In the Image of Christ
Colossians 3:8-11

“Another Gospel?”

    “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any [ man ] preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”        Galatians 1:6-9

        If the apostle Paul marveled at what he witnessed in the Galatian church two thousand years ago, what do you think his response would be if he examined the professing church today? Paul was amazed that the Galatians fell for a counterfeit gospel so quickly after receiving the true gospel. In fact, he openly doubted that they were truly saved because of the false gospel they now embraced (Gal. 4:11, 20). This tragic situation was so severe that the apostle Paul pronounced a curse on anyone teaching a false gospel, whether man or an angel from heaven.
        Someone apparently came to the Galatians after they received the true gospel, and began to teach them that besides believing, they also needed to be circumcised and keep the Mosaic law in order to be saved, thus perverting the true gospel. Today we have many different so-called “Christian” denominations that in one way or another do the same.
        One example of such teaching is the Belgic Confession, Article 34 on baptism. According to the Psalter Hymnal used by the Christian Reformed Church, the Belgic Confession is its oldest doctrinal standard. The Psalter Hymnal also states:

        “The text, not the contents, was revised again at the Synod of Dort in 1618-19 and adopted as one of the doctrinal standards to which all officebearers in the Reformed churches were required to subscribe. The confession stands as one of the best symbolical statements of Reformed doctrine. The translation presented here is based on the French  text of 1619 and was adopted by the Synod of 1985 of the Christian
Reformed Church” (underlining added).

        The error in this document is quite similar to the error in which the Galatians found themselves. Near the very beginning of the document we read these words, “Having abolished circumcision which was done with blood, he established in its place the sacrament of baptism.” Yet no where is this taught in the Holy Scriptures. The proof text used to support their position is Colossians 2:11-12, which states:

    “In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with [him] through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.”

        However, please notice that these verses do not say that baptism replaced circumcision. In fact, the circumcision mentioned in these verses is not even physical circumcision, but rather spiritual circumcision. It is a circumcision made without hands, by the faith of the operation of God. Therefore, to say that physical baptism replaced physical circumcision based upon these verses, is to make a very poor and incorrect interpretation that twists the clear meaning of the text. The circumcision mentioned in these verses is what takes place today in the hearts of those who are saved by placing their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.
        Article 34 of the Belgic Confession goes on to proclaim,  “By it we are received into God’s Church and set apart from all other people and alien religions, that we may be dedicated entirely to him, bearing his mark and sign. It also witnesses to us that he will be our God forever, since he is our gracious Father.” (underlining added).  Again, no where in the Scriptures does it teach that being baptized places a person in the church. The church is not a building made up of brick and mortar, wood and nails, nor is it a denomination that we have joined. The church is the body of Christ. It is made up of individuals who have placed their trust in the Lord Jesus for the salvation of their souls. We gain entry into God’s church and become God’s children by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, not by being baptized as this man-made document and doctrine claims (Jn. 1:11-13, 1 Pet. 2:4-10, Eph. 1:15-3:21).  
        The same Article 34 teaches baptismal regeneration (salvation by baptism), for it claims that a person is received into the church of God and that God becomes our Father through baptism. Article 34 continues in its teaching of baptismal regeneration as follows: (underlining added)

    “In this way he signifies to us that just as water washes away the dirt of the body when it is poured on us and also is seen on the body of the baptized when it is sprinkled on him, so too the blood of Christ does the same thing internally, in the soul, by the Holy Spirit.
    It washes and cleanses it from its sins and transforms us from being the children of wrath into the children of God.  This does not happen by the physical water but by the sprinkling of the precious blood of the Son of God
, who is our Red Sea, through which we must pass to escape the tyranny of Pharoah, who is the devil, and to enter the spiritual land of Canaan.
    So ministers, as far as their work is concerned, give us the sacrament and what is visible, but our Lord gives what the sacrament signifies - namely the invisible gifts and graces; washing, purifying, and cleansing our souls of all filth and unrighteousness; renewing our hearts and filling them with all comfort; giving us true assurance of his fatherly goodness; clothing us with the “new man” and stripping off the “old” with all its works.
    For this reason we believe that anyone who aspires to reach eternal life ought to be baptized only once without ever repeating it - for we cannot be born twice. Yet this baptism is profitable not only when the water is on us and when we receive it but throughout our entire lives.”

        This man-made doctrine claims that as a person (many of which are infants) is sprinkled with water at his baptism, so the Holy Spirit does the same thing to his soul with the blood of Christ, and that he is cleansed from his sin and transformed from a child of wrath into a child of God. Honestly friends, you would be hard pressed to come up with a more clear teaching of baptismal regeneration than Article 34 of the Belgic Confession. If the Apostle Paul announced such a severe curse on those who taught that salvation was through circumcision and law keeping, what do you think he would say to those who teach Article 34 of the Belgic Confession as holy doctrine? After all, this document makes almost the identical claim as that of the false teachers in the Galatian church. Article 34 of the Belgic Confession teaches that baptism replaces circumcision and that by it a person becomes a child of God . We can be sure that the Apostle Paul would have cursed anyone teaching this false gospel as well. He was very zealous for the true gospel, the “apostolic” gospel. Let us remember that the Apostle Paul was the one who wrote these words in the book of Romans:

    “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also the Greek”.  Romans 1:16

        The true gospel has the power to save every soul that believes it, and a false gospel has the power to doom every soul that believes it.  Dear friend, I have not written to offend or incite argument, but out of concern for your soul. Let me ask you, what gospel do you believe? Only the true gospel will save you from the wrath of God.

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