Gospel Gazette, Bible Articles

Vol. 1, No. 5 Page 16 May 1999

Gospel Gazette, Bible Articles

   By Louis Rushmore

Johnís Baptism

John's baptism was for the remission of sin. Did those who obeyed John's baptism have to be rebaptized on the day of Pentecost? Thank you so much. I enjoy the good web-site you have. ~ Mack Bennett
As the questioner correctly notes, "John's baptism was for the remission of sin." Mack Bennett poses a valid and interesting question ("Did those who obeyed John's baptism have to be rebaptized on the day of Pentecost?"), though, a question of merely academic significance, since everyone now living has always and only been subject to the baptism of the Great Commission. Below is an excerpt from my book, The Church Divine, which addresses the question before us.
In the closing days of the Jewish dispensation, a prophet of God initiated what became known as "the baptism of John" (Acts 18:25) or "Johnís baptism" (Acts 19:3). This water baptism was practiced by John the Baptist, his disciples and the disciples of Jesus. Everything John the Baptist did, including the baptism he administered, prepared the way for the Messiah and his kingdom (Matt. 3:1-6). John the Baptist urged his auditors to: (1) repent and be baptized for the remission of sins (Mark 1:4) and (2) believe on the Christ who would come after him (Acts 19:4). However, this baptism was preparatory and temporary; it was valid only if practiced before the establishment of the church (Acts 19:1-6). Johnís baptism was for the remission of sins in prospect of the death-burial-resurrection of Christ, much the way people formerly living under Patriarchy (e.g., Adam, Noah and Abraham) and those for whom atonement was made under Judaism were saved in prospect of redemption made possible through Jesus Christ (Heb. 10:4; 9:15).
Persons receiving Johnís baptism before the Pentecost of Acts Two received the remission of sins and membership in the Lordís church conditional upon the establishment of the church. They were not re-baptized in the baptism of the Great Commission. Water baptism practiced from Acts Two forward was the baptism of the Great Commission, with the lone exception of Acts 19:1-6 where some disciples were incorrectly baptized in Johnís baptism and later re-baptized in the baptism of the Great Commission.
There is no Scriptural indication that any of the 120 disciples of Christ mentioned in Acts 1, the twelve apostles (including Matthias) or any of the hundreds of disciples (1 Cor. 15:6) were re-baptized in the baptism of the Great Commission following the establishment of the church. Further, the 3,000 converts in Acts Two were added to a body of believers already present, expressed in the KJV as "to the church" and the ASV as "to them" (Acts 2:37).

Bible Translation Controversy

I am researching the Bible translation controversy involving the King James Version of the Bible Vs the new translations.  The New King James, NIV, NASB, etc.  Do you have any articles or debates that you could send me regarding this issue?  Do you have an opinion on which Bible is the best to use and whether the new translations should be used?  I would sure appreciate any help you could give me in this regard.
All Bible translations have some weaknesses and most translations have some strengths.  The weaknesses of many Bible translations are significant either because (1) they adversely affect Bible doctrine or (2) the weaknesses are so numerous.  In my opinion, three Bible translations whose weaknesses are far overshadowed by their strengths, and which do not contain doctrinal error, are the: King James Version, American Standard Version and the New King James Version.  Most of the rest of the Bible translations have varying degrees of weaknesses that: (1) make them unreliable as translations, (2) compromise Bible doctrine in favor of denominational dogma, (3) are not really translations at all, (4) are actually vulgar, and/or (5) are the products of translators who do not esteem verbal inspiration and consequently have little compulsion to preserve the actual message through the translating process.

The sheer number of new Bible translations in modern time is itself suspicious.  Our language does not undergo dramatic changes as often as new English translations are marched off the assembly lines of the publishers.  Hence, a motive other than providing an accurate and reliable English translation must drive much of the production of recent Bible translations.  Is it profit?  Is it doctrine?  At best, the multiplicity of modern English translations engenders confusion.  At worst, unreliable Bible translations may adversely and eternally affect souls.  It is no plus to more easily understand error and false doctrine (even if it appears between the covers of a volume marked "Holy Bible").

