Queries and Explications
Baptist Preacher Responds To Our Review
Under the title, A Baptist On Jeremiah 6:16, we reviewed an article published in THE BAYTOWN SUN, August 1, 1999. Tim Cryer, author of the article, and the preacher at the Victory Baptist Church, Baytown, TX, has now replied. His response appears below.
Dear Mr. Hafley,
Thank you for responding to my article. I will get right to the point. I know all about what you teach and believe. I was raised in the Church of Christ; I was baptized at Cedar Bayou when I was 11 by a man named Roy Calma. I have attended your church as well as Missouri Street. All of my family is Church of Christ. My parents are members of Lakewood. I said all that to say this: It is a wicked and false doctrine in which you are involved. My Bible tells me in 2nd John, v. 9, 10, how to deal with people who teach false doctrine.
I believe water baptism is very important in a Christian's life, but it plays no part in salvation. I know the moment I was born again, and water baptism had nothing to do with it. It is an act of obedience, an external picture of what happened to you on the inside when you get saved.
The difference between us is what Christ did at Calvary. For me, the blood he shed is sufficient to take me to heaven. My salvation is done. For you, he had to die that awful death, and then you have to get baptized, and then you have to work to keep your salvation. You teach that man has a part in God's plan of salvation. Man never has and never will have a part in God's plan of salvation.
My objective is not to argue and debate, because nobody will get saved. I am not going to change your mind, and you are not going to change my mind. My objective is to see lost sinners come to Jesus. Will you join me in telling as many as we can that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, (and) that the only way to heaven is through the blood of Jesus?
Mr. Hafley, you are not my enemy. I love you and so does Jesus. Please ask him to show the truth before it is too late.
God Bless You,
Thank you for your courteous reply. I do not consider you to be a personal enemy of mine, either. Surely, we shall both be able to speak plainly and forthrightly without bitterness (2 Tim. 2:24). Since Paul was able to speak the gospel "with much contention," yet remain "gentle," and holy in behavior, so shall we (1 Thess. 2:2, 7, 10).
Paul spoke of "the meekness and gentleness of Christ" immediately before employing words which describe the militant nature of gospel warfare (2 Cor. 10:1, 3-5, 11). The Spirit of God was able to direct men to be "gentle" while, without contradiction, he used harsh words to identify errorists and their error (2 Tim. 2:24; Cf. 2:16-18; 3:1-8, 13; 4:2-4, 10, 14-16). On the one hand, the Spirit could speak of walking "in love" "as dear children," while at the same time exhorting us to "expose" "the unfruitful works of darkness" (Eph. 5:1, 2, 11; Cf. 6:10-20).
However, it is apparent that at least one of us is an enemy of the cross of Christ (Phil. 3:18). We both may be wrong, but it is certain that we both cannot be right before God. Obviously, as your citation of 2 John 9, 10, reveals, you believe I am wrong and unworthy of both your fellowship and God's.
I wonder, Tim, if you truly believe 2 John 9 ("Whosoever transgresseth and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ hath not God") applies to saved people. The text must refer to the saved, for the lost "have not God" to begin with. If one of your fellow Baptists should "err from the truth," that is, transgress and not abide in the doctrine of Christ, would he "have not God" (Jas. 5:19, 20; Cf. 1 Jn. 2:24)?
Now, since you have cited 2 John 9, 10, I want to know if you apply it. Will you please tell me what happens to the saved who do not let the word abide in them and who "abide not in the doctrine of Christ" (1 Jn. 2:24; 2 Jn. 9)? Tim, in light of your use of 2 John 9, you will have to give up the clear implication of the passage, or you will have to surrender your Baptist doctrine of "once saved, always saved." Which will you do?
Without surprise, but with regret, I note that your response did not address a single issue nor answer any of the questions which were submitted to you in the review of your article. You must know that your position was brought into serious question by the review. Why, then, did you not address the challenges to your doctrine? Was it because you could not harmonize Baptist doctrine with the Bible? If not, why did you not attempt to help me learn the truth? You say I need to know "the truth before it is too late." Why, then, did you not show me the error of my ways?
