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Friday, February 16, 2024

Healing For The Brokenhearted

"Reproach has broken my heart and I am so sick.  And I looked for sympathy, but there was none, and for comforters, but I found none." (Psalms 69:20 NASU)  Read in context one sees clearly that this passage of scripture refers to Jesus toward the very end of his life on earth when facing the cross and perhaps, very possibly, on the cross itself.  The heart has been broken to the point of sickness. 

Is there a person whose heart has never been crushed with sorrow, one whose heart has never been broken?  Most of us who are older have experienced it and sooner or later almost everyone will if they have not already.  There are the tears that flow freely and that once in motion cannot be stopped until the well has run dry but the well soon fills back up and there they go again as though they cannot be stopped.  Only the utmost strength of the will can hold them back, a will that seems to be in a life-and-death struggle with the heart. 

Food no longer matters.  The heart is too ill to even think of food.  Hunger has vanished so one can go days with barely a bite and it matters not in the least for the heart is sick.  The stomach feels as though it has taken a body blow.  All the breath has been sucked out of one's being.  Nothing matters any longer, nothing at all, all feeling is gone, and whether it be life or death matters little to none? 

There is no longer any fear for fear has been struck down.  The worst fear has achieved victory so any other thing that could come along would be but nothing.  There is no longer anything to fear.  The only emotion left is heart-wrenching sorrow.  The heart is numb and immune to further pain or insult.  Do what you will to me, it matters not. 

The greatest hurt in the world is a broken heart.  Nothing hurts worse than to have one's heart crushed.  It often comes from those we love most making the hurt almost unbearable.  We love them greatly and thought they loved us as well and then they desert us as though we were little to nothing to them. 

But there are other avenues for broken hearts as well.  A parent loses a child to death or a spouse is lost.  A healthy vigorous young man goes off to war and comes home with injuries so severe as to make a normal life impossible and hopes and dreams for the future are squashed.  His heart is broken but also that of his loved ones. 

The elderly go into nursing homes, they know it is to be permanent, and it seems family do not care or love them anymore.  The heart is broken.  Deep sorrow and sadness seem to be all that is left and old people are not supposed to cry.  But the heart is broken. 

Can a broken heart be mended?  At the time it seems life will simply stop and that the heart will never recover.  Nevertheless, hearts can be healed even though a scar may always cover the wound that was received.  Scars are eventually forgotten in the sense that the day comes when they no longer interfere with everyday life and life goes on. 

The Bible teaches that Jesus too suffered from a broken heart just as we have.  Jesus has often been called the man of sorrows based on Isa. 53.  Listen to a little of the prophet Isaiah as he talks about Jesus as he foresees the future.  "He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him." (Isa. 53:3 NASU)  Why do you think Jesus was a man of sorrows?  Was it physical affliction?  Was it poverty?  It was a heart man broke.  

The Psalmist says, speaking of Jesus prophetically, "But I am a worm and not a man, a reproach of men and despised by the people.  All who see me sneer at me." (Psalms 22:6 NASU)  John says, "He came to His own, and those who were his own did not receive Him." (John 1:11 NASU)  Was the heart of Jesus broken?  When for the last time he saw Jerusalem from a distance as he was about to enter therein it is said, "He saw the city and wept over it." (Luke 19:41 NASU)  Broken hearts weep, not hearts filled with joy. 

Yes, Jesus knows what it is to shed tears of sorrow and to have his heart broken.  In fact, he knows all about us for he "likewise also partook of the same" (Heb. 2:14), that is flesh and blood.  He was "tempted in all things as we are." (Heb. 4:15)  "He had to be made like His brethren in all things." (Heb. 2:17 NASU)  Yes, it may be that the cause of our broken heart may differ from the cause of Jesus' broken heart but is not a broken heart a broken heart?  Is pain, not pain?  Is sorrow not sorrow?  Must one's heart be crushed by a particular thing to call it a broken heart? 

Can God help us mend?  God understands that in this life there are things that are too big for us to deal with alone.  We are put in a position where we cannot act proactively for we have lost that power.  Events have overwhelmed us.  We need outside help. 

What can God do?  We might respond what is there that God cannot do?  Do you believe God can and does intervene in the affairs of men?  If he does not why then do you pray? 

Let me quote a passage to you from Psalms 34:18-19 (NASU), "The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit.  Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all."  In this passage, God is talking to his children.  Are you a child of God?  If so then there is help.  Three things from this passage must be considered. 

(1) Am I a righteous person?  If I want God to hear my prayer and help me then if I am not a righteous person I need to take the steps necessary to become one.  Obeying the gospel from the heart is the remedy for that if one has never done so.  For those who have obeyed the gospel but have not been faithful then to be a righteous person, one needs to repent, pray for forgiveness, and seek to live righteously henceforth.  For those who are faithful, they need to believe the Lord is near them and will deliver them out of their affliction.  They need to pray sincerely that if the affliction cannot be removed it will at least be made bearable.  James says, "The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much." (James 5:16 NKJV) 

(2) In the second place God is not far from a person whose heart has been broken.  That is what the text says.  We need to believe that.  How can we say we believe the Bible and yet will not believe this?  His desire is to lift us up again and renew life within our spirit, to get us to where we want to go on living again.  We need to seek him in his own appointed way to enable him to do this for us.  So, the point is this--we have something to do with our healing.  We can reach out to God, we can seek him. 

(3) The Psalmists says, in the third place, while the righteous have many afflictions God will deliver them out of them all.  What does this mean?  It means things will get better.  The heart can and will be mended in God's own time.  When things are at their worst there is about to be a change, gradual though it may be, for God is a deliverer--a change for the better is on its way. 

