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Monday, December 10, 2012

Principles of Recovery Pt 6: Restoration

This article is part of a continuing series about how to recover from economic and social loss with out losing your faith.  The base text of this series is the story of the Prodigal Son in the Gospel of Luke chapter 15.  We  have traveled from the pig pen of life to the point of restoration.  Learning valuable lessons along the way.  We have learned that our own bad decisions in life guide us to the peg pen of life. We have also learned that hope and self determination can lead us out of the pig peon of life.  We have learned that in order to have hope we each must have a vision of ourselves enjoying a better and higher station of life.  We also learn that each of us must maintain a humble disposition on our way back, being ready to make restitution toward those we offended and be willing to take a lower position that we are accustomed to, willing to work hard to restore each of our names and rebuild the respect we lost we those who know of us.  I caution each of the believers at this point that sometimes it is not possible to rebuild the respect that we lost with others,  this does not mean that we each can not be restored, our respect just will be restored differently than we had it before.

Now before we go on with the lesson, I would like to share a personal testimony concerning restoration.   I am writing this series out of my love for the body of Christ, and out of my personal experience.  I lost my marriage, children, home and my job.  I became homeless, I was in my pig pen.  I did not loose those things because I did something morally wrong, I lost those things because of my selfishness and greed.  I lost those things because I had gotten a hold of some bad teaching.  That is when I began to read the Word of God for myself and questioned all the teaching that I had received and compared it what the Bible actually said about a subject or a topic.  I lost everything but my faith in God, I want to tell everyone, if you have faith in God, you will rise above your social economic condition.  You just have to do it God's way, that is, if you want to do it in faith.  The one scripture that inspired me to start over is "Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it...." (Psalms 127:1)  I promised the Lord from that point on that I will allow Him to rebuild my life, that I will go where He will lead me, I will do what He will require of me.  That meant that I had to trust Him.  I also told the Lord that many in  the Homeless shelter was looking at my, some even mockingly, saying, "You God lead you to the poor house, why should you continue to follow Him?"  I also told the Lord that this is where the rubber meets the road, either faith in God works or it doesn't, I surrender my will to yours, do with me as you wish. Now I tell others that Faith works, if you work it.  Meaning it does not work like a magic wand or incantation.  Faith works through application, and a trust in God's ability to do what he had promised.  All I wanted was to start over, rebuild my life.  I knew that I would not be in my pig pen  for very long, I arose and made my way back to my "Father's House", I returned to serving the Lord.  After returning into the Lord's service. I got remarried, a new house, job and a new family, in short I got restored.  May be not the way I may have expected, but none the less restored. This is not the end of my testimony, God is not through with me yet, but  it is a relative part to this series.

What is Restoration?

Restoration Defined: (Noun)
1.
the act of restoring; renewal, revival, or reestablishment.
2.
the state or fact of being restored.
3.
a return of something to a former, original, normal, or unimpaired condition.
4.
restitution of something taken away or lost.
5.
something that is restored, as by renovating.

(Source: Dictionary.com)

Therefore restoration is the process of being returned to a former, original, normal or unimpaired condition. Or the process of  replacing that what was once lost.   This is what happened to the prodigal son.  Even though he was willing to work for all the wealth he lost, for the respect that he lost, for the honor that he shamed, his father  not only embraced him, but restored him to his former status in the household.  Let us review the passage:

"And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.  But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put [it] on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on [his] feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill [it]; and let us eat, and be merry:  For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry." -Luke 15:21-24

A few things I would like to point out in this passage is the fact that the prodigal son did exactly what he planned.  He confessed his sin and he made offer of restitution for his foolish actions.  His wealthy father responded with the restoration of the son to the house (this is represented by the father putting the best robe upon his son), the restoration of the son's authority in the house (this is represented by the father putting a ring on his hand.  [Now rings in Jesus day was an important sign of authority,  many family rings were use to place seals or signatures to legal documents] ), the restoration of putting shoes on his feet (this symbolized the freedom to go where ever he wished on his father's property).  The killing of the fat-ted calf. (this was a calf that was fed extra food to make him more fatter for slaughter.  Only to be slain on special occasions  and for special visitors.) The return of the wealthy man's son was a special event to the father of the prodigal son, for he mourned for his son, as though he was dead until he returned.  Now that he has returned, it was time to celebrate.

