Wednesday, August 8, 2012

                                   IMPORTANT FACTS ABOUT BAPTISM

    Peter wrote to his brothers and sisters in Christ that his second letter as well as his first was stirring their pure minds by way of remembrance (2 Pet. 3:1).  Simply put, the brethren needed to be reminded on some basic truths and Peter used the letters to accomplish that purpose.  Today, we still need to be reminded of the pure and simple truth of God's word to help keep our hearts and minds pure before God.
     This became increasingly evident to me through recent conversations I have had with people.  Many people hold that the Scripture is the word of God.  Yet when it comes to reading to what God has written, they most often will reject His word.  This is true in many subjects that relate to our worship, but the most common rejection of His word comes in relation to baptism.
     I am not sure why people are so adamant in their opposition to baptism, other than Satan has deceived their hearts through the teachings of men.  Jesus even chastised those of His day for, "teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" (Mt. 15:9).  In the 3rd verse of Matthew 15 Jesus asked why they transgress the commandment of God by their tradition.  Yet man does that today and doesn't seem to care.
     It was Jesus who commanded baptism take place (Mt. 28:19; Mk. 16:15,16).  When Peter preached to the Jews on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, he told them to repent and be baptized for the remission (forgiveness) of sins in the name of Jesus Christ (vs. 38).  This is what Jesus commanded.  If one states that baptism is not essential for salvation then the word of God has been rejected.  Too many passages relate the baptismal experience to salvation (Acts 22:16; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21). 
     It is also important to understand how baptism is to take place.  Baptism is a burial (Ro. 6:3,4; Col. 2:11,12).  When one has been sprinkled or had water poured upon the forehead no baptism has taken place.  The Greek language is a very specific language in that words will describe the action.  The word for baptism means immersion or burial.  The words for sprinkling and pouring are completely different, and neither of those words are ever used in connection with salvation.  These are simply traditions of men and nothing more.
     In the New Testament Scriptures baptism is always a burial for that is what the word implies.  Philip went down into the water with the eunuch.  If sprinkling or pouring was sufficient, Philip would not have needed to accompany the eunuch into the water but it became necessary for the burial required (Acts 8:35-39).  Anyone reading or hearing the word describing baptism would have known immediately what was being said and what action was required for salvation to be obtained. Also take note that Philip preached to the eunuch Jesus.  When preaching Jesus baptism must be addressed.  That is the gospel.
     Baptism is a burial from which we are resurrected.  Those who were first called Christians in Antioch (Acts 11:26) had this new birth in common.  Next week we will speak more as to who can be baptized.  Rodger

Thursday, August 2, 2012

                                             SEEKING THE LORD
     The act of seeking is a part of every individual.  From the earliest age when we gain the ability to hunt we begin to seek after objects of value.  Watch an infant as they develop and there is that ability to hunt for their thumb or the mother's breast.  As they grow older they begin to look for other things necessary for their well being or usefulness.  The importance of the objects sought will grow as the person grows from childhood into adulthood.
     More important than seeking and finding material things is the need for God.  At some point everyone comes to understand their need for God.  The level of God's importance in the individual's life will dictate how diligently the search for God is conducted.  Many will acknowledge a need to have a relationship with God but their search is based on their own standard.  When they feel comfortable and think they have reached a level of comfort of how God is allowed to fit into their life, they stop searching.
     Ceasing from searching for anything is natural to a point.  If we are searching for an object that can be touched and handled, it is obvious the search for that object need not continue once it is found.  This is where our search for God is different.  God cannot be handled or touched (Jn. 4:24).  Yet He can be found.  So the question becomes, "How real is God to us and how diligently are we willing to search for Him?"
     The psalmist says "I sought the Lord and He heard me..(34:4).  When seeking the Lord it becomes important to understand what it really means to do so.  In Deuteronomy Israel was told, "But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find Him, if thou seek Him with all thy heart and with all thy soul (4:29).  Then is the exhortation, "seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near (Is. 55:6).  In New Testament Scripture we read, "That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him, though He be not far from every one of us" (Acts 17:27).
     The basic meaning of all of these Scriptures as well as others tells us the meaning of seeking the Lord is to seek Him according to truth, His truth.  One Scripture quoted most often is, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness: and all these things will be added unto you" (Mt. 6:33).  When we seek His righteousness we must seek after His truth.  If we want the Lord to hear us we must seek Him according to the way He has set forth. 
     The Lord has promised those who diligently seek Him will find Him (Lu. 11:10), and upon finding Him our search must continue as we then seek to grow in our knowledge of Him, and correctly apply that new knowledge to our daily walk.  To know God is to know His truth, and that knowledge is revealed to us as we seek Him in His word.   Rodger