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Saturday, November 13, 2010

(37) Life

Exodus 20:13
  • Do not murder
The fifth commandment of God was to not take the life of another human being.  The first thing that people do with this is use the KJV version and misinterpret it.  The KJV says "Thou shall not kill".  The two things are different.  Explanation:  if someone breaks into your home and is hurting your loved ones and the only way to stop the hurting is to take the life of the perpetrator then that is not murder.  In war time when someone who is the "enemy" is trying to take your life and your only choice if you want to live is to take their life then that is not murder.  These two victims, if you will, are innocent of this commandment.
If you are the one who initiates the taking of a life then that would be murder.
Back to Cain and Abel.  Cain and Abel are the first two people we hear about with the act of murder.  God was not pleased with Cain's offering as in the last lesson.  Cain became jealous of his brother.  God talked with him and said that if he was doing the right thing then there would no problem (Genesis 4:3-8).  But Cain chose a different solution.  Never mind what God says, I will do my own thing.  Cain murdered his brother.
Listening to what God had originally planned for man in our lives will stop many of the unnecessary burdens we carry.  But since when does man do that?
But how do you take the life of someone?  It's not about just the physical life ending of someone.  Proverbs tells us that life and death is found in the tongue as well.  What we say to others can either lift them up and encourage them or say something so hurtful that we basically murder them with what we said.  Bryan Adams had a song back in the 1980's that was titled Cuts Like a Knife.  Our words can cut someone to pieces  to where we destroy their life.  A few simple words have the power to murder.  Sticks and stones may break my bones but your words cut right through me.   Especially if these words come from someone we love.  Jesus told us that murder is even more that this.  In His sermon on the Mount, Jesus explained that murder is hating your brother.  Your brother is anyone next to you.  Hating involves both actions and non-actions.  Most people think the opposite of love is hate.  But the real opposite of love is apathy, not caring about others.  Trying to hurt someone is wrong but not helping others who are hurting is just as wrong.
Forms of murder:
  • Aggravated life-taking with no valid reason
  • Abortion (see right above)
  • Abuse (all kinds)
  • Neglect (apathy)
  • Racism (hatred)
The one and true God shows the path of righteousness. It shows love.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

(36) No Other Gods

Exodus 20:3-6
  • You are to have no other gods before me.You shall have no other gods before me.
  • You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.
  • You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,
  • but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments
When the Israelites were brought out of Egypt and got to live free for the first time in over 400 years, some of course like any other good human went too far and started to forget how they got there and lived according to their own laws. But God laid down the law for them and created the 10 Commandments. But why did He put them into a certain order? Was there a pattern to His law? Perhaps.

The first commandment is to not have any other gods before Him. A different way of saying it is to not have any other gods period. This would stop all unnecessary and harmful distractions from the path of righteousness. Jesus restated (love the Lord your God) that this was one of the top two greatest commands and that all other commands stem from this one and loving your neighbor. To put God first is to follow what He did for us. He created us above all creation and made us the rulers of the earth. He gave us a spirit that He gave nothing else in the universe. He breathed His own breath into man and that separated us from all other living beings. He placed us upon His own pedestal and said this was His greatest of all creation. He wants this feeling to come back to Him. We need to give Him our "first fruits".
Cain and Abel are the first two people we hear about giving back to God. Cain gave some of his life's work to God but Abel gave not only some, he gave his first, his best to God and then some. Abel knew how to sacrifice his own wants and riches to give back to God and put Him first. God was not pleased with Cain but He was with Abel.
Putting God first is a sign of worship. Keeping Him above all things means that we lay down our own pride. It is the beginning of what pure sacrifice and true worship is all about. Without putting God first then our worship isn't what it is supposed to be.
Why not other gods? What is a god anyway? Notice the lower casing of this word. Websters dictionary describes a god (lower cased) as a

being or object believed to have more than natural attributes and powers
and to require human worship; specifically : one controlling a particular aspect
or part of reality.