The Psalmist says in Psalms 147:3, "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." (NASU)  Jesus says of himself, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because he has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor, He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To preach deliverance to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord." (Luke 4:18-19 NKJV)  God is able.  We need to trust him as to how best to do it and in his own time frame.  

Broken hearts bring us extreme suffering but also restless turmoil and the absence of peace.  Sleepless nights come and go.  The mind is continually agitated and at war and we feel as though we cannot stand another day of it.  As God can heal the brokenhearted he can also restore to us peace and comfort.  Paul says that God the Father is, "the Father of mercies and God of all comfort." (2 Cor. 1:3 NASU)  Comfort is to be understood not as an easy chair or soft bed but comfort of heart and soul.  God is the source. 

Solomon wrote many years ago by inspiration when he said in Prov. 3:1-2, "My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments; for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you." (NASU)  It is needful for a man or woman to walk with God to get his help.  One of the greatest blessings a man of God has is peace to overcome the turmoil of life.  The righteous soul may have many troubles and sorrows but peace is with God.  He helps his children and can bring comfort to troubled souls. 

We often pray but fail to take into account, if God is to help us, some things that are necessary on our part.  John says, "Whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight." (1 John 3:22 NASU)  Have we led that kind of life--keeping his commandments and doing those things pleasing in his sight?  If not will we repent and begin to live that way?  Will we obey God?  If so John says "we receive from Him" whatever we ask. 

What is it we ought to ask if our heart is broken?  Should we ask that past history be altered?  Is that what John is speaking about, altering history so the broken heart will vanish that way?  We know better.  We can ask God to help us heal and go on with life and if we are faithful and obedient, and love him as we should, we have his promise of his help as per John's statement. 

God is the God of peace. (Rom. 15:33)  Paul, in speaking to God's children says, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7 NASU) 

The turmoil of the broken heart can be healed.  Live faithfully and trust God.  He will answer your prayer.  "Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all."  (2 Thess. 3:16 NKJV)  When the scripture says give you peace in every way that includes overcoming heartbreak. 

Christians are told to "draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Heb. 4:15 NASU)  One needs grace to heal a broken heart.  It is a time of need.  The Holy Spirit speaking through James says, "Is anyone among you suffering?  Let him pray." (James 5:13 NAS)  Let us pray at the throne of grace for God's power to heal our broken hearts.  

In God, we find healing, comfort, and peace and those things are worth more than the weight of the world in gold.  They are ours for the asking if we will but believe and obey God and ask him for grace in our time of need. 

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Tuesday, February 13, 2024

How Was Noah Saved Through Water

How was Noah and his family saved through water?  Peter, in 1 Peter 3:20-21, says they were but just how is a little hard to understand without some study and thought.  The passage reads as follows:  “When once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water.  There is also an antitype which now saves us, namely baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” (NKJV)

How was Noah and his family saved through water?  What was he saved from?  What is an antitype?  Was he saved by grace or by works (he did build the ark)?  There are a lot of questions.  Let us start from the beginning. 

We are all aware of the story of how the flood came about.  After God made man in due time mankind came to be great sinners before God.  “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Gen. 6:5 NKJV)  God determined to destroy man for his evil, an evil so great it grieved God in his heart and made him sorry he had created man. (Gen. 6:6-7)

However, the text then says, “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” (Gen. 6:8 NKJV)  One cannot emphasize too much the teaching of this text.  However, the story of Noah and his salvation goes against almost everything that men today have to say about grace.  Grace today, as men see it, means you need to do nothing at all toward your own salvation other than believe in Jesus.  If more was required of you that would be, so they reason, salvation by works. 

How did God show Noah grace?  Was it not by telling him what was going to happen (judgment was to befall the inhabitants of the earth and life on the earth be destroyed) and what he (Noah) needed to do to save himself?  That was it exactly.

But, in today’s world of so-called Christendom, this is not grace.  Why?  Because Noah had to work, some say, based on Gen. 6:3, one hundred and twenty years on the ark.  Peter spoke of the longsuffering of God waiting in the days of Noah while the ark was being prepared (1 Peter 3:20) so it was no short-term project.  Noah received grace but had something to do, an obligation to fulfill if he was to be saved.  Being saved by God’s grace does not mean man has no part in his salvation, that man has nothing to do.  Ask Noah.    

There is also one other very important New Testament verse on Noah’s salvation.  “By faith Noah, being divinely warned (God’s grace-DS) of things not yet seen, moved with Godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.” (Heb. 11:7 NKJV)  Noah was saved by grace (God’s giving him warning and instruction) and by faith (he believed what God had told him without which he would have been doomed) and he was saved by works for he built the ark which afforded him safety. 

We can easily see in Noah’s case how grace, faith, and works all combined to bring about his salvation, and yet we somehow or another seem to be blinded to the fact all three work together today in the Christian era to bring about man’s spiritual salvation.  James himself declares “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26 NKJV) but no one seems to take him seriously.  We say if a man is baptized to be saved it is being saved by works and thus ridicule the idea.  Why do we not ridicule Noah who built an ark (worked) to be saved?

Is it ignorance, is it prejudice, or is it something else?  I have no answer.  This much I do know—Noah was saved by grace through faith the same as we are today (Gen. 6:8, Heb. 11:7).  He was moved so much by faith that it instilled within him “godly fear” (Heb. 11:7) and put a diligent work (or obedience) ethic into his life.  “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:26 NKJV) which is exactly where Noah would have been without works. 

There is a difference between a work of obedience to God’s command and a work that merits salvation.  The Bible condemns the latter.  You cannot merit your way to heaven by works.  Don’t you think Noah was well aware that the God who caused the flood was just as capable of capsizing the ark Noah had built if he chose to do so?  Do you really believe that people who believe the Bible teaches that baptism is necessary to be saved think that they are saving themselves apart from God when they are baptized?  If the ark of salvation floats, whether it be Noah’s or our own, it is only because the grace of God allows it. 

