False Faith Versus True Faith

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Many religions teach that if you are going to be saved and go to Heaven, you need to perform good works. However, this is completely wrong. Scripture makes it clear that salvation is by grace through faith and not works,

 

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” ().

Continue reading False Faith Versus True Faith

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Relating to your Parents

Family

It is always sad to hear of those who are orphans. You hear of those who have been abandoned or because of a pressure the parents cannot handle, the child becomes an orphan. It is sad hearing of those children who became orphans because they lost their parents due to death or some form of separation that the parents could not prevent. Our hearts go out for those who do not have parents. Continue reading Relating to your Parents

What is the Will of God? Principle 3: Service

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The principle of service is simply the response to what one learns in Scripture. If you desire to discern the will of God in a particular situation (and the Bible has nothing specific to say about it), you need to know God, be acquainted with the mind of God by studying Scripture and now you need to be a person who is applying what Scripture says. This means, you are to make it your duty and delight to serve God and His people as He instructs you in His Word. This is His will for you.

Broadly speaking, all of the Scripture contains God’s will for your life. What I mean by that is, if Scripture states what God’s intention is for you as His child, that is your duty. When it comes to God’s stipulated will in Scripture, there are some verses that state in the clearest of terms what God’s will for you is. When it comes to these commands, it is your opportunity and obligation to faithfully serve the Lord in this way. What are these specific verses? Here are a few specific examples of how you can serve by doing God’s will: Spirit filled (); submission (); sanctification () and thankfulness (). It is this last example that leads us to our next principle, namely supplication. But we will consider this in the next post.

18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,

13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality;

18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Questions Concerning Baptism

Baptism

What is the meaning of baptism?
Before Jesus ascended to Heaven, He issued the following command to His disciples,

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” ().

The central command of this commission is to “make disciples”. Once this is done, the church’s responsibility is to be “baptizing” these new disciples and to be “teaching” them. Here is a simple pattern to make disciples and then baptise them. Baptism is the act of immersing an individual in water in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

What is the significance of baptism?
The physical act of baptism serves as a sign or symbol of the individual’s fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ’s death, burial and resurrection (cf. ). This means that the act of being baptised in water does not save the individual. Water baptism is simply an outward act symbolising an inward reality. What is that inward reality? It is the work of salvation God has produced in the heart of the individual. When God saves someone, they have died to their old way of life and have been raised up to a new life in Jesus Christ. Water baptism serves as a vivid picture of this internal reality.

Who should be baptised?
Gifted, godly and gracious Christians have answered this question differently over the centuries. There are those who believe that both believers and infants can be baptised and there are those who believe only believers can be baptised. Which view is correct?

The Bible gives explicit statements that those who were baptised had first believed () and there are no Scriptural references to infants being baptised. Based on the explicit statements of believers baptism and lack of evidence regarding infant baptism I conclude that only believers ought to be baptised.

How should people be baptised?
The word “baptise” comes from the Greek word baptizō, which means, “to dip” or “to immerse”. It is important to note that it is distinct from the words rhantizō, which means, “to sprinkle” and ekcheō, which means, “to pour”. Based on the meaning of the word and the significance of the symbolic meaning (dying, being buried and raised up with Christ), it becomes clear that water baptism occurs by immersing a believer into water and lifting them up out of it.

Is baptism important?
Sadly, many treat the doctrine of baptism as a doctrine of low importance. For this reason many are either ignorant of baptism or they give it little thought.  Baptism is an important doctrine for the following reasons.

Firstly, baptism is a command. The Lord Jesus Christ issued the command for all those who become disciples to be baptised (). Secondly, baptism provides an outward public testimony of the work of salvation (). Thirdly, baptism was the practice of the early church when people were saved ().

Baptism matters because it is simply an act of obedience. Baptism then ought not to be something the believer pushes aside as an unimportant doctrine or as something to be unnecessarily delayed.

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

Acts 8:12

12 But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

Acts 8:36-38

36 And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.

Acts 10:44-48

44 While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 45 And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, 47 “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.

Acts 16:30-33

30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family.

Acts 18:8

Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized.

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

Acts 8:26-39

26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. 27 And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28 and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29 And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” 30 So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this:

“Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter
and like a lamb before its shearer is silent,
so he opens not his mouth.
33 In his humiliation justice was denied him.
Who can describe his generation?
For his life is taken away from the earth.”

34 And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. 36 And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39 And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing.

