baptism

Learn From the Thief – But Learn from the Rest of God’s Word Too!

Many times when the forgiveness of sins is discussed there are some who eventually use the thief on the cross (Luke 23:39-43) as example of what people should do to be saved today. I am glad that the conversation of Jesus and the thief is recorded because it reveals the willingness and desire that Jesus had then, and still has today, to extend His mercy to the lost. But it saddens me when one tries to teach that “all a person has to do be saved” is believe like the thief did. This is simply not true. Let me quickly explain why with the scriptures:

First – the thief lived under a different covenant than we do today:

For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives.” (Hebrews 9:16-17)

Second – the thief did not have to believe that Jesus was raised from the dead like we do today:

[T]hat if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10)

Third – the thief was not saved by faith alone; he reviled Jesus at first but then he repented:

Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” Even the robbers who were crucified with Him reviled Him with the same thing.” (Matthew 27:41-44)

Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.”” (Luke 23:39-41)

Lastly – the thief found forgiveness because Jesus had the power to speak sins away while living on the Earth (Mark 2:10); Jesus gave the command for baptism for the remission of sins after the thief was dead:

And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:15-16)

Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)

If a person wants to learn about salvation today, they can learn about God’s willingness to forgive from the thief, but they must also learn from the rest of God’s word too. EA

Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized.” (Acts 18:8)

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Is It Just A Coincidence?

Before ascending into Heaven, Jesus told His apostles that the person who believes in the gospel and is baptized will find salvation (Mark 16:16) – is it just a coincidence that baptism is placed before salvation?

After preaching Jesus as the crucified, buried and risen Savior, Peter told a crowd waiting anxiously to repent of their sins and submit to baptism under the authority of Jesus to find the mercy from God they desperately wanted (Acts 2:37-41) – is it just a coincidence that baptism is placed before salvation?

During a trip to Damascus, Saul (better known as Paul) witnessed with his own scale covered eyes the validity of the gospel, and was told after three days of praying and fasting to get up and get under the water to wash away his sins (Acts 22:6-16) – is it just a coincidence that baptism is placed before salvation?

How many times does a person have to read about something before they start believing that it is more than a coincidence and actually the will of God?  EA

Click here to watch a video about the truth about baptism.

Total Hereditary Depravity, Part 3 – The Tangled Web That Total Hereditary Depravity Weaves

Beginning with Total Hereditary Depravity, Calvinism weaves a very tangled web. There are some big problems with saying that everyone who is born is born a sinner. Besides the fact that Total Hereditary Depravity contradicts the teaching of the scriptures, one huge problem arises when the question, “What happens when babies die” is asked. Why ask such a question? Because sadly, it does happen; but even sadder is the answer that Calvinists must give when it does.

Calvinists don’t like this question. At least ones who realize what they’re saying. Why not? Well, remember, all a person has to do to go to hell is be born! After all, it’s sinners who are going to hell. And according to Total Hereditary Depravity that’s exactly what a baby is born!

Babies going to hell??? For being born??? According to Calvinism!!! No wonder the question is so uncomfortable. So how is the situation dealt with? Well, there are a few (howbeit extremely, extremely far-fetched) options on the table.

If you’re Catholic, you baptize the baby. This opens a whole other can of worms, but non-the-less the answer is you baptize the baby without faith contrary to what the scriptures teach (Mark 16:15-16). After you baptize the baby you can “worry” about the faith part later and have them “confirmed” without the baptism. It’s not a good answer, much less a scriptural one, but hey, it’s an answer!

Now if you’re Protestant you don’t believe that baptism has anything to do with salvation (at least the vast, vast majority believe this). If baptism isn’t necessary for adults, then how could it be for babies? The only way Protestants who believe in Total Hereditary Depravity deal with the issue is by saying babies who die get a “special exception” from said depravity. So that leaves all the babies who die as members of God’s predestinated, unconditionally elected group. I guess that makes all the babies who survive the one’s we have to worry about!?

Let’s cut to the chase. If you believe that Total Hereditary Depravity is the truth, you have one of two choices. One, the baby won’t go to Hell because they didn’t sin – but we can’t have that because they were born sinners!!! As for number two, the baby won’t go to Hell because they were born a part of God’s predestinated elect BUT you can’t be sure about it since they never expressed their faith. Either way, there can be no genuine hope because if you ask a person who truly believes in Total Hereditary Depravity, they will say you can’t be sure if a baby is in Heaven because they deserved to go to Hell.

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Which Comes First???

So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind.” (Genesis 1:21)

The “age-old” question, “Which came first? The chicken or the egg?” that so many in the world quibble about is easy to answer when one reads what God’s word says about it. So what does it say? Right there in Genesis 1:21 you have it. First the bird, then the baby.

