Wednesday, September 20, 2006

An Inspiring Story of Cooperation

Gary Smith is the Senior Pastor of Fielder Road Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas. He has served as a trustee of the International Mission Board and as Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention. He also happens to be my immediate predecessor at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Enid.

Gary is a great guy, and he has been a leader in the SBC and the Southern Baptist Convention of Texas. I played golf with Gary a few weeks ago and he shared this story with me as we played. To hear Gary tell it will inspire anyone about missions in general.

It is a wierd day in Southern Baptist life when leading SBC churches and pastors are cooperating with evangelical churches of other denominations in mission efforts, but other Southern Baptists are doing all they can to EXClUDE fellow Southern Baptists from participating and cooperating in Southern Baptist denominational mission efforts.

Go figure.


davidinflorida said...

Pastor Wade, This unity resembles the church in ACTS 2. Its too bad that it has to be a "wierd day" for this to take place in some of the SBC circles........Where are denominations described in the Bible? Are they God made , or the works of man?

Bry M. said...

That is a great story and one that should be the norm rather than the exception. We in the Southern Baptist Church I am a member of often cooperate with a Methodist Church in our city. We cooperate, not as fellow Baptists or Methodist but as fellow Christians. Our differences would not let us cooperate in some areas such as Christian education but in most areas we can cooperate. I believe our differences make us stronger and more interesting rather than something to separate over.

Aquila Staff said...


Someone interested in KINGDOM business!

Been working overseas for 6 years now and it is amazing at how blurred the denominational lines are when you are up to your elbows in MINISTRY!

thanks for linking to that story, Wade.

David R.

John Moeller said...

Jesus said the real test of a true Christian is; 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.’

I see this to be true in every missionary I have ever met. PPL, baptism, and all the other tertiary doctrinal things that have taken a life of their own are a non-issue when you focus on; love the Lord your God with all you heart and love your neighbor as yourself.

God blesses those missionaries who look past the junk and focus on the hurting needs of people. God loves people, not doctrine. If you refute that, then look at the verses in Luke 10 immediately after the one I have quoted. The Priest and Levite were dismissed as unworthy and the Samaritan was counted as worthy by Jesus. The Samaritan; the one who didn’t have his doctrine correct, wasn’t even allowed in the temple, the outcast of “proper church society”. Hmm, similar to those other, less enlightened, denominations that the SBC looks down on.

Which are you today? Will you continue to sit on your throne and decree that you are the only correct one or will you climb down off your throne and get out there and help a hurting person see the LOVE of Christ through you?

Think about it

Alycelee said...

Thank you for bring us back to reality.
Kingdom reality.
By this, all men will know . . .

Kevin Bussey said...

Great story. I was a member of Fielder Road my first year @ SWBTS. It is great to hear what God is doing with Gary. Thanks for sharing it Wade.

RM said...

Here's a comment I received from a layman in Texas who read Wade's blog. Kind of disappointing isn't it???

"I read yours yesterday afternoon and then went to Burleson's web site and was sorry that I started reading the comments. It just degenerated into dog and cat fights between several of them. Really "uplifting"."

Folks, we need to behave if this is the impact we have on our laymen who are reading our blogs!

Dave Miller said...

Great story and I understand your point.

However, it is not that hard to explain. I am not defending the exclusionists, but their actions are understandable.

I might have a friend who I like hanging out with, but I would not want to be his roommate. I can participate in a few shared ministries with the broader Christian world, but our denominational partnership is more intense. Therefore, there will be a greater need for agreement.

In Cedar Rapids, I participated with, prayed with and fellowshiped with lots of men I could not partner with denominationally.

I am not defending the policies of exclusion. I oppose them. I want to see the IMB BOT policies reversed and all that.

But we also must admit that partnering for a specific ministry or project requires a very different standard than partnering on a worldwide Cooperative program basis.

Alycelee said...

RM, I hear you and thanks
David and all,
36 years ago when I got married my husband and I were very different people. We had some basics were were in agreement with and we talked about that. But in some things we were (and are today) direct opposites.
God used those differences to change me and to change him. Oh, I resisted. I stomped my feet, told him (and God at times) that I was sure I must be right. However now, 36 years later I can honestly tell you, it didn't matter who was right. What mattered was God used my husband and the wonderful differences in us to change each other.
I'm blessed, I finally stopped resisting him and God
If we would stop resisting the rest of the body, I'm confident we would be both changed and blessed as well.

