In Mark 16:17,18 Jesus gives us signs that would be common among believers in the infancy of His Church. Here Jesus says, "And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."
Most Churches today are of the belief that such works of the Holy Spirit are not manifest in believers. However there are some, mainly Pentecostals that fervently maintain that at the very least every believer will speak in tongues. In fact many Pentecostals believe that the ecstatic display of speaking in tongues is the evidence that an individual has been saved.
As is the case with any issue spoken of in Scripture, it is necessary that we have a complete understanding of what Scripture actually says. After all Scripture is all-sufficient. The Apostle Paul verifies this truth for us in 2 Tim. 3:16,17, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." With this in mind let us see what Scripture says about the gift of speaking in tongues.
The first occurrence of tongues being spoken among believers happened on the day of Pentecost. This was one of the gifts that was given to those who received this outpouring of the Holy Spirit on that day.
So who received this gift? Was it all the disciples of Jesus? Or was it only some? Some have erroneously concluded that since Acts 2:1 begins, "When the day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place."; that this must be all of the disciples. However, we find that the final thought given in the previous verse (1:26) is that Matthias was included as one of the twelve Apostles. This proof that it is only the twelve Apostles who received this baptism of the Holy Spirit and it's gifts becomes clear when we arrive at Acts 2:14 where Luke tells us, "But Peter, standing up with the eleven,". Again we see those who were present among the believers were the Apostles.
A second question which is pivotal in our understanding of why the gift of tongues was needful is "What were these tongues?" This question is answered here in Acts 2:8, where those who heard these tongues uttered by the Apostles say, "and how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born?" Obviously these tongues were known languages of people of various nations. Luke even gives us a list of fifteen different regions and nations in Acts 2:9-11; further proof these utterances were languages and not some celestial language as Pentecostals maintain.
It is a given that the purpose in these tongues was to proclaim the saving message of the Gospel of Christ Jesus. That is too obvious to be misunderstood. You had people present who did not speak Hebrew, Greek or Aramaic, the three languages common in Judea. Without this working of the Holy Spirit then the Gospel could not have been proclaimed with success.
So the question that anyone who maintains that tongues are still spoken today must answer is this: "What purpose would this gift be to our generation?" After all, God would never give us a useless gift, would He? Consider that today we have the ability to proclaim the Gospel message in every language! We can do this without this manifestation. Today God's word is available in every known language and men and women have the means to learn every known language.
With this in mind let us look at what the Apostle Paul told the Church at Corinth about the gifts of prophecy, tongues and knowledge. In 1 Cor. 13:8, "Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away." Paul makes it clear these three specific gifts would end. They were temporary. Given to an infant Church that did not have the complete Scriptures of the New Testament, nor the ability to communicate them and their gift of salvation to the whole world as the Lord had commanded them in Mt. 28:19, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." These tongues were specifically given for this purpose.
When we continue this teaching in part two we will look at what the Pentecostals falsely believe about the "language of angels." Until next time, God bless and keep you. -David Miller
In part one of this teaching regarding Sin and Suffering we discovered that both sin and suffering are the result of Adam and Eve's sin in the Garden of Eden. All creation was corrupted. The very mind set of man was corrupted as well. This accounts for suffering and evil that exists in our world today. Now in part two we examine the impact that the free will of man has on sin and suffering in our world.
From the very beginning God made man with the ability to choose to do right or wrong. To obey God or disobey God. To treat his fellow man well or to do him great harm. Man is an agent of free will. This freedom of choice that man has to exercise in his life serves the highest glory when man chooses to love, worship and serve God. But when man chooses to sin against God or his fellow man, evil and suffering can be the result.
A man chooses to drive while drunk and an innocent life perishes. A man chooses to rob a store, the clerk resists and another life tragically ends. An innocent wife is infected with HIV by her unfaithful husband. An unborn infant dies when his mother chooses abortion 15 weeks after conception. All these are the result of the choices that men and women make.