How was Noah and his family saved through water?  By water, they were saved from a sinful world, separated from it, separated to God.  They became creatures in a new world, one without sin.  The water that brought death to others brought life to them as it lifted the ark up placing them in a place of safety above the waters of destruction. 

Do you think it strange that the water that brought salvation to the 8 brought death to the multitudes?  One cannot help but think of the waters of baptism of our own era.  The water that brings salvation to some (Mark 16:16) will bring death to others who are willingly disobedient to the command.

This brings us to Peter’s use of a word somewhat strange to many--the word “antitype” used in verse 21 in the New King James Version and also the word that is found in the Greek text.   Let me quote that to you again.  “There is also an antitype which now saves us, namely baptism.” (NKJV)  Some of the more modern versions phrase it like the ESV or nearly so, “Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you.”  The New American Standard is very close to this when it says, “And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you.”  Many of the things in the Old Testament symbolized or we might say were types of things that would come to be under Christ in the new dispensation.  The waters of the flood in the days of Noah were the type while baptism today is that which corresponds to it, baptism is the antitype.

The text does not say baptism is a symbol of salvation already achieved; it says it “saves us.”  If we wish to deny that baptism saves us today we do two things.  (1) We deny the very words of the text of Peter.  (2) We put Peter in the position of having misspoken about all of this.  If our baptism is not an antitype, does not save, then Peter misspoke.  If our baptism is an antitype then baptism saves (no one says it saves alone without grace and faith).

What did the water do for Noah and how does it correspond to baptism today?  (1) Both place those who are obedient by faith (believers) into a new spiritual world.  The world Noah entered through water was cleansed of sin.  The world we enter when baptized is a spiritual world that has been cleansed of sin, our personal sin.  [see Acts 22:16, Acts 5:25-26, Titus 3:5]  (2) Both salvations were by grace for Noah was warned and given an opportunity for salvation and so are you and I.  God was under no obligation to warn Noah and give him a way to be saved and the same can be said of you and I today thus both were acts of grace.

I would not begin to know how many verses there are in the New Testament telling us about baptism and our need for it but let me give it a shot--Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16, 1 Peter 3:21, John 3:5, Eph. 5:26, Col. 2:11-12, Titus 3:5, Mark 16:16, Matt. 28:18-20, Rom. 6:3-6, Gal. 3:26-27, 1 Cor. 12:13, Heb. 10:22.  These were just those that came to mind without using a concordance.  I barely touched the Book of Acts.

Like Noah, we have been given a warning.  We will like him be obedient with “godly fear” or else we will take God on by being disobedient.  Who do you think is really saved by grace?  Is it the man who hears and believes and obeys or is it the man who hears and disbelieves and does not obey?  Who truly has “the answer of a good conscience toward God”? (1 Peter 3:21 NKJV)  I am sure Noah’s conscience was clear as he obeyed God and did all he was told out of faith.  How does a man have “a good conscience toward God” all the while being disobedient?  Will he say I didn’t know?  Will he say I heard the passages, I read them, I just did not believe them?  Will he tell God it was God’s fault for being unable to communicate effectively?

What saved Noah?  The answer is God’s grace, Noah’s faith, and Noah’s obedience.  If you and I are saved today it will be because of God’s grace, our faith, and our obedience.  When we speak of obedience we are talking about works of obedience, that is faith obeying.  Yes, everything depended on God’s grace for without it Noah was helpless, a doomed man.  The same can be said of you and I but just like Noah we must act if God’s grace is to benefit us.  We must believe and respect God enough to obey him.   

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Saturday, February 10, 2024

King Saul--As Long As It Glorifies God

We read in Rom. 15:4, “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” (NKJV)  The NIV translates the first part of that verse as follows, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us.”

Paul, the writer, had reference to the writings found in the Old Testament when he made that statement.  As we read the Old Testament we need to be thinking what is in this passage or account that I am reading that is a lesson for me today?  What is in it for my learning?  We should never read the Old Testament just as history but rather as history that is meant to teach and leave lessons for those of us today.

Every Bible student who has been a student any length of time is aware of Samuel’s encounter with King Saul as Saul returned from the slaughter of the Amalekites.  Saul had been commanded by God through Samuel to go and put to death every living Amalekite and to destroy everything they had. (1 Sam. 15:3)  He disobeyed sparing the life of King Agag, king of the Amalekites, and the best of the livestock bringing them back to Israel. (1 Sam. 15:9)  Samuel in his meeting with Saul utters the famous statement I here quote:

“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?  Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.  For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.  Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he also has rejected you from being king.” (1 Sam. 15:22-23 NKJV)

The word “stubbornness” found in the NKJV here is an interesting word.  In the ESV and NET translations the Greek word is translated as “presumption,” as “insolence” in the LITV, “insubordination” in the NAS, and “arrogance” in the NIV.  The meaning seems to be that Saul was determined to do his will rather than God’s.  Would he dare do it?  He did but why?  Surely he had some fear of God.

It seems Saul had the same idea many men have today who believe they are pleasing God all the while being disobedient to his word.  They consider themselves godly men and would defend themselves as Saul did before Samuel; at least he did as long as he could. (1 Sam. 15:20-21)  The idea is prevalent today that we can do whatever we want to in our Christian work and worship just so we give glory to God, or as some might say as long as God receives the glory.

That was exactly the case with King Saul.  God said to destroy all these animals but Saul’s thinking is we will take the best back and sacrifice them to God back in Israel.  He will receive glory in our doing so; he will be pleased.  There is arrogance, presumption, insolence, call it what you will, in that kind of thinking.  We will disobey God to please him.  Sounds ridiculous does it not but that is the way much of Christendom thinks today, just like King Saul.