I remember when I became a minister again, the associate pastor gave me my first robe.  It was like God saying that he was glad that I had returned, like he was restoring me to where I once were.  Here is the thing though, I knew that was not the end.  This is the place many of us get messed up.  We get caught up in the celebration of the restoration and forget that is not the end of the journey.  The purpose of Restoration  is to do what we did not do before, in order to not end up in the pig pen of life ever again.  This means that an evaluation of everything that was said and done and who it was done with and to must be processed and put before the Lord.  A wise man said that insanity is doing the same thing again that failed before and expecting a different result. How many of us have went back to something that failed and hoped that a different result would occur?  Many.  This is why I caution believers to not rush back into things they once participated in, because without careful evaluation of what went wrong, some of us may repeat the same mistake, or bad judgement decision.  The parable does not disclose to us how long it took the prodigal son to return to his father's house.  I also did not get remarried right away, I waited a few years.  Evaluated  myself, my choices and always waited on God for his will to be revealed.  Granted, there are circumstances that require quick decisions, if you are in that kind of fix, then rely upon what you know to be God's will and make your decision accordingly.  Trust God with your decision and if turns out not to be the right one, you know now how to come back from a bad choice. 

I hope that this lesson today has blessed you, as it has blessed me in sharing it.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Forgiveness and Redemption

There has been an argument  that is thought of by many that negates the necessity of the redemption of mankind through the sacrifice of Christ by God.  That is the idea that if a person is truly sorry for his sin and  believes that God forgives him then he need not to be redeemed or have  his sins paid for.  Giving the implication that forgiveness is only needed to atone for sins. Today we are going to look at this idea and see if it is true.   

What is forgiveness?

Forgiveness is defined as: (a noun) The act or state of being forgiven.  Which comes from the root word forgive.  

The word forgive is defined as: (a verb)1. to grant pardon for or remission of (an offense, debt, etc.);absolve. 2. to give up all claim on account of; remit (a debt, obligation,etc.). 3.to grant pardon to (a person). 4. to cease to feel resentment against: to forgive one's enemies. 5. to cancel an indebtedness or liability of: to forgive the interestowed on a loan. (Source: Dictionary.com) 

Now forgiveness is not needed if there has been no offense identified, whether it be presumed or actual.  Every person alive today at one point in his life has done something in offense to God, to this everyone agrees.  

So the question is: Does forgiveness make it necessary to be redeemed?

For some people being redeemed is not necessary because they believe that they have been forgiven by God.   The idea is that if God has forgiven a person, then the sin debt has been erased by God for that person. This in their minds eliminates the need of redemption, by someone shedding the blood of animals or someone making a personal sacrifice in their place.  It is more complicated than that.  For forgiveness does not does not eliminate sin, forgiveness allows one to be pardon of the sin, but the sin itself is not removed from that persons account.  A person who relies only upon the forgiveness of God to remove their  sins is like someone who offended another person, who goes only to ask the offended person for forgiveness of the offence (or sin) he committed but does not expect to pay the offended person for his offence.   A more graphic example of this is this: You enter a restaurant and order a plate of food,  after you have eaten the food you get ill,  you then complain to the chef  and the chef is really sorry to you and asks for your forgiveness, being the kind of person that you are you forgive the chef for preparing a bad meal. Now before you leave the restaurant chef  still charges you for the food you consumed.  You are now upset because not only did the chef served you a bad meal that made you ill, he also expected you to pay for it.  Did the forgiveness that you gave to the chef for serving a bad meal stop him from charging you for eating it? No it did not. Now in a normal restaurant of any quality the Chef usually not only asks for forgiveness but he also does not charge the customer for the meal. The point of the bad chef story is to illustrate that forgiveness does necessitates redemption or the payment for sin. So just as forgiveness did not pay for a bad meal, forgiveness alone does not pay for sin, for we all have been given a bad meal and God, unlike the chef in the example, does not want you to pay for it, He wants to pay for it.  More than that, God wants to remove it from you like it never happened. That bad meal in the example is sin and the chef was Adam. Because we are the descendants of Adam, we all have his sinful nature. This sinful nature is made evident by how we each  offended  God. How does a man offend God?  By not obeying his commands which are outlined in his word.  The point is that with God removing a person sinful nature requires payment, forgiveness does not pay for sin.  Neither does forgiveness remove a person's sin. What does?  Redemption does.   