So a god, un-capitalized, means anything that you worship or controls one part of your reality. That means anything you allow to control your life could become a god to you. You start to worship it. It could be money. People start to worship money and try to gain as many possessions as they can. They step on others to get to a higher position to get more money. They don't care how they get there as long as they do. They are too focused on beating others or at least trying to be others that all they do is for the glory of money. That is worship. That is a god. Some worship beauty. They spend hours upon hours worrying about their looks. They spend thousands of dollars "fixing" themselves to what they feel is beauty. It becomes their obsession. That is worship. That is a god. Many other things could be considered a god. Anything that takes your desires and moves them beyond passion into obsession can be considered a god.
Why do we not consider God just a god? Because He is different. No other god has said that He created you AND has lived among you AND has died for you AND has created another place for you AND is still around. Some have said many of these but has not and can not say all of them.
Why are other religions considered to only have gods instead of God? Follow what the rest of this lesson says. They are something that offers only a fantasy world. Other gods lead people astray from the truth and reality.
The one and true God shows the path of righteousness. It shows the way to true happiness.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

(35) Flying Away

Here are the results of last month's poll: Do you believe in a rapture? Comments to follow soon. (STILL WORKING ON IT)
  • (65%) Yes. All Christians will be taken away to heaven.
  • (23%) Yes. But not in the traditional sense.
  • (7%) No. But you never know.
  • (3%) No. It's all symbolic.
  • (0%) No. There's not even an afterlife.

Do you know the Bible never says the word "rapture"?  Uh...so what?  There is still the concept of a rapture that is written about.  The word rapture comes from Latin that means to seize and carry off.  There is a similar word to that in the Bible that comes from Greek called "harpazo" and it means the same thing.  It is actually used 14 times in the New Testament.  Most of the time it means people take things by force.  But in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 we see a different use of the word.
  • Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord
The phrase "will be caught up" is the word harpazo, or rapture.  So, if someone says that there is no rapture then they do not understand this verse.

Who gets raptured?  The Church.

When will it happen?  After the time of the Gentiles is over.

The rapture is not the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.  That happens later.  The rapture is for the Church to be rescued from the wrath of God's.

Revelation also shows that in the first three chapters the Church is mentioned.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

(34) Abraham's Lie

Have you ever wondered why Abraham was considered righteous?

  • 1 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, "Abraham!" "Here I am," he replied.
  • 2 Then God said, "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about."
  • 3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about.
  • 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance.
  • 5 He said to his servants, "Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you."


Abraham was called by God to sacrifice his only true son, Isaac. Abraham went through the whole ordeal but it seems as though he lied to his servants. He told his servants to stay while they go worship and then they will come back! Now if he was to sacrifice Isaac, he knew only he himself would come back. Did Abraham lie? And he was still considered righteous. Well, he didn't lie.

Abraham knew Isaac would live. Before all of this happened Abraham was promised that his descendants would be as numerous as the grains of sand. When Abraham took Isaac up the mountain he knew that somehow Isaac would be coming back down with him. So when he said "we" will return, he meant it. However, he probably also expected that Isaac would have to be actually sacrificed, in the literal sense. So why would he think both would be coming back? Isaac would be resurrected! To Abraham, Isaac was already dead. He knew that he would have to truly give a sacrifice, not just an offering. Sometimes true worship means just more than your offering (money, feelings, times or any aspect of life). Abraham knew that true worship meant giving all you have. Isaac meant the world to him. It was all Abraham had. True Ishma'el was there but Ishma'el was not born out of faith. He was born of the flesh. He was born out of desire. He was not the promise God had for Abraham. The true son of Abraham was Isaac. The true sacrificed had to come by or through him.

And because he acted out of faith God provided a way out. Such as in our lives. Sometimes we see an easy way out. We see the things born out of the flesh as what can satisfy us and so we take that route. But God calls us to a place. He calls us to His route. If we stay faithful and follow His route and not our own, God will provide all we need. Since Abraham stayed faithful and was willing to sacrifice Isaac, God gave him the lamb caught in the brush. God called Abraham to a place. He didn't tell Abraham to sacrifice there at home. That would not have been a sacrifice. Staying home is our comfort zone and we would tend to remain to comfortable and not put our full focus on what God calls us to do. Therefore we may not even follow through with our sacrifice or worship. Abraham had to follow the directions of God to prove his faithfulness. The mountain that God told Abraham to go to was Mount Moriah, the highest peak in the area. This just happened to be the same mountain Christ was crucified on.

