A Better Baptism #14

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13 KJV).

Behold, the only baptism that counts for eternity!

Many denominationally-minded souls will now surely raise some “what about” objections. What about Matthew 28:19? What about Paul’s own water baptism (Acts 9:18; Acts 22:16)? What about him water baptizing his converts (Acts 16:15,33; Acts 18:8; Acts 19:5; 1 Corinthians 1:13-17)?

“The Jews require a sign” (1 Corinthians 1:22). To signify to Israel that pagan Gentiles have converted to Christ, those Gentiles were to be water baptized for Israel’s benefit (Matthew 28:19). As water baptism indicates Israel’s cleansing from heathen idolatry, it also evidently serves a likewise purpose for the believing (formerly pagan) Gentiles in Israel’s program (nothing to do with us!). God is not showing anything to Israel today, for national Israel is temporarily fallen (Romans chapter 11). This will change once our dispensation closes.

Indeed, Paul water baptized—but only during Acts. Water baptism existed before him, and during the transitional phase of Acts 9–28, he was water baptized and he water baptized others. However, Jesus Christ did not send him to water baptize. Read 1 Corinthians 1:17: “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.”

After the Book of Acts closed, the Holy Spirit wrote through Paul in Ephesians 4:5 that only one baptism is necessary in this the Dispensation of Grace—and it certainly is not water baptism. Paul wrote of water baptism only once; here, he says Christ did not commission him to do it. It was not part of the special revelation Christ gave to him to give to us. Paul water baptized only during his “Acts” provoking ministry to Israel (see Romans 11:11-14).

That transitional period has passed, and so have all the temporary, bizarre situations people stumble over when they read and teach the Book of Acts. Paul being water baptized showed Ananias and other believing Jews that Paul had now come to faith in Christ. Water baptism showed (past tense!) how idolatrous Gentiles in Paul’s ministry had trusted Christ as well….

Bible Q&A #655: “Are the ‘angels’ of the Revelation really ‘pastors?’

Children of Light #6

Friday, August 30, 2019

“While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them” (John 12:36 KJV).

Today’s Scripture is one of three instances of the expression “children of light” in the Bible. What is the significance of this title?

When the resurrected, ascended, and glorified Lord Jesus Christ reached down and saved Saul of Tarsus, nearly all the world groped in spiritual darkness. Except for the Little Flock (those few Jews who had trusted Jesus as Messiah—Luke 12:32), mankind was under Satan’s control. Almighty God sent the Apostle Paul to preach to these unsaved souls (Acts 26:16-18).

Read 2 Corinthians chapter 4: “[3] But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: [4] In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. [5] For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. [6] For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” Recall Psalm 119: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path…. The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple” (verses 105,130).

Compare with Colossians chapter 1: “[12] Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: [13] Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: [14] In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:….” Paul’s Gospel is “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3,4). Israel’s rejected Messiah—that is, personal faith in Jesus’ finished crosswork—is how we escape the formidable darkness of Satan’s evil world system! As God wanted the Jews to be His children, the “children of light,” so we become “children of light” through simple faith in His Son….

Children of Light #5

Thursday, August 29, 2019

“While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them” (John 12:36 KJV).

Today’s Scripture is one of three instances of the expression “children of light” in the Bible. What is the significance of this title?

Most Jews rejected the Lord Jesus: they were uninterested in being “the children of light.” Since they refused to believe on Him, God intervened and made them unable to believe on Him. The light of Christ’s earthly ministry was gradually withdrawn, and Israel was plunged into greater spiritual darkness (see verses 37-41, what follows today’s Scripture). Just a few days later, they demanded He be crucified as a common criminal, and He died on Calvary’s cross (see Acts 3:13-18). He resurrected victoriously and ascended back to Heaven still spurned!

Leaving Christ’s earthly ministry and entering early Acts, God lifts the blindness from Israel. Christ commissions the 12 Apostles to preach and convert Israel to Him. Even during this renewed opportunity of repentance—God wanting them to change their mind concerning His Son, moving them from unbelief to faith—Israel persisted in doubt and disobedience. By Acts chapter 7, Israel falls before God, and He sets them aside (exactly how He treated the nations back at the Tower of Babel over 20 centuries earlier in Genesis chapter 11).

In chapter 9 of Acts, Christ reached down in grace and peace to save His chief enemy, Saul of Tarsus. Many years later, Saul recounts in chapter 26: “[16] But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; [17] Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, [18] To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”

God will reach the whole (darkened) world—even fallen Israel—through a new Gospel message. He still purposes to create “children of light….”

