Episode 134

Disciple Up #134 Show Notes
Colossians: The Supremacy of Christ
Introduction: Examine Our Relationship to the Truth
By Louie Marsh, 11-13-2019

 Colossae. Colossae was in Phrygia, where religion was practiced with intensity and sometimes frenzy (e.g., the famous mother-goddess cult of Cybele). There is evidence for a Jewish presence in Phrygia as early as the sixth century b.c.; this Phrygian Judaism seems to have mirrored its culture to a significant extent. Christianity likewise exhibited unorthodox tendencies in this region in subsequent centuries. Colossae was a small and socially unimportant city by this period; it is probably only one of many cities in which Paul’s students had founded churches (Acts 19:10). The city was severely damaged or destroyed by an earthquake in a.d. 61, hence many scholars think that Paul wrote before that date.

Situation. Col. 2 may indicate that Christians were attracted to mystical or apocalyptic elements in a Judaism thoroughly influenced by Phrygian culture. (A great number of backgrounds have been proposed for the error at Colossae: mystery cults, broader Hellenistic mysticism, Hellenistic Judaism, Qumran-type Judaism and so on. The merit of considering these sources is that they all reflect some broader cultural ideas that played into the problems Paul confronted in Colossae; even Qumran parallels, while limited to Palestine, provide evidence for some more widespread Jewish beliefs in this period. The one suggestion with little merit to sustain it is Gnosticism, since full Gnostic systems cannot be dated this early. But that the Colossian error reflects one synthesis of different streams of thought that later developed toward Gnosticism is quite possible.)

That some Jewish Sibylline oracles may issue from that region and the activity of later Christian Montanists there both suggest the possibility of ecstatic elements in local Judaism (Col. 2:18). Acts testifies that Paul was preaching Christ to philosophically minded audiences in this period (see comment on Acts 19:9), and letters like Ephesians and Colossians give us an indication of Paul’s grasp of Greek philosophy and also some of the popular philosophical ideas that permeated both Gentile and Jewish thought in mid-first-century Asia Minor. – Bible Background Commentary – The IVP Bible Background Commentary – New Testament.

Colossians was written from Rome during Paul’s (first) imprisonment there, as recorded in Acts 28:30. At the same time Paul wrote Ephesians and Philemon (ca. a.d. 60-62). In Philemon 1, 9 Paul referred to himself as “a prisoner of Christ Jesus.” Ephesians also contains references to Paul being a “prisoner” (Eph. 3:1; 4:1). And Ephesians refers to Tychicus carrying the epistles from Paul to their destinations (Eph. 6:21; cf. Col. 4:7). Since the record of Acts ends around a.d. 60-62, Colossians was probably written during this two-year imprisonment. And since neither Colossians, Ephesians, nor Philemon mention the outcome of Paul’s trial, anticipated in Philippians 1:19-21, it can be assumed that Colossians was written before Philippians.

Colosse was in the Lycus Valley, about 100 miles east of Ephesus in Asia Minor. Its name is possibly derived from Colossus, a large statue, which in turn may have been named for the unusual shape of stony deposits there. Colosse is about 12 miles from Hierapolis and Laodicea, the other two cities of that valley (see the location of these three on the map between Acts and Rom.). The area was rich in mineral deposits and was also subject to frequent earthquakes. Rich pasturelands were nearby. Several references in Colossians indicate that Paul had not visited the city (Col. 1:7; 2:1; 4:12).

Purposes

Three purposes seem to have been in Paul’s mind as he wrote Colossians. First, he sought to show the deity and supremacy of Christ in the face of the Colossian heresy (1:18; 2:9). Second, he wanted to lead believers into spiritual maturity (1:28; 2:6-7). Third, he wanted to inform them about his state of affairs and elicited their prayers on his behalf (4:2-8).

The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty.

Americans & The Truth

Christians vs non-Christians

  • 50% of Christians vs. 25% of non-Christians said that there are moral truths which are unchanging, that truth is not relative to the circumstances. (1997)
  • Robert Wuthnow has documented this dis­turbing trend in modern spirituality:
    Spirituality is no longer true or good because it meets absolute stan­dards of truth or goodness, but because it helps me get along. I am the judge of its worth. If it helps me find a vacant parking place, I know I am on the right track. If it leads me into the wilderness calling me to face dangers I would rather not deal with at all, then it is a form of spir­ituality I am unlikely to choose.
  • Wade Clark Roof confirms these findings. He notes that people do not approach truth objectively but want to know what it can do for them and how it can do it more efficiently. A consumerist mentality allows each person to choose his or her particular brand of truth just as he or she might choose a certain make of automobile or toothpaste, according to preferences and perceived needs.

The Barna survey asked questions about God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, Satan, and demons.

All 1,871 self-described Christians were asked about their perception of God. In total, three-quarters (78%) said he is the “all-powerful, all-knowing Creator of the universe who rules the world today.” The remaining one-quarter chose other descriptions of God – depictions that are not consistent with biblical teaching (e.g., everyone is god, god refers to the realization of human potential, etc.).

For the other survey items a four-point opinion scale was used to measure people’s reactions to statements about each spiritual entity.

Four out of ten Christians (40%) strongly agreed that Satan “is not a living being but is a symbol of evil.” An additional two out of ten Christians (19%) said they “agree somewhat” with that perspective. A minority of Christians indicated that they believe Satan is real by disagreeing with the statement: one-quarter (26%) disagreed strongly and about one-tenth (9%) disagreed somewhat. The remaining 8% were not sure what they believe about the existence of Satan.

Although a core teaching of the Christian faith is the divinity and perfection of Jesus Christ, tens of millions of Christians do not accept that teaching. More than one-fifth (22%) strongly agreed that Jesus Christ sinned when He lived on earth, with an additional 17% agreeing somewhat. Holding the opposing view were 9% who disagreed somewhat and 46% who disagreed strongly. Six percent did not have an opinion on this matter.