In all ways Abraham trusted in God. This is what made Abraham righteous. His trust. His faith. Hebrews tell us, "By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going." This is why the promises he was given were granted. Faithfulness gets you the promises of God.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

(33) Eros (PG-13)

Eros: sexual love (Greek).
There are three kinds of love:
  1. Eros, a love that is based on what you are, what you are looking for, how things make you feel. It's where we get the term "erotic" from. It is a love based on conditions. Well, looks aren't everything.
  2. Philos, a love that says I love you for who you are, it's how we connect, a brotherly love. It's where we get therm Philadelphia-city of brotherly love. It is a loved based on relations.
  3. Agape, a love that is unconditional, I love you just because I do. Like a dog who is always happy when the owner comes.
Now if you base your love on eros, you will always be hurt because eros usually fades with time. If you base love on philos then it will never be complete. If you base it on agape then you will lose all aspects of physical pleasure. The person you should fall in love with is the one you have all three loves for. But is all kinds of love appropriate? What about eros when it comes to homosexual feelings? Here are the results from last months' poll: What is your view on homosexual activity?
  • 0% said it is worse than all other sexual sins.
  • 80% said it is wrong 100%.
  • 7% said God created love, so it's okay.
  • 7% said there is nothing wrong with it at all.
  • 3% said they have no idea.
  • 34% said there are other ways to look at it.
The correct answer is it is 100% wrong AND there is another way of looking at it. It is no worse than any other sexual sin. God created love, but He created it to be done in a certain way. There are acts of physical love you can do. No matter what science has said that they have proven about genes causing us to be homosexual or heterosexual, it still all comes down to your actions. You can choose to follow your thoughts and desires or not to. It is not like your body forces you into your life style. You choose to do one or the other. If you have thoughts to kill someone does that make it okay? If you have genes to be an alcoholic does that make it okay? Thoughts and genes do not give you the permission to be anything. So with that in mind let's define some things and look into it.
  1. Monogamous Heterosexuality-act of one man, one woman being in a relationship that only involves each other
  2. Polygamous Heterosexuality- act of one man, one woman but with multiple partners
  3. Acts of Homosexuality- act of same gender performing sexual acts with each other
  4. Bestiality- act of using animals as partners
  5. Self-gratification- act of performing sexual acts upon yourself
  6. Abstinence- act of not having any sexual relations or actions with anything or anyone
But only two of these are looked upon by God as acceptable and these are the first and last one mentioned. All but these two have consequences.  If only these two were done then there would be no problems in terms of physical relationships.  Keep in mind sexual activity also needs real love not just infatuation.  Look at some scripture to understand these things. Before you go on here are some small shortcuts: if it is mentioned in the Bible only once, it is still important, if it is only mentioned in the Old Testament, it is still important, if Jesus mentioned it, it is still important but may have stricter guidelines since humans can't follow directions.
 
Why can't all acts of eros be okay if God created the act? First Corinthians explains all of this even in more detail, chapter 6:
  • 12 "Everything is permissible for me"—but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"—but I will not be mastered by anything.
  • 13 "Food for the stomach and the stomach for food"—but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.
  • 14 By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also.
  • 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never!
  • 16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, "The two will become one flesh."
  • 17 But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.
  • 18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.
  • 19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;
  • 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
Monogamous relations are the basis of all relations. To be faithful to your partner is important about building trust, honor, respect and deeper feelings for a person. If this faithfulness is broken then so is the relationship and will be hard to rebuild it. Lives can be destroyed and never mended. Polygamous relations only lead to insecurities, guilt, pride and in the end loneliness. Because once you have put yourself out there for many partners then the act of eros becomes less valuable. Genesis 2:21-23 explains this.
  • 21 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh.
  • 22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
  • 23 The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman, for she was taken out of man."
  • 24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.
For this reason a man will leave his mom and dad, or a woman will leave her mom and dad, and will be united together, hence the creation of marriage. Since the two were made for each other they shall spend time with each other. God did not make many women for Adam, nor did He make many men for Eve. He made one for each, and this is when the flesh becomes one. It also does not say that Adam was given a "playmate", "life-long" partners, or "civil unions". It says a man and a woman, only. The act of homosexuality is prohibited.
 
