Scriptures & Thoughts: Gospel

What did “gospel” mean to the original hearers?

A good message to hear!

(Romans 1:15-17) So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written,  “But the righteous man shall live by faith.”

The news of the fulfillment of prophecies which were hundreds of years old:

(John 1:43-46) The next day He purposed to go into Galilee, and He *found Philip. And Jesus *said to him, “Follow Me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, of the city of Andrew and Peter.45 Philip *found Nathanael and *said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathanael said to him, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip *said to him, “Come and see.”

(John 4:28-30) So the woman left her waterpot, and went into the city and said to the men, “Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?” They went out of the city, and were coming to Him.

(John 7:40-44) “Some of the people therefore, when they heard these words, were saying, “This certainly is the Prophet.” Others were saying, “This is the Christ.” Still others were saying, “Surely the Christ is not going to come from Galilee, is He? “Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the descendants of David, and from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” So a division occurred in the crowd because of Him. Some of them wanted to seize Him, but no one laid hands on Him.

The news of a coming kingdom:

(Matthew 4:23) Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people.

(Matthew 9:23) Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.

(Matthew 24:14) This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.

(Mark 1:15) and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

A whole new way to live:

(Acts 14:15) and saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.

(Romans 6:5-7) 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.


A message worth dying for in order to spread it:

(Mark 8:35) For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.

(Acts 20:24) But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.

(Revelation 2:9-10) Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.

Why is there more than one Biblical gospel account?

(Mark 1:1) The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

(Luke 1:1-4) Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.

(John 20:30-31) Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.

Different audiences?

TO WHOM?

implied audience?

Mark:

mostly Gentiles, fairly new in their faith, and facing persecutions

Matthew:

better educated Jews who believe in Jesus, but argue over the Law

Luke:

wealthier Gentile Christians in an urban setting, becoming complacent

John:

very mixed: mostly Jews, some Gentiles, Samaritans, etc.

 

What are the differences between different biblical gospel accounts?

WHAT?

subtype of “Gospel” genre?

Mark:

narrated “good news” (1:1) about Jesus, esp. his actions & his death

Matthew:

book of “heritage” of Jesus (1:1) & much of his “teaching” (28:20)

Luke:

an “orderly account” for attaining “secure knowledge” (1:1-4)

John:

much “testimony” and “signs” for believers (20:30-31; 21:24-25)

WHY? community circumstances & author’s purpose? to encourage a group undergoing difficult trials and persecutions to teach a community with internal divisions and external enemies to challenge believers to put their faith into practice more fully to strengthen a group ostracized by other Jews for their faith

 

Another synopsis:

Matthew: Jesus as the son of David who establishes the kingdom of heaven.

Mark: Jesus as the Son of God who suffers to ransom others.

Luke: Jesus as the Savior of the world who seeks the lost.

John: Jesus as the Lamb of God who brings eternal life.

Is the gospel good news to you?

(Matthew 13:44-46) “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

(Romans 1:14-16)  I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.   For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

(John 8:4) Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word.

(Philippians 4:4) Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!

What has the gospel done for you?

(Ephesians 1:13-14) In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.

How can we convey the gospel to communicate it as good news?

(Matthew 5:13) “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.”

(Mark 16:15) And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.

(Acts 26:27-29) “King Agrippa, do you believe the Prophets? I know that you do.” Agrippa replied to Paul, “In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian.” And Paul said, “I would wish to God, that whether in a short or long time, not only you, but also all who hear me this day, might become such as I am, except for these chains.”

What about the “gospels” that are not included in the Bible?

The word “gospel” is derived from the Greek word (euangelion) which literally means “good news”

Around the time of the Apostolic Fathers and Justin Martyr the word was formerly noted as referring to the written records of the life and work of Jesus

By end of the second century like “The Gospel According to…” were assigned to these works. By the fourth century this is universal.

How are only the four gospels linked? Three answers have traditionally been given (Boring 466)

  • Divine Inspiration- we believe this to be true but no particular theory of verbal inspiration helps make the link clear here
  • Individual Memory- between the death of Jesus and first written Gospel accounts this message was passed down orally. Yet the selection, order, and verbal agreement of the Gospels requires more that’s memory be involved.
  • Community Tradition- Traditionally scholars have imagined snippets of material being collected and edited from the oral tradition including miracle stories, passion stories, legends, sayings, parables, etc. – It is much more likely that the first Christians faithfully & creatively preserved, expanded, and interpreted this tradition which four men recorded as guided by the Holy Spirit.

(Galatians 1:8) But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!

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Listen and Respond

Have you ever been sitting in the church’s auditorium on a Sunday morning, before the worship service begins, when a visitor walks in? Depending on the size of your congregation, there’s usually a commotion that starts from the back of the auditorium that makes its way to the front, and before the new person or group finds a seat, the entire auditorium knows of their presence. In most scenarios, upon that visitor’s arrival, there is an overflowing amount smiles and handshakes that the visitor will experience as they make their way from the entrance to an empty pew, probably closer to the back of the auditorium. A kind and welcoming atmosphere is what the congregation hopes for the visitor to see, in an effort to make it likely that he or she will visit the church again.

