Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | March 7, 2016

What is Baptism in the Church Age?

What does it mean to be baptized?

There seems to be a great diversity of opinion today on the subject of baptism; one hears of baptism by sprinkling, baptism by immersion, baptism of the Holy Spirit, the second blessing, infant baptism and other assorted variations.

It might be helpful to devote some time to the New Testament’s teachings on baptism during the age of the church.

The Greek word for water baptism used in the New Testament is transliterated into English as baptizo and implies immersion in water. With the act of baptism the born again Christian is identifying with the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord, this is described in Colossians 2:12 where it is written:

“12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.”

Baptism by immersion is clearly the only way to symbolically match the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord and is reserved for those who have received Christ as Savior and been born again.

Water baptism by immersion and after salvation is a command; while not a direct part of the salvation of the sinner it should follow as a result of that salvation. Water baptism should be seen as a time of joy and rejoicing in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ; it is a celebration of salvation in Christ!

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is an essential part of the salvation process. It is by the power of God, the Holy Spirit, that the new believer is baptized into the body of Christ, the church. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is not something that comes later to special Christians but something that happens to every born again Christian at the time of their salvation. Paul speaks to this in Romans 8:9-11 where it is written:

You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.”

There is no Biblical basis for thinking in terms of a “second blessing;” if someone has been born again they have the Holy Spirit living inside them forever. This is explained in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 where it is written:

19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples 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 bodies.”

Infant Baptism

 Infant baptism does not save; only personal faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and the baptism of the Holy Spirit saves and all that is of God and not of man. The sequence of salvation is given in 1 Corinthians 3:5-9:

“5 What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.”

As Christians we can plant the seed of the gospel and we can water it but only God can give the increase!

 Where can Baptism be Celebrated?

I recently received a letter from a Christian who asked if one could be baptized in a swimming pool. I told him I knew of no Biblical restrictions on what sort of body of water was acceptable for water baptism; it just had to be large enough for full immersion to properly symbolize the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.

I still have vivid memories of a baptismal service at a small church that had no built-in baptistry. Instead a very large watering trough for farm animals was brought in to the front of the auditorium and filled with water. Instead of sitting in their seats and watching from a distance the congregation gathered around the tank; they cheered and applauded the people as they were baptized and even hugged them as they emerged, wet clothing and all. This was followed by singing and rejoicing unlike anything I’ve ever seen before or since!

This baptismal service had turned baptism into the celebration of Christ that it should always be; a time of joy and rejoicing in the Lord Jesus Christ. I feel blessed to have been a witness to that inspiring occasion; my memories of that event still bring a smile and a chuckle to me as I reflect on it.

I’m confident those who were baptized at that service as well as those who were privileged to witness it will never forget it.


Responses

  1. I love witnessing a baptism. It’s a truly joy filled occasion; it always brings tears of joy to my eyes. Praise God

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  2. I agree with Karen that I have tears of happiness to see baptisms. Our church is finding a need for teaching a new generation of Christians the importance of baptism and what it symbolizes. Your blog is very timely. Thanks

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  3. Hey David, thanks for your comments concerning baptism. I appreciate your interpretation of Colossians 2:11-13. It is indeed an important defense for baptism by immersion. As you stated, it clearly symbolizes our own death, burial, and resurrection into Christ.

    However, you seem to end water baptism there and disassociate it from “Spirit baptism.” Do you believe water baptism occurs after you are born again and receive the Spirit? If so, are you suggesting there are two baptisms, a water baptism and a spirit baptism? How do you interpret 1 Corinthians 12:13 when it says one faith, one Lord, one baptism?

    Also, you mentioned Romans 8. In the two chapters preceding it, the Apostle Paul goes into detail about baptism. Scripture says, “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self[a] was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.”

    Do you believe Romans 6-8, in terms of our union with Christ, is figurative speech? In other words, is Paul talking about the spiritual reality, the water baptism, or both. If it’s only talking about the spiritual reality, then can we be buried into “the spirit” and raised out of “the spirit?” How are we buried into the spirit and raised out of the spirit? I think spirit only would present itself a problem. That’s why most covenantal theologians have no problem with sprinkling instead of immersion because Romans 6 is merely symbolic.

    It seems to me this passage is conjoining water and spirit baptism. Of course, its not the water that saves, but an appeal to God for a good conscience (1 Pet. 3:21). However, you appealing to God for a good conscience happens when you repent of your sins and trust God by faith that He will save you “at that moment.”

    Also, I am interested in your interpretation of Colossians 2:11-13. I think the strongest argument is not just baptism by immersion, but what water baptism is. First, baptism is not an act of obedience, it’s a testing of faith. “You were raised with Him through faith.” Second, its not a work of obedience. This passage says the opposite. We were raised through faith in the working of God.” Therefore, baptism is more of a promise than an act of obedience post-conversion.

    These are just a few thoughts I had. I know there are many questions I have asked you. Thanks for your time. I appreciate your blog and passage to serve the Lord. Have a great night!

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    • Thank you for your interest and your comments; I shall try and address your questions in order.

      You asked, “Do you believe water baptism occurs after you are born again and receive the Spirit?”

      Yes, I do believe that. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is the spiritual mechanism by which we are born again into the body of Christ and occurs at the point of salvation.

      You asked, “are you suggesting there are two baptisms, a water baptism and a spirit baptism?”

      Yes, I believe there are two baptisms, the baptism of the Holy Spirit and water baptism.

      You asked, “How do you interpret 1 Corinthians 12:13 when it says one faith, one Lord, one baptism?”

      The reading of 1 Corinthians 12:13 tell us:
      “Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.”
      This is a reference to the unity we all enjoy as Christians; we have all been joined into one body by the baptism of the Holy Spirit at the point of salvation.

      You asked, “Do you believe Romans 6-8, in terms of our union with Christ, is figurative speech? ? In other words, is Paul talking about the spiritual reality, the water baptism, or both.”

      I believe Romans 6-8 is referring to spiritual reality, not water baptism.

      You asked, “If it’s only talking about the spiritual reality, then can we be buried into “the spirit” and raised out of “the spirit?” How are we buried into the spirit and raised out of the spirit?”

      You do not specify any verses and I cannot find your specific language in the Bible. If you are referring to the area around Romans 6:4-11 it is translated:

      “4 For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.
      5 Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. 6 We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. 7 For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. 8 And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. 9 We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him.10 When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. 11 So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.”

      You asked, “First, baptism is not an act of obedience, it’s a testing of faith. “You were raised with Him through faith.” Second, its not a work of obedience. This passage says the opposite. We were raised through faith in the working of God.” Therefore, baptism is more of a promise than an act of obedience post-conversion.”

      I believe water baptism is a matter of both faith and obedience. It is by faith Christians seek water baptism but by being baptized the Christian also follows the instructions given by Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20 where it is written:

      “18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

      Thank you again for your interest and your thoughts.

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  4. Thank you for the logical, orderly response. I would like to add a few thoughts to your comments and give you the final word.

    Your Response: Yes, I do believe that. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is the spiritual mechanism by which we are born again into the body of Christ and occurs at the point of salvation.

    My response: According to Acts 2:38-42, when were the people “added to the church?” Before or after water baptism? If believers are born again before water baptism and brought into the “universal church,” then why does the local church also require water baptism by immersion to become members? Doesn’t the universal and local church reflect the same reality?

    Your response: The reading of 1 Corinthians 12:13 tell us:
    “Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.”This is a reference to the unity we all enjoy as Christians; we have all been joined into one body by the baptism of the Holy Spirit at the point of salvation.

    My Response: I agree. I think the focus of this passage is on the idea of unity within the body of Christ. But I don’t think water baptism and spirit baptism are therefore separate events. Let me explain. In the book of Galatians, the Judaizers were rebuked by the Apostle Paul for adding physical circumcision to the gospel. They are telling Gentile believers one must be “circumcised” in order to be saved.

    Paul writes in Galatians 3:26-27: So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

    If baptism were equivalent to circumcision, why does Paul still mention baptism as necessary to become united into Christ? Wouldn’t it have been better for him to say: “Look, people are also telling you one must be baptized in order to be part of the church just like they are doing with circumcision. Ignore these people. All one must do to be baptized is “repent and have faith.” But he doesn’t say that and it would have been a perfect analogy since circumcision was “the ordinance” or “covenantal rite” into becoming part of the Jewish nation.

    Your Response: I believe water baptism is a matter of both faith and obedience. It is by faith Christians seek water baptism but by being baptized the Christian also follows the instructions given by Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20:All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

    My Response: The great commission is a great verse to reveal the new command Jesus gives. I am encouraged that you do accept water baptism as a matter of faith. There are many verses that explicitly categorize baptism as an act of faith (Gal. 3:26-27, Col. 2:11-13; 1 Pet. 3:21).

    Mark 16:16 is the most notable verse since it corresponds with the great commission in Matthew 28:18-20. “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved.” Belief and baptism are conjoined here in the Greek as modifying one another. It’s also important to note that this is not spirit baptism since the great commission encourages the church to administer water baptisms to those who “have faith and believe”, like the Ethiopian eunuch and Philippian jailer.

    In the Matthew 28:18-20 passage, notice the sequence. First, Jesus tells them to “make disciples.” Second, to water baptize in His name. Third, to teach them to obey. Fourth, to comfort them that His Spirit will be with the disciples to the very end of the age. According to this passage, is baptism mentioned before or after one teaches them to obey? Is baptism included in the “all” I have commanded you? If so, why would baptism precede teaching them to obey? Would you agree that the only way to “teach someone the ways of God” is to receive the Holy Spirit? If so, then why is baptism included towards the end of conversion rather than at the beginning?

    In conclusion, I want to make it clear I don’t believe in baptismal regeneration defined as an automatic sacramental union. That is why I oppose infant baptism. I am a proponent of believer’s baptism since one must have faith and the “cognitive ability” to understand the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Thus, one who is baptized without true belief or repentance can not be saved, no matter how many times they go under the water.

    But that doesn’t therefore exclude water baptism from the spiritual reality. It all comes down to “the timing” in which conversion happens. I agree with you that water, repentance, and even our own faith doesn’t save us. It’s God who saves us when he applies His atoning work on the cross for our sins. Does that happen before faith as the Reformed Baptists would argue? Does it happen by “faith only” as the Grace Evangelical Society would argue? Does it happen by “faith and repentance” as the Southern Baptists would mostly argue? Or, does it happen by faith, repentance, and baptism as the Restoration movement/Churches of Christ would argue?

    When baptism is properly defined as “faith”, just like “repentance,” I think it needs to be included in the gospel. If it is an act of post-conversion, then ironically, I think those who hold this view are adding to the gospel. They may say one must repent and believe, but they take baptism to be an act of obedience. And if it’s a “gift” a “promise” something that we receive during the moment of our salvation, then essentially people are getting baptized for the wrong reason. They are getting baptized to “show the world what has already happened,” even though they haven’t been saved. They want to be more mature disciples of Christ, so they get baptized, not knowing that they can’t even grow in their faith without the promise of the Holy Spirit, which comes after baptism.”

    I was trained under The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary to include faith and repentance so I understand your perspective. I truly had this presupposition for a long time. I trust you are a Berean and will search the Scriptures to see if what I am saying is true. Keep up the good work brother. All praise and glory to God.

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    • Thank you again for your interest in the subject of water baptism and salvation.

      Here are my thoughts on your questions and comments.

      Your response: According to Acts 2:38-42, when were the people “added to the church?” Before or after water baptism? If believers are born again before water baptism and brought into the “universal church,” then why does the local church also require water baptism by immersion to become members? Doesn’t the universal and local church reflect the same reality?

      My response: At salvation Christians are added to the true church at the time the Holy Spirit baptizes then into the body of Christ. Only after they are born again are they baptized in water.
      Water baptism as required by churches for membership may be an effort to follow the great commission. The eternal true assembly of believers and the local church may or may not reflect the same reality; in such matters the Bible must be the final word.

      Your response in part: why does Paul still mention baptism as necessary to become united into Christ?”

      My conclusion: The baptism of the Holy Spirit is an integral part of salvation; this is the baptism Paul references, not water baptism. While the baptism of the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ is the essential starting point for being born again and adoption into the family of God, water baptism comes only as a result of the changed status of the individual and has no instrumental part in the process of salvation.

      Now I have two questions for you;
      Do you think a Christian can lose their salvation?
      What is the nature of sin that separates God and man?

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  5. David, thanks for your comments sir. The last point I want to make regarding the Romans 6 passage is it’s difficult, based on the context of these verses, to deny it’s relation to water baptism. Why then argue for the mode of baptism by immersion if it doesn’t accurately reflect our union with Christ through His death, burial, and resurrection? So, you would agree with the mode of baptism as immersion, but this event reflects a previous spiritual conversion? So then, does conversion happen before faith, at the moment of faith, or when one has faith and begins to repent of their sins?

    Moreover, this is not just an isolated verse. Many scripture passages relate to being baptized into the “name of Christ (Mk. 16: Matt. 28; Acts 2:38; Gal. 3:26-27), calling on the name of the Lord to be saved (Acts 22:16; Rom. 8, 1 Pet. 3:21). And most of these passages have in mind water baptism. The great commission, ethiopian eunuch, philippian jailer, and most importantly, Saul of Tarsus. He was told by Ananias, “get up, be baptized, washing away your sins, calling on his name.” To get up is an action verb and it has in mind location. This is not spirit baptism, but the time in which he is immersed by Ananias. I think you would agree with this, but you would argue either he was saved “when blinded by the light” or “when he called on the name of the Lord” shortly before his baptism.

    Dr. Schreiner, who is a great theologian that wrote the Baker Exegetical study on Romans admits this, but his presuppositions of Baptist teaching doesn’t allow him to ascertain the thought of water and spirit baptism being conjoined. This is what he wrote:“Christians would have inevitably thought of water baptism since it was the universal initiation rite for believers in Christ. Moreover, Paul probably loosely associated baptism with water and baptism by the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13), since both of these occurred at conversion. Thus any attempt to distinguish between Spirit baptism and water baptism in the Pauline writings goes beyond what Paul himself wrote. Thomas Schreiner, Romans: Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic Press, 1998), p.306-307. Stott is correct in saying that Paul was thinking of water baptism here, but it would never have occurred to Paul that baptism in water could be separated from baptism in the spirit (Contra Stott, 1994, p.173).

    It’s amazing, based on his own commentary writings, that he still denies that water and spirit baptism happen at the same time. If Schreiner does, he would no longer be part of the Southern Baptist Churches because people would accuse him of “baptismal regeneration.” But the irony here is that he admits Pauline writings make it difficult to separate the two. When I asked Schreiner about Luther’s view on baptism (because Luther did hold to a sacramental idea of baptism, and of course, is the main proponent of justification by faith alone), Schreiner said Luther got it wrong. I think Luther was write when he said “faith has to cling to the water.”

    Now to your question. Do I believe a person can lose his/her salvation? No. He who began a good work in you will endure until the end. Who is the one working in you? Christ Jesus. He has sealed us with the Holy Spirit until the day of redemption.

    Would I use the term “eternal security?” No, I would agree with my Calvinistic friends that a better term is perseverance of the saints. What I mean is that there are hypothetical warning passages, such as the book of Hebrews, that tell us to “endure to the end.” There are other verses that encourage us to show that we are producing fruit (John 15). Anyone who abides in Christ. Fruit of the Spirit. Remaining with the churches such as 1,2,3 John. James, when he says “What good is it my brothers, if someone says he has faith, but has not works? Can that faith save him? This argues one who is truly born again will show evidence for their salvation.

    I don’t think anyone can lose their salvation, but if you say the sinner’s prayer one moment in your life, I don’t think God is obligated to grant it to you. This is what some of my “faith only friends” argue out of Dallas. Look up Zane Hodges. He would go as far as saying one who accepts Jesus as Savior at the age of 20, but then turns into an Atheist at 40, and dies at 60, will still be saved. I just don’t see any evidence for this type of theology.

    In the next question, you asked: “What is the nature of sin that separates God and man?” I hope I understand your question. Romans 3:23 tells us that the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.” Romans 6 makes it clear all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We have missed the mark and deserve the wrath of God. The natural man is dead in their trespasses and sins.

    Ephesians 1-2 talks about how we were dead in our trespasses and sins, and God made us alive together with Him by his grace. Ephesians 2:7-8 say we are saved by grace through faith, it’s not of ourselves, a gift of God, not of works, lest any man boast.

    What I see is that the natural man must die because all have sinned. We must be born again to enter the kingdom of God according to John 3. The way to enter into the kingdom of God is “repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” Repentance is a change of mind about who Christ is and what He did on the cross for our sins.

    When we understand we are sinners, can’t save ourselves, and trust in Jesus alone for salvation, then we repent and get baptized. When we get baptized, we are released from the law according to Romans 8. The only way to be released from the law is to die. Thus, when we go under the water, we have truly died to the old nature and when we come up out of the water, we put on the nature of Christ. This is when our union occurs.

    So then, at the moment we actualize our faith in baptism is the moment God actualizes His propitiation and atonement for our sins. In other words, He who knew no sin became sin for us so we might receive the righteousness of Christ. While Jesus died on the cross 2,000 years ago for our sins, it’s not until I believe, repent, and get baptized that God applies His free gift of eternal life to the believer. I need to be justified freely by His grace. I don’t see repentance, faith, or baptism as a work of man. It’s all the sovereignty of God. Thus, He receives all glory, honor, and recognition for my salvation.

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    • Since you know what I believe on water baptism I’ll move on to my response to your comments on my questions.

      First, the perseverance of the saints to use your preferred language or OSAS.

      OSAS is an acronym for once saved always saved; the popular expression for the eternal security of the believer. Christianity teaches that the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ dying on the cross provides an eternal, unalterable salvation for the one who accepts the finished work of Christ as the payment for their sins.

      This very simple concept is amazingly difficult for many Christians to believe and accept. I find it saddening that so many who should be rejoicing with confidence in their salvation are afflicted by doubt and uncertainty when it comes to the security of their position as members of God’s family.

      There seems to be a feeling that some sins are just too bad to be so easily forgiven by simple belief in the Lord as one’s Savior; certainly, they think, some sins are so hideous that some sort of special penance or additional payment is required for God to forgive those sins.

      Notice particularly that I selected the word feeling because these ideas come from our own feelings of unworthiness. There are times when all of us are disgusted by memories of our failures and feel unworthy of salvation; feelings that God should just send a lightning bolt down from heaven and obliterate us giving us what we truly deserve.

      GOD KNOWS US BETTER THAN WE KNOW OURSELVES

      As painfully aware of our failures as we might be, God knows our failures even better and in spite of all of them has sent His Son to die in our place and pay for all of our sins past, present and future.

      In Romans 5:8 the apostle writes: “But God commendeth his love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” It is at this point that the confusion about sin begins in the minds of many.

      When we think of being sinners our minds review the committed sins of which we have been guilty during the course of our lives. The knowledge of those sins can all too easily haunt us as our minds replay those events of rebellion and transgression against God.

      Is this the sort of thing the Holy Spirit had in mind as He inspired Paul to write those words? I think not because a few verses later He inspired Paul to explain the primary reason Christ died on the cross.

      THE FEDERAL HEADSHIP OF ADAM

      Mankind truly has a big problem with sin, but it is not the sins of commission or omission which so quickly come to our minds; it is rather the sin of being a human being; it is the sin of being a descendent of Adam.

      In Romans 5:12 the apostle writes: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for all have sinned.” In the following verses Paul goes on to explain what is called the doctrine of the federal headship of Adam. Adam, as the first man had within him all who would be born subsequently into the human race. When Adam sinned against a direct command from God, he died spiritually and all who would be born of his seed died at the same time.

      What this teaches is that both you and I and everyone who was to later be born died spiritually in Adam in the Garden of Eden! This is God’s primary charge against the human race and the main reason Christ died on the cross.

      There is absolutely nothing you can do or undo that would change that one fact, you are a human descendant of Adam’s race and you spiritually died in Adam in the Garden.

      TWO DISTINCT TYPES OF HUMANITY

      The earth today is inhabited by two distinct types of human beings; those who are spiritually alive, and those who are spiritually dead. Spiritual life comes only by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as one’s Savior. In Ephesians 2:1 Paul writes: “And you hath he made alive who were dead in trespasses and sins;” spiritual life came with salvation and only salvation can provide spiritual life.

      These then are the issues at play when one accepts the saving work of the Lord as their payment for sin. The Lord Jesus Christ as our kinsman redeemer has paid the price necessary for our redemption from Adam’s transgression. We have received the gift of spiritual life in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

      Where then does personal sin enter the picture? With regard to the believer’s eternal place in God’s family it is irrelevant; with regard to the Spirit led life it is critical. In I John 1:8-10 John writes: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

      The good news there is that God hears us when we confess our sins to Him and is also faithful and just to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Confession of our sins before God restores the power of God the Holy Spirit in our lives and permits us the privilege of enjoying the fruit of the spirit as described in Galatians 5:22f.

      The motivator for resisting sin should not be fear of losing our salvation which is impossible, but rather our devotion to and love for the Lord Jesus Christ and our sincere desire to please the one who died in our place!

      With regard to our salvation there is nothing whatsoever that can separate us from the love of God; in Romans 8: 38-39 Paul writes: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

      With this you, as a born-again believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, can know beyond any doubt that your place in God’s family is preserved eternally by the mighty power of God. Rejoice in your good fortune and give thanks to your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

      Second on the nature of sin.

      There was a Change on April 3, AD 33 Which Affects Everyone!

      Easter Sunday is the day Christians observe the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The preceding week had seen the Lord’s entry into Jerusalem, His death and burial as the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world.

      At His crucifixion an amazing thing happened at Herod’s Temple, the heavy curtain separating the Most Holy Place from the Holy Place had been torn from top to bottom which was clearly a miracle from God. This symbolized the separation between God and man caused by Adam’s disobedience had been removed by Christ’s death on the cross; sin was no longer a barrier between God and man.

      If Sin is no longer a Barrier then why is it still such an Issue?

      Do you think it would be safe to say the entire world has a problem with sin? I suspect that each of us could start with ourselves and see a deep problem with sins of all shapes forms and sizes almost everywhere we looked.

      My wife refers to the local news as the “local police report” as it seems to feature all of the crime and carnage of the day. The old saying, “if it bleeds it leads” seems to characterize the priorities of the media and with improved communications it can even bleed in Europe or elsewhere and lead in the USA.

      All of us would agree, at least to some extent, that sin is harmful; the problem is the popular definitions of what is sin vary all over the place. If you look up a dictionary definition of sin there would likely be some reference to God or theology. Sin, as defined by the individual, is seen as a problem within that person’s perception of reality and can be very subjective.

      Transgressions against society are more likely to be labeled as “against the law” or illegal rather than sin or sinful. They are more easily identified because some law had been written by legislators in a specific cultural environment declaring certain acts to be a violation of the law in that environment. It is illegal to drive 75 in a 20 mph school zone during school hours; while that would be a clear violation of the law it would probably not be labeled a sin.

      Now Back to the Change

      Our Lord was explaining an important point about the ministry of God, the Holy Spirit, to His disciples when He told them in John 16:5-8,

      “5 “But now I am going away to the one who sent me, and not one of you is asking where I am going. 6 Instead, you grieve because of what I’ve told you. 7 But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment.”

      The Advocate, a reference to God the Holy Spirit, would minister to Jesus’ followers in a new and significantly different way after Pentecost; He would be in the disciples and not just with them as the Lord explains in John 14:17.

      “17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.”

      The later is a reference to Pentecost, May 25, AD 33, when the Holy Spirit indwelt Christians for the first time. The Holy Spirit would also have a general ministry to the world concerning sin, righteousness, judgment and the restraint of sin.

      In verse 9 our Lord identifies the world’s sin and tells His disciples; “9 The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me.” John 16:9

      Just think about that for a moment, the Creator of the universe is telling us that the world’s sin is rejection of Jesus Christ. Is there any shortage of evil acts being perpetrated against many; are there no more murders, rapes, or pillaging to be found in the world? I think we all know the answer to that question, there is no shortage whatsoever of evil, hurtful acts taking place all over the world and if anything they seem to be on the increase.

      Why then would the Lord tell us the world’s sin is rejection of Christ, is there an answer?

      Paid in Full!

      In John 19:28-30 it is written:

      “28 Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips. 30 When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”

      At that point the penalty for all sins past present and future was paid in full, the debt was paid, and the redemption was complete. The work the Lord had come to do at the First Advent was completed and He was finished, our Kinsman/Redeemer had begun the restoration that would be completed at the Second Advent.

      Sin, in all of its forms, was no longer the barrier between God and man; the only remaining issue was reception of Christ as Savior. That is why Christ could say the sin of the world was failure to receive Him as Savior.

      Just Like Adam

      When Adam was in the Garden of Eden there was only one sin he could commit and that was failure to obey the one commandment he had been given regarding the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Today the world shares a similar situation, there is only one sin that was not fully paid for at the cross, only one sin that remains as a barrier between God and man and that is rejection of Christ as Savior. That is why Jesus could say, “The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me.”

      Does that mean all the atrocities we hear of today are all forgiven? Yes, that’s exactly what that means; there is no sin or misdeed that you have ever heard about from any news source that has not been forgiven by the shed blood of Christ. None of those are an exception to the rule, none of them will be charged against the perpetrator, Christ died for them too!

      So Now What?

      Since forgiveness of mankind’s sin is total and complete with only one exception, and the Bible assures us it is, then what should be emphasized in the church’s message to the world? May I suggest, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved!

      18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

      May the Lord bless you with wisdom and insight.

      Like


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