What if God did not allow us to choose? Would our lives be better? I think not. Without the capacity to choose what would our lives be like? Without choice we would eat the same food. We would have no chance to better ourselves. No choice in who we marry. What would games, sports and other competitive events look like? Certainly safer, but better?
Along with the capacity to make poor and evil choices comes the capacity to choose wisely and decide to help others. I could not choose to stop and help the elderly couple with the flat tire. I couldn't choose to donate my blood or a kidney to show my compassion for someone dying. I couldn't choose to sacrificially give to help someone in a financial crisis. Perhaps the greatest loss for a world without free will is that you and I could not choose to love someone and act with only their best interests in mind.
Our relationship with God would be sadly different as well. You see God has everything He needs. There is absolutely nothing that God needs from me. But there is something He desires from me. More than anything else God desires me to love Him. Literally this is the only gift any of us can ever give to God. But, take away my free will and I am nothing but a robot. Nothing I will do will be done from love, but from the compulsion of instinct.
Most of all our free will allows us to comprehend God's love for us. In Rom. 5:6-8 the Apostle Paul writes, "For while we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we were sinners, Christ died for us." Without the freedom to reject God, could we ever experience the joy and comfort of knowing God's "own" love for us? A love like none other?
In conclusion while eliminating the freedom to choose would make life less painful and tragic, we would still experience a different kind of loss that would also be tragic. That loss is the freedom to choose to follow Christ Jesus, be saved from our sins and love God. Without the ability to understand the love behind God's sacrifice we would never know the greatest love of all. That is the love of God. David Miller
Many people struggle with the question "Why does a good God allow evil and suffering to exist in a world that He created?" This is an age old question. After all if God is indeed good and loves man why does He allow man to suffer?
The answer begins in the story of God's creation of the world and man. In Genesis 1:31 God at the conclusion of His creating the world declares that everything was good, "Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day." In stating that everything was good, God affirms that this was how He desired and designed all things to be. Nothing was less than it should be. Nothing was lacking.
The ideal creation also included an ideal man and woman. Their relationship with all things was perfect. In Gen. 2:25 we are told, "And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed." Why were they not ashamed? Because they were innocent as children. Every thought was pure, holy and God-honoring. They had no desire to exploit or deceive one another. No ego, no pride, no feeling of competition and no desire to dominate the other.
But all that changed when Adam and Eve sinned. Sin brought immediate consequences. "Their eyes were opened." In an instant they recognized their base desires and felt and looked at their nakedness in a very different way. Gen. 3:7 tells us, "they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings." In the next verse we find them hiding from God. The same God whom they previously walked with and trusted they now HID THEMSELVES FROM. Sin changed how they thought. They were no longer godly and accepting of each other, but now motivated by shame and fear they thought selfishly according to what they now felt was best for them as individuals.
All sin comes from selfish motives. We steal to gain. We kill out of anger and fear. We lie to escape accountability or to gain the smallest measure of the opinion of others. We lust to satisfy unhealthy desires. We covet the things of others because we resent their success and prosperity.
Adam and Eve's sin brought curses upon life that punish all. In Gen. 3:16, Eve brought affliction on all women; their pain in childbirth was multiplied and their marital relationship with the husband would be marked by "a desire" to be in control of him. Because of Adam, men would find the soil cursed with thorns and thistles. An occupation that once was a work of love would now be a work of great labor. And because of Adam's sin in v.19 man and woman "would return to the ground"; meaning they would die.
Pain, labor, contention in relationships, a world that is cursed and the certainty of death. These are all the consequences of sin. And it is passed on to all men regardless of what they do, good or bad. In Rom. 5:12-14 we read, "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned- For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed where there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come,"
So as we come to the end of part one of this study, we see that the first sin brought the consequences of sin into the world and they are shared by all who live. We also find that the innocent nature which God placed in man was lost when sin entered the world. Also we find that every relationship that man has is cursed because of sin.