So the next question is: What is redemption? Redemption is defined as: (a noun) 

1.
an act of redeeming or the state of being redeemed.
2.
deliverance; rescue.
3.
Theology deliverance from sin; salvation.
4.
atonement for guilt.
5.
repurchase, as of something sold.
(Source Dictionary.com)

Adam sold the whole mankind into sin, for represented all of mankind when he disobeyed God's command to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Adam following the example of  what God did to  him in order for God to not only forgive him but to illustrate to him the cost of his disobedience, he taught all his sons the blood atonement sacrifice.  For in his day no man could approach God without his sins being covered.  Adam was like the chef who gave all of mankind a bad meal and told everyone how to pay for it, in order to be in fellowship with God.  Now some believe that Adams sin was not transferable, then why did Abel the son of Adam offer up a blood atonement offering?  Why did Noah when he departed from the ark offer up a blood atonement offering? Why did Job offer up the same type of offering not only for himself but for his family? Why was it regulated under the Law of Moses?  It even showed up in Jesus' day. The point is if Adam's sin was not transferable what was the point of allowing the blood atonement offerings until the time of Jesus?  The blood atonement offerings were needed because the sinfulness of man persisted and needed to be atoned for, even though temporarily. 

So some people are walking around believing that through forgiveness alone their sins are not only pardoned but also paid for.   Redemption is the payment for all of our sins, it is not automatically imputed.  Every person must believe that Jesus died  to pay for his sins or they have not received fully the redemption that God had provided from them through Jesus.  So does forgiveness make redemption necessary?  It not only makes redemption necessary, it prepares a person for redemption. For forgiveness is for the pardoning from sin, it does nothing to remove sin. Redemption is the payment for sin, it is the act of God through Christ that removes sin. 

Are you one of those persons who believe that your sins were paid for through the forgiveness of God alone? If you believe you are forgiven, that only means you acknowledge that at given points in your life you believed that you offended God and sinned against Him.  That you sought to be forgiven by God so that you can be pardoned from your sins, but you never asked God to redeem you, that is to save you.  Do you want to know how to be saved and have your sins washed away? Say the following prayer  with all your heart.

Dear God,
I come to you now, in Jesus's name, as an repentant sinner.  I confess all my sinfulness to you and ask you to forgive me for Jesus's sake.  I believe now, that Jesus, the Christ, Your only begotten Son died for all of my sins and that You raised him from the dead according to the words of Your Holy Prophets in the Holy Scriptures.  I invite you God to come live inside of me by the power of Your Holy Spirit and make me Your child.  I promise to live as holy as I can and read Your words in the scriptures with your help everyday. I thank you, Lord for saving me.  


That is all it takes. A simple confession of faith.  What you need to do now is to connect with believers of like faith in a local church.  If there is no local church you can follow my blogs until God guides you to one that you can get to.  




Monday, November 26, 2012

Water Baptism: Is it required for the salvation of the soul?


I.                   Introduction
In recent years there has been a vicious debate between some believers in Christ about the necessity of water Baptism for the salvation of the soul.   Some are teaching that it is not necessary and some are teaching that it is immutably necessary.   So sharp is the disagreement between believers about this subject that each group has made a ministry of calling the other a false believer or teachers.   

