The apostle Paul is one of the most-beloved personalities in the Bible. He’s regarded this way largely because of his zeal and willingness to change his life to obey the Lord.
Indeed, he went from Saul (one who bound Jesus’ disciples and brought them to Jerusalem for punishment) to Paul (who himself would be bound in Jerusalem for being a disciple of Jesus).
How was Paul able to make that 180 degree change in his life? We’ll notice three characteristics:
1. He was Sincere (Although Mistaken)
Saul persecuted disciples (Acts 7:58ff, Acts 9:1-2, 22:3-5), but believed he was doing what was right (Acts 22:3, 23:1). He lived in accordance with his beliefs, and sincerely thought he was doing the right thing. Surely his zeal is unquestioned, even though his actions were wrong.
Saul gives us proof that beliefs and feelings can be wrong, and that sincerity does not turn a wrong into a right. Deep down we know this, but sometimes we have trouble seeing it in ourselves or the lives of people we care about. Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that the heart is deceitful above all things. Instead of relying on our feelings, we must look to the Bible to see if we are living the way it tells us to. If Saul’s feelings were wrong, mine can be too!
2. He had the Courage to Convert
Although Saul’s sincerity was misplaced, being a sincere man surely helped him to have the courage he needed to change from doing what was wrong to doing what was right.
We learn in Acts 9 that Saul had permission from the high priest to go round up disciples and bring them bound to Jerusalem. Saul was on the road to Damascus in the heat of the day to carry out this task. He was more than willing to have the assignment. Yet, on that trip he had an encounter with Jesus that changed his life (Acts 22:6-10, 9:1-9, 26:12-18).
- A light shone from Heaven
- A voice spoke to Saul. When Saul asked who it was, the voice identified himself as Jesus (Acts 9:5, 26:15)
Saul had to confront the reality that he had been doing the wrong thing (consider Acts 22:10, 9:6). He asked the Lord what he wanted him to do. Jesus instructed Saul to go to Damascus, where he would be told what to do.
God instructed Ananias to go to Saul (Acts 9). Ananias initially had concern, understandable in light of Saul’s reputation, but listened to God and went.
When Ananias met Saul, Saul had gone three days without vision, food, or water (Acts 9:9), and was praying (9:11). Ananias greeted Saul as “brother” because of their common Jewish background (Acts 9:17, 22:12-13). Despite the claims made by some, Saul had not yet been forgiven of his sins; we know this because of Saul’s own testimony in Acts 22:16.
Saul received his sight and was told by Ananias “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” (Acts 22:16; NKJV)
If Saul had already been forgiven, Ananias would not have urged him to be baptized and wash away his sins.
Learning that we’ve been wrong about a deeply-held belief can be hard. Sometimes a man learns he is wrong, but refuses to humble himself and change. Sometimes a person realizes he’s wrong but then tries to justify his actions instead of changing. Some know they are wrong and have a desire to change, but external forces like threats from family members scare them into staying where they are.
When we realize we’ve done wrong, we naturally feel that something should be done about it. What a blessing, then, that the Gospel is for all regardless of our background.
Paul described himself as chief of sinners, but he was forgiven (1 Timothy 1:13-17).
People who have committed grievous sins have been forgiven (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
There is sin in everybody’s background, but maybe you feel like yours is too great for God to forgive. As we have noticed, the Bible says otherwise!
When we seek forgiveness on God’s terms, God forgives us!
- Hear the Gospel (Romans 10:17)
- Believe it! (Mark 16:16)
- Repent of your sins (Luke 13:3)
- Confess Jesus Christ (Matthew 10:32-33)
- Be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 22:16)
3. He Had the Determination to Persist
Paul had the courage to start his walk as a disciple of Jesus, and the determination to persist in living for God.
He was faithful to God in spite of persecution (2 Corinthians 11:22-28, Philippians 4:11-12). We learn from Acts 9:20-25 that persecution started on Paul shortly after his conversion, but it never stopped him.
He was faithful to God despite what was waiting for him in Jerusalem (Acts 21:10-14).
Paul was determined to press for the prize (Philippians 3:14).
Hebrews 11:13-16 speaks of people who sought a heavenly country. They confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on this earth because of that desire. When our eyes are firmly fixed on Heaven it helps us persist no matter the obstacles (Romans 8:37-39, Revelation 2:10, Acts 20:18-24).
