The Defining Doctrine – Acts 2:41

The title to the message tonight is:“The Defining Doctrine.”

Initially, I debated whether I ought to use a definite, or indefinite, article in that title.

Is this THE defining doctrine or just one of several of our distinctives as a church?

If you were listening, you should have noticed that I chose the definite article.

There are a great many doctrines which we share with the rest of Christianity.

For example, Roman Catholicism is a tenacious defender of the virgin birth of the Lord Jesus Christ.

There are a lot of Protestants, and even baptists, who aren’t convinced of this important doctrine.

I commend the Catholics for their diligence in this area.

Roman Catholicism adamantly teaches the deity of Christ, the Trinity and other important doctrines.

It’s a shame that they have mixed so much heresy into the truth.

There are a lot of denominations which claim to believe in the inspiration of the Word of God,

And some of them even still use the King James, which was translated from the original text.

We commend these people.

There are other churches which teach salvation through sovereign grace.

And there are some which believe in the eternal security of the child of God.

In fact there are things in just about every denomination within Christendom, which with we agree.

But we believe that fundamental, landmark Baptists are the only people who still cling to the whole counsel of God.

We believe that ours is the only kind of church which was established by the Lord Jesus Christ and which still believes and practices all those things which He has taught us.

In other words, I think what we have all our doctrinal ducks correctly lined up.

I know that this sounds egotistical, but there isn’t much that I can do about it.

I know that this kind of talk isn’t popular in our pluralistic society, but I believe that it is the truth.

And if I thought that another church was closer to the truth, I would of necessity have to join with them.

And in addition to these, there are a couple of our doctrinal ducks which are a completely different color.

There is at least one doctrine which is absolutely unique to God’s true churches – Baptist churches.

And I refer to the doctrine regarding BAPTISM.

Some of the unique aspects of our distinctive doctrine surface here in verse 41.

“Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.”

Baptists believe in a REGENERATED CHURCH MEMBERSHIP.

This doctrine sets us apart from Catholicism and nearly every branch of Protestantism.

Many of those people quibble about semanitcs and language,

But it’s a tenant of their churches that baptism in some way creates or help to create Christians.

Nearly all of them believe that water somehow washes away sins.

It’s called baptismal regeneration.

They point to this chapter and then positively affirm that verse 38 says baptism washes away sin.

But as we pointed out a week or so ago, not so.

Repentance is a command given to all people everywhere,

But baptism is a command given to a much smaller group.

Not only is that a clear New Testament principle, but it is also taught in that verse.

Baptism is to be given only to those who show the fruit of repentance.

Acts 2:38 teaches that those who repent of their sins should be baptized “in respect to,” or “because of” the remission of sins.

Verse 41 says, “They that GLADLY RECEIVED HIS WORD were baptized.”

I know that I touched on this a couple time recently, but it is important to refer to it once again:

The people who gladly received Peter’s word, had just a few days before despised that same message.

Some of these 3,000 may have called for the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus.

And now they were gladly hearing and receiving the message that Jesus was the Christ, Son of God.

Not only that, but moments earlier these same people were in pain at the preaching of Peter.

What brought about the change in these people’s hearts?

It wasn’t the eloquence of the preacher, or the skill of his logic.

It was the grace of the Almighty God and the ministry of His Word.

These people who gladly received the Word, had somehow been changed from rebels to receivers.

They had taken “Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved by the signs and wonders of God and by wicked hands had Him crucified and slain.”

But now they were bowing their knees before Him and submitting themselves to baptism in His Name.

There is no other explanation for this change other than these people’s regeneration.

They had been born again by the grace of God.

They were now capable of repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

And because they had been saved, they were ready, willing and able to be baptized.

The Word of God gives itself several descriptive names and illustrations.

I quoted Hebrews a week ago:

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword,

Piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow,

And is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

So the Word of God is a SWORD, through which the Holy Spirit pricked or stabbed those people’s hearts.

Elsewhere in the Scriptures, the Word is called a HAMMER:

“Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD;

And like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?” – Jeremiah 23:29.

And its also described as a MEDICATED OINTMENT or balm.

You might say that Peter rightly divided the Word of God.

He explained the behavior of the disciples by using the prophecy of Joel.

And he preached Christ using the prophecies of David.

And then he drove home the wickedness and sinfulness of his audience.

Until they cried out in pain, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”

When the sword of the Spirit had accomplished its designated work, and “had not returned in vain,”

Peter put it away and pulled out some of the balm of Gilead and began to heal their wounded hearts.

When the conviction of the Holy Spirit has done its work and the promise of the Word of God has been applied, those who are truly born again find that they gladly receive every sentence, word, jot and tittle.

These are the people who can rightfully seek scriptural baptism.

Baptism is not for unthinking and non-believing babies.

And baptism is not in order to make Christians out of people.

Baptism is only for already regenerated people.

Baptists recognize only a regenerated church membership.

Secondly, those people were BAPTIZED.

Really !!!

I sometimes laugh when I read some of the foolish things that heretics say about the Word of God.

I realize that some of you are so spiritual, righteous, particular and right that you are always sickened at the heresies that you hear.

But I have to confess that sometimes they tickle my funny bone.

But like that bumped funny bone, there is a fine line between pleasure and pain.