The Bible could not be any clearer than it is on the subject of homosexuality as all know but we presume to know more than God about it and think he will be pleased when we condone it and receive into fellowship the unrepentant individual practicing it as long as we say “he is in a committed relationship.”  We see ourselves as showing love and thus God must surely be pleased with our actions.  Since our motivation is good, as was Saul’s, we can disobey God and he will be pleased.

Paul’s teaching on women preachers and leaders of the church again is as clear as can be.  Read 1 Cor. 14:34-37.  Paul closes that section by saying, “If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord.” (1 Cor. 14:37 NKJV)  Read also 1 Tim. 2:12-13.  But we are like Saul.  We will do our own thing and presume a little, be a little arrogant, be a little insolent.  We will give God glory in the way we see fit--through women preaching and being church leaders.

I never have figured out how a woman is going to be an elder, a bishop, a pastor, in view of the fact that the qualification for such is that the individual must be “the husband of one wife.” (1 Tim. 3:2 NKJV)  But when we are like Saul and make our own rules anything goes and anything does go today in the religious world, even among those mankind calls Christians whether they be that or not.

Whatever we want to do we can justify ourselves as King Saul justified himself before Samuel.  We can justify ourselves and get by with it today for we have no prophets around, no apostles, no inspired men to rebuke us.  However, we will get by for only so long for “all things are naked and open to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Heb. 4:13 NKJV)

Samuel said this stubbornness, arrogance, presumption (depending on your translation) was as iniquity and idolatry.  Why would he say that?  The Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament in dealing with this verse makes an excellent point.  I quote, “All conscious disobedience is actually idolatry, because it makes self-will, the human I, into a god. So that all manifest opposition to the word and commandment of God is, like idolatry, a rejection of the true God.”  I see no way around that conclusion.

Saul’s sin was in actuality rebellion against God.  There was a new god in Israel--King Saul.  That was his sin and it is our sin when we decide that for all practical purposes we are going to make the Bible mean what we want it to mean despite what it says.  We will explain all of those old troublesome passages away to fit modern-day culture, our woke society.  We will make the Bible into a living document (a document that grows and changes as suits us to go along with the changing culture).  Why?  Because we are not satisfied with it the way it is.

God today speaks to us through his inspired word.  When we take it and play around with it foot loose and fancy free we do not honor him.  One cannot honor God nor give him glory by doing the opposite of what he has said to do.  Have we learned the lesson from that which was written “aforetime” (Rom. 15:4 KJV) as it pertains to the lesson we should have learned from King Saul’s experience?  I fear we have not.

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Monday, January 29, 2024

Jesus As The Bread Of LIfe

Beginning in about John 6:27 Jesus begins a discussion with those with whom he is conversing that carries through most of the rest of the chapter about himself being the bread of life sent down from the Father (John 6:32-35) that man might eat of this bread and have eternal life.  There are many descriptive terms used about Jesus in the Bible of which the bread of life is but one.

In the book of John alone Jesus is described as the Word (John 1:1), the Light (John 1:9), the only begotten (John 1:14), the lamb of God (John 1:29), the Messiah (John 1:41), the Son of God (John 1:49), the bread of life (John 6:48), the light of the world (John 8:12), the door through which one must enter if he is to be saved (John 10:9), the good shepherd (John 10:11), the resurrection and the life (John 11:25), the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6), the true vine in which one must abide or be cast out and thrown into the fire (John 15:1,6), and the king of the Jews (John 19:19) and this list is not exhaustive of every term found in John that in one way or another is descriptive of Jesus.  Nave's Topical Bible lists a full page and a half of names, appellations, and titles given to Jesus in the scriptures.  Each descriptive term provides a lesson in itself on who Jesus was and is. 

In the John 6 passage, we see Jesus describing himself as the bread of life, a description we find appealing.  We see Jesus as one come down from God the Father to man to give unto man a bread which if he will eat of it gives life everlasting (John 6:50-51).  The language is figurative and the words spoken are spirit.  "The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life." (John 6:63 NKJV)  Jesus said, "The bread that I shall give is my flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world." (John 6:51 NKJV)  For you and I to eat of this bread, keeping in mind the language is figurative and spiritual, means we partake of Jesus, of his life and teaching, by belief and obedience.  It involves surrendering one’s life to Jesus and begins with faith and obedience to the gospel for the gospel is the message of the cross (1 Cor. 15:1-4), the cross being where Jesus gave his flesh for man.

It means we allow ourselves by following after Christ to be remade in the image of Christ.  "But we all (speaking to Christians--DS), with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord." (2 Cor. 3:18 NKJV)  As Paul said, "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." (Gal 2:20 NKJV)  Emphasis should be placed on the phrase "it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me." 

One eats of the bread of life by obeying the gospel.  There is no eating of the bread of life without obeying the gospel.  I am not a Greek scholar but one who is has said that the word "eats" as in "eats of this bread" in verse 51 of John 6 and the verbs "eat" and "drink" in verse 53 of the same chapter as in "eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood" denote a once for all action in the Greek thus a reference to initial gospel obedience (see Frank Pack, "The Living Word Commentary--The Gospel According to John, Part 1," page 112).  He goes on to say that in verse 56 the phrase, "he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him" denotes in the Greek continuous action thus is an ongoing action in a person's life.