Saul (or Paul as we better know him) gave us a powerful example. While we can be impressed and consider this life to be extraordinary, we should not think he is an example we can’t follow.
Paul was able to make such a dramatic change in his life because he had sincerity, courage, and determination.
- Sincerity in his desire to please God.
- Courage to change when he realized he was wrong.
- Determination to persist in spite of obstacles.
You can possess these characteristics too!
Scripture quotations in this lesson were taken from Holy Bible. New King James Version. Copyright Thomas Nelson, Inc. 1982. Used by permission. All rights reserved. If we can assist you in obeying the Gospel, or if you have Bible questions or other comments, please contact us or visit one of our services.
Posted in Give Me the Bible Radio
Sunday’s edition of Give Me the Bible asked whether we can trust our preachers to believe and teach what the Bible says. Here’s a free, simple survey you can use to analyze your beliefs and the beliefs of your preacher on several fundamental Bible questions.
Click here to download the Survey of Religious Beliefs.
Posted in Give Me the Bible Radio
You are invited to our upcoming Gospel Meeting April 12-15 with Al Franks.
In addition to his experience as a preacher and an elder, Al is the editor of Magnolia Messenger: sometimes described as “Mississippi’s Good News Newspaper.”
Sunday April 12 Al will speak in our adult Bible Class (9 a.m.) and preach the sermon for our morning and evening worship services (10 a.m. and 6 p.m. respectively).
This free series of Bible lessons continues Monday-Wednesday at 7 p.m. each evening.
The following topics will be addressed:
- A Prayer and a Plea
- A Charge and a Crown
- Challenges for Christians
- A Mystery Revealed
- Getting Ready to Leave
Each session is open to the public without cost or obligation. Please accept the invitation to come study with us from God’s word!
Posted in Announcements
This year’s Vacation Bible School is Saturday, July 12, 9 a.m.- 3 p.m.
Our theme is “The Race is On: Running with Jesus Every Day.”
This free one-day event has classes for all ages. Lunch is provided. Registration will take place Saturday morning.
Posted in Announcements
Dictionary.com defines gossip as “idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others.” New Testament teaching about how we should use our tongue shows that gossip is not appropriate for Christians (1 Timothy 5:13, Colossians 3:8, Ephesians 4:29).
We should not be fooled into thinking that gossip is something that only one gender participates in. The truth is: many men gossip too!
Gossip can damage a congregation and thus hurt the influence of the Church of Christ in the community. On an individual level, it can hurt your reputation and influence. Let us consider three things we can do to stop gossip.
1. Don’t Start It!
The New Testament urges us to put of “filthy language” (Colossians 3:8) and to “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” (Ephesians 4:29; NKJV)
These warnings would not be limited to gossip, but would certainly include it.
We should refuse to use our tongue in ways displeasing to God. We should think carefully about every word we say. Jesus warned: “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.” (Matthew 12:36; NKJV)
If we can remember that we will have to give account of every word we say it will help us use our tongue properly.
2. Don’t Spread It
We can choose the words that we say, but we cannot stop everybody else from speaking. This means that even if we do not start gossip, somebody near us might. If somebody shares gossip with us we should choose to leave it alone instead of spreading it to others. Instead of participating in somebody else’s sin (consider the principle in 2 John 11 and Ephesians 5:7) we should hold our tongue and refuse to help the gossip spread.
Try to use love and wisdom to stop gossip instead of spreading hearsay and potentially harmful information. “A talebearer reveals secrets, But he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter.” (Proverbs 11:13; NKJV) “He who covers a transgression seeks love, But he who repeats a matter separates friends” (Proverbs 17:9; NKJV).
If your companions come to realize that you are not going to participate in gossip, they will likely stop gossiping to you eventually.
3. Don’t Speculate
Gossip spreads rapidly because people would rather speculate than search. It is a lot easier to say “Did you hear about…” than to verify information. It is much easier to spread gossip than to stop it because spreading it is incredibly easy.
Instead of speculating about somebody, get the information from the source. Have you heard a rumor floating around about a brother or sister? Do not repeat the matter, ask them about it and see if it is true. This does not mean we can never use reliable sources, but it does mean that instead of relying on speculation as if it were fact we need to establish what the facts are.
Not surprisingly, this approach is consistent with what Jesus taught for addressing somebody who sins against you (Matthew 18:15-17). Instead of idly speculating, go to the source and establish the facts. We should be more interested in having our facts straight than in having an easy conversation.
