Monday, January 29, 2007
In Mel Gibson’s film "The Passion of The Christ," a sinful man acts the part of the Lord Jesus as He suffers the terrible wrath of God on behalf of His elect church.
Jesus Christ is both God and man. God is spirit and so cannot be portrayed, and (by God’s will) no one knows what Christ looks like. Moreover, Christ’s human nature was joined to and assumed by His divine Person.
How can any actor portray that?
Also the film presents Christ with long hair and thus as a sinner, for Scripture says it is a "shame" for a man to have long hair (1 Corinthians 11:14).
Such a portrayal of the incarnate Second Person of the Trinity is condemned by the second commandment as explained in Presbyterianism’s Westminster Larger Catechism 109: "The sins forbidden in the second commandment" include "making any representation of God, of all or any of the three persons, either inwardly in our mind, or outwardly in any kind of image or likeness of any creature whatsoever."
Jesus said, "If ye love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15).
Thus all who love the true God revealed in Scripture will obey the second commandment and reject this idolatrous movie.
The film falsely portrays Mary as mediatrix. The disciples call her "Mother," and Peter confesses His sin of denying Christ to her.
"The Passion" also presents her as co-redemptress. On several occasions, Jesus receives strength by looking at Mary. While Jesus hangs on the cross, Mary kisses His feet and His blood smears on her face. As she looks up at the cross, Mary asks Jesus, "Let me die with you." When Jesus says, "It is finished," Mary says, "Amen," as though His atonement requires her stamp of approval. Thus one critic reckoned the movie should be named "The Passion of The Christ and Mary."
Though allegedly faithful to the Bible, parts of the movie’s script (especially the mariolatrous sections) are taken from The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, a book recording the visions of an eighteenth century German nun and mystic, Anne Emmerich. A Roman Catholic advertisement for the book states, "Mel Gibson based ... ‘The Passion of The Christ’ on this book ... It is also wonderful on the Blessed Mother’s role in our redemption."
Mel Gibson, the director, is a devout Roman Catholic, even attending Latin mass. He believes that "the sacrifice of the cross and the sacrifice of the altar [the mass] are the same thing." He calls Mary "a tremendous co-redemptress and medriatrix" with Christ. Of his movie, he declared, "It reflects my beliefs."
Jim Caviezel, who acts Christ crucified, is an avid lover of Medjugorje (Bosnia Herzegovina), a site of Marian pilgrimage. He said, "In preparation [for acting the Son of God], I used all that Medjugorje taught me." He was given a piece of Christ’s (alleged) cross which he put in a special pocket so it would always be with him while filming. On set he was often seen handling his rosary. He also frequented the confessional and the mass, for he said that he needed the wafer in him to be like Jesus. On 15 March 2004, Caviezel was blessed by the pope.
"The Passion" is a Roman Catholic film, with a Roman Catholic director, a Roman Catholic lead actor and a Roman Catholic message. No wonder Catholic Passion Outreach (a Roman Catholic web site) declares, "‘The Passion of The Christ’ offers a once in a life-time opportunity for you to spread, strengthen and share the [Roman] Catholic faith with your family and friends."
This film does not teach the true gospel of salvation by Christ alone (not Mary), through faith alone (not by sight; 2 Corinthians 5:7) and revealed in the Scriptures alone (not mystical visions by a German nun).
This film does not show us the heart of the Lord’s sufferings: God’s pouring out His wrath upon Christ for the sins of His people (Isaiah 53:10).
Nor does it teach for whom He died: His elect sheep and not the reprobate goats (John 10:11, 26).
This film also rejects God’s way of proclaiming the gospel—preaching—for God has chosen "the foolishness of preaching [not drama] to save them that believe" (1 Corinthians 1:21). In faithful preaching—not idolatrous movies—Christ is "evidently set forth, crucified among you" (Galatians 3:1).
This is "foolishness" to those who "perish," but "unto us which are saved it is the power of God" (1 Corinthians 1:18).
By Angus Stewart
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
"But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him."
2 Corinthians 11:3-4
The apostle Paul spoke of those who would come preaching another jesus; of those who would receive another spirit and accept another gospel. The question we pose to you, the reader, is:
‘Which spirit have you received, which gospel do you believe and WHICH JESUS HAVE YOU ACCEPTED?’
THE ‘JESUS’ OF MORMONISM:
The jesus of Mormonism is not the Second Person of the Trinity, as there is no Trinity at all according to Mormon doctrine. The Mormon jesus was a pre-existent spirit, the spirit-brother of the Devil and was married to both Mary and Martha! Brigham Young, the successor to Mormon founder Joseph Smith, declared that the Mormon jesus‘ sacrifice on the cross was ineffective for the cleansing of some sins. Man himself has to atone for those sins that the blood of the Mormon jesus could not atone for. The Mormon jesus is a false jesus and no Savior at all.
THE ‘JESUS’ OF THE JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES:
The jesus of the Jehovah’s Witnesses is not God but only a god. He is the Son of God but not God Himself. This jesus was resurrected a divine spirit creature and his birth on earth was not an incarnation according to JW doctrine. The jesus of the Jehovah’s Witnesses is not coming again but is already on earth, only invisibly. This jesus ‘...removed the effects of Adam’s sin by his sacrifice on Calvary, but the work will not be fully completed until the survivors of Armageddon return to God through free will and become subject to the Theocratic will of Jehovah’ (‘The Kingdom of the Cults’, p.99). The JW jesus is a false jesus and no Savior at all.
THE ‘JESUS’ OF ROMAN CATHOLICISM:
The jesus of Roman Catholicism is another whose death upon the cross was insufficient of itself to atone for the sins of all those for whom He died. This jesus died to redeem all mankind from sin but his death alone was not sufficient enough to fully atone for all sins, thus there is a need for men to suffer punishment in Purgatory in order that they may become fully purged of their sin and, therefore, pure enough and acceptable enough to enter heaven. The Roman Catholic jesus appears on Roman Catholic altars as bread and wine and is continually being offered to God as a sacrifice for the sins of man. The Roman Catholic jesus is a false jesus and no Savior at all.
THE ‘JESUS’ OF THE FAITH MOVEMENT:
The jesus of the Faith Movement did not atone for man’s sins upon the cross. His physical death alone accomplished nothing. This jesus needed to go to hell and suffer torment there and be tortured by the Devil and his demons in order to complete the Atonement. This jesus had to die spiritually. The death of this jesus did not atone for the sins of man on the cross but in the pit of hell. The atoning sacrifice of the Faith Movement’s jesus was not finished upon the cross but was merely the beginning of the complete work of redemption (K. Copeland, ‘Believer’s Voice of Victory’, April 1982, p.10). The Faith Movement jesus is a false jesus and no Savior at all.