Hospitality and niceness are great things for a person to see as they walk into our midst on either a Sunday or Wednesday, and those things are great for Christians to seek as they try to express an interest in the individual who walked in the door. It’s important to keep in mind also that it takes a genuine person with a genuine approach to establish a relationship or experience to inspire someone, who may be new to the church, to keep coming back. This isn’t to say that being hospitable and kind are not genuine attributes of some greeters. Getting lost in the best-foot-forward mentality could be received as a façade rather than the authentic nature that makes up that greeter, though.

In Scripture, it can be observed that relationships with newcomers were founded on people being real with other people, and building on what set apart their church from the others. For example in Acts 2, when Peter and the rest of the apostles were asked what the men should do in regards to the message they had just heard, the response was one that was truthful and real. “Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brethren, what shall we do?’ Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’”.

Although the topic of this dialogue probably isn’t going to be represented in a first-time discussion between a member and a newcomer in a church today, the point from this example can be observed in how the conversation was handled. In this example, the member (Peter) listened the newcomer’s question and treated him with an answer that correlated with the question asked. It shouldn’t be a surprise to notice that key ingredients to making the conversation between the member and the visitor something beneficial is listening and responding! By making it obvious to the visitor that what he or she said is being acknowledged with an appropriate response, the visitor will be brought into the conversation rather than pushed away by a response that just flowed off the tongue by habit.

It’s easy for anyone to be caught in having a surface-level conversation with someone, especially if they don’t know the person they’re speaking with. Certain phrases that have etched themselves into our go-to memory bank are easy to whip out, but may not have much depth. When it comes to our visitors, however, should their experience be traced with conversations like that? It is my challenge that we get out of what is comfortable, when it comes to talking with visitors, and go for the deeper parts of communicating with people who are new to church. By listening and by responding, we may find our way into a new relationship with another soul who is eager to discover what God’s will for them is.

“Oh, my God!”

It isn’t uncommon for a child to be taught certain things not to say as they grow older. One of the phrases that might frequently be taught against, in a Christian family, is “Oh, my God.” As a child, the meaning of this commandment may not hold the same significance to the individual as it would when he or she was older. It’s when the individual is older and more mature in their faith that a comprehension and fulfillment of the commandments noticed in Scripture can be done. This particular commandment is one that we read of in the Old Testament, yet remains to be one of the most kept from our youth today.

In Exodus 20:7 we can read that, “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain (NASB).” The context surrounding this verse is of course the Lord giving the 10 commandments to Moses on Mt. Sinai. In the previous chapter, it can be read that the Lord’s presence on the mountain was so bold that the only visible thing was the smoke from fire which God came down in. As Moses and the people were approaching the mountain, the people were afraid of the absolute power that escaped through flashes of light and roaring sounds from within the smoke. Descriptions such as this capture what the essence of God is intended to sound like from the mouths of man. From scenarios like this it is also deducible to notice the difference between declaring the Lord’s name in vain and simply declaring His excellence.

‘For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, “I will surely bless you and I will surely multiply you.” And so, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise. For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute. (Hebrews 6:13-16 NASB)’ This Scripture adds to the idea of the Lord’s name carrying such a significance through time, that even the Lord swears by His own name. Having no entity greater than He, He was forced to swear by His name.

The sanctity of the Lord’s name alone is enough to strike fear in the hearts of the strongest men. In the account of the Exodus 3, Moses asked the Lord what he should say when the people of Israel ask Who sent him to them. The Lord’s reply is one that fully encompasses the identity and longevity of His existence. God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you. (Ex. 3:14 NASB)’” Because of God’s nature, there was no other description needed. When taking into consideration the thought at large then, to say with adoration and respect for the power He has over life, “Oh, my God,” would not be an unacceptable phrase. Within certain situations one may find him or herself, the only words that seem fitting to say, when expressing the feelings that are stirring inside, are just statements declaring Who He is. In regards to a being that had no beginning, no boundaries, and no body adequately described by physical or worldly things, mankind can’t create a phrase special enough to match His attributes. Therefore, saying in vain the name of such a being would not a follower, worshipper, or glorifier make. His creation is to admire His handiwork and glorify His greatness.

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork. (Psalm 19:1 ESV)” This is verse is known by many and is referenced often when anyone is looking for the right words to describe what might be in their mind. When the psalmist wrote these words, the overall attitude surrounding this verse and the verses following it was astonishment. When reading things such as this it reminds us that the name of our Creator is one to be in constant fear of! This is not to say that we should be scared of His power, but that we should be in a constant state of humility and respect. If the spirit behind the phrase is one that centers itself around moods such as these, then there should be no fear or odd feelings about saying “Oh, my God!” This crucial difference is what marks the separation between the words of adoration and the words that we teach our children not to say.

 

The Bread & The Water

From an early point in the history of man, bread has been known as a basic food item. The term “bread” has even taken on the representation of a meal in its entirety. It’s often heard that we “gather together in fellowship to ‘break bread.’” That is to say we are enjoying each other’s company and sharing a meal. It’s true that such a simple item is composed of simple ingredients, but the significance of what bread symbolizes to humanity exceeds a concoction of basic ingredients. The same type of mindset could be applied to water.

