Thursday, May 29, 2008

BOOK REVIEW: REPROBATION ASSERTED" - BY JOHN BUNYAN



'Reprobation asserted' was published in 1674, two years after John Bunyan was released from prison.
This book contains alot of heresy so from the very start I am going to say there will be nothing positive to say about this book.

As we shall read, Mr Bunyan clearly did not believe that the difference between salvation and damnation was the work of Jesus Christ alone, for the christ he preached died the same death for those in heaven as he did for those who will have to pay for their own sins in hell.

The first quote comes from chapter 4:


"Third, Another cause of eternal reprobation, is the act and working of distinguishing love, and everlasting grace. God hath universal love, and particular love; general love, and distinguishing love; and so accordingly doth decree, purpose, and determine: from general love, the extension of general grace and mercy: but from that love that is distinguishing, peculiar grace and mercy: 'Was not Esau Jacob's brother?' saith the Lord, 'yet I loved Jacob' (Mal 1:2). Yet I loved Jacob, that is, with a better love, or a love that is more distinguishing."

Incredibly John Bunyan didn't bother to quote the very next verse which says:

Malachi 1:3
Yet I hated Esau.....

Compare this verse also with Romans 9:13 and we are left with undeniable, blatant twisting of God's word by Mr Bunyan.

Romans 9:13
As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

The below verse is perfectly fitting in response to what John Bunyan has written above in chapter 4:

Proverbs 30:6
Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.

In chapter 9 he writes:

"Whether God would indeed and in truth, that the gospel, with the grace thereof, should be tendered to those that yet he hath bound up under Eternal Reprobation?

To this question I shall answer,

First, In the language of our Lord, 'Go preach the gospel unto every creature' (Mark 16:15); and again, 'Look unto me, and be ye saved; all ye ends of the earth' (Isa 45:22). 'And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely' (Rev 22:17). And the reason is, because Christ died for all, 'tasted death for every man' (2 Cor 5:15; Heb 2:9); is 'the Saviour of the world' (1 John 4:14), and the propitiation for the sins of the whole world."

We see above that Mr Bunyan believed that the gospel should be tendered to the reprobate because he says "Christ died for all" including the reprobate that will perish in hell everlastingly. This now becomes abundantly clear below as we continue to read through this portion of chapter 9:

"Second, I gather it from those several censures that even every one goeth under, that doth not receive Christ, when offered in the general tenders of the gospel; 'He that believeth not, - shall be damned' (Mark 16:16); 'He that believeth not God hath made him a liar, because he believeth not the record that God gave of his son' (1 John 5:10); and, Woe unto thee Capernaum, 'Woe unto thee Chorazin! woe unto thee Bethsaida!' (Matt 11:21) with many other sayings, all which words, with many other of the same nature, carry in them a very great argument to this very purpose; for if those that perish in the days of the gospel, shall have, at least, their damnation heightened, because they have neglected and refused to receive the gospel, it must needs be that the gospel was with all faithfulness to be tendered unto them; the which it could not be, unless the death of Christ did extend itself unto them (John 3:16; Heb 2:3); for the offer of the gospel cannot, with God's allowance, be offered any further than the death of Jesus Christ doth go; because if that be taken away, there is indeed no gospel, nor grace to be extended. Besides, if by every creature, and the like, should be meant only the elect, then are all the persuasions of the gospel to no effect at all; for still the unconverted, who are here condemned for refusing of it, they return it as fast again: I do not know I am elect, and therefore dare not come to Jesus Christ; for if the death of Jesus Christ, and so the general tender of the gospel, concern the elect alone; I, not knowing myself to be one of that number, am at a mighty plunge; nor know I whether is the greater sin, to believe, or to despair: for I say again, if Christ died only for the elect, &c. then, I not knowing myself to be one of that number, dare not believe the gospel, that holds forth his blood to save me; nay, I think with safety may not, until I first do know I am elect of God, and appointed thereunto."

In chapter 10 John Bunyan wrote:

"So then, though there be a sufficiency of life and righteousness laid up in Christ for all men, and this tendered by the gospel to them without exception; yet sin coming in between the soul and the tender of this grace, it hath in truth disabled all men, and so, notwithstanding this tender, they continue to be dead.

The grace that is offered in the general tenders of the gospel, calleth for faith, as a condition in us, without which there is no life; but the special grace of election worketh faith in us without any such condition (Mark 16:15,16; Rom 11:5,6).

The grace that is offered in the general tenders of the gospel, promiseth happiness upon the condition of persevering in the faith only; but the special grace of election causeth this perseverance (Col 1:23; Eph 2:10; Rom 11:7; 1 Peter 1:5-7).

To conclude then; the gospel calleth for credence as a condition, and that both from the elect and reprobate; but because none of them both, as dead in sin, will close therewith, and live; therefore grace, by virtue of electing love, puts forth itself to work and do for some beyond reason; and justice cuts off others, for slighting so good, so gracious, and necessary a means of salvation, so full both of kindness, mercy and reason."

And finally a portion of chapter 11:

"That God is willing to save even those that perish for ever, is apparent, both from the consideration of the goodness of his nature (Psa 145:9), of man's being his creature, and indeed in a miserable state (Job 14:15, 3:16). But I say, as I have also said already, there is a great difference between his being willing to save them, through their complying with these his reasonable terms, and his being resolved to save them, whether they, as men, will close therewith, or no; so only he saveth the elect themselves, even 'according to the riches of his grace' (Eph 1:7). Even 'according to his riches in glory, by Christ Jesus' (Phil 4:19). Working effectually in them, what the gospel, as a condition, calleth for from them. And hence it is that he is said to give faith (Phil 1:29), yea the most holy faith, for that is the faith of God's elect, to give repentance (Acts 5:31), to give a new heart, to give his fear, even that fear that may keep them for ever from everlasting ruin (Eph 1:4); still engaging his mercy and goodness to follow them all the days of their lives (Jer 32:40; Eze 36:26,27), that they may dwell in the house of the Lord for ever (Psa 23:6), and as another scripture saith, 'Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing, is God' (2 Cor 5:5; Rom 8:26, &c.).

The reprobate is principal for the management of the grace he receiveth, but Jesus Christ is principal for the management of the grace the elect receiveth. When I say principal, I mean chief; for though the reprobate is to have the greatest hand in the management of what mercy and goodness the Lord bestoweth on him, yet not so as that the Lord will not help him at all; nay contrariwise he will, if first the reprobate do truly the duty that lieth on him: 'If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? but if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door' (Gen 4:7)."


John Bunyan's assertions are highly blasphemous.
He presents a saviour whose death did not ensure and demand the salvation all of those whom he represented.

Salvation is conditioned on the work of Jesus Christ alone and this is what every born again child of God believes. It is the work of Jesus Christ alone that makes the only difference between salvation and damnation, the true believer glories only in the cross of Jesus Christ and not their faith.

And furthermore, one man has rightly said:

"The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is proof that God the Father was totally satisfied with the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. He was totally satisfied because Jesus Christ accomplished exactly what He set out to accomplish, which was the full salvation of everyone whom He came to save. Jesus Christ fully satisfied the demands of God's law and justice on behalf of everyone for whom He died. Had Jesus Christ not fully accomplished salvation for everyone for whom He died, He would not have conquered death, and He would have remained in the grave. The reason Jesus Christ could not be held by death is that He had totally, absolutely defeated death in fully atoning for the sins of His people. If there is or will be even one person for whom Christ died who is suffering or will suffer the second death, then death was not defeated, and Jesus Christ was not raised as the victor over death. To truly believe and preach The Resurrection is to believe and preach the full, accomplished atonement of Jesus Christ with which God the Father was fully satisfied that was effectual to save everyone whom Christ represented. God the Father exalted Jesus Christ at His right hand as the Savior of His people who made full purification of their sins. There would have been no resurrection and no exaltation had there been even one person for whom Christ died who would end up in hell."

