Bulletin Articles

Bulletin Articles

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What is the difference?

Sunday, February 15, 2015

What is the difference?

 

 In a Bible class this week, I was asked, “What’s the differences between the baptism of John and the baptism of Christ?” Before we can answer this, we need to see that the baptism of Jesus was the same as John’s before Jesus died (John 3:22-23; John 4:1-2). Both were a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins (Matt. 3:6,11; Mark 1:4-5; Acts 19:1-5). However, the baptism of Christ changed significantly after His death and resurrection. Consider these differences.

 

Baptized for the remission of sins

On the day of Pentecost, many Jews were gathered together in Jerusalem. Peter and the other apostle were also there. When the people heard the gospel and asked what they needed to do, Peter said, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins…” (Acts 2:38). The one baptism taught today (Eph. 4:5) is for the remission of sins (Acts 22:16).

 

Baptized in the name of the Lord

The baptisms conducted by John and Jesus (prior to His death) were not done in the name of anyone. This changed in Matthew 28:19. After Christ resurrected, He gave this commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”  In Acts 10:48, Peter commanded Cornelius and his household to be baptized in water in the name of the Lord.

 

Paul later discussed the difference between these two baptisms.  “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus,” (Acts 19:4-5).

 

Baptized into the death of Jesus

While speaking to the Roman brethren, Paul made mention of their common baptism: “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?” (Rom. 6:3). Obviously, John and Jesus could not baptize people into His death before He died. The point of Christ dying on the cross was to pave the way for the salvation of mankind. Thus, when one is buried with Christ, they put to death the old man of sin (Rom. 6:6). This person is able to rise up in spiritual newness of life, just as Christ was physically raised from the dead (verse 4).

 

Baptized the one true way

Earlier in this article, we mentioned the “one baptism” of Ephesians 4:5. Baptisms conducted prior to the death of Jesus were not valid after He died. Because the scriptures show that we are only to baptize into Christ’s death today, we can logically conclude that we all have one common source of salvation (Jude 3). Multiple types of baptism would contradict scripture. If we know that this baptism saves us (I Pet. 3:21), why would we accept any other baptism?

 

Beware lest your baptism only get you wet

Remember that John’s baptism, like a baptism into Christ’s death, was an immersion in water. Though the people in Acts 19 were immersed, they only got wet. John’s baptism did not meet the requirements for a baptism into the death of Christ, so they were not saved. Similarly, people today who are baptized without proper understanding and belief can go into the water a dry sinner and come up a wet sinner. Make sure you understand what is necessary for a proper baptism into the death of Christ.

 

Chuck

 

Fasting

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Fasting

 

I had a gentleman call me this past week after seeing our TV program. His purpose was to inform me that many religious groups are guilty of neglecting fasting. I was told that we are commanded to fast as God’s people and that fasting is the way we gain spiritual insight. Let’s take a closer look and see what the Bible says.

 

Let’s begin by defining the word. To “fast” is to go without food. Fasting can be voluntary – a person who chooses to not eat – or forced – a person who lacks food. In II Corinthians 11, the apostle Paul listed over two dozen incidences of hardship he endured. This included fasting (verse 27). The context indicates that Paul was forced to go without food. Conversely, fasting is also mentioned in Acts 14:22. Here, people voluntarily went without food during a time of devotion to God in prayer.

Was fasting a command that the early Christians had to keep? If we focus on the word of God and ignore the opinions of men, then we can see that Christians are not commanded to fast.  Allow me to explain. Even though fasting was NEVER commanded, the practice is not wrong. Remember, Christ encouraged it (Matt. 6:16-18), as did Paul (I Cor. 7:5).

 

Recall that the gentleman who called me was upset with the lack of teaching on fasting and assumed that fasting is not practiced today. The truth is, I know many brethren, including myself, that pray and devote time to think about spiritual things while depriving themselves of food.  Because the Bible does not command the practice, nor is a minimum amount of time limit given, people cannot broadly condemn others. These things are left to our discretion.

 

It is dangerous to think that certain truths can only be found by fasting. This is just not true. The gospel message can be understood (Eph. 3:4). We cannot logically argue that fasting is necessary to understand God’s word. How could we know this without first finding it in God’s word? To argue that fasting reveals unique spiritual insights, we must either accept a circular argument or accept that something aside from God’s word is truth. Both are wrong.

 

How many of God’s people start praying and lose track of time? How many people thinking spiritual thoughts are surprised when they look at the clock?  This happens all the time. So is it fasting when someone is involved in prayer and has gone a period of time without eating? Yes! But when they do finally stop to eat, this is called a “breakfast” – a break from fasting!

We also need to think about our attitudes. Nobody should fast and let people know they are fasting. As noted earlier, Christ made this point in Matthew 6. Jesus warned about revealing to men that you have been fasting. Our Lord even spoke a parable where a man was bragging to God in prayer that he had fasted twice a week (Luke 18:12). Despite his spiritual practices, he was not more righteous than the tax collector Did this make him more righteous than the tax collector (verses 13-14)? No!

 

There is no room for self-righteousness when talking about fasting. Are a person’s prayers less respected if offered after a meal? There is no indication that the Lord’s followers were less godly when they were not fasting (Luke 5:33-35). If a Christian today prays and goes a long period of time without eating, it’s fine. Let’s make sure we respect what the Bible says on the subject.

 

                                                                                             Chuck 

Looking for souls like Cornelius

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Looking for souls like Cornelius

 

     If you are not familiar with the conversion of Cornelius and his household, please read Acts 10 and 11. I will point out some of the wonderful qualities this man possessed that aided him in becoming a Christian.

