Do you remember?

THERE ARE THOSE MAJOR events in a man’s life that burns an indelible mark in the memories of their mind. September 11th is one such event. We can vividly recall where we were, the folks we where with and how we felt in that moment, the day the towers burned. Then our own hearts sank along with those towers, reeling from the incredible loss of life.

There are other moments we shall never forget. Before 9/11 our parents told stories about a November day in Dallas. Having grown up near Canaveral (even though I was living in Alaska at the time), the Challenger explosion became my “Kennedy experience”.

Then there are the more personal moments, shared only by those close to you within your life. The day you met your future spouse, was it love at first sight? Perhaps the day you wed the love of your life. The birth of a child, can that ever be forgotten?

There are the tragic moments too, the loss of a mother, a father or even a child. My cousin’s daughter Jenny died suddenly after ingesting a peanut hidden in a brownie. Aspiring to be a country singer, she was on a trip to Nashville with her grandparents and was visiting the Grand Ole Opry. For over 20 excruciating hours My cousin awaited the return of her parents to see their faces and to hear first hand about what happened to their oldest child.

Yes, we do remember.

Could we ever forget? Excepting the degenerative diseases of the mind is there anything that could make us forget? We never “get over it”, never do we forget. We move forward as new people, affected by whatever it was that moved us. Lest we spend too much space reminiscing, there is another event we ought to remember.

That day the word of the Lord struck your heart, piercing it through, pricking it to obey the Gospel. Just like so many did on Pentecost; “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” [Ac 2:37]

Do you remember that day? Does it hold for you the same battle within your emotions between sorrow and joy. Sorrow for the recognition that your sin, and the whole worlds, sent our Savior to that cruel cross. Yet, there was also joy. Rejoicing that our Savior gave Himself, a substitutionary sacrifice, paying the debt caused by sin. [John 3:16]

And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” [1John 2:2]

Every week we’re given opportunity to “remember” when His blood was shed on the cross. Though we weren’t alive, His divine word is and provides for us all of the vivid detail, leaving us the “Supper” to eat in remembrance of Him. “And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.” [Luke 22:19]

There are other times in which it becomes necessary to REMEMBER His death. When our days are darkened by sin. John was told to write letters to the 7 churches of Asia, and to the dead church at Sardis he told them; “Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.” [Rev 3:3]

When sin enters our lives, or despair from the burdens and memories of this life, let us revisit the memory of the day we were saved. Remember with a godly sorrow, that worketh repentance to salvation, and not the sorrow of the world that works death. [2Cor 7:9, 10]

We as Christians ought to remember that day. Unfortunately, there are so many more who have never had THAT day to remember. [2Thess 1:8] Perhaps the memory of that day would inspire us to share, with those who have yet to believe, the words of eternal life. [John 6:68]

IGNORANCE, INTENT AND EMAILS

(this article may reference current events but is in no way a commentary on political views by the author as it relates to these events)

Confidential emails have been in the news of late. The jist of which is that a certain, high level, government employee, mishandled classified communication within the government. The FBI investigated and found unsecured & unguarded servers (the device where electronic mail would be stored and sent), “extremely careless” handling of email by this employee and her staff, and poor judgement on the part of this high level employee in the handling of Top Secret communication. The FBI then said, “We did not find…clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information.”

It’s on this last point that this article shall address as it relates sin, salvation and getting into heaven.

Under human laws, intent plays a major role. For example, if a person was negligent in their behavior, they may or may not be prosecuted. In recent cases of accidental harm to a person involving a vehicle, intent becomes the deciding factor. God spoke about these situations and gave instructions under the Law of Moses for unintentional harm. “as when a man goes to the woods with his neighbor to cut timber, and his hand swings a stroke with the ax to cut down the tree, and the head slips from the handle and strikes his neighbor so that he dies-he shall flee to one of these cities and live; [Deuteronomy 19:5] and in some cases were required to pay restitution.

Intent may be a factor, but ignorance of the law is another matter. Under our law system, Ignorantia juris non excusat (Latin for “ignorance of the law excuses not”) is a legal principle holding that a person who is unaware of a law may not escape liability for violating that law merely because he or she was unaware of its content. There are plenty of examples where a person is fined or punished having been unaware that they were committing a crime. If you doubt this, the next time you’re pulled over for speeding just tell the officer you didn’t know the speed limit.

