First Works and Rebaptism

I listened to a preacher today preach on Revelation 2:6. In his sermon he maintained that Jesus’ phrase “do the works you did at first” referred to one having to be baptized again. Apparently this church re-baptizes individuals numerous times. The logic is as follows: (1) Revelation 2:1-5 teaches that one can lose their salvation. This is what is meant by “lost your first love.” (2) Because one has fallen from grace they are commanded to do their first works again. This is taken to mean those things that one did when they first became saved; the “process of salvation.” (3) The process of salvation is as follows: believe, repent, confess, and be baptized. (4) Therefore, one needs to be re-baptized.

Here are some fallacies I see in this deduction: First, while I maintain that one can lose their salvation (Heb 6:4-6) this doesn’t seem to be the case for the church at Ephesus. In verse 5 Jesus says that if they do not repent then he will in fact “remove their lampstand.” While the church is in danger of losing their salvation they are not yet in the position. Secondly, to say that the “first works” refers to the plan of salvation is merely an implication read into the text. There is no contextual evidence to take this phrase in this way. Thirdly, to say that “first works” refers to the plan of salvation goes against the larger biblical teaching of salvation by grace apart from works (Eph 2:8-9). To say that “first works” refers to the plan of salvation is to imply that one is saved by “works.”

What seems to be intended by “first works” is faithful Christian conduct. That is, the church of Ephesus needs to repent of the unrighteous “works” and return to the righteous “works of God. In light of this I do not see Revelation 2:5 as a text favoring the practice of re-baptism.

4 thoughts on “First Works and Rebaptism”

  1. Hey my friend! Putting all that great Johnson learning to work in an interesting way. I agree with your conclusion.

    Here’s a thought regarding “losing one’s salvation.” Does one “lose” their salvation or do they simply turn away from it? I know it’s semantics, but I see it as a choice made by one to ignore a saving relationship with Jesus. One does not so much as lose salvation as they give it up for other things. Thus, I wince a bit when we say “lose” as if it is taken away from us by God. God’s loving grace never falters; rather it dependent on our choice to live in Christ or not. Anyway … that’s all I got to say.

    1. Allen! Great to hear from you. And thanks for taking the time to read my little blog. I hope to make this an avenue where I can work on my writing and flesh out the many thoughts I have on various subjects.

      Your comments are well taken. I have never considered changing the terminology from “losing salvation” to “giving up one’s salvation.” The latter seems to fit better theologically as well with the term “fallen from grace.” Thanks for your wonderful insight. I will seek to use this language from now on!

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