Conclusion:

As we have seen, Mr Bunyan clearly did not believe that the difference between salvation and damnation was the work of Jesus Christ alone, and for this reason, this is not a book that could be recommended to anybody.
If you desire some useful and helpful materials to read on this sobering doctrine of reprobation (and how we are to present the true gospel to all men) that is faithful to the word of God, I recommend the following materials.

1) "The sovereignty of God" by A.W. Pink

2) "Whosoever will" by Herman Hoeksema

3) "Hyper-Calvinism and the call of the gospel" by David J. Engelsma

1 Corinthians 1:18
For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

Chris
Jesus is LORD!

Friday, May 23, 2008

THE AVENGER OF WIDOWS


It is with a heavy heart that I am beginning on this chapter, Matthew 23. As you know, this is a chapter filled with tirades against the scribes and Pharisees. It is so condemning and it brings with it so many negative feelings. However, once we dig into this chapter we find that it is not really different from the other chapters in the Gospel of Matthew, and the Gospel presented in this chapter is not really different from the beautiful Gospel that is presented in other parts of the Bible. For example, if we are struck with negative feelings in this chapter, we should remember that chapters 21 and 22 and 24 are also filled with negatives and condemnations of the scribes and Pharisees, and of the Jewish nation. And so, we realize that we must see the Gospel shine through these negatives. For example, in Matthew 23 we read that the scribes and Pharisees “devour widows houses”, and we want to know what that means. But God does not leave any sin unpunished, and therefore we will discover that our God is the Avenger of defenseless widows. This is also the title of this sermon, “The Avenger of Widows”, and we want to discover what this means.

"In Moses’ Seat" (Matthew 23:1-10, Acts 15:10, Numbers 15:38-40)

Matthew 23:1
Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,

Matthew 23:2
Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat:

Matthew 23:3
All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.

Matthew 23:4
For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.

Matthew 23:5
But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,

Matthew 23:6
And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,

Matthew 23:7
And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.

Matthew 23:8
But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.

Matthew 23:9
And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.

Matthew 23:10
Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.

What are we seeing here in this passage?

Moses brought the Law of God to Israel, and Moses was the primary teacher of the Law. By sitting in the seat of Moses the scribes and Pharisees are in a place of authority to teach the Law. Therefore, listen and obey what they teach, but do not imitate their lifestyle for do not live up to what they say. Even the heavy burdens, grievous to be borne, you must obey.

What are these heavy burdens?

It refers to the more than 500 laws concerning the ceremonies and rites that were appointed by Moses, and of which Peter says in Acts 15:10, “neither they nor their fathers were able to bear”. Their phylacteries were small strips of parchment or vellum on which a verse or a passage of the Old Testament was written and which they strapped on their forehead or on their left arm as a show that they honored the Law. But it was all an outward show. Likewise God has commanded them in Numbers 15:38-40 to make a fringe on the borders of their outer garments. The scribes and Pharisees made these borders very wide in their pride that they were the teachers of the Law. They sought the most honored places or couches at the feasts and in the synagogues, and they loved to be called “Rabbi, Rabbi”.

What is the meaning of this title “Rabbi”?

It means “Eminent Teacher”, or “Theologian”. Today we would call them “Doctor of Divinity”. It was a title of honor and dignity. When Nicodemus addressed the Lord Jesus as Rabbi, it was intended as a complement, meaning “Doctor”, or “Teacher”. Most scribes and Pharisees were not worthy of this title, for they taught people a different gospel than the Gospel of the Bible. They taught people a gospel of works, which condemns believers of such a gospel to eternal condemnation in Hell. The Lord Jesus forbade His disciples to seek such titles of distinction. They should not covet it; they should not seek it; they should not do anything that it should be appended to their names. They should avoid everything which would lead the world to think that there were ranks and grades among the ministers of the Gospel. Remember this when we see this phenomenon among certain denominations, for these are denominations which bring you false gospels. Let us drop down to verse 11.

"God Resisteth the Proud" (Matthew 23:11-12, James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5, Proverbs 29:23, Matthew 7:13-14, Luke 14:11, Matthew 20:26-27, Isaiah 57:15)

Matthew 23:11-12
But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

Here is a passage which clearly shows that the Gospel in this chapter is the same as in the rest of the Bible. It is a dominant principle throughout the whole Bible what we read in James 4:6, and in 1 Peter 5:5,

James 4:6
Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.

If we try to find these words in the Old Testament we would search in vain. The closest statement in the Old Testament is found in Proverbs 29:23, which says, “A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit”.

But there are many other verses throughout the Bible which uphold this principle, and where with we can discern if a gospel is a true Gospel or a false gospel. For example, all works-gospels are plans of salvation that are filled with the pride of man, and the self-worth of man, and the self-esteem of man, and the dignity of man, and the wisdom of man, and man’s ability to determine his own destiny by his own free will. All false gospels are man-centered, and are bringing God down to man’s level, and are worshipping an impotent idol that cannot save. But all men are by nature proud. That is how we came into this world. And that is why we are by nature drawn to false preachers who present to us a plan of salvation whereby we do not have to give up our pride, and that is why these false gospels have a very great following. But let us not go where the majority goes, for we must always remember what the Lord Jesus said in Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it”.

The majority of mankind follows a gospel that leads them to Hell. Do not follow them. Therefore, let us remember the words which the Lord Jesus spoke in Luke 14:11, “For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted”. This is a dominant principle of the true Gospel, which is reflected in all kinds of other principles that we are familiar with. For example, the Bible states in many places that God is sovereign, not only in matters of salvation, but in everything. It means that we must always give God all the honor and the glory in everything. This means that God must receive 100% of the credit for our salvation, and not 99.99%. We must humbly admit that we were not worthy of receiving any salvation, or any honor, for even our best works are at least tainted with sin. And this humility we do not conjure up in our own mind, for this is totally foreign to our nature; we are by nature proud, and full of evil thoughts. It is God who receives all the credit for giving us a humble heart, so that we can believe the incredible Gospel of grace alone that we hear in our ears.

Another example: Is the Pastor the head of the church?

Many people say, “Absolutely yes”. Well, let us see what the Lord Jesus says about this. We read in Matthew 20:26-27,

Matthew 20:26-27
But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:

The Lord Jesus says that I am not the head of this church. I am ministering to you, which means I am serving you with the spiritual food that I have gleaned from the Bible. But I am your servant; I am just a fellow believer in Christ, but I am not your superior in the church hierarchy. You can have me fired, if you so desire. For example, I cannot insist that you must believe as I do, but I can give you the reasons why I believe as I do.

In Isaiah 57:15 we have here a beautiful summary of this principle that “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble”. And now we can understand why the Lord says that we can only be saved if we become as little children for as little children are trusting the words of their parents, so we must be trusting the words that God spoke to us in the Bible. God said it, and I believe it, and that is good enough for me. We read in Isaiah 57:

Isaiah 57:15
For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

Can you see God’s hand in all of this?

God says, “to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones”. And so, it is God who gets all the credit for giving us a humble heart. Let us now return to the Gospel According to Matthew. There we read about a strange thing:

"Ye Shut Up the Kingdom of Heaven" (Matthew 23:13, 21:31-32, John 9:22, Luke 11:52, Acts 4:17-18, 1 Thessalonians 2:15-16)

Can we say that this statement is in harmony with the rest of the Bible?

We read in Matthew 23:13,

Matthew 23:13
But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.

There are eight “Woes” in this chapter, and this is the first one. This is the most eloquent, and most appalling, and most terrible of all discourses that the Lord Jesus gave to mortals, and it was pronounced here, on Tuesday morning, in the temple, in the presence of the multitudes. This was the last of the Savior’s public discourses, and it is a most impressive summary of all that He had ever said, or that He had to say, of a wicked and hypocritical generation. Notice that the Lord is here addressing the scribes and Pharisees, but He is including the entire nation as a whole, for that is the trend we have seen all along through this study of Matthew. At the cross the Lord is going to divorce Himself from the nation of the Jews as a special people before God, and in its place God has selected a remnant out of all the nations of the world to be “His people”.