As with Satan, most Christians do not believe that the Holy Spirit is a living force, either. Overall, 38% strongly agreed and 20% agreed somewhat that the Holy Spirit is “a symbol of God’s power or presence but is not a living entity.” Just one-third of Christians disagreed that the Holy Spirit is not a living force (9% disagreed somewhat, 25% disagreed strongly) while 9% were not sure.

Influence of Faith

Most self-described Christians contend that their religious faith has significantly impacted their life. Almost six out of ten adults (59%) said their faith had “greatly transformed” their life, while 29% said their faith “has been helpful but has not greatly transformed” their life and 9% stated that their religious faith “has not made much of a difference” in who they are and how they live.

Christians were asked if they believed that a person must either side with God or with the devil – that there is no in-between position. A large majority strongly agreed with the notion (61%) while an additional 15% agreed somewhat. Just one out of ten adults disagreed somewhat (10%) and a similar proportion (11%) disagreed strongly. Surprisingly few adults (3%) did not have an opinion on this matter.

Thoughts on Other Faiths

Among self-identified Christians, few held a positive opinion of Wicca. Overall, just 5% had a positive opinion while 55% had a negative opinion of Wicca. However, a huge segment (40%) did not know enough about Wicca to have formed an opinion of it.

Survey respondents were asked whether they believed that Mormons are Christians. Mormons themselves claim to be Christian, but most evangelical leaders say that they are not. There was no clear-cut perspective among the self-described Christians: four out of ten felt Mormons were Christian (18% strongly agreed, 21% somewhat agreed), three out of ten disagreed (17% strongly, 12% somewhat), and three out of ten were not sure what to think.

Views on the Bible

A slight majority of Christians (55%) strongly agree that the Bible is accurate in all of the principles it teaches, with another 18% agreeing somewhat. About one out of five either disagree strongly (9%) or somewhat (13%) with this statement, and 5% aren’t sure what to believe.

When faced with the statement that “the Bible, the Koran and the Book of Mormon are all different expressions of the same spiritual truths,” the group was evenly split between those who accepted the idea (19% agreed strongly, 22% agreed somewhat) and those who rejected it (28% disagreed strongly, 12% disagreed somewhat), while leaving a sizeable portion (20%) undecided.

How Born Agains Differ

  • Born again adults are at least twice as likely as notionals to strongly agree that the Bible is accurate in all the principles it teaches; that their life has been greatly transformed by their faith..
  • Born again adults are more than twice as likely as notionals to strongly disagree that Satan is just a symbol of evil, and that Jesus sinned while He lived on earth.
  • Born again adults are more than three times as likely as notionals to strongly disagree that the Holy Spirit is merely a symbol of God’s power or presence; that Mormons are Christians; and that the Bible, Koran and Book of Mormon teach the same truths.
  • Born again adults are one-third more likely than notionals to possess a definition of God as the omniscient, omnipotent creator and ruler of the world; nearly 60% more likely to believe that you either side with God or Satan because there is no in-between

If you’re going to live right in a warped world – then you have to start with the truth – at Jesus’ trial Pilate asked Christ, “What is truth?”  A very modern question – and one that must be answered if we are get though life the way we ought too.

  • “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” – Sir Winston Churchill
  • “The truth is the most valuable thing we have.” – Mark Twain
  • How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four; calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg. – Abraham Lincoln
  • Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. – Daniel Patrick Moyniham
  • Nothing is easier than self-deceit. For what each man wishes, that he also believes to be true. – Demosthenes
  • It takes two to speak truth — one to speak and another to hear. – Henry David Thoreau

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Episode 132

Disciple Up #132 Show Notes
Suffering & Keeping the Faith
By Louie Marsh, 10-30-2019

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/october/rankin-wilbourne-brian-gregor-cross-before-me-jesus.html

 

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2019/october/tobymac-son-truett-foster-mckeehan-21-dies.html

 

https://www.christianitytoday.com/

Taken from The Cross Before Me: Reimagining the Way to the Good Life by Rankin Wilbourne and Brian Gregor, ©2019. Used by permission of David C Cook.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[c] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Ephesians 5: 25-33 (NIV)

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Episode 131

Disciple Up # 131

Mission Myanmar 2019

By Louie Marsh, 10-23-2019

7  Remember, O LORD, against the Edomites the day of Jerusalem, how they said, “Lay it bare, lay it bare, down to its foundations!” 8  O daughter of Babylon, doomed to be destroyed, blessed shall he be who repays you with what you have done to us! 9  Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rock! Psalm 137:1-9 (ESV)

 16  Their infants will be dashed in pieces before their eyes; their houses will be plundered and their wives ravished. Isaiah 13:16 (ESV)

10  Yet she became an exile; she went into captivity; her infants were dashed in pieces at the head of every street; for her honored men lots were cast, and all her great men were bound in chains. Nahum 3:10 (ESV)

We all have these kind of terrible thoughts in our hearts. So why did the Holy Spirit inspire these words to be put in Scripture? To show us we are not alone with these horrid feelings and that they need to be confessed, healed and transformed into the love of God through Jesus Christ.

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Episode 130

Scripture Over Culture

By Louie Marsh

 

THEORETICAL FAITH:

1) Faith in Christ is MY CHOICE.

 The Lord is my light and my salvation– whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life–of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1

 Faith is a personal choice placed in a PERSONAL GOD.

2) Then Jesus becomes MY PERSONAL SALVATION.

 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is ” ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.’ Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:8-12

 IT RESULTS IN…

 1) POSITIVE CONFIDENCE – because God is with me!

When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall.  Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident.  Psalm 27:2-3

Such love has no fear because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of judgment, and this shows that his love has not been perfected in us. 1 John 4:18 (NLT)

2) POWER through focus.