Bob Cleveland said...


This is precisely the sort of thing that should be happening. I know this is a real world full of real people, but this ought not even be surprising.

Our church has had a "partnership" with a neighboring Assembly of God, for many years. I'd explain it, but I'm writing about it and will post it on my blog in a few days.

It's a radical story, too.

Scott said...

No two human beings agree on everything. So why should we expect groups (institutions, denominations, etc) to agree?

Your struggles, Wade, are absolutely nothing new to those of us non-Southern Baptists. It's part of life you just learn to live with.

You can wave a magic wand and wish real hard that every SBC was like Gary's... and you will be waving your arm and wishing for a very long time.

I have often thought about leaving my own denomination (we have a lot of struggles in our denomination)... but even though the grass looks greener, it's just as hard to mow.

So I stay right where I think God has planted me... and I will pray for you and your ministry and your denomination. I do hope you get some peace about your stuggles, because it seems you are struggling mightily with the SBC...

Matt Snowden said...

Great story. Thanks for highlighting the work of God.

SigPres said...

I knew, before I ever came to the comment section, as soon as I read the article and discovered the other denomination to be Church of Christ, that someone here would have already objected to working in a cooperative ministry with someone who believes in "baptismal regeneration."

I guess the name "Gary Smith" is now being registered right under "Wade Burleson" on the new list of "liberals" in the SBC.

During a five year period while I was teaching Bible at a very conservative Christian, Baptist academy, I took over 200 students to various World Changers (NAMB) projects. World Changers desires that the students who participate in the projects have a Christian testimony and give reasonable evidence of progress toward maturity in the faith before signing up to go, so I asked every student I brought to give me their personal testimony and only took those who could tell me how they knew they were saved by grace through faith in Christ. Half the kids I brought attended a Baptist church, the majority of the other half were Catholic, Methodist, Assembly of God, Vineyard, or Church of Christ. Not only did they get along with each other, but they got along with the other Southern Baptist kids at the project. And I found out that not all of the kids who came from the other churches were Southern Baptists either.

Where do we line up to get our hands slapped, and put our names on the list? And I guess I should probably write to all of those other churches that we worked with during those years and let them know they worked with people of other denominations, so that they can purify themselves.

Bob Cleveland said...

Paul said we were to be a "peculiar people". Who knew that, by 2006, it would be a large portion of the church that sees us as peculiar?

Mark Spence said...

Jeff Moore said...
"HUH? A man who claims to believe we are saved by the blood of Jesus can cooperate with one who says we are saved by baptismal waters and we say its a good thing? It sounds like the conservative resurgence is two thousand years too late."

Jeff, your generalization about the Richland Hills church of Christ actually doesn't stick. They do not follow traditional Church of Christ doctrine, and "believe we are saved by the blood of Jesus."

I serve at a SBC church in North Richland Hills & can vouch for RHCoC.


Winning Truth w/Tim Guthrie said...

Great story! My question is why do people insist on throwing stones at the SBC and it's leadership and making snide remarks when this is one of many stories that could be told. Some of you guys need to practice your own teachings. said...

Mr. Guthrie,

Could you be more specific as to who you see as leadership of the SBC and the snide remarks to which you refer, and particularly the people to whom you refer doing this? Generalizations are not particularly helpful.

Professor X said...

Jeff Moore:

As a minister on staff at a church very close to Richland Hills Church of Christ I can honestly tell you that you don't know what you're talking about. That particular church is the largest not only in the area of Church of Christs, but I believe it is the largest in Texas if not the denomination. They are a picture of cooperation and personally knowing their theology, as does Gary Smith (I know this because I literally sat at a meeting just last Thursday where Gary talked about Rick's theology and that of RHCC and Gary shared his personal question of it to make sure. BTW, that church is more "baptist" than most of ours, If that doesn't convince I will ask my father-in-law if I can give you his phone number so you can ask him. He personally called the church and asked them a few years about their beliefs.)I have no problem with baptist churches partnering with them. Perhaps if we all made sure we stopped speaking out of ignorance and spoke out of investigative effort and actual knowledge about a subject we would not be in the shape we are denominationally.