I do not believe one has to be a Greek scholar to understand eating the bread of life begins with surrender to Christ in gospel faith and obedience nor do I think one has to be a Greek scholar to understand that if one later chooses to quit feeding on Christ spiritually he will also die spiritually.  In fact, the parable of the vine and branches deals with this very thing.  A branch cannot bear fruit if it does abide in the vine which is Christ (John 15:1).  If a branch does not abide in the vine it dies, is cast out, and is gathered to be cast into the fire (John 15:1-6).

To feed on Christ (John 6:57 in the NKJV and the ESV) is to allow him to direct our lives by his word and example.  "He who says he abides in him ought himself also to walk just as he walked." (1 John 2:6 NKJV)  How did Jesus walk?  He said, "I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me." (John 6:38 NKJV)  Whose will are we here to do--ours or God's?  What will we end up doing?  Jesus said, "I always do those things that please him." (John 8:29 NKJV)  Are we walking in the footsteps of Jesus?  Are we feeding off his life?  Is our will as Jesus' was when he said, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me." (John 4:34 NKJV)  To read and study the New Testament and obey its teachings is to feed on Christ the giver of the same.

Today many people in what is called Christendom feel as though one is being a legalist when he emphasizes strict obedience to keeping God's commandments and they somehow feel as though to do so is unspiritual.  If that is true what do you do with Jesus?  Has there ever been a stricter legalist if commandment keeping is your definition of being a legalist?  Think a long time about that before answering.  Was Jesus a legalist and unspiritual?  Is that what a man is today if he follows in the footsteps of Jesus trying to obey every commandment of God?

Paul told the Corinthians, and thus to you and me, to "imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ." (1 Cor. 11:1 NKJV)  In John 13:15 Jesus said he had given the disciples "an example, that you should do as I have done to you." (NKJV)  This was said in reference to a specific act, that of washing the feet, which means being humble enough and servant enough to do the lowest of jobs to be of service to others.  Peter spoke of Christ being an example when he said, "Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow his steps:  'Who committed no sin, nor was guile found in his mouth.'" (2 Peter 2:21-22 NKJV)

To eat of the bread of life, to eat Jesus' flesh and drink his blood, is to become a faithful dedicated Christian wholly committed to Christ, to his teaching, to his commandments, to follow his example in living life, it is to imbibe his spirit, and become as much like him as is humanly possible.  It is to make God's will our personal will in that we want what he wants.  Our goal in life is to please him even to the extent of becoming obsessed with doing so.  Was not Christ obsessed with pleasing the Father?

In closing it needs to be repeated for emphasis sake that it all begins with gospel obedience and contrary to the thoughts of the denominational world that does include not only faith and repentance but baptism as well.  It is only in baptism that we die to sin for it is there where we were crucified with Christ being baptized into his death.   Read carefully Rom. 6:2-8 and then read the conclusion of the first gospel sermon ever preached to man--Acts 2:38.  If the people of Jesus day were guilty of rejecting the counsel of God against themselves not being baptized with the baptism of John (see Luke 7:30) of how much greater sin do you think he will be guilty who rejects the counsel of Jesus to be baptized for the remission of sins? 

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Saturday, January 20, 2024

Behold The Judge Is Standing At The Door

It is sometimes hard for Christians to grasp emotionally that they will be judged by Christ on the Day of Judgment.  So much has been made of the grace of God and God's love that it is hard to come to grips with the idea of judgment but James in writing to Christians says, "Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned.  Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!" (James 5:9 NKJV)  So he is.  "We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.  For it is written:  'As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.'  So then each of us shall give account of himself to God." (Rom. 14:10-12 NKJV)

If the Bible is true, and I say that without a doubt in my mind, then every person who has ever lived or will live in the future, or who lives now, will someday be found on their knees at the feet of Jesus the creator of the heavens and the earth and all that is.  I cannot imagine the terror of one who is forced into that situation knowing that he or she has lived a life of rebellion against God.  Terror is too mild a word for that experience.

Can a man fight against God and hope to win?  If not should we not consider the life we ought to be living?  We have today.  We ought to make use of it for "behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." (2 Cor. 6:2 NKJV)  Today is the day God will accept us if we willingly accept him by faith and obedience to the gospel.  But as life has well taught us today is here and gone tomorrow.  We have all been to the cemetery too many times to fool ourselves into thinking that today will last indefinitely.  Our last day on earth shall arrive gradually with expectation or come as a surprise like a bolt of lightning out of the blue but when that day does arrive, as it will, then we pass from today into tomorrow and into too late--too late to obey the gospel and live life eternally with God in heaven. 

If I could beg you to obey the gospel and it would do any good I would do it but that is not how it works for obeying the gospel to please me would do you no good.  Gospel obedience must be from the heart, sincere in its desire to please God, not a man.  As Paul wrote to the Romans "You obeyed from the heart" (Rom. 6:17 NKJV) and so it must be with us all.  In Christianity, it is folly to think of using force of any kind to convert people.  In the Muslim world that might work but not in the faith God requires as found in the Bible.

Where does a man run to get away from God?  "Where can I go from your Spirit?  Or where can I flee from your presence?  If I ascend into heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, you are there." (Psalms 139:7-8 NKJV)  Jonah tried running away from God but did not get far.  I guess one could say though that he got far enough away to realize he could not flee.  It is hard for me to understand how people with advanced degrees, and great innate intelligence, think they can escape from God but it is as common with them as it is with the ordinary everyday man or woman.  Who can understand it?  Yes, we can run from God but we can’t outrun him, cannot hide from him. 

