Official Publication of the LMS-USA
Volume 9, Number 2
In this Issue:
LMS-USA Annual Conference/Convention
June 21, 22, 23
St. Matthew Lutheran Church
Plans are well under way for the annual gathering of the LMS. The Conference theme is, Nurturing the Soul. Again this year the various sessions of both the Conference and Convention are scheduled on Saturday and Sunday so that, for the most part, people can attend without having to schedule time away from work. On Friday, time is set aside for a meeting of the Ministerium and for interviewing prospective clergy and for clergy and congregations applying for associate and/or subscriptional membership. Activities for the youth also begin on Friday. We are looking for the youth to arrive around 2:00 p.m., with a welcome and orientation set for 3:00 p.m. Congregations receiving this issue of Table Talk will find an application form for the Youth Conference included.
The focus of the Conference is on the Nurturing of the Soul. As Lutherans we stress the importance of the Means of Grace, i.e., the means by which God has chosen to work His grace in the lives of his children. We place stress on the Means of Grace, but do we avail ourselves of what God freely offers to us in Word and Sacrament? The Word of God is the primary Means of Grace, but what place do we give to the Word in our daily lives? Even as pastors, it is so easy to neglect God's Word. We use the word in our study, in our sermon preparation, but to often we leave it at that. But such use is not a substitute for private reading and meditating on the Word.
Conference presentations are planned on the various forms of private devotion and meditation has taken through the years and which are often practiced yet today. We will look at what it actually means to nurture the soul, and the place of the Scripture, devotional literature, and prayer in this discipline. We might look at other topic also, such as how does one find time? And, hopefully an overview of Luther's suggestions in this area given in a brief essay he wrote titled, "A Simple Way to Pray."
Women. A number of women met briefly at our last convention and the consensus was that they wanted to organize a women's group. We will move ahead with this at our meeting this year. The Conference sessions will be most apropos to the focus of the Bible Study that is planned for the women to begin either in the fall or in January 2002. Opportunity is planned for a dinner meeting or two (there is room for more getting together if needed) so a committee can be selected, or officers elected, to see that things begin to happen in this organization. So, bring your ideas to share. If you cannot attend, share your ideas with a representative of your congregation who plans to attend our Conference/Convention. We will look for things to happen in the year ahead.
Convention business. As is always the case, our convention business will include election of officers and dealing with the budget. But some matters of special interest this year include: Dealing with a couple of matters from last year. 1) Who has a vote at the synod convention? 2) How do we deal with the matter of attendance at the convention and ministerial meetings of the synod of congregations and clergy?
Another matter of business has to do with possible mission support of ministries within the LMS. (As a synod, we do not deal with mission funds, we recommend and encourage congregations to be involved directly with mission efforts.)
One further matter of business has to do with our Seminary. We have some exciting possibilities which we will want to act upon with regard to our seminary program. This is important because we have been receiving inquiries as to seminary training, and we have places where we could now place trained pastors.
The LMS annual Conference and Convention is open to anyone who is interested. The Conference sessions will begin at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday and continue throughout the day. The Convention will begin on Sunday at 1:00 p.m.
There is no cost.
If you have questions, or if you wish to register, contact Rev. Ralph Spears at 1-888-637-8880. Rev. Spears can possibly help you to locate lodging should that be necessary.
If you have not been to St. Matthew Lutheran, the following is an easy way to get there (once there you may want to try some other route). From I-70, turn south on Rural Avenue. Continue south to East New York Street. Turn left (east) for a half block to St. Matthew.
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Who is the Israel of God Today?
A Historical Critique of Dispensationalism
Part Three in a Series on Prophecy
by Rev. Mark Dankof
Young and O. T. Allis, comprising the best of what Reiter calls the "Princeton-Westminster tradition,"  offer an interpretation of the prophecy which simultaneously rejects higher critical anti-supernaturalism while affirming the historical fulfillment of the 70th week in the events surrounding the first advent of Jesus Christ. These respective schemas are representative of the Traditionalist, or what Reiter would term the Historicist school of interpretation. Allis deals most extensively with Daniel 9: 24-27 in Prophecy and the Church, chapter five, entitled, "Old Testament Prophecies Concerning the Kingdom," where he begins by stating:
The effect produced on the inter pretation of prophecy by the "parenthesis" doctrine of the Church as set forth by Dispensationalists is one of the clearest proofs of the novelty of that doctrine as well as of its revolutionary nature. In 1835 an article appeared in the Christian Witness, the earliest organ of the Brethren, in which the claim was made that all of the prophecies of Daniel are still unfulfilled, that they do not relate to the Church age but are to be fulfilled in the future kingdom age. At the time this article was written the view was generally held that the Christian Church or dispensation was the great theme of Old Testament prophecy. Today in Dispensational circles it is regarded as axiomatic that the Church is completely ignored by the prophets. Consequently, the prophets have a very important role in deciding the issues raised by Dispensationalism. And since the Dispensational doctrine that the Church was unknown to them was first applied to the Book of Daniel, we shall confine ourselves largely to it in testing the correctness of this method of interpreting the prophecies of the Old Testament.