In part two we will examine the impact of the free will of man on the problem of suffering and evil in the world that God made. I hope you will join us then. - David Miller
There are many opinions concerning the partaking of the Lord's Supper, commonly known as the Communion. The vast majority of Protestant denominations do not partake of this act of worship on a weekly basis, citing a concern that somehow it might lessen the impact of this event in the spiritual lives of their congregants. The Roman Catholic Church has long held to the belief that once the emblems (the bread and the cup) have been properly blessed by a priest and are consumed by the believer, they then become the literal flesh and blood of Our Lord. But what does the Bible say concerning this? After all, the Bible ought to always be our authority on all spiritual matters.
First, the Lord's Supper was instituted by Jesus, Himself on the night that He was betrayed. Matthew, Mark and Luke each record this event. Paul also recounts the event as well in 1 Cor. 11:23-32. And for our purpose we will use this account.
"For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "Take eat, this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me."
"In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me." 1 Cor. 11:23-25
Here are the points that the Lord makes. First, the bread and the cup are emblematic of His body and His blood. The point that they are emblems is made clear by the Lord's statement, "Do this in remembrance of Me." This makes it clear that the objective hear is for the believer to "remember" the Lord's sacrificial death on the Cross. A death that Christ died in the flesh. The idea that the Lord's flesh and blood is what is consumed is absent from the Lord's words. It is the symbolic ritual that is in mind here.
Second, the Lord makes a point of reminding us that the cup "is the new covenant in My blood." Jesus' death on the Cross fulfilled the first covenant, the covenant made by God with Abraham. It replaced this covenant with a New Covenant. Why? Because the first was imperfect. Heb. 8:7, "For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second." This covenant offers us "eternal redemption" through His death. Heb. 9:12, "Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption." The price of this covenant was the blood (life) of Christ Jesus. It is certainly the "why" of "Why we partake?" By reason of logic those who partake must be those who are now under this New Covenant, those who have through belief, repentance of sins and baptism have had their sins removed and have been born again by the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38, Jn. 3:3-6)
Now let's continue our look at what additional comments Paul the Apostle makes in 1 Cor. 11:26-29, "For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes. Therefore whoever eats this bread and drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
But let a man examine himself and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body."
First, Paul tells us that this observance is an ongoing act of worship that the church should continue to observe "till He comes." Obviously this coming is the Lord's return to claim His Church. While this is certainly not a "Thou shalt do this every week." it certainly implies a regular event. Compare this with what Luke the author of Acts states in Acts 20:7, "Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight." It seems that the purpose of the Church of Troas' coming together is by context, to "break bread." The fact that this occurred at such a late hour likely rules out this being a meal. The more likely meaning is that they came together to partake of the Lord's Supper and their custom was to do this weekly.
Secondly in verse 26 Paul states a second purpose in this observance, "For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes." Here we find that the Church is in this act of worship "proclaiming the Lord's death." In essence we are bearing witness to the world that Christ Jesus has died for our sins.
Thirdly, Paul warns all that those who partake must be mindful not to partake "unworthily". To do so will bring judgment upon the offender. The reason why is given to us in verse 29, they are "not discerning the Lord's body." The likely offense here is that the offender did not pause to remember the suffering and death of the Lord. After all it is His body "broken for us" and the cup of His shed blood to give us redemption that we partake of.
But there is a second and equally valid interpretation that may also apply to "not discerning the Lord's body". We know the Church is the Lord's body as well, (1 Cor. 12:27, Eph. 5:30). So what if this "not discerning the Lord's body" also refers to those who have sinned against their fellow believers and have yet to repent and ask for forgiveness?
Consider the Lord's teaching in Mt. 5:23,24, "Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there, before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift."
Jesus is literally saying that offenses against our brethren that we have not made right will make our worship to God null and void. This is why He states so clearly a need to go and be "reconciled" before God's throne is approached. Should not the same mandate apply to the Lord's disciples when they come together at the Lord's table? In each instance we are entering into an act of worship and fellowship (communion). My firm belief is that Paul's warning of "not discerning the Lord's body" is two-fold. First I MUST remember the Lord's death for me. Second I MUST NOT be at odds with a brother in Christ. After all, this act of worship is just as much a corporate act as an individual act.