How then is the nation of the Jews able to “shut up the kingdom of heaven against men”?

What evil are they doing to accomplish this effect?

We should not look around to see what evil they are doing; we should look in the Bible and get our information from there. The Lord told the chief priests and the elders here a parable about two sons, the first who refused to work for his father, and then repented, and the second who pretended to obey his father, but then did nothing. And then the Lord asked them in Matthew 21:31-32,

Matthew 21:31-32
Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.

What do we see here?

The leaders of the Jews refused to believe what John the Baptist preached, and they shut up the Gospel of John by teaching false doctrines about John so that the disciples of the scribes and Pharisees would also oppose John the Baptist. In this case the leaders of the Jews did not openly declare war on the preaching of John. But the publicans and harlots, who ignored what the scribes and Pharisees taught them believed John’s Gospel, and were saved.

In John 9 the Lord Jesus gave sight to a man who was born blind. But because the Lord performed this miracle on the Sabbath, the leaders of the Jews were openly in opposition to the teachings of Jesus. Then the Jews continued to put pressure on the man who received his sight, and on his parents. Then we read in John 9:22,

John 9:22
These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.

And so we see the evil that the Jews did here. They shut up the kingdom of heaven for other men by teaching false doctrines concerning the Lord Jesus, and attempting to convince the people that He was not the Christ, but was an imposter, thus preventing many to become His followers. In Luke 11:52 we read that they had taken away the key of knowledge, and so prevented others from entering into the kingdom of heaven. But we should harmonize this with the fact that God is sovereign, which means that God chose to use this sin of the leaders of the Jews for not saving some of the people who heard them. This war of the Jews against the teachings of the Lord Jesus intensified after Jesus was taken into heaven, for we read in Acts 4:17-18 that they threatened the apostles not to preach Christ. We read in:

Acts 4:17
But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name.

Acts 4:18
And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.

This war continued to intensify during the preaching of the apostle Paul. And in 1 Thessalonians we have a passage that perfectly illustrates the evil actions of the Jews “to shut up the kingdom of heaven for other men” by actively persecuting those who are laying their life on the line for the preaching of the Gospel. We read:

1 Thessalonians 2:15-16
Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.

They are forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved. Do not think for a moment that the Jews did not know what they were doing. These evil acts were done deliberately, out of envy, and in open rebellion against God.

Our God, the Avenger of Widows (Matthew 23:14, Titus 1:10-11, 2 Timothy 3:6, 2 Peter 2:3)

Now this seems to be a new idea, totally new to the Scriptures. But NO! The subject matter here is in total harmony with all other things we have learned from the Bible. We read in Matthew 23:14,

Matthew 23:14
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.

How did the scribes and Pharisees devour widows’ houses?

And what have their long prayers to do with this?

Did the scribes and Pharisees embezzle the poor widows of their houses through clever legal maneuvers so that the widows were out on the street?

Does this verse indicate the rottenness of the hearts of the scribes and Pharisees by defrauding the poor and uneducated widows?

Actually, this sin was indeed perpetrated in the 20th and the 21st century by greedy mortgage brokers, but this sin was too evil even for the scribes and Pharisees. We do not read anywhere in the Bible about such heinous sins. And so, we need to reconsider our interpretations of this verse.

As always we must find the solution to our questions not by looking at the ceiling, and not by trusting the wisdom of men, or by believing what answer is logical, but by finding our solutions in the Bible. The expression, “ye devour widows’ houses” does not necessarily refer to the physical houses, but to the families living in those households. Just like today, when both parents are working, the grandmothers are taking care of the household and of the children. These widows are not living alone. We read in Titus 1:10-11,

Titus 1:10
For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision:

Titus 1:11
Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake.

Here we read in verse 11, “who subvert whole houses”. Certainly these vain talkers and deceivers are not destroying physical houses of bricks and mortar, but they are converting entire households to embrace the false gospels they are bringing.

And why would they bring these false gospels?

Verse 11 says, “for filthy lucre’s sake”. In other words, the more people they would convert to believe their vain gospels, the more money they would rake in for the physical support of evangelizing their vain gospels. And now we also learn how to interpret the expression “silly women laden with sins”, which always intrigued me.

Remember who are doing the converting?

Titus 1:10 says, “especially they of the circumcision”. These are Jews who are bringing their brand of works gospels that are so appealing to most people, and which they use to convert back new Christians to their old time Jews’ religion. And likewise we read here in 2 Timothy 3:6,
2 Timothy 3:6
For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,

Who are these “silly women laden with sins”?

These are women that are unstable in the faith, who are burdened by their own sins, not believing that Christ has taken them all away, and who are easily converted again to some other gospel.

And who are “they which creep into houses”, really meaning “households” instead of “houses”?

The previous verse tells us who they are. They are having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof. They are hypocrites, like the scribes and Pharisees, who do not believe the true Gospel, but are pretending that they are on God’s side. They are going through the motions, for filthy lucre’s sake, but their heart is not in it. And now we can understand the long prayers that we read about in Matthew 23:14, where we read, “and for a pretence make long prayer”. These are people who come with a works gospel, any false gospel, and to give their witness the appearance of legitimacy they show their allegiance to God with long prayers. But they do it only for the sake of increasing their income. Follow the money trail. That is why we read in 2 Peter 2:3,

2 Peter 2:3
And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you.

But there is another reason why the Lord Jesus mentioned widows in Matthew 23:14. Throughout the Bible God buried the spiritual meaning of widows in many expressions that sound like:

"The Stranger, the Fatherless and the Widow" (Revelation 18:7, Deuteronomy 16:11,14, 27:19, Psalm 68:5)

First we have to turn to the Revelation of Jesus Christ, Revelation 18:7. For two chapters long we have here a picture of the church near the end of time. It has become a totally apostate church, which God calls “Babylon”. The church has become in the eyes of God an unfaithful church, so much so that God calls her “The Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth”. But listen to what the church says of itself. We read in Revelation 18:7,

Revelation 18:7
How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.

Notice these words, “I shall see no sorrow”. The end time church does not see herself as being condemned to Hell. And the end time church does not see herself as having been divorced from God. She says, “I sit as a queen, and am no widow”. The end time church believes that she is still the Bride of Christ, and sits proudly as a queen.

Did not Christ say, “I will build My church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it?”

It is true that Christ said this, but His words should not be applied to those who are evidently unsaved and who believe doctrines of devils. But here we can see the concept of the spiritual meaning of the word “Widow”. The church believes she is “no widow”, because she believes that Christ is her husband. Let us now take this concept and apply it to Old Testament passages.

In Deuteronomy 16 we have a description of the three feasts, when three times every year the children of Israel must appear before the Lord in the place where the Lord shall choose to place His Name in. For a long time that place turned out to be Shiloh, and later Jerusalem. We read in Deuteronomy 16:11 about the feast of weeks, or Pentecost,

Deuteronomy 16:11
And thou shalt rejoice before the LORD thy God, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates, and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are among you, in the place which the LORD thy God hath chosen to place his name there.

What is this rejoicing about?

They are rejoicing that Jehovah is their God. Moreover, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow are also rejoicing. We find this expression in the Old Testament “the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow” 13 times, and all 13 times God turns out to be the Protector and the Defender of “the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow”.

God tells us that He loves “the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow”.
But God loves only His elect.

What is going on?