This infighting in the social arenas of the Church community does nothing for the cause of Christ.  So it is with this in mind this article is written so that those who agree that God wants his Church united in matters of doctrine may find common ground.   I understand, and we all must understand that there some people who want the infighting to continue, because without the confrontation and contesting, their ministry will no longer have a purpose or reason to exist.  

So I warn you, there may be things stated here in this article that you may not agree with, that is fine.  It is my position  that It is ok to disagree, but never after or before the reading this article, any one who names the name of Christ as his Lord and Savior should take the role of judge and condemn the remaining persons that do not share their beliefs.   Infighting only produces a divisive community culture and is a violation of the Royal Law of Christ: “Love ye one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12).  How is the world to know that we are the disciples of Christ, if we do not have love for one another.

So how do we address this question of Water Baptism being necessary for the salvation of a man’s soul?  We do this by asking some additional  direct and forward questions.  Like; What does the Bible teach about water Baptism?  What did the Apostles teach about Water Baptism?  What did the Church teach about Water baptism?  Through these questions what we will find out whether or not water baptism is the required for the salvation of a soul. Along with this we will look at some challenging passages that if read properly will also shed light on this issue.

II.                What does the Bible say about water Baptism?

Bible passages on water baptism by John, the Baptist:

Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. – Matthew 3:5+6

John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.-Mark 1:4+5

And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins;-Luke 3:3

When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.-Acts 13:24

Now we have here a few passages concerning water Baptism.  A few words come up frequently in these passages.  One one of those words is remission.  What does the word remission mean?

 

Remission defined: noun

1. The act of remitting.

2. Pardon; forgiveness, as of sins or offenses.

(Source: Dictionary.com)

 

Another word we see frequently in the passages is the word repentance. What does repentance mean?

 

            Repentance defined: noun

1. A deep sorrow, compunction, or contrition for a past sin, wrong doing, or the like.
2. Suffering regret for any past action.
(Source: Dictionary.com)

Now repentance carries a deeper significance in Christianity.  In that for Christians repentance is the turning away from sin, wrong doing or the like. It is not just a bad feeling of sorrow, it is an act because of that sorrow to turn away from a prior sinful activity.

These definitions and bible passages about water baptism illustrate to us that when John, the Baptist, administered water baptism it was for the consecration of the people in preparation of the arrival of the Messiah.  Two thing marks the water baptism that John, the Baptist, administered; one: the people choosing to turn away from their sins and two: people looking for the forgiveness of their sins.  No where in these passages is it indicated that John, the Baptist, administered salvation to anyone by the act of water baptism or anyone received salvation by the act of water baptism.  What John, the Baptist, was doing was a preparatory work, getting people ready for the one that was soon to appear after him.  John compared his work to the one who was to come after him, he said

 “I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost”        - Mark 1:8

The one who was to come after John, the Baptist, had a more powerful ministry.  John’s act of water baptism was a precursor of the Messiah’s ministry of baptizing believers with the Holy Spirit. John, the Baptist, said such things because people came to him as though he was the Messiah to come.  John wanted it to be clear, that his ministry and the messiah’s ministry had essentially two different goals.  His was to prepare the way of the Lord, and prepare the people for the Messiah to come. The Messiah’s ministry was to save mankind from their sins and give them the power to live a righteous life for the glory of God, through the baptism or power of the Holy Spirit.  When John, the Baptist realized that his ministry was coming to an end he told his disciples,

 “He must increase, but I must decrease”- John 3:30

Jesus and his disciples continued the ministry that John, the Baptist administered, which was the baptism of repentance (John 3:22, 26, 4:1) and made more disciples than John, the Baptist.  This teaches us that water baptism is the act which believers participate in when they desire to become a disciple. You can not be a disciple with out first believing in Jesus and following his teachings, you can not be a disciple with out first repenting and turning away from your sins.  So Water Baptism is an open declaration of repentance, the sign that one has committed himself to following the teachings of Christ, the messiah.

