Water-Baptism – BT3
Sola Fide “Faith Alone” is a later, non-biblical “tradition of men”
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The Sola Fide (a) churches that don’t believe water-baptism is required for salvation but think it is simply symbolic of the trusting-relying-faith that alone saves you are too many (b). Boy, are they in for a rude awaking! James would ask: “Can such trusting-relying-faith save them?” (c). That’s what we will explore now. <Notes> a) by trusting-relying-faith alone, b) Anabaptist, Evangelical Free, Grace Communion International, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Presbyterians, United Church of Christ, Baptist, Quakers, Salvation Army, Unitarians, Christian Scientist, Bahai, c) James 2:14.
James continues in v. 2:17, 20, 22, 24, 26 to make it crystal clear: “trusting-relying-faith, if it does in-possibility-NOT have ergon ‘doings/works’ is nekros ‘useless, as good as dead,’ [if] kata down-from/according-to itself (i.e., alone).” So much for Sola Fide! In referring to Abraham, James continues: “you see that [his] trusting-relying-faith was continually (a) working-together (b) with his ergon ‘doings/works’, and trusting-relying-faith was made telos ‘fulfilled to be finished/ended’ by his ergon ‘doings/works’” and so “you see that a person is justified/made-declared-righteous ek out-from ergon ‘doings/works’ and absolutely-in-fact-NOT ek out-from trusting-relying-faith alone.” However, we also have to keep in mind that James’ immediate context for ergon ‘doings/works’ is the showing of “mercy that triumphs over judgment” (c) by impartially, unconditionally-loving the brethren who were suffering, which makes it “the perfect Law of liberty” (d). <Notes> a) rare imperfect tense: continually, repetitively, b) sunergeo: co-working, partnering, c) v. 2:13, d) v. 1:25.
Can you see why Martin Luther, who started the Sola Fide Protestant Reformation as a reaction to Catholic abuses of “works of salvation,” wanted James thrown out of the bible? But Luther wasn’t the only one that doubted it. Many in the western churches doubted it because it was written for Jewish-Christians and not widely circulated among Gentile-Christians. The Muratorian Fragment (a) and Tertullian (b) didn’t mention it, and Origen (c), Eusebius of Caesarea in his Church History (d), Bishop Theodore of Mopsuestia (e), Jerome (f), and Gaius Marius Victorinus (g) all questioned it. However, Irenaeus (h) uses it, and Eusebius refers to a lost work of Clement of Alexandria (i) using it. Nevertheless, the Bishop Athanasius of Alexandria included it in the 27-book NT (j). Can you see how the canon of the NT sure isn’t God’s idea? – see Bible Info. Nevertheless, James understood that saving-faith is not alone – see Obedient Steps of Faith – BT15. <Notes> a) 170 AD, b) 155-240 AD, c) 225 AD, d) 313 AD, e) 350-428 AD, f) 347-420 AD, g) 355 AD, h) 130-202 AD, i) 150-215 AD, j) 367 AD.
It wasn’t until the 5th century when Saint Augustine described a “Sacrament as an outward and visible sign of an inward and invisible unconditional-loving-favor-of-grace” giving way for the Catholic Church to create another non-biblical “tradition of men” called the “Sacrament of Baptism.” He borrowed the idea from the early Catholic theologian Tertullian in the early 3rd century, who used the Latin word sacramentum (a) to translate the NT Greek word musterion (b) for “mystery,” to avoid association with the pagans that used “mystery” to describe their secret, hidden rites of their initiations. So many false doctrines are created by ‘knee-jerk’ reactions. <Notes> a) sacred oath of allegiance to the emperor by a Roman soldier, b) hidden, secret, mystery: Matthew 13:11; Mark 4:11; Luke 8:10; Romans 11:25, 16:25; 1 Timothy 3:9, 16; 1 Corinthians 2:1, 7, 4:1, 13:2, 14:2, 15:51; Ephesians 1:9, 3:3-4, 8, 6:19, 5:32; Colossians 1:26-27, 2:2, 4:3; 2 Thessalonians 2:7; Revelation 1:20, 10:7, 17:5, 7.
The Anabaptists latched onto Augustine’s ideas in the early 1500’s, creating the idea of “water-baptism as a symbolic outward sign of an inward reality following an individual believer’s experience of forgiving unconditional-loving-favor-of-grace.” Baptists then created the idea of “Believer’s Baptism” – baptizing professing believers only, and that water-baptism is thus not a requirement for salvation, but rather symbolic and a public expression of one’s inner repentance and trusting-relying-faith.” Can you see how these “traditions of men” get started, one error leading to another and another and another, until you are miles away from the original text. Jesus accused the Jews of the same thing: “Why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? . . . for the sake of your tradition you have made void the logos word/message of God” (a) or “You leave the commandment of God and hold onto the tradition of men . . . you have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition . . . making void the logos word/message of God by your tradition that you have handed down” (b). Nothing has changed with the religion of Christianity! <Notes> a) Matthew 15:3, 6, b) Mark 7:8, 9, 13.