 One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I see…: Psalm 27:4a

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33

 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Phil. 3:13-14

 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1

 3) It is sustained by WORSHIP.

For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.  Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord.  Psalm 27:5-6

Definition of Culture:

the customs, arts, social institutions, and achievements of a particular nation, people, or other social group

culture is a way of life of a group of people–the behaviors, beliefs, values, and symbols that they accept, generally without thinking about them, and that are passed along by communication and imitation from one generation to the next. Culture is symbolic communication.

Culture determines what is acceptable or unacceptable, important or unimportant, right or wrong, workable or unworkable. It encompasses all learned and shared, explicit or tacit, assumptions, beliefs, knowledge, norms, and values, as well as attitudes, behavior, dress, and language.

Don’t forget – there’s the culture you live in and then there’s “church culture” as well. We have to be aware of both.

My Definition of Culture

 “Don’t follow the culture…all culture is, is a bunch of messed up people being messed up together”

Culture is a way of life well-meaning people established a long time ago. But these people were fallen souls and thus made mistakes. Every culture in the world, including mine and yours, contradicts God in many areas. Therefore we must test our culture by the Word of God and only follow it when it is following Jesus.

14  And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15  See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16  Rejoice always, 17  pray without ceasing, 18  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19  Do not quench the Spirit. 20  Do not despise prophecies, 21  but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22  Abstain from every form of evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:14-22 (ESV)

Jesus Verses 1st Century Jewish Culture

 Washing Hands – Eating

 Traditionally, Jews are required to wash their hands and say a blessing before eating any meal that includes bread or matzah. The ritual, known as netilat yadayim, is typically done using a two-handled cup, but any vessel will do. There are various customs regarding how the water should be poured, but a common practice is to pour twice on the right hand followed by twice on the left (this is reversed for those who are left-handed). Hasidic custom is to pour three times on each hand.

After the washing, the following blessing is recited: Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with Your commandments, and commanded us concerning the washing of the hands.

Other Times to Wash Hands

  • On Waking in the Morning

This ritual is rooted in the belief that certain impurities come to the body when it is asleep and is also typically performed with a two-handled cup. Morning washing is followed by the recitation of the same blessing said after washing hands before bread.

  • After a Meal

In some Hasidic and other communities, it is customary to wash the hands after a meal, a practice known as “afterwards water.” Though not as widely practiced as pre-meal washing.

  • Prior to Reciting the Priestly Blessing

On days when the priestly blessing is recited during synagogue worship, it is customary for  Levites (descendants of the temple priests’ assistants) first to wash the hands of the Kohanim (descendants of the temple priests). No blessing is recited.

  • During the Passover Seder

Prior to dipping herbs in salt water, it is traditional to wash hands without reciting a blessing. This washing is in addition to the later washing prior to the seder meal at which a blessing is recited, since this washing is done in preparation for the eating of matzah.

  • Upon Returning from a Cemetery

1  Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, 2  they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. 3  (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders, 4  and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) 5  And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” 6  And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 7  in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ 8  You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”

  9  And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! 10  For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 11  But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God)— 12  then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, 13  thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.” Mark 7:1-13 (ESV)

Sabbath Day

to those who observe Shabbat, it is a precious gift from God, a day of great joy eagerly awaited throughout the week, a time when we can set aside all of our weekday concerns and devote ourselves to higher pursuits. In Jewish literature, poetry and music, Shabbat is described as a bride or queen, as in the popular Shabbat hymn Lecha Dodi Likrat Kallah (come, my beloved, to meet the [Sabbath] bride). It is said “more than Israel has kept Shabbat, Shabbat has kept Israel.”

Shabbat is the most important ritual observance in Judaism. It is the only ritual observance instituted in the Ten Commandments. It is also the most important special day, even more important than Yom Kippur. This is clear from the fact that more aliyot (opportunities for congregants to be called up to the Torah) are given on Shabbat than on any other day.

Shabbat is primarily a day of rest and spiritual enrichment. The word “Shabbat” root meaning is to cease, to end, or to rest.

1  At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. 2  But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.” 3  He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: 4  how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? 5  Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? 6  I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. 7  And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. 8  For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”

 Jewish Tradition: The disciples were plucking the heads of wheat which to the Pharisees was reaping and were rubbing them in their hands  which was threshing – Word Pictures in the New Testament.

  9  He went on from there and entered their synagogue. 10  And a man was there with a withered hand. And they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—so that they might accuse him. 11  He said to them, “Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? 12  Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” 13  Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other. 14  But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him. Matthew 12:1-14 (ESV)

Jewish Tradition:  Said that the Sabbath prohibition of not working applied to healing as well. You were not allowed to heal on the Sabbath. You could give medicine to someone who was sick but only enough to keep them from getting worse, not enough to make them well.

 14  And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15  See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16  Rejoice always, 17  pray without ceasing, 18  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19  Do not quench the Spirit. 20  Do not despise prophecies, 21  but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22  Abstain from every form of evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:14-22 (ESV)

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Episode 129

Episode 129

Live Streaming Test Audio – Off the Cuff

Sorry it was off the cuff so no show notes this time!

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Episode 128

Disciple Up # 128

What About Baptism?

By Louie Marsh, 10-2-2019

Introduction:

The subject of baptism today is in much the same position that a lot of people are when they get married – it comes with a lot of baggage attached! And like most of us, that baggage isn’t good news!

 

This short essay on baptism isn’t intended to answer all the questions and objections and opinions that have accumulated about baptism in 2000 plus years since Christ commanded us to both be baptized and to baptize others. Rather it is intended to be a simple survey of what the Bible actually says on the subject, designed to bring us to obey what Christ and His Apostle’s have clearly told us to do.

 

Obtuse theological and philosophical questions will have to be pursued elsewhere by others as I am neither interested in any of that nor do I have the time to waste. I’ll bet you’re the same too. So let’s plunge in and see what the Bible teaches us.

 

What It Is:

 

The starting point for any discussion of baptism ought to be what the word is and means. Right here we discover the first reason people are confused about it – it’s a Greek word!  That’s right, baptism isn’t English at all! It’s a transliteration of the Greek word baptizio.

 

What’s transliteration? Instead of translating a word into English, Bible translators simply bring the letters of the Greek word into English! So baptizo becomes baptism! They did the same with abba by the way, the word transliterated abba in Mark 14:36, Romans 8:12 & Galatians 4:6.

 

Why would they do that? Because they are afraid to offend people by translating the word that’s why! Abba is the common Aramaic word that children use of their father’s in intimate settings. Everyone agrees it ought to be translated, “Daddy,” but few translations have the courage to do so.

 

Translators faced the same issue with baptize. Imagine what King James and the church authorities would have done over 500 years ago if that version of the Bible had come out telling everyone to be immersed into Christ! Since the English church then, and now, doesn’t immerse members. Things would have gotten ugly pretty quickly!

 

Baptism is the normal Greek word for immerse, dip or plunge. They had other words for sprinkle or pour, just as we do in English. It was used of ships sinking, of dipping a cloth into dye to change the color, etc.

 

No scholar today would argue this, and in fact all the great church leaders of the past clearly stated this was so – even when their own church traditions and practices didn’t conform to the Biblical command!

 

Martin Luther (founder of the Lutheran Church and the one who began the whole Protestant Reformation) said, “I would have those who are to be baptized to be entirely immersed, as the word imports and the mystery signifies.”

John Calvin (a younger contemporary of Luther, the Presbyterian and other churches look to him as a founder) said, “The word “baptize” signifies to immerse. It is certain that immersion was the practice of the ancient church.”

John Wesley (founder of the Methodist Church) said, “Buried with Him, alludes to baptizing by immersion according to the custom of the first church.”

 

What The Bible Say About This:

 

So while the meaning of the word is clear, is there any support for this in Scripture? The answer is yes, there are several passages that make it clear that baptism is immersion.

 

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. Romans 6:1-5 (NIV)

 

After reading that passage over it’s clear that it only makes sense if baptism is immersion. Otherwise the whole metaphor that Paul is using falls apart. He speaks of being buried with Christ in baptism. Well how do you bury someone? Then as now the dead were buried by putting them under the ground! So when you are lowered into the water it’s a picture not only of Christ’s death and burial, but your own death to sin through your faith in Him.

 

When you are raised up out of the water you have the perfect symbolic picture of Christ’s resurrection, and our own spiritual resurrection in Him as we are born again. Sprinkling or pouring destroys the beauty of this symbol.

 

In the book of Acts there’s a great story of Phillip being sent by the Lord to share the Good News with the Ethiopian eunuch. After he presents the Gospel from an Old Testament passage, look what happens.

 

As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?” And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. Acts 8:36-39 (NIV)

 

If baptism can be done by pouring or sprinkling why did they have to wait till they found a body of water and then go down into it? Why not use stop and use some water from a water bag they surely had on hand?

 

The evidence is clear and overwhelming, baptism is to be done by immersion!

 

Who Should Be Baptized?

 

Jesus made this about as clear as it’s possible to make anything at the end of His Ministry in the Gospel of Matthew.

 

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV)

 

This is called the Great Commission and is repeated in various forms in Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47; John 20:21 and Acts 1:8.

 

Jesus expected all those who put their faith in Him as their Leader and Forgiver (Lord and Savior) to be baptized as part of becoming His disciple. This is clear as crystal from this command. Remember this is a command, not a suggestion! Baptism isn’t optional because it’s part of Christ’s very commands to His Apostles before they launched out on their mission to bring salvation to the ends of the earth!

 

If that’s true, you would expect to see the early church in the book of Acts follow this pattern. And that’s exactly what they did. When you study the Bible you find that the normal pattern for people coming to Christ involved hearing the Gospel, believing it, turning away from their sin (repenting) confessing their faith in Christ to others, being baptized into Christ. Often they are then called saved.

 

Look at the chart below to see how often these important factors are mentioned in the book of Acts as Luke, guided and inspired by the Holy Spirit, recorded the major or historically noteworthy conversions in the early history of the church.

 

Conversion Chart From the Book of Acts
Heard Believed Repented Confessed Baptized Saved
Pentecost

2:22-41

Vs. 37 Vs. 38   Vs. 38.41 Vs. 41
Samaria

8:4-15

Vs. 12     Vs. 12-13  
Eunuch

8:26-39

Vs. 36     Vs. 38 Vs. 39
Saul

9:1-9

22:10     Vs. 18 22:16
Cornelius

10:1-48

Vs. 43 11:18   Vs. 48 11:1
Lydia

16:13-15

Vs. 14-15     Vs. 15  
The Jailer

16:25-34

Vs. 31,34 Vs. 30 Vs. 30 Vs. 33 Vs. 34

 

Interesting isn’t it? The only thing that’s mentioned in every conversion (except belief) occurrence is baptism! That’s probably the exact opposite of what most of us would expect, yet that’s precisely what we find in God’s Word.

 

This is called Believer’s Baptism, and is what Christ taught and the early church practiced. The only people who were ever baptized in the New Testament where those who put their faith in Christ and became His disciples.

 

Some churches practice a “baptism of confirmation” for children. This ceremony is intended to be a covenant between the parents and God on the behalf of the child. This custom began about 300 years after the Bible was completed.

This is different from the baptism talked about in the Bible which was only for those old enough to believe. The purpose is to publicly confess your personal commitment to Christ.

So if your parent’s had you “baptized” in that way, you really weren’t baptized at all! You weren’t old enough to have faith in Christ, and you certainly weren’t immersed either.