Brian Hatcher

PS My church is literally no more than 5 miles from them and I have personally witnessed the heart of many of their staff members as I work together with them to impact our school district in positive ways for the glory of God. Remember, that gospel we are all supposed to be sharing with the world.

Mark said...

Why not just look up what that church believes about baptism? It's here:

Baptist Theologue (Mike Morris) said...

According to the church's web site, they believe in baptismal regeneration:

“When one is baptized does anything happen, or should anything happen? The apostle
Paul answers this in his writings. Paul speaks of the moment at which both Jews and Gentiles are clothed with Christ and describes it as the moment of baptism (Galatians
3: 26,27). . . . The Romans’ baptism was much more than symbolic or figurative – some things happened, and those things made it totally inappropriate and inconsistent for them to continue to live in sin: 1. they were baptized into Christ Jesus, 2. into His death, 3. united with Him, 4. their old selves were crucified with Him, 5. their bodies of sin were done away with, 6. they died to sin, and 7. they were justified from sin. It seems that Paul is making clear that baptism puts us into union with Christ and we participate with Him in His suffering and death, making us recipients of all the blessing implied by that death. When one submits himself to be baptized, as an expression of his faith and out of love for God, God affects change in the status of that person.”

Bryan Riley said...

This is what being a part of the body of Christ is all about. It answers Christ's prayer in John 17. It shows the world the truth of the gospel of Christ. We must continue to lay down our personal differences and unite in what we have in common, which is Jesus. Praise God for the grace to work through men and women such as us. Praise God for efforts like OneStory, which you can find described at, where the IMB is working with other organizations such as YWAM and Wycliffe.

Rex Ray said...

Baptist Theologue,
You are correct the Church of Christ web site teaches baptismal regeneration. It also states: “Those who are READY to trust Jesus completely for their salvation and those who are READY to repent of their sins should be baptized.”
Baptists believe those that HAVE trusted and HAVE repented should be baptized.
But isn’t it wonderful that we can lay aside our doctrinal differences and work for the Lord together.

I’d like to discuss why some people cannot be saved until they ARE baptized. Wait a minute—I’m still Baptist, but man can LIMIT God. Just look how ‘women can’t teach men.’ (Thought I’d throw that in.)
The woman was healed WHEN she touched the hem of his garment. What if she had tripped? What I’m saying is, her belief turned to faith when she completed her belief.
Baptists believe Jesus will save them anywhere when they have faith in Jesus. The difference with Church of Christ; they have an underwater faith.

John Mark, thanks for the web site.
Rex Ray

Rex Ray said...

The Church of Christ’s web site saved its ‘clean up batter’ (Scripture) till last: “And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on His name. (Acts 22:16)

I believe its true meaning is more important than what the words say.
Church of Christ and Baptists agree that Paul’s sins were washed away when he became a Christian.
Paul was saved when he repented and trusted Christ. Who are you, Lord? Being blind he would have wanted to go home with loved ones, but he did what he was told. He turned 180 degrees, (repented) and trusted Christ by obeying. This was when he became a Christian.

The key to Acts 22:16, is Paul was facing a mob and was trying to save his life. Would you hold it against him if he said something a little different than what really happened if he was trying to communicate with the mob? Keep in mind the mob knew John the Baptist baptized to show repentance.

What happened is recorded in Acts 9:11-18. Jesus told Ananias that Paul was praying and for him to place his hands on him so he would regain his sight and Paul would be his chosen instrument.
“Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road you were traveling, has sent me so you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit. At once something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized.”

There are only two words (“get up”) recorded in Acts 22 that came from Acts 9, so where did the rest come from that Paul was supposedly quoting Ananias?

As background, “…be filled with the Holy Spirit” was the ‘tongue gift’ of God that McKissic so wisely pointed out in his SWBTS chapel message. Since Paul spoke in tongues more than anyone, I believe the second Paul could see, he was so happy his three days of praying ended with ‘strange’ words coming from his mouth. I’ll bet they were not ‘private’ but like Pentecost.
I believe Ananias had heard the ‘gift’ before and may have had the ‘gift’ also. He knew tongues came from ‘saved’ people. He knew Paul had been praying as Jesus told him, so why in Acts 22, would Ananias tell Paul to call on His name?
Also why would Ananias tell Paul to “be baptized and wash your sins away” when Ananias already knew Paul was a Christian?

