no? The new covenant is one of the Spirit (formless) so why would God put a temporal object (water) as that which creates Spiritual transformation? It it were true then it contaminates the principles that define what the new covenant is about.

    Regarding your comment of “feeling free” is way off base. I never said anything about a feeling. The coC loves to assign feelings to anything other than written laws, rules, and commands. Maybe you’ve kept that from your coC days. However, an “understanding” is different than a feeling. Yes, a feeling is a product of the heart, but so is an understanding. The NT states that we must understand with our hearts. Never does it say that we can understand with our intellect. You are assigning me a “feeling” when in fact it’s an “understanding.” Please see the difference here. I have an understanding that produces freedom, not a feeling.

    Everything physical is temporal. it will pass away. BTW, Jesus was raised as a Spirit not as another physical form. I have no doubt that Jesus was physical in form, but none of us have ever seen his form. We’ve got to extract ourselves from this box of logic to receive his “logic-transcending” message. We cannot apply intellectual logic to understand spiritual truth. It’s like using a hammer to dig a hole. The ego is a product of the intellect, and it cares nothing about the truth. It just wants to be right. Until you and Scott understand this you will continue to put the physical equal to the invisible, and water will be as important as the Spirit. Been there done that. It creates fear, not freedom.


  13. Phil,

    •You wrote, “BTW, Jesus was raised as a Spirit not as another physical form.” I think I dialed in on your problem earlier when I suggested you had Docetistic tendencies, and this line is a pretty good summation of your view. Sir, you are a Docetist! But not only a classical Docetist, an ecclesial, baptismal, historical, sacramental in general Docetist. And as such, I don’t think you and I are both speaking of Christianity. I’m not insulting you; I’m clarifying our positions.

    •You wrote, “The coC (and maybe Catholicism) see water as the cause of salvation. I think the bible teaches it is the effect of salvation. The inner is always the cause of the outer.” Lots of theory here, but only theory. Water alone does not “cause” salvation — we do not “cause” God to do anything, and you are wrong to suggest that baptism is the “effect” of salvation (but then, I’m not quite sure what that even means — forgive me). Please try to think like a non-Docetist for a moment, and consider the act of marriage. To Catholicism, Marriage is a sacrament (not of initiation). Like Baptism, Marriage is not just a “state of mind”, but it includes a physical elemenst (man and woman!). The physical “act” of Marriage includes a physical element as well (again, man and wife become one FLESH!) We are not married when we simply think/ponder/whatever about marrying our spouse, we become married when both elements (visible and invisible) work in concert as EMBODIED spirits. I hope this analogy explains it some for you.

    • You wrote, “I’m not suggesting that water baptism has no value. It is just not able to transform the minds of the one being baptized.” First: Actually, you did suggest that [water] Baptism has no value (at least within the scope of this post’s context). Second: You do yourself and your hearers a disservice when you write “water baptism” because the word “baptism” presupposes water. Third: I don’t think Scott believes “water transforms” the mind, and I know I never suggested it. the CofC would argue that one must first have faith (heart and mind acting in concert; Acts 2:38 was a command to baptize after hearts were pricked) before they are baptized. Catholics are a bit more relaxed in that we believe the faith of the Parents who bring their children to Jesus through baptism is sufficient faith (intercession) for initiation into the New Covenant, and of course, an adult is able to have faith (heart and mind) prior to her baptism. So with both the CofC and the Catholic Church, faith (heart and mind) always precedes baptism.

    •You wrote, “Been there done that. It creates fear, not freedom.” I’ve been in CofC circles, Evangelical-esque/easy believism circles, and I’ve been in Catholic circles. I’ve attended schools in each of those circles as well and have know many, many converts. My point is, I’ve been around converts from all three circles to each of the other three circles and I’ve found them to all have something in common: they all have scars of some sort — thus is the nature of living around other humans. All three circles of converts, of course, think they’ve found “freedom” (or they would not have converted). But please realize how you’ve already undermined what you are trying to imply, because you’ve previously stated, “I’m not suggesting that water baptism has no value.” So, which is it? Does baptism have a value or does it scar you some how?

    •Regarding “intellect” and “logic”: Well, I think we should try to love God with all all our heart AND mind, not just our heart. Again, this illustrates the Catholic “both/and” way of thinking and the Protestant [not always] “either/or” way of thinking.

    As I told Scott, I’m going to give this topic a rest. If you want to contact me personally or on my blog that’s fine, or maybe I’ll catch you later on a different post on this blog.



  14. I couldn’t agree with you more, Patrick. Excellent observations. – Phil is a Docetist.


  15. Phil says:

    It really doesn’t matter what either of you call me. I don’t accept any label someone puts on me. I can see your both legalists, and I’d rather be a docetist than a legalist. But I don’t accept anything other than to be one who is seeking to be spiritually transformed into the likeness of Christ. You seem to want to be physically compliant with all of the text of the bible with little regard for whether one is inwardly transformed. Most everything you address has to do with obedience to commands, laws, etc. You (in effect) would say that we are humans having a spiritual experience, and I would say that we are spirits having a human experience. The difference is enormous. Your emphasis is on the pro-action of the flesh and what it can do to please God, and my emphasis is on the surrender of the flesh so that I can then become a dwelling place in which God lives by His Spirit. You assume that you are strong enough to carry out the will of God on your own, even though we are considered weak and sinful. You look to the flesh to overcome the flesh, which is the antithesis of NT Christianity. Where is the surrender in your theology? It doesn’t exist. You simply use willpower and self-discipline to achieve you goal of salvation.

    Patrick, go online and see how many theologists believe that the true baptism of NT Christianity is baptism by the Spirit, If you want to use popularity as a measuring stick of correctness then you lose this one big time. Very few other than Catholics and coC see that salvation occurs only after immersion because they see the NT as that of the Spirit and not of the physical, which is totally correct. Otherwise it’s just another version of the OT and minimizes the effect of the crucifixion. Grace and mercy are way undervalued by both of you.


  16. I think we agree with each other 90% of the time (in infuriates me and delights me to say that). :)

    Phil has helped remind me of how close the CofC really is to the CC in some ways — I’ll lighten up on y’all for awhile.



  17. My last post was to Scott, but it didn’t nest properly.


  18. Phil says:

    “Phil has helped remind me of how close the CofC really is to the CC in some ways — ”

    Ouch! The coC wouldn’t want to hear that!


  19. No, the CoC probably wouldn’t, but that’s fine — they rightly don’t aim to please or be pleased. The CofC is wrong on a lot, but they don’t adhere to classical heresies. Yes, sola Scriptura, self-interp’, self-called clergy, etc. are heresies, but they are not Docetists or anything like that — heresies that distort Christianity so out of wack that it can no longer be called Christianity of any sort. The CofC and Catholic models differ mostly on ecclesiology, but we share the same basic soteriology (mostly), and we share the same basic Christology (mostly). Your version is so foreign to orthodoxy that it makes the differences between the CofC and Catholic Church look minor (as I see it).

    BTW, you’ve failed to inform me of any support for your version from the historical record/antiquity that precedes support for baptismal regeneration (orthodoxy precedes heresy). And you’ve also conflated “chronology” with “popularity”. But if it is popularity that proves orthodoxy (as you suggest), then you would still be wrong because Catholic, Orthodox/Oriental, CofC and other Restoration-type groups, many Liturgical groups such as Anglican and Lutheran (ordinarily*), etc. all have retained the historical teaching of baptismal regeneration (And praise God all the more that even with the fractures of modern Christian pursuits, the most basic and important sacrament has been preserved!).

    I’m serious, I want to be done here, heaven help me. Have a safe New Year–see you on the other side.


  20. I am very happy to share in much unity of doctrine with the Catholic church concerning salvation and understanding Jesus Christ. I find that churches of Christ are pleased to hear of unity and desire that grow closer to God and thus to one another. I think that is why so many members of the churches of Christ were once Catholic, and a few among us have found easy to go back to Catholicism. I am happy to defend innocent lives and marriage with Catholics in this country, but I pray they reconsider many things such our great differences concerning ecclesiology.


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