You do greatly err when you say, "I am not going to change your mind." That is not only an assault on my integrity, it is a false charge. If I am shown by the Bible the error of my ways, I will change. Accordingly, you do yourself no favor when you say, "You are not going to change my mind." Tim, that smacks of stubbornness. Surely, if you were convinced by the word of God that you were wrong, you would change your mind. I would. That being so, you need to deal with the issues and questions in my review which severely challenged the very base and heart of your teaching. Since we are to be "set for the defense of the gospel," and to "give an answer," surely you see that both duty and honesty demand that you not ignore the refutation of your doctrine (Phil. 1:17; 1 Pet. 3:15; Jude 3). Some day, my friend, you and I will have to answer for how we have handled the word of God (Mk. 8:38; Jn. 12:48).
Too, what of your parents and family who are members of the church? If, according to your use of 2 John 9, 10, I am unworthy of your fellowship and "have not God," is the same true of your loved ones? Why not? Do you think that they, like me, need to learn "the truth before it is too late"? Everything you say of me, every charge you make against what I have taught, applies with equal force against all your family.
Tim, this exchange has been broadcast in this country and in the Philippines. It is all over the internet. It has been sent to some of your Baptist brethren. Many are likely to be appalled when they see your failure to respond and at least attempt to salvage your position.
what is that "wicked and false doctrine in which" I am involved? Is it, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mk. 16:16)? Are the words of Jesus, "wicked and false"? Speaking as the Spirit gave him utterance, Peter said, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:4, 38). Are the Spirit's words "wicked and false"? If not, to what did you refer when you said, "it is a wicked and false doctrine in which you are involved"? When Ananias, said to Saul, "Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord," were his words "wicked and false" (Acts 22:16)? Tim, you may choose not to answer me, but someday you will have to answer before God!
As we noted in our first review, you make statements which you do not sustain by Scripture. You rely instead on "I believe," or, "I think." Here is another sample of that. "I believe water baptism is very important in a Christian's life, but it plays no part in salvation." Tim, where did you learn that "water baptism is very important in a Christian's life"? What Scripture teaches that?
As a matter of fact, contrary to your assertion that you believe baptism "is very important in a Christian's life," you do not believe baptism matters at all. Let me show you my charge is true. You teach that the moment one believes in Christ as the Son of God he is saved and cannot fall from grace. That being true, if such a believer should choose never to be baptized, he could live all of his life, spurn baptism, and go to heaven when he dies. Tim, I challenge you to deny it. You cannot remain consistent with Baptist doctrine and maintain that "water baptism is very important in a Christian's life." Your doctrine demands that a believer in Christ could refuse to be baptized, that he could deny baptism altogether, and still go to heaven when he dies. If you deny that last statement, then you are saying that one must be baptized in order to go to heaven! If you admit that, you will be perilously close to being "involved" in that "wicked and false doctrine" which you so abhor! Tim, can you not see the tangled web into which you have ensnared yourself?
You say that baptism "is an act of obedience." Is not believing in Christ "an act of obedience"? Is not repenting of one's sins "an act of obedience" to a divine demand (Acts 17:30)? Is not confessing with one's mouth that Jesus is Lord "an act of obedience" (Rom. 10:9, 10)? Do faith and repentance "play no part in salvation," since they, like baptism, are "acts of obedience"? Again, you may not answer me, but you will have to answer these questions one day (Jn. 12:48)!
Yes, Tim, baptism is an act of obedience to a divine command (Acts 10:48). So is repentance an act of obedience to a divine command (Acts 17:10). Jesus is "the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him" (Heb. 5:9; Cf. Matt. 7:21; Lk. 6:46). God commands "all men every where to repent" "in the name of Jesus Christ" (Acts 2:38; 10:48; 17:30). Peter commanded Cornelius and his household "to be baptized in the name of the Lord" (Acts 10:48). From Acts 2:38, we learn that baptism "in the name of the Lord" is "for the remission of sins" (Cf. Lk. 24:47). So, Peter commanded them to be baptized for the remission of sins. Like the command to repent, it was "an act of obedience" with which they had to comply.