The truth of the matter is Ananias never said those words of Acts 22. Paul was trying to connect dots of John the Baptist preaching with his salvation experience and said what came off the top of his head to an angry mob.
Some will say that Paul would never say anything untruthful, but he did the same thing in Acts 23:6, “When Paul realized that one part of them were Sadducees and the other part were Pharisees, he cried out in the Sanhedrin, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees! I am being judged because of the hope of the resurrection of the dead!”
Paul knew he was there because he believed in Jesus and his statement avoided that truth. In a way, he denied Jesus and he repented of it in Acts 24:20, “Ask these men here what WRONGDOING the Jewish high council found in me, except for one thing I said when I shouted out, ‘I am on trial before you today because I believe in the resurrection of the dead!”

Saying you must be baptized to be saved is the same as Christian Pharisees saying you must be circumcised to be saved. Water washes dirt, and only the blood of Jesus washed the soul. Both ordinations only show what man claims to be.
I believe the ‘clean up batter’ should go to the bottom of the batting order.
Rex Ray

E. Goodman said...

This story illustrates the frustration we feel on the field when the Board of Trustees sets hard and fast rules about who we can and cannot partner with, and "levels" of cooperation.

We sure wish someone would trust us to make that decision based on our personal interaction with the individuals. Not everyone outside the SBC is a heretic!

Baptist Theologue (Mike Morris) said...

Reading some of the comments here makes me believe that some people view the standard Church of Christ doctrine of baptismal regeneration as a Christian doctrine. It simply is not. Physical baptism is a beautiful symbol and an important act of obedience, but it is also a physical work. We are not saved by a physical work. I love Church of Christ folks. I attended a Church of Christ high school. Many of my friends and relatives are Church of Christ members. It is important, however, to view their doctrine from a biblical perspective. James Kennedy stated:

“Most pagan religions believe that man will be saved by his works, by keeping some set of rules. . . . Christianity teaches that man is saved by grace alone through faith. It is the teaching of most of the cults (such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormonism, etc.) that man is saved by faith and works.”

D. James Kennedy, Evangelism Explosion, 4th edition (Wheaton: Tyndale House, 1996), 178.

The standard Church of Christ doctrine is that faith plus a work (physical baptism) is necessary for salvation. That is not the Christian gospel. Notice the following verse (Romans 4:5):

“But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness.” (NASB)

Albert Barnes commented on the verse:

“But to him that worketh not - Who does not rely on his conformity to the Law for his justification; who does not depend on his works; who seeks to be justified in some other way. The reference here is to the Christian plan of justification.”

John MacArthur also commented on the verse:

“Saving grace is available to the one who knows in his heart that he can’t work his way into God’s kingdom by his own self-effort—he knows that he is unacceptable to God—but by faith he embraces the One who justifies the ungodly.”

MacArthur, Justification by Faith (Chicago: Moody Press, 1984), 144-145.

Finally, I will include a comment by Robert H. Mounce on the verse:

“Paul was not necessarily speaking of Abraham in vv. 4-8. That alleviates the necessity of explaining in what sense it could be said that the patriarch did not work. The verses constitute a general statement that compares believing with working as the basis for justification. When people work, their wages come not as gifts but because they have earned them. The spiritual realm, however, is different. In this case those who do not work but believe are regarded by God as righteous. Rather than attempting to earn God’s favor by meritorious deeds, they simply trust. They are accepted by God as righteous because of their faith. God is under no obligation to pronounce righteous those who would earn his favor by working. The disparity between legalism and grace is seen most clearly in the way God grants a right standing to people of faith. . . . God accepts as righteous unholy people on the basis of absolutely nothing but faith.”

Mounce, “Romans,” vol. 27 in The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1995), 123.

Besides the normal diagnostic tests (like the two questions from Evangelism Explosion), here’s one that works well with Church of Christ folks:

“Suppose that a man were to talk to a pastor about the gospel, and the pastor thinks the man has surrendered his life to Christ in repentance and faith. If that man put on the baptismal robes and walked toward the baptistery but fell dead of a heart attack one foot from the water, would he go to heaven or hell?”

If the person you are trying to diagnose says that the man would go to heaven, then you can assume based on this answer and good answers to the other two questions that the person is not basing salvation on faith plus works. If the person says that the man would go to hell, then you can assume that the person is basing salvation on faith plus works. I've learned from experience that not everyone who attends a Church of Christ congregation believes in the standard Church of Christ doctrine of baptismal regeneration.