- Gossip can ruin the happiness and harmony of a congregation, and we need to stay on guard against it.
- Gossip can ruin your example as a Christian and keep your light from shining in the world as it ought.
- Let us develop the reputation of being people who speak truth, speak to edify, and speak with love (Ephesians 4:29-32).
- Use your words wisely and well.
Posted in Morals, Sermons
Worry is something that virtually every human has wrestled with in their lifetime. If you are one of the many who would like to rid yourself of the worry habit then please consider the following Biblical reasons to resist the worry bug:
Beginning March 19 this page will be updated each weekday through March 28th with a Biblical reason not to worry. Please consider bookmarking this page so that you can easily return to see the updates.
Reason One: Because God Said So!
We will observe many other reasons not to worry, but let’s start with the first one Jesus gave in Matthew 6 of the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 6:25 Jesus said “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on…”
If Scripture provided no other reason not to worry than a command from God not to do it, that should be enough. It is to our added benefit, as we will see in the coming days, that Jesus provided several additional reasons not to worry.
As we consider Jesus’ comments on worry in Matthew 6 we must not ignore the significance of this first reason: God told us not to! Our desire to honor God and abide by his commandments should motivate us to fight back against worry. The next time you are tempted to worry, try reminding yourself that it is not something God wants for you. He wants better!
Reason Two: Because Other Things are Happening
The end of Matthew 6:25 provides our second reason not to worry. Jesus said “Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?” (NKJV)
Food and clothing are basic needs. They are also universal needs: everybody on earth needs food and clothing to preserve their life and health. Yet, Jesus explained that there is more to life than those things. Why spend all your time worrying about your needs, as legitimate as they are, when there is more to life?
One side effect of worry is that it overemphasizes its object. The thing you worry about is blown out of proportion as if it is the only thing in the world that matters. It consumes your thinking, it consumes your conversations, and it consumes you.
The next time you find yourself stuck in a rut of worry take a breath, gather your thoughts, and think about what other things are happning right now that could use your attention.
Reason Three: Because God Provides
Jesus used two illustrations from nature in Matthew 6 to show that God provides. In Matthew 6:26 he spoke of the birds of the air: “they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them.” In verses 28 and 29 he explained that the lilies of the field don’t make their own clothing and yet King Solomon “in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”
Despite what some may claim, man is more valuable to God than plants and animals. Thus, the force of Jesus’ argument is that God’s care for these lesser elements of Creation prove that God will care for man. “Are you not of more value than they?” Jesus asked rhetorically about the birds of the air. With respect to the grass he said “Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 6:30; NKJV).
Reminders exist throughout God’s creation to demonstrate his intimate care. Each one can remind us that he cares for us and will provide our needs.
Reason Four: Because Worry Doesn’t Fix it
“Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?” (Matthew 6:27; NKJV)
A striking reason not to worry about things is because worry does not fix anything. Allow that to settle in your mind for a moment: worry simply does not work.
Jesus used the specific example of growth. You cannot gain height by worrying about it. Luke 12:26 elaborates by adding “If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest?” (NKJV)
In many areas of life we would try something on a small scale to see if it works. Architects design models to show clients before going ahead with the work of construction. Builders test models before going on to the full-scale project. They want to know that their plan works on a small scale before investing in using it full-scale.
Why not put worry to that same test? When we worry about little things it does not work. Why, then, would we possibly apply something that fails on the small scale to a big situation in life?
In other aspects of life, we would not dream of doing such a thing. So don’t make the mistake of trying to use worry to solve your problems.
Reason Five: Worry is for Unbelievers
When Jesus said not to worry about our basic needs of life (what we eat, drink, and wear; Matthew 6:31) he followed that command by saying “For after all these things the Gentiles seek” (Matthew 6:32a).
To very heavily paraphrase that portion of the verse: “These are things faithless people worry about.”
The implication is clearly that followers of Christ should not have those worries. Even though they are universal and fundamental needs, those who follow Jesus Christ should not be worrying about them.
From a practical standpoint: how could we possibly convince the world to cast their cares on the Lord (see 1 Peter 5:7) if we are not doing it ourselves?
Worry is inappropriate for those who genuinely believe in Jesus Christ.
Reason Six: God Knows our Needs
If God did not know our needs, maybe we could panic. If God wasn’t capable of meeting our needs, maybe we could be concerned. But God knows our needs, can provide, and does provide.
