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Friday, August 10, 2012

The Water and the Blood

There has been a lot said about salvation these days.  Some have said that the current Christian community is really deceived. Why? Because many believers were not baptized for the remission of their sins as illustrated in the Bible. Many people who say that they are believers in Christ have made only a faith confession, to which other people have said that this is not enough telling people that they have to be water baptized in order to be saved.  There has been nothing short than a clear rift between believers on this issue. So we ask today are believers saved by faith in the finished work of Christ, faith in the blood  of Christ or are they saved by the act of water baptism?

The crux of the matter is the Remission of sins, the word remission is another way of saying forgiveness of sins.  John, the Baptist preached a gospel of the remission of sins, and he used water to symbolize the cleansing power of God over those who came with a repented heart.  Understand that John, the Baptist used  water baptism to show what God was preparing to do by he who was to come after him.  "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and [with] fire:"  (Matthew 3:11) This signifying a change when the one that was to come institutes a new type of baptism.  He also stipulates here that his administration of water baptism was a work for repenting people.      So what we understand here is that water baptism is for people who believe in God  who has already repented of their sins and want to openly declare that testimony. (Mark 3:6) John, the Baptist never says that the administration of  water baptism cleanses people of their sins rather at that time it prepared people to receive the forgiveness of their sins.  For John, the Baptist could not grant or administer forgiveness, that was not his mission, his mission was to prepare the way of the Lord. 

So what was John, the Baptist doing? He was preparing the people for the forgiveness that was to be received once Christ completed his mission on earth.  So people came out to him to be Baptized not to be forgiven  but to prepare them for the true baptism  that will cleanse them from their sins from the one that was to come. That baptism that was to come John called the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, and that this other baptism is the one that only Jesus, the one who came after John can administrate.  So what John was preaching was the Gospel of God's forgiveness: In that if people repent and confess their sins, they are candidates to receive the symbol of God's forgiveness to come, that symbol was water baptism.  No where does John testify that water Baptism will save any of them that repented of their sins or cleanses them from their sins. This is logical because Jesus did not die yet and shed his blood on the cross, so the water that John. the Baptist was using did not cleanse any one from their sins and did nothing for their salvation.


So why did the people repent and accept water baptism if it did nothing for their salvation?  Water baptism did two things, it publicly declared a person's turning away from his sins and prepared him to receive him who was to come after John.  


So why do some people today say that it is necessary to be baptized in order to be saved? This comes from a few verses in the Bible they are as follows:


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


and


"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)


and


"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:" (1 Peter 3:21)


In Marks gospel, the 16th  chapter and 16th verse seems to confirm what some people testify of the necessity of Water  baptism  for salvation to be received.  Except for the fact which we have previously found out that water Baptism only prepares one to be cleansed from his sins it does not cleanse anyone from their sins.  Another thing to notice is that all these verses previously shared come after the fact that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead.  So this brings us to the question: What does water baptism has to do with salvation after Jesus had died? If we read from the context of each of the scriptures listed above, we will discover that water baptism was not necessary for salvation, repentance is.   For you can not be baptized unless you first believe and repent. In the case of  1 Peter 3:21,  the correlation between Noah and his family  being saved and water baptism saving us now is that Noah family was made up of repented souls who was brought into a new life when God delivered them from the water of the flood.  The point is,  you have to believe God's message and repent first before you get baptized and symbolically confess your faith openly. For to administer water baptism upon some who first does not believe and secondly has not repented of their sins, undermines the purpose of the Gospel and water baptism. The Gospel message is the good news that God desires to save each one of us, but we must have faith in his Son's death and resurrection, this is what water baptism openly declares for each participant who chooses to believe the Gospel.  Here is the question, suppose you believe in just Jesus' death and resurrection are you saved?  The Bible says yes.


"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." (Romans 10:9)


why?


"For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." (Romans 10:10)


So water baptism does not cleanse anyone from their sins, but it is an open declaration of that which was already received.  So as long as a believer  confesses faith in Christ's death and resurrection that person shall be saved.  Why  shall be saved and not is saved?  Salvation is in the hand of him that judges all men. It is not in the hands of men to administer or to not administer.  The reason I believe that it is written is that salvation is not complete until we hear the Judge of all say "well done my good and faithful servant, enter in to the joy of your lord!" until then it is a faith walk. That is, we already received the salvation of God by faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Christ.  


"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1)


In other words, Faith is the title deed, the grocery receipt of what was purchased on your behalf.  The evidence of possession depends upon who has title, who has record of ownership, who has the receipt of that which was purchased.  Therefore, as long as we have faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God and openly confess that faith, we possess ownership of that salvation that we seek receive at the judgement seat of Christ.  The Bible never says that water Baptism is the title deed to salvation, but it does illustrate that water Baptism is an open declaration of an inward change. An open declaration of a repenting soul.


So what saves a soul from sin? What cleanses him from all unrighteousness? The imputed blood of Jesus the Christ upon him. It alone atones for sin and is imputed to every one that confesses faith in Jesus' death and resurrection.  It is applied every time a believer confesses and repents of sin. (1 John 1:9) David desired to see this day where a man sins can be blotted out, for he said.