What about bestiality? First of all if you have to turn to animals for acts of this nature, you need help with your mentality, and apparently with your personality as well if humans can't talk to you enough to like you. But simply put two verses in the Bible say this is wrong; Exodus 22:19 and Leviticus 20:15.
  • Ex 22:19 "Anyone who has sex with an animal gets the death penalty.
  • Lev 20:15 "If a man has sex with an animal, he must be put to death and you must kill the animal.
What about self-gratification? If you are not hurting anyone else then why would it not be permissible? The verses of scripture in Corinthians as mentioned above helps explain that. But there is more to it. While Jesus was giving what we know today as the Sermon on the Mount he hit issues that deal with all lifestyles. And one in particular was lust. He starts out in this passage with adultery but he adds to the meaning. Matthew 5:27-30
  • 27 "You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.'
  • 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
  • 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
  • 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
Most people think that this is talking about if you commit a wrongful action then cut off your hand so you won;t do it again. But what action is it talking about? Well if you put it into context then it is talking about self-gratification. You are looking at a woman lustfully in verse 29 and then your hand cause you to sin in verse 30.
 
What about abstinence? There is nothing wrong with this. But Paul says if you have fires burning within you then it is best to quench those fires, hence find someone to marry. God created sexual activity so if we find someone worth giving ourselves to then the act of marriage should happen, otherwise we need to abstain.
 
In summary all acts of sexuality are allowed by laws and nature but only two are allowed by laws of God. The rest, no matter what they are, is a sin.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

(32) John 3:16- You knew it was coming...

For God so loved the world he gave his only begotten son and that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.- KJV

For God so loved the world that he gave his only and unique Son, so that everyone who trusts in him may have eternal life, instead of being utterly destroyed.- CJB

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life- NIV

This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed.- The Message

It doesn't matter what translation you may have, the message here can not be lost in any translation. No one can say that there is any discrepancy between any of them. Jesus Christ was sent to this earth to save us from our sins and to get this salvation we have to believe in him. And who sent him? God the father. Why? So that we can all have eternal life and not go through any destruction of any kind once we have passed on. However, there is a point that people do miss with this verse.

Most when hearing this piece of perhaps the most famous line from the Bible will focus on what has already been said.

  1. Jesus is the Son of God
  2. Jesus will save you
  3. Jesus will give you eternal life
  4. God sent his only Son

Of course these are very important points and all are true and need to be heeded, but perhaps there is even another very important matter with this scripture that we should start to really focus on. God loved the world! Sounds like a cliche' but it is worth looking at. God, the Supreme Being, the Creator, the Father, the Almighty, had so much feelings for the world that He knew He had to do something to save it. Even though His creation had become murderers (of all forms of the word), liars, thieves, slanderers, idolaters, gluttons, drunkards, abusers, and all other sick things we do, He still loved us. We had become the exact opposite of what he had planned for us and yet he showed so much compassion that he sent a way out of our mess. If you were an artist and created a work of art and it didn't turn out like you wanted it to, the first reaction would be to destroy it and start again. But for us he didn't. Do not miss the point. It is not about being an artist who created something imperfect or saying that the art is a creation of an imperfect artist. We have no analogies on earth that can describe this relationship. All who try to do this are laying down facades to prove their own agenda. You CAN NOT describe it. The real point is God loves us.

But there's more. Who is the "world"? The world is anything that can believe in Jesus Christ. Does God love the Pope? Yes. Does God love Bill Graham? Yes. Does God love those who give to charities? Yes. Does God love those who give their time to help others? Yes. Does God love those who are having problems? Yes. Does God love those who are going through life aimlessly and with no cares? Yes. Does God love those who deny him? Yes. Does God love those who hate him and would do anything to destroy his image and his words? Yes. God loves all.