THE ‘JESUS’ OF SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISM:
The Seventh-Day Adventist jesus bears some similarity to the true Jesus, but being similar is not the same as. According to Seventh-Day Adventist prophetess, Ellen G. White, ‘The blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, while it was to release the repentant sinner from the condemnation of the law, was not to cancel sin....it (the blood) will stand in the sanctuary until the FINAL atonement’ (E. G. White, ‘Patriarchs and Prophets’, p.357). The jesus of Seventh-Day Adventism ‘...gave his life that man should have another trial. He did not die on the cross to abolish the law of God but to secure for man a second probation’ (E. G. White, ‘Testimonies to Ministers’, 1953, p.134). The Seventh-Day Adventist jesus is a false jesus and no Savior at all.
THE ‘JESUS’ OF CHRISTIAN SCIENCE:
The jesus of Christian Science did not atone for man’s sins upon the cross at Calvary. Founder, Mary Baker Eddy, emphatically and blasphemously stated that, ‘The material blood of jesus was no more efficacious to cleanse from sin when it was shed upon the accursed tree than when it was flowing through his veins...’ (‘Science and Health’, p.25). This jesus was born of the Virgin Mary’s spiritual thoughts of Life and its manifestation. The ‘one sacrifice’ of this jesus, ‘however great, is insufficient to pay the debt of sin’ (‘Science and Health’, p.23). The jesus of Christian Science is a false jesus and no Savior at all.
THE ‘JESUS’ OF ARMINIANISM:
The ‘jesus’ of Arminianism is the most popular and adored of all the counterfeit christ’s. This jesus is another false messiah who died, not for God’s chosen people, but for every individual ever born. His death was not to secure the salvation of anyone but was to make salvation potential for everyone, dependant upon their free will choice of Him. This jesus is not the effectual Savior of His people but the potential Savior of every person, thus making man’s free-will decision for God that which will ultimately decide his eternal destiny. It is not Christ and His Work that makes the difference between saved and lost but a free-will act of man. The jesus of Arminianism achieved nothing on the cross for any for whom he died unless they accept what he has done, thereby making it a valid and effectual act. The jesus of Arminianism is a false jesus and no Savior at all.
THE TRUE JESUS:
There is only one True Jesus, the Jesus of the Bible: the One Whom God gives testimony to. The One Who died, was buried and rose again "according to the Scriptures" (see 1 Corinthians 15:1-4). There is only one Savior whom God recognizes as His Son and only His Son saves: the Jesus Who is not only the Son of God but IS God Himself. The true Jesus IS the Second Person of the Trinity (1 John 5:6,7), unlike the Mormon jesus. The resurrected body of the true Jesus was made up of ‘flesh and bones’ (Luke 24:39) and the true Jesus is not already secretly on earth for His coming will be seen by all (Acts 1:9-11 cf. Luke 17), unlike the JW’s jesus. The true Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father and does not appear at the beck and call of Roman Catholic priests upon their altars as bread and wine. Nowhere in Scripture can it be demonstrated that the sufferings of the true Jesus continued in hell for the redemption of man, as they did for the false jesus of the Faith Movement. The true Jesus died on the cross at Calvary and His shed blood, that is his physical death, DID atone for all the sins of everyone for whom He died. His sacrifice was a once and for all substitutionary sacrifice that requires no repetition and no supplementary act on the part of man in order for it to become effective. His physical death IS sufficient to cover every sin—past, present and future—of all those whom God gave to Him.
The jesuses promoted in the false gospels of religion failed to fully atone for sin by their ‘death’ on the cross. The true Jesus’ atonement for His people was fully efficacious for the redemption of everyone for whom He poured out His blood:
"Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross"
"...but now once in the end of the world hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself"
"...we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all"
"For by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified"
"...unto Him (Jesus) who loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood"
All these Scriptures testify to the fact of the all-sufficiency and all-efficiency of Jesus’ once and for all sacrifice for His sheep on the cross. As the different gospels preached by these false religions are no Gospel at all, so too, their different jesuses are no Jesus at all and, therefore, no Saviour at all! It is of crucial importance that we believe in the right Jesus. In fact it is a matter of life and death. The jesus you have is identified by the doctrine you believe in. There are billions of people on this earth but only one you and one me. So too, there is only ONE God and ONE Lord Jesus Christ. There is only ONE Savior and if one does not abide in His doctrine, if one does not believe in the only Gospel which reveals the Righteousness of Christ, without which no one can be saved, then one is without God and without hope:
"Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God..."
2 John 9
"For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth...For therein is the Righteousness of God revealed..."
Imagine a room full of different jesuses. Above their heads are written: ‘The jesus of the Mormons’; ‘The jesus of the Faith Movement’; ‘The jesus of Roman Catholicism’; ‘The jesus of Arminianism’ etc. The characteristics, the attributes, the history and the redemptive work of the jesus you follow must be in accord with the Jesus of the Bible or you have accepted the wrong jesus (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Why error is so deadly in this matter of who the Savior is and what He has done, is that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.
If one does not hold to the truth about Jesus, how can one be said to have the True Jesus at all?
The doctrine which distinguishes and identifies the jesus you believe in must be in accord with the Scriptures or you have been taught, and do follow, one of the many counterfeit saviors. The true Jesus is the One whose physical death upon the cross, alone fully atoned for the sins of everyone for whom He died. Only this Jesus is the real Savior; only this Jesus provides salvation for His people, the ones whom God chose before the foundation of the world and gave to His Son (Ephesians 1:4 & John 17:2,3). Accept any other jesus, however much he might resemble the true Jesus, however sincerely you believe him to be the true Jesus, and you have embraced a satanic counterfeit who will lead you to an eternal hell.
By Moreno Dal Bello
Monday, January 22, 2007
What does God say about Rewards?
Well, God has said a great deal about rewards. There are more than 100 verses in the Bible containing the noun “reward”, or the verb “to reward”, and there are many more verses that speak about rewards without actually using the word “reward” in them. Just in the Old Testament alone there are 27 different words that have been translated by the noun “reward” or by the verb “to reward”.
So, will I be able to address all of these in this article?
I believe I will be able. Let us start off here in the Gospel According to Matthew 19:27-30,
Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?
And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.
But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.
Peter brought up the subject of rewards to Jesus. Paraphrased Peter said to the Lord Jesus, Look, we have left our families and our houses and our jobs all behind and have followed you for the past three years. What shall be our reward?
What Shall We Have Therefore?
How did the Lord Jesus answer him?
He said, “Verily I say unto you”, which means, “Now listen carefully and mark My words; this will most certainly come to pass”. And then Jesus specified to whom He was talking, “ye which have followed me”, which means, “You the twelve Apostles shall sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel”. In other words, these twelve thrones are only for the twelve Apostles. The only problem with this interpretation is: There were actually not 12 Apostles but there were 13 Apostles. Judas Iscariot was disqualified, and Matthias filled his place. Then God chose the 13th Apostle: Saul of Tarsus became the 13th Apostle, called Paul. And actually there were not 12 tribes of Israel, but there were 13 tribes of Israel. Joseph, the eldest son of Jacob and Rachel received a double inheritance: Joseph became 2 tribes. His tribes were Ephraim and Manasseh. Each time that we find in the Bible a listing of the 12 tribes of Israel, one tribe has been left out. And so, since there were 13 Apostles and 13 tribes of Israel, we really cannot interpret verse 28 literally. All we can say is that the Lord Jesus Christ promised His Apostles a special place in the New Heaven & New Earth. But what that place is we do not know. Then in verse 29 the Lord Jesus addresses the matter of rewards. In verse 29 Jesus speaks of every one who has forsaken all that he has for Christ’s sake, and for the sake of the furtherance of the Kingdom of Christ. We must understand this verse with spiritual eyes.