Another question that so many in the religious world quibble about is, “Which comes first? Baptism or salvation?” The answer to this question can be found just as easy as the answer to the previous question if we would only let God’s word give us the answer.

He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:16)

So what does God’s word say about it? Right there in Mark 16:16 you have it. First baptism, then salvation.

Now, why do so many in the religious world trust God’s word when it comes to Genesis 1:21, but they can’t trust it when it comes to Mark 16:16? It’s something to think about. EA

AND MEANS AND

Do you know what the word “and” means? From the elementary levels in school, kids are taught that the word “and” fulfills the role of a conjunction in a sentence. That means that the simple definition of “and” is, “along with; in addition too.

An example on how to use the word “and” would be: Go to the store and get a gallon of milk. When we want to tell someone to do two or more things in one sentence then we use the word “and.” I know all of that sounds like a “duh” statement, but I have a reason for speaking so plainly and simply, so please stick with me as I continue to explain.

Now, to be honest, English was really my least favorite subject in school, but I do remember some of the lessons that I was taught and the importance and meaning of “and” is one of them. Maybe one of the reasons I still remember it so well is because as a child I learned what the word “and” meant even before I started school. If my parents told me to do something by using the using the word “and,” then I knew whatever they were saying had better be done whether it was before or after the “and” was spoken.

It seems as if everyone completely understands what “and” means when it comes to everyday life. When someone gives us directions to a location we pay attention to every “and.” For example, if someone tells us to go straight and turn right at the second red light, then we look for the second red light so we can turn right. If you are cooking and the cookbook says to add one egg and a cup of flour, we don’t just add the egg; we add the egg and flour. Why? Because the cookbook said so when it used the word “and,” right?

You see, no person with a simple understanding of the English language will argue about what “and” means – that is until we start talking about what the Bible says about becoming a Christian. If the Bible uses the word “and,” why don’t we look at it the same way that we do any other time?

See if you can agree with the word “and” in all these scriptures. They are in order:

John 4:24; Romans 1:16; 1st John 1:8 “and” Mark 16:16.

God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.

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

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.

Now here’s my whole reason for what I said in such plain language earlier. Does a person have to worship God in spirit and in truth? Can the gospel save Jews and Gentiles? If a person denies their sin, is the truth in them? Look at the verses and answer the questions. They are easy to answer because of the word “and.” Now, can a person be saved without being baptized? I guess it depends on what your definition of “and” is. Think about it. EA

“…but he who does not believe will be condemned.”

The title above is a quotation of the end of Mark 16:16. It is contended by some that this verse teaches that the baptism commanded by Christ is not necessary to salvation. Their grounds for the argument rests upon the fact that Jesus did not say, “he that believeth not and is baptized not shall be damned” contrary to the previous statement that both belief and baptism were necessary for the salvation of those that heard the gospel.

The stance held by such a person teaches that since Jesus did not condemn the lack of baptism but only the lack of faith on the part of the person hearing the gospel that means that baptism is not necessary to salvation at all. But is that what Mark 16:16 is really saying? Unfortunately, for the person that holds to the doctrine of faith-only, this is not what Mark 16:16 is saying at all.

What happens to a person that lacks faith who ends up being baptized, or in other words what happens to a non-believer who is immersed in water? They get wet! Nothing more and nothing less. There was no reason for Jesus to say that the absence of a scriptural baptism leads to damnation because He had already given the way that leads to salvation (Matthew 28:19-20). If a person wants to find salvation then do what Jesus says (Hebrews 5:9).  If you want to find condemnation then do the opposite.

What Jesus was teaching at the end of Mark 16:16 is no different from what He said in John 3:17-18: (more…)

Giving the Right of Way

In discussing the Christian’s freedom from sin through faith in Jesus, Paul deals with the Christian’s proper mindset toward sin after being raised to newness of life through the watery grave of baptism. He says in Romans 6:11-13, “Like wise reckon [consider] ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members [body] as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.”

I really appreciate the King James’ translation when it uses the word “yield” in verse 13. The idea being brought out is the mindset that rejects the rule of sin (hence the old right of way we gave to sin in our body) in comparison to the mindset that now willingly submits to the rule of righteousness (hence the new right of way we give to God with our body). This idea can easily be understood when we think about the rules of the road. When a person drives up to an intersection that contains the important, yet often ignored, upside-down triangle-shaped YIELD road sign the proper mindset knows what to do. A failure to give the right of way can result in an at fault wreck. Paul is reminding us that with the new way of life comes a new right of way and the time for yielding to sin is over (Romans 6:22-23).

So the next time you come to a yield sign ask yourself who gets more of the right of way in our life – that oncoming vehicle or the oncoming God? (Romans 14:11-12)