Allis continues by saying that the importance of the "Prophecy of 70 Weeks" in Dispensational teaching can:
hardly be exaggerated. It is often appealed to as the conspicuous proof that the entire Church Age is a parenthesis in the prophetic program which is to be discovered between vvs. 26 and 27 of Dan. ix. . . Since Dispensationalists hold that the prophecy of the Seventy Weeks is directly Messianic, it is not necessary for us to discuss the various anti-Messianic interpretations that have been proposed. Our concern is to defend the form of the Messianic interpretation which has been called the "traditional" one because it has been so widely accepted, and to show its superiority over this "parenthesis" interpretation, the discovery of which has furnished, so Dispensationalists tell us, the key to the interpretation of prophecy.
Allis begins his summation of the Traditional perspective by acknowledging the points of agreement with Dispensationalism, chiefly that the seventy weeks represent weeks of years, a total of 490 years; that only one period of weeks is described, as is proved by the fact that the subdivisions (7+62+1) when added together give a total of 70; that the "anointed one, the prince" of verse 25 and the "anointed one" of verse 26 are the same person, the Messiah; and that the first 69 weeks or 483 years had their terminus in the period of the first adventtheir fulfillment is long past. He then focuses on the two chief differences between the Traditional and Dispensational schools of interpretation. First, the question of whether or not the great events described in vs. 24 have been fulfilled, or are yet future; second, the issue of whether or not the 70th week is past or future. Dispensationalists take the futurist perspective on both questions, a development Reiter freely acknowledges to be of 19th century origin. The latter locates the genesis of the futuristic position on Daniel's 70th week to a time just subsequent to the introduction of the futuristic approach to the Apocalypse in 1826 by Samuel R. Maitland. John Nelson Darby, the central figure in Brethrenism and "founder of dispensationalism," then advanced the position that a "gap existed between the sixty-ninth and seventieth weeks, with the result that the seventieth week is still future."
Allis' presentation of the "Traditional" interpretation begins on page 113 of Prophecy and is as follows. First, that according to the view, all of the great transactions referred to in vs. 24 are to be regarded as having been fulfilled at the first advent and, more specifically, in what is to be regarded as the "climactic event of the prophecy, the redemption at Calvary, which is referred to literally in verse 26 and figuratively in vs. 27." The words, "to finish transgression and to make an end of (or seal up) sins and to make reconciliation for iniquity" are to be regarded as referring to that atonement for sin which was accomplished once and for all on the Cross. This interpretation is in accord with many New Testament statements, e. g., Heb. x. 12-14. Thus Allis reminds us that Paul says that:
. . Jesus has "abolished death." (2 Tim. 1. 10). Death was a very real thing to Paul. He was living under its shadow, when he wrote these words to Timothy. But the fear of death and the power of death had been destroyed, because Christ had brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel. For Paul, death was indeed "abolished." Sin is, likewise, very much alive; it is very active in the world. But sin was finally dealt with ("made an end of") and reconciliation brought about through the death of Christ, His passive obedience as a sufferer for sin. It only remains that the benefits of that finished work be applied to all those for whom it was performed. The same applies to the three other matters referred to in this verse. An "everlasting righteousness" was provided for all the redeemed through the active obedience of Christ, His perfect keeping of the law of God. Prophecy was "sealed," i. e., authenticated in a unique way by the life and death and resurrection and ascension of Christ; and prophetic gifts ceased in the Christian Church with the close of the apostolic age. The "anointing of a most holy" may refer either to a person or to a place. If to a person, the reference may be to the descent of the Holy Spirit on Jesus to fit Him for His Messianic work (Lk. iii.22; iv. 18); if to a place, it may refer to the entrance of the risen Christ into heaven itself, when "through his own blood he entered once for all into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption" (Heb. ix. 12) for all His elect. In a word we have in vs. 24 the prophecy of the "satisfaction of Christ," of His obedience and sufferings, by virtue of which the sinner obtains forgiveness and acceptance with God.