Who are these who have forsaken all that they have?
These are the saints who have put Christ first in their lives, and who have placed all other things and other people who enter their lives in second priority to Christ. It does not mean that they must abandon any support for their families. This cannot be, since God says in 1st Timothy:
1 Timothy 5:8
But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
God gave us spouses, because the Bible says that it was God who joined us together. God gave us children in loan, to raise them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Also, if Christ is first in our life we do not stop to take some food, because by eating we are lubricating the machinery in service to Christ. If Christ is first in our life we do not quit our secular jobs at the office, or in school, or in other workplaces, because by working our secular jobs we obtain money to buy food, and clothing, and housing, and other things necessary to lubricate the machinery. We do not abandon our family physically, since God has put in our custody the support and upbringing of our family members in the fear and admonition of the Lord. But our work for Christ must have first priority, because our love for Christ must be greater than the love for our family. The Lord Jesus said in Matthew chapter 10:
He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
Therefore it is absolutely necessary to love Christ more, and love the work for Christ’s Kingdom more, than to love those who are so near and dear to us. Thus the forsaking of all that we have must be understood spiritually, in agreement with the rest of the Bible to make us understand what Christ actually said.
Who then are all these who have forsaken all that they have?
Are these only the pastors and missionaries who have dedicated their life to the Lord?
NO! These are all the saints. In this verse the Lord Jesus described the normal lifestyle of anyone who has been saved, who has been transformed from a sinner to a saint. Only God can do this. That is why Jesus said in verse 26, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible”. Only God can transform a sinful creature into a person who loves God, whom he has not seen, more than his own family, or loved ones, whom he has seen. And then the Lord Jesus continued in Matthew 19:29 with these words...
Shall Receive an Hundredfold
“And shall inherit everlasting life”.
We have already answered the question “Who”?
The answer is, “All the saints”.
The next questions are, “What”, “When” and “Where”?
To answer these questions we have to turn to the parallel passage in the Gospel of Mark for additional information.
What shall we receive an hundredfold?
When shall we receive it?
Shall we receive an hundredfold in this lifetime, or in the time after we have died?
Where shall we receive it?
Shall we receive it on this earth, or in Heaven, or in the New Heaven & New Earth?
Please notice that this passage about rewards follows Jesus’ saying, “With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible”. Both in Matthew and in Mark we see the same sequence.
What does or did God do that is so impossible in the sight of men?
God is transforming sinners into saints.
We read in Mark chapter 10:
Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee.
And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's,
But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.
But many that are first shall be last; and the last first.
Now, verse 30 makes it a lot clearer.
When and Where shall we receive it?
Jesus said, “Now in this time”. In other words, the rewards of our work for the Lord we will receive in this time, while we live on this earth. And in the world to come we receive eternal life with Christ in God, not as a reward for our work done here on earth, but as a Free Gift given to all those whom God saves, whether they have worked long or whether they have worked a short time for the Lord. That is why in the Gospel of Matthew the Lord Jesus followed up this saying with the “Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard”, where some have worked long and others have worked short, but all receive the same wage: One Denarius.
And What shall we receive an hundredfold now in this time?
The things we have left for the sake of Christ, these are the things we shall receive an hundredfold. Jesus mentioned, “brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children”. There are many practical applications contained here in Mark 10:30.
Did you notice “mothers” plural?
How can we have more than one mother?
The answer is, when we become a member our new church-family, we have in fact received many more family members that we had before we became saved.
I did not say so; Jesus said it.
Do we believe this?
Have we really accepted that the other members of our church are as dear to us as family members?
Can we truly make these words of Jesus practical in our life?
Well, it all depends whether we have received the faith that comes from God, or whether we have been fooling ourselves.
Is there a love we have for our fellow members of Christ's church?
The Lord Jesus said that this love for one another must be present.
Is there also a love we have for other believers worldwide, who also believe as we do?
They too are a part of our church family.
The Lord Jesus said that this love for one another must be present.
In Mark 10:30 the Lord Jesus also mentioned “houses”.
What does this mean?
This certainly includes the houses where our family members live in. This means that we must be hospitable to other believers, and that we welcome them to visit, and to share our meals with them, and so on. Many mothers would be delighted to cook some extra for these guests, and to serve them, and smother them with motherly love. In Mark 10:30 the Lord Jesus also mentioned “lands”.
What are lands for?
Not many of us today are landowners, because we live in an industrialized society. But throughout most of the past centuries the majority of people owned lands to grow their crops on, because most of them were either farmers, or they raised cattle. And so, these lands were a means of income. It means that we must take care of our church family members, so that whoever is in financial need must receive support from the rest of us, so that they do not go hungry, or are cold, or are not clothed well.
But there is more. In Mark 10:30 the Lord Jesus also mentioned “with persecutions”. In other words, our rewards for bringing the true Gospel is to receive in this present time religious persecutions. This is as certain as the reward of receiving a new church family. Every saint should expect persecutions. The Lord Jesus said in John 15:
Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
Can we thank the Lord for these persecutions?
We must certainly thank Him for all these things, both good and bad, because we know that “All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
God knows what is good for us, and so we must thank Him for everything He sends our way. All these things are our rewards for following Jesus. One principle we have learned from Mark 10:30 is that there are:
Rewards for All Kinds of Works
The Bible speaks everywhere of rewards, and, in the minds of some, it gives the impression that God will give special rewards for good works done by His saints.
We have seen from Matthew 19:27-30 and Mark 10:28-31 that this is not so.
God gives spiritual rewards for works done for Him, and those spiritual rewards are given in this life. But all those good works are not worthy to stand in the shadow of the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. Therefore in the life hereafter we all receive the same inheritance, which is life everlasting in the presence of God and of the Lamb.
Who will render to every man according to his deeds:
To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:
But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,
Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;
But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:
For there is no respect of persons with God.
But we know that “we all are by nature the children of wrath”, and we all have been “conceived in sin” and we all are “called transgressors from the womb”. We all were by nature enemies of God. It is only by the grace of God that God turned some of us around and made us love Him, and seek for Him, and seek to be saved from our sins. Therefore those “who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life”, are those whom Christ has saved by grace from their slippery slide into Hell. But those whom Christ passed by and are left in their sins are those who “are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath”. Then in verse 11 God says that He will pass judgment both on Jews and Gentiles, for God is not a respecter of persons. God will reward evil works and God will reward good works.
And so, we see that God rewards the saved with eternal life, because the Lord Jesus Christ has removed all our sins during His atonement, and God rewards the unsaved with condemnation in Hell, because they have sinned voluntarily. God uses this same language throughout the Bible. Yes, the penalties for evil works are also called rewards. God says there are:
Rewards for Evil Works?
We see this most clearly in the case of Judas Iscariot. Judas was appointed to the circle of 12 apostles surrounding the Lord Jesus day and night for 3½ years. But Judas remained unsaved. But then Judas offered to the scribes and Pharisees to take them to Jesus by night so that they might overtake Him. Judas did that voluntarily because Judas coveted the ransom money for the betrayal.
Did Judas expect that Jesus would save Himself miraculously out of the hands of the scribes and Pharisees?
That is possible. The Bible does not disclose that. But when Jesus let Himself be bound, and when Jesus was condemned to die, Judas felt remorse for his evil work and Judas hanged himself in the field that was a potter’s field. Now we read in Acts chapter 1,
Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.
Here “the reward of iniquity” was the 30 pieces of silver that Judas received from the scribes and Pharisees. They purchased that Potter’s field in the name of Judas Iscariot. The money that Judas coveted bought him the cursed field where he died. That was an overt display of God’s wrath on Judas Iscariot. But the much greater reward for Judas will be to be cast into Hell on the Last Day. God has sprinkled throughout the Bible many verses that indicate rewards for evil works. God says in 2 Timothy 4:14,
2 Timothy 4:14
Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works:
God shall reward Alexander the coppersmith, but the reward will most likely be given in the life hereafter. God speaks of false teachers in 2 Peter 2.
2 Peter 2:13
And (they) shall receive the reward of unrighteousness,
What is their reward of unrighteousness?
They will receive a hotter place in Hell.
We find that in:
My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.
Let there not be many masters, referring to teachers of the Word of God. Let there not be many teachers, because those whose teachings are leading people to Hell shall receive the greater condemnation. When God promises rewards for evil works, God promises greater condemnation in Hell.
But when God promises rewards for good works done, these good works have been made possible only by the grace of God. And thus our good works are not rewarded in the life hereafter, but in this life.
When God in the Bible writes of a truly good work, the only work that qualifies to be good is a work that is not tainted by sin.
The Only Merited Reward
The only good work is the work done by the Lord Jesus. The Lord Jesus Christ was the only one who was as righteous as God Himself, because He was God. He should be the only one who really deserved His reward, because all His works were righteous. His was the only merited reward.
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Christ was our example. Therefore let His mind of humility be our example in our daily life. He was in Heaven in the form of God, and He was God. Our God is a triune God, which means there are three Persons but only one God. Each person of the triune God is fully God Himself. Therefore, when the Second Person of the triune God assumed in His incarnation the entire human nature of a man, except for sin, this man, the carpenter of Nazareth, was actually God who came in the flesh. He laid down the glory that He had in Heaven and took upon Him the form of a Servant. He was the suffering Servant of Jehovah, as we can read about Him in Isaiah 53.
And being found in fashion as a man he humbled himself and became obedient unto death even the death of the cross.
His suffering was equivalent to the wrath of God on all the sins of all the elect whom God chose to save. His suffering and death on the cross was a righteous work that merited a reward.
What was His reward?
His reward was that God has highly exalted Him and has made Him King of kings and Lord of lords both in heaven and on earth. God gave Him all the elect to be the Bride of Christ. God gave Him the whole world, and this universe as well, to cleanse it from all sin and to dispose whatever has been defiled by sin. God gave Him the keys of death and Hell. And God also made Him the Judge over all creation, so that on the Last Day, “At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”. (Philippians 2:10-11)
I could make this list much longer, but from this you understand that Christ’s work was rewarded greatly, since His was the only merited reward. Unsaved man simply cannot do anything good. Any saint can only do works that are tainted with sin, even their best works. Therefore all other rewards for good behavior are actually:
Rewards of Grace
Normally the saints associate rewards with good works. Perhaps you remember that in the first 10 verses of Ephesians 2 God summarized the Gospel in a nutshell. The first three verses deal with our depravity before our salvation. Then beginning in verse 4 God indicates Why and How He saved His elect, and that God saved us entirely by His grace, not for any work that we have done, or that we are going to do. Then in verse 10 God has something to say about our good works.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained (prepared) that we should walk in them.
We are Christ’s workmanship. God created us body and soul, represented in Christ Jesus from before the foundations of the world, and created unto good works. Here is where the good works come in. God did not save us because of the good works we were going to do, like the good work of accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. No! God created us unto good works, which means that God has prepared these works long before we would come into existence. Therefore God prepared the good works ahead of time, so that we would walk in them automatically.
Do we get credit for doing those good works?
Absolutely not! God prepared those good works. We just stepped in the place and situation that God has made. Those good works were a gift of God’s grace. We did not perform those good works perfectly. They were still tainted by sin. But the Lord Jesus Christ took the sin away so that those works became pleasing to God.
Will God reward such works?
Yes He does. That is how much God loves us. Our eternal life in the life hereafter is also spoken of as our inheritance. We are coheirs with Christ of the inheritance in the New Heaven & New Earth. Even though this is all a gift of God’s grace, God also calls this our reward.
Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.
Since we have been saved by grace, we are serving the Lord Jesus Christ. And since we are serving Him our future inheritance is called our reward. But it really is a reward that is given by grace. It cannot be a reward for good works, for all our good works were prepared before by God.
2 John 8
Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought (worked out), but that we receive a full reward.
Again, those things which we have worked out were given to us on a silver platter. God prepared those works before, and made us walk in them. And so, the reward that we receive is a reward entirely of grace. Let us read how great this reward really is.
After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.
God Himself is our reward. Therefore, if we receive God Himself,
What More Do We Want?
In this beautiful passage of Romans chapter 8 God assures us that once we have been saved there is absolutely nothing that can cause us to lose our salvation. Knowing then from Genesis 15:1 that God Himself is our exceeding great reward, and knowing that God Himself performed the great miracle of changing our wicked heart into hearts that desire to serve God, we can be assured of God’s continuing providence.
What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
“If God be for us, who can be against us”?
In verse 31 God assures us that nobody can be against us. God will turn all enemies away from us. They cannot harm us unless God permits them to do so, and then only because it is for our own good that God allows our enemies to do us harm. We grow through trials and tribulations. And through those trials God watches over us that we will not be stretched to the breaking point. In verse 32 God reminds us that He gave us His only begotten Son. He did not spare His own Son, but He delivered up the Lord Jesus Christ to suffer and die for us on the cross.
If God gave up His Son for us, and Christ gave all that He had, how can anyone think that God shall hold anything back?
Shall He not give us with Christ also freely all things?
Does this mean “All Things”?
It really means “All Things”, because all other things combined are of lesser value than Christ. And so, if God shall give us all things, there is not anything left to give.
What more do we want?
There is nothing more!
Besides, someone who claims that he deserves something extra, over on top of what everyone else receives, is insulting the generosity of God. Even if the most noble Christian in the world, who spent his whole life working for the Lord Jesus Christ, would have suffered on a cruel cross, and after the crucifixion, before his death, would have been burnt alive at the stake, then his inheritance in the New Heaven & New Earth would be a million trillion times greater than he deserved for all his good works. There is just no comparison.