“For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.” (Matthew 6:32)
Reason Seven: It Distracts us from the Kingdom
Matthew 6:33 provides the recipe for having our needs met: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (KJV)
When we spend time worrying about things, it distracts our energy from the labor we could be doing in the Lord’s kingdom. Free your mind from worry and you’ll free it up for growing in your walk with Christ.
Reason Eight: Because Other Things are Happening
The final verse of Matthew 6 gives the final “reason not to worry” that we will consider in this series. Jesus said “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
Having already prohibited worrying about the fundamental needs of life, Jesus also urged his listeners not to worry about the future. His reason is two-fold: tomorrow will take care of tomorrow, and there are enough things going on today to keep you from worrying about tomorrow.
We know from James 4:13-16 that we can think about the future, so long as our planning is done with God’s will in mind, but the future is not something to worry about.
Next time you are tempted to worry, think about other tasks you can be doing now. This will not only distract you from the object of potential worry, but also enable you to use your energy productively.
This series was not designed to exhaust all that Scripture says about worry. Nonetheless, Matthew 6 contains much of the New Testament’s teaching on the matter and is an excellent resource. If you wrestle with worry, consider reading this great chapter (especially verses 24-34) regularly.
Posted in Uncategorized
In the year 2014 our Sunday sermons at Clinton are being geared toward two specific areas. Our services are open to the public and we welcome you to come study the Bible with us as we consider these important topics:
Sunday morning sermons are emphasizing the Lord’s Church. Jesus Christ built only one Church, and that body should behave in keeping with the instructions the Lord gave for it in the New Testament. Study with us as we emphasize the importance of the Church of Christ and how the importance of the Lord’s Church should impact our behavior here on earth.
During our evening sermons particular emphasis is being given to an overview of the Bible. Sometimes this means an overview of an entire book will be given. At other times, the lesson will be more broad. The objective is to give the eager Bible student a basic understanding of the Bible so he can gain more from his future personal study.
From time to time sermons will be preached that do not explicitly connect to either of those themes. Nonetheless, those are the general themes that have been selected for this year. Please consider visiting with us and studying from God’s word. Our meeting times are as follows:
- Bible Study: 9 a.m.
- Morning Worship: 10 a.m.
- Evening Worship: 6 p.m.
- Mid-week Bible study: 7 p.m.
In the coming weeks we will be attempting to update this website with greater frequency than we have in recent months. Please consider bookmarking our site so that you can check in from time to time and see what new articles and information are available to aid you in your Bible study. To kick off our renewed focus on our website we will be starting a new series on “Reasons Not to Worry.” Lord willing this series will begin Wednesday, March 18th and continue through the following Friday.
The series will cover eight reasons not to worry, and should be useful to anybody who struggles with worrying and would like to improve.
Posted in Announcements
Ephesians 4:5 teaches that there is one lord, one faith, one baptism. In previous lessons we have observed that Jesus Christ is the one lord, and that the “one faith” refers to the New Covenant. In this lesson we turn our attention to the “one baptism.”
The related words “baptism” “baptize” and “baptized” appear many times in Scripture. Baptism is used literally at times and figuratively at other times. Reading through the New Testament reveals that there is clearly more than one baptism mentioned in its pages.
In Mark 10:38-39 as well as in Luke 12:50 baptism appears to be a metaphor for suffering and death. There was also a thing known as “John’s baptism” we can read about primarily in the Gospels. We can also read that there was a promise made of a baptism of the Holy Spirit. There was a baptism for which there are many examples in the book of Acts. The New Testament even speaks of Israel being baptized into Moses when they crossed the Red Sea (1 Corinthians 10:2).
In an often-debated passage, there is reference to people being baptized for the dead (1 Corinthians 15:29). There could even be other references that I have simply failed to call attention to; but even if there are the point is obvious: there is more than one baptism talked about in the New Testament, meaning we have some work to do if we are going to determine which one is the “one baptism” of Ephesians 4:5. Since Paul said there is “one baptism” we must try to make sense of it in light of what the Bible says.
There are three of these baptisms we have referenced that merit the most consideration, and our time will focus on them. They are Holy Spirit baptism, John’s baptism, and immersion into Christ for the remission of sins. As we aim to determine what the “one baptism” is that Paul speaks of in Ephesians 4:5 we will also come to a conclusion in which we have confidence.