Alright, so baptism is by immersion and it’s to be done by those who are putting their faith in Christ as their Forgiver and Life Leader. But what is it’s significance? Is it really important, or is it something I can let slide or avoid because it’s not important?

The Sign of the Covenant:

 

The important place that baptism holds in the life of the Christian is not only hinted at by how often it’s mentioned in the book of Acts, it’s spelled out by the Apostle Paul for us in a way that is often over looked because it’s tied into the Jewish heritage our Christian faith rests on.

 

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. Colossians 2:8-12 (NIV)

 

Notice here again Paul uses the imagery of burial in connection with baptism. He also ties baptism into the ancient Jewish rite of circumcision, thus confusing a lot of Christians who don’t really understand what circumcision was in the Old Testament.

 

God established circumcision as the sign of His covenant with Israel before the Law of Moses. He gave it Abraham as a sign and as something that absolutely must be done if a man wanted to be part of God’s Community.

 

You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner–those who are not your offspring. Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.” Genesis 17:11-14 (NIV)

 

There was no magic in circumcision, it didn’t take away sin, or suddenly make you a better person or do anything of the sort. It was simply a symbolic sign of the covenant God has established with Abraham, a symbol that was hidden from view by the way. So why does God make is so important that if a male child wasn’t circumcised on the eighth day he wasn’t part of God’s people?

 

Because God takes symbols seriously. He understands the power a symbol can have in the lives of not just individual people, but entire nations. If you don’t believe me just remember the Nazi Swastika, or the Hammer and Sickle, or even the Cross itself.

 

They can motivate, instruct, empower and help maintain a person or people through times of great stress. And this is true regardless of whether the symbol is for good or evil.

 

So God has always given His people symbols, the Old Testament if rife with them. In the New Testament there are fewer, but they are none the less powerful. Perhaps they are even more powerful for being so few.

 

The Lord’s Supper is a symbolic feast, and baptism is symbol too – a symbol of our covenant with Christ. It’s the one physical outward act that all believers are to undergo, and thus it unites us together.

 

Baptism is also different from circumcision in another crucial way, a difference that illustrates and celebrates what a wonderful covenant that all people have with Christ. Baptism is for everyone – both men and women!

 

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3:26-29 (NIV)

 

Salvation in Christ is offered to all, whether you are Jew, Gentile, woman, or man. It makes no difference because the Gospel is the power of God for the salvation of all! In Christ men and women have equal status before God as His redeemed children, with full access to his throne!

 

A Few Small Points:

 

People often ask, who can baptize me? The answer is any believer can! In fact I believe that Christians who lead people to Christ ought to be the ones who immerse them into Christ! What a glorious picture that makes, and in fact it’s right in line with the Great Commission.

 

People wonder if they were immersed at an earlier time, and have since fallen away from Christ, should they be re-baptized? Or perhaps you’ve grown a great deal since your baptism, and now understand the faith so much better. Shouldn’t you be baptized again?

 

The answers to these questions are simple. Baptism is done to brand new believers. If you had a sincere faith in Christ when you were immersed, then it doesn’t matter how ignorant you were or if you’ve fallen away since then. Just think of how many times you’d have to be baptized if a growth in knowledge or sin can sever that Covenant sign!

 

No, the only reason for being immersed again is if you really didn’t accept Christ as your personal Lord (Life Leader) and Savior (Forgiver) when you were immersed for the first time. This can be a hard question to answer confidently if you were baptized very young. So in the end, I say if it gives you peace and a clear conscience, go ahead and be baptized again. After all, it isn’t going to hurt you, only get you wet!

 

Looking At The Big Picture:

 

When baptism is approached from a simple Biblical point of view, a lot of the questions that commonly bother people are simply rendered unimportant. The exact meaning of baptism, does it forgive sins or is it simply a symbol? If it does forgive sins, when does it happen? When I’m going down, all the way down, coming up, all the way up? What happens if I’m killed in a car crash on my way to be baptized? What if I’m stuck in the desert and there isn’t any water?

 

I could go on but you get the point. The truth is baptism is the Sign of the Covenant, and the Covenant is a Covenant of Grace. So you don’t have to worry about all these silly questions.

 

Jesus never said, “Go and argue about every possibility of what baptism might, should or could be!” He said, “Go make disciples – and baptize them!” If you are baptized as a believer in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, that’s enough. You can rest secure in your eternal home with the Father as you trust His Son to save you and His Spirit to carry you home.

 

So if you are a believer and haven’t yet been baptized – what are you waiting for?

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Episode 127

Disciple Up #127
Louie’s Law #1, Nothing Is All About You (Or Me Either!)
By Louie Marsh, 9-25-2019

Live Stream on YouTube for International Podcast Day is coming up in 5 days!

 Link to YouTube: shorturl.at/inMX3

Louie’s Laws – things I believe are important that are supported by Scripture but perhaps not explicitly stated there. Either that or just ideas that are so important I believe they need to be stated and restated.

Rick Warren started his best selling book the Purpose Driven Life with this statement, “It’s not about you.” To date he’s sold about 32 million copies in 58 languages, so he just might have something here. I’m amending it slightly and it’s the first Louie’s Law that I’ll be doing.

Law One: Nothing is all about you (or me either!).

Life isn’t about me, the church isn’t about me, right and wrong aren’t about me, even happiness isn’t about me! All these, and a whole lot more – are about God! Even I shouldn’t be about me, it’s all about Jesus first, others second and them me, maybe.

23  Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. Luke 9:23-24 (NIV)

23  And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25  For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? Luke 9:23-25 (ESV)

What this means: This doesn’t mean you don’t take care of yourself as if often said. Only a foolish person let’s themselves get run down because that’s not good for you or for your ability to serve God and others. All these “Laws” must be applied wisely!

16  Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17  If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 (ESV)

18  Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19  Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20  for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 (ESV)

Being a servant is saying I’m putting others first. That doesn’t mean they are better than I am or that I’m not important. They are a greater priority they are not better than I am. This is not a statement of inferiority.

 28  You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. John 14:28 (ESV)

 5  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6  who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7  but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9  Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10  so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11  and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:5-11 (ESV)

 Biblical servanthood is sacrificing now for later, time for eternity. It’s not being a door mat, it’s choosing to sacrifice for the Gospel of God.

 OBSERVATIONS:

 It’s my life – how can it NOT be all about me?

7  For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. 8  For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. 9  For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. Romans 14:7-9 (ESV)

THE WORD “ALL” IS IMPORTANT:

I’m not saying or implying you have no value, obviously to God you are of infinite worth.

32  This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. Ephesians 5:32 (ESV)

25  Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26  that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27  so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Ephesians 5:25-27 (ESV)

God values you greatly because He created you and Jesus died for you.

10  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10 (ESV)

But that doesn’t mean I have any intrinsic value. I’m like one of the old comic books I own. In and of themselves they are worthless. Old and printed on low quality paper. But because people want them then they have value and their values goes up and down depending on how much people want them.

My intrinsic value is very little – 6  All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. Isaiah 64:6 (NIV)

(Gingerbread Man illustration thanks to Chuck Smith.)

But because God loves us and Jesus died for us THEN we become of infinite worth to God, not necessarily anyone else.

16  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:16-17 (ESV)

This takes us right back to the Gospel.

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Episode 126

Disciple Up #126
Faith – What It Is & What It Isn’t
By Louie Marsh

Photo used in cover art by Alex Radelich on Unsplash

International Podcast Day live broadcast on YouTube will be on September 30th at 6:00 PM, Arizona Time, which is the same (till the time change) as California Time. Hope you’ll join me then.

An E-Mail Poured In!

 Check out the following Episodes for more information

 Faithfulness – http://discipleup.org/episode-71/

1  Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 (ESV)

WHAT IS FAITH?

Key to this passage is verse 27 –

27  By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. Hebrews 11:27 (NIV)

27  by faith he left Egypt behind, not having been afraid of the wrath of the king, for, as seeing the Invisible One–he endured; Hebrews 11:27 (YLT)

where Moses “saw” what was invisible, that’s faith – apprehending what you cannot perceive by the five senses – it’s a way of looking at your entire universe and life, both visible and invisible and understand that God is present and active there. Like Moses we must hold to this in spite of evidence that seems to say He’s not there.

 

Faith is the ground upon which all real life and wisdom and relationships must be built – otherwise we are like the foolish man who built on the sand. Matt 7:24-27

1  Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 (ESV)

Hebrews 11:1

Faith

Without the article, indicating that it is treated in its abstract conception, and not merely as Christian faith. It is important that the preliminary definition should be clearly understood, since the following examples illustrate it. The key is furnished by v. 27, as seeing him who is invisible. Faith apprehends as a real fact what is not revealed to the senses. It rests on that fact, acts upon it, and is upheld by it in the face of all that seems to contradict it. Faith is a real seeing.

Substance

in describing the nature of the Son as the image or impress of God’s essential being: but in this sense it is applied to faith, which is an act of the moral intelligence directed at an object; or a condition which sustains a certain relation to the object. It cannot be said that faith is substantial being. It apprehends reality: it is that to which the unseen objects of hope become real and substantial. Assurance gives the true idea. It is the firm grasp of faith on unseen fact.

Now faith is (estin de pistis). He has just said that “we are of faith” (Hebrews 10:39), not of apostasy. Now he proceeds in a chapter of great eloquence and passion to illustrate his point by a recital of the heroes of faith whose example should spur them to like loyalty now.

The assurance of things hoped for (elpizomenon hupostasis). Hupostasis is a very common word from Aristotle on and comes from huphistemi (hupo, under, histemi, intransitive), what stands under anything (a building, a contract, a promise). See the philosophical use of it in Hebrews 1:3, the sense of assurance (une assurance certaine, M‚n‚goz) in Hebrews 3:14, that steadiness of mind which holds one firm (2 Cor. 9:4). It is common in the papyri in business documents as the basis or guarantee of transactions. “And as this is the essential meaning in Hebrews 11:1 we venture to suggest the translation ‘Faith is the title-deed of things hoped for'” (Moulton and Milligan, Vocabulary, etc.).

Evidence

conviction… adds to the simple idea of assurance a suggestion of influences operating to produce conviction which carry the force of demonstration. The word often signifies a process of proof or demonstration. So von Soden: “a being convinced. Therefore not a rash, feebly-grounded hypothesis, a dream of hope, the child of a wish.”

The proving of things not seen (pragmaton elegchos ou blepomenon). The only N.T. example of elegchos (except Textus Receptus in 2 Tim. 3:16 for elegmon). Old and common word from elegcho (Matthew 18:15) for “proof” and then for “conviction.” Both uses occur in the papyri and either makes sense here, perhaps “conviction” suiting better though not in the older Greek.  —Word Pictures in the New Testament

Faith is to believe what we do not see, and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe. – Augustine

Hebrews 1:3

3  He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, Hebrews 1:3 (ESV)

Rend the very image (or impress) of his substance The primary sense of ὑπόστασις substance is something which stands underneath; foundation, ground of hope or confidence, and so assurance itself. In a philosophical sense, substantial nature; the real nature of anything which underlies and supports its outward form and properties.  – Word Studies in the New Testament.

4  Otherwise, if some Macedonians come with me and find that you are not ready, we would be humiliated—to say nothing of you—for being so confident. 2 Corinthians 9:4 (ESV)

17  What I am saying with this boastful confidence, I say not as the Lord would but as a fool. 2 Corinthians 11:17 (ESV)

Hebrews 11:2

What is Faith?