Because these two seemingly elementary things have been so well distributed and manufactured, the significance of their existence may be overlooked by modern society. In the past, if a man had bread and water, he had enough to provide for himself a meal and not worry about going hungry. For a man, during a time such as the one described, to offer a food that would never perish and keep one from going hungry would seem impossible. Yet, in John 6:35, we read of Jesus offering such a bread to the crowd, and in John chapter 4:13, we read of Jesus offering a water that would inhibit thirst from happening again.

John 6:35 says, “Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.’” This verse is what follows a conversation between Jesus and the crowd that witnessed Him feeding thousands of people with only 5 loaves of bread and two fish. In previous verses, Jesus declares that the people who had followed Him from one side of the Sea of Galilee to the city of Capernaum had done so only because they had been fed. Their reply to Jesus started in verse 30, “What then do You do for a sign, so that we may see, and believe You? What work do You perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread out of heaven to eat.’” Although Jesus had just fed thousands with a couple of fish and a few loaves of bread, the people were still wanting proof for what Jesus was claiming! He goes on to reply in verse 33 that the bread of God is what comes down out of heaven to give life to the world.

It is somewhat obvious to a reader that Jesus is referring to Himself when He says this, and the same could be said for when He compares what He offers can be likened to that of eternal water. In John 4, because the Samaritan woman was so focused on the physical aspect of the water, she had missed what Jesus was teaching. Similar to the Samaritan woman, do we often put too much focus on things that pertain to the world? The church in Colossae needed to be reminded of this, and Paul gave a helpful statement in Colossians 3:2, “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.”

It isn’t uncommon to notice that people tend to miss the basic concepts of things sometimes. As Christians, our goal is to strive for the spiritual food that Jesus speaks about, and spread the news that the food is free to all! If you’re feeling a little malnourished, just take a bite out of the Word of God! If your’e feeling thirsty, take a sip from the life-giving water that Jesus came to this earth to share. The message of Jesus and His sacrificial love has proven to be something that never grows old and will always appease your appetite. Hebrews 13:8 reminds us that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” This verse applies to His promises and news about how the feast has been prepared for us. All we need to do is believe Him and commit to partaking of it one bite at a time.

Scriptures & Thoughts: Baptism

Strong’s 907: baptizó – dip, submerge, baptize

Strong’s 909: baptismosdipping, washing

Is baptism necessary for salvation?

(1 Peter 2:20-22) “God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him.”

(Acts 2:38-40) “Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.’ And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, ‘Be saved from this perverse generation!’”

(Isaiah 59:2) But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.

(Romans 6:23) “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

(Mark 16:16) “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.”

(Romans 10:9, 13) “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. …For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” Does this mean that baptism is unnecessary?

(Mark 16:16) “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.”  Does this mean that repentance is unnecessary?

(Acts 2:38) says “”Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  Does this mean that true belief is unnecessary? It follows that a single passage that speaks of certain elements of salvation should not be taken as exhaustive.

(Colossians 2:11-13) “and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions,”

It’s in baptism that God circumcises our body of flesh from us, where He makes us alive together with Him, and where He forgives us all our transgressions.

(1 John 1:7) “but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

  • Combine with     –

(Acts 22:16) “Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.”

It is at baptism that Jesus’ sacrifice takes effect and begins continually cleansing us.

What if someone dies on their way to the baptistry?

(1 Corinthians 4:5) “Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.”

(Luke 4:9-12) “And he led Him to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here; for it is written, ‘HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU TO GUARD YOU, and, ‘ON their HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP, SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.’ And Jesus answered and said to him, ‘It is said, “YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.”’”  

Conjuring up extreme hypotheticals just to see how God would respond is putting Him to the test.

(John 21;21-23) “So Peter seeing him said to Jesus, ‘Lord, and what about this man?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!’ Therefore this saying went out among the brethren that that disciple would not die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but only, ‘If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you?’”

If (IF) God wants to make a special case for someone else, that does not have an effect on what we should do as individuals.

Is infant baptism valid?

(Acts 8:12) “But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike.”

The Greek words used for men and women here are “anér” and “guné” respectively.  Information from Strong’s:

Anér: 1. with a reference to sex, and so to distinguish a man from a woman; either a. as a male b. as a husband.  2. with a reference to age, and to distinguish an adult man from a boy.

Gune: a woman; specially, a wife — wife, woman.

The text could have mentioned men, women, and children, as occurs in Matthew 14:21 and Matthew 15:38, but it does not:

(Matthew 14:21) “There were about five thousand men (anér) who ate, besides women (guné) and children (paidion: a little child, an infant, little one).”

(Matthew 15:38) “And those who ate were four thousand men (anér), besides women (guné) and children (paidion: a little child, an infant, little one).”

This phrase “men and women” occurs again in (Acts 5:14) and (Acts 17:12) also when it describes men and women as believing the gospel that is preached to them.

Relevant phrases in Acts: “Repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins (2:38),” “those who had received his word were baptized (2:41),” “when they believed Philip preaching good news and Christ, they were baptized (8:12),” “God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life (10:18),” “The Lord opened her heart to respond (16:14),” “arise and be baptized, washing away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord (22:16).”

(1 Corinthians 14:20) “Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature.”

(1 Peter 3:21) “Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you– not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience— through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

(Romans 1:18-20): “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”

(James 4:17) “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.”