For humanity, God leaves everyone without excuse whether they’ve read the Bible or not.

Look at Roman 1:18-21; “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” [emphasis mine]

You see, God has made every effort to show himself to every person and it’s their willful disregard for Him that will earns His wrath.

In another place, regarding ignorance, Paul said, “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” [Acts 17:30-31]

Peter also taught that we are not to remain in our ignorance but to obey; “Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” [1Peter 1:13-16]

Here’s the point of what I am saying, when we face the judgement of God, saying “I didn’t know” or “I didn’t intend to sin” will not open the gates of heaven unto us. The only way that we can survive the judgement and to receive an entry into heaven is through the saving blood of Jesus the Christ.

How can one be saved?

Now that you’ve heard about God’s wrath and salvation through Jesus, Repent and be converted from your ignorance. “Yet now, brethren, I know that you did it in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,” [Acts 3:17-19]

After your repentance, their remains the blotting (washing) away of your sins. “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” [Acts 22:16] “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” [Acts 2:38]

If you do this, you will be saved, but this doesn’t give you liberty to keep on sinning. Therefore, the Christian must remain faithful. “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.” [Romans 6:1-4] And if we sin, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:” [1John 2:1]

Though human courts overlook ignorance, God won’t. Why delay?

What if We’re Wrong?

A VERY COMMON question that I hear when speaking to someone about the Church of Christ, the Bible or obeying the Gospel is, “What if you’re wrong?” It’s a fair question, so let’s answer the question about salvation, from the viewpoint as a member of the church of Christ compared with the viewpoint of the major worldviews.

Calvinism, which is the foundation of the doctrines for the Baptist, Lutheran, and most protestant churches, teaches salvation “by faith only”. Every teacher of that doctrine, regardless of church affiliation, has said that when a person believes that Jesus is the Christ, then that person is saved. They cite passages like, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:” Ephesians 2:8. They go on to teach that a person who is saved by faith can never lose their salvation regardless of the sin they commit.

If we’re wrong, then we’re still saved. Members of the church of Christ believe that salvation IS BY FAITH. On this we agree. The difference is that we understand faith to INCLUDE obedience to God’s word. We cite the only passage in scripture that actually says, “by faith only.” That passage is found in James 2:24, “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”

They may argue that we’re adding to salvation and that salvation is by faith plus nothing, therefore we (members of the church of Christ) are not saved. The problem with this logic is that they forget their own teaching. A person who believes that Jesus is the Christ cannot ever lose their salvation. Once again, members of the Church of Christ are still saved even if we’ve committed the sin of addition under their doctrines. (If any are saved at all when you look at their false doctrine on predestination which says that God alone chooses who will be saved & lost and neither can ever change regardless of belief.)

Modern day Judaism teaches that one is saved if the balance of their life is good. One Jewish teacher said, “In Judaism, it is entirely up to you. If you do good, you will get good.”

If we’re wrong, and they’re right, we’re still saved. The byproduct of obeying the gospel, which includes becoming a faithful “do gooder”, puts us into salvation according to modern Judaism. We believe, according to scripture, that we should avoid evil and do good. In Galatians 5:16, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” Read the rest of that passage and you’ll see more of what I mean.

Buddhism has a final goal of achieving Nirvana which is a transcendent state in which there is neither suffering, desire, nor sense of self, and the subject is released from the effects of karma and the cycle of death and rebirth. The right way to Nirvana, “… starts with understanding of suffering, not by mere mind, but by the purified mind.” The Sallekha Sutta is one of the key suttas that describes the true meaning of Practice towards attaining Nirvana. This describes that Right View (Samma Ditti) is the most important factor that Buddhists should develop to start to become selfless.

If we’re wrong, and they’re right, we’re still saved. In Scripture, a Christian is to be selfless and to purify the mind. “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” [Romans 12:2]. Also in Ephesians 4:23 “And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;”

A Christian is also commanded to be selfless. Verses like Matthew 25:31-46 and Philippians 2:3 “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.”

Islamism is a bit more difficult because it’s confusing. On one hand, you have millions practicing the “peaceful religion” of Islam, and on the other, you have radicalized and violent practitioners that seek to kill anyone that rejects Muhammed. How are we to know if they’re right or wrong?