When the Lord returns in judgment he "will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts" (1 Cor. 4:5 NKJV) for "he knows the secrets of the heart." (Psalms 44:21 NKJV)  Yes, he knows your evil thoughts (Matt. 9:4) and we will be judged for ours as they are listed in a list of sins as found in Matt. 15:18-19.  "God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ." (Rom. 2:16 NKJV)  "All things are naked and open to the eyes of him to whom we must give account." (Heb. 4:13 NKJV)

What I have written so far I have written both to the saint (the Christian) and to the sinner (the one who has never obeyed the gospel).  But, I want to direct my words now to those who are Christians.  Be forewarned, "The Lord will judge his people." (Heb. 10:30 NKJV) 

“If we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins." (Heb. 10:26 NKJV)  The writer here is speaking to those who are guilty of "forsaking the assembling of ourselves together." (Heb. 10:25 NKJV)  The entire book of Hebrews is directed primarily to a Christian audience.  The writer closes this section of his writing by saying, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." (Heb. 10:31 NKJV)

In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul begins by talking about the journey out of Egypt to the Promised Land.  He speaks of some of the sins God's people fell into during that period and of the consequences of those sins saying, "With most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness." (1 Cor. 10:5 NKJV)  Then after recounting a number of those sins, he says, "Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the ages have come.  Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall." (1 Cor. 10:11-12 NKJV)  Paul is writing to Christians when he makes this statement.  The book of 1 Corinthians is addressed "to the church of God which is at Corinth." (1 Cor. 1:2 NKJV)

So all of mankind, saint and sinner both, shall stand before Christ on the day of judgment and give an account of their life. (2 Cor. 5:10)

Salvation is free in that we do not earn it nor do we deserve it but neither can we take it for granted or be indifferent toward it.  The Hebrew writer makes this clear when he speaks of "a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.  Anyone who has rejected Moses' law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.  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?”(Heb. 10:27-29 NKJV)

In the letter that was to be delivered to "the angel of the church in Thyatira" (Rev. 2:18 NKJV) Jesus said, "I am he who searches the minds and hearts.  And I will give to each one of you according to your works." (Rev. 2:23 NKJV)  Yes, the message is to Christians and I could not help but be reminded as I read this passage, reminded again of what I have heard over and over again, that works do not matter, it is all grace.  Jesus did not teach that. 

God " ’will render to each one according to his deeds’:  eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil." (Rom. 2:6-9 NKJV)  Jesus is "the author of eternal salvation to all who obey him." (Heb. 5:9 NKJV) No person can be saved without the grace of God but to imply the Christian has no obligations to meet for salvation, God's grace will just cover it all, is a perversion of the truth. 

Matt. 7:22-23 ought to be an eye opener to all who will give it serious consideration.  Jesus says, "Many will say to me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name, cast out demons in your name, and done many wonders in your name?'  And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness!'" (NKJV)  He is speaking, of course, of the Day of Judgment.  Here is a group of men who had some religion about them.  Were they lying to Jesus about the things they had done?  I cannot conceive of a man who would be that big a fool at the Day of Judgment to lie to Jesus knowing what was at stake and knowing with whom he was dealing.  I thus take them at their word as did the commentators I consulted on this passage.  Furthermore, Jesus does not take them to task for lying to him.

So, what is the point?  Simply this--a man may claim to be on the Lord's side, he may do things that appear to be good and positive and they may be that up to a degree, and yet the bottom line is despite appearances, despite one's own I am satisfied with my religion, the man is lost.  Yes, a regular churchgoer (figuratively speaking), a religious man, who is lost.  Why is he lost?  Because he practiced lawlessness.  What is lawlessness?  "Sin is lawlessness." (1 John 3:4 NKJV)  Now note the text in Matthew says nothing about whether or not this sin was deliberate or not.  Sin does not have to be deliberate to be sin.  Many who crucified Christ or were in favor of it did it in ignorance, Peter says so in Acts 3:17, but it was nevertheless a sin as was Paul's later persecution of Christians before his conversion.

Who will be saved on the Day of Judgment?  "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my father in heaven." (Matt. 7:21 NKJV)  Note this is the verse just before Matt. 7:22-23 quoted above, just before Jesus denies entry into heaven of those who had done many good works in his name but who practiced lawlessness.

It is time to give this line of thought a practical application to our own time.  There are hundreds and hundreds of denominations today each teaching a different doctrine or doctrines.  I would as soon believe that two plus three equals four the same as does two plus two as to believe that one can be saved in just any church of your choice.  It is just as logical to believe one as it is the other.  Everyone cannot be teaching truth while contradicting one another.  Now honest, how smart do you have to be to figure that out?    Yet, we hear it all the time we are all going to the same place, choose the church of your choice, and other such things.  There are not thousands of different truths out there.  Jesus said, "You shall know the truth" (John 8:32 NKJV) "the truth," one truth, not one thousand truths.

Modern-day denominationalism partakes of postmodernism in that each has his own truth.  If it is contradictory it matters not.  Each is true anyway.  Nonsense?  Yes, absolutely but that is postmodernism, that is denominationalism.

If we approached our secular educations the way we approach Bible study there would be no graduates, no degrees handed out.  Our instructors would rebuke us and rightly so for our lack of common sense and reasoning and for letting our emotions run wild overwhelming our ability to think rationally.  We are ruled by our traditions and emotions just as much as the Pharisees and until we get over that we will like them find truth hard to come by all the while convinced in heart and mind we have it.

The bottom line is every person ought to be reevaluating their life in light of what the scriptures say, not what their church (denomination) says.  Who cares about "their church" on the Day of Judgment?  In the first place, you do not have a church in any scriptural sense for the church belongs to Christ, not to you or me.  In the second place, we are not saved collectively but individually.  The vast majority ought to be getting out of what they call "their church" right away anyway for if we would reason correctly and study the scriptures with the reason and logic we do textbooks we would soon see the error in the one we hold allegiance to and begin to search wholeheartedly for a congregation that taught and practiced the truth. 