Professor X said...

" We need salvation because we have sinned. Sin separates us from God who desires relationship with us. It is impossible for any man to restore that broken relationship with God by any amount of personal goodness, religious deeds, or by belonging to a church. We cannot earn, merit or achieve a right relationship with God by our own efforts. The death of Jesus was not an accident. It was God’s plan from the beginning to save us from our sins through the death of Jesus Christ. The Bible calls God’s act of love, grace. His grace is His gift to us. The way we receive His gift is by entering into a covenant relationship with Jesus by placing our trust and faith in Him. When we decide that we will follow Jesus for the rest of our lives, we demonstrate our trust in Jesus by obeying His command to be immersed (baptized) in water demonstrating the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. "

Baptist Theologue

Above is the exact quote from Richland Hills Church of Christ's statement of faith on their website. The key thing to note is that it does not say that we receive the gift of salvation by trusting in Christ and being baptisted. It is a misrepresentation of that particular church's theology to say they believe in that doctrine simply based on your personal interpretation of one small section of a small section of the whole statement of faith.

This link is their statement of faith from which the link John Mark posted comes.

Reading it as a whole instead of plucking a line out of a small section of a sub-section and assuming your personal interpretatin is the correct one and only one might help to see that perhaps this is an entire Church of Christ that does not believe in the standard Church of Christ doctrine of baptismal regenration.

Baptist Theologue (Mike Morris) said...

Professor X, you mentioned my personal interpretation of the Richland Hills Church of Christ confession’s section on baptism. That section cannot be interpreted in any other way except as a statement of baptismal regeneration. Let’s look at it again:

“When one is baptized does anything happen, or should anything happen? The apostle Paul answers this in his writings. Paul speaks of the moment at which both Jews and Gentiles are clothed with Christ and describes it as the moment of baptism (Galatians 3: 26,27). For New Testament writers, the mere mention of baptism presupposes a belief in
Jesus Christ as the Messiah, the Son of God. The possibility of a nonbeliever’s being baptized or of a believer’s refusing baptism does not even occur to Paul. The Romans’ baptism was much more than symbolic or figurative – some things happened, and those things made it totally inappropriate and inconsistent for them to continue to live in sin: 1. they were baptized into Christ Jesus, 2. into His death, 3. united with Him, 4. their old selves were crucified with Him, 5. their bodies of sin were done away with, 6. they died to sin, and 7. they were justified from sin.”

The statement is saying that salvation occurs at the moment of physical baptism. It is saying that at the moment a person is physically baptized that person is clothed with Christ, is united with Him, is crucified with Him, dies to sin, and is justified. It clearly denies our view that physical baptism is a symbolic act of obedience. It denies our view that salvation (including justification) occurs before physical baptism. Our 2000 Baptist Faith and Message states, “Justification is God’s gracious and full acquittal upon principles of His righteousness of all sinners who repent and believe in Christ.” Notice that our Baptist confession of faith does not say that justification occurs at the time of physical baptism; rather it says that it occurs at the time of repentance and faith.

Let’s look at the rest of Richland Hills Church of Christ’s statement on physical baptism:

“It seems that Paul is making clear that baptism puts us into union with Christ and we participate with Him in His suffering and death, making us recipients of all the blessing implied by that death. When one submits himself to be baptized, as an expression of his faith and out of love for God, God affects change in the status of that person. That is why Paul wrote, ‘having been buried with Him in baptism and raised with Him through your faith in the power of God, who raised Him from the dead’ (Colossians 2:12). The change in relationship does not come because we merit or deserve it. It is God’s Power, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, that works the salvation of man, but He requires that we submit in trusting obedience. ‘For it is by grace you have been saved, though faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast’ (Ephesians 2:8,9). Is Baptism a Work? If it is, no one has suggested discarding it. Practically all religions claiming to be Christian practice something called baptism. If it is a work whose work is it? Who is the actor? The believer is commanded to submit, ‘to be baptized’ (Acts 2:38). In other words, he is passive. The promise is ‘the forgiveness of your sins.’ That’s God’s promise and God’s work. No one has done anything to deserve salvation except Jesus Christ, and obeying Him in baptism demonstrates our faith in Him alone as our Savior.”