THE “ONE BAPTISM” IS NOT HOLY SPIRIT BAPTISM
For reasons we will explain, we can eliminate “Holy Spirit baptism” from consideration as being the “one baptism” of Ephesians 4:5.
It is certain that baptism with the Holy Spirit was, indeed, promised. You can read about that in Mark 1:8 where John the Baptist said concerning Jesus Christ “I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.”
In Luke 3:16 the Bible says “John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:”
As a bit of a side note here: because of the immediate context (Luke 3:17), I understand the baptism with fire of Luke 3:16 to be reference to Judgment from God. It is evident that this would not be the “one baptism” Paul spoke about.
Baptism with the Holy Spirit had been promised, and that promise was delivered. The promise of the baptism with the Holy Spirit is mentioned in connection with the apostles on the Pentecost day of Acts 2 (see Acts 1:5). It is also mentioned by Peter in connection with Cornelius and his household in Acts 11:16 (see Acts 11:15-18). Since Peter had to think all the way back to Pentecost for a similarity to what happened in Acts 10, we conclude that Holy Spirit baptism was not a frequent occurrence. It accompanied the opening of the Lord’s Church to Jews at Pentecost, and the opening of the Lord’s Church to the Gentiles in Acts 10-11.
Holy Spirit baptism was not a frequent occurrence, and it is not the “one baptism” of Ephesians 4:5.
THE “ONE BAPTISM” IS NOT JOHN’S BAPTISM
Next we consider John’s baptism. A closer look will help us see that this is not the “one baptism” of Ephesians 4:5 either.
Scripture tells us that John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins (Mark 1:4). This baptism was in force during the time that John the Baptist was preparing the way for the ministry of Jesus Christ. People in that time should have submitted to John’s baptism (Matthew 3:7, Matthew 21:25-27). Jesus was baptized by John. Jesus had no sin, but he was baptized in order “to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15).
John’s baptism was from God for that period of time. If Jesus had refused to yield to it (even though he had no sin) his enemies could have tried to use this against him. They could have said “Well if John’s baptism is from God, why didn’t you submit to it?”
It is important to understand that John’s baptism is no longer in force. The Bible explains this to us, it is not something we have to guess about.
At the Pentecost day of Acts 2, in keeping with the Great Commission given to them, the apostles preached the gospel and taught baptism in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38), with the promise of the Gift of the Holy Spirit. This was not the baptism of John. The baptism of John had now served its purpose and was no longer in force.
When we consider Apollos in Acts 18 and some men in Ephesus in Acts 19 this conclusion is confirmed. In Acts 18:24-28 we read about Apollos; he was a man who spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord but there was one problem: he only knew John’s baptism. Acts 18 tells us that Aquila and Priscilla “expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.” They taught Apollos that the baptism of John was no longer in force. From there, Apollos went on convincing the Jews and “shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ” (see Acts 18:28).
In the next chapter, Acts 19, the apostle Paul found some disciples at Ephesus. It appears that these were disciples of Apollos. Paul asked them if they received the Holy Spirit when they believed. Their answer showed Paul that something was wrong. They said “We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.” Paul learned that they had been baptized “unto John’s baptism.”
“Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.” (Acts 19:4-6).
We put this information together and understand that there came a time when John’s baptism was no longer in force. The problem in Acts 19 is that people had been baptized with John’s baptism after John’s baptism was no longer in force. Since it had already ceased to be in force, it cannot be the “one baptism” of Ephesians 4:5.
THE “ONE BAPTISM” IS IMMERSION INTO CHRIST FOR THE REMISSION OF SINS.
We have already been introduced to the “one baptism.” It is the baptism that Jesus commission the apostles to preach in Mark 16:16. It is the baptism taught by the apostles in Acts 2:38. It is the baptism of which we said earlier there are abundant examples in the New Testament.
This “one baptism” is baptism in Jesus’ name. We need to understand that being baptized “in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19:5) or “in the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 2:38) does not contradict Jesus’ command to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). It does acknowledge the deity of Christ, which is at the heart of the gospel (Matthew 16:16, Acts 2:29-32), but a fact that was rejected by many.
There is no amount of getting wet that will allow us to receive the free gift of salvation if we refuse to acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ!
It must also be understood that this baptism is for the remission of sins. The theological preferences of many people cause them to refuse to accept that baptism is “for the remission of sins”, but Scripture says it just as clearly as it can be said.
Acts 2:38 “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost”
Romans 6:1-6 “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall also be in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.”