(Isaiah 7:14-16) says “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel. He will eat curds and honey at the time He knows enough to refuse evil and choose good. For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken.”

(Deuteronomy 1:39-40) “Moreover, your little ones who you said would become a prey, and your sons, who this day have no knowledge of good or evil, shall enter there, and I will give it to them and they shall possess it. But as for you, turn around and set out for the wilderness by the way to the Red Sea.’”

(Romans 14:12) “So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.”

(2 Corinthians 5:10) “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”

(Romans 9:11-12) “For though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, it was said to her, ‘THE OLDER WILL SERVE THE YOUNGER.’”

(Romans 10:14) “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?”

How old does someone need to be in order to be baptized?

(John 9:22-23) “His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone confessed Him to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue. For this reason his parents said, ‘He is of age; ask him.’”

(Luke 2:41-43, 52) “Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when He became twelve, they went up there according to the custom of the Feast; and as they were returning, after spending the full number of days, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. But His parents were unaware of it… And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”

(Luke 3:21-22) “Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus was also baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a

voice came out of heaven, ‘You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.’”

*example of Jesus being baptized as a Man, grown in wisdom and stature

(Exodus 30:14) “Everyone who is numbered, from twenty years old and over, shall give the contribution to the LORD.”

(Number 14:29-32) “Your corpses will fall in this wilderness, even all your numbered men, according to your complete number from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against Me. ‘Surely you shall not come into the land in which I swore to settle you, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun. Your children, however, whom you said would become a prey—I will bring them in, and they will know the land which you have rejected. But as for you, your corpses will fall in this wilderness.’”

(Deuteronomy 1:39-40) “Moreover, your little ones who you said would become a prey, and your sons, who this day have no knowledge of good or evil, shall enter there, and I will give it to them and they shall possess it. But as for you, turn around and set out for the wilderness by the way to the Red Sea.’”

Is sprinkling or pouring valid?

(Acts 8:36-38) “As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, ‘Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?’ [And Philip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart, you may.’ And he answered and said, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’] And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him.”

(John 3:23) “John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there; and people were coming and were being baptized–”

(Mark 1:9-10) In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.

(Romans 6:3-5) “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. or if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection,”

(Colossians 2:12) “Having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.

In what situation is rebaptism appropriate?

(Acts 19:1-7) “It happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus, and found some disciples. He said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ And they said to him, ‘No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.’ And he said, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’ And they said, ‘Into John’s baptism.’ Paul said, ‘John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.’ When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying. There were in all about twelve men.”

Who can do the baptizing?  A religious leader, a Christian male, any Christian, any one at all?

(1 Corinthians 1:12-17) “Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, ‘I am of Paul,’ and ‘I of Apollos,’ and ‘I of Cephas,’ and ‘I of Christ.’ Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one would say you were baptized in my name. Now I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized any other. For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void.”

(Acts 2:41) “So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.”

(1 Timothy 2:12) “I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.”

What elements are essential for a valid baptism?

(Acts 8:29-39)Then the Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go up and join this chariot.’ Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ And he said, ‘Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?’ And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. Now the passage of Scripture which he was reading was this:

‘He was led as a sheep to slaughter;

And as a lamb before its shearer is silent,

So He does not open His mouth.

In humiliation His judgment was taken away;

Who will relate His generation?

For His life is removed from the earth.’

The eunuch answered Philip and said, ‘Please tell me, of whom does the prophet say this? Of himself or of someone else?’ Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, ‘Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?’ And Philip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart, you may.’ And he answered and said, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’ And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing.”

  • Example of a baptism by immersion into water
  • Example of a believing heart in accordance with the Scripture, accepting Jesus’ deity and Saviorship

(Matthew 28:19) “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”

(Acts 10:48) “And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay on for a few days.”

(Acts 4:12) “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

(Romans 10:14) “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?”

Do we receive the Holy Spirit when we are baptized?  What does that mean?

(Acts 2:38-40) “Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.’ And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, ‘Be saved from this perverse generation!’”

(1 Corinthians 6:19-20)Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.”


(Ephesians 1:13-14) “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.”

(Romans 8:16-17) “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.”

What is the baptism of fire?

(Matthew 3:10-12) “The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

(Luke 3:15-18) “Now while the people were in a state of expectation and all were wondering in their hearts about John, as to whether he was the Christ, John answered and said to them all, ‘As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand to thoroughly clear His threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into His barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.’ So with many other exhortations he preached the gospel to the people.”

(Mark 10:38-40) “But Jesus said to them, ‘You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?’ They said to Him, ‘We are able.’ And Jesus said to them, ‘The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized. But to sit on My right or on My left, this is not Mine to give; but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.’”

Am I Walking In Darkness – Austin Gonzales

So when we’re saved from sin, we are supposed to repent, right? We need to change from our wicked ways; and when we learn that we’ve been doing something wrong, correct it. Okay, that sounds great. But no one is perfect, so obviously it must be a continual cycle of renewing this commitment. Okay, well that’s doable. But what about the days when we fail to make that commitment, and we can feel the guilt of what we’ve done – at what point might Jesus’ blood cease to cleanse away our sins?

1 John 1:6-9 says, “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say 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.”

So according to this; as long as we are walking in the light, Jesus’ blood continues to cleanse our sins away. But that is kind of our question, isn’t it; at what point are we walking in the dark, rather than the light? Well one point is in the next sentence. The Lord will forgive us if we confess our sins, but if we pretend that we simply have no sin – keeping ourselves “in the dark” – then that’s one case where we no longer have forgiveness. This makes sense, because how you one repent of something that you don’t believe needs to be repented of?

Another situation in which Jesus’ blood no longer cleanses us is if we try to live by the Old Law. Galatians 5:2-5 says, “Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.”

Why is this? Well, keeping in mind that no man is perfect – a fact backed by Romans 3:23 – James 2:10-12 explains this for us: “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. For he who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘Do not murder.’ If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty.” Then, even if somebody could follow the Mosaic Law perfectly, Hebrews 10:4 tells us that “…it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” After all, it was Jesus Who died once for all (Romans 6:10).

The last example that I could find of walking in darkness is in Hebrews 10:26-29. “For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?”

This third situation is obviously a blatant rejection of God’s commands and of His sacrifice, after receiving grace previously. This is when a brother or sister has ceased to believe in the Lord, or when they have given up the attempt to turn their life around for God. Applicable here are also the verses about church discipline; giving multiple chances for a brother in sin to change his ways before deciding to reject him (Matthew 18:15-18). I suppose that included in this category would be a divisive person or a false teacher, causing havoc and heartache in the Lord’s church.

So, rather than walking in darkness, “…let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16).

Innate Qualities

When considering characteristics of the human body that are innate, several things may come to mind. Actions such as a heart beating, lungs breathing, and eyes blinking are examples of actions that happen involuntarily and do not require to be first taught. When the Lord made Adam, He made him a fully-grown man who’s bodily functions were fully developed. Adam’s mind was made to understand logic, and he was made able to understand the language in which the Lord spoke to him. Mankind was created with a certain set of abilities that needed no instruction, from the moment God breathed into the nostrils of Adam. (Genesis 2:7) Some actions are in some ways obviously and involuntarily innate in regards to the physical, human body; this we know to be true. How often, though, do we take into consideration the innate qualities of our spiritual natures that set mankind apart from the rest of creation? For instance, can communication with words be seen as spiritually significant? Is prayer instinctual? Is the desire to fear and worship a being of higher power something inherent? Questions like these have rattled the minds of philosophers and deep thinkers for ages. Fortunately for mankind, answers to these questions can be found in Scripture, and can be demonstrated through the examples of men and women throughout history.

The first instance of a spiritually innate ability can be found as early as Adam communicating with God in the garden. Starting in verse 16 of Genesis chapter 2, a communication between God and man was happening. “The Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from there of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.’” It goes on to say in verse 19 that Adam was given the authority to name the creatures God presented to him. These circumstances, although simple in appearance, prove two truths. The first truth that can be noticed is that there is a verbal language which God used to transfer messages to Adam. The second truth is that that language appears to be understood and reciprocated by Adam without him being taught it. In light of these truths, one could conclude that the act of communicating with God was an experience for Adam that was unlike a man’s typical, physical needs, but was a spiritual one that needed to be met just the same.

Although mankind can’t have a verbal conversation with the Lord today, there is an avenue we’ve received by which we can meet the spiritual need to communicate with God, this is prayer. Throughout the Patriarchal Age, most recorded instances of communication had with God was verbal and direct. The word “pray” wasn’t even mentioned until the time of Abraham. Its first reference is made several hundred years after the creation of man, in Genesis 20:7. The context of its inclusion was after the Lord had appeared to King Abimelech in a dream to warn him that Sarah was Abraham’s wife, and not his sister like Abraham had told him. Other occurrences of the word “pray” began to emerge in the Bible after this point in time.  

Due to Abimelech’s preexisting belief in the gods, the word “pray” would have meant something to him. However, moving forward from Abraham’s time, and focusing on the present, there are people who choose to accept a belief in there being no God (or gods for that matter) at all! If we are holding to the concept of this act of communication being one that is innate, then it would be significant to witness individuals who claim, with no belief in a supernatural being, to pray. Such information was given attention by Timothy Keller, a Presbyterian minister and famous author, in his book, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God. Although not all of what Keller has to say is something I agree with, his cited research on this topic fits in well with the subject at hand. In his book, Keller cites a survey done in 2004 that shows a percentage of atheists who pray. In the original survey, the results concluded that almost 30% of the atheists living in the UK admitted to praying. If the definition can be agreed upon that praying is a form of communication with something of a higher power than the individual, why would someone who claims a belief in nothing pray at all? Could it be that it’s simply a part of the human nature to desire for a communication with what is superior to mankind? A number of God fearing people have answered this question with, “yes.”

In Scripture, there are references to what the innate purpose of man is to be. Both the Old and New Testament share knowledge on what cannot be denied by any human being who has lived, or will live, on the earth. In regards to what the purpose of creation is, one does not have to search very far in Old Testament to discover it. “For the choir director. A Psalm of David. The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands (Psalm 19:1).” Glory to God is displayed in His creation. In regards to what is innately known by man, the apostle Paul makes reference to the fact that man has no excuse but to accept God’s power and divinity. Romans 1:19-20 says, “because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” What the writer says in Ecclesiastes 12:13 can be paired well with the words of Paul. “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person.” 