From Revelation 18:7 we can conclude that God intended to convey the spiritual meaning of “the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow”. In fact, in all three of these titles we can recognize God’s elect before they become saved. Then we can conclude that the widow represents those who do not have a husband, but since God loves her He intends to become her Husband. The fatherless are those who do not have a spiritual father. But since God loves the fatherless He intends to become their heavenly Father. Those who are strangers on this earth are like our forefathers who were strangers in the land of Canaan. But since God loves them He is going to make them citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem, and then they will be like strangers and pilgrims on this earth, and they will be longing for their home in the New Jerusalem.

The children of Israel are divided into three groups. Six tribes of the nation are standing on Mount Gerizim, to bless the people, and six tribes are standing on Mount Ebal, to curse the people, and the Levites are standing in the middle. One of the curses is in Deuteronomy 27:19,

Deuteronomy 27:19
Cursed be he that perverteth the judgment of the stranger, fatherless, and widow. And all the people shall say, Amen.

The judgment referred to here can also be translated “the rights” of the stranger, the fatherless, or the widow. As potential children of God they have the right to hear the Gospel, so that they can be saved, and then the judgment will convert to the judgment that is on Christ as the Savior of His elect. God says in Psalm 68:5, “A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation”. God is a judge of the widows, for if she is elect then in Christ all her sins will be judged.

Therefore, if God so deals with widows, then God will be the Avenger of widows to bring judgment on those who are trying to do them harm, be it physical harm or spiritual harm. Let us now look at the last verse in this passage we read today. It deals with the scribes and Pharisees making proselytes.

"Making Proselytes" (Matthew 23:15, Galatians 6:12-13, 5:1-11, John 8:43-44)

Matthew 23:15
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.

We do not read anywhere in the Bible about the scribes and Pharisees traveling sea and land to make one proselyte. In fact it was not a custom or a command from God to make proselytes in Old Testament days. Again we should look in the Bible for explanations of this verse. Making proselytes, or evangelizing to make conversions, came in full swing only after Pentecost, and in earnest only after the apostle Paul made his four missionary journeys. And then we see the disciples of the scribes and Pharisees come into action.

And what were their actions on which the Lord Jesus pronounced “Woe unto you”?

The apostle Paul preached in the cities of Galatia in his first missionary journey. And within 12 to 15 years the churches of Galatia gravitated toward the works gospels of the Jewish religion. Everywhere the apostle Paul proclaimed the true Gospel, the Judaizers came and persuaded the people that they could not be truly saved unless they also obeyed the Law of Moses. And the sign that they indeed obeyed the Law of Moses was if they were circumcised. This was the conflict which grew out of the teachings of the scribes and Pharisees. We read:

Galatians 6:12-13
As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh.

The Judaizers constrain you to be circumcised, for if they pursue not this goal, then they too would suffer persecution. They themselves do not keep the Law, but they are counting their victories in the number of circumcisions they have made. This is their glory.

Galatians 5:1
Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

Galatians 5:2
Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.

Galatians 5:3
For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.

Galatians 5:4-6
Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.

This is where the battle is fought between Christ and the followers of Satanic gospels, which adhere to the pride of the flesh. Satan tries to pervert the true Gospel just a little bit, so that man can retain his pride in the flesh, This is what the free-will gospels try to do. They try to portray to us an attribute of respectability, so that we will at least consider them brothers in Christ. But if we apply Revelation 22:18-19, we shall see that their respectability holds no water, and they are not our brothers in Christ.

"Behold, the Judge Standeth Before the Door" (James 5:9, Psalm 94:1-11, Revelation 16:9)

Be afraid, for Judgment Day is near. God says in James 5:9, “behold, the judge standeth before the door”. We have seen that the Lord Jesus Christ pronounced these woes upon the scribes and Pharisees based on their works. These were only the first three woes. His message to the scribes and Pharisees was: Be afraid. Be terribly afraid, for the Judge standeth at the door. And the Lord’s message to us is of the same tenor. We too must be afraid if we are not faithful to all that the Bible has to say. We know that we cannot be perfectly obedient to all of God’s commandments. This is not where the trouble lies. The trouble is our choice between Christ and Moses; it is between salvation and condemnation; it is between mercy and the demand to obey the Law; it is between our love for Christ and our love for self; it is between our faith in the Word of God and our desire to believe that we are worthy. We have seen that the Lord pronounced woe on those who devour widows’ households.

But if we understand that God uses the title widows to indicate His elect, shall He then not also be furious when His elect are assaulted by those who peddle a works gospel, which is a message straight from Hell?

Do we understand the difference between the true Gospel and a false gospel?

Do we understand that the mercy and grace we receive from the Lord Jesus Christ is greater than the sins we have committed?

And do we understand that His mercy and grace have performed a miracle within our soul? If He indeed did perform this miracle in our soul?

Let us read what the saints are pleading when they see that Satan is assaulting the Church of the living God. We read in Psalm 94:1-11,

Psalm 94:1-11
O LORD God, to whom vengeance belongeth; O God, to whom vengeance belongeth, shew thyself.

Psalm 94:2
Lift up thyself, thou judge of the earth: render a reward to the proud.

Psalm 94:3
LORD, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked triumph?

Psalm 94:4
How long shall they utter and speak hard things? and all the workers of iniquity boast themselves?

Psalm 94:5
They break in pieces thy people, O LORD, and afflict thine heritage.

Psalm 94:6
They slay the widow and the stranger, and murder the fatherless.

Psalm 94:7
Yet they say, The LORD shall not see, neither shall the God of Jacob regard it.

Psalm 94:8
Understand, ye brutish among the people: and ye fools, when will ye be wise?

Psalm 94:9
He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? He that formed the eye, shall he not see?

Psalm 94:10
He that chastiseth the heathen, shall not he correct? He that teacheth man knowledge, shall not he know?

Psalm 94:11
The LORD knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity.

How long, Lord, shall the wicked continue to proclaim that they are righteous, that there is nothing wrong with their free-will gospels?

Actually we know the answer already, for we read in Revelation 16:9, “And they repented not to give Him glory”. Since we are living near the end of time we can glean our wisdom from this last prophecy of the Bible. And thus we know that the majority of the churches shall continue to say, “I sit as a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow”. Let us beware what is going on today. Amen.

By Alfred Chompff

CIRCUMCISION AND BAPTISM


The letter to the Colossians was written because the church at Colosse was plagued by Judaizers and by Gnostics. The Judaizers were Jews who claimed that the Gentiles could not be fully Christians if they did not obey all the rules of the Ceremonial Law. On the other hand the Gnostics were people from Alexandria, Egypt, who denied the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ, and who changed the Scriptures wherever the Deity of Jesus Christ was in view.

The Judaizers were the overly conservatives, the legalists, and the Gnostics were the liberals, denying the Scriptures. A similar situation arose in Jesus’ days: The Pharisees, who were the legalists, and the Sadducees, who were denying the Scriptures. A similar situation has come upon us today: the Charismatics, who are the legalists who claim that God is still bringing audible messages today, and the Arminians, who are denying the Scriptures for they claim that we are not saved by God’s grace but by our own free will, and they are using the Gnostic scriptures to prove their point.

These two heresies are being addressed throughout this epistle to the Colossians, but especially in chapter 2. The text for this article is taken from Colossians 2:11-12, where the subject matters of circumcision and water baptism are brought up. Circumcision, as you know, is firmly entrenched in the Ceremonial Law, whereas water baptism has been a practice of the Christian world since the days that the Lord Jesus walked on this earth.

Therefore the title of this article is, “Circumcision and Baptism”. Most of the Christian denominations have taken these two verses as the proof-text for their claim that the ceremony of circumcision was after the cross replaced by the ceremony of water baptism.

Is that really so?

We must carefully read these verses and draw our conclusions. Let us begin to read at verse 6.

"Ye Are Complete In Him" (Colossians 2:6-15)

Colossians 2:6-7
As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.

Colossians 2:8-10
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:

Colossians 2:11-12
In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

Colossians 2:13-15
And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 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; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

This passage begins with an admonition to be rooted and built up in Christ.

How do we do that?

It means we must study the Word of God. This is where we will be rooted in Christ, and so we will be built up in Him and be established in the faith, for faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Of course, we can only do that if we have been saved; for God’s irresistible grace must be with us when we study the Bible. That is why we are abounding therein with thanksgiving, for it is God who works in us, both to will and to do of His good pleasure.

Then in verse 8 God gives us a warning not to listen to the legalists or to the liberals, for they want to deceive us through worldly philosophies and human wisdom and not after Christ, the Word of God; for Christ is the beginning and the ending, and to His glory and to His credit must all history and prophecy flow. In Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, for Christ is Jehovah of the Old Testament.

This is how we recognize false gospels, for they will glorify man, rather than God. And then God says in verse 10, “And ye are complete in Him”.

Can you see the wonder of this statement?

If Christ is the head of all principality and power in this universe and in heaven, then there is no greater blessing than to be in Him, in Christ, for then we are complete in Him. We cannot be incomplete in Him. O, we still live in a sinful body on this earth, and we have not yet received our glorified body, but in God’s terminology it is as good as done. Now we are already complete in Him. Our works still have to be done, but they are all within the decree of God for the history of this earth. Our works are approved by God, for Christ has paid for all imperfections cleaving to those works. And thus we are already clean and righteous in God’s sight. This is the blessing for all those who have been born from above. Now we come to verse 11, and we have to ask the question:

What Circumcision? (Colossians 2:11)

Colossians 2:11
In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:

The noun “circumcision” and the verb “to circumcise” appear three times in this verse, so it is the central object of this verse.

What circumcision is in view here?

Is it physical circumcision or spiritual circumcision, for this verse speaks about “circumcision made without hands”?

This verse has been misrepresented by many denominations for centuries, but it has been based on a superficial, historical reading of this verse.

Their reasoning is as follows:
Their first point of recognition is the historical circumcision of Christ on the eight day after His birth. And then they connect “In whom also ye are circumcised” …to... “by the circumcision of Christ”.

Is this not logical?

If we were in Christ from before the foundation of the world, according to Ephesians 1:4, then at the time that Christ was physically circumcised we were also circumcised with Him and in Him. Similar to when Christ was crucified we were crucified with Him. Since Christ came into the world on the Old Testament side of the cross, He had to submit Himself to all the rules of the Ceremonial Law, including circumcision. And since all His life He was without sin, He obeyed the Ceremonial Law perfectly, and He fulfilled that Law perfectly for us. And thus we do not obey the Ceremonial Law any more, for Christ has fulfilled our obligation for all time and eternity.

And so, verse 11 teaches us that we do not any more practice the ceremony of circumcision. And since verse 12 teaches us that we do practice water baptism, the thinking is that these two verses show that circumcision is replaced by water baptism. This is nice, but not correct. This is not what verse 11 teaches us, for there are more words from God there that have been neglected. First of all, physical circumcision is not in view at all in this verse, for two reasons: “The circumcision made without hands” points to the circumcision that God performs, which is the circumcision of the heart.

Moreover, the “putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ” does not refer to the physical circumcision of Christ, but is pointing to forgiveness of sins of the body (the whole) of the sins of the flesh. All our sins are committed by our body, symbolized by the flesh.

Where our sins put away at the time of the physical circumcision of Christ?

Absolutely not!

No sins were put away at that time. There was only one time in all of history when sins were put away, and that was at the time that Christ suffered and died on the cross. And so, we have to reconsider verse 11 and its interpretation. Let’s do that now.

Spiritual Circumcision in Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 10:12-16, 30:1-6)

In Deuteronomy 10 God commands His children to circumcise their heart.

But what exactly does that mean?

We are not able to circumcise our own heart. But God explains what this means here in Deuteronomy 10.

And who are considered His children?

Is all of Old Testament Israel considered His children?

Let us read Deuteronomy 10:12-16,

Deuteronomy 10:12-15
And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?
Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the LORD’S thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is. Only the LORD had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he chose their seed after them, even you above all people, as it is this day.

Deuteronomy 10:16
Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked.

Who is God speaking to?

Israel!

Which of the five meanings of Israel fits this context?

Can this refer to the nation of Israel, all of them who are camped here beside the Jordan River, and ready to enter the Promised Land?

Absolutely not!

For most of the nation of Israel remained unregenerate.
This applies to those who came out of Egypt with Moses, as we read it in Hebrews 3 and 4, and it applies as well to their children who went into the Promised Land with Joshua, as we can read it in Joshua 24.

They were not the Israel of God that the New Testament describes. But a small remnant from among them was truly saved, and they do belong to the true Israel of God. When God says in verse 12, “And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee”, this was addressed to that remnant chosen by grace from among the children of Jacob. It was a command spoken to them, but it was also spoken to us, for the Bible was written to all people and for all times, even for today. God spoke these words to the Israel of God, which is the remnant chosen by grace out of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, for God is not a respecter of persons.

And what does God require of us?

Verse 12 and verse 13 state it so clearly: We must fear Him, and walk in His ways, and love Him, and serve Him and keep His laws, and we must do it with all our heart and with all our soul. God does not require this from us for 5 minutes on Sunday morning, but God requires it from us every day, every minute of the day. In other words, we must be perfect all the time. This is what God commands us to do. This is what it means to circumcise our heart.

Can we do this?

Absolutely not!

Elect angels can do it, but humans cannot be perfect even for one minute. What God commands us here is impossible to obey, unless God takes away all the guilt of our sins. That is exactly what God has done for the Israel of God. He sent the Lord Jesus Christ to this earth to suffer and die for our sins on the cross as our substitute, so that we who were chosen in Christ from before the foundation of the world could at some point in our life be made born from above, and receive the forgiveness of sins and the righteousness of Christ that was already paid for at the cross. This is what God already hinted at in verse 15 when He said, “He chose their seed after them, even you above all people, as it is this day”. “Even you, as it is this day”!

What day does this refer to?

It refers to “this day”, which means “today”, and when we read this next year it still means “today”, every day, until the end of time. God chose the Israel of God one by one, the remnant chosen by grace out of all nations, and God takes all the credit for circumcising our heart at the moment when He made us born from above.

Just in case you did not understand what God was saying in Deuteronomy 10, and that you did not understand that it is God who must do the circumcising of the heart, and that He gets 100% of the credit for doing this, God gave us an additional passage in Deuteronomy 30:1-6 to make it abundantly clear that He receives all the credit for this.

Deuteronomy 30:1-3
And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath driven thee, And shalt return unto the LORD thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul; That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee.

Deuteronomy 30:4-6
If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the LORD thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee: And the LORD thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers. And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.

Here God says clearly the He will circumcise our heart.

And when shall this come to pass?

Verses 1-2 tell us that this will come to pass when God has given us repentance in our heart, for repentance is also a gift from God. This will all take place simultaneously, for true repentance is a sign that God has made us born from above. And thus we see that spiritual circumcision is identified as circumcision of the heart. It is the circumcision that is made without hands, for God is a Spirit, and He does not have hands. This is the circumcision that was done to us, and was spoken of in Colossians 2:11. Let us now look at:

Spiritual Circumcision in the New Testament (Romans 2:25-29, Philippians 3:2-3, Colossians 2:11)

Does the circumcision of the heart appear in other places of the New Testament, other than in Colossians 2:11?

The answer is it appears in several places in the New Testament. We will have time only to look at a few passages in the New Testament, but God makes it abundantly clear that physical circumcision is nothing compared with spiritual circumcision. It is the circumcision of the heart that is of utmost importance. We read here in Romans 2:25-29,

Romans 2:25-26
For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision?

