Friday, August 23, 2019

Does receiving the Holy Spirit prior to Baptism prove that Baptism is optional and/or symbolic?

When it comes to the Biblical teaching on Baptism, we've all come across those Protestants who are eager to nullify God's Word for their Traditions of Men (see an older post HERE). In a prior post, I talked about their favorite example, the Good Thief (HERE). In this post, I want to talk about their second favorite argument, the account of Acts 10 when the Gentiles received the Gift of Tongues prior to being Baptized. Here's the Acts 10 passage with some context:
1 At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, 2 a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously, and prayed continually to God. 3 About the ninth hour of the day [3pm] he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God come in and say to him, “Cornelius, your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God. 5 And now send men to Joppa and bring one Simon who is called Peter.”

9 The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour [12pm] to pray. 10 And he saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending. 12 In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. 13 And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” 14 But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” 15 And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” 16 This happened three times.

19 And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. 20 Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them.” 23 So he invited them in to be his guests.

28 And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean. Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36 As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ. 43 To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

44 While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 45 And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, 47 “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.
The first thing to notice here is the Liturgical connotations. Cornelius was praying at 3pm, the same hour Jesus died, which was part of the Jewish Liturgy of the Hours as we see in Acts 3:1. (This means Jesus prayed Psalm 22 on the Cross as part of the Liturgy of the Hours.) So the time of day is no accident. Catholics call this the "Hour of Mercy" for a reason. Similarly, Peter went up on the roof to pray at Noon, another major Liturgical Hour. The Jews would have recognized these times. But that's not the point of this post.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

The "non imputation of sin" in 2 Tim 4:16

I came across an interesting passage that I haven't spent much time with but I'd like to share and comment on:
2 Tim 4: 16 At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged [imputed] against them! 17 But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion's mouth.
To begin, Paul is speaking of a time late in his life when he was put on trial (Chrysostom thinks Paul stood before Nero), yet all of Paul's friends abandoned him rather than stick around and support him. So while his friends sinned, at least apparently, Paul didn't get upset, and rather had God by his side to help defend him (cf Mt 10:18-20). We often hear the term "apologetics" coming from 1 Peter 3:15, where Peter says "always be ready to give a defense," but the Greek term "apologia" is also used here by Paul. (It's often used in the Bible especially when referring to Christians being put on trial before a persecuting government). From this instance, we see apologetics is more than just a friendly debate, it's about openly confessing God before a hostile crowd (cf Rom 10:9-10, which I wrote about HERE).
That said, the real focus of this post is upon Paul's statement about his friends: "may it [the sin of forsaking Paul] not be charged [imputed] against them". There are two ways to interpret this phrase, neither of which supports the erroneous Protestant idea that to "not impute sin" to us must mean that our sin was imputed/transferred to an innocent substitute (e.g. to Jesus, in your place). Here's why.