According to this view, the 69th week ended with the beginning of the ministry of John the Baptist and the baptism of Jesus; and the 70th week followed immediately upon it. Consequently, the "cutting off" of the Anointed One which occurred, "after the threescore and two weeks" must be regarded as having taken place in the 70th week; and a reference to it is to be found in the words, "In the midst [half] of the week, he [the Messiah] shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease." That Christ by His death put an end to the Jewish ritual of sacrifice, substituting for bulls and goats "a sacrifice of nobler name and richer blood than they," is the great argument of the Epistle to the Hebrews. So interpreted, it is the Messiah who makes firm or confirms the covenant for the one (the 70th) week; and the crucifixion which takes place in the midst of it is the great event of that week and may be regarded as the climax of the entire prophecy.
Allis admits that the Traditional interpretive scheme is not without problems, simply that the problems posed are far less exegetically and historically problematic than those posited by the Dispensationalist grid. He does concede that one difficulty resides in the fact that the Traditional interpretation does not clearly define the "terminus of the 70th week." If "in the midst" is taken in its natural sense to refer to a half week, or 3 1Ú2 years, the latter 3 1Ú2 years must be accounted for. Allis regards as "possible" the options that either the last half refers to the period of the founding of the Church and the preaching of the Gospel exclusively to the Jews, a period ending with or about the time of the martyrdom of Stephen; or that the time in question was "graciously extended to some 35 years, to the date of the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, a reference to which is found in vs. 26." His main point continues to be that if Calvary took place "in the midst of the week," there can be "no interval between the 69th and the 70th weeks." It is to be noted that the scheme of E. J. Young, another Traditionalist, is not without its mathematical problems. In a summation which coincides with that of Allis, Young notes:
The traditional Messianic interpretation entails less [emphasis mine] difficulty than do the others and at the same time does justice to the language of the text. Upon this view the seventy sevens serve as a symbolical number for the period that has been decreed for the accomplishment of the Messianic salvation (v. 24). In v. 25 we are taught that two segments of time elapse from the issuing of a word from God to rebuild Jerusalem until the appearance of Christ. After these two segments have elapsed, the Messiah will be cut off by death and Jerusalem and the Temple will be destroyed by the Roman armies of Titus. The Messiah, however, will cause the Jewish sacrifice to cease by means of His death, and He will do this in the midst of the seventieth seven. As a consequence, the Temple will be destroyed, and the destruction will continue until the end appears which has been appointed by God. The precise point of termination of the period of seventy sevens is not revealed. The emphasis, rather, is not so much upon the beginning and termination of this period as it is upon the great results which the period has been set apart to accomplish. [emphasis mine]
Finally then, must come a summation of the basic position of the best representatives of the Dispensational "gap" or "parenthesis" theory regarding Daniel 9: 24-27. These representatives include modern exegetes John Walvoord,  Leon Wood,  Herman Hoyt,  Paul Feinberg,  and Charles Ryrie,  as well as the classic, older Dispensational scholars, including Sir Robert Anderson, Arno C. Gaebelein,  William Blackstone,  and William Bell Riley.  In summation, the basic outline of the Dispensational interpretation of the passage, beginning with Darby, is as followsfirst, in contrast to the Traditional perspective, verses 24 and 27 are deemed to be future in their fulfillment. The "Prophecy of 70 Weeks" is part of the division of Daniel's book (chapters 7-12) that records visions of future earthly kingdoms, both human and divine.  J. Randall Price  continues the summary of the Dispensational position by mentioning the six restoration goals  of 9: 24, which are outlined by the remainder of chapter 9, in terms of events which will unfold in Israel's subsequent history. As Price notes, Dispensationalism joins with most Christian scholarship in holding that the seventy weeks are to be interpreted as seventy weeks of years; the resulting period of 490 years (70 x 7) is divided, according to the text (vv. 25-27), as periods of seven weeks (49 years), sixty-two weeks (434 years), and one week (7 years). Dispensationalism is also in agreement with most evangelical scholarship in interpreting the context of the passage as messianic, with the coming of Messiah taking place after the sixty-nine weeks. What follows with Price is the crux of the Dispensational view of the passage:
However, dispensationalism (classical) is distinct in its interpretation of Daniel's Seventieth Week (v. 27) as future. With Israel's rejection of the Messiah and His death taking place after the sixty-ninth week (v. 26), the completion of the six restoration goals for Israel (v. 24) is left for the Seventieth Week. If the Seventieth Week immediately succeeds the sixty-ninth week historically, then the expected restoration must be applied spiritually to the church as a new Israel [emphasis mine].