"Blessed [is he whose] transgression [is] forgiven, [whose] sin [is] covered." (Psalms 32:1)


He said this because in his day for a person to have his sins atoned for he had to present an atonement offering. Foretelling of the blessing that now befalls upon all who believe in Christ for Jesus is our atonement offering (Romans 5:10+11). For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins ( Hebrew 9:22,28) Without water baptism there is always the opportunity to repent and be saved, for salvation does not depend upon water baptism, but upon the confession of the faith of the one who believes in the atoning power of the blood of Jesus.  


So is water Baptism necessary for salvation? No it isn't.  For Paul, the Apostle met two people who believed after the Gospel of repentance, he expounded more accurately the way to them and they received by faith what the salvation the Gospel of repentance prepared them for.  (Acts19:1-7) The Gospel of God's salvation rests firmly on Jesus's death and resurrection and nothing more and nothing less. 


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How I Study the Bible.

If you are an firm believer in Christ and desire to learn more from your Bible this article is for you.  First of all  please remember that studying is not interpretation.  Studying is research that can lead you to the proper interpretation of the Bible.  This is called in scripture "rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15) There are several different ways to  study the Bible.  The one the few ways I love to study the Bible is by topic or theme, but I do not limit myself to that way of study.  Here are a few other ways to study the Bible

A) Chronologically- This type of study respects time and history in relation to the subject or person you are studying in the Bible.

B) Thematically-This type of study respects the idea or subject  the student is inquiring about in the Bible.

C)  Memorization- This is the simplest form of study which requires certain passages  or verses of the Bible to be retained in the students memory.

D) Inquiry- This type of study is the most adventurous, it asks questions and seeks answers within the Bible.

E) Character- This type of study focuses upon a Bible character of interest. It like doing a biographical study, following a person's life or relationship with God from beginning to the end.

F) Self application- This type of study takes what the student finds applicable in the Bible to his or her own
life. It is a "how to"  study. If you understand the directions and follow what the Bible prescribes you should receive the benefits of obedience to its principles..

G) Model- This a study that seeks a role model from the scriptures. Another way to look at it is to ask yourself the question, " Who is you greatest Bible Hero, other than Jesus?.  Model studies help the student seek attitudes to emulate from various Bible characters that was acceptable behavior to God.

H) Book- This is a study that allows you to look at each book of the Bible and discern its parts.  It allows you to understand, in part, the human author's intention when he composed the book and why.

One thing I do when studying the Bible is always study any interesting verse, passage or character in the context and in respect of the context where the verse and passage is in the Bible.  This is a safeguard against drifting way out of the textual limitations of what the scriptures present.  Some people get some strange ideas about what the Bible says about a matter because they never consider the context of the verse or passage of the Bible they are citing from.

After I decide which way I am going to study the Bible, I get some 6 X  4 blank index cards or pieces of paper and use a concordance to search out the proposed scriptures that is in line with that study.  Anything of interest or anything that is illuminating I note on those cards or pieces of paper.  It could be a statement, a idea, a concept it could be anything.  I stopped using highlighters, and marking bible passages with a pen because using such devices can damage the pages of the Bible.  By writing the verse address, phrase or the address of the passage down on a separate piece of paper, I am able to look at all the verses on a given study  and glean eternal truths from them in relation to the study topic.

The next thing I do is look up related material to the verse or the passage I am studying.  This is material that is not necessarily  found in the Bible, but is Bible related.  It can be Historical information, Archaeological information, Inspirational information, Scientific information, the list goes on and on.  There is a lot of information that is Bible related.

I then write them down in a outline format.  This keeps me on track to the most sensible and logical conclusion based upon Biblical truth.   Now after I develop my outline.  I write my Study out in such a way that I can come back and review it.  Now some studies last for years, some for days and some for hours. It largely depends on the broadness of the study.  That is why I say that Bible studying is research because it can go on for days. Now if you want to keep your studies short, limit them to what you really want to understand or what you really want to know.  This will keep you from drifting from one degree or dimension of the study to another. Focus on one dimension ask one to three direct or pointed questions to guide you in your study. You can make cross reference notations in your study to be investigated later.

The danger to all Bible studying is prejudice.  When studying the Bible you must be free of preconceived ideas. Which is the root of prejudice in the study of scripture.  If you have a preconceived idea about something that God does, God allows, God prohibits that was not found it the scripture or anything related to it, it can be the idea that you substituted for Biblical truth instead of doing the research.  This is why I always say that the worse kind of deception is self deception. If a preconceived idea came from a preacher, studying it in the Bible is the only way to verify whether it comes from that preacher's personal opinion or from the Bible.  That is why it is good to take notes when someone preaches. If you find that the preacher is not adhering to Biblical truth but is preaching from personal opinion. I strongly suggest that you leave that church and find one that the preacher bases his teaching upon biblical truth.

You don't need a chain reference Bible to study or a Study Bible to perform any of the studies listed in this article.  They are what we call Bible aids, they are good for clarification purposes and it is very good to have access to at least two or three of them.  Do not get caught thinking that what that Chain reference Bible suggests in your own private studies.  Treat them as someone giving their opinion of what the scripture of interest refers to.  You do need however an very good concordance.  I love Strong's Exhaustive with Greek/English and Hebrew/English dictionaries in them because I could look up everything, even to where a comma is placed. I can find the Hebrew or Greek word that was translated into English and increase my understanding of the scriptures.

Finally you do not study the Bible in order to show how intelligent you are in the matters of scriptural understanding. You study the Bible to guard yourself from false teachings, false preachers and from self deception.  Let the word of Christ grow in you richly.  The richer you grow in your understanding of Christ and the Bible, the richer you really are.