Many times we go through life wondering why God hates us so much or why God allows things to happen that seem like it always goes against us somehow or someway. We tend to feel that God doesn't really love us if he allows things to keep happening. Maybe we feel he even forgets about us personally. But the fact is, he still loves each and every one of us. He doesn't hate you. He hasn't forgotten about you. Jesus Christ when he came to the earth did not just choose certain people to die for. He died for all. Even if you deny his existence. Even if you deny what he did Jesus still died for you. Paul tells us that what he did, he did once and for all.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

(31) Names of God

How many names of God can you think of? Why all of these names? The non-believer, especially the anti-theist, would say it's because Christianity/Judaism is like any other polytheistic religion who worship many gods. And instead of actually learning about why there these names, they will go on ridiculing the believer for this. But the real answer is not because there are many gods, but because the One True God is multi-faceted. His power is so immense that He needs names to describe Him. And this is proven by the very first sentence of His word; In the beginning, God created.

Bereshit bara Elohim ha shamayim ha erets. The first name in the Bible is God's. Elohim. The first thing this shows is ownership. It's His book talking about His creation. But Elohim is even deeper than that. Every time you see the term "el" it is dealing with the power of God. The term "im" in Hebrew stands for plurality as the "s" does in English. But that does not mean He is many. It means He is complete. It also is a foreshadow that Christ and the Holy Spirit are part of who He is. What about the "h" sound? It may be perhaps because that sounds represents life. When Abram had his name changed to Abraham, it was because he was going to be the father of many. Eve's Hebrew name is Havah, mother of all. Other names of God that include "el" (but not exhaustive):
  • El Shaddai- God Almighty, used when we need to understand He is all powerful
  • El Elyon- God Most High, used when we need to understand He stands above all
  • El Roi- God that sees, used when we need to understand He sees all and knows all
  • El Olam- The Eternal God, used when we need to understand He is the Alpha and Omega
Technically, we are only given though one personal name of God we have written to us in the Bible. It is Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh. It has been translated into the Hebraic Tetragrammaton, Y-H-W-H or Yahweh. Since Latin became the universal language due to the Roman Empire Yahweh has been changed to Jehovah and now is more commonly used by the world. This also corresponds with "I AM" or "I WILL BE". It is written in Exodus 3:14
  • God said to Moses, "I am who I am . This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.'
The first "I AM" in this verse is Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh which means 'I will be who I am', in other words God never changes and will always be. The second "I AM" is Y-H-W-H. This time if you take the H-W-H, you would get "at hand" and the Y would be God. So the translation would be "God who is always at hand". Every time you see the term Yahweh (Jehovah) it is dealing with the omni-presence of God. Check out Psalms 23. Each time you see a new verse you see a new name of God. Some other terms (but not exhaustive) that include Jehovah, or God's personal name:
  • Jehovah Jireh- God provides, used when we need to understand that no matter situation, God is there and will take care of us
  • Jehovah Rophi- God that heals, used when we need to understand that God is the maker of us and He knows our bodies, He can heal us
  • Jehovah Nissi- God is our banner, used when we need to understand that we belong to God
  • Jehovah Shalom- God of peace, used when we need to understand that He can give us peace of mind and heart in times of trouble
The scriptures are filled with other names of God, such as Adonai, Ancient of Days and tens of others that are more symbolic than names or titles. And just as the ones mentioned above have a purpose so do each and every one them. Even Jesus has some names that served His purpose. His earth given name was Y'shua. But His personal name is still Y-H-W-H since He is still God, part of Elohim.
  • Lamb of God
  • Emmanuel
  • Prince of Peace
  • Alpha and Omega
  • Son of God, Son of Man, Son of David
  • Christ, Ha Mashiach, the Messiah
  • Bread of Life, The Way, The Truth, The Life
  • Rock of My Salvation, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, etc.
And of course we can not forget the Holy Spirit. As part of the trinity of God, His personal name is also Y-H-W-H. But the Holy Spirit's names are less prevalent than God the Father or God the Son. For example, Counselor is probably the only one many would know. Spirit of the Living God, the Voice in the Wind may also be considered names of the Spirit.

Here is the main point of this whole lesson: no matter what you call Him, even if you call Him "unreal", His name is so powerful that one day all will have to bow before Him just at the sound of it. Mountains will bow down, the seas will roar, the earth shall tremble just due to the sound of it. His name puts fear into Satan and his demons have to flee and sicknesses have to cease. When you pray "in the name of Jesus" you are saying something so powerful that the world does not know what to do with it. If only we believed more in it.