Because dispensationalism adheres to the principle of literal interpretation and recognizes the scriptural distinction between God's program for Israel and for the church, it understands the historical completion of Israel's restoration must take place in a future week [emphasis mine]. During this time (as described in v. 27), there is a resumption of the messianic program for Israel with the overthrow of the Antichrist (the apocalyptic prerequisite to the establishment of the messianic kingdom). This interpretation requires [emphasis mine] a prophetic postponement [emphasis mine] (older writers referred to this as a "gap" or "parenthesis" [emphasis mine]) between the events of verses 26 and 27. The revelation of a prophetic postponement in the fulfillment of the eschatological aspect of the messianic program is in harmony with numerous passages in the Old Testament [emphasis mine] that reveal the two [emphasis mine] advents of Christ [numerous passages cited]. . . The six restoration goals of Daniel's seventy-weeks prophecy (v. 24) may have a near fulfillment in the experience of the nation (Messiah's redemptive advent) but must wait for its complete fulfillment in the future (Messiah's restorative advent [emphasis mine]). The postponement understood between verses 26 and 27 is the consequence of partial and complete fulfillment in the messianic program. The first phase of the messianic program accomplished spiritual redemption for ethnic Israel in the First Advent (Matthew 1: 21; cf. Luke 2: 11). National rejection of Messiah (Matt. 23: 37; cf. Acts 3: 13-15, 17; 4: 25-27), while fulfilling the promise of Gentile inclusion (Acts 15: 14-18; Rom. 11: 11, 25, 30), necessitated a second phase of the messianic program to apply spiritual redemption to Israel nationally (Acts 3: 18-21; Rom. 11: 26-29, 31) and complete the promise of national restoration (Matt. 23: 39; Acts 1: 6-7; 3: 22-26; 15: 16), which will be fulfilled at the Second Advent (Zech. 12: 10-13: 2; 14: 3-11). The dispensational view depends on the validity of interpreting the Seventieth Week eschatologically [emphasis mine].
This then, is the summation of the Dispensationalist exegesis of the passage.
In a review of different commentators in the literature, there are minor
revisions and differences in emphasis, but the basic adherence to the parenthesis
theory and the futuristic fulfillment of the 70th week is absolute. One variance
worth mentioning is the occasional difference over the dating of the beginning
of the prophecy. Most of the Dispensational commentators begin the 70 weeks
at either 458 or 444 B. C. (Nehemiah 2), utilizing one of two decrees of
an Achaemenid king of Persia to the Jews as the commencement of the allotted
time for the unfolding of events in Israel's prophetic program. Occasionally,
one will see reference to 538 B. C. as the commencement (Cyrus' decree),
but this is rare in comparison to the other two beginning points noted.
13. Reiter, op. cit., 144.
14. ibid., 74-97.
15. O. T. Allis, Prophecy and the Church, Phillipsburg, Presbyterian and Reformed, 1945: 111.
16. ibid., 111-112.
17. ibid., 112.
18. ibid., 112.
19. Reiter, op. cit., 27 quoting Payne, The Imminent Appearing of Christ, p. 30.
20. ibid., 27.
21. Allis, op. cit., 113.
22]. ibid., 113-114.
23. ibid., 114.
24. ibid., 114.
25. ibid., 115.
26. ibid., 115.
27. ibid., 115.
28. Young, "Daniel", op. cit., 700.
29. John Walvoord, The Rapture Question, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 19th printing 1979; The Blessed Hope and the Tribulation, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976; The Nations, Israel and the Church in Prophecy, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1988 [Reprint (1st work) of The Nations in Prophecy, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1967. Reprint (2nd work) of Israel in Prophecy, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1962. Reprint (3rd work) of The Church in Prophecy, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1964.]
30. Leon Wood, A Commentary on Daniel, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1973; The Prophets of Israel, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979.
31. Herman Hoyt, "Dispensational Premillennialism," in The Meaning of the Millennium4 Views, Robert G. Clouse, editor, Inter-Varsity Press, 1977: 63-92.
