The Denial of the Fact Typical of “Church of Christ” adherents, one Campbellite who uses John 3:5 to teach baptismal regeneration (i.e., salvation by water baptism), wrote: "We do not believe in baptismal regeneration. It's doctrine teaches that Baptism alone saves you without faith, repentance, and confession. By this doctrine, people teach infant baptism, sprinkling, etc.”
Our standard reply as Bible believers is that the alleged “Church of Christ” DOES believe in baptismal regeneration. They believe that you are born again (regenerated) when you are baptized in water. They believe at the point of baptism, not faith, a person is regenerated. That IS baptismal regeneration, and that is what they believe, call it what they will.
In Defense of the Truth To defend the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3), I will give the biblical interpretation of John 3:5.
Let’s look at the passage (John 3:3-7) in its entirety and pay attention to the context.
Verse 3: Jesus says a man must be born again. This of course indicates a 2nd birth, which must mean there was a 1st birth.
Verse 4: Nicodemus asks a question out of ignorance. He doesn't understand what the Lord means. He wants to know if the Lord means he must be born again the "second time" from his mother; i.e., must he be born a 2nd time PHYSICALLY.
Verse 5: The Lord gets real simple and basic with Nicodemus. He says that a man must be born of water and of the Spirit. That's TWO BIRTHS!
Verse 6: The Lord continues to explain that it is a birth of the flesh and a birth of the Spirit. That'sTWO BIRTHS!
Verse 7: Jesus said ye must be born AGAIN ‑ that means TWO BIRTHS!
The ‘Water’ of John 3:3-7 is NOT Baptism and is NOT part of the New Birth
Verses 3 and 7 speak of being born again, which implies a 1st and 2nd birth – TWO BIRTHS! Verse 4 speaks of the 1st birth, which is physical, and Nicodemus asks if the 2nd birth is also physical. (Notice the reference to the “mother’s womb”— when the baby starts to come out of the womb the “water breaks.”) Verses 5 and 6 speak of the 1st birth as a water birth and a fleshly birth in relation to the mother's womb (again, see verse 4); in verses 5 and 6 the Bible speaks of the 2nd birth also as a Spirit birth.
That's TWO BIRTHS!
The first birth is a physical, fleshly one that brings you into this world as a sinner in need of redemption. The second birth is a spiritual one which is regeneration, being born again; that makes one a child of God by faith in Christ (John 1:12,13).
The verses, 3-7, clearly show that the "water" in the passage is a reference to the first birth, the physical birth into this world. The first birth you are born a sinner; the second birth you are born a saint, a son of God, and become a saved individual.
In verses 5 & 6, the words 'flesh' and 'water' are used for the same birth, the first one, the natural one, the physical one, just as the word Spirit is used in both verses for the second birth.
The 'water' of John 3:5 is definitely NOT water baptism IN THE CONTEXT.
There are TWO BIRTHS in verse 3. There are TWO BIRTHS in verse 4. There are TWO BIRTHS in verse 6. There are TWO BIRTHS in verse 7. In the midst of four verses that indicate two births, the Campbellites make verse 5 to refer to ONE BIRTH, making the water and Spirit birth the same in that one verse! The Campbellites make the Lord Jesus Christ to CHANGE HIS TRAIN OF THOUGHT right in the MIDDLE of the conversation, like so --
V. 3 – two births.
V. 4 – two births.
V. 5 – ONE and the SAME birth (?!)
V. 6 – two births.
V. 7 – two births.
The “Church of Christ” (so-called) position is TOTAL NONSENSE because it makes NO SENSE in the CONTEXT of the passage.
The Salvation of the Soul is by FAITH in Christ as One’s Personal Saviour.
In the context of the same conversation, our Lord makes the following famous statement: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever BELIEVETH in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). This clearly shows us that the way to be born again is to exercise faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. As the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 10:10 – “…with the heart man believeth unto righteousness.” As the apostle Peter told the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:37, the prerequisite for water baptism is believing “with all thine heart” in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the Saviour. According to John 1:12,13 a sinner is “born of God” (“born again” – John 3) when he receives Christ by believing on his name.
The salvation of the soul is dependent upon personal FAITH in Christ as Savior, not water baptism. To teach that the water of John 3:5 is baptism, and necessary to salvation, is to wrest the scriptures and promote a damnable heresy that will doom those who believe such a false doctrine to an eternal lake of fire.
Solid Rock Baptist Church - Serving the Lord in the Memphis/Mid-South area