In summary the Lord's Supper should be observed as part of the Sunday acts of worship. We do in fact assemble because Christ died for us. It would be fruitless to even attend church services if Christ did not die to save us! So why not proclaim His death to the world each Sunday? Are we so weak in our conviction that we fear an inability to pause and remember His death? This weekly reminder can only make a Church stronger.
Also, this observance is a memorial. The emblems are only symbolic, but no less important to the truly regenerate. To read any type of supernatural purpose or experience of transubstantiation into this act of worship is just that; to be reading something in the text that is absent!
Finally, it is a serious occasion. It requires us to "discern" our remembrance of our Savior's death and our relationship with our brethren. If either is not present then we ought to decline that invitation to partake until we can do so in good conscience.David Miller
Just last week the United Methodist Church at it's conference in St. Louis narrowly voted not to recognize same-sex marriage or to ordain homosexuals into their clergy. In the days since there has been much emotional response and comment concerning these decisions in various media. Many are deeply hurt because they had found acceptance in these churches. Many are hurt at the prospect of seeing many exit their churches. Many are beginning to express their desire to see their church stand more on Scripture than cultural norm. All are very concerned. So with all of this in mind, let's talk about Scripture, the Church and sexual immorality.
The very first time that God speaks regarding sexual orientation is found in Gen. 1:27, "So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." It is expressed here that God's design at the time of creation was that human sexual identity should be found in how we are created; either male or female. Clearly God is the one who chooses.
Next we find that God ordains marriage. In Gen. 2:23,24, "And Adam said: "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man." Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." Adam readily understood that the woman was made for the man and God had made her to be so. With the coming together of man and woman in sexual consummation they are no longer two, but one flesh. The implication is that a family has been established and a bond has been forged.
Jesus understood this as well, and He publicly upheld God's original design for marriage in Mt. 19:4-6. This is very important, because concerning the UMC's acceptance of homosexuality in the past was three contentions: 1.) The Apostle Paul wrote concerning sexual immorality with a "cultural bias", 2.) The Levitical texts found in Lev. 18 concerning homosexuality were intended only for members of the priesthood, and 3.) Jesus NEVER spoke directly concerning homosexuality.
Understand that the context in Mt. 19 in which Jesus affirmed God's design for marriage was given because the Pharisees had advocated "divorce for any reason". They were attacking God's design on the grounds that Moses had given them an allowance for divorce. Jesus' point is that "from the beginning it was not so." (19:8) What Jesus is stating is very clear; Man has no right to alter or change God's design. Therefore if the only design that God ever gave for human sexuality is within the confines of Scriptural marriage ( a man and a woman ) then man HAS NO RIGHT to redefine human sexuality or marriage. God's model is still God's model. Any sexual relationship other than that model is wrong. It does not matter if it is adultery, fornication, pedophilia, beastiality, homosexuality or lesbianism it is by virtue of not being God's model; sexual immorality.
So are there other reasons why God does not want any other model for human sexuality? Yes there is. In 1 Cor. 6:15-20, the Apostle Paul affirms that once we belong to Christ our body as well as our soul belongs to Christ and we are obligated to: "glorify God in your body and in your spirit which are God's". In verses 18,19 Paul states, "Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?" When we are baptized in the name of Jesus Christ we not only receive the remission of our sins, we also are given the Holy Spirit to dwell inside us. (Acts 2:38, Jn.14:21-23) Our bodies become a "temple"; they are set apart for the purposes of God! When we commit acts of sexual immorality we are literally desecrating God's Temple! Again, remember God has given only ONE MODEL for human sexuality. Any other sexuality besides the sexual activity between a man and a woman in marriage is not the model and is sexual immorality.