So what we also learned here is that the act of water baptism consecrates a life unto righteous living.  It does not atone, wash away sins or provide salvation, Jesus’ blood does that.  It is a symbol that represents the repentance of a soul from his sinful ways and a commitment to live a righteous life.  This is why people came to John, the Baptist confessing their sins.  They wanted to be free from the life and stigma of being a sinner, they also wanted God to forgive them. People believed that through repentance and confession their sins would be forgiven so that they could be free to live a righteous life before God. 

What did the Apostles teach about Water Baptism?

 The Apostles called John, the Baptist's, act of water baptism the Baptism of repentance (Acts 13:24),  they did not call it the Baptism of salvation, which means that the act of water baptism is not a saving work, it is a declaration of what has already happened, it is a declaration of repentance.  No soul can receive salvation with out first repenting from his sins and believing on Christ. So it was possible then for a soul to openly declare his repentance by the act of water baptism and yet be not saved. This act of water baptism was in fact a preparation for the salvation of the Messiah to come. This is what the people were doing, when they were coming to John, the Baptist, confessing their sins.  They were repenting in preparation of the coming Messiah that John, the Baptist was preaching to them about that would save them from their sins.

Does the act of water baptism save a soul?

The real question we need to ask to resolve this question is this: Are the any bible passages that suggest that water baptism is necessary for the salvation of a soul? Yes there are a couple of verses that at first glance appear to suggest that water baptism is a crucial elemental step in obtaining salvation. Here are they:

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

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. –Acts 2:38

At first glance, it appears in these two verses, that the act of water baptism has a very important part in the salvation of a believer’s soul.  However, what is also clear is that repentance and faith precedes the act of water baptism and is also a perquisite for salvation.  This is because these two passages state that having a deep sorrow for sinful activity, a turning away from that sinful activity and faith in Jesus is first required in order to be saved.  Then the act of water baptism, the sign of that act of repentance and acceptance of Christ, is then administrated.  No where does it imply in the text that the act of water baptism alone, as important as it is, is equal to the act of repentance.  If it was, then the passages would have to read thusly:

He that is baptized shall be saved, but he that is not baptized shall be damned. 
(Mark 16:16,  authors revision of the text, being used for an illustrative example only)

Then Peter said unto them 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.
(Acts 2:38, authors revision of the text, being used for an illustrative example only)

However that is not what either verse says.  For it is the turning away from sin and believing in the saving power of Jesus, makes a candidate soul ready for water baptism.

Now what also appears to be in the two verses under discussion is that salvation is obtained once the act of water baptism is administered.  These are the questions that have to be asked:  Does the act of water baptism really save a soul? Is it the finishing touch?

If water baptism is a necessary element for a believer in Christ to obtain salvation then we all must conclude that salvation by faith alone is a false teaching.  The only problem with that conclusion is that all the Apostles taught that salvation is not received by any works, including water baptism, but through faith by grace. Here are some of their statements from the Bible.

A)    “..Who,  having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed.  And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled.  But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?  And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” –Acts 16:24-31

I must note here that right after the jailer believed in Christ, he and his whole household was baptized, not before they had repented and believed.  This only points to the significance of the act of water baptism in relation to the repentance of a soul.  The point is that the jailer repented first, believed second and got baptized third.  The jailer and his whole household just did not get baptized in order to receive their salvation, remember water baptism is not the act of repentance, he repented first and confessed his sins and believed in Christ verbally. Like the next scripture explains.

B)    “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” –Romans 10:9-13

What moves the condition from a shalt be saved condition to a saved one?  Faith moves a shalt be saved condition to a saved one.  It is faith in the finished work of Jesus on the cross that changes that condition. Believing that Jesus is the Son of God that died for our sins moves our confession from a shalt be saved condition to a saved condition.  As the Bible states that faith is the evidence of things hoped for, the substance of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). As long as a person keeps believing in the finished work of Jesus on the cross for  his sins and confesses that in faith that person becomes saved once he calls upon Jesus.  Even though he does not feel it, or does not physically experience it, as long as he believes he is saved, then he is saved.  As the Bible again states:

“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…”- Proverbs 23:7

also

“…faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”


So we find the act of water baptism alone does not save, it is the person’s faith in the saving power of Jesus on the cross that saves a soul. Therefore, as long as that person believes he is saved, his soul is saved.

C)    “And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.” – Acts 15:7-11 (Read Acts chapter 10 in reference to this statement)

In Acts chapter 10 we find the story of God instructing Peter to share the Gospel with those outside of the Israeli community for the first time.  In that story we see that the people of Caesarea received the Holy Spirit through believing the preached word of the Apostle Peter.  After that the people of Caesarea believed, they were baptized with water.  So water baptism does not induce the baptism of the Holy Spirit, or otherwise Peter would have had to baptize the people first in order that the Holy Spirit may come down upon them.  We see in the text that is not what happened.  They believed in the finished work of Jesus on the cross for their sins and they were saved, for the Holy Spirit filled them that repented and believed. The act of water baptism was administrated to make them all disciples of Christ, that persons who are committed to following the teachings of Jesus, the Christ. The act of water baptism was not administered to save them from their sins.  Jesus came to do that and no thing or no one can replace him as the saving agent of God

So we have discovered that water baptism is not the finishing touch for a soul’s salvation. It is the confirmation work of making disciples of Christ.  It does not atone for sin, nor wash away sins, rather it prepares the person who receives such a ministry to receive the salvation of God which is provided by the shed blood of Jesus on the cross.  

What the about the thief on the Cross, did Jesus save him?

Now it is also very clear from the scriptures that were presented in this article that any soul can believe that Jesus died for their sins and turn away from their sins before getting water baptized. Water Baptism is therefore not required for the saving of the soul.  If it was required, then what did the thief on the cross received from Jesus?  Did he receive salvation or was he lost because he did not get baptized after believing in Jesus upon the cross?   If this be true, how many people have died believing in the saving power of Christ and not have been baptized for the saving of their souls? Millions maybe even billions have.  That thief on the cross did not have a chance to be water baptized.  What did Jesus say to him none the less?

 “And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” –Luke 23:43

What did Jesus mean when He said that to the thief on the cross?  Where is paradise? Paradise is where Jesus went after he died upon the cross.  That is a whole different subject that we do not have time to discuss here.  The point of the matter is this, this thief on the cross made it to where Jesus is. Think about it, has Jesus in the bible ever broke a promise he made to anyone in the bible? No He hasn’t so we must conclude that Jesus fulfilled his promise and the thief made it there without the need of water baptism.  The thief was saved by faith alone in Jesus on the Cross.  Let us look at his confession a bit closer.

11)      He acknowledged his punishment as just

            “And we indeed justly;…“-Luke 23:41a

22)      He admitted his sins and accepted the consequence of his actions

“…for we receive the due reward of our deeds….”-Luke 23:41b

33)      He believed in Jesus as Lord and asked Him to receive salvation.

“…he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
-Luke 23:41c

What did Jesus say to him none the less?

 “And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” –Luke 23:43

No chance at water baptism did the thief on the cross have.  He simply believed and asked Jesus to save him.  In turn, Jesus promised that in that day that believing soul will be with him in paradise.  Jesus promised the thief on the cross salvation. Again I ask, was there in the bible, a promise that Jesus did not keep?  No, there is not one.  Since Jesus saved the thief on the cross without the administration of water baptism.  We must conclude that water baptism is not necessary for salvation, it is necessary for discipleship. If Jesus did not save the thief on the cross after he asked for salvation.  Then water baptism loses its power to save also, because it is Jesus blood that atones for our sins.  The blood of Christ is the power of Salvation. Water baptism only prepares one for the salvation he needs to receive through faith in the shed blood of Jesus, but if the blood of Jesus does not save, why then be water baptized?