We can know by consulting their own book the Quran. It says, “If thou (Muhammed) art in doubt concerning that which we reveal unto thee, then question those who read the Scriptures before thee.” [Sura 10:94 – Yunus]. The Prophet Muhammed was told to refer to the Christians for fuller spiritual understanding! There are even more passages within the Quran telling the Muslim to consult the book of the Jew & the Christian in addition to the passages that talk about Jesus and Mary in a positive light.

Therefore, according to their own book, they are to read the Bible. The Scriptures are the foundation of what we believe, [1Timothy 3:16]. Jesus said in John 5:39, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.” If we’re wrong, and they’re right, we are told to go back to the Scriptures and once again find ourselves obeying the Gospel!

Catholicism says that the Pope is the head of the church on earth. The word Pope comes from the Latin word “papa”, which means father. A quick look at Scripture and we find Jesus saying, “Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.” [Matthew 23:9]. Again, members of the Church of Christ have it right.

I’ve gone through many of the worldviews and answered the question, “what if we’re wrong” and have found that, according to their views, we’re saved. Shouldn’t THEY also answer the question? Let’s do that for them.

My denominational friend, if you’re wrong about your religion, your denomination or your practices, you have no way to change it at the judgement day. Therefore, REPENT before it’s eternally too late. 

I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Luke 13:5 

 

Justified by Faith

THE FAITH ONLY crowd will “prove” their belief by quoting Romans 4:5. “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” They may even go further and include Romans 3:28, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” Then, if you press them, they will quote Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

Let me say here and now that I believe each of these passages, just not how THEY believe them. Their problem is that these passages are quoted out of context and interpreted without that context. They come to the conclusion that a person is justified (saved) by FAITH ALONE.

What do these passages mean?

When one studies the bible, one rule that is often overlooked but must always be applied is the rule of context. A passage needs to be interpreted in the light of its context. Another consideration is that the bible harmonizes with other similar texts.

When we teach about salvation from scripture, we need to deliver, “all the counsel of God.” [Acts 20:27]

In Romans chapter 4, Paul is making a case regarding salvation that includes gentiles (those folks who were not Jews). Abrahams justification is given PRIOR to his becoming circumcised which became part of the Law of Moses [Leviticus 12:3] . Paul asks then answers, “How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.” [Romans 4:10]

The faith only folks want you to believe that Abraham did NOTHING prior to his JUSTIFICATION. This simply is not true. When Paul said in Romans 4 that Abraham was justified, he is referring to Genesis 15:6. However, by that time, Abraham had already OBEYED God by leaving his homeland in Gen 11:31-12:3.

It is this OBEDIENT FAITH on the part of Abraham that the Hebrew writer acknowledges in the HALL OF FAITH in Hebrews 11:8. “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.”

It is true that Abraham was justified without the deeds of the law, which according to the context refers to the Law of Moses. Nowhere does the Scripture teach that a person is justified (saved) without works.

What about Ephesians 2:8-9?

For this passage we need to apply the same rules, context & harmony. Let us read verse 10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Once again, the context teaches us something about works.

There are 2 kinds of works, works of man & works of God. Ephesian 2:10 teaches that there are works that God has prepared. Works that God commands. Please understand what I am saying, a person is never justified by works when he places his trust in JUST the works. We are justified when we put our trust in God WHILE DOING THE WORKS HE HAS COMMANDED.

This harmonizes with the rest of the scriptures. Look at James 2, another passage that quotes this same Justification of Abraham from Genesis 15:6, “And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”

But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” [James 2:20-24]

Let’s look again at that HALL OF FAITH in Hebrews 11…By faith…
  • Abel OFFERED vs4
  • Enoch WALKED vs5; Gen 5:24
  • Noah PREPARED vs7
  • Abraham OBEYED & SOJOURNED vs8-9
  • Moses parents HID Moses vs23
  • Moses REFUSED, CHOSE, FORSOOK vs24-27
  • Israel PASSED through vs 29
  • Rahab RECEIVED vs30
  • Others SUBDUED kingdoms, WROUGHT righteousness, OBTAINED promises, STOPPED the mouths of lions, vs33

To follow their example, people today must obey the word of the Lord. He said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” [Mark 16:16] The faith alone people, “make an error, not knowing the scriptures.”  [Matthew 22:29] When you weigh ALL the evidence, harmonize the scriptures and read the context then you will know the truth, and this truth shall set you free. [John 8:32]

The Force Awakens

star wars

It’s been 32 years since Return of the Jedi, the final episode of the Star Wars trilogy that began in 1977 with episode IV A New Hope. Since the announcement of an episode 7, adults and children alike have endured a 2-year, Christmas like anticipation for the movie to finally arrive in Theaters, of which I am one.