The Jamison, Fausset and Brown Commentary quoted somebody named Olshausen about verse 41:

“It is difficult to say how three thousand could be baptized in one day, according to the old practice of a complete submersion;

And the more as in Jerusalem there was no water at hand except Kidron and a few pools.

The difficulty can only be removed by supposing that they already employed sprinkling, or baptized in houses in large vessels.

Formal submersion in rivers, or larger quantities of water, probably took place only where the locality conveniently allowed it.”

One of the other commentaries on my shelf said:

“This must necessarily have been by sprinkling, and not by immersion –

when we consider the number baptized, and the scanty supply of water which then was at Jerusalem.

Baptism by immersion of so great a number, and in so short apace of time, could not have been administered with the consent of the Jewish rulers,

Which we may be perfectly certain would not have been obtained.”

I could go on with several more bits of foolishness like this, but this time I’m not smiling.

I snicker at dumb statements, because I too have made dumb statements, and I hope that people will be gracious to me the next time that I make a blunder.

But these statements against immersion are not foolish blunders.

These are the comments of men who know exactly what they are saying;

These are not mere slips of the tongue

And these are the comments of men who, without a doubt, hate the doctrine of immersion.

And it might even be true that they hate the immersionists as much as they do their baptism.

I want you to listen to another thoroughly stupid statement.

I usually have a single cup of coffee in the morning.

I like my coffee strong and sweet.

Would it be logical for me to say that I “vinegar my coffee” with a spoonful of sugar?

Do I sour my coffee with sugar?

I also like my coffee nice and hot.

Would it be logical for me to put my coffee in the freezer to warm it up?

Can I heat my coffee by freezing it?

Those two statements are as stupid as to say that someone can baptize a person by sprinkling water on him.

Baptism TEACHES several important things, such as the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus.

It can also teach the union of the believer with Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection.

And it teaches that believer’s own death to sin and that he has a new life as a child of God.

Baptism TEACHES several things,

But the word “baptism” MEANS only one thing: “immersion.”

“Baptism” is a transliterated or anglicized form of the Greek word “baptizo.”

And “baptizo” by definition means to immerse; to dip or plunge something into water.

To dip or plunge something by sprinkling water on it is illogical and in fact contradictory.

To immerse something without burying it is contrary to the word “baptism.”

When Acts 2:41 says that there were “about 3,000 people baptized,” then there were about 3,000 people immersed in water that day.

I don’t care what the difficulties were in getting that done, those difficulties were somehow overcome.

For every so-called expert who says that there wasn’t enough water or enough time to baptize that many people, I can produce another expert who says there was plenty of water and plenty of time.

But those experts are not the key to the question.

What saith the scripture?

“To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”

Acts 2:41 says that those 3,000 new believers were immersed.

Period !!!

That is one of the distinctive doctrines of Calvary Independent Baptist Church.

Baptism is by immersion and only by immersion.

And a third part of this doctrine which is peculiar to God’s true churches is:

Those new believers were ADDED to the already existing church.

When those 3,000 were baptized they didn’t constitute themselves a scriptural church.

There isn’t a single hint that at any point in this chapter there was a church organized.

Only through the misinterpretation of I Corinthians 12:13 and then the misapplication of that verse to this chapter do people say that the first church was born in Acts 2.

And when that is done, it flies in the face of the instruction about the church, which we have in gospels.

No, the Lord Jesus started His church, not the Holy Spirit.

And the Saviour started His church during His earthly ministry, with disciples whom John baptized.

That church was commissioned to carry the gospel throughout the world, prior to Acts 2.

That church was given the two ordinances prior to Acts 2.

That church was instructed and encouraged with ecclesiastical promises prior to Acts 2.

And following the greatest day of evangelism in human history, there were 3,000 people ADDED to that church.

There is one other thing which I believe this verse teaches us Baptists.

I see a conjunction right in the middle of the verse which ties together two separate but important events.

Those who gladly received the Word were baptized,

And on the same day there were added 3,000 souls.

There are a lot of Baptists who get really hot and bothered over this question:

“Are people added to the Lord’s church through baptism, or are they two separate things?”

Is baptism the act which makes a new believer a new church members?

I see no reason to get excited whatsoever about the matter.

What does the verse say?

There were people baptized and they were added to the church.

This verse says that those were two separate acts.

As I’ve said before, I am not going to baptize someone who do not want to become a part of membership.

If someone professes to being saved then I believe that they should become a member of one of the Lord’s churches.

If they want to be a member of a church in Memphis, Tennessee, then I would tell them to find one of God’s churches in Memphis and submit to their baptism.

And if someone professes to be saved, but doesn’t want to serve the Lord through any of His churches, then I don’t believe that they are worthy of baptism.

I will never baptize a person who doesn’t want to become a member of the church who authorizes me to baptize.

But, the baptism itself is not the means by which that new believer becomes a members.

They become members by the vote of the church, through which that church determines the will of the Lord.

There is something else which this verse teaches, but a lot of Baptists ignore.

These people we apparently baptized on the day when they professed to be born again?

They were not put through a ten week intensive course on Baptist doctrine.

They didn’t have to jump through any special hoops, or produce back tithes for the last 12 months.

They didn’t have to quote the Nicene Creed or Spurgeon’s catechism.

When they displayed brokenness before God, and they professed faith in Christ, they were immediately baptized.

Care and caution needs to practices in receiving new members, but undue caution is not warranted by Scripture.

What saith the scripture?

“To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”