Also, we find that a church cannot have fellowship with anyone who fails to repent and ask forgiveness of their sexual immorality. In 1 Cor. 5:1-13 Paul commands in the strongest language that the church must expel a brother who was in an adulterous relationship. Paul makes it clear that his sin must be called out in front of the church assembled. (5:4,5) He also warns that they are obligated to protect the body of Christ. (the church) In v. 6 he states, "Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump." His concern is two-fold; 1.) other brethren might see this as an acceptable lifestyle and be caught up in this kind of sin, and 2.) the church would lose their credibility as Christ's church if they behaved as the rest of the sinful Corinthian culture. The church must always break fellowship with any who continue to bring reproach on her by their public sins. Paul again in 2 Cor. 6:14 states, "What fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?" SIN IS ALWAYS DARKNESS.
So what should be the response of a Church towards those who are practicing any form of sexual immorality. First, we have an obligation to love them; sin is the enemy, not the sinner. If we love them and make them welcome when they visit our churches then we are showing Christ's love for them. Secondly, when the topic of becoming a Christian or placing membership is approached we should be very forthcoming with the truth revealed to us in Scripture. In becoming a Christian we repent of our sins. (Acts 2:38) Sexual immorality is a sin. Also in the very act of baptism we are to die to sin. (Rom. 6;4-6) We cannot expect to be saved if we wish to continue in any sinful habit. (Rom. 6:1,2) We must also express our confidence that with the help of Christ Jesus we can overcome any sin issue in our lives including sexual sins. And we should strive to make help, support and pastoral counseling available once Christ is received in baptism. In Christ Jesus there is love and transformation. (Gal. 2:20, Rom. 12:1,2)
In our two previous lessons on baptism we have focused on the flaws of objections to baptism. In today's study we want to look at what other Scriptures that we have not previously looked at tell us about the believer's need for Christian baptism.
In Romans chapter six the Apostle Paul gives us several powerful statements concerning what baptism does for us. Turn to Rom. 6:3-6, "Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin."
The first significant truth that Paul shares with us is that "we are baptized into Christ." This same image of us putting on Christ is also stated in Gal. 3:27, where Paul states, "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ." To say that "we have put on Christ" is to establish that we have a new identity in Christ. Secondly Paul in v. 4 tells us that in baptism we experience a death. This death is equated by Paul in v.6 to be "the old man of sin" being "crucified" with Christ. In Col. 3:3, Paul writes, "For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God." Again a death has occurred and we are hidden or covered by Christ Jesus! This is how it can be said that we "walk in newness of life." Thirdly in v.5 it is plainly stated that "if we are united in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection." The meaning here is that as Christ was resurrected so to in like manner we will be resurrected. But only if we have also shared in the likeness of His death! And finally, we are now held in captivity by sin (v.6). This is not just our release from the sinful habits we have, but also, and more importantly we are set free from the consequences of sin; which is death, Rom. 6:23.
In 1 Peter 3:20,21 we read, "who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is eight souls, were saved through water. There is also an anti-type which now saves us- baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God) through the resurrection of Jesus Christ."
Here Peter is drawing a comparison between the ark which saved Noah and his family and baptism which now is the final step in the process of our salvation. Peter states that baptism is the anti-type of the ark. But what does that mean? In Col. 2:16,17 we read, "So let no one judge you in food or drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ." The OT covenant was full of types and shadows; less than perfect ceremonies, observances and food and drink laws. Each of these types in the OT have a more perfect anti-type in the New covenant of Christ. In this case the ark was a less than perfect version of baptism because the salvation it gave was only temporary. Ultimately Noah and his family would die. On the other hand, the anti-type, baptism now saves more perfectly; for it saves us eternally. We must note that while both work "through water", it is incorrect to say we are saved by water. In fact Peter states "but the answer of a good conscience toward God." In other words; we are not saved by the water, but in the act of baptism we have properly answered or said "yes" to His offer to save us. We can conclude from this passage, just as Martin Luther did that "in the waters of baptism we receive the forgiveness of our sins."
