Friday, October 17, 2014
Why get baptized? -or - One way to demonstrate your faith.
Romans 10:9,10 says we should confess and believe. (only)
Acts 16:31 says we should believe. (only)
The thief on the cross did not get baptized, as found in Luke 23:39-43.
Then what need is there to get baptized?
Acts 2:38 says we should repent and be baptized.
Yes or no?
One way to connect or reconcile these two thoughts is found in James 2:14-26 "Show me your faith by your works."
The idea I'm pulling out of James 2 is this:
Faith needs to be demonstrated and baptism demonstrates faith.
God's presence is heaven itself.
Heaven on earth (the promise, the down payment, the guarantee of our inheritance as stated in Ephesians 1:14) is God's presence, or more precisely, the presence of the Holy Spirit.
And know this, Psalm 16:11 says, "In Your presence is fullness of joy. At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."
What is the gospel, or "The Gospel"? It is the very, very good news that the Lord God has made a way to restore each of us individually to Himself, as His child, through the payment made by Jesus on the cross. He has made a covenant with us, which is now called the New Covenant, and He has fulfilled His part of this new covenant/agreement by paying our penalty for us.
And in the process, he is changing us, which is not just icing on the cake. This is new life. This is freedom.
Why did He do this? Because He loves us, each of us.
Now as a forshadowing of that good news, the Lord God set up a system with His chosen people that demonstrated the process of sacrifice or payment for sin. That was also a covenant, and is now called the Old Covenant.
OK, even from the beginning, the Lord God wanted to restore us to Himself, and bless, not curse, His sons and daughters. We see this in Deuteronomy 28 where the Lord God shares the blessings of obedience and the curses of disobedience. Both the blessings and the curses are quite comprehensive.
Psalm 103:3-5 summarizes the the Lord's blessings or benefits this way
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
3 Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
4 Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
5 Who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. (NKJV)
Some folks have found that forgiveness of all our iniquities is so wonderful (and it is) that they ignore the other blessings. Alas.
Some other folks have then overcompensated by calling verses 3 through 5 "the Full Gospel". Well, that's OK, but the Gospel itself really does include the whole package.
The New Covenant really is better than the Old Covenant, since the Old Covenant was impossible to keep. But what was promised in the Old Covenant is even better than the expectation of many believers today. I believe the primary reason believers limit the Gospel to forgiveness of sin (and the hope of heaven) is circumstances in their lives.
Circumstances argue against the promises of God. However, if we walk by faith and not by sight, then we choose to believe the Word of the Lord rather than anything else, and eventually circumstances give way to the power of the Lord to save.
The enemy keeps saying to us, "Did God really say ...?", as he said in the Garden of Eden. Rebuke him.
Hey, if you can't believe these declarations:
"He heals all your diseases,
He redeems your life from destruction,
He crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
He satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s",
then how can you be sure He is sharing the truth about:
"He forgives all your iniquities" ?
Hey, stop believing only a part of the Gospel. Jesus loves you.
Wednesday, October 1, 2014
I was blessed to babysit my 22 month old granddaughter today.
She was much more active than I was, but we laughed together and enjoyed each other's company all day. Of course this wouldn't have happened if I hadn't spent many, many hours with her in the past, during which she got to know me, and dare I say, love me to the extent that one her age can love. "Papa!", she calls out when I come in the door. It's really nice.
Well, this afternoon she had trouble falling asleep at nap time, so I came into her bedroom and turned the sleepytime music on and leaned on the side of her crib for a while. She decided she wanted out of her crib, so eventually I got her up and held her.
After holding her a while, both of us hugging each other, I had a feeling. Yes, it was a feeling, and I knew this feeling of love I had for her is the feeling of love my Heavenly Father has for me, only His is so much more, of course.
This feeling or knowing is indescribable. It's impossible to explain. Parents and grandparents know what it is, and I understand that aunts and uncles and anyone who truly loves a small child (or even a pet) can also feel this love.
Many of you know the feeling. This illustrates how Jesus loves you - so tenderly and passionately.
Another blog post I recently wrote on August 30, 2014 entitled, "Touch Works Both Ways" deals with this topic, focusing on John leaning on Jesus' breast. I'm sure they not only knew they were loved but they both felt it.