Critique of
by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.


Page 80: In the oath-worship aspect of the Commission, we have Christ exhibited in His priestly office. He is our Great High Priest, Who secures our redemption, which is symbolized and sealed to us in baptism.

Correction: Redemption is secured through a sincere confession of Jesus Christ.

Romans 10:8-9 But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.


Page 80: In the very context of the giving of the Great Commission we see the response of the delighted disciples to the presence of the risen Christ: "And when they saw Him, they worshiped Him" (Matt. 28:17a)

Correction: The author does not acknowledge the necessity of the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 28:17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.

Note: The Commission was given before the Holy Spirit was poured out at Pentecost.


Pages 80-81: Without a doubt the starting point of Christ's gracious influence among men is the personal salvation wrought by the sovereign grace of almighty God. Evangelicals agree on this point, and I certainly confirm this truth in this book. Because of the inherent depravity of man, man cannot know the things of God. Nor can he save himself or even prepare himself for salvation. In addition, neither can he function properly in God's world. This is where the Great Commission comes in: it harnesses the power of God to effect a radical change in the heart and mind of man.

Correction: The author does not acknowledge the necessity of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 1:8 "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."

Note: The Commission was given before the Holy Spirit was poured out at Pentecost.


Page 81: Christ ordained baptism as a sign and seal of His gracious covenant. Baptism primarily and fundamentally signifies union with Christ, a union that entails faith in Christ, and cleansing from sin.

Correction: Baptism is symbolic of our conversion

Romans 6:3-4 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 newness of life.


Page 81: But the promotion of personal, individual, spiritual salvation, wherein the convert is cleansed from his sin and united with Christ, is not the end-all of the Great Commission. Here we rephrase the Gaines Dobbins interchange mentioned earlier. To the question: "Is not conversion the end of the Great Commission?" we reply, "Yes, but which end?"

Answer: Conversion occurs when a person sincerely confesses Jesus Christ.

1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.


Page 82: That is, this baptism is a sign and seal of the newly-won disciple's being "in the sphere of" or "coming-under-the-Lordship-of" the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Or, as its result is related elsewhere, the convert is "in Christ." At the moment of salvation, then, the redeemed sinner is removed from the realm of Satan and his dominion-rule to the realm of the Triune God and his dominion-rule (Acts 26:18).

Correction: Confession is the sign and moment of salvation.

Luke 23:39-43 Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, "If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us." But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, "Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong." Then he said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom." And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."


Page 84: As a sign and seal of our redemption, baptism speaks of our salvation and the newness of life, which salvation brings. Just as the old creation (the physical world) emerged from under the waters (Gen. 1:1-10), so does the new creation (the redeemed world, i.e. Salvation). In the pouring out of the waters of baptism upon the convert, we receive the sign of the coming of the Holy Spirit, Who effects our union with the Triune God, cleansing from sin, and faith in Christ. Baptism, then, speaks of blessing and forgiveness.

Correction: Being filled with the Holy Spirit speaks of blessing and forgiveness.

Acts 10:44-47 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, "Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?"

Note: Baptism is not the instrument of conversion but follows it.


Page 85: Christian baptism is itself tied to judgment. The Pentecostal call to baptism was given in the shadow of looming fiery judgment: the destruction of Jerusalem (Acts 2:19-21, 40-41). Likewise, Peter relates baptism to life and death issues, when he speaks of it in the context of Noah's Flood (1 Pet. 3:20-21). Thus, the escape from judgment that baptism relates is through the redemptive sufferings of Christ, as Paul makes clear in Romans 6. There he specifically mentions the death aspect entailed in baptism, when he says: "Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death."

Correction: Christian testimony of Jesus Christ is itself tied to persecution.

2 Timothy 1:8-11 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.

Note: Are you confessing Jesus Christ?


Pages 85-86: Most Christians agree that baptism is the appropriate, biblical sign to be applied to new converts to the faith. We see a number of examples in the New Testament of individuals receiving baptism upon their conversion under the influence of the Great Commission. We think of the Ethiopian eunuch, Paul, Cornelius, Lydia, the Philippian jailer, Crispus, and Gaius.

Note: Baptism should not be confused with the Gospel.

1 Corinthians 1:17-18 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Note: The author does not seem to concerned about the death of Jesus Christ for mankind's sins.