Finally, let's take a quick look at what Saul of Tarsus (the Apostle Paul) stated that he was told by Ananias that he must do. In Acts 22:10 Saul states that the Lord told him, "Arise and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all things which are appointed for you to do." Again remember this is the Lord Jesus speaking to Saul. He makes it clear to Saul that he (Saul) will be "told all things which are appointed for you to do." This means simply; whatever Ananias tells you, that you MUST DO! In 22:16 after Ananias has told Saul of the plans that God has for his new life in Christ, he then tells Saul in the form of an imperative command, "And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling upon the name of the Lord."
Though God had Saul's future mapped out we find there was one thing that Saul had to do. He had to be baptized. This baptism was to "wash away" his sins. Here the effect of baptism presented by Ananias is the same as the effect of baptism presented by Peter on Pentecost. To achieve the removal of his sins or the forgiveness of sins. Ananias also here equates the act of baptism as "calling on the name of the Lord", quite similar as the "answer of a good conscience toward God" in 1 Pe. 3:21; in each case it is the Lord who grants this salvation through the act of baptism as opposed to the physical act being the agent of our salvation.
Did your obedience to the invitation of our Lord's salvation include being "baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins?" If not, Triad Church of Christ would love to help steer you into the proper form of obedience to the gospel of Christ. Let us know either with a call or by e-mail how we can assist you in taking that final step of obedience that you might know that you are saved!God bless, David Miller
In our previous study "Why should all believers be baptized? Part One we spoke of no part of God's word (the Bible) ever contradicting another part of God's word. The Holy Spirit of God is the assurance that though some Scriptures may present challenges, they in no way contradict other Scriptures. In our second part of our study on "Why should all believers be baptized?" we will focus on the chief argument against baptism's role in salvation. This argument is that baptism is a "work of man" and therefore cannot save or contribute to our salvation.
This doctrine never surfaced until some 1500 years after Peter offered the first invitation to be saved in the name of Jesus Christ and stated clearly to those who responded to his message on Pentecost, "Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." It was Huldreich Zwingli who first put forth this doctrine of salvation by faith only.
Surprisingly, Zwingli's German counterpart, Martin Luther who is highly regarded by most denominations differed with Zwingli, taking the historical view that baptism is a "saving work of God". In fact, Luther states, "Through baptism man is saved." ( Small Catechism IV:6)
Zwingli's main contention is based on what Paul states in Eph. 2:8,9, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast." Zwingli's assumption is that anything which a man does to receive salvation is a "work of man." This would certainly seem to contradict what Paul clearly states here in Eph. 2: 8,9.
But there is a key question that must be asked here. That question is: "Can someone other than God perform a work of God?" Look at John 6:27-29. Here Jesus has just fed 5,000 people and they are now determined to make Him their King. And for good reason;p Jesus could feed the whole nation of Israel with the most insignificant amount of food. Now Jesus is determined to shift their focus from the temporary needs of this earthly life to the eternal need of every man. The need of salvation.
"Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal upon Him. Then they said to Him, "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?" Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent."
Here Jesus makes it clear that there is a "work of God" that MAN MUST DO in order to have "everlasting life". That work is "to believe in Jesus".
This "work of God" is faith, just as Paul stated in Eph. 2:8,9. But what manner of work is this? Is it not an act of obedience? Bear in mind this faith that Paul speaks of in Eph. 2:8,9 is not "the gift of God", grace is. Neither here in John 6:29 is this faith (believe) a gift. It is said by Jesus to be "the work of God". So obviously, this type of work, though said to be a "work of God", MUST BE DONE BY MAN.
So it should logically follow that any acts of obedience that the Bible tells us we need to do to receive salvation should fall under the category of a "work of God." Therefore, when Peter commanded those who cried out for salvation from the wrath of God and the penalty of their sins on the day of Pentecost, that they "Repent, and let everyone of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38) he was telling them to do these acts of obedience because they are "works of God." When viewed properly as "doing the works of God" baptism is kept in the same role in which it was practiced by the Apostles and subsequent generations of the Church for the first 1,500 years of it's existence. And is in no way in conflict with what Paul writes in Eph. 2: 8,9.