Acts 10:44-48

44 While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 45 And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, 47 “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.

Acts 16:30-33

30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family.

Acts 18:8

Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized.

Wrong Worship

Wrong Worship

There is a kind of worship that is sensual, ungodly and corrupt. This kind of worship is wrong. What makes it wrong is that it is not done in accordance to God’s way. Wrong worship is coming to God on the basis and by means of man’s ways and not God’s. Scripture is filled with examples of wrong worship. I have only selected a few examples that illustrate the corrupt practice of wrong worship.

Cain
Both Cain and Abel worshiped the Lord by means of sacrifice (). Despite the fact that they both offered a sacrifice to God, only Abel’s was deemed acceptable (cf. ). In the eyes of man, Cain’s offering would have appeared visually acceptable and sacrificial. However, that is not what makes sacrifice or worship acceptable to God. Abel’s was received and Cain’s was rejected () because one worshiped God according to His ordained way and the other didn’t (cf. ). Because it is not revealed in Scripture the reason why Abel’s offering was acceptable, we can only assume that the Lord had revealed the method to them prior (cf. ) and by faith Abel acted on that (cf. ).

Continue reading Wrong Worship

In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering,

and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering,

but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell.

By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.

Hebrews 12:24

24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

21 And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.

By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.

What does it mean to be filled with the Spirit?

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Many people talk about the need to be filled with the Spirit. This is understandable because it is a biblical concept. What does it mean to be filled with the Spirit? Some make this refer to an experience limited to a select few whereas others ignore its importance completely. What does it mean? In we have this straightforward command, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit“. The word “filled” in this verse means “to make full” in the sense of permeation or control. The idea is that the believer’s life is to be under the control and direction of the Holy Spirit. This control leads to conduct that is in conformity to the word of God (cf. ). Let us consider four features concerning the notion of being filled with the Spirit.

Unlike other references to filling (the sovereign fillings in Luke-Acts), the filling in is a command. The implication of this is very serious – to not be filled with the Holy Spirit is disobedience. Furthermore, because this is a command, it is clear that this ought not to be confused with the baptism (; ; ; ; ; and ), sealing (; ) or indwelling ministry (; ; ) of the Holy Spirit. All of those take place once and for all at the beginning of every believer’s salvation and then have ongoing effects. Nowhere in the Scriptures is the believer commanded to receive the baptism with the Spirit, or to be sealed with the Spirit, or indwelt by the Spirit. However, to “filled with the Sprit” is a command. Continue reading What does it mean to be filled with the Spirit?

18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,

16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,

11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

16 John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’

for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

Acts 11:16

16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’

13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

20 For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. 21 And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, 22 and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

13 Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14 By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.

Sacrifice and Obedience

The Sacrifice of Isaac by Caravaggio

In the first book of Samuel, , King Saul neglects the direct commands of God. Samuel’s prophetic word in response to Saul’s sin is as follows:

Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.

Here, in , Samuel states clearly what the Lord’s prefers to receive from Saul. He prefers obedience, for “to obey is better than sacrifice.” It is a striking example of God’s requirements upon his people, and it is not the only instance that this juxtaposition between sacrifices and obedience is made. The people were definitely required by God to offer sacrifices; if they didn’t they could Continue reading Sacrifice and Obedience

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High Octane Calvinism

Speaking of Calvinism, I like what Douglas Wilson has to say about the grace & works dilemma and how “High Octane Calvinism” is the only solution. How can we balance our focus on God’s grace, and also our focus on obedience and discipleship? Watch here for his answer.

A Call to Ministry

Photo Credit: © James Steidl – Fotolia.com

Many fine Christians believe in a call to ministry.  I have often been asked whether I am called to ministry myself.  What does the Bible say about such a call?

I wonder if the idea of a call comes from the call of prophets in the Old Testament.  Isaiah and Jeremiah were called to be prophets; Saul and David were called to be kings.  However if this is where the idea comes from it would be on very shaky ground!  We must read the Old Testament as fulfilled in Christ ().  The kings and prophets are types of Christ, not us.  We are not kings and prophets; we are like the normal Israelites.  We need to move from the Old Testament to us in application by a two stage process, not a one stage process.  A one stage process jumps from the Old Testament straight to us in application, bypassing Jesus and the gospel.  Many errors result from such a reading of the Bible.  A two stage process moves from the Old Testament to its fulfilment Continue reading A Call to Ministry

44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead,