|Volume 17 Number 4 April 2015||
Donald R. Fox
Mel Gibson’s movie Passion of Christ brought about much interest in the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. There have been television specials concerning Jesus Christ and the crucifixion before and since, too. So-called biblical scholars have been featured to give an explanation, a commentary on the Gospels during these specials.
Almost without exception the Bible scholars used in these specials are very liberal concerning the Word of God. The television hosts and such Bible commentators often respond in a matter of fact manner that there are contradictions in the Gospel accounts. Just because someone states in an unchallenged manner that there are contradictions in the Gospels, does not mean that there are, in fact, contradictions in God’s Word!
Many of us have in our libraries works such as The Harmony of the Gospels. We suggest two classics should be studied before one buy’s into this “contradiction” charge: A Harmony of the Gospels by A. T. Robertson and The Testimony of the Evangelists by Simon Greenleaf.
John William McGarvey wrote on July 30, 1898, “In the testimony of witnesses before a court, nothing is more common than for apparent contradictions to arise between credible witnesses or between different statements of the same witness. In all such cases, it is considered entirely logical and legitimate for counsel to show that on some reasonable hypothesis the statements can be harmonized” (John William McGarvey, Biblical Criticism 303).
These television specials with their Bible scholars give a slanted and prejudiced view of the Word of God. They always go unchallenged with no discussion or debate concerning their pronouncements. Would these liberal Bible scholars defend their views on a polemic platform in an honorable debate? I think not!
Contradictions in the Gospels, “No!” The Gospels are in harmony with each other! “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears” (2 Timothy 4:2-3).
[Editor’s Note: The value of eyewitness testimony from multiple persons is that collectively they piece together the complete picture of an event. Rather than variances comprising contradictions, they each clarify the overview of an incident. For instance, imagine four witnesses at an automobile wreck in the intersection of two highways. If each witness viewed the accident from a different street corner, naturally as they reported what they saw from their respective vantages, they would describe it a little differently. Their various testimonies would do two things: verify each other’s accounts and provide details either not seen or simply not mentioned by one or more other observers. In human scenarios, multiple witnesses do something else, too. They help to invalidate accidental or unintentional discrepancies in a witness’ testimony. However, this last circumstance does not apply to divinely inspired writers of Bible books. ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]
One Is Baptized into
Christ to Become a Christian
Recently, I bought a little book entitled Believe and Be Baptized. In it, the author vainly tried to show his readers that baptism follows conversion and that baptism is just an outward sign of an inward salvation. In one place, explaining Acts 2:38, he says, “They must REPENT in order to be forgiven and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” How brazen one could get to prove an error! Is this what Acts 2:38 in your Bible reads? The Bible clearly states: “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” The Bible teaches one must both repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins—not just repent. Yet, in another place in his book he writes, “A person is not baptized to make him a Christian, but rather to show he is a Christian.” The Bible in Galatians 3:27 says, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Can one be a Christian without getting into Christ or without putting on Christ? How does one put on Christ? The Bible teaches, through baptism into Christ in whom we have redemption through His blood, one receives the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:14).
The apostle Peter, in his first epistle, linked baptism with salvation and used Noah’s ark and the floods as an illustration. He stated in 1 Peter 3:20-21, “Who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” The clear inference is that it was the water of the flood that separated Noah from the disobedient generation that perished, and it is the water of baptism that separates between the saved of today and the disobedient who will perish. Before one is baptized, he is outside of Christ; after he is baptized, he is in Christ. So the apostle Paul said to the Romans, “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in the newness of life" (Romans 6:3-4). The newness of life or the new life in Christ begins after and not before baptism. Before one is baptized, he has the guilt of sin upon him; when he is baptized, his sins are washed away (Acts 22:16). Obedience is his appeal to God, and in the act of baptism, he calls upon the name of the Lord. One submits to baptism to obtain forgiveness and to have a clear conscience.
Let us now study two cases of conversion to Christ from the eighth chapter of the Book of Acts. When Philip the evangelist had gone into the city of Samaria, he preached there “the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ.” The next line reads that “both men and women were baptized” (Acts 8:12). If proclaiming things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ did not include baptism, the Samaritans would not have known to be baptized. Preaching Christ and baptism cannot be separated.
In the same chapter we read the story of the eunuch to whom Philip had “preached Jesus” as they were traveling in the eunuch’s chariot. The record says, “Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, ‘See here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?’ Then Philip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart, you may.’ And he answered and said, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’ So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him” (Acts 8:36-38). Philip had preached Jesus to the eunuch, and the eunuch wanted to be baptized right then and there. What does this show? It shows very clearly that one cannot preach Christ genuinely and candidly without preaching about baptism. If I am preaching Christ, I must preach baptism. Preaching baptism is preaching the Gospel of Christ (Mark 16:15-16).