As always, if you desire to speak with me on this subject or others, feel free to send me an e-mail through our contact page at this website. Until next time, God bless you richly.
The necessity of baptism of the believer has been debated since the Reformation Movement. Many churches see no reason to baptize, believing that a simple prayer to God asking for forgiveness of sins and for "Jesus to come into their hearts" is sufficient.
It would come as a surprise to most members of American denominations to learn that the church practiced baptism by immersion for the forgiveness of sins for nearly 1,500 years. This only changed when a Swiss reformer, Huldreich Zwingli formulated a doctrine that contrary to Scripture teaches that baptism cannot be for the purpose of salvation because it is a "work of man" and the total work of atonement has been done for us through Christ Jesus. Zwingli primarily based his conclusion on a faulty understanding of Ephesians 2:8,9, where the Apostle Paul states, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast."
Zwingli's objection was based on the notion that anything that a man might do in an effort to receive this gift is a work and thus violates the concept of salvation being a gift. Essentially he saw this as discrediting God.
There are two things that must be recognized about baptism in the writings and practices of the early church that put the Zwinglian view at odds with NT Scripture. One of the primary assumptions that any student of God's word must observe when handling the Scriptures is that no part of Scripture will ever be in conflict with another part of Scripture. If this is the case then God's word would be contradicting itself! This would lead some to discredit the Bible as God's word based on the conclusion that some passages are in opposition to others. The Bible must have agreement and harmony on every subject if it is indeed God's word.
So with this in mind, let's take a look at what the Apostles of the Lord Jesus practiced and preached concerning baptism and salvation on day one of the church that Christ established. Look at Acts 2:37,38. Here we find that Peter has just stated that his audience was responsible for the murder of Jesus, who was (is) the Son of God and their long awaited Christ (Messiah). They had rejected Him and thereby participated in His murder! (v.36)
Now Luke tells us of the response of the audience that day, "Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, What shall we do?" "Then Peter said to them, "Repent and let every one of you be baptized for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
Now understand that Peter along with the rest of the twelve Apostles had received the Apostolic measure of the Holy Spirit that day. Not only did this special measure of the Holy Spirit enable them to preach to others in their own languages, per Acts 2: 7,8, but just as importantly they were "guided into all truth" by this measure of the Holy Spirit. This was promised to the Apostles by the Lord Himself in Jn. 16:13 where Jesus told them, "However when He the Spirit of Truth has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will tell you of things to come."
Now with this knowledge that the Holy Spirit personally guided and led the Apostles into "all truth", it would be impossible for Peter to have given an answer in Acts 2:38 that WAS NOT THE TRUTH! Because he was under the direction of the Holy Spirit. What Peter stated was exactly what God had directed him to state through the Holy Spirit.
What Peter told them was directly given to him by the Holy Spirit. In order to be saved from God's wrath and punishment these men MUST do two things; 1.) repent of their sins, and 2.) be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of their sins and so they might receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. How important are these two benefits that Peter promised through baptism? They are essential. They must occur if one is to be saved! One must have their sins remitted (forgiven) and one must have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in order to be "born again" as Jesus stated to Nicodemus in Jn. 3:5, "Most assuredly I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." The only way to be saved is to be "born again". The only way to be born again is to be "born of water and the Spirit." There is NO OTHER act in Scripture that a believer is told to do that fulfills these requirements! NONE.
To deny one baptism for the remission of sins and to receive the Holy Spirit is in direct conflict with what the Apostles taught and practiced beginning on the day of Pentecost. It is also to dispute that the Holy Spirit gave proper instruction to Peter. It is to say that the hand chosen Apostles of our Lord, in spite of the direction of the Holy Spirit somehow got the answer to the most important question WRONG!
In part two of our study we will look at the question, "Is baptism a work of man or a work of God?" Should you desire to speak with me personally on this topic or present another question to me, please feel free to contact me through the contact page here at triadcc.org. Until next time, may God bless you richly.