Archive for June, 2007

Our First Love

June 22, 2007

As a father, college student, and employee I have a lot of demands on my time and I have found that when I have so many physial tangible things demanding my time that it is very easy to let spiritual things slide.  I would imagine that I am not alone in this observation.  In todays world more people are working more hours and juggling family and work responsibilities.  These things are all important but it is just as important that we do not let the things of God fall by the wayside.

 Jesus rebuked the church at Ephesus for having left their first love (Revelation 2:1-5).  He decribes all the wonderful works they had been doing in the kingdom.  They had been laboring and working to save souls.  They had been contending for the faith and denouncing false prophets.  But they had stopped doing these works.  How did such a vibrant congregation get so off track?

I remember when I was first baptized into the Lord’s body and how I felt. I wanted to go out and teach the world.  I couldn’t wait to read and study the Bible every day.  When I read Psalms 1:2 where David says that the happy man delights in the law of the Lord and meditates in it day and night I understood what he meant.  When he said the zeal of God’s house had eaten him up I got it (Psalms 69:9).  When he said that he was glad when they said lets to the Lord’s house I agreed (Psalms 122:1).  I couldn’t wait for the church services to roll around.

I still have those same feelings today but they are not as easily maintained. Sometimes I get to thinking about all the things that I have to do between work, school and my family and it seem so overwhelming.  The truth is our lives require a constant examining of our priorities.  Jesus said that where our treasure is there will our heart be also (Matthew 6:21).  With our efforts are going into work, school, families, and other physical activities we are building up treasure in this world.  We need to devote as much time and effort to laying up those spiritual treasures.

Jesus promised that if we put his kingdom first that the other things God would provided (Matthew 6:31-33).  Each of us needs to wake up each morning and make a decision that in this day we are going to put the Lord first.  We need to regain our first love and do the first works.

Baptism: Is it necessary?

June 4, 2007

Visit any Christian message board on the net and chances are you will find a topic on baptism somewhere on the first page.  The subject of baptism, its purpose, and its method is one of the most hotly debated Christian topics.  Everyone has an opinion on whether or not baptism is necessary for salvation or not.  As always though it is not what men think but rather what God has said about it that really matters. In this article I will be looking at what the Bible has to say on the subject of baptism.

Matthew 28:19  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

Here Jesus commanded his disciples to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations.  How where the disciples to make other disciples?  By baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  What type of baptism did Jesus have in mind here?  Was he speaking of water baptism or Spirit baptism?  A very important thing to note about Spirit baptism is that it cannot be performed by men.  Jesus was the only one with the power to perform the baptism of the Spirit (Luke 3:16) and it is not subject to the will of man thus cannot be resisted nor submitted to.  So the baptism that Jesus is commanding his disciples perform in order to make other disciples must be water baptism.  So here we see that water baptism was a requirement to become a disciple of Jesus.

Mark 16:16  He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

Here Jesus states that in order to be saved one must both believe and be baptized.  Now some have raised the objection that baptism is nowhere mentioned in the second half of this passage.  Need Jesus have said he that believeth not and is baptized not shall be damned?  Suppose one were to walk into a business to apply for a job and there was a sign next to a stack of applications that said, “Fill out and return an application to apply for the position, those that fail to fill out an application will not be considered.”  Would you believe that you need only fill out but not return the application to be considered for the position?  I believe that any reasonable person would understand that both filling out the application and returning it were necessary.  Likewise, when Jesus said that whoever believes and is baptized will be saved but that one who does not believe will be damned we can understand that both are necessary.  Just as it would be useless to return the job application if it hadn’t been filled out so it would be useless to be baptized if one did not believe thus there was no need to include baptism in the second clause of this statement.

Acts 2:38  Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

In this passage Peter had just preached unto those present the first gospel sermon.  In response these people were pricked in their hearts, i.e. believed (Acts 2:37).  They then inquired urgently of Peter and the other apostles what they must do and Peter’s response is to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.  Some have claimed that the Greek word “eis” that is here translated as “for” really means because of and that they were to repent and be baptized because their sins were already forgiven.  They use the example of a man going to prison for a crime.  He doesn’t go to prison to commit a crime but because he already committed the crime.  However, they must at least acknowledge that for can be used in the sense an action taken in order to obtain something.  For instance Jesus when instituting the Lord’s supper said that the cup represented his blood which was shed for the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26:28).  Jesus was certainly not saying that his blood was shed because sins were alreay forgive but in order to obtain.  So which way is it being used in this passage.  Interpreting the for in this passage to mean because of destroys the sense of the passage.  Peter is commanding the people here to both repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins thus if bapism is because of the remission of sins then so would repentance.  How were they to repent of sins they no longer had.    Also this would mean that Peter did not answer their question of what they were required to do if baptism is merely an optional response to a salvation previously obtained.  Thus the conclusion is that baptism is necessary for the forgiveness of sins.

Romans 6:3-7  Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.  For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:  Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.  For he that is dead is freed from sin.

Paul in this passage tells us that baptism is a likeness of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus and that through baptism we are identifying with and partaking of this completed work of Christ and that this makes us free from the bondage of sin.  Most accept that this is true but argue that Paul is here referring to Spirit baptism.  A close look at verses 17-18 of the same chapter shows us that this is not the case.  Here Paul says that they were the servants of sin but we obeyed from the heart a form of doctrine, i.e. baptism as a form of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection, and this made them free from sin.  So the baptism under consideration here is one that is obeyed.  In order to obey two things are required. First there must be a command or law requiring something and second it must be possible to perform.  As noted earlier man cannot resist or submit to baptism of the Holy Spirit. It is totally at the discretion of Christ himself.  There is also no scripture commanding anyone to be baptized by the Holy Spirit, it is always spoken of as a promise never a command.  Thus we see it is impossible for anyone to obey the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  We do, however, find that water baptism was commanded as we see in the previous passages.  Therefore, we conclude that this passage is speaking of water baptism and that it is necessary for salvation.

1 Peter 3:21  The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

Finally we have this statement by Peter plainly declaring that we are saved through baptism.  Now there have been many commentaries on this passage that have attempted to find some way around this clearly worded statement.  Some argue that the Greek word “antitupon” translated as figure is refering to baptism as a symbol thus it is merely symbolic of a salvation already obtained. Others point out that it says that baptism is not for “putting away the filth of the flesh” and claim that this filth of the flesh that baptism doesn’t wash away is sin.  One thing that these commentaries never seem to comment on directly is the phrase “baptism doth also now save us”.  They concentrate on what baptism is or on how baptism accomplishes whatever they think it does but they never get around to actually discussing what Peter the inspired writer says that baptism does.  Peter directly stated that baptism now saves us.  If baptism is a symbol, which Romans 6:3-7 says it is, that does not  change what it does.  If baptism doesn’t work by putting away the filth of the flesh that does not change what it does.  Peter says it now saves us.  One cannot imagine a plainer statement than that of the necessity of baptism for salvation.