Naaman had to perform "an act obedience" before he could be healed of leprosy (2 Kgs. 5:1-15). His dipping in the Jordan River did not mean he had healed himself, but he could not be healed without submitting to that "act of obedience" (2 Kgs. 5:13, 14). Likewise, the blind man in John 9 was healed by the Lord but not until he went and washed in the pool of Siloam (9:1-7). He had to perform "an act of obedience" before the Lord healed him. We, too, must submit ourselves to the Lord's commands, to his plan of making men righteous (Rom. 10:3, 16). One of those commands is baptism in his name "for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38; 10:48).
It is only when we "obey" that we are made free from sin (Rom. 6:17, 18). It is only the obedient who are given eternal salvation (Heb. 5:9). It is only those who "do" the will of the Father who are saved (Matt. 7:21). Therefore, the fact that baptism is, as you say, "an act obedience," does not mean that it has "no part in salvation." As the illustrations show, the fact that it is "an act of obedience" rather serves to enforce its necessity (1 Pet. 1:22).
You state, "I know the moment I was born again, and water baptism had nothing to do with it." If not, what part did "water" play in your new birth? If it was not connected with "water baptism," and, yet, "water" plays a part in the new birth, when you were "born again," how was water employed? We know water is involved in the new birth. Jesus said so (Jn. 3:3, 5; Cf. Acts 8:35-39; 10:47, 48). However, "water baptism had nothing to do with" your being "born again." Alright, then, just how was "water" used in your new birth?
Compare the following passages: "Except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (Jn. 3:5). "Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord" (Acts 22:16). "Christ...loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word" (Eph. 5:25, 26). "Ye are washed...sanctified...justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God" (1 Cor. 6:11). "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Spirit" (Titus 3:5).
The Corinthians had been "washed" in the name of the Lord and by the Spirit. They had been "baptized" (Acts 18:8; Cf. 1 Cor. 12:13). The new birth is "of water and the Spirit." The Corinthian's conversion involved the Spirit and water baptism, but yours, you say, did not. Hence, your alleged new birth is not like that of the Bible.
What is that "washing of regeneration"? There is a washing, a cleansing involved in the process of regeneration. It is not our own works. It is the work or operation of God when one is baptized (Col. 2:12). It is "the washing of water" (Eph. 5:26). The Ephesians had been baptized "in the name of the Lord Jesus" "for the remission of sins" (Acts 19:5; 2:38). Like Saul, they were to be baptized as the Lord "washed" away their sins by the blood of Christ (Eph. 1:7; Acts 19:5; 2:38). Despite all this, "water baptism had nothing to do with" your being "born again." Tim, the Scriptures above show that your new birth is not the new birth of the New Testament.
Again, without citing a single passage, you say that baptism is "an external picture of what happen(s)...on the inside when you get saved." Tim, what Scripture teaches that baptism is "an external picture of what happen(s)...on the inside when you get saved"? Where did you learn that? You did not learn it from the Bible!
Romans 6:3-6 shows that baptism is, if you will, a "picture" of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, not "an external picture" of our salvation. When we are "baptized into Jesus Christ" and "baptized into his death," our resurrection in baptism is "like as Christ was raised up from the dead," not "an external picture" of what occurs when one is saved. "For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also "in the likeness of his resurrection" (Rom. 6:5). The text says nothing to indicate that baptism is "an external picture" of our spiritual salvation, as you allege. Rather, it shows that our burial in baptism ("planted") is "the likeness of his death," not of our salvation. It shows that our being raised is "the likeness of his resurrection," not "an external picture of what happen(s) to you on the inside when you get saved."
Tim, you may choose not to tell me where you learned that baptism is "an external picture" of our salvation, but you will have to answer to God for how you have handled his word in that regard. Now, you know better. Will you continue to teach your view anyway? "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing (that is, "handling aright") the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15).
Next, you say, "The difference between us is of what Christ did at Calvary. For me, the blood he shed is sufficient to take me to heaven, my salvation is done. For you, he had to die that awful death, and then you have to get baptized, and then you have to work to keep your salvation."
Tim, if a hyper-Calvinist, a Primitive Baptist (one who believes that God unconditionally elected who should be saved), were to say to you, "The difference between us is of what Christ did at Calvary. For me, the blood he shed is sufficient to take me to heaven, my salvation is done. For you he had to die that awful death, and then you have to repent, believe, and say the sinner's prayer and then get your salvation," how would you answer him? (Or, would you simply tell him, as you tell me, that you will not discuss the matter and refuse to attempt to show him the error of his way?)