Philippians 2:9-11 says it all.
  • Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Wouldn't it be better to bow on our own will and not be forced to do so? For more on the names of God here is suggested reading: All the Divine Names and Titles in the Bible, Herbert Lockyer.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

(30) Acts 2:38

Water. The purest element in the universe. The substance that all life as we know needs to survive. It can give you nourishment by helping your body replace needed hydration to allow cells to reproduce. It can give you healing measures by detoxing your organs. It is used to quench thirst so you will not feel needy of anything else. It can cleanse you by wiping away dirt. All of these are components of saving your life. Can water baptism also be considered a "saving" element? Here are the results of last month's poll: Is Water Baptism necessary for salvation?
  • 34% said, I am leaning yes, but not 100% sure.
  • 24% said, No. It is just a symbol of starting over.
  • 19% said, Yes. Without it there is no chance of salvation.
  • 14% said, I am leaning no because I feel we don't know the whole picture.
  • 7% said, Other.
As you can see the lines on this subject are very closely drawn. 53% say that water baptism is needed somehow or maybe part of God's plan to save them. 48% say that it is not needed or at least not as important as other sacraments of Christianity. And oddly enough 48% are leaning and not really sure of the answer. Why is it such a controversy?
The scripture that will be used by those who say it is needed is Acts 2:38.
  • Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
And the scripture that will be used by those who say it is not needed is Romans 10:9-10
  • That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
The problem with again just using one piece of scripture is that you can not get the whole picture of what is being said. Look at Acts 2:38 again. Peter did give the command (as an Apostle of Christ had the authority to do so) to be baptized. But there is more here than just someone being dunked into water. The first thing that happens here is what something not mentioned. In verse 37 it says that after Peter spoke the people were cut to the heart. Their minds were brainwashed or questioned. Their bodies weren't touched. But their hearts had to be open and feel something. There was a change already taking place within them. Then Peter told them the next step. Repent. What a horrible word. The Greek word used here is "metanoêsate" which means- turn from sin and return to God. One has to acknowledge first that they sin. We all sin. We all need to turn from sin. Even Christians who have been believing for 50 years sin and need to keep turning from it. For some reason that concept is lost on the world and even some Christians. We all sin. We all are human first unfortunately and act like everyone else, even though we shouldn't. We have to turn from sin. Then we have to acknowledge we are from God. We need to return to Him. Many claim He is no longer around or say He isn't here anyway. But people are the ones who aren't there anymore. They turned their back in Him and then wonder why He isn't there to get them out of every predicament. After these acknowledgements then we are meant to be baptized. If we do not make these acknowledgments then the action being performed is just someone getting wet.

More importantly you have to know what baptism is all about even before the action becomes relevant. The word in Greek is baptizo. On the surface it means to be immersed. Most people would hear that and say one needs to be completely under the water during the sacrament. But look deeper. To be immersed means you are not only completely covered by what you are dunked into but you actually start to take on the characteristics of what you are being dunked into. It's like sugar and tea. When one puts sugar into water the sugar gets wet and the water starts to take on a different flavor but the sugar does not become part of the water. When one adds tea into the water, the water begins to become a whole new substance.

The substance that Christians are being immersed into is the essence of Christ. When one decides to get baptised they are publicly stating that they are from here on out promising to take on the attributes of Christ. If they do not change who they are then all they did was go swimming. This can go back to the story of Noah. When the flood washed the whole earth. The earth was completely immersed. It was covered with water. But what happened to the earth while it was under? It changed. It took on new meaning. Once the waters receded there was a new life, a new beginning. The old has passed away and a new creature had emerged. When one gets baptised they are saying that they are now accepting for themselves that they are a new creature. The old creature has passed and a new one has begun. They have died, been buried, and have been resurrected. But can water do that by itself? No.

But what about the Romans passage? Again it can not stand alone. It again starts with acknowledgements. We have to confess publicly that Jesus is the Lord (kurios), the Ruler of all. We have to have faith in it as well. Just saying it is empty words.

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