Wednesday, September 19, 2012

                          HISTORY REVEALS OUR ENEMY'S IDENTITY     
     Much has been said about history.  The more common sayings center on the repeating characteristic of history.  One of my favorites is, "If we have learned one thing from history, it's that we have learned nothing from history."  This seemingly contradictory statement has been credited to former President John F. Kennedy, though I don't know if it originated with him or if he borrowed it from another source. 
     Regardless, the words are true and they serve to show us again why history has a tendency to repeat itself.  We still haven't truly learned anything from past historical events, even when those events are taken from the annuls of inspired Scripture.  Recently, a major league baseball player was suspended because of a homophobic slur.  While I believe there are better ways to address such issues, what really stands out is the deteriorating right of free speech.
     Speak out today against Christianity or God and that's okay.  Speak out against sinful lifestyles and that's not okay, it is getting to be a crime.  But such is not new.  In Acts 4:18 we read where Peter and John were ordered not to speak any more in the name of Jesus, nor were they to teach about Jesus to others.  What was their response?  Instead of shrinking back in fear they simply said, "Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.  For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard" (vs. 19,20).
     Efforts continued to silence these two men as well as others who would dare to speak in the name of Jesus.  After being arrested again (chapter 5) for preaching Jesus to the people, Peter and John were brought before the council and again ordered to keep silent concerning the name of Jesus.  This time the rest of the apostles were also there.  When the fact they were ordered not to teach in Jesus' name to the people was brought to their attention they responded, "We ought to obey God rather than men" (5:29).
     Throughout history those who desire to live godly lives have been persecuted by one common enemy, Satan.  It was ultimately Satan who was behind the attacks of the Jews upon the apostles.  It is Satan is at the heart of the attacks against godliness today.  The real issue is do we as God's children believe in His power as the apostles did, or are going to allow Satan, God's enemy as well as ours, to win battles upon this earth?
     Satan has already lost the war and he knows it.  So why should we allow him to win any battle?  Remember the battle still belongs to the Lord (! Sam. 17:47; 2 Chron. 20:15).  While there are many forces seeking to do harm to our children, the ultimate enemy is Satan.  It is fallen to this generation to take the stand necessary to defeat Satan and his evil schemes.  May we learn what history keeps telling us.  As we take up the banner of our Lord may we echo the words, "We must obey God rather than men."   And to God be the glory.  Rodger

Friday, September 7, 2012

                                           WHO CAN BE BAPTIZED?
     When studying the subject of baptism, many will delve into innumerable sources available from many writers and scholars.  When coming to a conclusion on the matter it is not uncommon for one to settle on a viewpoint that seems most logical as well as one they can agree with.  Unfortunately, what they decide upon is not the written word of God.
     Most people will recognize that baptism is necessary, though they will not agree on how baptism is to be administered.  In line with that thinking it is also called into question who can be baptized.  Because of the many denominational ideas and teachings concerning baptism, sprinkling and pouring have become very popular modes of baptism, which has led to the baptizing of infants as well as adults.  When we understand that baptism is a burial as we discussed in last week's article it should become a bit clearer as to who can be baptized in accordance with God's teaching on the subject.
     Jesus said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved"  (Mk. 16:16).  When the eunuch asked Philip what hindered him from being baptized Philip responded, "If thou believest with all thine heart thou mayest" (Acts 8:36,37).  What the eunuch believed is that Jesus is the Son of God (vs. 37).  This and other passages relate to us that one must believe in Jesus in order to be baptized.  An infant is incapable of this.
     When Peter began to proclaim to the Jews in Jerusalem what they must do to be saved, he told them to, "repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38). We are told that God desires all men to come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9).  To repent is to turn from one thing and go to another.  In this case it is to cease from sin and turn to God.  An infant is incapable of this.
     We are also required to confess that Jesus is Lord as well as the Son of God, and that He died for our sins (Jn. 3:16; Ro. 5:8, 10:9).  This confession must be made with the mouth (Ro. 10:10).  An infant is incapable of this.
     Infants are said to be born into sin but the Scriptures teach no such thing. It is not a sin to be born and prior to birth one cannot do good or evil (Ro. 9:11).  To be born in sin is to be born into a sinful world which is the meaning of the psalmist (51:5). Infants are born pure until such time as they grow to know and understand what sin really is.  That will come at various times in the life of each child.
     Since baptism is a burial and is essential for salvation, then one must be able to hear what the word of God says about sin, believe that word, repent of the wrongs one has committed in life, and confess a need for the saving blood of Christ which is contacted in the watery grave of baptism (Mt. 26:28; Acts 2:38; Col. 2:11,12; Ro. 6:3,4).  All of this is the result of faith which is produced in the heart of the hearer as the gospel is proclaimed (Ro. 1:16,17).  An infant cannot have this faith for it lacks the ability to comprehend these basic truths.  Since Scripture cannot contradict itself, passages that deal with whole households being saved can only mean those of a household who qualify for baptism through obedience to the gospel.
     God's truth is pure and is most precious.  May we diligently strive to uphold this truth in our lives as we share it with others.  Rodger