With all love, sincerity, kindness and respect to the Hogan Baptist Church of Jacksonville, FL, the following is a letter regarding the inconsistent and confusing beliefs about salvation from the Southern Baptist confession of “The Baptist Faith and Message”. The Hogan Baptist Church holds to this confession that separates salvation from the believer being raised with Christ after being buried with Him (Eph 2:4–6; Col 2:12–13). This letter was sent, and it is now posted here to be read by all. May God bless every reader. Your respectful comments and questions are welcome. Here is that letter:
27 September 2013
To the members and leaders of the Hogan Baptist Church with all Southern Baptists:
Your confession of “The Baptist Faith and Message” is strong in many ways. Your stance for religious freedom, traditional marriage, and the sanctity of life is encouraging. Your conviction and faith in the Bible being without error is certainly true as we know that Christ is perfect and so are His words that He spoke and gave to His Apostles (1 Pet. 2:22, John 6:63, 15:20, 17:8). For this, I am happy that we are so united in these matters of faith. We know that Christ will be ashamed of those, who are ashamed of His words (Luke 9:26, cf. Matt. 24:35, John 12:48). I write to you concerning these words of spirit and life. As your confession of faith states that the Scriptures are “the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried” (The Baptist Faith and Message. The Southern Baptist Convention.). Let us try all spirits by the Scriptures. For this reason, I challenge you to reconsider some of your beliefs in the light of the Scriptures for which no harm and much gain can come.
My plea is for you to reconsider your belief that separates salvation from the resurrection of Christ. Your confession testifies that you believe that a person is born again and regenerated by faith before a believer is made alive and resurrected from being buried with Christ. Truly, believers are “born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Pet. 1:3, cf. 1 Pet. 3:21). See, “even when we were dead in our trespasses, [God] made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,” (Eph. 2:5-6). Within this context, the Spirit states that believers are saved by grace when raised with Him, and this is not out of an individual’s own works (Eph. 2:8-9). Notice that the New Testament Scriptures are clear about when God regenerates and raises with Christ those, who were dead in their trespasses. The Spirit says,
“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,” (Col. 2:12–13).
When does God regenerate and raise believers with Christ? See, believers are saved by grace when we are raised with Christ from our burial with Him in baptism, and yet, this is not by works (Eph. 2:4–9). Was Christ raised without first being buried? No, and we cannot exclude ourselves.
Your confession from the Southern Baptist Convention teaches two baptisms while the Scriptures speak of Christian unity in one baptism (Eph. 4:5). You confess a belief in a baptismal regeneration separate from the burial of baptism that Jesus commanded after His resurrection (Matt. 28:19). Here is your confession about this baptism,
“Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer’s faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Saviour, the believer’s death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to his faith in the final resurrection of the dead” (Ibid.).
You are right to affirm that baptism in Jesus’ name is an immersion in water and it is a testimony of a believer’s faith in the death, burial, and resurrection. By this Gospel, Christians stand and are saved (1 Cor. 15:1–4). Yet, you separate this baptism that Jesus commanded from an invented baptism of regeneration as your confession states, “At the moment of regeneration He baptizes every believer into the Body of Christ” (Ibid.). Clearly, this part of your confession is combining “the washing of regeneration” in Titus 3:5 with “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body” in 1 Corinthians 12:13. You have overlooked that this baptism is not another, but this is the one baptism that Jesus commanded in giving the Great Commission. Acts 2 informs that believers are saved and added to the Church, who were immersed into water in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38, 41, 47, cf. 10:47–48).
Baptism in Jesus’ name does not exclude the Spirit, but that baptism is in the name of the Spirit as you profess (Matt. 28:19). This is the washing in Jesus’ name by which the Spirit washes, sanctifies, and justifies a believer (1 Cor. 6:11). See, this is the baptism spoken of throughout 1 Corinthians being described, “by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body” (1 Cor 12:13; cf. 1 Cor 10:1–2; 15:29). This is the baptism for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38), that washes away sins (Acts 22:16), and that now saves us (1 Pet 3:21). For which, Jesus said, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). When the Apostle Paul said, “For Christ did not send me to baptize”, was the Apostle Paul forbidding the baptism that Jesus commanded or did the Apostle imitate Christ by teaching the Gospel that included Jesus’ command to baptize in His name (1 Cor 1:13–17; cf. John 4:1–2)? See, the Apostle Paul preached baptism in the name of Christ against all divisiveness (1 Cor. 1:11-13).
Knowing that the Gospel is Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection by which Christians are saved (1 Cor. 15:1-4). Let all believers die and be buried with Christ to be raised with Him.
“We were buried therefore 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 might 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” (Rom. 6:4-5).
Let us who believe in Christ not be deceived by a distorted gospel knowing that those, who teach such, are to be accursed (Gal. 1:6-9). “Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son” (2 John 9, cf. 1 Tim. 4:16).
Your response is welcome and expected. I am fully willing to honestly and openly reconsider my position according to the Scriptures. I intend to post this openly on the internet for the reading and discussion of all at Jacksonville.com and GodsBreath.net. You can contact me at ScottJon82[at]yahoo.com or as my card informs.
May God bless us all in the study of His Word,
Scott Shifferd, minister, the Church of Christ on Dean Road in Jacksonville, FL