One advantage to getting older is that you are no longer concerned about what people think about you.  You are reaching the point where reality (death) is beginning to stare you in the face and you can truly say, "I will not fear.  What can man do to me?" (Heb. 13:6 NKJV)  Not to offend anyone deliberately but when you start getting older you have bigger fish to fry than what people think of you or will say about you.  Where you are headed they are not going, at least not so soon, but you can see you are.  Truth ought to become utmost in our desires then.  It ought to be that way all through life but often it is not.

Yes, "the Judge is standing at the door!" (James 5:9 NKJV)  He is expecting you.  He "was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead." (Acts 10:42 NKJV)  The day is appointed (Acts 17:31).  Christ will be there.  You will kneel and confess that Jesus is Lord and answer for your life.  Are you ready?  If not what are you going to do about it?  Surely you are not going to fritter away the time you have, are you? 

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Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Is Holy Spirit Baptism The Baptism That Saves?

In an article I wrote some time ago I had a gentleman of the Pentecostal persuasion respond seemingly upset with me over the issue of baptism as I was emphasizing the importance of water baptism which he was discounting as being nothing more than a picture of salvation (whatever that means).  Of course, his emphasis was on Holy Spirit baptism.  In any case, since I said I would respond I will do so here thinking I might as well make an article out of my response. 

When one reads the gospels the very first mention of the subject of baptism comes with the introduction of John the Baptist.  Mark says, "Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins."  (Mark 1:5 NKJV)  We know Jesus when baptized, by John, "came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him."  (Matt. 3:16 NKJV)  So our very first introduction to the subject of baptism relates it to water, not the Holy Spirit. 

However, John did prophecy of two other baptisms to come.  He says, "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire."  (Mat 3:11 NKJV) 

It is very important to note who will be doing the baptizing in the Holy Spirit and fire.  Will it be the apostles, will it be man?  No, for the text says "He," a reference to Jesus, which means what?  If you are going to receive Holy Spirit baptism it will not be at the hands of men.  It will have to come directly from heaven itself.  Jesus will be the administrator. 

But, it means even more.  It means it cannot be a command for it is something Christ does for you.  In other words, it is a baptism you cannot obey.  It is something you receive, not something you do.  Pentecostals ought to keep this in mind because it is going to cause problems down the road.  Indeed, it is going to cause problems before one even finishes the book of Matthew. 

In the Great Commission of Matt. 28:18-20 Jesus speaking to the apostles said, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (NKJV)  The reader already knows enough from what has been said previously that this is a command for water baptism for it is the only baptism men can administer.  Men could baptize others with water but not with the Holy Spirit.  Only Jesus could do that. 

Furthermore, the command of the Great Commission was to teach those they baptized to go out and do the same with others--make disciples and baptize them—thus making the Great Commission a perpetual command for the ages.  This means in Eph. 4:5 when Paul said there was "one baptism" we know which one it was. 

Before the time of Paul's writing of the book of Ephesians, there had been two baptisms--water baptism and Holy Spirit baptism (the baptism of fire being yet future at the Day of Judgment).  However, by the time Paul wrote the book of Ephesians, scholars say sometime between 61 and 64 AD, only one baptism remained.  This was approximately 30 years after Jesus had ascended back into heaven and Paul now says as he writes there is but one baptism. 

This puts Pentecostals in a tight spot.  If they say we still have Holy Spirit baptism then they must deny we have water baptism.  If they say we still have both they make Paul, speaking by the Holy Spirit, out to be a liar for that makes two baptisms rather than one. 

Did Jesus speak about baptizing some in the Holy Spirit?  Yes, he did, but to whom?  It was to those with whom he met in Luke 24:33-49.  It was with those who were to "tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high." (Luke 24:49 NKJV)  It was to those who would first preach "repentance and remission of sins … in His name … beginning at Jerusalem."  Now who did that?  Was Peter the first one?  Did he preach baptism for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38) "beginning at Jerusalem"?  Yes, he did. 

In the book of John starting with chapter 13 and going through chapter 17 Jesus is with the apostles he had chosen at the Last Supper.  Here he again speaks about this select group being baptized with the Holy Spirit or words to that effect (John 14:16-18, 26, 16:13). 

Luke, in the book of Acts, speaks of "the apostles whom He had chosen" (Acts 1:2) and then says, "to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, 'which,' He said, 'you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.'" (Acts 1:3-5 NKJV) 

Thus the promise of the baptism of the Holy Spirit was only to a select few, not to all Christians.  All Christians received the Holy Spirit but not all received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and there is a difference.  Many received spiritual gifts and thus had a measure of the Holy Spirit in that special sense as well, but the promise of the baptism of the Holy Spirit was only to those few Jesus chose.  I remind the reader that while Holy Spirit baptism had to come directly from heaven spiritual gifts could be received at the hands of the apostles.  "And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Spirit was given."  (Act 8:18 NKJV) 

Even spiritual gifts were not to last endlessly until the Day of Judgment.  Paul says, in Eph. 4:11-14 (NAS), "And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming."  

Apostles and prophets were obviously men with spiritual gifts.  Are there, apostles and prophets, still with us today?  The reader ought to highlight the word "until" in the above passage.  Words do have meaning.  "Until" places a time limit.  Then note the last verse that begins with "As a result."  The result is we will not be carried away "by every wind of doctrine" thus the earth will still be here when the apostles and prophets are gone and so will every wind of doctrine which we will not be carried away by. 

A passage that is even a little clearer is 1 Cor. 13:8-10, "Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge (miraculous spiritual--DS), it will be done away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away."  Some say this refers to Jesus' second coming.  Does it?  It is hard to see how you or I need to be told that there will not be prophecy in heaven.  Is that not self-evident?  Let me tell you what is "perfect" in addition to Jesus--his completed revelation to man in his word, the New Testament itself.  Do you doubt the word of God is perfect?  See Psalms 19:7. 