A number of articles and books have been penned over the past few decades that address several Bible translations.  Some of the books include: "A Review of the New Versions" by Foy E. Wallace, Jr.; "An Evaluation of the New International Version" by Foy E. Wallace, Jr.; "Challenging Dangers of Modern Versions" by Robert R. Taylor, Jr.; "Easy-to-Read Version" by Goebel Music.

Sufficient archaeological evidence relative to the books of the Bible exist to confirm that we have available to us today in the original languages the biblical message.  Variations hardly ever (if ever) affect a point of doctrine.  All that remains is for reliable and accurate translating to occur.  Reliable translation to English exists in at least the King James, American Standard and New King James versions.


Selection And
Installation of Elders

Hello.  I would appreciate it if you would read the following and get back to me on your thoughts about it.

I am a member of the Church of Christ and I am very concerned over the status of the church in which I attend.  You see a few months ago, we had Elders (2 in number).  One of those Elders felt that he, due to his age and recent sickness was no longer able to serve as an Elder.  The other Elder was also the preacher.  The Eldership of the Church was dissolved because Brother Bell resigned as Elder.  There are still no Elders today.  Yet there are men qualified, who desire the office.  Is it right for the Church to go on without Elders.  The preacher (who was one of the Elders) preached many sermons on the Eldership and Deaconship (which was dissolved due to this also).  He preached that there should be a committee of 2 men to be over the appointment of Elders.  At first he taught that the faithful Christian men of the Congregation would okay 2 men and then it would be brought before the Congregation for 2 weeks, then Elders would be appointed.  Is committees right and is the Church right for having gone on this long without Elders?  Should Elders have been selected before the Eldership was dissolved?  I would appreciate your thoughts on this subject, because I am very concerned about the Church in which I attend.  Thank you and I hope to hear from you soon. God bless.

Enough information appears in the New Testament to clearly indicate that every congregation should have a plurality of elders (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5; Acts 20:17).  Yet, obviously before the appointment of elders in any existing congregation, the congregation operated with apparent Divine approval without elders for that interim.  Further, the qualifications of elders (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:6-11; Hebrews 13:17) and the very terms used to designated them (i.e., pastors, Ephesians 4:11; overseers, Acts 20:28; shepherds, 1 Peter 5:1-4) indicate the function of elders.

Almost everything else regarding elders has been left by God in the realm of expediency.  We do not have any biblical information regarding the selection and installation process.  These details are not stipulated and are, therefore, not a matter of doctrine.  Hence, neither are they a matter warranting undue alarm nor disagreement.

Whether additional elders should have been installed before the resignation of an elder whereby the eldership was dissolved, then, is a matter of opinion and expediency.  In the absence of elders, the Christian men of a congregation are responsible for the affairs of the church, until such time as the congregation again has elders.  The congregation has the responsibility to appoint qualified men to serve as elders.  It would be biblically incorrect for a congregation to go without elders indefinitely if qualified men are present in the congregation.  It would also be anti-biblical for a congregation to opt for a form of government, namely a committee (or a single person, etc.), instead of the biblical prescription of elders (or in the absence of qualified men to serve as elders, the male members of the congregation).

However, one or more persons or a committee (without authority to rule the congregation) is not necessarily in conflict with the biblical principles.  Representing the congregation, individuals or groups of individuals, whether or not the congregation has elders, routinely function on behalf of the congregation.  For instance, one or more persons or a committee may gather information regarding the purchase and installation of a new heating system in the meeting house.  The congregation (through its elders if it has elders) is ultimately responsible for the decision regarding the purchase and installation of that heating system.

A person or persons or a committee may serve the needs of a congregation, but the congregation through its faithful Christian men (in the absence of elders) or elders (if elders are in place) are responsible for the decisions for the congregation.  Obviously, I am neither in a position to know the details of the local circumstances there, nor biblically authorized to make decisions affecting any congregation.  That bailiwick belongs to the elders or Christian men in any local congregation.  However, I hope these observations prove useful.

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Louis Rushmore, Editor
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