Besides, someone who claims that he deserves something extra in the life hereafter actually believes in a gospel of selfishness.
To strive very hard doing good works on this sin cursed earth for the purpose of attaining an extra jewel in his crown in heaven is nothing but selfishness.
Our state of bliss in heaven, or in the NH&NE, is totally a gift of grace and cannot be mixed with any work done on this earth. Such a person is probably not saved.
It Is All of Grace, Not of Works
From all that we have seen so far it is clear that all our good works are fruits, which Christ bears in us and through us. Without Him we are nothing and can do nothing. In John 15 the Lord Jesus Christ told 11 of His disciples the Parable of the Vine and the Branches.
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
Without Him we are nothing and can do nothing. Our good works are gifts from God to us, which in the deepest sense flow from God’s eternal predestination and good pleasure. Therefore, our reward is all of grace, from beginning to end. It is of grace that Christ died for us and purchased eternal righteousness for us. By His death He also merited for us the privilege of performing good works. It is of grace that we are ingrafted into Him by a true faith, and that we are sanctified unto good works. Good works, therefore, are the fruits of Christ dwelling in us, fruits which God ordained for us before the foundation of the world, and in which we are privileged to walk. And as we are in the way of good works so we enter into glory. But it is all through grace, and never of works.
The Bible is very firm on the distinction between grace and works. For example, God says in Romans chapter 4:
Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
Our faith, if it is genuine faith, is a gift from God.
How do we know if God has given our faith, or if it has come out of our own mind?
Do you believe the whole Bible, from cover to cover?
That is the faith that is a gift from God. Anyone who does not believe the whole Bible but picks and chooses what he wants to believe does not have faith, because he declares God a liar in those places that he does not believe. But genuine faith is a gift of God’s grace.
God tells us in Romans 11:6 to make sure that we have a clear understanding of grace and works.
And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
Praise God that our rewards are all by grace and not partly by our works, because we would never make it on our own, not even part of the way. Therefore, “let
him that glorieth, glory in the Lord” (2 Corinthians 10:17)
By Alfred J. Chompff
A study of Mark 16:16
In Mark chapter 16 - The Lord Jesus has risen from the grave, and before He left them to go to heaven He gave them the great commission to evangelize the world. This is usually read from the last chapter in Matthew, but today I wanted to read this great commission from the Gospel according to Mark, because I want to address the subject of Baptism. There are many confusing doctrines of Baptism floating around. I would like to lay the groundwork for a very basic understanding of Baptism.
As you know, Baptism is one element that is very often used in the church, and therefore we must understand the first principles of Baptism very well. In the Old Testament dispensation many people have strayed from the teaching of the Ceremonial Law by focusing on the external aspects of each of the ceremonies.
They developed spiritual myopia. And this is how they arrived at a works gospel that was an abomination to God. They focused on the works themselves, instead of the spiritual meaning of these rules and sacrifices. But the New Testament churches have done the same thing with Baptism. Instead of focusing on the spiritual meaning of Baptism, they have developed requirements for the mode of Baptism, like: “You must be dipped in plenty of water, over backward, down under” and “you must be at least 18 years old”, and other such requirements.
We will not get into such debates about paedobaptism and about immersion versus sprinkling. Rather we will focus on the meaning of Baptism and whether it is required or not, and about the many Baptisms that exist in the Bible. That is why the title of this article is not: “Why Baptism?”, but the title of this article is “What Baptism?”, for there are many different kinds of Baptisms in the Bible.
The Great Commission
And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.
And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with THE signs following. Amen.
In verse 20 the Greek Textus Receptus says "THE signs", instead of just signs. It means that all the five signs that are listed in verses 17 and 18 shall follow all of them that believe. From the context we can see that all six verses belong together. The Lord gave us, and He gave them a command, “Preach the Gospel”, and the result of this preaching is shown in verse 20.
Many of today’s churches focus on verse 17, which speaks of exorcising demons and speaking in tongues, and they will conveniently forget the three other signs of verse 18. But the Lord says that all five signs shall follow all them that believe. It means that believers everywhere shall pick up rattlesnakes, and they shall not be harmed by these creatures. They shall drink strychnine and not be harmed by it.
They shall go into hospitals and empty out the hospitals by laying their hands on the sick. And they shall do these signs to demonstrate that they were sent by the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, do we see this happening anywhere?
No! Therefore it means that we have misinterpreted the words of our Lord.
What did we do wrong?
We have forgotten what the Lord said in Matthew 13. This chapter, Matthew 13, is in the centre of the Gospel according to Matthew, and it conveys the central thought of HOW God has written the Bible: God has written the Bible in such a way that those who are not guided by God the Holy Spirit will not understand the Bible. To them the Bible will be like any other book written by men, and to them it will be just like a history book, and to them it will be full of contradictions. This is HOW God wrote the Bible.
And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?
He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
In other words, to some it is given to know the Gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ, and to others it is not given. That is why the Lord Jesus spoke in parables.
All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them:
Does God convey the idea to us that Jesus spoke many more times in parables than most churches want to admit He did?
And that is indeed true.
But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples.
Indeed it is true that Jesus spoke many more times in parables. And when we read the Bible we should be aware of this, so that we do not fall into the errors of legalists and the errors of Arminians who have degraded the precious Gospel of “Christ crucified”.
Is it possible that the Lord Jesus spoke in parables in the Gospel of Mark 16:15-20?
Indeed, when we read verses 17-18 we see that these verses do not convey the Gospel plainly, but if we look at them as parables they do speak of the Gospel, particularly in the area of evangelism.
And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
However, verse 15 does not read as a parable. Verse 15 is a plain command to bring the Gospel to every one who wants to hear it. Obviously, the words “every creature” do not refer to every creature in the absolute sense. We do not preach the Gospel to cats and dogs, but we preach the Gospel to every one who is willing to listen to the words God has spoken. Verse 16 also is not written as a parable, but verse 16 is written in such a way that it can be easily misunderstood by those who read the Bible in a superficial way. Verse 16 is written in such a way that those “to whom it is given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of heaven” will understand it, but those “to whom it is not given” will misinterpret it to their own destruction. At this point many of those who hear me will cry foul, and they will accuse me of propagating a gospel of Hyper-Calvinism.
But all I have done is simply read to you what the Lord Jesus said in Matthew 13:11.
What is wrong with that?
My accusers have no answer for this. Let us now turn our eyes to Baptism. Verse 16 speaks of a required Baptism. Let us now delve into this subject. But first we need to realize that we cannot understand the real meaning of Baptism if we have not understood the real meaning of salvation. So let us first establish a few principles on the subject of salvation.
