Claims and Pretensions of the Catholic Apostolic Church: No. 2

Matthew 19:28; Titus 3:5
Beloved Brother, We notice in the tract on regeneration, that regeneration and the new birth are supposed to be the same thing—" regeneration is nothing less than the new birth." Now these two things are quite distinct in scripture. The word translated " regeneration" only occurs twice. In Matt. 19:2828And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Matthew 19:28), it can only mean the entire new order of things in the millennium; and it could not there mean the new birth of a soul. Is it not the same in the other place, Titus 3:55Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; (Titus 3:5)? It is not the thought of the communication of a new life merely, but the entire new order of things into which we have passed. The washing of that new order of things is expressed in such scriptures as these: " Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth;" "That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word;" "And forthwith came there out blood and water/' both expiation for sin and cleansing. Now read Titus 3:5-75Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; 7That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:5‑7). To limit this to the new birth, or the implantation of a new life, would be a great violence to the passage. The washing of regeneration is the entirely new order of things in Christianity. The renewing of the Holy Ghost takes in the whole range of His work in that new order of things.
The catholic apostolic tract then goes on to teach that "By regeneration we are brought into oneness with Christ, and become joint-heirs of His everlasting inheritance." This is a subtle error, and the very opposite of the teaching of Christ in John 3 The doctrine is indeed announced, that man must be born again, not the old man instructed, or even reconciled to God, but a new, wholly new, birth; or man could not even see the kingdom of God.
But not only must man be born again, the Son of man must be lifted up, expiation for sin must be made: " that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life." It is remarkable how expiation for sin by the sacrifice of Christ is admitted in these tracts, yet it is uniformly set aside (as in this case) or neutralized.
Let us now go to the root-question that affects millions of professing Christians. By what means is the new birth effected, or, as they call it, regeneration?
They answer, " Regeneration, or the new birth, is effected by means of water and the Spirit... the sacrament of baptism.... the means by which the Spirit acts." " We need not hesitate to say that the new birth is communicated by water and the Spirit, and that at baptism." " He who is baptized is said to be born of God."
As all error exalts man in some way, so here man, the minister doing his part in the ordinance of baptism, causes God to do His part, and so the baptized must be born again. " Can we doubt that God performs His part? The ordinary means of regeneration, then, is the sacrament of baptism; and, except God fails Himself, the act is thereby accomplished, and the new birth takes place." All this is applied alike to infants or to men. " The newly-baptized babe, and the newly-baptized man, should alike come forth from the waters of baptism pure and undefiled.”
Faith in the atoning death of Christ for our sins, or in God who raised Him from the dead, seems to have no place in this professed apostolic doctrine of regeneration, whilst allowing that it is the blood of Christ that makes atonement. " Yet the means of entering upon the state in which man receives the full benefit of forgiveness is the ordinance of baptism." "In baptism is imparted, not merely pardon of guilt, and escape from its penalty, but a putting to death of the flesh," &c.
Thus is this wide-spread, deadly error of baptismal regeneration confirmed by these latter-day apostles. It is remarkable that Satan teaches just the same soul-destroying error by the Mormon apostles. One set of apostles is adapted to the highly educated, and the other to the illiterate.
is not this the rotten foundation on which Rome and ritualism is built? Can a single truth be fully held in unison with this error? Take the church, the body of Christ. These apostles recognized all the baptized as composing the church, and quote 1 Cor. 12:1313For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:13) as meaning water baptism! Thus they have no idea of the church, His body. Was the place filled with water on the day of Pentecost? Is there even proof that the hundred and twenty were baptized with water?
But it may be asked, Did not the Lord teach Nicodemus that a man must be born again in christian baptism? Well, did He? Read it again, and see. Is there a word about baptism? Was christian baptism instituted then? Certainly not. Then how could Nicodemus have understood it? Yet "Jesus said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?" Now read Eze. 36:23-3123And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the Lord, saith the Lord God, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes. 24For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. 25Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 26A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. 28And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God. 29I will also save you from all your uncleannesses: and I will call for the corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you. 30And I will multiply the fruit of the tree, and the increase of the field, that ye shall receive no more reproach of famine among the heathen. 31Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall lothe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations. (Ezekiel 36:23‑31). Ought he not, from this scripture, to have known that before Israel can see the kingdom set up, there must be this purification—a new birth, and that by the Spirit of God? Was not water the well-known emblem of purification to the Jews? and more, that purification is chiefly connected with death? (Lev. 14; Numb. 19) And water came out of the dead side of Christ. Now, is it not all a mistake to say Christ spoke of baptism to Nicodemus?
He shows it is an act of divine sovereignty in every man born of the Spirit. " The wind bloweth where it listeth," &c. But if it meant water baptism, there would be no sovereign grace in it. Let the ministers do their part, and baptize the whole population, and then tell them that God must have done His part. Their sins and guilt are gone. They have no need either to repent or believe the gospel. They are members of Christ, children of God, and inheritors of heaven. Thus a whole ungodly population are deceived.
We fully own baptism as the entrance into the outward discipleship, or profession of Christianity. We also fully hold it as a most striking figure (Rom. 6) of death to the old man; but never once is it used as imparting life—the very opposite, it is a figure of death. It is not the restoration, or reconciliation, of the old man, but death to him. Just as the waters covered the earth which had been created in the beginning, all was death beneath 'those waters, so to speak. The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the deep. So again, in the days of Noah, the waters of death covered the old world when God brought out of death the new world. So baptism is a figure how old things have passed away, and all things become new. Read the Spirits explanation of this in Rom. 6
The question, then, is this—How am I to know that I have passed from death unto life?
These apostles tell me, if I have been baptized by a minister, it must be so. I am regenerate.
Reader, can you rest your soul's eternal salvation on the words of these men? We know you dare not. Let us beg of you to contrast their words with these words of Jesus—ponder them well: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but is passed from death unto LIFE."
Is not the new birth declared to be by the word also as follows? " Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever." (1 Pet. 1:2323Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. (1 Peter 1:23).) "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth.” (Jas. 1:1818Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. (James 1:18).) Millions in this day have been baptized who have never passed from death unto life. Have you, reader, heard the words of Jesus? Have you believed God? Can you not, then, rest in His word that you have passed from death unto life? In our next we hope to examine their doctrine of the holy Eucharist.