1 Peter 3:21-22 “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.”
This conclusion we have reached is one that we can hold with all confidence. The Bible teaches that this baptism was in force with the establishment of the Lord’s Church here on earth. While other baptisms had their purpose, they also had a duration. Meanwhile, baptism in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins is the baptism we read about in Scripture that continues to be in force: it is the “one baptism” of Ephesians 4:5.
Because our emphasis in this lesson was to show which baptism is the “one baptism” there are, of course, many course, many more things that could be said about this one baptism than time permits.
For example: a careful consideration of Scripture shows that this baptism is for people who are capable of hearing the Gospel preached, and of making the appropriate response. This means it is not designed for infants, nor for children who have not reached the maturity to be able to do these things.
Scripture also shows that this proper baptism is an immersion in water: the Bible pictures it as a burial, and to bury something you have to cover it, not merely sprinkle a little bit over it.
Baptism in the name of Jesus Christ is for those who have heard and believe the Gospel message (Mark 16:16), have repented of their sins (Luke 13:3, Acts 2:38), and have confessed that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (Matthew 10:32).
If we can aid you in obeying the Gospel today, we urge you to submit to that “one baptism.” If you have been baptized, but you strayed, we urge you to return to the Lord through repentance and prayer as Acts 8 teaches.
Posted in Sermons
As we continue our discussion of Ephesians 4:5 we come to the expression “one faith.” Although the word “faith” is frequently used in reference to an individual’s personal belief and/or confidence, this is not what is under consideration in Ephesians 4:5. As we consider this expression in the next several minutes, we desire to observe what is meant by this term, where “the faith” comes from, and the impact it ought to have on us.
What is “The Faith?”
“The faith” of Ephesians 4:5 is reference to a certain body of information. Its usage in Scripture proves this to be an acceptable definition.
- The faith was taught (Colossians 1:23, Colossians 2:7).
- People can respond to “the faith”, although not everybody will respond the same way (Acts 6:7, Acts 24:24-25; 1 Timothy 5:8, Galatians 1:23).
- Scripture references to “the faith” show us that the meaning is something more than the confidence or hope of a single individual (Philippians 1:27, Romans 1:5, Galatians 6:10).
The definitions offered by Wayne Jackson, a well-respected Bible scholar, are consistent with the way Scripture uses the term “the faith.” Jackson wrote “The expression ‘the faith’ denotes that body of doctrine proclaimed by inspired teachers.” On another occasion he wrote that the term “the faith” is “…employed of the objective body of truth that undergirds the Christian system.” Two things are worth noting in that second definition: 1) The faith is a body of truth. 2) The faith is an objective body of truth. Christianity is not built on superstition or guesswork, as some would contend. Christianity is built on facts.
It is fair to reason that there is at least a sense in which the word “Gospel” can be used interchangeably with the term “the faith.” Both terms are referring to that body of truth revealed by Jesus Christ through his own teaching and that of inspired men, most notably the apostles. Furthermore, it is impossible to separate “the faith” from the one on whom the faith is built.
How Did We Get “the Faith”?
“The faith” came from Jesus Christ, who instructed the apostles to preach it. Notice concerning the work of the apostles that:
- They were given the Great Commission (Mark 16:15-16; Matthew 28:18-19).
- They kept that Great Commission (Romans 10:17-18, Colossians 1:23).
- They taught others, who were then to teach others themselves (2 Timothy 2:2).
The New Testament shows us that the Holy Spirit was instrumental to the delivery and confirmation of “the faith.” Jesus, as he was near the time that he would ascend back to Heaven, said many things to comfort his apostles. He told them that he would send them a helper and comforter: the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17, 14:25-26, John 15:26, John 16:5-15). When you read those passages you will see that the Holy Spirit was going to teach the apostles all things, and he would bring to their remembrance all things that Jesus had said to them. To put it very simply: the Holy Spirit would equip the apostles to carry out the commission of taking the Gospel to every creature.
On that particular day of Pentecost when the Lord’s Church was established here on earth, the one we read about in Acts 2, the Holy Spirit was present. He is the one who enabled the apostles to speak in tongues: that is, in human languages they had not studied. This enabled all of the people who had come to Jerusalem from so many different places to hear the Gospel proclaimed in their own language. Context makes it clear that the “tongues” of Acts 2 were human languages, not utterances or unintelligible speaking. In Acts 2:33, in explaining what was happening, Peter said that the Holy Spirit had been poured out by Jesus Christ (Acts 2:33). Jesus had promised the apostles that he would send them the Holy Spirit; he undoubtedly kept that promise!