1) Faith Is…

Now faith is the title deed of things hoped for, proof of things which are not being seen. For by means of this [namely, faith] the elders had witness borne them. By means of faith we perceive that the material universe and the God-appointed ages of time  were equipped and fitted by God’s word for the purpose  for which they were intended, and it follows therefore that which we see did not come into being out of which is visible. Hebrews 11:1-3 (Wuest’s Expanded Trans.)

  • My Assurance of Stability

 to faith, which is an act of the moral intelligence directed at an object; or a condition which sustains a certain relation to the object. It cannot be said that faith is substantial being. It apprehends reality: it is that to which the unseen objects of hope become real and substantial. Assurance gives the true idea. It is the firm grasp of faith on unseen fact. –  Vincent’s

 My Conviction That The Unseen Is Real.

 to the simple idea of assurance a suggestion of influences operating to produce conviction which carry the force of demonstration. The word often signifies a process of proof or demonstration. So von Soden: “a being convinced. – Vincent’s

Faith is to believe what we do not see, and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe. –Augustine

2) Faith is a way of seeing all of life – vs 3

Ages – eons

 Faith is also a way of viewing all experience since it is the way in which believers see the universe (tous aionas, lit., “the ages,” also rendered “the universe” in 1:2) for what it is—a creation by God. – Bible Background Commentary

 God bore witness to them in the victory of their faith over all obstacles, and their characters and deeds as men of faith were recorded in Scripture.—Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament

3) Faith Means I understand that…

  • There is a GOD WHO CREATED THE UNIVERSE.

Famed atheist sees evidence for God, cites recent discoveries

http://www.sbclife.net/article/1228/famed-atheist-sees-evidence-for-god

 

Antony Flew, a legendary British philosopher and atheist, has changed his mind about the existence of God in light of recent scientific evidence.

Flew — a prolific author has argued against the existence of God and the claims of Christianity for more than 50 years.

Flew said he is now best described as a deist — a person who believes God created the universe but is not actively involved in people’s lives today.

“I don’t believe in the God of any revelatory system, although I am open to that,” Flew. But it seems to me that the case for … [a] God who has the characteristics of power and also intelligence is now much stronger than it ever was before.”

Flew credits his newfound belief in God to arguments from design such as those espoused by the “intelligent design” (ID) movement. “I think that the most impressive arguments for God’s existence are those that are supported by recent scientific discoveries,” Flew said. “… I think the argument to Intelligent Design is enormously stronger than it was when I first met it.”

Although many atheists appeal to naturalistic evolution as a method by which the world could have come into existence apart from God, Charles Darwin himself acknowledged that the process of evolution requires a creator to start the process, Flew said.

“Darwin himself, in the fourteenth chapter of The Origin of Species, pointed out that his whole argument began with a being which already possessed reproductive powers,” Flew said. “This is the creature the evolution of which a truly comprehensive theory of evolution must give some account. Darwin himself was well aware that he had not produced such an account.”

While Flew said he does not believe in a God who is active in the lives of humans, he is “open to” the possibility of divine revelation. He also believes that Christians are intellectually justified in holding to their religion and that the resurrection of Jesus has more evidential support than any other reported miracle in history.

“The evidence for the resurrection is better than that for claimed miracles in any other religion,” Flew said. “It’s outstandingly different in quality and quantity, I think, from the evidence offered for the occurrence of most other supposedly miraculous events.”

Despite his belief in the existence of God, Flew said it is unlikely that he will ever become a Christian. The major evidence against the God of Christianity is the problem of evil, Flew said.

“The problem of evil is a problem … for Christians,” Flew said. “The thesis that the universe was created and is sustained by a Being of infinite power and goodness is flatly incompatible with the occurrence of massive undeniable and undenied evils in that universe.”

Flew also argues that God does not have “any preferences … about or any intentions concerning human behavior or about the eternal destinies of human beings.”

WHERE DOES FAITH COME FROM?

Does God give it to us as a gift, are we unable to believe without this gift?

Or is belief in Christ a choice, aided by the Holy Spirit’s ministry but never-the-less my choice?

Some use this passage to teach faith comes from God.

4  But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5  even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6  and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7  so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8  For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9  not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:4-9 (ESV)

And that (kai touto). Neuter, not feminine tautē, and so refers not to pistis (feminine) or to charis (feminine also), but to the act of being saved by grace conditioned on faith on our part. Paul shows that salvation does not have its source (ex humōn, out of you) in men, but from God. Besides, it is God’s gift (dōron) and not the result of our work – Word Pictures in the New Testament.

Not faith, but the salvation.  – Word Studies in the New Testament.

If “this” refers to faith then Paul is also saying faith is by grace and not by works so no one can boast. NOT that Salvation is by grace so that no one can boast.

You CAN’T have it both ways, it must refer to one or the other.

How could God command people to believe if they are unable to do it?

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Episode 125

 

Disciple Up #125

Nostalgia Isn’t Worship

By Louie Marsh, 9-11-2019

 

Update on Live Streaming on International Podcast Day

September 11th – Never Forget

Background to today’s episode:

Links:

https://www.ministrymatters.com/all/entry/8492/nostalgia-and-faith

https://www.zachicks.com/nostalgic-worship-disorder-and-getting-worship-my-way/

https://churchleaders.com/worship/worship-articles/334133-is-worship-nostalgia-kililng-your-church.html

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/08/when-nostalgia-was-a-disease/278648/

1  “Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the house of Jacob their sins. 2  For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God. They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them. 3  ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’ “Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. 4  Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high. 5  Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying on sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD? 6  “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? 7  Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter– when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? 8  Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. 9  Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. “If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, Isaiah 58:1-9 (NIV)

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Episode 124

Disciple Up #124
Let’s Talk About Hell
By Louie Marsh, 9-4-2019

This episode is devoted to a subject we hear precious little about today. This topic is about where, according to the Bible, Satan and those unfortunate enough to have followed him will spend eternity – Hell!