Romans 2:27-28
And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfill the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law? For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:

Romans 2:29
But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

Verse 25 says that if you are circumcised in the flesh, it will profit you only until the first sin. At that moment your circumcision in the eyes of God is made uncircumcision, which means that in the next minute you have become just as unrighteous as any other human being who is under the wrath of God. That is terrible news for all those who think that their circumcision is of some credit to them in God’s eyes. Therefore, if uncircumcised Gentiles are converted by the grace of God, and are seen by God as righteous, their physical uncircumcision becomes of no value; they are seen as spiritually circumcised in the eyes of God. Therefore God now defines His terminology for who is a Jew in His sight. God says in verse 29, “he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God”.

In the New Testament time physical circumcision is of no value. Only circumcision of the heart counts. But this is an act of God which is entirely according to the good pleasure of God, and does not depend on something that we have done, or that we presently do, or that we possibly can do in the future.

In Philippians 3 we have a passage where the apostle Paul warns the Philippian church for Judaizers, who try to convince them to be circumcised, according to the Law of Moses. And again, this is not referring to the Moral Law, but to the Ceremonial Law. We read here in Philippians 3:2-3,

Philippians 3:2
Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.

Philippians 3:3
For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

Beware of the legalists who cause the circumcision of the flesh. They are evil workers, working to establish the Ceremonial Law again. They are called dogs, and are on the way to Hell. Beware of them, for (and here comes the amazing statement of God) “We are the circumcision”. We who worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, we are the true circumcision in the eyes of God. We who have been born from above are the ones of whom the sins of the flesh have been cut away, for our circumcision of the heart means that all our sins have been washed away. And so, spiritual circumcision, or the circumcision of the heart, is totally identified with the cutting away of all our sins. Let us now return to the text of our article, Colossians 2:11.

Colossians 2:11
In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:

The first half of Colossians 2:11 says, “In Christ we are circumcised with the circumcision of the heart”. This was done unto us.

And what does this entail?

What has been done unto Christ?

The second half of this verse explains that our circumcision of the heart is brought about by cutting off the entire amount of the sins of the flesh in the spiritual circumcision of Christ.

When were our sins cut off from the Lord Jesus Christ?

It was when He shouted with a loud cry, “It is finished!”

This event at the cross was the spiritual circumcision of Christ. There is no other moment in history when the entire body of the sins of the flesh was cut off from the Lord Jesus Christ. In Colossians 2:11 not the physical circumcision of Christ, but His atonement on the cross is in view.

And is this not what brings the greater glory to Christ?

His physical circumcision was an act of obedience to the Ceremonial Law. But His atonement was an incredible act of obedience to the Moral Law, for the wages of sin is death. It was an act of obedience to the Father so that mercy and grace might be given to all those who were destined to become the Bride of Christ. The context demands that this circumcision of Christ must be looked upon as a spiritual circumcision. And so, we have learned that the word “circumcision” has two different meanings. Which meaning must be given depends on the context. And so, once again we have seen the rule that the meaning of a word depends on the context. We should not be too quick to decide what the meaning of a word is, but we first must study the context. And now we have arrived at the context of the next verse, Colossians 2:12.

What Baptism? (Colossians 2:12, Romans 6:3-9, Matthew 3:11, 20:23)

Colossians 2:12
Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

Does this verse speak of water baptism?

No!

Do you see any water there?

Some like to compare water baptism with the burial and the resurrection of Christ.

There is no comparison!

Christ was not buried underground. Christ was buried above the ground, in a cave that was the future burial place of Joseph of Arimathaea. And when Christ was made alive He did not move up out of the cave, but He stepped out of the cave horizontally, and then He sat on the stone that was rolled away to scare the dickens out of the soldiers that were watching Him step out of that cave.

But let us keep with the context.
Verse 11 speaks about the forgiveness of sins and about the sufferings of Christ on the cross. Verse 12 speaks about us being buried with Christ and being raised with Christ.

Again we see that the atonement of Christ is in view. And this observation agrees with what we find in many other parts of the Bible. But now the word baptism appears in this verse.

What baptism is this?

The words in Colossians 2:12 are remarkably close to the words we find in Romans 6:3.
Since we were in Christ from before the foundation of the world, our sins could be imputed unto Christ. He qualified to be our sin-bearer, our substitute. The Bible teaches that when Christ appeared before the judgment throne of God and was condemned we appeared before His throne as well with Christ and in Christ; when Christ was crucified we were crucified with Christ; when Christ endured the equivalent of an eternity in Hell we were there with Him and in Him; when Christ died we died with Christ; when Christ’s body was buried we were buried with Christ; when Christ rose from the tomb we rose with Him; when Christ ascended into heaven we ascended with Him; when Christ was seated on the right hand of the Father we are seated there with Him. And since we have already been judged and have already gone through the sufferings of Hell with Christ and in Christ, God will never send us to Hell again, for we have been there already.

Remember the words we have read in Colossians 2:12, “Buried with him in baptism”. There are five possible meanings of baptism.

What baptism is this?

Let the context of Romans 6:3-10 speak for this type of baptism.

Romans 6:3-4
Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Romans 6:5-7
For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin.

Romans 6:8
Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:

Romans 6:9-10
Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.

We were baptized into His death.

Which type of baptism is this?

It was the baptism by fire that was announced by John the Baptist and by the Lord Jesus in Matthew 3:11 and in Matthew 20:23,

Matthew 3:11
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:

It was also announced by the Lord Jesus when He informed James and John about His death in:

Matthew 20:23
And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.

The Lord Jesus called His atoning work on the cross a baptism, a washing of sins, and John the Baptist called it correctly a baptism by fire, because the Lord Jesus was going to endure the equivalent of an eternity in Hell.

And so, we come to the conclusion that the baptism in Colossians 2:12 is the baptism by fire, which is the washing of the Lord Jesus from our sins which were charged to His account. Nobody washed Him. He had to wash Him-self. He had to endure the full payment that was required for our sins. But since He was successful, He rose from the grave victoriously and showed Satan and all that are his that they have been defeated.

In Colossians 2 we read there of Christ’s baptism by fire, “Wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God”. In this baptism of Christ we share in His victory in that we are risen with Him.

And how do we know that we are risen with Him?

We know that because we believe what God said. God gave us that faith. It is the faith of the operation of God. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that (faith is) not of yourselves: it is the gift of God”.

And so, taking both verses 11 and 12 of Colossians 2 together we have seen a coherent interpretation that these two verses do not speak of circumcision and water baptism, but that these two verses speak of Christ’s atonement on the cross, and our involvement it, since we were in Christ from before the foundation of the world.

Now the question at hand is this:
Is it indeed true that circumcision was replaced by water baptism?

To answer this question we cannot use Colossians 2:11-12, but we must seek it by another way.

Was Circumcision Replaced by Baptism? (Genesis 17:10-11, 22:16-18, Galatians 3:29, Matthew 5:17, 2 Corinthians 3:11, 1 Corinthians 11:25, Exodus 24:8, Ezekiel 36:25, Hebrews 12:24)

What was circumcision?

Circumcision was a sign of the Covenant. God said to Abraham in Genesis 17

Genesis 17:10-11
This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.

Circumcision was only a token of the Covenant between God and Abraham, and between God and the Seed of Abraham. The Seed of Abraham in the first instance refers to Christ, and in the second instance it refers to all those who were placed in Christ before the foundation of the world. And thus the oath that God swore to Abraham in Genesis 22:16-18 was a promise that the elect children of Abraham shall be as numerous as the stars of heaven and as the sand which is upon the seashore. This does not refer to the physical descendants of Abraham but to the remnant chosen by grace out of all nations for God says in Galatians 3:29 that only those who are in Christ are in God’s eyes considered the seed of Abraham.

Some who are in Christ lived on the Old Testament side of the cross, but the majority of those who are in Christ lived on the New Testament side of the cross. Those on the Old Testament side of the cross had to be circumcised according to God’s command in Genesis 17:10. Circumcision was one of the laws of the Old Testament Ceremonial Law.