You see, faith, belief in Christ is a "work" (Jn. 6:28, 29). Repentance is something that man must do--"Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" (Lk. 13:3). Now, to the strict Calvinist, those required "acts of obedience," faith and repentance, demean the all sufficiency of the blood of Christ. They believe that man can do absolutely nothing, not even believe and repent, without denigrating the blood of Christ. They believe your insistence (as the tracts you sent me say), that the sinner must believe and repent undermines "what Christ did at Calvary." Again, Tim, how do you answer their charge?
Christ died for Adolf Hitler, but so far as we know, Hitler was not saved. The blood of Christ was "sufficient to take (Hitler) to heaven," yet he was not saved. Why not, Tim?
(1) As 1 Peter 1:18, 19, shows, we are "redeemed...with the precious blood of Christ." Then, three verses later, Peter said, "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit" (v. 22). Tim, did Peter contradict himself in the space of four verses? Or, does the blood of Christ redeem us when we obey the truth--which?
(2) The Romans were "justified by his blood" (Rom. 5:9). But, when? When were they justified by his blood? "Ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness." Tim, were the Romans justified by the blood of Christ and made free from sin when they obeyed the gospel?
(3) In Christ (not out of him), the Ephesians had "redemption through his blood" (Eph. 1:7). The Ephesians "were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 19:5). Baptism "in the name of Jesus Christ (is) for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38). So, the Ephesians were redeemed by the blood of Christ when they were baptized into him, into his name.
(4) The saints at Colosse were redeemed by the blood of Christ (Col. 1:14, 20). When they were "buried with (Christ) in baptism," through faith in the working of God, they were forgiven (Col. 2:11-13; Cf. Rom. 6:3, 4, 17, 18).
Tim, as these passages reveal, the New Testament links salvation by the blood of Christ with one's baptism into Christ. Why, then, do you separate the two?
me, the blood he shed is sufficient to take me to heaven, my salvation is done. For you, he had to die that awful death...and then you have to work to keep your salvation." With these words, Tim, you seek to convict me of not believing in the all sufficiency of the blood of Christ. Well, let us see if the following passages support your contention:
Luke 13:24--"Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able." Tim, do we have to "strive" (agonize) to enter in at the strait gate (eternal life--Matt. 7:13, 14)? Will you continue to deny the very words of Jesus?
Romans 2:6, 7--"Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life." Tim, do we have to steadfastly continue in doing good and seek for glory and honor and immortality before we are given "eternal life"? Will you deny the word of the Spirit in Romans 2?
Philippians 1:27; 2:12--"Stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel....Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." Tim, why did you say that one must do nothing to "keep (his) salvation"? Why would you speak in denial of the passages above?
1 Timothy 6:12, 19--"Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life....Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life." Tim, do we have to fight and lay up good works in order that we may lay hold on eternal life? Surely, you will not deny the word of God, will you?
2 Timothy 4:7, 8--"I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness." Tim, the word, "henceforth" shows that because he had fought, finished, and kept the faith, "there is laid up for (him) a crown of righteousness." Do you see how your words conflict with what Paul said?
Hebrews 12:14--"Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord" (Cf. Titus 2:11-14; Jas. 1:27; 4:4; 2 Pet. 2:11). You say your salvation is "done," and that you need not do anything. Must you, Tim, in order to "see the Lord," "follow peace with all men" and live a holy, godly life? Can you "see the Lord" without living peaceably with all men and without living a pure life? Can you (Heb. 12:14)? If so, how can you say, in effect, "I don't have to 'work' to keep my salvation"? You may not answer me, but you will face God in judgment with your words and these Scriptures!
2 Peter 1:10, 11--"Give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be administered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." Tim, why should we "give diligence to make (our) calling and election sure" if there is no doubt about it? Why do you say it is "done," and that you have no need "give diligence to make your calling and election sure"?
Revelation 2:10--"Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." Tim, in view of the statement above, why did you attempt to shame me for believing that one must be faithful unto death? If one is not faithful unto death, will the Lord give him a crown of life anyway? If so, why the warning?