It is also important to note that the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit, which were available and in use in the early days of the Lord’s Church, allowed for the revelation and confirmation of the Gospel message that was being preached. Since God chose preaching as the vehicle through which he would communicate his will, there was a usefulness for supernatural proof that the messenger was indeed speaking God’s word. Otherwise, anybody could say that what they spoke was from God and there would be virtually no way to verify. It would turn into a game of “He said, she said.” The apostles could do more than say that they were speaking for God: they could back up those claims with signs that were enabled by the Lord.
Today we have God’s word completely revealed and confirmed. It does not need any additional miraculous confirmation. Today when somebody says they are teaching a message from God, we look to the Bible to see if what that person has said is consistent with God’s word or not.
Let me say it again: the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit allowed for the revelation and confirmation of the Gospel message that was being preached. This is demonstrated in 1 Corinthians 2:4-5. It is consistent with the statement in Mark 16:20 that the Lord worked with the apostles and confirmed the word through the accompanying signs.
I hope that you can see and understand the usefulness of such miraculous spiritual gifts in the early days of the Lord’s Church. There is no doubt that the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit were impressive and made a powerful impact (consider Acts 8:13). We should also understand that those miraculous gifts were not intended to last forever. They had an intended purpose, and once that purpose was served the miraculous spiritual gifts ceased.
We have already talked about the main function of those miraculous spiritual gifts: they were for revealing and confirming the Gospel message. If that has been accomplished, then those gifts are no longer needed. Indeed, Scripture shows us that these miraculous gifts are not needed today.
For starters, as far as we can tell certainly in Scripture, the Lord’s apostles were the only ones who were able to impart the miraculous spiritual gifts on others through the laying on of hands. If this is so, that would mean that once the apostles died the means of transmitting these gifts was gone. At best, those who had received this laying on of hands from the apostles and outlived the apostles might have been able to continue with these miraculous spiritual gifts until their own deaths. Of course, all such men have died long ago.
Additionally, the Bible shows that there would come a time when those miraculous spiritual gifts would be set aside (1 Corinthians 13:8-13; Ephesians 4:11-16). The expressions “that which is perfect” (1 Corinthians 13:10) and “unity of the faith” (Ephesians 4:13) are reference to the complete revelation and confirmation of the faith. Once God had revealed and confirmed his New Covenant, the need for those miraculous spiritual gifts would have vanished. Maturity would be reached, and those childish things, to borrow terminology from the apostle Paul, would be done away.
The Bible teaches us in the third verse of Jude that the faith has been “once for all delivered to the saints” (NKJV). This is clear teaching that the body of information we have been talking about, the objective truth that undergirds Christianity, has been fully revealed and confirmed. Since we have it, we do not need the miraculous spiritual gifts today.
What is our Response to “the Faith”?
In light of the fact that the faith has been revealed and confirmed, the question comes: how should we respond to that information? What should we do when we hear the truth presented, knowing that it is the word of God?
It is evident that the ideal response is that we be obedient to the faith. Jesus Christ fulfilled the Old Covenant, and all mankind is accountable to the New Covenant. This being so, we should obey what the New Testament teaches. We should be obedient to the faith.
Some would like to turn us away from the faith (Acts 13:8). There are some people who leave the faith (1 Timothy 4:1, 5:12, 6:10, 6:21). God’s desire is that we obey (John 3:16, Romans 1:16).
Obeying the Gospel is done by hearing that Gospel message (Romans 10:17), believing it (Mark 16:16), repenting of our sins (Luke 13:3), confessing that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God (Matthew 10:32, Matthew 16:16) and by being baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38, Romans 6:1-4).
Once we have been obedient to the Lord so that we can receive that free gift of salvation that is available to us through Jesus Christ, we should also continue in the faith.
- Refusing to go beyond what God has revealed in his word (Galatians 1:8-9).
- Examining ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5).
- Continuing in and abounding in the faith (Colossians 1:23, 2:7; 1 Corinthians 16:13, 2 Timothy 4:7).
- Encouraging others to be and remain faithful (Titus 1:13, Acts 14:22, Acts 16:5, Romans 14:1).