Again, notice in the statement that at the moment of physical baptism the person is united with Christ. This is a clear statement of baptismal regeneration. The statement’s claim of passivity on the part of the one baptized is very similar to the description given by Alexander Campbell in 1853:

“In baptism, we are passive in everything but in giving our consent. We are buried and we are raised by another. . . . While, then, baptism is ordained for remission of sins, and for no other specific purpose, it is not as a procuring cause, as a meritorious or efficient cause, but as an instrumental cause, in which faith and repentance are developed and made fruitful and effectual in the changing of our state and spiritual relations to the Divine Persons whose names are put upon us in the very act.”

Alexander Campbell, Christian Baptism: With Its Antecedents and Consequents (Bethany, VA: Alexander Campbell, 1853), 256.

It seems to me, however, that to remove all physical work from the part of the one baptized, the baptizer would have to physically pick up the candidate from a chair at his house, carry him to the water, hold him during the entire time of the immersion, carry him out of the water, and place him back in his chair at the house. If that occurs, however, the physical baptism would still be recognized as a human work; it would be the work of the baptizer rather than the work of the candidate. As a human work, it would still be adding a requirement of physical work to the Christian gospel, and therefore it could not be considered to be the Christian gospel. Our salvation is not dependent on a human's physically baptizing us.

Rex Ray said...

Baptist Theologue,
You've had plenty of time to explain the last Scripture printed by the Church of Christ web site. That Scripture states, (Acts 22:16) “And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on His name.”

Would you please explain it?

I guess you don’t agree with my explanation because it points out that it’s words off the top of Paul’s head who is trying to save his life and not ‘breathed’ by God.
Rex Ray

David J. Sanders said...

Great story.

I drove past Fielder Road Baptist Church for the first time today and yesterday, for the first time ever, I sat under the preaching of of my friend (and fellow former resident of Longview, TX) Ben Cole, who brought a glorious message from Mark 15 and the 22nd Psalm about our Lord Jesus Christ's last moments on the cross.

Ben really pours it on his congregation on Wednesday nights. He told me the Wednesday-night crowd "isn't looking for popcorn."

Baptist Theologue (Mike Morris) said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Baptist Theologue (Mike Morris) said...

Rex, in regard to Acts 22:16, I would say that we humans are incapable of washing away our sins. Only God can do that. We can, however, be obedient to God by being physically baptized in water. The water cannot physically wash away our sins during the time of physical baptism, but it does symbolize God’s previous action of spiritually washing away our sins. Paul was speaking of a symbolic act just as Christ was doing when He said, “This is My body” at the time of the first observance of the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:24, Matt. 26:26, Mark 14:22, Luke 22:19). Jesus did not mean that the bread literally became His physical body. I think Paul was just giving a fuller account of his experience with Ananias than what Luke gave earlier. Paul did a similar thing in Acts 26:12-18 as he gave a more detailed account of his experience on the road to Damascus than Luke did in Acts 9:3-8.

Mark said...

The CoC does seem to hold to baptismal regeneration. From their main site in which Richland Hills is referenced you can see baptismal regeneration in their Gospel presentation.

Here is one sample:
"Why is Baptism Such a Big Deal?
Let me let you listen again to what Jesus himself said. Remember Mark 16:15-16? "He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, whoever does not believe will be condemned." Whoever believes, believes what? The good news and is baptized, will be saved. Whoever does not believe, will be condemned. I hear Jesus himself, connecting baptism with salvation."

And there is much more said about baptism.

Rex Ray said...

Baptist Theologue,
You have turned from Bible scholar to politician the way you talked all AROUND what Paul wrote that Ananias said. All you did was explain what you and I believe about baptism. I agree with you on that, but that was not my question so I’ll ask again to explain, “…be baptized and wash your sins away.”
If you cannot explain it, will you tell what is wrong with my explanation?
Rex Ray

Baptist Theologue (Mike Morris) said...