There is probably as much debate, ignorance and unbelief about Hell has there is about any topic found in the Scriptures. Most modern people’s attitudes towards hell might well be summed up in a story told by the late Dr. Walter Martin. After a service in which he had preached on hell he was confronted by an angry man.

“So,” the man almost shouted, “you believe in a God Who enjoys roasting people on a cosmic spit for all eternity?”

Of course Dr. Martin denied that he had ever said any such thing or that the Scriptures taught it. And all true Christians will agree with that answer. This article is devoted to presenting a clear view of the Basic Biblical Teaching on hell.

The Purpose of Hell

To answer the basic questions that most people have about hell, it’s important to see that hell was created with a purpose in mind.

This purpose is told to us by the Lord Jesus in Matt. 25:41 where He says, “Then he will say to those on his left, Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.'”

Hell then was created by God, and affirmed by Jesus. The same Jesus Who gave us the Sermon on the Mount also gave us His teaching about the Judgment of God. Hell is an essential part of that judgment. Originally it was created for Satan and his angels (we usually refer to these fallen angels as demons).

Hell then is a place reserved for those who, like Lucifer, choose to rebel against God. By making that choice they are, whether they know it or not, choosing to follow Satan and will end up where he ends up –Hell!

The Perseverance of Hell

Having seen that the Bible teaches that there is indeed a hell, the next question is, how long does it last. The answer is found in 2 Thessalonians 1:8-10. “He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out of the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power…”

Hell is eternal. If it isn’t, as many people today try and teach, then heaven isn’t eternal either! The word everlasting is used of both heaven and hell, you can’t be consistent and say one is eternal while the other isn’t.

Notice how Paul stresses that hell is a place where you are shut out of God’s presence and from experiencing the majesty of His power. This seems to be the ultimate punishment. God is finally revealed and available – and you are shut away from Him. What could be worse?

Our Response to Hell

Many an argument has been had about whether the fire in hell is real fire or not. I believe these arguments miss the point

The main point that Jesus stressed when He spoke of hell was not it’s location, nature or length of the punishment, etc. His main point was something much more simple and practical, as seen in Matthew 5:29-30. “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell…”

His point is obvious – we should do everything anything possible to avoid going to hell!

This point was stressed over and over in the teachings of Jesus. It comes as a big surprise to many to learn who the greatest preacher and teacher on hell was in the New Testament. It was Jesus. That’s right – loving, kind, gentle Jesus taught more about hell than anyone else did in the entire New Testament. In fact the Greek word for hell, Gehenna, is found only once outside of the Gospels!

Why did Christ of all people teach so much on hell? Because as God in human flesh He was only one Who had seen it! Jesus better than anyone knew the horrors of hell, and so used some very strong language to warn us away from it.

Properly understood then, hell becomes the motivation of heaven in giving us salvation by grace. For without it we would all be destined to spend eternity apart from God there.

The Sound of Silence

Today we almost never teach, talk or hear about hell. Most Christians will go far out of their way to avoid mentioning hell to their non-Christian friends. Hell rarely finds it’s way into modern presentations of the Gospel either.

Why? Because the Post-Christian culture we live in has rejected all absolutes.

As a result of this rejection of absolutes we find the doctrine of hell extremely offensive. What could to more offensive to an anything goes culture than hell – which is about as absolute as you can get!

The church too suffers from this. We, along with our culture, ask how a loving God could allow souls to be punished     eternally. Many Christians today cannot accept the doctrine of hell and either ignore it or deny it. In the end it all comes out about the same. We don’t really believe the Biblical doctrine of hell, and we don’t take it seriously. As a result we end up on opposite ends of the spectrum from our Lord Jesus, Who both believed in and took hell extremely seriously!

The Terrible Truth

The terrible truth is that when we approach the doctrine of hell we find ourselves on what seem to be the horns of a dilemma. How can a loving God allow a horror like hell to exist? Even worse – how could He send His creations there with no possibility of parole?

This is the question addressed by The New Bible Dictionary on page 519.

“The fact is on the one hand, God is omnipotent and God is love, and, on the other, eternal retribution is plainly taught in Scripture, raises problems for our minds that in all probability we cannot fully solve. It is easy in such cases to produce a logical answer at the expense of one side of biblical truth, and this has often been done…we must admit that the counsels of God are past the understanding of our finite minds. The reality and eternity of suffering in Gehenna is an element of biblical truth that an honest exegesis cannot evade.”

To which I say -Amen! To deny the doctrine of hell is to deny the teachings of Jesus. He Who was incarnate love taught more on hell than anyone else in the entire Bible.

It is from Him that we must develop our attitude towards hell as a terrible, horrible place to be avoided at all costs!

The Challenge

Spread the Word is the first challenge the doctrine of hell presents us with. Jude wrote of this in Jude 1:20-23, which says in part; “…snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear…”

Hell does have a place in evangelism. Sometimes it’s necessary to present the fear of God, not just His mercy and Grace to lead people to faith in Jesus Christ.

Personal Humility is also something that a understanding of hell challenges us with. It

strips us of our false pride and draws us closer to God through His Grace – and not our works!

Becoming a Caring Community is another challenge the Bible presents us with as this point. Hear these words from the late, great, Mark Heard,

“But we believe so well, don’t we tell ourselves? Don’t we take exclusive pride that we abide so far from hell? We might laugh together, but don’t we cry alone? For the ashes and dust we’ve swept beneath the holy throne.”

Let us then with love and compassion present the full truth to the world and stand fast in humility on the Word of God.

Hell in The New Testament

Below are all the verses where the word Gehenna (hell) is used in the New Testament.

MT 5:22;    MT 5:29 -30; MT 10:28;   MT 18:9; MT 23:15,33 MK 9:43, 45; MK 9:47 LK 12:5, JAS 3:6

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