Due to certain qualities that have been instilled within us, the desire for a connection between us and our Lord is inevitable. The need to express a respect and adoration for a higher power has been something that remains to set humanity apart from the rest of creation. Focusing on the innate qualities of our spiritual natures is something that may prove to be beneficial as we walk our Christian walks. I urge us all to focus on our individual walks and talks with our Lord, and treat them as if their intentional. The Lord calls all of us to Him. “Everyone who is called by My name, And whom I have created for My glory, Whom I have formed, even whom I have made (Isaiah 43:7).”

Thoughts and Scriptures on: Confession

Introduction

Webster Definition: a disclosure of one’s sins in the sacrament of reconciliation; a written or oral acknowledgment of guilt by a party accused of an offense; a formal statement of religious beliefs

Translation:

  • Greek – ὁμολογέω (homologeo)  I confess, profess, acknowledge, praise
  • Hebrew – יָדָה (yadah)

 

What exactly are we confessing when we “confess Christ?”

(Matthew 10:32-33:) Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.”

Confess that Jesus is Lord [and that God raised Him from the dead?]:

> (Romans 10:8-10) “But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you *confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and *believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”

  • (Acts 2:32 “God has raised this Jesus to life, to which we are all witnesses.”)

>> (Philippians 2:9-11) “For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

> (1 Timothy 6:12-14a) “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that…”

  • (John 18:33, 36-37 “Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, ‘Are You the King of the Jews?’ …Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.’ Pilate therefore said to Him, ‘Are You a king then?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.’”)
  • (Accounts of Matthew, Mark, and Luke: “Then Pilate asked Him, saying, ‘Are You the King of the Jews?’ He answered him and said, ‘It is as you say.’”)

 

Confess that Jesus is the Son of God:

>> (1 John 2:23) “Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.

>> (1 John 4:15) “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.”

 

What does it mean in practice to confess Christ? / Does confession mean more than making a one-time affirmation prior to baptism? / Do Christians today view and practice confession like the early Christians depicted in scripture?:

>> (Matthew 10:17-32) “But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you. Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes. A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household! *Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. Therefore *do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops. *Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. *So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.”

  • (Mark 13:9-13 says nearly the same thing as vs. 17-22.)
  • (Luke 12:3-9, 11-12 says nearly the same thing as vs. 17-20, 27-33)
  • (Luke 12:10 “And anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but to him who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven.”)

>> (Hebrews 4:14; 10:23-29) “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. …Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?

 

Is it necessary to make a formal confession before an audience prior to baptism?

We should be sure, before the baptism, that the individual to be baptized actually believes Jesus is the Lord, the Son of God – such as individuals growing up in African or eastern religions:

>> (1 Timothy 6:12-14a) “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that…”

>> (Acts 8:36-38) “As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, ‘Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?’ [And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’] And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him.”

  • (The portion in brackets may not be original, but it is certainly an indication of early Christian practice.)

The only other instance of confession at baptism, that we found, is the confession of sins:

>> (Matthew 3:4-6) “Now John himself had a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea and all the district around the Jordan; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins.

>> (Mark 1:4-5) “John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.”

 

Is confession of sins any less necessary for salvation than confession of Christ as Lord?

Portrayed as something done alongside baptism:

>> (Matthew 3:4-6) “Now John himself had a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea and all the district around the Jordan; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins.

Explained as a requirement for receiving mercy and forgiveness:

>> (Proverbs 28:13) “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.

>> (1 John 1:8-10) “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”
When is it appropriate to confess a sin to God only vs. someone close to you vs. the whole church?

Public, well-known sins:

>> (Acts 19:18-20) “Many also of those who had believed kept coming, confessing and disclosing their practices. And many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of everyone; and they counted up the price of them and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing.”

Confessing to God, on behalf of self and each other:

(Nehemiah 1:5-7) “I said, ‘I beseech You, O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who preserves the covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, let Your ear now be attentive and Your eyes open to hear the prayer of Your servant which I am praying before You now, day and night, on behalf of the sons of Israel Your servants, confessing the sins of the sons of Israel which we have sinned against You; I and my father’s house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against You and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses.’”

  • (Leviticus 26:40-42 “If they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their forefathers, in their unfaithfulness which they committed against Me, and also in their acting with hostility against Me—I also was acting with hostility against them, to bring them into the land of their enemies—or if their uncircumcised heart becomes humbled so that they then make amends for their iniquity, then I will remember My covenant with Jacob, and I will remember also My covenant with Isaac, and My covenant with Abraham as well, and I will remember the land.” Now fast-forward to Nehemiah…)

Confessing to one another; so prayers of intercession can be made:

>> (James 5:15-16) “and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”

Confessing to one another is needed, if we are to bear one another’s burdens:

>> (Galatians 6:1-2) “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.”

 

When confessing sin to the church, should the particular sin be named?

Confessing the nature of our sins – the weight of the the burden – is needed, if we are to bear one another’s burdens:

>> (Galatians 6:1-2) “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.”