32. Paul Feinberg, "The Case for the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Position," in The RapturePre, Mid, or Post Tribulational?, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984: 45-86.
33. Charles Ryrie, Dispensationalism Today, Chicago: Moody Press, 1965.
34. Sir Robert Anderson, The Coming Prince, Grand Rapids: Kregel, 11th reprint 1984. An excellent modern essay which corroborates Anderson's view of 360 day "prophetic years" is found in the work of Harold W. Hoehner, "Chronological Aspects of the Life of ChristPart VI: Daniel's Seventy Weeks and New Testament Chronology," in Bibliotheca Sacra, Volume 132, Number 525, January-March 1975: 47-65.
35. Arno C. Gaebelein, Daniel, New York: Our Hope Publications, 1911; The Conflict of the Ages, New York: Our Hope Publications, 1933.
36. William E. Blackstone, Jesus is Coming, New York/Chicago/London/Edinburgh: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1898, 1908, 1932.
37. William B. Riley, The Evolution of the Kingdom, New York: The Book Stall, 1913.
38. Allis, op. cit., 115.
39. J. Randall Price, "Daniel's Seventy Weeks, Dispensational Interpretation," Dictionary of Premillennial Theology, Grand Rapids, Kregel, 1996: 76.
40. ibid., 76-78.
41. ibid., 77. Curiously, J. Barton Payne, a post-tribulationalist, also affirms these six goals from Daniel 9: 24, referring to them as "six infinitival phrases of purpose," in "The Goal of Daniel's Seventy Weeks", Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 21/2, June 1978: 97-115. The quotation is from page 97 and includes Payne's citation of E. J. Young's idea that the six items presented in 9: 24 settle the terminus ad quem of the prophecy, while the termination of the 70 sevens coincides with the first advent of Christ. See. E. J. Young, The Prophecy of Daniel, a Commentary, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1949: 201.
42. ibid., 77.
43. ibid., 77-78.
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Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation?
by Rev. John S. Erickson
How many times have you asked this question? How many times have you been asked this question? We especially hear the question asked in the context of infant baptism.
There is a rather simple, and, I believe, appropriate answer that one can give in support of baptism. Our Lord commanded it, i.e., the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20). And when our Lord commands something, that command is something we ought to take seriously. To not take a command of our Lord seriously, would be the same as suggesting that our Lord has commanded something that really is not necessary. Or, that He has commanded something that it really makes no difference one way or another. There is ample evidence in Scripture that God expects us to take him and his commands seriously, and that includes our acts of worship. Jesus himself said, "God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth." Are we to think He would expect or demand such if it didn't matter? There is an interesting passage of Scripture found in Isaiah 45. God is here speaking through the Prophet and says, "I am the Lord, and there is no other." A bit later he says, "Woe to him who quarrels with his maker. Does the clay say to the potter, What are you making?" It is not for us to question God as to why he did, why he does, or why he says he will do a particular thing. Nor is it for us to question as to why he commands what he does of us. It is not for me, or for anyone else, to question as to why our Lord commanded baptism, or to try through rational argument to somehow work around His command.
This would be the simple answer, but when asked on a couple of occasions of late about this issue, I decided I wanted to take a fresh look at the question. I, of course, have come from a tradition that baptizes infants. I come from a tradition that holds firmly to baptism and to the necessity of baptism to the salvation of one's soul. This means that when I go about looking into the matter of baptism, I am going to approach the subject with some bias. This is something that, try as I might, I cannot help. I will see baptism, or allusions to baptism, in passages of Scripture that will not be seen by someone who holds a view different than my own. When for example Jesus speaks of the necessity of being born "of water and the Spirit" (Jn. 3:3), I see baptism in these words. There are many Bible scholars who do not.
As I struggled as to how to approach this question in a somewhat unbiased manner, it came to me that rather than looking, first of all for this verse, or that, as proof of my particular position, I should rather seek to bring my understanding and practice of baptism into conformity with what the New Testament reveals as to the understanding and practice of baptism by the early church, i.e., the apostles.
So, with this goal in mind, the first question ought to be, When, and by whom was baptism instituted? As far as I can determine we cannot look to the gospel record of our Lord's ministry for answer as to how we are to understand and practice baptism, because our Lord had not yet instituted, and he himself did not practice, what we now call "Christian Baptism." However, we can and must look to the closing verses of Matthew's gospel and to the last verse of Mark. There are those who will insist that Mark 16:9-20 is not reliable because some ancient manuscripts and witnesses do not include these verses. But, we can leave it at Matthew, in that I know of no one who questions the words of the Great Commission of our Lord as recorded by Matthew. Here Jesus himself gives instruction to his disciples, that they are to make disciples by baptizing and teaching. Mark has Jesus instructing the disciples to go into all the world preaching the good news. To which he adds, "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned."