Our latest Bible Q&A: “How is the Holy Spirit ‘the Comforter?’

An Unlikely Convert #4

Saturday, April 13, 2019

“And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20 KJV).

Who is this preacher?

Thus far, we have been reading the testimony of the Apostle Paul. Listen to him in his own words as he stands before Gentile King Agrippa, nearly 30 years after his conversion: “[9] I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. [10] Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. [11] And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities” (Acts 26:9-11).

Saul was bloodthirsty religious fanatic! He did not think twice about arresting and putting to death any Jew who followed Jesus of Nazareth. Yea, he was God’s leading enemy in the earth at the time. Saul was heading the world’s rebellion against the God of creation. In Acts chapter 9, Saul (the chief of sinners) met Jesus Christ (the Saviour of sinners)!

First Timothy chapter 1: “[12] And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; [13] Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. [14] And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. [15] This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. [16] Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.”

So, Paul’s salvation is a “pattern.” No matter how hopelessly lost someone appears, just remember they can come to Christ by faith as well. The mercy and longsuffering God extended toward Paul is still being offered to any and all today 2,000 years later. If only they would believe on Jesus Christ as Paul did!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Can you explain, ‘Give strength to the LORD?’

An Unlikely Convert #3

Friday, April 12, 2019

“And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20 KJV).

Who is this preacher?

Some people will never trust Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour: they will indeed go to Hell forever, fully content with their “good works.” We meet them daily. Others are lost now, but they will trust Him before physical death comes. These latter people are the few and far between. We encounter them as well. Seeing as to both classes, how do we differentiate them? How do we know who to witness to and who not to waste our time? Some argue that we need not witness at all, for if God has chosen to save them He will save them and if He has not chosen to save them then preaching to them is useless anyway. What malarkey! We should “preach the Word” (2 Timothy 4:2) to one and all—and then let God take care of the rest!!

Ananias probably considered Saul of Tarsus the least likely person to believe Jesus is the Son of God. Saul was just too bitter of an enemy. However, via a heavenly vision—where the ascended Lord Jesus Christ Himself appeared to Saul—Saul realized his lost estate (see Acts 9:1-9). Not only did Saul pass from death to life, Ananias actually saw and heard him preach about that very Jesus Christ in synagogues throughout Damascus (today’s Scripture)!

Notice the shock of Saul’s audience: “[19] And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. [20] And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. [21] But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests? [22] But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.”

Simply put, no matter how “hopelessly lost” someone appears, he or she can be delivered from the worst cult, the most extreme brainwashing. After all, look at Saul (!)….

An Unlikely Convert #2

Thursday, April 11, 2019

“And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20 KJV).

Who is this preacher?

Saul of Tarsus was a brilliant man of evil reputation. A rabbinical theologian, he had a head knowledge of the Law of Moses, but no heart faith in it! Had he truly believed God’s words through Moses, Saul would have seen Jesus as Messiah. Hundreds of ancient prophecies had been fulfilled during the three years this “Jesus of Nazareth” had traveled the land of Palestine. However, like most of his Jewish countrymen, Saul worshipped his religion rather than the God who gave that religion. When God showed up in human flesh, Saul (like most of his Israelite kin) overlooked and spurned Him as an imposter. Saul eagerly imprisoned and/or kill anyone who confessed Jesus as Christ, God’s Son, His Anointed Saviour.

Acts chapter 7: “[57] Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him [Stephen] with one accord, [58] And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. [59] And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Saul was present when his fanatical countrymen—fellow religious leaders—took the life of God’s spokesman Stephen. It gets worse.

Chapter 8 begins: “[1] And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. [2] And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. [3] As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. [4] Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.”

Read the context of today’s Scripture again: “[13] Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem:….” Ananias, although fearful and offended, by faith followed the Lord’s instructions. He would go minister to horrible Saul….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Will computers ever destroy us and dominate the world?

 

An Unlikely Convert #1

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

“And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20 KJV).

Who is this preacher?

Let us read the context of today’s Scripture: “[10] And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. [11] And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street whic is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, [12] And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.

“[13] Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: [14] And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.” Ananias was a Jewish believer in Jesus Christ. He had heard of Saul of Tarsus, a most bitter enemy of Jesus. Saul was mercilessly hounding and slaughtering Messianic Jews. Imagine Ananias’ shock when the Lord Jesus appeared to him in a vision. Ananias feared greatly upon being told to seek out Saul! “[15] But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: [16] For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.

“[17] And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. [18] And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. [19] And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. [20] And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.”

Imagine Ananias’ shock now….