First Consider Salvation
In Ephesians 2:8 you find here the entire Gospel of salvation bottled up in one verse. This is the shortest, and the most elementary form of the Gospel. This is the simplest way I can present to you the entire Good News of salvation by grace alone, and the entire Gospel of Christ crucified, and the entire Gospel of salvation to the glory of our God who alone reigns sovereignly and supremely. All that is found here in one verse, verse 8, because the context wherein this verse is found elaborates on all that I have claimed it to be. Beginning at Verse 4.
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Not of works, lest any man should boast.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Even when we were dead in trespasses and sins, and were by nature the children of wrath even as others who never become saved, and even though we were by nature the enemies of God, He loved us and placed us in Christ, so that Christ could be our representative, so that we could be raised up together with Christ. And even though we wanted nothing to do with Christ, nevertheless the Lord Jesus Christ became our sin-bearer, and qualified to be our substitute before the throne of Justice, and qualified to be our sin-offering to atone for our sins, because He was the Lamb that God had provided for us for this purpose. What a grace.
What a gift, totally undeserving, and totally free, totally according to the good pleasure of His will, and not according to what we have done, nor was it according to what we were going to do. It was a free gift of grace, God’s gift to undeserving sinners. Because of our sins we were on a slippery slide into Hell, for Hell is what people deserve for insulting Almighty God. We needed to be saved from that predicament that all mankind is subject to. All mankind have sinned and therefore all mankind is on a slippery slide into Hell, “for the wages of sin is death”, and the death that God has in view as the payment for sin is not physical death, but is the second death of suffering for an eternity in the Lake of Fire.
Therefore God has placed us in Christ. He became our representative. But God has not done this for everyone in the world, for not everyone is saved. Not everyone seeks the glory of God. Not everyone loves the Christ of the Bible. Not everyone sees Him as the Judge of all the earth. For if we do seek the glory of God, if we do love Christ, and if we do look forward to His coming as the Judge of all the earth, we should know that all this does not come out of our own good heart, for that is not the nature of our heart. All this was put into our heart as a gift from God, together with the faith that also was a gift from God. Now, that is the message of Ephesians 2:8.
It is a message of the gift from God, because the Lord Jesus Christ suffered for our sins about 2000 years ago on the cross of Calvary and He sent His Holy Spirit into our hearts to make us aware of what He already has done for us, and to give us the faith to believe all this, because we read it here in the Bible.
According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
God says here that the Father has chosen us, and placed us in Christ before the foundation of the world. The Father predetermined our destiny and made us adopted children of God through the atonement of Jesus Christ on the cross. All this was signed and sealed when Christ died on the cross. The entire transaction was confirmed and delivered in our lifetime when God the Holy Spirit made us born from above. And thus, to suggest that Christ’s atonement was incomplete and must be completed by us doing a work, such as submit ourselves to the ceremony of Baptism, is an insult to Christ, and is an insult to God Almighty. When God says that Christ has done all the work, and has completed the task fully on the cross without our presence, and without our approval, then who are we to protest this statement from God in the Bible, and to design our own plan of salvation whereby we must also do some work for our salvation. But this is what people have done with the words of Mark 16:16.
When people are not good students of the Bible they assume that the words in our English bibles are truly the inspired Word of God. Some even dare to assume that the words in the NIV are truly the inspired Word of God. This is the pinnacle of stupidity.
What then did people consider the Word of God before the NIV came into existence?
Did the people have no Word of God before the KJV came into existence?
Of course they did, but the Word of God could only be read in the Greek and Hebrew manuscripts. But since most people do not read any Greek or Hebrew, a good English translation is an acceptable alternative. It is not perfect, but it is better than having no Bible, for if only the Greek and Hebrew versions were available then most people would have no Bible. But the KJV is an excellent Bible because it is an almost word by word translation. However, cults have come into existence because they adhered to the words in English, rather than search the Greek and Hebrew manuscripts. Great errors and heresies have been stamped out of the ground, simply because they did not search for the true meaning of a certain verse here and there. And so it is with Mark 16:16. And so it is with the concept of Baptism. When we read Mark 16:16, it seems to say: Mark 16:16 "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."
And thus this verse portrays two contrasting sides. On the positive side are those who believe and are being baptized. On the negative side are those who do not believe and are not baptized.
But why does this verse not say that?
Why do those who are not baptized not present in this verse?
Is it not because we have totally misunderstood this verse and we have in our mind substituted the word “baptized” with the words “baptized in water”?
But does it really mean ”baptized in water”?
How many baptisms are there in the Bible?
It is true that the meaning of "Baptism" is indeed the washing away of our sins, but "Water Baptism" is not that. Therefore we must first come to an understanding of the word "Baptism". Allow me to list for you thirteen different kinds of Baptisms that appear in the Bible.
Mark 1:4 BAPTISM of repentance.
Mark 1:4 BAPTISM unto the remission of sins.
Matthew 3:11 BAPTISM with the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 3:11 BAPTISM with fire.
Matthew 3:16 BAPTISM of Jesus by John (Jesus had no sins).
Mark 10:38 BAPTISM relating to the Cross experience.
Matthew 28:19 BAPTISM into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
Acts 2:38 BAPTISM into the name of Jesus Christ.
Acts 10:48 BAPTISM in the name of the Lord.
Acts 19:5 BAPTISM in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Romans 6:3 BAPTISM into Jesus Christ.
Mark 16:16 BAPTISM that is required for salvation.
John 3:22,John 3:26, John 4:1-2 BAPTISM by the Apostles before Jesus went to the Cross.
How can we sort all of this out?
And if this was not enough to get people confused about the subject matter of Baptism, God says in:
“One Lord, one faith, one baptism”.
In other words, God says that there is only one Baptism that truly is the washing away of our sins. When we search out our concordance we find that there are six Greek words which have to do with Baptism or to Baptize, or to dip. Two of those have always been translated to dip, and are never used as synonyms for the washing away of our sins. And thus we can safely leave those two out of the present discussion. Of the four remaining Greek words one has always been used to identify John the Baptist, which should have been translated John the Baptizer, for that is the literal translation of his name. And thus the remaining three Greek words are actually in view in the present sermon. These are the Greek words with Strong’s Concordance numbers 907, and 908, and 909. Each one of these three words have been used in five different ways. These are:
1) The Old Testament ceremonial washings with water.
2) The Old Testament water baptism of John.
3) The New Testament water baptism commanded by Jesus.
4) The baptism of the Holy Spirit.
5) The baptism by fire.
And thus, since each one of these three words have been used in five different ways, we are back to the rule that the meaning of a certain Greek word depends on its context. The context should define what the meaning is of that word that has been translated to Baptize or Baptism. In general, the word to Baptize or a Baptism means to Wash or a Washing. Let us now focus on:
The Baptism by Fire
What is the meaning of the washing away of our sins?
When were our sins washed away?
Well, there was only one day in all of history that our sins were washed away, and that was when the Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross of Calvary at about 3 O’clock in the afternoon. That was the only time in history that any sins were washed away.
And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto him, saying, Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire.
And he said unto them, What would ye that I should do for you?
They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory.
But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?
And they said unto him, We can. And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized:
But to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared.
Which Baptism is in view in verses 38 and 39?