I'm a politician? Ouch! I thought I answered your question, Rex. When Paul talked about washing away sins in Acts 22:16, he was accurately relating what Ananias said. Just as Jesus' audience knew what He meant when he said, "This is my body," so Paul understood what Ananias meant about baptism, even though he was a new convert. The non-Christian Jews had been practicing baptism for Gentile proselytes for some time, and they understood that it was symbolic. Notice what Baker's Evangelical Dictionary says about Jewish baptism:

"When, at the diaspora, numerous Gentiles sought admission to Israel, the required public repentance and acceptance of Mosaic Law was accompanied by immersion in water, symbolizing and effecting religious, moral, and ritual cleansing from the defilements of paganism. Ancient Jewish discussions (echoed in 1 Cor 10:2) support a pre-Christian date for this proselyte baptism. This is why John's baptism needed no explanation, though his authority to perform it was challenged and his demand for purification of 'children of Abraham' gave deep offense (Matt 3:7-9; John 1:19-24)."

Rex Ray said...

Baptist Theologue,
Sorry about the politician. I heard you better this time. I’d like to ask some specific questions:
1. When exactly was Paul saved?
2. When did Ananias believe Paul was saved?
3. Why did Ananias tell Paul to call on the name of the Lord if he was already saved?
4. Why didn’t Ananias tell Paul to be baptized to SHOW his sins were washed away?
5. Do you agree the quote from Ananias could be interpreted the ‘wrong’ way?
Rex Ray

Baptist Theologue (Mike Morris) said...

Rex, those are interesting questions. My answers follow:

1. He was saved on the road to Damascus.
2. When God told Ananias that Paul was His chosen instrument (Acts 9:15).
3. Ananias was asking Paul to pray at the time of his baptism (Acts 22:16), but this wasn’t a prayer for salvation. Remember that Jesus prayed during His baptism (Luke 3:21).
4. Ananias did not need to say that. Paul already knew that baptism was symbolic. Again, in a similar way, Jesus did not need to tell his followers that the Lord’s Supper was symbolic when He said, “This is My body.”
5. I agree that some people interpret the quote from Ananias the wrong way just as some people interpret the quote from Jesus the wrong way (and thus believe the bread literally becomes His body).

Rex Ray said...

Baptist Theologue,
I like the way you answer questions. I believe Paul was saved when he heard: I am Jesus… That’s when he believed.
Here are some more questions:
1. When do you believe Jesus first gave Paul the gift of tongues?
2. At that time, did Paul pray in private or to heaven itself?
3. Was Paul’s tongues in some known language but unknown to him, or was it in ‘tongues of angels?
4. Why did Paul pray in tongues more than anyone?
5. Did Paul have relatives that were Christians before he became one?
6. After your answers, I’m not so sure about my theory of Ananias not saying those words.

But Jesus told Ananias to do one thing—lay hands on Paul and Paul would recover his sight. Many are called but few are “chosen.” It’s not recorded that Jesus told Ananias to teach Paul anything. Paul knew Scripture and baptism better than Ananias as he had been taught by the best teachers of that day. In the three days of praying and not eating or drinking, I think Paul put a lot of Scriptures in their right places. He had connected a lot of dots. So when Paul met Ananias, Paul was more of a teacher than a student. He may have asked Ananias to baptize him.
The question is: what’s the chance of Paul not needing any instruction from Ananias about baptism, Scripture, or praying?
Rex Ray

Baptist Theologue (Mike Morris) said...

Rex, here are my answers:

1. I don’t know. Paul already knew several languages before he received the gift. In many places, the people knew Greek well enough to understand him, but they probably preferred to speak in their heart language (Acts 14:11). I am not aware of any Scripture verse that says he needed an interpreter, so apparently God provided the gift whenever Paul needed it.
2. I would think that Paul used the gift to publicly speak when he first experienced it. He didn’t need it to pray privately. Paul knew that God could understand the languages he already had learned, including his heart language. On the road to Damascus, Jesus spoke to Paul from heaven in the Hebrew language (Acts 26:14). Because Jesus spoke to Paul in Hebrew, I assume that Paul felt comfortable talking to God in Hebrew while praying.
3. I think that Paul’s gift of tongues involved known human languages. He needed them when preaching during his missionary journeys.
4. He probably did more missionary work than anyone else and thus needed more miraculous language ability. He didn’t have time to study each language for a couple of years.
5. I doubt it. He seemed to have a lot of zeal for persecution before his Damascus road conversion.
6. I’m not sure about how much instruction Paul needed from Ananias or the other disciples in Damascus with whom Paul stayed for several days (Acts 9:19). As you say, he was able to connect a lot of dots after his conversion.

