House Church Talk - Re: Baptisms and Administrations

Ross J Purdy rossjpurdy at
Sun Mar 7 20:18:20 EST 2004

Hi Bruce,

> I'm a little puzzled!  You made a statement re. other peoples only being
> able to have a relationship with God through Israel. I questioned your
> statement (not believing that it is true at all) and you ask me to help
> to prove YOUR STATEMENT which I have brought into question!!!   If you
> know why you made it in the first place, why not just say so and drop it
> until you know for sure if it is so???

The questions were, " Are there not instructions in the Law for how those of
other nations are to
approach and worship God? Were they not required to come and conduct
themselves in respect of the covenant people?" The point is that there are
and I am presuming that you are familiar enough with scripture to know

> Re. Job, it has been my understanding that he lived roughly around the
> of Israel's Exodus from Egypt, which puts him long after Israel became a
> nation!  The same with Cyrus and the Magi!
> I asked the following question and you have not answered it at all!
> "What specificly do YOU  see about John's ministry and baptism under the
> covenant, the Lord's disciples baptizing people under the old covenant and
> the Lord Jesus' commission to baptize disciples under the new covenant
> relates to the present day practice of baptizing believers in water??"
> Why have you chosen to ignore it???
> Brother I also asked that if your doctrine was truly a  scriptural one to
> simply state it in the words of scripture or acknowledge that it is not a
> scriptural doctrine.  Your response was, "Bruce, This we will get to in
> course. I am not intending to frustrate here, it is just that I want to
> to organise our presuppositions so that semantical arguments don't derail
> the discussion. (Not to mention I am deliberate also.)"
> Brother, I have not sensed any "organization of presuppositions" here at
> all!!!  Have you???   I am simply asking for the scriptural statement(s)
> your doctrine!!   The very reason why I am challenging it is because I do
> not see it as a scriptural doctrine whatsoever! I have no idea why you are
> beating around the bush, nor do I have any idea what bush you are beating
> around!!!  Let's get down to the basics of "What saith the scripture?"!!

I am not ignoring the question, Bruce. Point in fact concerning
presuppositions is our different understanding of Job's place in history.
Basics require that we start at the beginning doesn't it?

> Maybe you don't even agree with me that all scriptural doctrines are
> in words of scripture. If so, please say so, tell me why and site some
> examples of other "scriptural doctines" which are not stated in words of
> scripture. But, if you do believe that scriptural doctrines ARE stated in
> words of scripture, then just show me the scriptural statement(s) and let
> scripture convince me.

I don't see the Bible as a systematic theology textbook where simple proof
texts can be tossed out as an answer. Some things are deduced from a larger
context and are not going to be explicitly stated in so many words. See,
there again we do have to organize and recognize what each other's
presuppositions are.

The following comes from the New English Translation at
which has many interesting and some good notes here and there.
Unfortunately, it is based on an ecclectic critical text.

I found study notes (number 25 and 26 below) interesting as they point at
the problem with Israel with respect to their covenant relationship to God
and the danger they were in. They had given up observing the spirit of the
Law which would maintain a true moral conduct in line with righteousness.
Their observance of the Law was now only a mere cultural glory redirected to
draw attention to ethnicity and the fact that they had been given priviliges
by God that no other nation had. The glory of the Law was its focus on God's
character and His desire to sanctify humanity in order that they be fit to
live in blessing with God. Sin perverts the purposes of God and takes every
opportunity to take what is meant for good and turn it into a sick

Luke 3:7-9

3:7 So John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, "You
offspring of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 3:8
Therefore produce fruit that proves your repentance, and don't begin to say
to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.'25 For I tell you that God
can raise up children to Abraham from these stones!26 3:9 Even now the ax is
laid at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good
fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire."

25 study note We have Abraham as our father. John's warning to the crowds
really assumes two things: (1) A number of John's listeners apparently
believed that simply by their physical descent from Abraham, they were
certain heirs of the promises made to the patriarch, and (2) God would never
judge his covenant people lest he inadvertently place the fulfillment of his
promises in jeopardy. In light of this, John tells these people two things:
(1) they need to repent and produce fruit in keeping with repentance, for
only that saves from the coming wrath, and (2) God will raise up "children
for Abraham from these stones" if he wants to. Their disobedience will not
threaten the realization of God's sovereign purposes.
26 study note The point of the statement God is able from these stones to
raise up children to Abraham is that ancestry or association with a
tradition tied to the great founder of the Jewish nation is not an automatic
source of salvation.

The implication here is not that Israel did not have a covenant relationship
with God, they did! They rightly knew that as Israelites, they had an
advantage. The issue was that they were in violation of the covenant and
were in danger of wrath which meant they were in danger of being "cut off"
from the congregation of Israel. To be cut off was to be removed from a
position of covenant blessing. John's ministry in preparing the people for
their Messiah was to rectify that situation. What was formed in the covenant
relationship was deformed by Israel's sin. Messiah would bring about
Israel's reformation by a new covenant. Repentance and confession of sins
was a first necessary step to restoring Israel to a proper covenant
relationship. Baptism was not an option in this context! It was commanded
and demanded for restoration.

Israel's advantage was totally a gift of God. It was His sovereign choice to
"create" a people who were nothing until God made them into something and
indeed they are nothing without God (which is true for all). The crack about
raising children up from stones was aimed at their arrogance in thinking a
mere geneology was all that was needed to remain in full blessing of the
covenant. They did not fear God and His wrath on those who were unrighteous.
God was looking for a genuine God-fear of His wrath and a righteousness of
the heart honoring the spirit of the Law beyond mechanical Law keeping. Not
a sinless perfection but a God-loving true heart attitude of which God would
be pleased to make up any shortcoming according to His own gracious mercy.

I hope to develop and support my thinking more fully. If I am correct, the
context of John and Jesus' ministry is one of restoration and reformation
according to a covenant relationship as opposed to Jews and heathens being
converted to Christianity.

In Christ,

Ross Purdy

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