The Lord Jesus is going to suffer on the cross, and He calls it a Baptism. We should read this as a washing. The Lord Jesus is going to wash away our sins that are cleaving to Him, and He is going to wash them away by enduring the penalty that was required for each of them. That penalty is the equivalent of an eternity in Hell. Only if Christ is God could He endure such a penalty without being consumed.
Therefore, which Baptism, or which washing is in view in this passage?
It is the Baptism by fire, or also called the washing by fire.
And what did the Lord Jesus promise James and John?
They too would be baptized by this fire.
Does this mean that James and John would be crucified, like the Lord Jesus?
Well we know that James was not crucified, he was beheaded. And John was not crucified either. John lived to a ripe old age, and instead of being crucified he was exiled to the island of Patmos. What then did the Lord Jesus mean when He said to them, “Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized”.
How do we interpret these words?
Well, we have read earlier in Ephesians 1:4-5 that all the elect, all those who have been chosen by the Father, and that certainly includes James and John, were in Christ before the foundation of the world. If we were in Christ, then we were crucified with Christ, we died with Christ when He died, we were buried with Christ when He was buried, we were raised with Christ when He rose from the tomb, and we ascended with Christ into the heavenlies when He ascended into heaven.
Most certainly, these are things which the Bible affirms in several places. And thus, when Christ endured the penalty of Hell, and He came out at the other end of Hell, we too went through Hell with Him and in Him, since He is our representative in the spirit.
This is how “we indeed did drink of the cup that Christ drank of; and with the baptism that He was baptized withal we were baptized”, not physically, but in the spirit, because He is our representative in the spirit.
This is our Baptism by fire. That is why God will never send us to Hell again, because we have already been there. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus”. James and John did suffer persecution, but these words that Jesus spoke in Mark 10:39 did not refer to their life of suffering. The context demands that these words apply to James and John being in Christ from before the foundation of the world.
But who then would sit on Christ’s right hand and on His left hand in glory?
Every believer, every saint, everyone whom the Father has chosen, is spiritually already seated with Him on His right hand and on His left, according to what we have read in Ephesians 2:6. And after He has raptured us up on the Last Day and has taken us into the glorious new creation, we will also physically be on His right hand and on His left.
What a glorious salvation God has in store for us!
But now we have to consider another kind of baptism
The Baptism of the Holy Spirit
John the Baptist preached before the Lord Jesus came on the scene. John said of Himself that he was the voice of one crying in the wilderness. We should be aware that when we bring the true Gospel, we are like John crying in the wilderness of this world. Like John we will have very few on our side, for the true Gospel has never been very popular. And when John spoke of the Lord Jesus, he said,
And preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose.
I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.
What Baptisms do we see in verse 8?
When John said, “I indeed have baptized you with water”, this was the Old Testament water baptism of John. John’s Baptism was a baptism of repentance, but it did not wash away any sins. John’s Baptism was only a sign pointing to a future Baptism that was a washing away of sins.
What is the second Baptism that we see in verse 8?
It is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. When John said, “he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost”, John referred to the New Testament Baptism of the Holy Spirit in which the sinner is transformed into a saint by being born from above, and simultaneously he receives the mandate to propagate these words of the Gospel into all the world. In Matthew 3:11 we see the same event as in Mark 1:8, but here we see three baptisms simultaneously in the same verse. Again John the Baptist proclaims that his baptism is nothing compared with the Baptism that the Lord Jesus Christ was going to bring.
I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:
What three Baptisms do we see in verse 11?
We see John’s baptism, we see the Lord’s Baptism with the Holy Spirit regenerating our soul, and we see our Baptism by fire on the cross. Now, which Baptism is in view when the Lord says in:
“One Lord, one faith, one Baptism”?
It is the Baptism that brings about the forgiveness of our sins. Only the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is accompanied by the forgiveness of our sins.
Now, let us ask ourselves, what is:
Water Baptism Commanded by Jesus
In Acts 8, Philip the deacon had been preaching among the Samaritans and many Samaritans believed. Even Simon the Sorcerer believed, because God performed many miracles by the hand of Philip.
But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.
Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:
Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:
(For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)
Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,
Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.
But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.
Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.
Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.
For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.
What do we see here?
Simon the Sorcerer claimed to believe the gospel, and was baptized, and remained unsaved. These people were baptized in water in the Name of the Lord Jesus. This was the Baptism that the Lord Jesus commanded His disciples in Matthew 28:19, but it did not save anyone. Of course not! This was only a ceremony. A ceremony could not save anyone in the Old Testament, and neither can it save anyone in the New Testament dispensation. Only the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is a baptism whereby people are saved, because only the Baptism of the Holy Spirit changes a person from sinner to saint. Water baptism does not save anyone, and never has. Water baptism is only a sign of the washing away of sins that hopefully has, or will, be performed by God at a time and place when He wills, and not at a time when we subject ourselves to water baptism. And so, armed with this knowledge, we return to the problem of Mark 16:16, where apparently a baptism was required. Remember that this was the great commission to bring the Gospel into all the world.
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
If this Baptism is required, could this be water baptism?
This cannot be water baptism, since water baptism does not save anyone. This refers to the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. This refers to the Baptism that accompanies the forgiveness of sins. And that is why for those on the negative side this Baptism was not mentioned. Paraphrased Mark 16:16 simply says, “He that believes and has been born from above by the Holy Spirit has been saved, and those that do not believe shall be condemned”. And this is a truth that is repeated many times throughout the Bible.
And so, in conclusion, we can say that the integrity of salvation by grace has been preserved. No one can say that there is something we must do in order to be saved. And water baptism is not a requirement for salvation. Many people have been saved without ever having been baptized in water.
By Alfred Chompff
Saturday, January 06, 2007
The preacher comes to the end of his sermon.
He says, "Come to Christ! He is able and willing to save you! He wants to save you! Just come to him! He is offering you salvation today! Will you take His salvation? See His outstretched arms! See the gracious and compassionate Savior waiting to save you! See how patiently and graciously He is waiting for you to come! There is mercy and grace for you in His blood! Will you reject such a gracious and merciful proposal? Oh, come to Him today!"
Does that sound familiar?
If you have a Trinity Hymnal (Orthodox Presbyterian Church), you will see songs with the following words under the category "The Free Offer of the Gospel": "The Spirit calls today;/Yield to his power;/ O grieve him not away;/'Tis mercy's hour." "Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched,/Weak and wounded, sick and sore;/Jesus ready stands to save you,/Full of pity joined with power:/He is able, He is able, He is able,/He is willing; doubt no more." "Come to the Saviour now,/He gently calleth thee;/... He waiteth to bestow/Salvation peace and love ..."
The preacher's words and the words of the songs put forth a savior who is ready and waiting.
What is he waiting to do?
He is waiting to bestow salvation.
What or whom is he waiting for?
He is waiting for the sinner to do something.
How does the sinner know what to do?
The "free offer" tells him what he needs to do to gain salvation from this savior.
What is this "free offer"?
Since this phrase is found nowhere in the Bible, from where did this phrase come?
