Apr 25, 2009

Carson on Regeneration by Faith

The great Baptist apologist, Dr. Alexander Carson, wrote the following words in his famous book - "Baptism in its mode and subjects." They show that he did not believe the "born again before faith" error. (emphasis mine - SG)

"But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." I Cor. vi. 11. Here also washing and sanctification are distinguished; and both are effected in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. Faith in Christ is that through which they are washed; and the Spirit of our God is the agent who washes them by this means. This washing is represented in baptism, to which this passage refers."

"The heart is said to be purified by faith, Acts xv. 9. Now, if faith purifies the heart, the water in baptism cannot be essential to the purification. It must be an emblem—not a means. The purification is effected without it, and before its application.

It is on a good conscience produced by faith in Christ, as distinguished from the external washing, that Peter places the value: 1 Peter iii. 21.

"Seeing," says Peter, "ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit." 1 Peter i. 22. It is the belief of the truth, then, that purities the soul—not the water of baptism. This purification is effected by the Spirit: he is the agent, and the truth is the instrument. The water is an emblem; but whether it has place or not, it has no share in the effect, either as an efficient, or as an instrument. "Being born again," says he, "not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God." In the whole process of the spiritual birth the word of God is the only means, as the Spirit is the only agent."

"Not 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." Here the washing of regeneration is expressly distinguished from the renewing of the Holy Ghost. What in John iii. 5, is called born of water, is here called the washing of regeneration; and what is there called born of the Spirit, is here called the renewing of the Holy Ghost. Born of water, then, and born of the Spirit, are two distinct things; and born of the Spirit is not, as many suppose, the explanation or meaning of born of water. The washing of regeneration is the washing that takes place when we are born again of the incorruptibIe seed of the word, or by the belief of the truth. We are washed by faith in the blood of Christ. This washing takes place before baptism, and there must be evidence that it has taken place, before any person is entitled to be emblematically washed in baptism. The person who is thus washed is also renewed by the Holy Ghost. We are regenerated by faith, and not by the rite of baptism. Baptism is an emblem of this washing and regeneration."
(Baptism in its mode and subjects By Alexander Carson - pg. 478-79)

See here

Dr. Carson plainly says that we are born again by the gospel and by faith in it.

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