Stories abound of fans scrambling to purchase tickets, pilgrimaging to theaters in droves, to be witness to the first public viewings. Folks have called in sick, one website offered a list of plausible excuses to use when you call off work, so as to be a part of this momentous event. Threats of “unfriending” folks from Facebook if they reveal any spoilers to those of us who have yet to navigate through the sea of people for one of the early showings.

This article shall neither bash those among the masses who make the trek to the early movies, adorned in their Jedi regalia, nor those who couldn’t give a rip that a new Spock movie just opened. (laugh if you got that joke.) No, just a comparison shall I draw. (laugh at that one too.)

I am curious about a few things, have we as a church ever posted online, for any amount of time, displaying our excitement for the coming day to worship our Lord and Savior? Or even better than that, the breathless anticipation of the Return Of The Christ? Oh how I long for the day we could anticipate the 1st day of the week, or His wonderful, triumphant return.

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Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. [Hebrews 10:25]
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I can’t believe you missed it!

Has anyone ever excitedly said to you, “I can’t believe you missed it!”, when referring to the Sunday worship that you had to miss due to illness or work? Have they ever gushed out every single line from the sermon, every emotion and every point drawn? No? Yeah, neither have I. What I HAVE heard was, “Missed you on Sunday”, in that tone as if they were really saying, “what kind of sin kept you from the worship?” Worse than that are those that say, “missed ya on Sunday”, but really saying, “I had to be there, why weren’t you?”

To be sure, If I were given a $200 million budget and 3 years, I may be able to produce a sermon entertaining enough to draw in the numbers comparable to Star Wars. But alas, I do not. I have 6 days to produce 4 lessons (2 sermons & 2 bible Classes). Not counting the myriad of other personal Bible studies, calls and questions I receive. No, my budget is far less.

We have no authority to do anything of the sort. We are to “teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:” [Matthew 28:19-20] We have no authority to draw anyone by any carnal lust whether it be food, entertainment or money. No, we have the Gospel to draw folks in, drawn in with a “true heart in full assurance of faith” [Hebrews 10:22].

Our Lord warned us about such things. “Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. 27 Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.” [John 6:26-27]

He was pointing out that some will only come if you feed them with food, but they should be laboring for the spiritual food that brings about everlasting life. A preacher once said to me, “what a person is converted with, they are converted to.”

I have nothing against Star Wars or many other forms of non-sinful entertainment. The question I must ask myself, and you must ask yourself, is this; Do I care as much about the worship of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and His Triumphant return as I care about a movie?

Spencer Blackwelder
Evangelist, Borger, Tx

What about the Thief on the Cross?

what about the thief

Folks will use many reasons to take away the command by our Lord to be baptized. The one heard most commonly by me is, “What about the thief on the cross?” This one is offered by those who have a little biblical knowledge, and by those who’ve heard it before, but have never been challenged with scriptural evidence.

THE ARGUMENT goes like this; “If, as you say, baptism is necessary for salvation, then what about the thief on the cross? He was never baptized, yet the Lord said, “To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” Baptism is not necessary to salvation, because the thief could not obey that command, yet the Lord said he would be in paradise.” [Lu 23:43]

The Scriptures examined: The real issue pertains to a crucial feature of Bible interpretation, are we to take all 66 books of the Bible and take everything that is said and apply it directly and equally to everyone? The Bible is literally filled with commands, instructions, and requirements that were not intended to be duplicated by people living today. People are amenable to the law period under which they lived. [2Timothy 2:15]. There are three dispensations found in the Scriptures:

  • The Patriarchal Dispensation – From creation, everyone was subject to a body of legislation passed down by God through the fathers of family clans (cf. Hebrews 11:1), until the giving of the Law of Moses.
  • The Mosaic Dispensation – At Mt. Sinai, Moses was given a new Law from God and Jews were subject to that body of legal information [Law of Moses] from that time until it also was terminated at the cross of Christ. Consider the following passages:[Matthew 27:51; Romans 2:12-16; Galatians 3:7-29; Ephesians 2:11-22; Colossians 2:11-17]
  • The Christian Dispensation – After Jesus’ death on the Cross, all peoples are now amenable to the Law of Christ. [Galatians 6:2]
Now that we have this background information, let’s examine the reasons which make their argument invalid:

Reason #1– The Law of Moses was still in effect. Many folks are confused when reading the Gospels for it is commonly called, “The New Testament.” However, the majority of the gospel story in Matthew, Mark, Luke & John, take place while Jesus was alive and living as a Jew subject to the Law of Moses.

Jesus was born to a Jewish family under the Law [Mat 1; Luke 3; Ga 4:4], circumcised the 8th day [Lu 2:21], observed the Passover [Lu 2:41, 22:8-20], taught people to follow the Law [Matthew 5:23-24; 8:4], and followed the Law Himself [Matthew 5:17-18].

Under the Law of Moses, never was there a command to be baptized for the remission of sins. Sins were atoned for through the sacrifice of bulls; And he shall do with the bull as he did with the bull as a sin offering; thus he shall do with it. So the priest shall make atonement for them, and it shall be forgiven them. (Leviticus 4:20). The word “atonement” <kaphar> literally means “to cover” and is the same as in Gen 6:14 regarding covering the ark with pitch.

Nowhere in the Old Testament is the teaching that sins were totally removed. As we study our Bibles, we find in Hebrews 10:4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. [Heb 10:11 …can never take away sins.] This system pointed to the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and terminated at the cross [see above scripture references]

The thief on the cross lived during this Mosaic period, therefore was subject to the Law of Moses and it’s system of sacrifice through bulls and goats.

Which brings us to the second reason……

Reason #2 – Since Jesus lived under the Law of Moses, He followed that law. Of course, He would have no reason to offer a sacrifice on His own behalf [Hebrews 4:15] being without sin, He did teach those around Him to do it for themselves [Mt 8:1-4]

As we study, we find out that the sacrifices in the Law of Moses were pointing to the sacrifice that Jesus would offer of Himself. Galatians 3:19-27 teaches that the Law was a teacher to bring us to Christ.

The letter to the HEBREWS teaches us that it was Christ’s death that ended the Law and began the New Covenant. [Hebrews 8-10]. Paul, speaking about the death of Jesus in relationship to the Law of Moses, said “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;” [Colossians 2:14]

Therefore, the THIEF on the cross never had a command to be baptized for the remission of sins. He died, having repented and placed his trust in the Christ, as EVERYONE UNDER THE LAW OF MOSES did when they obeyed the ordinances under that law.

Reason #3– The command to be baptized “for the remission of sins” was issued AFTER Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. When Jesus was on the cross, He was fulfilling the Law of Moses, ending it, and bringing in the New Covenant. It was AFTER His death, burial and resurrection that He gave the great commission, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” [Matthew 28:19]

FOR THE REMISSION OF SIN – This phrase is found in connection with baptism. It is particularly important to note how and when it was used;

  • Mt 26:28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
  • Ac 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.

These two verses show the connection between, baptism, Christ’s blood AND the remission of sins.

The other instances of this phrase are connected to the preaching of John “the Baptist”. When we study the scriptures, we find that John’s baptism never remitted any sins, for we read in Acts 19:1-5;

And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, 2 He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. 3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism.  4 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. 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

CONCLUSION:
  • The thief on the cross lived AND DIED under the Law of Moses, as did Jesus our Lord, where there was NO COMMAND to be baptized.
  • The thief, had he been able to obey the command, was not under any obligation to obey it for it DIDN’T APPLY TO HIM at the time of his death, because the Law of Moses was the covenant in force at the time of the statement, “To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”
  • The command to be baptized was given AFTER his death.

Forgiveness

EVERY ONE of us have failed another and were in dire need of their forgiveness. We also know the pain of another that has failed us. This is all too clear when we look at our close relationships such as with our spouses, children and the like. Without forgiveness, we could never have lasting relationships. It’s only through forgiving others can we ever expect to receive forgiveness [Matthew 6:14-15].

            We learn from this scripture, that forgiveness is an essential aspect of our walk with God, and we desire He forgive us our trespasses against Him. We also urge folks to forgive others, citing this same passage. This is an easy teaching, that is, until we are the ones that need to forgive. Forgiveness is much more difficult to practice than it is to teach.

            God knows us better than we know ourselves. He left us instructions on how to practice forgiveness, even giving us His Son as the perfect example [Ephesians 4:32 …. forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you]. Jesus is incredibly merciful, having given His life while we were ungodly sinners and enemies [Romans 5:6-10].

Let’s consider the Scriptures regarding how to practice forgiveness.

            First, we need to face the facts that even after we’ve forgiven someone, they very likely will need to be forgiven again. We need look no further than our own mirrors to realize this truth. Jesus was asked how many times one should forgive their brother. His answer, “…up to seventy times seven.” [Matthew 18:22]. Before you start counting down to 490, understand that the lesson is that there’s no limit to the number of times we are to extend forgiveness.

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“I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”

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Praise the Lord that there’s no upper limit on the number of times HE WILL FORGIVE YOU. Look again at the command on forgiveness in Matthew 6, there’s no cap. How often will He forgive you? He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. [1John 1:9] If forgiveness were a number where then is mercy, grace, compassion and kindness?

            Next, we need to show compassion toward the one seeking our forgiveness. Empathy is a part of forgiveness. Looking again at Matthew 6, we see that The Lord is connecting a reminder of your own sin to that of the one we need to forgive.

            Do you recall your sins against Him? How do you feel, guilty? David wrote that, “my sin is ever before me.” [Psalm 51:2] Did you feel that way? How much did you need God’s forgiveness? How long did you desire to return to Joy, knowing that you were out of fellowship with God?

            When someone is seeking your forgiveness, remind yourself of your own shortcomings toward God. YOU MAY FIND THAT YOU NEED FORGIVENESS FROM THE VERY PERSON SEEKING IT FROM YOU!

            Lastly, we need to let it go. Some folks say they forgive but when they’re sinned against again, they will drudge up the past failings. Why do you suppose sayings like, “Bury the hatchet, but remember where you buried it in case you need it” exist? It’s hard to let go when we’ve been wronged.

            The Lord has shown us through His own forgiveness toward us, how we are to complete the process. “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” [Hebrews 10:17] Without this last step, forgiveness hasn’t really occurred. When we hang onto the memory of the wrong, it will fester in our hearts, hardening us against them, preventing forgiveness.

            If we fail to forgive, fully, we are in jeopardy of losing our own salvation. Our very hope of eternal life is dependent upon God forgiving us our own sins, and His forgiveness is contingent upon US FORGIVING OTHERS.

I said that to say this…….

            As a preacher, I am commanded to preach, “…in season, out of season…” [2Timothy 4:2]. This means that I need to teach whether or not it’s liked by the hearer, preaching the truth in love. [Ephesians 4:15]  Paul continues by saying to, “reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” People never like to be rebuked (sharp disapproval), nor do they enjoy being reproved (reprimanded), but that is my charge.

            In the process of doing my duty, I’m placed in a very precarious situation, so I follow the example of the early preachers who prayed for boldness [Acts 4:29]. This boldness I request, may come across as arrogance, the rebuke as closed minded and the reproof as downright meanness. I’ve been accused of preaching too negatively by one and rebuked for not enough fire and brimstone by another.

            I beg you therefore, give me the benefit of the doubt. When I preach, I may touch a touchy subject. I may step on your toes (though I was aiming for your heart). Paul struggled with this as well, “For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it. For I perceive that the same epistle made you sorry, though only for a while.” [2Corintheans 7:8] I may even hurt your feelings. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE forgive me! My brother, please know that I do my job out of a deep love for you, that you and I may go to Heaven.

            As a human being, I may even say something wrong. WHEN I do, please love me and FORGIVE me as I repent of those things. We’ll learn how to do this together, to forgive one another.

spencer            

6 Spiritual Questions

1. WHAT MUST I DO TO BE SAVED?

He who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life. (John 5.24).

Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved. (Acts 16.31).

Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2.38).

If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved. (Romans 10.9).

Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. (Mark 16.15-16).

 

2. WHAT MUST WE HEAR?

This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him! (Matthew 17.5).

Moses said, THE LORD GOD SHALL RAISE UP FOR YOU A PROPHET LIKE ME FROM YOUR BRETHREN; TO HIM YOU SHALL GIVE HEED in everything He says to you. (Acts 3.22).

If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me. (Revelation 3.20).

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (Romans 1.16).

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. (Romans 10.17).

God… in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things. (Hebrews 1.1-2).

All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. (Matthew 28.18).

 

3. WHAT MUST WE BELIEVE?

See Acts 16.31 and Romans 10.17 above.

If you believe with all your heart, you may. And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” (Acts 8.37).

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3.16).

 

4. WHAT MUST WE CONFESS?

See Romans 10.9, Question 1.

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. (1 John 4.15).

That every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2.11).

Everyone therefore who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 10.32).

 

5. WHY MUST ONE BE BAPTIZED?

Repent, and let each of you be baptized… for the forgiveness of your sins. (Acts 2.38).

Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins. (Acts 22.16).

For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. (Galatians 3.27). Read also Romans 6.3.

In which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water (Noah’s salvation in the ark). And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you. (1 Peter 3.20-21).

See also Mark 16.15-16 above.

 

6. WHAT CONSTITUTES BAPTISM?

And they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away. (Acts 8.38-39).

Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6.4).

For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection. (Romans 6.5).

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. (Colossians 2.12).

Why I chose the Church of Christ

I like to talk with people, actually, I like it when people talk to me. The other day, while getting my haircut, I asked one of my “magic questions”. A magic question is when you ask a person an open ended question that acts as conversation starters.

This lady began talking about her church. She said that she had visited EVERY church in town, but always found herself back at the Baptist church. So, I asked her what it was about the Baptist church that “always brought her back”.

She paused, paused some more, and finally said, “You’re putting me on the spot.” I gently reminded her that she had brought it up and I was just curious. Noticing that she was uncomfortable I moved the conversation on to another aspect of church. This got me to thinking about my own choice for “church”.

Why did I choose the church of Christ?

Like this lovely lady, I too had visited numerous “churches” in my quest to learn about God. I had started a family and recognized that there was something missing. So I went looking. Actually, I already had been looking, even before I was married. I went to the Baptist, the Catholic, the Episcopal, the Methodist, the Universal Church of Christ and multiple other denominations over the course of my search.

In every single case, there was something that didn’t seem quite right. It was a logical feeling that I couldn’t quite place my finger on to know. So, we kept looking.

Would you like to study the Bible?

Then, my wife and I were asked if we would like to study the Bible by an older relative. This simple invitation clicked, no one previously had ever asked if we wanted to study the Bible. So we accepted. Do you know what? We studied the Bible and only the Bible. I asked questions, he answered with scripture. She asked questions, he answered with scripture.

More questions, more scriptures. Then came the question, which interestingly was asked for us by reading the scriptures. [Acts 2:37]

“What must we do to be saved?” [click here]

He answered with the scriptures. Multiple scriptures. He showed us the passages on belief. I asked about the sinners’ prayer. There wasn’t one. He said that he had looked and never found a prayer a non christian prayed and received salvation.

We studied the scriptures for several weeks previously, but on that night, the same hour of the night, my wife and I obeyed the Gospel of Jesus Christ. [Mr 1:1; Acts 16:33]

  • We had been hearing the word of God. [Rom 10:17]
  • We believed that Jesus was the Christ. [Acts 8:37]
  • We confessed the same thing before men. [Mat 10:32]
  • We repented of our sins. [Lu 13:3]
  • We were baptized [by immersion] for the remission of our sins. [Acts 2:38; Gal 3:27]
  • We committed to live a Godly life. [Mat 28:1-208; Acts 2:42]

Why did I choose the Church of Christ? It was the only one that used scripture, book, chapter and verse for everything that it teaches, everything it believes and everything it does.

Would you like to study the bible and have your questions answered with the Bible? [click here] and I would be happy to study with you.

Spencer – Borger, Tx  806/274-5021

Ask me how to make your calling and election sure. 2Pet 1:10