"You teach that man has a part in God's plan of salvation. Man never has and never will have a part in God's plan of salvation." In contrast with your words, Tim, note the words of the Holy Spirit:
"And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward (crooked, perverse) generation" (Acts 2:40). To those who "believed on him," Jesus said, "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (Jn. 8:30-32). To those who were not yet saved, "Paul and Barnabas...speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God" (Acts 13:43). Later, the actions of some of them showed that they had "judge(d) themselves unworthy of everlasting life" (v. 46).
Tim, how could these passages be true if, as you say, man has no "part in God's plan of salvation"? How could one's actions judge himself "unworthy of everlasting life" if man has no part in God's plan of salvation? If man has no part in God's plan of salvation, how could it matter whether or not they continued in the word of Christ, or whether or not they knew the truth? Tim, can you explain these passages since you say man "never has and never will have a part in God's plan of salvation"? I do not think you can explain the difference between what you say and what these passages say. You may not give me an answer, but you will give an answer to Christ (Jn. 12:48).
Tim, you say that your "objective is not to argue and debate, because nobody will get saved." It is too bad that Paul and other disciples did not know that arguing and debating will not result in the salvation of souls. Stephen argued (Acts 6:10--NASB). You evidently know better than did the apostle Paul. "He was talking and arguing" (Acts 9:29; 17:2, 3, 17; 18:4; 19:8, 9; 28:23). Paul was "set for the defence of the gospel" (Phil 1:17). He made "speeches in defense," argumentative discourses, for such is the meaning of the term, "answer" (Acts 22:1; Phil. 1:7, 17; 2 Tim. 4:16; 1 Pet. 3:15). Paul preached the gospel of God "with much contention" (1 Thess. 2:2). The apostles engaged in much disputing (Acts 15:2). Jude said we should "earnestly contend for the faith" (Jude 3).
Tim, these and many other passages which could be produced put you in direct contradiction with New Testament ministers. Why is your "objective" opposed to theirs?
Nearly every statement you made in your letter conflicts with the teaching of the Bible. Tim, does this not bother you? Does it not trouble you? If it does not, it should.
Yes, Tim, Jesus is, indeed, "the way, the truth, and the life." (In fact, I have a video taped sermon by that very title which you ought to see.) However, I will not join you in your preaching of Jesus, for you do not present him as he presents himself in the New Testament, as we have abundantly shown.
Too, it is a bit confusing that you should want me to "join" you, especially since you earlier applied 2 John 9, 10, to me and implied that you could not receive me. Then, you say we together could tell "as many as we can that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life." Is our telling them essential to their salvation, Tim? I believe it is necessary that we preach and tell men about Jesus (Rom. 10:13-17; 1 Cor. 1:18). But, I do not see how you can believe it, especially since you said that "man never has and never will have a part in God's plan of salvation." If we must tell sinners that Jesus is "the way, the truth, and the life," would that not make us a part of God's plan to save them? If so, that would contradict your declaration that man has no part in the plan of salvation. Once again, Tim, you find yourself at odds with the teaching of the Bible. Does this not alarm you? It should.
Finally, you tell me to ask God to show me the truth before it is too late. Well, why do you not show me? That is your job! Just as you would have me to join with you in "telling as many as we can" about Jesus, why do you not tell me the truth about Jesus and show me the error of my way? Tim, do not try to avoid your duty here and place it in God's hands. Hear what God said to Ezekiel, "When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand" (Ezek. 3:18).
As noted, we both cannot be right before God. One of us is wrong, eternally wrong. We will be judged by the word of God. Accordingly, I am willing for that word to be the standard, the pattern, by which we are to live (2 Thess. 2:15; 2 Tim. 1:13; Heb. 8:5). If you have the truth, you should have no trouble showing us the error of our ways. You are obligated to do so (Ezek. 3:17-21; Acts 20:26, 27).
I trust that your conscience will not let you rest until you resolve these matters in your mind. I will be happy to study with you privately or publicly. I have no interest but that of the truth and of your soul, my soul, and the souls of those whom we teach (Matt. 15:14; 1 Tim. 4:16). If I can be of help to you in any way, do not hesitate to call on me.
Larry Ray Hafley
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