Page 86: Because of this, God graciously sanctifies (sets apart) the offspring of the covenantal faithful. Even in the New Testament God draws a distinction between the children of His people and the children of non-believers: "For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy" (1 Cor. 7:14).

Correction: There is a better chance of salvation for those associating with Christians.

1 Corinthians 7:16 For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?


Page 87: In addition, we may note that New Testament blessings, like those of the Old Testament, are framed in terms inclusive of family generations, rather than in terms excluding family generations: the promise is to believers and their children. There is nothing in the New Testament that undermines and invalidates the Old Testament covenantal principle of family solidarity. In fact, everything confirms its continuing validity.

Correction: In fact, the author is absolutely wrong according to Jesus Christ.

Matthew 10:35-38 "For I have come to 'set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law'; and 'a man's enemies will be those of his own household.' He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me."


Page 87: Thus, a covenantal understanding of baptism leads inexorably to infant baptism. In order briefly to demonstrate this, let us first consider the Old Testament sign of the covenant: circumcision. Then we will show the elements of continuity between Old Testament circumcision and New Testament baptism.

Correction: There is no continuity of Old Testament law of circumcision.

Galatians 5:4-6 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.


Page 88: Israel was very personally and deeply in union and communion with God; she did not exist merely in a political relationship with Him. In fact, the highest blessing of God's covenant with Abraham, which was sealed in circumcision, was: "I will be your God and you will be my people."

Correction: In fact, Israel was in rebellion to God much of the time.

Acts 7:51-53 "You stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it."


Page 88: In the New Testament, the "Apostle of Faith" clearly spoke of Old Testament circumcision's relationship to faith, the fundamental Christian virtue: Abraham "received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had" (Rom. 4:11). Circumcision is a sign and seal of the righteousness that results from faith. And Abraham is the pre-eminent example of justification by faith for the apostles. In fact, elsewhere Paul relates circumcision to the spiritual realities of salvation through faith.

Correction: The seal of righteousness that results from faith is sincere belief.

Romans 4:3 For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness."

Romans 4:11-12 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also, and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised.


Page 88: In the New Testament phase of the covenant, baptism becomes the sign of the covenant. Hence, the Great Commission's enforcement of baptism upon the converts to the faith (Matt. 28:19).

Correction: The New Testament covenant with God is sincere belief in Jesus Christ.

John 20:30-31 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.


Pages 88-89: Of baptism we may note that it represents the same spiritual truths as circumcision: (1) Union and communion with the Lord, cleansing from the defilement of sin, and faith.

Correction: Circumcision and baptism is meaningless apart from sincere belief in Christ.

Romans 2:25-29 For circumcision (baptism) is indeed profitable if you keep the law; but if you are a breaker of the law, your circumcision (baptism) has become uncircumcision (unbaptism). Therefore, if an uncircumcised (unbaptized) man keeps the righteous requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision (unbaptism) be counted as circumcision (baptism)? And will not the physically uncircumcised (unbaptized), if he fulfills the law, judge you who, even with your written code and circumcision (baptism), are a transgressor of the law? For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision (baptism) that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision (baptism) is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.


Page 89: In fact, baptism specifically replaced circumcision, for it is written of Christians: "In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead" (Col. 2:11-12, emphasis added).

Correction: Circumcision of the heart has replaced the O.T. circumcision of the flesh.

Colossians 2:11-14 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.


Page 89: Therefore, it is not surprising that, following the pattern set by Old Testament circumcision, baptism is mentioned in conjunction with the promise to families (Acts 2:38, 39) and that examples of whole family baptism are recorded.

Note: There is a maturation of Peter from his first sermon to his second sermon.

Acts 2:38-39 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. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call."

Acts 3:19-21 "Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began."

Note: Peter does not preach baptism after his first sermon.


Page 90: The Great Commission commands the baptizing of disciples to Jesus Christ. In the action of baptism there is the establishing of a covenantal relation between God and the disciple and his seed.

Correction: The covenantal relation between God and mankind is the death of Jesus Christ.

Matthew 26:28 "For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins."

Hebrews 9:15 And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

Hebrews 10:29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?

Note: Has the author insulted the Spirit of grace?