If she had confessed the truth, she would not have suffered the same fate as her husband:

>> (Acts 5:10-11 [account of Ananias and Sapphira]) “And Peter responded to her, ‘Tell me whether you sold the land for such and such a price?’ And she said, ‘Yes, that was the price.’ Then Peter said to her, ‘Why is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out as well.’ And immediately she fell at his feet and breathed her last, and the young men came in and found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. And great fear came over the whole church, and over all who heard of these things.”

Pattern of church discipline, regarding a sin against a fellow member:

>> (Matthew 18:15-18) “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

 

How can one pray as effectively, without knowledge of what to pray for?:

>> (James 5:16) “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”

 

Is the practice of private confession to a priest or elder scriptural?

Examples:

>> (2 Samuel 12:7-13 [A prophet]) Nathan then said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘It is I who anointed you king over Israel and it is I who delivered you from the hand of Saul. I also gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your ]care, and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added to you many more things like these! Why have you despised the word of the Lord by doing evil in His sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the sons of Ammon. Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your own household; I will even take your wives before your eyes and give them to your companion, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. Indeed you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, and under the sun.’” Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has taken away your sin; you shall not die….”

>> (John 20:21-23 [The apostles]) “So Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’ And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.’”

>> (James 5:14-15 [The elders]) “Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.

 

Is Scripture Sacred? -Austin Gonzales

“Humans DID tamper with the Bible… and added what they wanted added, and took away what they wanted to take away, and every time the book is translated, something is always lost in the translation. That’s a simple Fact of Life.”

“God did not write the Bible; man did. …The stories in the Bible were passed down and dictated to scribes.” “Didn’t you ever play the game [‘Telephone’]? By the time the story reaches the last kid, it has changed so much, that it’s nothing at all like the story first started out. …Today’s Bible simply is nothing at all like the original scrolls that were written – by numerous men – in [different languages]. As languages evolved over time, so did the content of the ‘Bible.’”

“Every version of the bible has been altered. There are scriptures that have been removed from it… Meanings have been changed, just look at the different versions we have.”

“I …received a ‘visitor’ one night …my ‘visitor’ was an ‘angel’ …the meaning of that ‘dream’ was that… EACH core religious book is only ONE PIECE in a vast jigsaw puzzle, which you cannot possibly see the entire picture of if you only stare at one piece…”

(- Comments of people professing CHRIST, taken from a Facebook post)

How do we respond to statements like these? How do we convince fellow Christians, who are doubting, to understand the accuracy of the Bible, besides using the Bible’s own claims about itself? Here are some brief examples of some strong evidences for you to research:

Arguments using a minimum of scripture, with a lot of basic logic:

2 Timothy 3:16 – The original word for “inspire” literally means “breathed out.” What scriptures are spoken by/breathed out by God? ALL. This may be using scripture, but this means that if you believe even one verse of the Bible is from God (like verses spoken by/about Jesus), then according to the Bible itself; you must believe they all are from God.

Galatians 1:8 – Paul, an apostle of Jesus, wrote (before any of our friends today have received their ‘visions from angels’) that if just such a vision, or even if he himself, taught something contrary to the gospel already preached before the time of this writing; then they are to be accursed. Therefore, 1) just because an angel told them something, doesn’t mean that it was from God. And 2) other religious texts, if they are contrary to what the apostles had been teaching then, are also not actually from God – no matter how moral they may be.

Why would Christ have His followers record His teachings – only to allow it all to be severely altered beyond the point of recovery (Possibly use Mark 13:31)? Take a look at history, and you’ll see that He hasn’t:

Evidences from secular history:

Despite many powerful regimes’ attempts to rid the world of the Bible through force, the Bible has continued to be shared and reproduced and even become the world’s all-time #1 best-seller. But besides this:

We know that the Jews maintained near-fanatical strictness regarding the reproduction of the Old Testament. For example, they “…carefully counted every line, word, syllable, and letter to ensure accuracy.” The two Dead Sea Scroll copies of Isaiah were dated 1,000 yrs. before the oldest manuscript previously known, yet the mere 5% variation between them and our Standard Hebrew Bible “consisted chiefly of obvious slips of the pen and variations in spelling.” Finally, because Christ regarded the existing copies of the O.T. as authoritative, we know that the first-century text of the O.T. was a reliable reproduction of the original O.T. texts. Therefore, the only portions worth any concern must be found in the New Testament:

We have 24,500+ copies of New Testament manuscripts, from which we can back-up (or refute) ANY modern translation! “The degree of accuracy of the copies is greater for the New Testament than for other books that can be compared. Most books do not survive with enough manuscripts that make comparison possible” (There are only SEVEN extant manuscripts of Plato’s Tetralogies, for example!).

Within these copies, there are 150,000 differences between copies. However; many of these ‘variants’ consist of things like a missing letter, switching of two words, or omission of an insignificant word. Truly, only about FIFTY variants are any different from each other – out of 150,000! “And even then, no doctrine of the Christian faith or any moral commandment is effected by them.”

We have enough quotations from the early church leaders that even if we did not have a single N.T. manuscript, would still have all but eleven verses of the entire N.T., all recorded within 150-200 yrs. after Christ!

