Lucia's Blog: 2020-05-24
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Friday, May 29, 2020

THE RICHES OF THE GOSPEL MESSAGE

"How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!'"
Romans 10:14-15



We marvel at the single-minded way that Jesus worked at bringing the hope of a new life to people who were hopeless cases, mired in long habits of sin and corruption. He has shown us the way. Now it is our turn to carry His Gospel message to those marred by sin, redeemed sinners rescuing others still lost and dying in a twisted world of darkness and despair.  Let us explore the riches that God has placed in the Gospel Message.

Jesus’ purpose for coming to this earth was to be the Gospel, for He is the good news of God’s saving Grace.  Thus preaching and teaching is essential.  It was the only way of evangelism in the first century as it must be today. You see, salvation is offered to anyone who believes the Message of Christ. Thus, we are responsible for hearing the Good News that Jesus brought.  God saves through the Gospel and the Gospel alone.  Jesus is the only way to salvation, and it is available to all who believe in Him and His Gospel.

Paul instructed Timothy saying, “And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also”  (2 Tim. 2:2).  That harmonizes with the Great Commission as recorded by Matthew  28:19-20 Jesus wants Christians to teach people everywhere about their need to obey the Gospel to become children of God and be saved from His wrath.  But to teach others the Gospel, we must personally study the Scriptures so that we may teach others (2 Tim. 2:15; 3:15-17).  

It is the responsibility of every member of the Lord’s church, for God will judge us on the final day!  The Great Commission begins with the Word, the Gospel.  God never said to wait for the lost to come to you, for He has commanded us to go to them.  There is no need for fear or intimidation, for God has not given us the spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7).  When Jesus sent the apostles, He assured them saying, “Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age”  (Matt. 28:20)


I.  THE GOSPEL
"And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest'" (Matthew 9:35-38).

  • What Does the Word "Gospel" Mean?
The Greek word for "gospel" is translated "good news."  Although the concept of "good news" is familiar to us, the word "gospel" is strange for many people.  Does anyone ever use the word "gospel" outside a Biblical context?  For most of us, the word "gospel" is a strictly religious word  used only when we are using "church language."  We assume that when we use the word "gospel," most people know the meaning.  You see, so often when we tell others we want to teach them the "gospel," they cringe.  As a matter of fact, some will do anything to keep you from sharing the "gospel" with them.  They will say, "I don't want to talk about church things," or "I don't want to talk about religion, period."  But do we actually understand the why of that reasoning?

The verb, Uangelidzo, is translated as "gospel," "good tidings," "glad tidings," and in many cases, it is translated simply as "preached," as in "preaching the glad tidings."  It may refer only to glad tidings to something other than what we think the Gospel is.  “Glad tidings” was used in Gabriel's message to Zacharias, to communicate to the latter the coming birth of a son, John.  Gabriel said he was there to "bring thee good tidings"  (Luke 1:19).  Yet, and I must stress, we must look to the context to determine the meaning of the "good news."  The same applies to the noun form "uangelion."
  • The Kingdom:
One of the first things we learn about the definition of the "gospel" is that it is the "gospel of the kingdom of God." The Gospel is about the kingdom of God instead of the Gospel coming from the kingdom. Consider Mark 1:14-15, followed by Luke 16:16.
"Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, 'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel."'
"The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it. "
So, the Gospel of the kingdom, the Gospel of God, and the Gospel all refer to the same Message.  Matthew 4:23 states that Jesus went throughout Galilee preaching the gospel of the kingdom as does Matthew 9:35.  Again in Luke 4:43, Jesus said that He "must preach the good tidings of the kingdom of God" to other villages as does Luke 8:1.  The Gospel that the apostles preached was the same Gospel.  In Matthew 24:14 when Jesus instructed them about the events leading to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, He said to them,
"And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come."

Acts 8:12 states that Philip the evangelist "preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ."

Jesus commanded the apostles to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature (Mark 16:16).  This, of course, involves preaching the Gospel of the kingdom.  The Message was that the kingdom that was prophesied in the Old Testament, the kingdom to be established in the first century, was at hand.  Notice what Colossians 1:13-14 saying regarding this kingdom.
"He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."

Thus, the primary purpose of the Gospel was to take men from darkness into the light (Acts 26:16-18; 1 Peter 2:9-10).  Being delivered out of darkness is part of being transferred into the kingdom.  Understanding the Truth about the kingdom is part of the Gospel.  If one cannot understand the Gospel, he will not believe the Gospel.  If one does not believe the Gospel, he cannot be saved (Mark 16:16).  No one has the right or authority to fellowship or promote anyone who denies the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • The Church:
Jesus purchased the church with His own blood (Acts 20:28).  His death was vital to our salvation and a fact of the Gospel.  We are baptized into one body (1 Cor. 12:13).  It is a command of the Gospel that we must obey.  The kingdom is the people of God, the church.  So it is the Gospel of the church in that sense.  The teachings of the New Testament about the church, the body of Christ, the house of God, is thus directly related to the Gospel.  Since the sacrifice of Jesus is at the heart of the Gospel, how can anyone ignore His body and what His blood did for us as a part of the Gospel?
  • The Creation and the Creator:
In Revelation 14:6-7, we are told that the "everlasting gospel" consisted of giving God the glory, worshiping Him "that made the heaven and the earth and the sea and fountains of waters."  It is not surprising then to find Paul preaching the Gospel at Lystra in Acts 14:11-17, including God the creator as part of the "good tidings," the Gospel.  To believe or to teach anything other than what the Bible teaches about God, and His creation is an attack on the Gospel.
  • The Resurrection:
The resurrection of Jesus is the centerpiece of the Gospel.  It relates directly to the concept of resurrection in general and the very nature of man.  In Matthew 22, Jesus answers the Sadducees saying, "ye do err, not knowing the scriptures nor the power of God."  In 2 Timothy 2:17-18"Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some."

In 1 Cor. 15, Paul argues for the resurrection extensively.  He begins the chapter by establishing the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.  This was the heart of the Gospel Paul had preached to them.  The grand climax of that chapter is the second coming of Jesus to raise the dead.  Anything other than what the Bible states about the resurrection is error and must be opposed at all costs!  One cannot preach the Gospel and teach error about the resurrection!
  • Life After Death:
The resurrection and the existence of the soul and life after death go hand in hand.  2 Timothy 1:10 says that Jesus "brought life and immortality to light through the gospel."  In 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10, the second coming of Jesus, judgment day, and eternal punishment are raised in connection with those who do not obey the Gospel of Christ.  Paul preached the Gospel to the Athenians in Acts 17.  He spoke of God's nature, resurrection, and judgment day.  No error on any of these facts must be tolerated!
  • The Hope of the Gospel:
Paul gives plenty of information regarding the death of Christ and its consequences.  
"And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven... "  (Colossians 1:21f).

It is vital that we continue grounded and steadfast in our faith and not be moved away from the hope of the Gospel so that the value of the death of Christ might work in our lives the way God has planned it for us.  God has already done His part. Therefore, we must do our part. It is part of our faith.
  • We must be Careful not to Give People the Wrong Impression of God:
Are we responsible for our choices and behavior? Of course, we are!  Must we assume responsibility for our actions and the way we live our lives?  Absolutely!  Must we seek God's will and obey Him?  Surely!  However, God is not our enemy just because those statements are true. The good news, the Gospel is that God loves us and wants to help us even when our lives are chaotic and a mess.  The proof of God's commitment to us is Jesus Christ.

God specializes in what seems to us to be lost causes.  The night that He was tried by the Jews, Peter (Jesus' most committed disciple who vowed to never deny Jesuscursed and swore he never knew Jesus (Matt. 26:74).  Imagine if someone were to treat us that way?  I'm pretty sure we would be outraged!  Now, 50 days later, God used this same man to preach the resurrection of Jesus and the fact that God made Jesus Lord and Christ. Peter took that brave stand in the same city where he denied Jesus.  Isn't that amazing!

Did Peter repent?  Absolutely!  Imagine the cowardly man who publicly denied Jesus, because he was afraid, on the night of Jesus's betrayal. Now imagine him finding the courage to stand up for God's work in Jesus His Son on the day of Pentecost.  What about Paul, who made a statement very well known by many of us?!
"I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, 13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life."  (1 Timothy 1:12-16)

You see, prior to Paul being a Christian, he was a very religious but hostile man.  His religion made him this way.  In Acts 26:9-11 He said of himself before Agrippa when giving his defense:
"I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 And I did so in Jerusalem. I not only locked up many of the saints in prison after receiving authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them. 11 And I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme, and in raging fury against them I persecuted them even to foreign cities. I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 And I did so in Jerusalem. I not only locked up many of the saints in prison after receiving authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them. 11 And I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme, and in raging fury against them I persecuted them even to foreign cities.

Indeed, Paul was an obsessed hate monger and not a nice man at all.  He did many ugly and hostile things to the name of Jesus.  He put many Christians in Jewish prisons and encouraged the execution of many of them.  He used physical force, pain, trying to get Christians to blaspheme.  He was furiously enraged at Christians.  And he was willing to go outside of Judea to arrest Christians without remorse.  In his statement to Timothy, he describes himself as a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a violent aggressor.  In other words, he said, "If God could save me, God can save anyone!"  That is how serious our God is about saving all mankind through the Gospel of His Son.  That is how much God loves us and wants to save us!


II.   JESUS WANTS EVERYONE TO HEAR THE GOSPEL TO BE SAVED:

Before Jesus ascended to heaven, He left His disciples with instructions about going into the world to preach the Gospel.  They were supposed to preach the Gospel to every creature, to every human being, whether king or beggar in the street.  They were to preach the good news to everyone, all the lost.  So what is the good news?  It is the death, the burial, and the resurrection of Christ (1 Cor. 15:1-4).  Jesus came to bring Grace and Truth to this world of darkness (John 1:17), bringing salvation, but we must have the faith to obey God’s terms of salvation.  We are commanded to strive to live by the perfect Law of liberty, and that includes evangelism.  We are to repent and seek God’s forgiveness and keep being faithful to Him until the end (1 John 1:7-9; Phil. 3:12-14).  Those who have not yet obeyed the Gospel must obey the Gospel to become God’s children.  That is, they must bury the old man of sin and wash their sins away in the waters of baptism, for one must die to rise into newness of life (Romans 6).  After we obey the Gospel, we must share and teach it to the lost, for it is God’s command!
 "He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not obey will be condemned"  (Mark 16:15-16).  

The Gospel is the power of God to save men that they may turn away from their evil ways to God for direction and guidance.  God saves men by the preaching of the Gospel of salvation.  It is the only WAY that Jesus is going to heal the sin-sick soul that is dying.  The Gospel is the power of God to change the hearts of men so that they can return to Him. The Gospel is given into our hands to teach it to all men that they might be saved from their sins.  Every day people are dying unprepared for eternity!  It is by the preaching of the Gospel that we are going to prepare these people and win souls for God.  God has already provided all the means and the Message to save the souls of men, and we must bring the two together (John 3:16; Romans 1:16).  Can we expect to find favor before God with the blood of the lost on our hands (Acts 20:26-27)?  Is there any other way of hope for a dying world?  What is the condition of the lost without Christ?  Is there any other place where the lost can turn to?

For that reason, we must carry God’s precious Message and guide the erring back to Him.  There are so many lost souls in this world in need of the Gospel to save them.  Look up and see how the fields are already white for harvest!  (John 4:35).  We must lift up our eyes and notice them and approach them the way Jesus wants us to.  The opportunities to teach the lost the Gospel are abundant!  So let us not slip back into our comfort zones, but let us move forward to seek and find these lost souls.  So we must pray to God to lead us to a lost soul in need of the Gospel!  Let us fill this world with His Gospel!  Let this sink deeply into your hearts!

The Grace of God and the Gospel go hand in hand.  Grace gives us the revelation, the Message of God, the Gospel that was preached by the apostles, and that was passed on to us.  God's Grace is revealed through the Word which serves as a channel for God's Grace,
"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age"  (Titus 2:11-12).  

Thus, the Grace of God that brings salvation is that which teaches us to deny ungodliness so that we may live righteously.  It is the Message Gospel of God where Grace is found.  In 2 Timothy 1:8-10, God saved and called us according to His purpose and Grace, which is revealed in Christ, who brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.  So God's Grace works or functions according to His purpose.  In Acts 11:14, Peter spoke to the Gentiles words by which they were saved (cf. 10:33-48).   In Acts 20:24, 32, we read that the Grace of God is manifested to all men through the instruction or teaching made  possible only through the "Gospel."

Paul's ministry was to testify about the Gospel of Grace (Acts 20:24, 32).  The apostles ordained by God carried out this commission that began on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) where 3,000 souls obeyed the Gospel of the Grace of God (Acts 2:37-41).  The apostles preached the Gospel not only in Jerusalem but all Judea, Samaria and to the remotest part of the earth (Acts 1:8).  All the cases of conversion in the book of Acts show the efficacy of the Gospel.  Today as well, we are saved by the Grace of God when we obey the Gospel.  It is only by the Gospel that we learn how to please God.  Obeying the Gospel of the Grace of God demands that we fulfill the terms of salvation found in the Gospel.


CONCLUSION:

Why the World Needs the Gospel?

Undoubtedly, the world needs the Gospel.  Sadly, many Christians don't even have a clue about this great need Why do I say that?   Simply because they are not aware that the world has such a great need.  It is disturbing to see how the crowds commonly function on the atheistic principles taught to them in the public schools:  the end justifies the means.  Thus, they grow up, making terribly wrong choices.

The Gospel Message, however, contains no such ethic.  In fact, the apostle Paul explicitly rejected and condemned the idea of doing evil that good may come (Romans 3:8).  Jesus taught a higher and absolute standard of righteousness and morality:  love God and love your neighbor (Matt. 22:37-39).  It implies that neither God nor our neighbors are means to an end, but ends in and of themselves!  Both God and our neighbor have intrinsic value.  Jesus echoed this truth when He declared that one soul is worth more than the whole wealth of this world (Matt. 16:26).  Thus, God and the souls of men are precious as ends in and of themselves!

So, how do I show my love for God and my neighbor?  The answer to this question is explicitly found in the commandments (John 14:15, 1 John 5:2-3).  Paul urges us to keep God's commands so that we may demonstrate our genuine love toward God and our neighbor.  When we follow these absolute and higher standards of righteousness and morality found in the Gospel, the result is not small But when we take away real morals, we harm our neighbor (Romans 13:8-10).

Most people in this world do not want to harm anybody but reject the best way to that:  to commit to and obey the Gospel Message.  Indeed, the world needs the Gospel Message desperately, but they don't know it or want it.  The question is not, "Can God save men?"  The issue is, "Do people want God's forgiveness?"  "Do they want to belong to God by obeying the Gospel Message?"  "Do they want to hear and believe the Gospel, the good news, the good tidings to be saved?"  The choice is theirs to make.

The Gospel is God’s power God’s power is Jesus as Messiah and Savior of the world. God's power for salvation is the news about who Jesus is, what He has done for our salvation, and the way of life that He taught.  God’s salvation is accessible to all who will believe that Gospel Message. No one is forbidden or excluded. God does not show favoritism or partiality in salvation.   All humanity can be saved and transformed into the image of God. Jesus was not the Savior of the Jews only, but the Savior of the world.

It is through the preaching or teaching of the Gospel that God saves men.  Therefore, we must share the Gospel with the lost. God has commanded us to do so (Matt. 28:18-20; Mk. 16:15-16; 2 Tim. 4:1-2; 1 Peter 3:15).  We must share the Gospel with the lost, for it is the power of God to salvation (Rom. 1:16).  We must share the Gospel with the lost, for by doing this, we show the lost that we love their souls and don’t want them to be separated from God eternally (Col. 1:28).  We must share the Gospel with the lost because we have compassion for them and don’t want them to perish.  When the Gospel is taught and is believed and obeyed, it is God’s power to save and transform men.  Men like Saul of Tarsus, the worst sinner of our day, and even people like you and me!

Our Lord Jesus loves all souls and wants us to share the Gospel with the lost.  He is interested in our souls and the souls of our families as well.  So we must open our eyes and see the harvest! The harvest is plenty, and there is much labor to do!  We must pray to find opportunities to teach the Gospel in a manner that is worthy of Jesus, for we must teach the Truth properly, for that is the only way it can save (John 8:32).  We must realize the importance of soul-winning, the harvesting of souls (John 4:35).  Evangelism must be as much a part of our lives as breathing air!  We must follow the example of our Lord in evangelism, He understood the concept of soul winning.  How often do we get discouraged about soul winning because we are unable to see the immediate fruits of our labor?  Just because we don’t see immediate success, does not mean that we have been unsuccessful in preparing the soil for someone else to reap the harvest.

To follow the example of Jesus in evangelism is to rejoice when others build on the work we have done by teaching the Gospel of salvation.  Thus we must learn to be longsuffering where we’re not able to see immediate results or harvest.  Likewise, we must crucify self and be selfless, investing the best of our time in the Lord’s work and rejoice when others reap the harvest.  Our work in the Lord is never in vain!  (1 Cor. 15:58).  Therefore, let us apply Jesus’ excellent principles of evangelism and learn from His example and the example of the greatest soul winners that we might be more successful in our endeavors!

God has been faithful to His promise to save all people, and He continues to keep His words. The righteous live by faithWill you trust God? Will you put all of your faith in Him? Will you be faithful to God as He has been faithful to you and His promises?  Will you be ashamed to proclaim faithfully the riches of His Gospel, which is God's power to save all who will believe in Him?

May we proclaim faithfully and boldly the riches of His Gospel, which is His power unto salvation for everyone who believes in Him.  To Him be the glory!


Luci

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

THE WORSHIP OF MARY

"This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 9 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men."
Matthew 15:8-9



The things that the Roman Catholic Church stands for are directly condemned not only by Jesus but also by the prophecies of the apostles of Christ.  Let us examine one of their erroneous doctrines about the worship of Mary, the goddess of heaven.

I was raised as a devout Catholic and was mostly educated by nuns until 8th grade.  By the grace of God, I found the Truth that set me free.  I had been blinded by all the deceptions and false teachings, but my eyes were opened.  It is a sad fact that so many souls in the world are lost, blind, and without the Truth to set them free from the bondage of sin and error. 



I.   THE WORSHIP OF MARY, THE GODDESS OF HEAVEN:

As someone who was raised as a devout Catholic and who also went to Catholic school for many years, this was a big one for me.  I was indoctrinated about the adoration of Mary.  I was taught that Mary was “the mediatrix of our salvation, the ladder of paradise, the gate of heaven, the most true Mediatrix between God and man.”

For Catholics, Mary is Christ, the mediator here on earth.  This is what the pope teaches.  Catholics are more engaged in praising Mary than our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  They actually (I was taught) pray to her to have their prayers answered.  They use what they call “rosary beads” to praise Mary more than God Himself.  Notice that of the 59 beads of the Rosary, 53 beads are “Hail Marys,” and only 6 beads are to “Our Father.”  This is outrageous to me!  This is where most Catholics really have a problem.  No one dare belittle Mary.  When a Catholic is able to see the Truth of this demonic teaching, he is able to set himself free from the Roman Catholic false doctrinesSadly, the worship of Mary is where many Catholics stumble!

The Rosary most often ends with a “Hail, Holy Queen” prayer to Mary, not God, our Father in heaven.  The Catholic Church claims that Mary was a perpetual virgin and never had any children other than Jesus.

Catholic officials (clergy) argue that Mary was chosen from among all creatures to bring the Redeemer into the world, entitling her to high praise as our mediatrix.  It is false teaching among the clergy.  Of course, Mary was a good woman, but she was a human being, not a divine being.  Although Mary must be praised for being a god-fearing woman, she is not entitled to be hailed as “the Mediatrix of our salvation.”  How do I know that?  Because the Word of God gives that high office only to Christ, our Lord (I Tim. 2:5).  Are we going to accept the Word of God or the precepts of men?  When men honor her as the mediatrix of our salvation, they unwittingly dishonor her and especially Christ because it is blasphemy to honor a human as only God is worthy of being honored.

They try to get around I Tim. 2:5 by saying that Jesus is “the one and only mediator of our redemption,” leaving the implication that there are other mediators.  But none of them died for us!  So why is it that they cannot cite other Scriptures to prove their argument?  It is just another example of them teaching a doctrine without any Scriptural proof.  

  1. I Tim. 2:5 declares,  “… one God and one mediator.”  Nothing else!  There are no other mediators between God and man, but our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us.  Only One could qualify.  The word “mediator” literally means one who stands equidistant from two sides.  
  2. Jesus lived with God in heaven before He came in the flesh, born of a woman (Matt. 9:6).  
  3. He knew God, the Father.  
  4. He understood His love for man and His attitude toward sin.  
  5. He, living among men, was tempted as a man but without sin (Heb. 4:14-15).  
  6. He knew man, his temptations, and his weaknesses.  
  7. This automatically qualified Him to go back to heaven and to advocate on our behalf, representing us as man’s intercessor before the mighty throne of God (Heb. 7:25).  
  8. Only Jesus could or can qualify for this high office. 
  9. Only One Mediator is needed, and it is not Mary.  
  10. Praying to Mary or the departed “saints” removes the One Mediator from that high office.  He alone can hold such a high office, of making intercession for us to God, the Father!  

This theology is more serious and dangerous than I could have imagined!


  • Man is not to Pray TO Man But FOR Man:
The Roman Catholic Church doctrine violates God’s Laws when they teach that man can pray to man.  We are taught and commanded to pray only to God (Matt. 6:9) through Christ (John 14:13-14;16:23), and that excludes everyone else, including Mary.

They also twist Luke 1:41-43, which tells of Elizabeth’s words to Mary, a very natural conversation, but there is not a word about Mary being “the Mediatrix of our salvation.”  
“From henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.”  (Luke 1:48)

The proof text disproves their theory rather than proving it.  In this song of praise, Mary is stating the character by which she wishes to be known, namely, the blessed or happy one.  She never said that all generations would call her the Mediatrix of their salvation.  She did not want that! She wanted to be known as the blessed one.  If the statement, “All generations shall call me blessed,” should be interpreted to imply that she is our mediatrix, then Leah is also our mediatrix for she said, 
“For women shall came me blessed.” (Gen. 30:13)  

Take note that this quotation was taken from the Catholic Bible.

Roman Catholic theology asserts: 
 “And to increase our confidence, St. Anselm adds, that when we have recourse to this divine mother, we may not only be sure of her protection, but that sometimes we shall be sooner heard and be saved by invoking her holy name than that of Jesus our Savior.  And he gives the reason;  Because it belongs to Christ as our judge to punish, but to Mary as our advocate to pity.  By this he would give us to understand that we sooner find salvation by recurring to the mother than the Son.”  (The Glories of Mary, St. Alfonzo Liguori, p. 149).  

It all boils down to this:  
  1. Christ is too hard, too difficult, and too demanding (exacting).  
  2. Mary can manage things better than Christ since she is more qualified to act on our behalf.  

So, Roman Catholics should take all their problems to Mary, who will either act independently of God or throw a woman’s influence upon Him until she has her way in everything.  What a shame for the Roman Catholic Church to make such a harsh, untruthful, disgusting statement about our Savior!  I cannot fathom that!  It is too much for me!

Alas, I ask the Roman Catholic Church, how dare you treat our Savior this way?!  Such disgusting and untruthful statement makes it easier to see why their prayers are filled with “Hail Mary,” and why their prayers addressed to Mary are more emphasized than the prayers to God.  
“The entire Rosary consists of one hundred and fifty Hail Marys…  The principal prayer of the Rosary is Hail Mary, repeated one hundred and fifty times.”

Take note that the Bible in contrast to this unscriptural doctrine declares:  
  1. "God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him [not Mary] might be saved."  (John 3:17)
  2. “According to his mercy he [not Mary] saved us.”  (Titus 3:5)  
  3. “The same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him [not Mary].” (Romans 10:12)  
  4. “If ye shall ask anything in my name [not Mary’s name], I will do it.”  (John 14:14).  
  5. “I [not Mary] am the way, the truth and the life:  no man cometh unto the Father, but by me [not by Mary]  (John 14:6)
  6. “And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father,  Jesus Christ the righteous [not Mary].  (I John 2:1)  
  7. “I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for His name’s sake [not for Mary’s name’s sake].”  (I John 2:12)  
  8. “I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ [not Mary].”  (Eph. 3:14)
  9. “Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father [not Mary] in my name [not Mary’s name] he will give it to you.”  (John 16:23)

Catholic clerics assert that the Lord considers the glory of Mary as His own and exults in it!  They support this false argument with Isa. 48:11 where He said, 
“And My glory I will not give to another.”  
No man can make this Scripture read that the LORD considers the glory of Mary as His own.  So it is Roman Catholic Church theology versus the Truth of God's Word found in the Bible.  Another Scripture,  
"I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols”  (Isa. 42:8).  

Implicitly they are stealing the glory of Christ and giving it to Mary.  This is wrong!  Both Peter and Paul speaking of Christ said, 
“To whom be glory for ever and ever”  (Galatians 1:5; II Tim. 4:18; Heb. 13:21; I Peter 5:11). 

No inspired writer ever said,
“To Mary be glory for ever and ever.”  

The apostles were guided into all Truth (John 16:13).  They were not guided by the doctrine of glorifying Mary.  Hence, this doctrine is not part of the Truths of God.

What they need to acknowledge is that Mary shares in Christ’s glory and not our Lord in her glory, exulting it.  This is blasphemy!


CONCLUSION:

The Roman Catholic Church wishes to glorify Mary since she was the fleshly mother of Jesus. This false doctrine grows out of the error of placing too much emphasis on the physical relationship of Jesus.  If Jesus had wanted us to worship Mary, then He missed a marvelous opportunity of glory. Instead, Jesus taught that the greatest honor comes from obeying the Word of God.  He places the emphasis mainly on the spiritual and not the physical.

Catholicism asserts that Mary is the “Mother of God.”  But the Bible never calls Mary the “Mother of God.”  If she were to be the “Mother of God,” then she would be divine.  No one can deny that Jesus is divine since He is the Son of God.
  1. Christ “was made flesh and dwelt among us.”  (John 1:14)
  2. And in the process of this incarnation, Mary became the human mother of Jesus, not the mother of His divinity, not the “Mother of God.”  
  3. God is the Creator of Mary. 
  4. She is a creature, not a self-existing being like God.  
  5. It is pure idolatry to worship and serve a creature rather than our Creator.  

If the Roman leaders had read the Bible, they would have encountered this verse in the Bible, in the letter to the Romans.  This letter was given to Rome before she invented the glorification of Mary, of saints and of angels.  They must heed the warning:
“Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator.”  (Romans 1:25)

Oh!  Roman Catholics, how can you kneel before an image such as Mary, praying to her saying, “Hail Mary,” “Hail Mary,” “Hail Mary,’ in the light of these Scriptures!!  How do you dare make a creature such as Mary, the goddess of your religion, when you know well our Only Creator is to be our Only God in heaven?


May we always love the Truth and never compromise it but tell it like it is.  May we allow God's Word to mold us to see the errors and false teachings while we distance ourselves from the evil doctrines of men.  May we proclaim the glorious Gospel of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ to the lost.


Luci


Monday, May 25, 2020

WHAT IS THE BIBLICAL PATTERN FOR BAPTISM?

"Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?  Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.  For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin;  for he who has died is freed from sin."
Romans 6:3-7



Satan has placed stumbling blocks at numerous points before the humble man who seeks the favor and communion of his beloved Creator. One of those points is the water baptism of Acts 2:38.  We must understand the issue of Scriptural Baptism.  Even though nearly every church practices something that they call "baptism," if we don't get this right, we may stumble into eternity unprepared to meet our God.  Let's take another look at the Bible teaching on baptism.

The Greek word for baptism baptisma means to plunge or immerse.  Baptism is the process of being immersed in water.  Notice how Jesus was baptized. 
"Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. But John tried to prevent Him, saying, 'I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?'  But Jesus answering said to him, 'Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he permitted Him.  After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water"  Matthew 3:13-16.  

There is no doubt that baptism is a burial in water.  This is precisely what the early church practiced.  They obeyed the commands ordained by God to be saved from sin.  One must be baptized.  There is no other way.  In the Book of Acts, we find many examples of baptism for the remission of sins, thus to be saved from sin.  Three thousand Jews were baptized, Acts 2:41.  The Ethiopian eunuch confessed Jesus as Lord. Then he was baptized for the forgiveness of his sins (Acts 8:38).  After he was baptized, he "went on his way rejoicing."  The Philippian jailer was baptized after an earthquake (Acts 16:33). After he was baptized, he "rejoiced greatly."

The baptism that saves has four essential elements:
  1. The correct manner - immersion.
  2. The correct authority - in the name of Jesus Christ.
  3. The correct purpose - for the forgiveness of sins.  
  4. The correct person - the repentant believer who is seeking forgiveness of sins.  

I.   WHY BAPTISM?

A very critical question that shows the need for baptism.  Although many denominations would agree that baptism is commanded and is important, they still disagree about the necessity of baptism and its purpose, according to God's will.

  • The Purpose of Baptism:
The purpose of baptism is forgiveness of sins.  Many Scriptures speak of baptism as a way for us to ask God to forgive us for the sins we have committed against Him.

In Acts 22:16, Ananias told Paul,
"And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name." 

Ananias told Paul that the way we call on the Lord is through baptism, asking God for our sins to be washed away.  He describes baptism as the process of calling on the Lord’s name. Ananias also describes baptism as God's way of washing away our sins.   When we put these two things together, it is evident that baptism is the process by which we ask God for the forgiveness of our sins.

Baptism, which is like the water of Noah's flood, now saves us.  Baptism doesn’t save us by removing the dirt from our bodies. Rather, baptism is our appeal to God for a clear conscience. Baptism saves us through Jesus Christ, who was raised from death to life (1 Peter 3:21).
"Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ."

And though baptism is “an appeal to God for a good conscience,” we must understand that such an appeal is a request we are making of a judge. That is the idea of the Greek word.  It literally means “an inquiry, a question.” Thus baptism is asking God for a clear conscience.  Peter’s argument is that baptism is not something we do to wash the body.  Rather, baptism saves us because of the blood of Jesus Christ.  He has opened the way for us to God for a clear conscience through His sacrificeBaptism is the way our sins are removed after we arise and are baptized, washing away our sins.  Paul taught the Colossians that through baptism, our sins are removed.
"In Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not done with hands, by putting off the body of flesh, in the circumcision of the Messiah. 12 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. 13 And when you were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive with Him and forgave us all our trespasses" (Colossians 2:11-13).  

In baptism, our sins are circumcised (cut off; put off). Sins cannot be cut off without baptism.

  • Baptism Unites And Clothes Us With Christ:
Baptism not only removes our sins, but it also unites us with Christ.
"As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ" (Galatians 3:27).
"What should we say then? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may multiply? 2 Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life. 5 For if we have been joined with Him in the likeness of His death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of His resurrection" (Romans 6:1-5)

So why is it that so many argue that we can be forgiven of our sins without baptism?  The Scriptures tell us that we cannot be united with Christ unless we are baptized.  We are united with Christ and forgiven of our sins at baptism.  This is how we ask God for the forgiveness of our sins.



  • Why Denominations Do Not Believe Baptism Is Essential to be Saved:
    • Although our denominational friends baptize, they do not believe nor do they teach that baptism is essential for salvation. Listen to their own words about baptism.
          "Baptism is not essential to salvation, for our churches utterly repudiate the dogma of ‘baptismal regeneration’; but it is essential to obedience since Christ has commanded it"  (Edward T. Hiscox, D.D., The Standard Manual for Baptist Churches).

            With this statement, they are showing their confusion.  Sadly, this is the position that many religious groups take. They claim that baptism is not essential for salvation but that one must do it because it is commanded.  So, is baptism essential, or is it not?  Well, let us examine the arguments they make against baptism as being essential for salvation. 

              • The blood of Christ Remits Our Sins, Not Baptism:
            I agree with their statement since the Word of God says so.
            “For this is My blood that establishes the covenant; it is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28). 

            The blood of Christ does offer the forgiveness of sins. Without the blood of Christ, there would not be forgiveness. But this argument is not valid once we substitute it with God’s requirements. For example, it would be absurd to say,
            “The blood of Christ remits our sins, not faith.” 
            Or,
            “The blood of Christ remits our sins, not repentance.” 

            Yes, the blood of Christ remits our sins. No one will disagree with this. The question at stake is: how can we have access to the blood of Christ? The blood of Christ does not take away our need for faith, belief, repentance, or confession.  By the same token, the blood of Christ does not take away the need for baptism.  Moreover, the language used in Matthew 26:28 is the same as Acts 2:38
            "And Peter said to them, '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. Both scriptures say these things are “for the forgiveness of sins.'" 

            Often the argument that is made is that the word “for” does not mean “unto” but "because of."  Thus, we are baptized because our sins are forgiven. However, it makes no sense to use the definition given in Matthew 26:28 to make this claim.  So, did Jesus shed His blood for many because their sins were forgiven? No, the blood of Christ is for forgiveness.  And baptism is also for forgiveness of sins.

              • Baptism is a Work, And We Are Not Saved by Works:
            There is so much confusion about this!  Why?  Because we are using the same words, and thus are failing to communicate. This confusion began with the Roman Catholic church since they do not regard baptism as an act of faith. Rather, the Roman Catholic church regards baptism as a sacrament, a meritorious work not contingent upon faith. But that is not what the Scriptures teach about baptism! Sadly, many believe that is what we teach about baptism when we simply say that baptism savesThose who teach we are not saved by works do not believe this completely.  Why?  Because while they declare that salvation has nothing to do with what we do, everyone understands that there must be something that we must do to be saved. We understand that we must believe in God and believe that Jesus is the Son of God to receive God’s Grace. Is that not our work? It is because that is something that we must doBut it is not a work if you believe the Roman Catholic term that it is some sort of sacrament that merits salvation. The same is true with repentance, confession, and baptism. These are God's conditions for receiving His Grace. Repentance, confessing our sins, confessing Jesus as Lord, and being immersed in water does not earn anything. But they will meet the conditions God has commanded to receive the benefit of the blood of Christ shed for us.

            Further, the Gospel tells us that it is not us doing the work in baptism, but God.  Listen to Paul’s words.
            "In Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not done with hands, by putting off the body of flesh, in the circumcision of the Messiah. 12 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. 13 And when you were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive with Him and forgave us all our trespasses (Colossians 2:11-13).

            Paul declares that baptism is our act of faith in the working of God. God does the work when He cuts off the sins of the flesh from us.  What we do in baptism is to ask God to remove or take away our sins, showing our faith in God that He will indeed remove our sins.  That simple!


              • Paul Was Not Sent to Baptize; Therefore, Baptism is Not Essential to Salvation:
            "For it has been reported to me by Chloe's people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. 12 What I mean is that each one of you says, 'I follow Paul,' or 'I follow Apollos,' or 'I follow Cephas,' or 'I follow Christ.' 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power""  (1 Corinthians 1:11-17).

            Our friends use 1 Corinthians 1:11-17 to make this argument.   This passage indeed shows the importance of baptism and also demonstrates that baptism is essential to salvation.
            “For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power” (1 Corinthians 1:17).  

            We must rightly handle this passage well to understand what Paul is saying.  We must acknowledge that Paul is using a figure of speech here.  Paul is using an ellipsis, which is commonly used throughout the New Testament. An ellipsis is a figure of speech where certain words are not directly expressed but are understood. To understand this better, let us read 1 Peter 3:3-4.
            "Do not adorn yourselves outwardly by braiding your hair, and by wearing gold ornaments or fine clothing; rather, let your adornment be the inner self with the lasting beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in God’s sight."

            In our text, Peter is not saying that women should not wear clothes. Why?  Because Peter is using an ellipsis to say that a woman should not only adorn themselves with these things but also with a gentle and quiet spirit. By using the ellipsis, Peter wants women to acknowledge that the higher priority must be on the inner self, not the outer. Thus, the ellipsis has the intended effect of drawing emphasis. Let me give you another example.
            "Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you" (John 6:27).  

            Here, Jesus was not saying to not work for food, for that would contradict 2 Thessalonians 3:10.
            “If any will not work, neither shall he eat.”  

            Here we have another ellipsis. Jesus is saying that we should not work only for food, but for food that endures for eternal life. The ellipsis puts the emphasis on spiritual food. Our focus must be primarily on the food that endures for eternal life.

            Now, let us go back to 1 Corinthians 1:17. When Paul stated that Christ sent him not to baptize, he was not declaring that baptism was not important, not essential. Christ taught Paul not to baptize only, but to preach the Gospel also.  I must stress that the ellipsis puts the emphasis on Paul preaching the Gospel. Why do you suppose that is the emphasis? Because Paul emphasizes that anyone can baptize, but not everyone can preach the Gospel at that time because they had the revealed Word of God given to them through the Holy Spirit. Paul was not denigrating baptism, but rather he was stressing that the apostles had a more significant role of preaching the Gospel.

              • The Thief on The Cross Was Not Baptized, so we do Not Have to be Baptized to be Saved Either:
            We must stress that we don't know if the thief had been baptized by John the Baptist or by one of Jesus' disciples.  The fact that he could understand some things about Jesus is an indication that he might have been baptized rather than not.  The thief asks Jesus to remember him when Jesus came into His kingdom. This criminal accepted Jesus as the Messiah. Don't you suppose that perhaps he had heard some of Jesus' teachings to know this? The bottom line is that we do not know if he had been baptized.

            We must understand that we live under the New Covenant, which did not become valid until after Jesus' death.  Jesus' New Covenant required His death before coming into effect.
            "For where a covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it. For a covenant is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives" (Hebrews 9:16-17). 

            The  Law of Moses was still in effect, and it did not command baptism. After Jesus' resurrection, the Gospel required baptism of water into His death that we might be raised to walk in newness of life.
            "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20).
            "And Peter said to them, “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" (Acts 2:38).

            CONCLUSION:

            Baptism is how we ask God forgiveness when we have our sins cut off.  In baptism, we unite ourselves with Christ. Baptism is simply a condition of God’s Grace, not a sacramental work that merits salvation. The blood of Christ saves when sinners obey the terms of God’s Grace.  To benefit from the blood of Jesus and God's Grace, we must first believe in the Lord, repent of our sins, confess Jesus as our Lord and Savior, and be immersed in water for the forgiveness of our sins.  You can rest assured that after we meet all the requirements ordained by the Lord Himself,  God will extend His Grace to us, and forgive our sins.

            A brief note of clarification.  Nothing is ever written about the qualifications of the one who physically does the baptizing or, for that matter, who does the teaching that leads one to be baptized.  Baptism is not a priestly act, nor is it a church sacrament, concepts that have no authority in the Scriptures.  If the validity of baptism depended on the righteousness of the one performing the baptism, it would be necessary to know the heart of the baptizer as well as the heart of the one who baptized the baptizer, tracing a lineage of righteous baptizers all the way back to the apostles.

            The blood of Jesus forgives sins when one is baptized (Acts 2:38).

            Consider the following Scriptural teachings about baptism:
            1. Baptism is a burial.  We are baptized into His death, our death to sin, and resurrected in His resurrection, our resurrection, being born again (Rom. 6:3-7; Colossians 2:12-13)
            2. Baptism is commanded (Acts 10:48)
            3. Baptism requires immediate action  (Acts 22:16)  
            4. Baptism is for those who believe (Mk. 16:16; Romans 10:11, 16-17) 
            5. Baptism is for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38)
            6. Baptism makes us holy and righteous (justified) before our God (Acts 22:16; Titus 3:5-7) 
            7. There is ONLY ONE baptism (Ephesians 4:5)
            8. When we are baptized, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and the blood of Christ that redeems us from sin:  spiritwater and blood (I John 5:8; Acts 2:38)
            9. We are clothed with Christ in Baptism.  We put on Christ (Gal. 3:27; I Corinthians 12:13) 
            10. Baptism saves us and gives us a good conscience toward God.  This means a pure heart in full assurance of faith.  Baptism is the heart's response to God (1 Pet. 3:21; Hebrews 10:22)
            11. Baptism requires the proclaiming of the good news of Jesus (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 10:14-15)

            Every conversion to Christ in the book of Acts involved baptismNo One was forgiven of their sins apart from baptism or before being baptized  (Acts 2:38; Acts 8:15; Acts 8:38; Acts 9:18; Acts 10:48.  Notice that Cornelius was not forgiven of his sins until he was baptized as commanded by our Lord Jesus (Acts 11:14; Acts 16:33; Acts 18:8; Acts 19:3-5 and Acts 22:16) 

            What the Bible says about baptism is not difficult to understand if we approach the Scriptures without prejudice.  Those who have not been baptized into Christ are not saved, are not in the kingdom, are not in the body of Christ, have not put on Christ; have not been justified, have not been buried with Christ into death to be raised to walk in newness of life and have not received the gift of the Holy Spirit.

            I hope this arrangement of Scriptures is helpful to your understanding of the Bible subject of baptism.

            Baptism is the only way to see the kingdom of heaven and to be in it.

            Jesus answered him, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God”'  John 3:3

            May we approach God's Sacred Word with understanding and without prejudice that we might understand God's plan of salvation for us.  May we never take for granted God's Grace and Mercy toward us but instead walk in His Light as He is in the Light to be with Him one day in heaven.


            P.S.  I leave with you the words of a favorite hymn that we sing on the occasion of baptism.


            A New Creature

            Buried with Christ, my blessed Redeemer, 
            Dead to the old life of folly and sin;
            Satan may call, the world may entreat me, 
            There is no voice that answers within.

            Chorus
            Dead to the world, to voices that call me, 
            Living anew, obedient but free;
            Dead to the joys that once did enthrall me -- 
            Yet 'tis not I, Christ liveth in me.

            Dead unto sin, alive thru the Spirit, 
            Risen with Him from the gloom of the grave,
            All things are new, and I am rejoicing, 
            In His great love, His power to save.

            Sin hath no more its cruel dominion, 
            Walking "in newness of life," I am free --
            Glorious life of Christ, my Redeemer, 
            Which He so richly shareth with me.


            Luci