 

     We are told that Cornelius, even though he was not saved, believed in God and prayed often (Acts 10:2). Though these qualities did not automatically save him, they were essential for him to seek God on His terms. Thus, when the Lord told Cornelius to send for Peter so he could hear how to be saved (11:14), he did not get upset. Too often people allow pride to stand between them and salvation. Cornelius could have closed his mind and decided that he had done enough to be saved already, but His desire for righteousness was earnest.

 

     Another quality that aided Cornelius was his humility. When Peter came to Cornelius, he immediately fell down to worship him (10:25). Though Peter told him that he should not be worshipped (verse 26), Cornelius’ humble disposition is evident. This attitude was key for Cornelius and his entire household (10:47-48) to carefully listen to and obey Peter’s instructions.

 

     Also notice how Cornelius desired for others to hear the message of salvation. We are told that when Peter came, Cornelius had many people gathered for the apostle to teach (10:27). What a delight this must have been for Peter! What teacher of God’s word wouldn’t light up with joy when they find many people assembled and ready to learn? This is as true today as it was for early Christians.

 

     Cornelius’ example shows why it is critically important to pray for those seeking the truth. Not only will our prayers help them directly, but that same aspiring Christian might be encouraged to bring others to their studies too. Those earnestly longing for salvation will want others to be saved as well. If you are not a Christian, please consider Cornelius’ example and earnestly seek the Lord.

 

                                                                                                                                                                                   Chuck  

"Lovers of pleasures"

Sunday, February 01, 2015

“Lovers of pleasure”

 

The apostle Paul told Timothy that perilous times were coming. “For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than loving God,” (II Tim. 3:2-4).

 

Such people were described as “having a form of godliness but denying its power” (verse 5).  How can a person retain a “form of godliness” if they love pleasure rather than God? This situation is where someone will serve God as long as that service does not conflict with anything else they like.

 

Keep in mind that these pleasures are not inherently sinful. These pleasures might just being things that are fun, exciting or thrilling – sports, playing games with friends, going to concerts, etc. The issue is that these people become more passionate about their fun than they are about God and thus only have a form of godliness.

 

Faithful Christians love the Lord and do not just want to appear godly – they want a genuine relationship with Him. From an eternal perspective, sacrificing our relationship with God in exchange for a little more time spent playing sports, going fishing, visiting friends, etc. makes no sense!  We should not see God as the ultimate fishing buddy – we should our relationship with Him as something far greater than any earthly pleasure. If we put Him first, there will be no conflict between loving God and earthly activities.   

 

In closing, consider this illustration. A married man is leaving work, but his friends try coax him to spend time with them at the bar under the pretense of “working late”. A man with a strong love for his wife will not hesitate to choose her every time because there is no comparison between the choices. And so it is with God’s people. His faithful children will seek true godliness and reject having just a form of godliness every time.

                                                                                        

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Chuck  

It's all about authority

Sunday, February 01, 2015

It’s all about authority

 

 Does God really care how we accomplish what He wants us to do? Do the ends justify the means in spiritual matters? Many people today toss Biblical authority aside because they feel that certain Biblical truths do not matter or are less important than others. They are not unique – the Bible is full of people who thought this way too. Let us look at these examples to see what we can learn.

Logically, we can only know God’s opinion on anything from on His word. For example, God does not care whether we eat meat or only vegetables. Both are acceptable to Him (I Cor. 8). A person cannot know this without seeing it in His word. “Feeling” that God will accept something is not the same because it cannot be proven.

Some brethren in the first century thought that it did not matter how widows were taken care of, so long as they were looked after. How did they know this conclusion was acceptable though? In I Timothy 5:16, brethren were told that using money from the church treasury to take care of widows was wrong if that widow still had family members who could care for her. There was obviously a proper way to care for these women. The ends did not justify the means.

Consider the subject of church discipline. A church could choose to ignore the sinful behavior of a member and hope that behavior would stop. What if that erring brother does stop sinning and repents? Was the church right to remain silent? Not according to I Corinthians 5. There are many ways to do things for the Lord. However, the scriptures are clear that we are wrong if we lack His authority!

Too many religious groups today justify their actions based on results. A common strategy, for example, is to use free food to draw people to church events. Some people have certainly become members of these groups because of that first invitation. Did these religious groups stop to consider what our Lord says about this strategy though? Jesus Himself gives an answer in John 6:26.

It can be difficult to say that something was not done properly when good things result from it. We need to remember, though, that we care how things are done because the Lord cares how things are done. The point is to avoid sin! Consider Philippians 1:15-18. Paul said some preachers were sinful yet had some success in converting people. The apostle rejoiced for the converts but still did not approve of the sinful preachers. Regardless of how many converts they made, these sinful preachers were still not approved in God’s eyes.

Paul’s example clearly demonstrates that the ends do not justify the means even when there is some success. People need to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, but I will not do things that are scripturally inappropriate – going to a bar, for example – to try and teach them. We need to remember how powerful our example can be (I Tim. 4:12). Doing things for God in our own way might work in the short term, but we are compromising our teaching by not consistently following only God’s word. We also need to remember that we are potentially hurting our example to all the other people observing the situation.

How things are done plainly matters to God. It also matters to Christians who want to respect God’s authority. When we think with our emotions and not with our heads, we run the risk of establishing our own righteousness rather than seeking righteousness through Christ (Rom. 10:1-3).  Make sure you consider what God says about something rather than just assuming it is okay. Paul made it clear: “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Col. 3:17).  It is all about God and His authority.

 

Chuck                                                                      

 

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