Consider this problem: In that Jesus did not save the thief on the cross, nothing then Jesus has done saves people from their sins.  Nothing that Jesus could have done saves people from their sins. If this be true , Jesus then died in vain, because if he did not save the thief on the cross, Jesus’ blood did not atone for the thief’s sin right on the cross itself.  If water baptism, as we have discovered in this article, only prepares someone to be saved and if Jesus can not save anyone, then the promise of salvation is void.  If Jesus can not save anyone, then God lied about Jesus.  He could not be His only begotten Son.  Etc, etc.  If Jesus did not save that thief on the Cross then the whole idea of Christianity is a scam.  So the bottom line is this, if you believe that Jesus saved the thief on the cross, you believe in the saving power of Jesus without the need of water baptism. You can be saved without being water baptized.  If you believe that Jesus did not save the thief on the cross, water baptism is of no use to you in the receiving of salvation, and you can not be saved. Because everything that Christianity is hinges upon the fact that Jesus shed blood on the cross atones for our sins.  Anything that changes that changes Christianity from a Christ alone faith to a whatsoever you believe saves you faith.  No one and no thing can replace Jesus’ shed blood on the cross for the atonement, the washing away of our sins.

 I hope that this study clarifies the issue about water baptism and its place in our salvation in Christ.  If you do not agree, with this article please make you comment in the space provided.  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Christians and God's Holy Law

Thesis: Are Christian believers under, above or equal to the Holy Law of God? 

Text. 1 Timothy 1:8-11 I. If Christian are under the Holy Law of God 

Then the power of the Cross of Christ had no effect in the change of the spiritual status of a Christian. The christian is still lost in his sinfulness. If the christian is convinced that he is still lost in his sins, then Jesus's sacrifice on the cross was in vain. 


The whole purpose of Jesus dying on the cross was to destroy the power of sinfulness in the lives of Christians. So what serves the Law of God? It only serves as an instructor to those who without Christ seek to live according to its requirements, allowing it to point out the adherents sinfulness and exhibiting God's righteous will. 

So if Christians are under the authority of the Holy law of God, then each christian must earn his own salvation according the just requirements of the Law. The Bible states that no man can be justified by keeping the law. So Christians can not be under the Law, because their justification does not come from keeping the Law, but by faith in the resurrection of Christ.

II. If Christians are above the Law of God...

Then what is the usefulness of the Holy Law of God? Did God waste his time in creating a law that would not be observable or enforceable? How would God convince and convict each person of his own sinfulness outside the provision of his matchless salvation? Who could God persuade to live a holy life? If a man has no knowledge of the degree of depravity of his own sinfulness, how can a person become convinced and convicted of it? Where there is no law to correct a man of his transgressions against God, there lies no judgment against a man's sinful actions. 

If this be true, then it follows that the necessity of Christ's Sacrifice was in vain and without purpose. Jesus was born to save men from their sins, but if there is no transgressions because the Holy Law that would judge them is now of none effect because without any law you can not have a transgression. The power of the transgression is the Law. 

Since Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law of God, what governs us now who believe? The text clearly illustrates that believers in Christ are no longer under the Holy Law. Christ by his death on the Cross, by his own shed blood, blotted out all the ordinances (laws) that were against us.(Colossians 2:14) I ask again what constrains us, who believe in Christ from ever sinning again? I suggest two things God grace and God's power. God removed the Holy Law that was not observable nor enforceable by any one and put in its place the power of his Holy Spirit. (Romans 8:1-4) Being a wise and just God he has also given us Grace because it is going to take time for each of us to adjust to His Holy Spirit living inside of every one who believes in Christ Jesus. He knew that we would not come out of our sinful behavior easily, but as each of us surrenders to the power of His Holy Spirit that is alive in each one who believes in Christ, we become more and more sinless everyday. (2 Corinthians 4:7,16,5:11-17) We have this treasure, the power of God's Holy Spirit, hidden in earthen vessels ( our bodies, our flesh) that no matter what we go through in this life, we believers in Christ have the power to endure, out last and overcome if we hold on to the hope of the promise of God in Christ Jesus that is laid out in his divine plan and will before us. 