The Canons of Dordt state: "It is not the fault of the gospel, nor of Christ, offered therein, ..." (3/4.9)
The Westminster Confession of Faith states: "... wherein He freely offereth unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ ..." (7.3).
These documents say that Christ is offered in the gospel and that God freely offers salvation by Christ to sinners. Is this akin to the "free offer" of today?
One must delve into the meaning of the word "offer" and how it was used during these times. The word comes from the Latin word offerre that means "to bear," "to bring," "to present." This is how the word was used in the days of the Canons and the Westminster Confession. Christ is presented in the gospel. Life and salvation by Jesus Christ is freely presented to sinners. In this sense, the "free offer" is orthodox. The gospel is to be preached freely to all without exception, and all without exception are commanded to repent and believe the gospel.
Do the modern "free offer" advocates merely hold to the "free presentation" of the gospel?
It is quite obvious from their writings that their "free offer" is quite different and quite heretical. The word "offer" now implies that the offerer desires that the offeree accept the offer. For example, if Mr. Smith offers Mr. Jones an apple, it is because Mr. Smith desires that Mr. Jones accept the offer of the apple. In the same way, if God offers salvation through Christ to all without exception, it is because God desires the salvation of everyone to whom He offers it.
In 1948, John Murray and Ned Stonehouse (of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church) wrote a treatise entitled "The Free Offer of the Gospel." It is the definitive work on the subject of the "free offer"according to modern "free offer" advocates. The first sentence of the treatise clearly spells out the issue: "It would appear that the real point in dispute in connection with the free offer of the gospel is whether it can properly be said that God desires the salvation of all men." Murray and Stonehouse go on to say that God does indeed desire the salvation of all men: "We have seen that God himself expresses an ardent desire for the fulfillment of certain things which he has not decreed in his inscrutable counsel to come to pass." And they boldly proclaim that this "free offer" is a manifestation of God's grace and love to all without exception: "The full and free offer of the gospel is a grace bestowed upon all. Such grace is necessarily a manifestation of love or lovingkindness in the heart of God. And this lovingkindness is revealed to be of a character or kind that is correspondent with the grace bestowed. The grace offered is nothing less than salvation in its richness and fulness. The love or lovingkindness that lies back of that offer is not anything less; it is the will to that salvation. In other words, it is Christ in all the glory of his person and in all the perfection of his finished work whom God offers in the gospel. The loving and benevolent will that is the source of that offer and that grounds its veracity and reality is the will to the possession of Christ and the enjoyment of salvation that resides in him."
Not only do the modern "free offer" advocates believe that God desires the salvation of all without exception, but they also believe that this must be preached: "Does God desire the salvation even of those who are reprobate? ... I assert that this is the heart of the matter. Does God desire the salvation of all men? The answer is, Yes! Therefore we must, in our preaching, declare indiscriminately to all our hearers that God desires to see them saved. Further, we are preaching the gospel to sinners properly, only when we are convinced of the truth of such a desire in God and say so very clearly. We can only persuade sinners to be reconciled to God when we are persuaded that God not only delights in their salvation, but he actually desires it" (David Gay, "Preaching the Gospel to Sinners: 2," The Banner of Truth, Aug.-Sept. 1994: 42).
It is this modern version of the "free offer" (sometimes called the "well-meant offer") that we will address in light of the gospel of salvation conditioned solely on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ.
The "free offer" advocates state very clearly that God wants, desires, wills, wishes that everyone, including the reprobate, be saved. Not only this, they preach to everyone without exception that God wants, desires, wills, wishes that they be saved. And remember: these are those who profess to believe and preach the doctrines of grace!
What kind of preaching is "free offer" preaching?
It is similar to the example at the beginning of this article. It talks of a jesus who is lovingly offering salvation to everyone out of a desire to save everyone.
How does this compare to true gospel preaching?
At its most basic, "free offer" preaching is a preaching of salvation conditioned on the sinner, while true gospel preaching is a preaching of salvation conditioned on Christ. Of course, the "free offer" advocates will insist that they are preaching salvation conditioned on Christ, just as the Arminians will insist this. But it is impossible to preach the "free offer" without preaching salvation conditioned on the sinner.
Consider: The "free offer" advocates preach that Christ is ready and waiting and willing to save every lost person within the sound of the preaching.
So if Christ is ready and willing to save them, what is He waiting for?
Of course, it is for the sinner to do his part. The "Calvinists" who preach this say that God, in his eternal decree, decreed that the reprobate will not fulfill the condition of faith, while the elect will fulfill the condition of faith. They will even go so far as to say that God enables the elect to fulfill the condition. Yet it is still salvation conditioned on the sinner. For example, Murray and Stonehouse said, "Our Lord in the exercise of his most specific and unique function as the God-man gives expression to a yearning will on his part that responsiveness on the part of the people of Jerusalem would have provided the necessary condition for the bestowal of his saving and protecting love, a responsiveness, nevertheless, which it was not the decretive will of God to create in their hearts." Here Murray and Stonehouse are teaching that responsiveness is a condition for salvation and that Jesus wished that God would have bestowed this responsiveness so that He (Jesus) could, in turn, bestow salvation. Thomas Chalmers, a professing Calvinist, was even bold enough to say in one of his sermons, "God is willing to save you: are you willing to be saved?" ("Fury Not In God")
The "free offer" is inextricably connected to a certain universality in the atonement. (See this issue's Heterodoxy Hall of Shame for a quote from Charles Hodge on conditional salvation that is linked to Christ's death for all men.) Thomas Boston said that the basis of this offer is Christ's position as the "official Savior" of all without exception: "Our Lord Jesus Christ is the official Savior, not of the elect only, but of the world of mankind indefinitely. ... Any of them all may come to Him as Savior, without money or price, and be saved by Him as their own Savior appointed to that office by the Father. ... If it were not so that Christ is the Savior of the world, He could not warrantably be offered with His salvation to the world indefinitely, but to the elect only. If He were not commissioned to the office of Savior of all men, it would be no more appropriate to call all men to trust Him as Savior any more than He could be offered lawfully to fallen angels. ... No one could be held guilty for not turning to Christ for salvation, unless there is a sense in which God has appointed Him to be a Savior of that guilty one" (from the sermon "Christ the Savior of the World"). And to what does this universalism lead? It leads to preaching of the conditional "free offer": Boston said, "He sent His Son from heaven with full instructions and ample powers to save you, if you will believe" (ibid.).
The preaching of the true gospel does not offer a salvation to sinners if the sinners would only do their part. The preaching of the true gospel is an unconditional promise of salvation that is conditioned on the work of Christ alone. God's covenant of grace is not a conditional covenant. It is a sure and certain covenant that ensures the salvation of all whom God gave to Christ. It is based on the finished, efficacious work of Christ. God is not waiting for the sinner to respond before He can do His saving work. God saves unconditionally. And when He saves His people, He causes them to believe the true gospel of salvation conditioned on Christ and to repent of ever thinking that salvation was conditioned on themselves.
By Marc D. Carpenter