Next, we can turn to see how things were done in the New Testament Church. Upon his ascension into heaven, Jesus had instructed the disciples to wait in Jerusalem and wait for the gift promised by His Father (Acts 1:4). They waited, and when the day of Pentecost came, the promised gift came (Acts 2). When people questioned what was going on, "Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice, and addressed the crowd" (Acts 2:14). What follows is the first sermon preached in the Church era (Peter followed the instruction given him by his Lord (Mark 16:15). Peter's preaching was such that it called for a response from those who heard it. And it is very important that we hear the question asked of Peter and the Eleven. We find this in Acts 2:37. "Brothers, what shall we do?" Peter's reply, "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. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off - for all whom the Lord our God will call." (Acts 2:38-39).
We need to keep in mind just what has gone on here. In the days immediately before his death, Jesus gave detailed instruction to His disciples as to what going to take place, and why. We see this in the later chapter of all the Gospel narratives. Then, in the forty days between His resurrection and ascension into heaven, Jesus gave further instructions (See the opening verses of Acts.). How did Peter know what to do when people asked what they needed to do to be saved? He knew because Jesus had instructed him and the other disciples as to what they were to do. These instructions were fresh in the mind of Peter and the Eleven. What should the people do? They should "repent and be baptized." Is there any need to ask if baptism is necessary?
[I am dealing only with the matter of the necessity of baptism in this article. I am not going to deal with matters such as: the benefits of baptism, the mode of baptism, infant baptism, or whether one's baptism is a guarentee he or she will never go lost.]
If baptism was not important, even necessary, would not one of the other disciples have maybe challenged Peter on this matter? But, the other disciples seem to have been in full agreement with Peter. Evidence for that can be found in the account we have of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:26-40). When Philip ran up to the Ethiopian's chariot and heard the man reading from the book of Isaiah, he asked him if he understood what he was reading. The Ethiopian then invited Philip to sit with him in the chariot and explain it all to him. Philip then, "began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus." Then we read how, when they came to some water, the eunuch said to Philip, "Look, here is water. Why shouldn't I be baptized?"
This is one of the many instances in Scripture where what is not said, speaks volumes. How would the Ethiopian eunuch have known to have asked about baptism if Philip had not said something about it? Clearly, in his explaining the way of salvation to this Ethiopian, Philip had shared much of what has not been written down for us, but which Jesus had given instruction concerning. And, with regard to baptism, it must have been made clear to him that it was important, even necessary, to his salvation. So much so, that the eunuch did not want to put it off.
And, although not one of the Eleven, but as an apostle "untimely born," Paul also received instruction from the Lord. And an incident recorded in Acts 16, verses 16 and following speaks to Paul and Silas' understanding of the subject at hand.
Paul and Silas had been placed in prison, and about midnight that night, a violent earthquake hit as they were praying and singing hymns to God. The prison doors flew open and the chains that secured the prisoners came loose. The jailer, waking up and assuming all the prisoners had escaped, was about to kill himself. Paul and Silas called to him, "Don't harm yourself! We are all here!'
At that, the jailer "rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. Then he asked, Sirs, what must I do to be saved!'" Their reply? "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved - you and your household." Then, Paul and Silas "spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house." Notice now, what happened next. "At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized." Again, from what Paul and Silas had said in answer to the jailer's question as to what he must do to be saved, it seems to be without question, that they had shared with this man something of the necessary connection between baptism and the salvation of this man's soul. [Take special note of the wording here, "What must I do." Notice that Paul did not seek to correct what this jailer understood as necessary. Rather he acted on the jailer's understanding and desire, and baptized him and his household.]
Later, in his letter to the Galatians, Paul, in speaking to the Christians there said, "You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ." (3:26-27). Is there a necessary link between baptism and saving faith? It seems Paul was convinced there was.
If you and I wish to be saved, or if it is our desire that our children be saved, why should we even think to do anything less - why would we dare do anything less - than that which our Lord has invited us to do, and which He has commissioned us to do.
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The LMS-USA is a Biblical, Confessional, Evangelical, Liturgical, Congregational
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