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Think On These Things, Issue #010
October 01, 2014
Think On These Things
A Bimonthly E-Zine of Bible Studies With Chris
Table of Contents
That the World May Believe
The world is searching for answers. However in a world that is filled with darkness and confusion, answers are not easy to find. The true disciples of Christ shine as a beacon of light so that all around many see. Jesus taught His disciples that they were “the light of the world.” And as such, they were commanded to let their light “so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5.14-16).
Sadly, the light has been greatly diminished because of the religious division among those who claim to be the true children of God. Virtually every denomination and religious institution claims to be the most biblically faithful systematization of the Bible's teachings. With every different and contradictory religion claims to be the one true faith, it has created confusion and desperation among people of the world. Many have become so disenfranchised that they have even rejected the Sonship of Christ.
Jesus referred to the damaging effects of division when He prayed to the Father concerning unity. John 17.21: “I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” How the world will come to believe that Jesus is the Son of God and was sent by the Father is by observing the unity of faithful believers.
We cannot control the division and disharmony within the denominational world, but we have a responsibility to ensure that there is unity among the Lord’s church (1 Cor. 1.10). Jesus taught that the peacemakers shall be called the sons of God. (Matt. 5.9). Looking for the Lord's church, they walk into a congregation of God's people, and what do they see? Instead of seeing peacemakers, they see people who are divided and filled with animosity toward one another. Therefore, they cannot see who the true sons of God are. Yet Jesus said that the peacemakers were called the sons of God.
As Christians we to be are unified in the same doctrine (2 John 9), with the same goals (Phil. 3.14), and with the same mindset (Gal. 3.2). We cannot be unified without also showing love for one another (1 Pet. 3.8; Phil. 2.1,2). Our success in the world is dependent upon our success within the church.
Is It Right to Judge Another?
Judging is a word that has recently taken on a negative stigma. It is associated with racism, intolerance, and hatred. Anyone who judges anyone else is immediately labeled as ignorant and closed-minded. The word “judge” is defined “properly to distinguish, that is decide (mentally or judicially); by implication, to try, condemn, punish” [STONG'S GREEK CONCORDANCE]. In essence, to judge is to make a determination as to whether something or someone is right or wrong. But why does it carry such a stigma?
In our free-thinking and self-gratifying culture, what is right and wrong is only limited by what is desirous and enjoyable. Therefore, if one finds homosexuality an enjoyable practice it is right for them and no one has the right to condemn it. One might suggest that if someone enjoys going to the bar and getting drunk then who are we to judge them? It is furthermore advocated that if one adheres to the doctrine of Islam, he is no more to be judged than someone who follows the edicts of Christianity. Unfortunately, the policy of “no judging” adopted by society is in contradiction with the revealed will of God contained within the Bible.
Are there instructions where we are not to judge? Absolutely. Jesus condemned judging when it was done hypocritically. Indeed, one has no right to judge another pointing out a speck in their eye, when he has a plank in his own. In this circumstance, Jesus said, "Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matt. 7.1-5).
Additionally, one ought never to judge based solely on appearance. We cannot judge by race, by gender, or by any other exterior characteristic. When Samuel was to appoint the new king of Israel, he saw the strong stature of Eliab and proclaimed that this must be the Lord’s anointed (1 Sam. 16.6). However, God reminded Samuel that he was making the mistake of judging by appearance. The Lord looks at the heart (1 Sam. 16.7; John 7.24).
We are not only justified in determining what is right and wrong, but we are commanded (Eph. 5.11). Yet our judgment is not based on personal preferences but on the standard of righteousness revealed within the pages of the Bible (John 17.17; Heb. 5.14).
The Command of Baptism
While the Bible is clear concerning the essentiality of baptism (1 Pet. 3.21), most of the religious world rejects the notion by teaching that one can be saved without it. Some proclaim it merely as the work of man that stands opposed to grace (Eph. 2.8). Others teach baptism as an outward expression of the salvation that they have already received. Therefore some wait weeks to be baptized while others never get around to is as they consider themselves already saved.
While there are a number of ways to show that baptism is required for salvation, consider this: One cannot obey the commands of God without being baptized. Baptism is part of God’s will for man. He desires that all be saved and has provided baptism as a means to receive His grace. When one refuses baptism he stands in opposition to the will of God. When John the Baptist came preaching the coming of the kingdom and repentance of sins, the historical account reads, that “the Pharisees rejected the will of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him” (John 7.30).
Furthermore, as Peter had come Caesarea to preach to Cornelius and his household, he would share with them words by which they would be saved (Acts 11.14). Clearly these words would include the necessity of baptism. Indeed, Peter did not offer the suggestion to be baptized to the household of Cornelius, but “commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord” (Acts 10.48). Since baptism is a command of God, it must be concluded that one cannot obey the commands of God without being baptized.
Also note that Jesus was baptized. However, Jesus did not have sin to be forgiven as you and I (Heb. 4.15). Why then was He baptized? By His own words Jesus explained, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matt. 3.15). Jesus had to be baptized to satisfy the requirements of God’s righteousness. In other words, He had to submit to the commandments of the Father.
Like the Jewish leaders who failed to fulfill the commandment of God (John 7.30), those who deny baptism must come to terms with the question posed by Jesus: Is baptism from men or it is from God (Matt. 21.25)? If it is from God, then we must submit to His command.
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