The one who takes issue with me says, "In John 3:5 water does not refer to Christian baptism in the name of the Lord.  Prove that it does."  If you recall John 3:5 reads as follows, "Jesus answered, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.'" (NAS)  Well, what are the other options?  Is it "Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of the Holy Spirit and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.'"  That is how this sincere man would have it read, but I think it is readily seen that this will not work in the context of how the sentence is phrased. 

He also argues that Rom. 6:3, Gal. 3:27, and Col. 2:12 all refer to Holy Spirit baptism, not water baptism.  I have already shown that since there is only one baptism today, according to Paul, then it is an either/or option--either it is Holy Spirit baptism or water baptism.  If it is Holy Spirit baptism then the baptism Jesus commanded in the Great Commission is of no effect today and you cannot carry out the Great Commission. 

In Romans 6:3 Paul says, "Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?"  By using the word "us" Paul includes himself.  Let us hear Ananias at the time of Paul's baptism, Acts 22:16, "'And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.'"  It sounds to me like the responsibility is on Paul to "arise and be baptized."  It sounds like it is something Paul can attend to.  He can't if it is Holy Spirit baptism as my critic claims.  He will have to wait on Jesus to do that.  Thus my critic is in error. 

Gal. 3:27 reads as follows, "For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ." (NAS)  Am I baptized "into Christ" or am I baptized by Christ?  Holy Spirit baptism is by Christ, not into Christ.  If Christ both baptizes one and puts one into himself (salvation is in Christ--2 Tim. 2:10) then if you are lost it looks like it is his fault since there is something he did not do for you.  I can obey the command for water baptism but I cannot obey Holy Spirit baptism for Jesus has the responsibility for that.  I have not clothed myself with Christ, and cannot do so, if it is out of my hands which would be the case if this passage refers to Holy Spirit baptism. 

Finally, Col. 2:12, which he says is a reference to Holy Spirit baptism, reads as follows with me including verses 11 and 13 in order to read the text in context.  "And in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions." (NAS) 

Beginning with Abraham if a male child was not circumcised the eighth day he fell out of covenant relationship with God.  This remained true on up through the entirety of the Mosaical Era.  You can read about it in Gen. 17:12-14.  If one is in covenant relationship with God he is a child of God.  He may or may not remain faithful and thus can be lost later but at the time he becomes a child of God he is saved. 

I have a question.  In Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost when the first gospel sermon ever preached after Christ's ascension, after the giving of the Great Commission, when were those gathered there, the three thousand, placed into a covenant relationship with God?  Was it before water baptism for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38)?  Water baptism was necessary both for the forgiveness of sins and for the reception of the Holy Spirit and was prior to both.  Without the forgiveness of sins first, there was no covenant relationship with God, not under the new covenant. 

It would be good, perhaps, to quote Acts 2:38 here: "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." (NKJV) 

Circumcision placed one into covenant relationship with God under the Law of Moses.  When were people placed in that relationship in Acts 2--was it before or after the receiving of the gift of the Holy Spirit?  One can readily see it was before the receiving of the Holy Spirit but after water baptism.  If you have received "remission of sins" you are saved and in a covenant relationship with God.  Circumcision in the covenant of Christ, in Christianity, is baptism from the heart of faith for the remission of sins in water, not Holy Spirit baptism.  In that act, when based on faith, sins are cut away (removed).  Colossians 2:11-13 is a reference to water baptism. 

But, sometimes it is good to argue against ourselves so, putting myself in my critic's shoes, I would come back and say have you not read Rom.2:29, "But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God"? (NKJV) 

The same Paul who wrote Colossians wrote Romans.  We shall tie them together.  I remind the reader my critic believes the talk about baptism in Rom. 6, the first several verses, is a reference to baptism in the Holy Spirit.  But, Paul says in Rom 6:17-18, "But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness."  There are two points to be made.  (1) You cannot obey Holy Spirit baptism thus his argument fails when he says the baptism of Romans 6 is Holy Spirit baptism.  (2) When were they set free from sin according to Paul?  Answer--when they obeyed.  

This excursion off on Romans 6 throws light on Rom. 2:29.  As this passage—Rom. 2:29--relates back to Col. 2:12 it shows, when combined with the study of Romans 6, that one cannot divorce faith from obedience.  Obedience is from the heart.  What is in the heart to produce this obedience?  Faith!  When understood that obedience is a part of saving faith, that there is no such thing as saving faith apart from obedience, I readily concede that salvation is by that kind of faith.  This faith always includes as an integral part of itself obedience. 

The trouble is the advocates of salvation by faith are generally such as do not define faith this way.  Their faith does not necessarily include any ideas of obedience thus water baptism is just kind of an option if I get to it, if I do it, when I do it, sort of thing.  When God says jump you cannot say I will if I want to, and when I want to, if I decide to.  That is neither faith nor obedience, it is rebellion.  How can one claim a circumcision of heart and talk of having the Spirit all the while saying it does not matter whether you obey what the Spirit has said, you can be saved whether you obey or do not obey?  Jesus, a man full of the Spirit, did not disobey a single commandment but we do and say it is okay and that we have the Spirit.     

If the baptism of the Holy Spirit still exists today then along with it we must have as a necessity those things that accompany it which include the spiritual gifts of the first century.  All Holy Spirit baptized individuals (the apostles) had miraculous spiritual gifts (2 Cor. 12:11-12).   Who ever heard of having the baptism of the Holy Spirit and not having spiritual gifts?  Do we have prophets today, do we have miracle workers today, do we still have revelation being given today?  Let each reader judge for themselves. 

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