There were only 35-40 yrs. between the N.T.’s completion and the oldest manuscript fragments. 100 yrs. passed before copies of the earliest whole books were written. And we have copies of the entire N.T. as old as within 250 yrs. of its completion. Regarding other ancient texts, there were – for example – at least 1,200 yrs. between Plato’s Dialogues & his Tetralogies, and their earliest (fragmented) copies; and 1,400 yrs. between Aristotle’s Ode to Poetics and its earliest copy! But no one doubts that Plato or Aristotle say what they said! “…If the New Testament were a collection of secular writings, their authenticity would generally be regarded as beyond all doubt.”

Other considerations:

The only quotes of Christ’s teachings, that we have, are from the New Testament writers. So if we can’t trust the rest of the N.T., then we can’t even trust what Jesus said. But besides the historical evidences we’ve mentioned, nearly every one of the apostles and other N.T. writers became martyrs for the words that they were preaching and recording. People don’t die for their lies when they know that they’re lies.

We can find ancient, secular sources that back up the Bible’s many and detailed prophecies – often stated hundreds of years beforehand – and the Bible’s clues to its historical context. For example: the conquering of Tyre by the Babylonians and by the Macedonians.

Modern science backs up things that the Bible mentions – things that no man knew about for hundreds of years after scripture was written! I am running out of room to go into detail, but the Bible mentions things like; ocean springs and currents, a recipe for soap, the universe’s particle makeup, the connection between blood and life, the First Law of Thermodynamics, health risks of sexual promiscuity, and so forth. All of these things, and more, were not recognized by scientific communities for hundreds of years after the Bible records them. The kinds of things that no man or group of men could simply make up – not in such a large and accurate quantity!

Finally, it sounds cheesy but it happens: The Bible actively changes the lives of those who commit themselves to its instructions.

“Manuscript Evidence: New Testament vs. Plato, Etc.” by Dave Armstrong

“Manuscript Support for the Bible’s Reliability” by Ron Rhodes, Reasoning from the Scriptures Ministries

Scriptures and Thoughts: Repentance

Strong’s Greek 3340: μετάνοια “metanoia”

–       I change my mind, change the inner man

Strong’s Greek 3338: “metamelomai”

–       Literally: “I change one care or interest for another”, I change my mind (generally for the better), regret.

What all is involved in repentance?

( 2 Corinthians 7:8-11) “For though I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it—for I see that that letter caused you sorrow, though only for a while— I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter.”

(Acts 3:19) “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”

(Acts 3:26) “For you first, God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.”

(Acts 26:19-20) “So, King Agrippa, I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision, but kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance.”

What does it mean to “bear fruit in keeping with repentance?”

(Matthew 3:7-10; Luke 3:7-9) But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, ‘You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance; and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.’”

(Matthew 7:15-20) “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”

Can a person change their sinful ways without truly “repenting” by the Biblical definition?

(Joel 2:12-13) “‘Yet even now,’ declares the Lord, ‘Return to Me with all your heart, And with fasting, weeping and mourning; And rend your heart and not your garments.’ Now return to the Lord your God, For He is gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness And relenting of evil.”

(Ezekiel 18:30-32) “‘Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, each according to his conduct,’ declares the Lord God. ‘Repent and turn away from all your transgressions, so that iniquity may not become a stumbling block to you. Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! For why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,’ declares the Lord God. ‘Therefore, repent and live.’”

(John 5:28-29) “for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.”

(Romans 2:5-11) “But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God.”

Is it possible that a person has repented even if they do not achieve much success in turning from sin?

(Luke 17:3-4) “Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.  And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”

(Philippians 3:7-14) “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

(Matthew 13:45-46)  “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

(Matthew 5:29-30) “If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.”

(1 Corinthians 6:9-11) “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”

When evaluating repentance, which is more important, the heart, the outward actions, or both?

(James 4:8-10) “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.”

(2 Chronicles 7:13-14) “If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

(Psalm 51:16-17) “For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”

(Revelation 2:5) “Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place– unless you repent.”

(Jonah 3:9-10) “‘Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw His burning anger so that we will not perish.’ When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it.”

Must a person demonstrate their repentance through a renewed lifestyle before they can be baptized?

(Acts 2:37-42) “Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brethren, what shall we do?’ Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.’ And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, ‘Be saved from this perverse generation!’ So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”

(Acts 16:31-34) “They said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.’ And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house. And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household. And he brought them into his house and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with his whole household.”

What does the KJV mean when it says God “repented” that He had made man?

(Genesis 6:6)

“And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.” (KJV)

“And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.” (ESV)

“The LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.” (NASB)

(Jeremiah 26:3) “Perhaps they will listen and everyone will turn from his evil way, that I may repent of the calamity which I am planning to do to them because of the evil of their deeds.”

Should we repent after every sin we commit?

(1 John 1:5-7) “This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

(John 3:20-21) “For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”

How can we repent of the sins we don’t know we commit?

(Psalm 38:18) “For I confess my iniquity; I am full of anxiety because of my sin.”

(Psalm 9:12-13) “Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults. Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins; Let them not rule over me; Then I will be blameless, And I shall be acquitted of great transgression.”

(Colossians 1:13-14) “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

(Hebrews 10:11-14) “Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet. For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.”

What should one do if the process of repenting begins to feel like a hollow routine?

(Luke 17:3-4) “Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.  And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”

(Matthew 18:21-22) “Then Peter came and said to Him, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.’”