So to conclude we are neither above or under the Law of God who believe in Christ Jesus for we are now are new creatures in Christ governed not by an unenforceable Law but by the power of the Spirit of God. To quote the Apostle Paul " If ye then be led (governed) by the Spirit of God, ye are no longer under the Law" (Galatians 5:18)

III. Are Christians equal to the holy Law of God?

-If Christians are equal to the Law of God, a few things must be established.

One; the righteousness of obedient and submitted to the Spiirit of God Christians must be an extention of God's righteousness in Christ Jesus. Thusly the role of the Holy Law of God moves from the role of that being our instructor to that of an Advisor. What is the difference? An Instructor points out errors in a given action, then teaches how that action ought to be done correctly. Also an instructor when not obeyed by the student is punished according to the level of disobedience. An advisor warns you of the errant action before you commit it. If you make the mistake of not following its advise, the advisor will counsel you out of the mess you got yourself in. An advisor will give you direction but, it is up to you to follow the direction it advises that you take. So it is with Christians, who have the understanding that they are not married to the Holy Law of God any longer, but find the Holy Law beneficial in that it gives guidance it areas of question. So that every christian may continue to grow in the grace that was provided by God through Christ. 


Two; We have been made through Christ the righteousness of God. (Romans 5:19; 2 Corinthians 5:21) Since the Law is Holy, good and just (Romans7:12) and every Christian has been made the righteousness of God in Christ. The Holy Law has no power over the Righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. Since this be true, should we believers disgrace the righteousness of God so willingly provided by the Sovereign Lord of all Creation out of love for mankind? No. Rather we should strive to live as Holy as He is Holy, be as righteous as He is righteous, be just as He is just and most of all loving as He is loving. Did God give us his Holy Spirit so that we may remain in bondage to our sinfulness? No. He gave us His Holy Spirit so that we can now live in the righteousness of God,


Three; Now the question is, does this righteousness that God has provided in Christ continue with us if we practice sin? No. Anyone who names the name of Christ as his saviour and continues in sin, does not know who and what he is in God. What do you think will be the judgement of those who run the righteousness of a Holy God into the filth of sin? The bible says that if the righteous will be scarcely saved, where will the wicked and sinner appear? Be not decieved God is not mocked whatsoever a man sows that he will also reap. The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. If a man who calls himself a believer in Christ and choses to continue in sin, he is blinded by the sin that posseses him. In that he cannot see the benefit and the pleasure in living in the will and righteousness of God. Let not that one person believe that he will be blessed by God, except to draw him out from his sinfulness and into a life of righteousness in God, lest his self deception will taint a whole community of potential believers who witnesses his hypocrisy and assign it to the futility of the power of God. My last point is that for those who walk after the flesh after experiencing the power of Spirit of God, they will remain under an instructor untill they learn who and what they are in Christ and what God has done for them. Even in their most carnal state, God will save them through Christ, for Christ saves to the uttermost.


Testimony: I know a man, a friend of mine, which I met in a homeless shelter. This man confessed Christ but was in bondage to drugs. I watched as his finacee prayed for their deliverance. One day he approach me in the shelter and asked me how could I remain holy when everything you worked for was taken from you. I told him that I learned that the definition of my life in Christ is not measured by God by the things I posses but by the faith I have in his deliverance power. That my present does not define my future. Soon after that God provided a way for me to leave the homeless shelter but in his full view. Soon after that I was restored to ministry and to a level of prosperity that I once enjoyed. He became a disciple of Christ and truly surendered to God. God lifted him out of homelessness shortly there after and delivered him and his now wife of their addiction problem. He is now growing in ministry enjoying a level of prosperity he never enjoyed before in God. Why? Because he found out who he was and what he was in Christ. That his present condition does not define his future. Most of all he found out that Grace does not allow you to stay in sin, for it is God giving you time to get it right.