Like many other ceremonies in the Ceremonial Law circumcision was a bloody sign, because it was pointing forward to the death of Christ. But when Christ died on the cross, all the signs and figures that were portrayed by the Ceremonial Law ceased to exist, because they were all fulfilled when Christ died. The Lord Jesus said in Matthew 5:17, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill”.

Therefore, when Christ died the Ceremonial Law had to be done away. And any bloody sign that was performed on the Old Testament side of the cross, if it needed to be replaced had to be replaced by a non-bloody sign. For if we look back to the atonement of Christ we see that all the blood that had to be shed was shed by Christ, and never to be repeated again. For example, the bloody sign of the Passover had to be replaced by the non-bloody sign of the Lord’s Supper. But circumcision was a sign of the Covenant on the Old Testament side of the cross. When we consider the Covenant on the New Testament side of the cross it is much more glorious than the Covenant on the Old Testament side of the cross. God says in 2 Corinthians 3:11, “For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious”.

Would then the more glorious Covenant on the New Testament side of the cross have no sign of the Covenant?

But that is not possible. And when we search the Bible we learn that on the New Testament side of the cross we have TWO signs of the Covenant. The Lord Jesus said in 1 Corinthians 11:25,

1 Corinthians 11:25
After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.

“The new testament in My blood” is the same as “The new Covenant in My blood”, for the word “testament” and the word “Covenant” is the same word. And thus it is certain that the Lord’s Supper is one of the signs of the Covenant, for the Lord tells us so. But there is another sign that replaces the blood that Moses sprinkled on the people as a sign of the covenant in Exodus 24:8. God says in Ezekiel 36:25

Ezekiel 36:25-26
Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.

This passage is anticipating water baptism as a sign of the New Covenant, for the New Covenant is in view in Ezekiel 36:26. The water that is sprinkled is symbolic for the blood of Christ. Likewise the blood that Moses sprinkled was symbolic of the blood of Christ. Moreover we read in Hebrews 12:24,

Hebrews 12:24
And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.

The blood of sprinkling refers to the blood of Christ, for it is a sprinkling that symbolizes the water sprinkled during water baptism. All these facts taken together lead us to water baptism as one of the signs of the New Covenant. Yes, circumcision and Passover were replaced by two signs of the New Covenant: Water Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. However we may never call these New Testament Ceremonial Laws, for Ceremonial Laws had to be obeyed. They were an absolute requirement of God.

And let me finish by saying this:

Water Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are not required for anyone’s salvation.

Salvation is entirely by grace, and grace must not be mixed with something that we must do. Praise God for giving us these two reminders of His suffering and death.

By Alfred Chompff

Sunday, May 18, 2008

THAT WORTHY NAME


"Yours in the name of Jesus." How many who owe their all, both for time and eternity, to the peerless One, refer thus to Him who was "God manifest in the flesh" (1 Timothy 3:16).

It is
"Jesus" this and "Jesus" that.

But is it becoming for worms of the dust, for sinners, even for sinners saved by grace, to thus speak of Him?

Jesus is the Lord of Glory, and surely it is due the dignity and majesty of His person that this be recognized and owned, even in our references to Him in common speech. Those who despise and reject the Saviour speak of Him as "The carpenter," "The Nazarene," as "Jesus."

But should those who have been given an "understanding, that we may know Him that is true" (1 John 5:20) ignore His Lordship?

In a word, can we who have been redeemed by His precious blood do less than confess Him as the "Lord Jesus Christ?"


Our modern hymns are largely responsible for the dishonor that is now so generally cast upon "That Worthy Name."
And we cannot but raise our voices in loud protest against much of the trash which masquerades under the name of hymns. "There's not a friend like the lowly Jesus" is utterly erroneous and highly akin to blasphemy.

There is not a "lowly" Jesus today except the one created by the imagination and sentimentality of the moderns. Instead of being "lowly," the Lord Jesus Christ is seated "on the right hand of the Majesty on High" (Hebrews 1:3), from whence He will shortly descend in flaming fire to take vengeance on them that know not God and obey not His gospel (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8).


Above we have said that the apostles never once addressed our Lord simply as
"Jesus." Mark, now, how they did refer to the blessed One. "And Peter answered Him and said, LORD, if it be Thou, bid me come unto Thee on the water" (Matthew 14:28).


"Then came Peter to Him and said, LORD, how oft shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him?" (Matthew 18:21).

"And they were exceeding sorrowful and began everyone of them to say unto Him LORD, is it I?" (Matthew 26:22).

"And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, LORD, wilt Thou that we command fire to come down from heaven and consume them" (Luke 9:54).

"And they rose up the same hour and returned to Jerusalem and found the eleven gathered together and them that were with them, saying, the LORD is risen indeed" (Luke 24:33-34).

"Thomas said unto Him LORD, we know not whither Thou goest" (John 14:5).

"Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, it is the LORD" (John 21:7).

By Arthur Pink

Saturday, May 17, 2008

THE LONGSUFFERING OF GOD


How wondrous is god's patience with the world today. On every side people are sinning with a high hand. The Divine law is trampled under foot and God Himself openly despised. It is truly amazing that he does not instantly strike dead those who so brazenly defy Him.

Why does He not suddenly cut off the haughty infidel and blatant blasphemer, as He did Ananias and Sapphira?

Why does He not cause the earth to open its mouth and devour the persecutors of His people, so that, like Dothan and Abiram, they shall go down alive into the Pit?

And what of apostate Christendom, where every possible form of sin is now tolerated and practiced under cover of the holy name of Christ?


Why does not the righteous wrath of Heaven make an end of such abominations?

Only one answer is possible: because God bears with "
much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction."


And what of the writer and the reader?


Let us review our own lives.

It is not long since we followed a multitude to do evil, had no concern for God's glory, and lived only to gratify self. How patiently He bore with our vile conduct!

And now that grace has snatched us as brands from the burning, giving us a place in God's family, and has begotten us unto an eternal inheritance in glory, how miserably we requite Him. How shallow our gratitude, how tardy our obedience, how frequent our backslidings!

One reason why God suffers the flesh to remain in the believer is that He may exhibit His
"longsuffering to usward" (2 Peter 3:9).

Since this Divine attribute is manifested only in this world, God takes advantage to display it toward "His own."


May our meditation upon this Divine excellence soften our hearts, make our consciences tender, and may we learn in the school of holy experience the "patience of saints",
namely, submission to the Divine will and continuance in well doing.

Let us earnestly seek grace to emulate this Divine excellency.
"Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matthew 5:48).

In the immediate context of this verse Christ exhorts us to love our enemies, bless them that curse us, do good to them that hate us.

God bears long with the wicked notwithstanding the multitude of their sins, and shall we desire to be revenged because of a single injury?

By Arthur Pink

TRUE CHRISTIAN LOVE


Love is the Queen of the Christian graces. It is a holy disposition given to us when we are born again by God. It is the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. True spiritual love is characterized by meekness and gentleness, yet it is vastly superior to the courtesies and kindnesses of the flesh.


We must be careful not to confuse human sentimentality, carnal pleasantries, human amiability and affability with true spiritual love. The love God commands, first to Himself and then to others, is not human love. It is not the indulgent, self-seeking love which is in us by nature. If we indulgently allow our children to grow up with little or, no Scriptural discipline, Proverbs plainly says we do not love them, regardless of the human sentimentality and affection we may feel for them.

Love is not a sentimental pampering of one another with a loose indifference as to our walk and obedience before the Lord. Glossing over one another's faults to ingratiate ourselves in their esteem is not spiritual love.


The true nature of Christian love is a righteous principle which seeks the highest good of others. It is a powerful desire to promote their welfare. The exercise of love is to be in strict conformity to the revealed will of God. We must love in the truth. Love among the brethren is far more than an agreeable society where views are the same. It is loving them for what we see of Christ in them, loving them for Christ's sake.