- When Ephesians 4:5 speaks of “one faith” it is reference to that body of truth from Jesus that was preached by the apostles and given by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16; 1 Peter 1:18-21).
- God has revealed that information “once for all”; it is foolish and sinful to look anywhere other than the Bible for what God has authorized and desires.
- In the world today there are many who claim to be following Jesus Christ, but they do things contrary to the doctrine that he delivered.
- Let us have the courage to be faithful to God’s word, and to reject all things that are contrary to it.
1. Wayne Jackson’s writings appear on the web site Christian Courier www.christiancourier.com.
2. When the abbreviation “NKJV” was used in these notes it is to credit said Scripture quotation to the New King James Version. Such Scripture was taken from Holy Bible. New King James Version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Posted in Sermons
Ephesians 4:5 tells us that there is “one Lord.” “Lord” is certainly not a foreign concept in the Scriptures; it appears literally hundreds of times in the pages of the Bible.
At least nineteen (19) Old Testament words have renderings related to “Lord.” In the New Testament there are at least eight (8). The word most frequently rendered “Lord” in the New Testament is used more than 700 times! In this study we are interested in thinking about the significance of there being one Lord; as Ephesians 4:5 rightly states.
What is a Lord?
“Lord” has been defined as “He to whom a person or thing belongs, about which he has the power of deciding.” Additionally, there are occasions when the word appears to be used as a term denoting honor (consider Genesis 23:6).
Sometimes the word “lord” is used in Scripture with a clear reference to mere men (Matthew 20:25; 24:45-51, etc. [Note that depending on your translation those references might say “master” instead of Lord]. In its highest sense, the word “lord” refers to the Godhead, and sometimes to Jesus Christ specifically.
Why is Jesus the Lord?
The Bible presents several reasons that Jesus is to be considered the Lord. First, Jesus is Lord because he is God. God has always been Lord (Genesis 2:4ff; Deuteronomy 6:4-5). Since Jesus is part of the Godhead (Matthew 28:18-19; John 1:1) it logically follows that he is Lord.
Second, Jesus is Lord because God the Father said so! In Acts 2:25-31 and again in Acts 2:34-36 the apostle Peter reasoned concerning statements that had been made by David in Psalms. It was clear that David could not have been speaking of himself; but of another. The inspired apostle used these statements from David to demonstrate that the same Jesus the Jews had crucified was indeed the Christ. “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 20:36; NKJV).
Third, Jesus is Lord because he has authority. The general concept of a lord is that he has authority of some sort (Luke 6:46). Jesus has all authority! (Matthew 28:18). Moreover, the words of Jesus are authoritative (John 12:48; 1 Timothy 6:3-5). Jesus commanded the apostles to preach the gospel to the world (Mark 16:15-16). That message has been delivered (Jude 1:3), and it is sinful to deviate from it (Galatians 1:6-9; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-2). If we are going to be pleasing to God, we must act in keeping with what the Lord has authorized (Colossians 3:17; 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 12).
What Does this Mean for us?
There are, of course, some consequences of the fact that Jesus is Lord. First, since Jesus is Lord we should yield to him in obedience. Some will only pay lip service to the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 7:21). Others will try to serve the Lord only half-heartedly (Matthew 6:24-25). The Bible teaches we must serve the Lord with the entirety of our being (Matthew 7:21b, 1 Corinthians 16:22, Romans 15:6). After all, Jesus is the only way to the Father (John 14:6, Acts 4:12, 1 Corinthians 15:57, 2 Corinthians 4:14, 1 Thessalonians 5:9, 1 Peter 1:3).
We should also acknowledge Jesus as Lord in the way that we live. Jesus’ leadership methods are different from how the world usually attempts to lead; but honoring him prompts us to strive to practice the “servant leadership” model that he employed (Matthew 20:25-28, Mark 10:42-45). The will of our Lord should also be kept in mind in the workplace (Ephesians 6:5-9), in the Church (1 Peter 5:1-7, Colossians 3:17) and of course, also in the home (Ephesians 5:22-33).
- The Bible plainly teaches that Jesus Christ is Lord.
- He has authority, and we are expected to honor that authority.
- Jesus is not only the one Lord, he is also the one way to Heaven; if you have not yielded in obedience we urge you to do so without any further delay.
Scripture taken from Holy Bible. New King James Version. Copyright 1982 Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Some editing has occurred to correct a few mistakes that came to light after originally posting these notes.
Posted in Sermons