Friday, January 30, 2015

Why Should I Be Baptized?

"Having been buried with Him  in baptism, you were also raised with Him  through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead." - Colossians 2:12

The above verse is speaking about what happens to a believer when they are baptized by the Holy Spirit.  From what we can tell, this passage deals with what is happening in a spiritual sense.  There is no division of salvation and later receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  The above verse in Colossians shows the baptism by the Holy Spirit and saving faith happening at the same time.  So then why are we baptized if it happens spiritually by the work of the Holy Spirit?  I would like to spring board into a few reasons why you should be baptized if you have confessed your sins and placed your full trust in Jesus Christ as your only hope of salvation.

1.  Baptism has been commanded by Jesus.

When we read the great commission in Matthew 28:19-20, we see plainly that baptism is commanded by Jesus to his disciples.  It is not a suggestion or an option,  baptism is a command!  Jesus not only commanded, but he modeled it when he was baptized in Matthew 3:13-17.

2.  Baptism publicly declares one's faith to a lost and dying world.

Matthew 10:32-33 gives a sobering warning about what happens, if or when we deny Jesus publicly before those who don't believe or follow him.  Remember we approach God on his terms, and he has selected baptism in water as the means to publicly identify with Christ and salvation.  Just like when we go to a wedding, the ceremony does not create the commitment between a man and a women, but it does identify them with each other in a very public manner.

3.  Baptism was received by all who professed Jesus in the New Testament.

In Acts 2:37-38 & 2:41, clearly indicate that new believers followed Jesus by being baptized.  In Acts 2 it says that after hearing Peter's message, 3,000 received the message and were baptized.  Can you imagine how long it would take to baptize 3,000 people in a day? The apostles must have been helping Peter do the Lord's work in this passage.  Don't forget about the Ethiopian who believed and was baptized in Acts 8:35-38.

4.  Baptism is an expression of your love though obedience to Him.

John 14:21 tells us that if we love Jesus we will keep his commands.  Have you ever had someone help you in a way that you could never have helped yourself, nor pay them back?  In  a situation like this our hearts ask, "what can we do to show our gratitude?"  Not only did Jesus do for us what we could not do ourselves, but he also tells us what we can do to show him genuine gratitude.  He has asked us to praise and worship of him through obedience.  Baptism is an act of worship to God, demonstrating in front of others our love, commitment, and gratitude for Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Who Is Melchizedek?

7 For this Melchizedek— 

King of Salem, priest of the Most High God, 

who met Abraham and blessed him 

as he returned from defeating the kings, 

2 and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything; 

first, his name means king of righteousness, 

then also, king of Salem, 

meaning king of peace; 

3 without father, mother, or genealogy, 

having neither beginning of days nor end of life, 

but resembling the Son of God — 

remains a priest forever. (Hebrews 7:1-3)

Just before Sunday School a few weeks back, I was asked my opinion on Melchizedek. The story goes that Abram was returning from a great battle in Genius 14, and as Abram is returning he is met by this mysterious priest who is also called king of Salam. A priest is someone who stands before God on behalf of the people, but a prophet stands on behalf of God before the people. Many explanations of who Melchizedek have varied and included the following: He is the Holy Spirit, or an angel, or simply a man who is a typology of the coming Christ. The priesthood that Melchizedek holds is a special one because it is the only one that has the role of king as well. In many ways the Melchizedek priesthood surpasses the Levitical priesthood, because he came before Levi and Levi’s forefather paid Melchizdek a tithe. In addition please note that the Levite priest had a narrow window in which they could serve usually between ages 30 to 50 (see Numbers 8:25,26).

I think the description from Hebrews gives him away as he is without father, mother, or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God — remains a priest forever. It appears that only one could hold this position, namely Jesus Christ. It would appear to me that the author Hebrews is pointing out that Melchizdek is a greater priesthood than Levi; therefore, Melchizdek is pointing to the priesthood of Jesus Christ. Since no death is recorded for Melchizdek, it would appear that Melchizdek is a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Are All Bible Interpretations Equal?

“First of all, you should know this: No prophecy of Scripture comes from one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the will of man; instead, men spoke from God as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” -2 Peter 1:20-21

It happened again. I was in a heated bible discussion with someone, and this individual got pinned down that their view was not in keeping with the rest of Scripture. When they realized they could not defend their position, boom they played what they viewed as the ultimate trump card: “Well there are many interpretations of the Bible.” In their mind they had won the debate, but in my mind I was concerned for their soul.

One reason why so many people seem to have trouble understanding the Bible is that they try to “interpret” it to fit their private opinions. The key passage above warns us against any exposition of Scripture which is based on an individual's pet doctrinal or behavioral prejudices. A reader or hearer of the Word of God whose “heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing” will be unable to “understand” (Matthew 13:15 because such a person comes with his or her mind and heart already bound to his or her own opinions.

When we are seeking after the meaning of a passage, we must seek after the meaning the author of the passage intended. For example if I gave you directions to my former residence in Indiana, you must decide if you will follow what you think I wrote or what you want it says to you. If you don’t seek after what I was intending to say, you could end up in Canada. 

My point is simple this, we cannot superimpose our own views on what was written 2,000 plus years ago. We must let scripture stand. In every other New Testament reference to “interpretation,” except the one in our text which means “explanation” or “exposition." Most of the time the word interpretation  is simply means “translation.” The Bible does need correct translation into English and other national languages, but that is all God needs to communicate His will to mankind.

So in conclusion, NO, not all Bible interpretations are equal. Sure some passages are tricky, but Mark Twain said it best when he wrote, 

"It's not what I don't understand about the Bible that bothers me; it's what i do understand!" 

I struggle most with what is plain and clear in the word, because my flesh and sin nature constantly desire rebellion.