The Lord Jesus Himself is our example. He was not only thoughtful, gentle, self-sacrificing and patient, but He also corrected His mother, used a whip in the Temple, Severely scolded His doubting disciples, and denounced hypocrites. True spiritual love is above all faithful to God and uncompromising towards all that is evil.

We cannot declare, 'Peace and Safety' when in reality there is spiritual decay and ruin!


True spiritual love is very difficult to exercise because it is not our natural love. By nature we would rather love sentimentally and engender good feelings. Also many times true spiritual love is not received in love, but is hated as the Pharisees hated it. We must pray that God will fill us with His love and enable us to exercise it without dissimulation toward all.

By Arthur Pink

THE "god" OF THIS GENERATION


The "god" of this twentieth century no more resembles the Supreme Sovereign of Holy Writ than does the dim flickering of a candle the glory of the mid-day sun. The god who is now talked about in the average pulpit, spoken of in the ordinary Sunday School, mentioned in most of the religious literature of the day, and preached in most of the so-called Bible conferences is a figment of human imagination, an invention of over-emotional sentimentality.


The heathen outside the pale of Christendom form gods out of wood and stone, while the millions of heathen inside Christendom manufacture a god out of their own carnal minds.

In reality, they are but atheists; FOR THERE IS NO OTHER POSSIBLE ALTERNATIVE BETWEEN AN ABSOLUTE SUPREME GOD AND NO GOD AT ALL!

A "god" whose will is resisted, whose designs are frustrated, and whose purpose is checkmated, possesses no title to Deity, and SO FAR FROM BEING A FIT OBJECT OF WORSHIP, MERITS NOUGHT BUT CONTEMPT!

By Arthur Pink

THE HOLINESS OF GOD


Because God is holy, acceptance with Him on the ground of creature-doings is utterly impossible. A fallen creature could sooner create a world than produce that which would meet the approval of infinite Purity.

Can darkness dwell with Light?

Can the Immaculate One take pleasure with "filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6)?

The best that sinful man brings forth is defiled. A corrupt tree cannot bear good fruit. God would deny Himself, vilify His perfections, were He to account as righteous and holy that which is not so in itself; and nothing is so which has the least stain upon it contrary to the nature of God. But blessed be His name, that which His holiness demanded His grace has provided in Christ Jesus our Lord. Every poor sinner who has fled to Him for refuge stands "accepted in the Beloved" (Ephesians 1:6).

Hallelujah!

It has been well said that "true worship is based upon recognized greatness, and greatness is superlatively seen in Sovereignty, and at no other footstool will men really worship." In the presence of the Divine King upon His throne even the seraphim 'veil their faces.'

Divine sovereignty is not the sovereignty of a tyrannical Despot, but the exercised pleasure of One who is infinitely wise and good!

Because God is infinitely wise He cannot err, and because He is infinitely righteous He will not do wrong. Here then is the preciousness of this truth. The mere fact itself that God's will is irresistible and irreversible fills me with fear, but once I realize that God wills only that which is good, my heart is made to rejoice.

Here then is the final answer to the question (concerning our attitude toward God's sovereignty) – What ought to be our attitude toward the sovereignty of God?

The becoming attitude for us to take is that of godly fear, implicit obedience, and unreserved resignation and submission. But not only so: the recognition of the sovereignty of God, and the realization that the Sovereign Himself is my Father, ought to overwhelm the heart and cause me to bow before Him in adoring worship. At all times I must say, "Even so, Father, for so it seemeth good in Thy sight."

By Arthur Pink

THE IMPOTENCY OF THE HUMAN WILL


Does it lie within the province of man’s will to accept or reject the Lord Jesus as Saviour?

Granted that the Gospel is preached to the sinner, that the Holy Spirit convicts him of his lost condition, does it, in the final analysis, lie within the power of his own will to resist or yield himself up to God?


The answer to this question defines our conception of human depravity. That man is a fallen creature all professing Christians will allow, but what many of them mean by "fallen" is often difficult to determine.

The general impression seems to be that man is now mortal, that he is no longer in the condition in which he left the hands of his Creator, that he is liable to disease, that he inherits evil tendencies; but, that if he employs his powers to the best of his ability, somehow he will be happy at last.

O, how far short of the sad truth!


Infirmities, sickness, even corporeal death, are but trifles in comparison with the moral and spiritual effects of the Fall!

It is only by consulting the Holy Scriptures that we are able to obtain some conception of the extent of that terrible calamity. When we say that man is totally depraved, we mean that the entrance of sin into the human constitution has affected every part and faculty of man’s being. Total depravity means that man is, in spirit and soul and body, the slave of sin and the captive of the Devil — walking
"according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience" (Ephesians 2:2).

This statement ought not to need arguing: it is a common fact of human experience. Man is unable to realize his own aspirations and materialize his own ideals. He cannot do the things that he would. There is moral inability which paralyzes him. This is proof positive that he is no free man, but instead, the slave of sin and Satan.
"Ye are of your father the Devil, and the lusts (desires) of your father ye will do." (John 8:44).

Sin is more than an act or a series of acts; it is a man’s make-up. It has blinded the understanding, corrupted the heart, and alienated the mind from God. And the will has not escaped. The will is under the dominion of sin and Satan. Therefore, the will is not free. In short, the affections love as they do and the will chooses as it does because of the state of the heart, and because the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked
"There is none that seeketh after God" (Romans 3:11).

By Arthur Pink

REAL CHRISTIANITY


Alas, how very little real Christianity there is in the world today!

Christianity consists in being conformed unto the image of God's Son "Looking unto Jesus" constantly, trustfully, submissively, lovingly, the heart occupied with the example which Christ has left me, just just in proportion as I am living upon Him and drawing from His fullness, am I realizing the ideal He has set before me. In Him is the power, from Him must he received the strength for running "with patience" or steadfast perseverance, the race.

Genuine Christianity is a life lived in communion with Christ: a life lived by faith, as His was. "for me to live is Christ" (Philippians 1:21); "Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20) – Christ living in me and through me.

By Arthur Pink

REJOICE IN THE LORD ALWAYS


"Rejoice in the Lord alway"
Philippians 4:4

Why should I, who am by nature no different from the careless and godless throngs all around, have been chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world and now blest with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies in Him?

Why was I, that once was an alien and a rebel, signaled out for such wondrous favors?

Ah, that is something I cannot fathom. Such grace, such love, "passeth knowledge." But if my mind is unable to discern a reason, my heart can express its gratitude in praise and adoration. But not only should I be grateful to God for His grace toward me in the past, His present dealings will fill me with thanksgivings.

What is the force of that word "Rejoice in the Lord alway" (Philippians 4:4)?

Mark it is not "Rejoice in the Saviour", but we are to "Rejoice in the Lord", as "Lord", As THE MASTER OF EVERY CIRCUMSTANCE.

Need we remind the reader that when the apostle penned these words he was himself a prisoner in the hands of the Roman government. A long course of affliction and suffering lay behind him. Perils on land and perils on sea, hunger and thirst, scourging and stoning, had all been experienced. He had been persecuted by those within the church as well as by those without: the very ones who ought to have stood by him had forsaken him. And still he writes, "Rejoice in the Lord alway"

What was the secret of his peace and happiness?

Ah! had not this same apostle written, "And we know that all things work tegether for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28)?

But how did he, and how do we, "know", that all things work together for good?

The answer is, Because all things are under the control of and are being regulated by the Supreme Sovereign, and because He has naught but thoughts of love toward His own, then all things are so ordered by Him that they are MADE TO MINISTER TO OUR ULTIMATE GOOD. It is for this cause we are to give "thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 5:20).

Yes, give thanks for "all things" for, as it has been well said "Our disappointments are but His appointments." To the one who delights in the sovereignty of God the clouds not only have a 'silver lining' but they are silvern all through, the darkness only serving to offset the light!

By Arthur Pink