Rex Ray said...

Baptist Theologue,
Back to the Damascus road—“The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the sound but seeing no one.”
The “sound” led one man to believe in Jesus, but the others did not understand or they would have believed also.
Man’s way to understand this is Jesus spoke a language only Paul understood. But man’s ways are not always God’s ways. “Who makes a man so that he can speak or not speak, see or not see, hear or not hear?” (Exodus 4:11) What if Jesus spoke in the language of angels, but changed the EARS of only Paul to understand? (The same was not impossible for Jesus to do a Pentecost—everyone hearing in their own language—one sound but all understanding.)
Most would say that Jesus wouldn’t do it that way, but man has told God what he can’t do all though the ages—like ‘women can’t teach men’ which illustrates the warning of Jesus, “Teaching for doctrines the commands of men.”

What do you think?
Rex Ray

Baptist Theologue (Mike Morris) said...
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Baptist Theologue (Mike Morris) said...

Jesus already knew Hebrew. Why would Jesus speak in the language of angels and cause Paul to miraculously hear that language in Hebrew? I've heard this same argument used for Acts 2:1-8. Some say that the disciples were speaking in the tongues of angels while the audience members were hearing in their own languages. That would require two miracles instead of one: the miracle of speaking in the language of angels and the miracle of hearing in a human language. God is efficient. It makes more sense to me that the disciples spoke in various human languages and that Jesus spoke in Hebrew from heaven.

Rex Ray said...

Baptist Theologue,
Thanks for replying. Wish I had more time to write. But here’s a thought: “If I speak in the language of men and of angels…” (1 Corinthians 13:1)
Would Paul write something that was impossible? I mean what, when, and where was the language of angels? When did an angel ever speak in the Bible other than in the language of man?
Paul goes on and list other gifts—prophecy, understanding, and faith. Baptists accept these gifts but shy away from ‘angel language’ like it was a plague.
I believe Paul listed ‘angel speaking’ first because it was the most common of gifts. It was heard more than other gifts. In fact, Paul heard it so much he said strangers would think the church was crazy.
What Scripture do Baptists say ‘angel speaking’ was heard? The silence is really loud.

Changing gears, Theologue, you said, “Jesus already knew Hebrew.” I don’t think you have thought your statement through. Jesus made all the languages in the world and including out of this world. Do you think he had to ‘learn’ Hebrew on earth to speak it from heaven?
How do we know none of the men with Paul knew Hebrew? (Because they didn’t understand—that’s making a conclusion without facts.) Saying God is efficient and would do one miracle instead of two is putting God in man’s box. Besides, speaking in ‘tongues’ for Jesus compared to casting a mountain into the sea is not much of a ‘miracle.’

Theologue, I don’t speak in tongues. I’ve been on both sides of the world and heard a lot of languages, but none have ‘raised’ the hair on my neck like hearing the tongues of angels.
I’m afraid Baptists are guilty of believing, ‘if we don’t have it—nobody else does.’
Rex Ray

Baptist Theologue (Mike Morris) said...
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Baptist Theologue (Mike Morris) said...

Rex, we've wandered off topic to a considerable degree. I'll let you have the last word.

Rex Ray said...

Baptist Theologue,
You say I can have the last word because we have drifted off topic. We have been discussing tongues for quite a while and we were still on that topic.
If you’ve forgotten Wade’s topic, this is a reminder:

“It is a weird day in Southern Baptist life when leading SBC churches and pastors are cooperating with evangelical churches of other denominations in mission efforts, but other Southern Baptists are doing all they can to EXCLUDE fellow Southern Baptist from participating and cooperating in Southern Baptist denominational mission efforts.”

Wade is concerned about the EXCLUSION of missionary applicants who have a private prayer language that some call “tongues.”
I don’t know if you realized it but your point of view on tongues is representing those “other Southern Baptists” who are the EXCLUDERS because your view will reject a private prayer language as being Biblical.

I don’t want to put words in your mouth, so let’s draw the line in the sand: Do you believe a private prayer language is biblical today?

What is your real reason for giving me the last word? Are the question too hard or what?
Rex Ray

Baptist Theologue (Mike Morris) said...

Rex, you asked,

"Do you believe a private prayer language is biblical today?"

I do not believe a private prayer language is biblical today.