THE QUERIST COLUMN
March 1, 1997 Issue
by Ronny F. Wade
Question: What is the meaning of death in James 1:13-15? If one spiritually dies, how may that person be restored to God? Must they be baptized again?
Answer: The verse in question reads "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot he tempted with evil, and he himself tempteth no man: but each man is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed. Then lust, when it hath conceived, beareth sin: and sin when it is full grown, bringeth forth death." There has ever been, on the part of man, an attempt to blame someone else for his sins. Adam tried as well as Eve. Today many blame God for their desires, actions, feelings etc. trying to justify their ungodly actions at the expense of someone beside themselves. James makes it very clear that no man can rightly say "I am tempted of God. "God does not in any sense tempt us to do evil. James also affirms that God is beyond the area of temptation. He is wholly removed from evil, hence cannot be touched by its influence. Nor does He tempt anyone. God does not thrust upon us, that which is completely foreign to Him. He may at times try and prove His people but never does so for the purpose of causing them to sin. The true source of temptation is revealed by James when he says we are (I) drawn away (2) by our own lust (3) and enticed. This is good reason for every Christian to be on guard against the weaknesses of the flesh, or any influence through friends or otherwise that might draw us away from that which is right. It is in such situations that lust is conceived and we are led captive by wicked influences into sin. The final step is death. When sin is full grown, it bringeth forth death. Spiritual death is understood here. The individual because of his sin is separated from God. The restoration of the individual may be accomplished by retracing his steps i.e. by coming back to God. The fallen individual arrived at his destination by forsaking God and his word. By allowing lust (evil desire) to draw him away into sin. Now it is necessary for him to repent of the sin, confess his sin, pray God for forgiveness thereby returning to God. Peter told Simon in Acts 8:22 "Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. "The prodigal of Luke 15 returned to the Father confessing "I have sinned against thee and am no longer worthy to be called thy son." Though erring and sinful, he was still a son. So are we, when we sin. We do not cease to be sons and daughters. We do cease to be faithful. Hence, returning to God does not require baptism or being born again. In Acts 19 we have a case of re-baptism on the part of some who had been baptized with John's baptism after the baptism of the Great Commission came into effect. Since the baptism of John was no longer effective, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 19:1-5). When one today is baptized for the wrong reason (to please a friend, parent, etc., rather than obeying God, they need to be scripturally baptized). However, one who has been baptized scripturally need never be re-baptized for any reason.
Question: Does John 6:53-56 refer to the Lord's Supper? If so, and one forsakes the supper on an ongoing basis and dies spiritually, do they need to be re-baptized?
Answer: The phrase "eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of man" is a Hebrew idiom which denotes the operation of the mind in receiving, understanding, and applying doctrine or instructions of any kind. Jesus points out that just as the body lives temporally by eating bread, so the new life is nourished by feeding upon Christ in our hearts by faith. The idea expressed is "except you feed on Christ in your hearts and partake of His life, ye have no life in you." We accept the bread of life, our crucified Lord, by faith and obedience to His teachings. Thus, whosoever by faith trusts in the death of Christ "and is baptized into his death", spiritually partakes of his body and blood. When does one receive spiritual life? When he is born again. When is one born again? When he is obedient to the gospel. If one is baptized on Monday night, that person has spiritual life at that moment. He does not have to wait until the next Sunday when he communes to have spiritual life. If he did, and died before Sunday, he would be lost. Who would so affirm? Hence in the view of this writer, the text does not support the belief that the reference is to the Lord's supper. To so apply it, is to mis-apply it. We must admit, however, that one can absent himself from the celebration of the Lord's supper and die spiritually. When such occurs, the individual needs to return to the Lord, confessing his/her sins and he restored. To suggest that such a person needs to be re-baptized is to demand what the scriptures do not.
Ronny F. Wade 1997 OPA Main Page HOME