Spiritual Light

instructions in the faith for spirit filled believers
This book contains perhaps the most needed understanding for God's people today. Prompted by the word of the Lord this book analyzes what the Bible says about the most fundamentally important aspects of Jesus' saving work. Precious understanding revealed by a loving God for His people!
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Book Contents
Title Page
Original Introduction
Introduction to the 3rd Printing
My Credentials
Chapter One
The Third Commandment
Credentials for Chapter One
Marriage - Taking the Name
Spiritual Adultery
Like All the Nations
For Our Admonition
Chapter Two
The Sacrifice of Christ
Credentials for Chapter Two
The Sacrifice of Christ - The Copy & the True
An Important Detail - Where was Christ Sacrificed?
The Witness
Chapter Three
Conversion and Baptism
Credentials for Chapter Three
Two Gospels
Circles - The Body of Christ
Same Wrong Error - Sufficiency of Christ
Chapter Four
Salvation and Works
Credentials for Chapter Four
Ignorant and Unstable
Hebrews - Hope - Kept by Power
Glorified - Two Rocks (Rom 10:9-10)
Acts 16 - Saved Through Faith
Error in the Name of Truth
Remnants of Works - Conclusion

Spiritual Light

Chapter Three - Conversion and Baptism

Two Gospels

"And he said to them, Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who believes not will be damned."

(Mk. 16:15-16)

". . .when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water, the like figure where unto baptism does also now save us."

(1Pet. 3:20-21a)

From the above Scriptures, we can see that salvation will be given only to those who have been baptized. But the question that must be answered is this: "Is the baptism required for salvation a baptism with water or the baptism of the holy Ghost?"

The earliest saints (who were nearly all Israelites by birth) practiced two baptisms. They baptized the penitent with water, with instructions to expect the holy Ghost baptism to follow. Peter's message to the Jewish multitude at Pentecost was the norm: "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the holy Ghost" (Acts 2:38).

But the apostle Paul taught a doctrine he claimed had been revealed to him personally by Jesus Christ (Gal. 1:11-12), a doctrine which excluded water baptism. He taught that, as far as salvation was concerned there was only one baptism (Eph. 4:5) and that this one baptism was the baptism of the Spirit (1Cor. 12:13). The few water baptisms Paul did administer bothered him ("for Christ sent me not to baptize"), and he regretted ever having been involved with them (1Cor. 1:14-17).

The apparent contradiction of Peter's message with Paul's is only that. Apparent. Neither Peter nor Paul was wrong at the time and in the places they ministered. The key to seeing the harmony of their teachings is to see the different peoples to whom Peter and Paul were sent.

Paul wrote in Galatians 2:7, "the gospel of the uncircumcision (Gentiles) was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision (Jews) was unto Peter." Peter's message of the need for water baptism was for the Jews only.9 In fact, the entire faith of Jesus was withheld from Gentiles by the earliest believers. God even had to repeat a shocking vision to Peter three times before Peter would even consider traveling to a Gentile's house to preach (Acts 10).

The Broader View

The doctrine of conversion for Gentiles was a complicated one before Paul had his revelation. In order to receive the Spirit they were expected, first, to become Jews by circumcision, submitting to the Mosaic Law, and, in a spirit of repentance, be water-baptized in Jesus' name. Only then were they to receive the Spirit baptism. This is what all earliest believers taught, and for that earliest time, it was true.

The distinction between Jew and non-Jew, and the one ceremony that represented all ceremonies, was circumcision. The genealogical line of Abraham was distinguished by circumcision, and the Gentiles, being outside that line, were disqualified from the very availability of Christ. The promise was to Abraham's seed, not to other peoples. The earliest Jewish saints believed - and it was true in the beginning of the New Testament - that if the Gentiles became Jews by receiving ritual circumcision, then they were candidates for the message of the gospel and could receive the Spirit. Gentiles were considered unworthy to have Christ preached to them. Only Jews were ordained to hear the gospel. And again, at that earliest time in New Testament history, that was true (cp. Acts 3:25-26; 13:44-46; Rom. 2:9-10).

Without a revelation from God, the Jewish community of believers could not have believed anything else concerning Gentiles. After all, Jesus himself said that he was sent only to the house of Israel (Mt. 15:24; Rom. 15:8). When a Gentile woman came to him, begging for help, he refused at first to speak to the poor woman, and when he did speak, he called her a dog (Mt. 15:25-26). Moreover, when he sent the disciples out, he strictly commanded them not to go to the Gentiles (Mt. 10:5). The disciples, without any doubt, understood his later command to go to "the uttermost part of the earth" to mean that they should preach only to Jews and Jewish converts who were scattered throughout the nations of earth. So, in the earliest New Testament era, the doctrine concerning Gentiles was clear and firmly fixed.

It was at this time that Peter had his visions from God and was led by the Spirit to preach Christ to a household of Gentiles. And when God's holy Spirit descended on those Gentiles (those "dogs", to use Jesus' term for them), the six companions of Peter, all Jews, were utterly dumbfounded:

"And they of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God."

(Acts 10:45-46)

Here at Cornelius' house, God not only by-passed the heretofore required water baptism, He had by-passed the entire Law of Moses! Moreover, He had by-passed the very thing that made the Jews a distinct race of men - circumcision! God had given His precious holy Spirit to "dogs"! Up to that moment, the body of Christ was exclusively Jewish. Every person who had received the baptism of Christ had either been born Jewish or been converted to Judaism; but at Cornelius' house, God was showing Peter and the household of faith a new and amazing thing.

Peter, James, John, and the other leaders in the body were spiritually discerning enough to recognize the meaning of Cornelius' baptism (cp. Acts 15:1-11). Their previous message had not been in error. Christ had to be preached first to the Jews (cp. Acts 3:25-26; 13:44-46; Rom. 2:9-10); therefore, if Gentiles were to receive Christ, it was necessary, in the days immediately following the day of Pentecost, for them to become Jews. But when more and more Jews refused to obey the gospel, God by-passed them altogether to reach the Gentiles with His grace, baptizing them into the body of Christ without requiring them to be Jews by submitting to the Law God had given the Jews.

But the recognition on the part of these few leaders that God would baptize Gentiles by the Spirit into the body of Christ did not resolve two crucial issues. First, it did not change the fact that Peter, James, John, and the other leaders were sent only to the Jews. By acknowledging the work of God upon the Gentiles, those apostles were not thereby sent to the Gentiles. Second, their recognition of God's work did not settle the question for others in the body. A sizable portion of Jewish believers either could not or would not have fellowship with any Gentile unless he submitted to the Law, no matter what Christ had done for that Gentile (cp. Acts 15). Clearly, as one elderly mother in Christ used to tell me, "God needed another man." And the man He chose was Paul.