The Advent Part 73
Since we were already on the on the subject before our brief interlude yesterday, and I find wasting an opportunity to preach the truth inexcusable, I would also like to deal with some of the misconceptions and outright fallacies concerning baptism that have been sweeping through the household of faith for some time now.
The first misconception is that the act of water baptism itself is what cleanses us of our sins. No it is not water baptism that cleanses us of our sins, but rather God, through His word toward which man must be in submission. Without the requisite repentance, without the requisite obedience toward God and His word, without the requisite transformation, the act of baptism is merely being dunked in water with one’s clothes on. Water baptism is the answer of a good conscience toward God, an outwardly manifestation of an already existent inner transformation.
1 Peter 3:21-22, “There is also an antitype which now saves us, namely baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him.”
A disturbing number of individuals deceive themselves by believing that they can continue living as they lived, that they can continue being slaves of sin and corruption, but because they were dipped in a pool, or a lake, or a river, they are in right standing with God and God will have no choice but to welcome them into His eternal kingdom. We are transformed by the power of the Word, we are transformed by the grace of Christ, and water baptism is the confession that truly we have been made new, born again and sanctified.
The second misconception that is rampant within certain denominations is that water baptism somehow replaces the need to believe in the sacrifice of Christ Jesus, to repent, or to live in obedience toward God.
‘Well brother you know, I never really repented of my sins, I have my doubts about Jesus being the only way, the only truth and the only life, I am in constant rebellion toward the precepts, commandments, and will of God, but I was baptized in water, so that’s something.’
I can’t help but feel pity for those individuals who approach water baptism as some sort of fire insurance, doing it just to get it done, thinking to themselves that because they performed this one act, because they took a dip in some tepid water than eternal glory is guaranteed them.
There will come a day when all men will stand before the sovereign God of the universe, men who not only got dunked in a pool on a warm summer’s day, but who actually cast out demons in the name of Jesus, men who had power and authority, yet who never knew Christ on an intimate level nor lived the life of Christ, who will be commanded to depart from before His holy face for He never knew them.
We must live lives worthy of the gospel of Christ, we must live lives wholly devoted to Him, and we must live lives of submission and obedience, having the fullness of Jesus in our hearts and not merely on our lips. It is not the act of water baptism that saves, it is Christ that saves and as such He is our life, He is our all in all, and He is the object of our adoration.
Because we have taken our eyes off Jesus, because we have taken our eyes off the cross of Christ, there are those within the household of God who will not regard others as brothers because they differ on whether someone should be sprinkled or submerged when being baptized. Such individuals have made baptism their focus, rather than Christ, and it is to their detriment that they have done this.
There is a danger in taking our eyes off Jesus, even if it is to focus them on something spiritual or of Biblical importance. Whether it’s the doctrine of baptisms, end times prophecy, or the unraveling of the mysteries of the book of Revelation, if any of these things take preeminence over the person of Jesus then it becomes spiritually debilitating if not outright harmful. It is through the blood of Christ, it is through the blood of the new Covenant that was shed for us that our sins are washed away, that we are made new and born of God, and this is a truth that must be ever at the forefront of our minds.
There is nothing wrong in studying prophecy, there is nothing wrong in studying the book of Revelation, there is nothing wrong in studying the doctrine of baptisms, but these cannot be done at the expense of neglecting our relationship and intimacy with Christ. We must prioritize our time in such a way that Jesus is first on the list, and that when we are in fellowship with Him there are no constraints or limitations.
Philippians 1:27-28, “Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith for the gospel, and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God.”
Our duty as believers is to stand fast in one spirit, to be of one mind, and to strive together for the faith of the gospel. Our duty is not to form groupings and parties, and offshoots and splinter groups, it is not to promote the doctrinal beliefs of a certain denomination, it is not to glory in men or to lift up men, but rather to be centered in Christ, rooted in Him, guided by Him, and victorious through Him.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.
Friday, October 21, 2011
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Dear Brother Michael - I know the Bible talks about people having cast out demons in the name of Jesus, and yet when they stand before God they are rejected because they never knew Jesus personally. I've never understood how this was possible. If they don't know Jesus, the source of spiritual power, why would the demons obey them? How COULD they have any true power and authority outside of Christ? They aren't really his disciples. It seems it would have to be fake, make believe and yet... Anyway, I just don't get it. Wouldn't the demons know they are imposters? Or does it have nothing to do with relationship and everything with the name of Jesus? So that even an agnostic could say "in the name of Jesus" and cast out a demon? Any insight you can provide would be much appreciated!
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