Colossians Pt 3 – Paul’s Prayer for You and Me

Disciple Up Show Notes #137
Colossians: The Supremacy of Christ, Pt 3
Paul’s Prayer for You and Me, Col. 1: 9-14

As we study Colossians you might also want to read Ephesians since there are many parallels between them.

If you were asked to pray for a small, struggling group of Christians who you had heard of but never met, what would you pray for?  Would you pray for revival, more warmth in their fellowship, more evangelism or that they try some new exciting program to grow?  Well Paul didn’t he prayed that the Colossians – and us! – would know God’s will!  Why?  Lets see…

  1. I) THE KNOWLEDGE OF HIS WILL (vs. 9)

9  And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, Colossians 1:9 (ESV)

  1. A) Filled Up

1, filled = filling out to completeness.  We should be completely filled with knowledge of His will.

2, This knowledge comes from receiving God’s grace (vs. 6)

6  which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, Colossians 1:6 (ESV)

3, Knowledge = a full grasp of something MUCH deeper than mere mental understanding.

                              a, THIS IS THE PLAGUE OF BIBLE STUDY!!

4, Paul is asking that we be filled with a complete knowledge of God’s will?  HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE??

  1. B) Through Wisdom & Understanding

1, Wisdom = a mind controlled by the Spirit of God.

2, understanding =applying this God given wisdom to our circumstances

3, This means that we must PRAYERFULLY ANALYIZE situations before jumping into them.

  1. C) But What About God’s Will?

1, We’ve been talking about it!

2, God’s will in the N.T. isn’t primarily concerned with which job should I take etc.

3, It’s really concerned with verses 10-11.

  1. II) RESULTS OF THIS KNOWLEDGE (vs. 10-11)

 10  so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. 11  May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, Colossians 1:10-11 (ESV)

 A) Living Worthy of the Lord (vs. 10)

1, Paul doesn’t want our knowledge to be barren orthodoxy!

2, He wants our total understanding of God’s will to show in a transformed life!

a, Knowing God’s will is the only way to live a life pleasing to Him.

b, Full knowledge will make us want to please Him in every way!!

3, A transformed life bears fruit.

a, just as the Gospel does (vs. 6)

b, our fruit is our CONTINUAL good works for Christ

c, the more our full knowledge of God’s will grows the more fruit we’ll show.

  1. B) Powered By God (vs 11)

1, I’m tired, I can’t produce fruit!  You need some power to do it!

2, We are to be strengthened with all power.

a, power = dunamis (Acts 1:8) dynamite, dynamic, dynamo

b, Might = Kratos = God’s perfect power, used of Him almost exclusively.

3, This means that God’s Kratos continually becomes dunamis in us!

a, so we depend on God – not circumstances – for the power to live.

  1. C) The Purpose of the Power (vs 11)

1, Notice how these 3 qualities parallel the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5)

a, the purpose of God’s power is to bear fruit in our lives

2, Great endurance = the kind of perseverance which enables one to hold the position already taken in battle against enemy attacks from without.

3, Patience = not striking back when attacked

4, Joyfully – these 2 qualities must be tempered with joy for we are not stoics!

III) FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT (vs. 12-14)

12  giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13  He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14  in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:12-14 (ESV)

  1. A) Give Thanks!

1, for what?  The Power and the will of God!  And for what follows.

2, Qualified to share with the saints.

a, notice that GOD qualified us – we didn’t qualify ourselves. HOW?

  1. B) Rescued From Darkness (vs. 13)

1, Dominion = exousia = the right or legal authority to rule

2, How does the Darkness or the Devil get this authority over us?

a, We give it to him by sinning

b, ALL non-Christians are helpless slaves of the Dark rebel kingdom – totally helpless to free themselves, just as all of us once were!

3, The Father must rescue us!

a, How?  Through Christ’s death for us and His resurrection which gave Him the exousia, the legal authority, over Darkness.

b, The Beloved Son died – that we might live.

c, And He died that we might be transferred to the Kingdom of Light!

1, aorist tense – it’s an accomplished fact for those who believe!

  1. C) The Way Out! (vs. 14)

1, Redemption – the O.T. concept is of paying a price to buy something back that once belonged to you.

a, Christ died to buy us back from Satan to God Again (Mark 10:45)

45  For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45 (ESV)

2, Forgiveness of Sins.

a, Forgive = to release or let go

b, What happens when WE don’t forgive?

1, It’s like an ancient penalty for murder, being chained to the corpse till it falls apart!

2, By dragging around your pain you’re stinking up your life, and everyone else’s you know!

3, Christ’s death forgives ALL OUR SINS!

4, You must receive Him for this forgiveness to be yours!

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Disciple Up #136
Christian Publishing Is Dying & Why You Should Care
By Louie Marsh, 11-27-2019

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/november/christian-bookstores-authors-publishers-changing-market.html

Those became mega-bestsellers, but the big retailers also demanded bigger discounts from publishers, in turn undercutting prices at evangelical bookstores. The big stores also sold fewer titles, so publishers increasingly looked for authors with some celebrity or platform, making it harder for unknown writers to break into the market.

On another side of the evangelical book industry, though, it’s just part of the business. Take Christian authors, who are competing for fewer bookstore spots and Amazon rankings with the already-famous: reality stars like Chip and Joanna Gaines, the Duck Dynasty crew, and breakout Instagram influencers like Rachel Hollis.

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Episode 135

 Disciple Up Show Notes
The Supremacy of Christ, Colossians Pt. 2
Thank God For the Gospel!
By Louie Marsh, 11-20-2019

THANK GOD FOR THE GOSPEL!
Col. 1: 1: 1-8

Intro. Paul wrote this book around 62-63 AD probably from Rome. Colossae was in Phrygia on the Lycus river – nearby were the larger cities of Hierapolis & Laodicea. In Paul’s day Colossae was in decline – today the site is uninhabited.

This letter was written to clear up a heresy which was being taught in the church. The false teaching had not made as strong of inroads in the Colossian church that another heresy did in Galatia. We don’t know the exact form of this heresy but it appears to be some sort of cross between Judaism & the Mystery religions. It seems to be a forerunner of Gnosticism, a heresy which would nearly destroy the church in the 2nd century.

I) PAUL’S GREETING – vs. 1-2

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 2 To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father. Colossians 1:1-2 (ESV)

A) Form and Substance
1, Paul follows the typical Greek form of a letter opening.
2, However, while his form is Greek the content is uniquely Christian.
a, Putting Christian content into cultural forms is part of God’s plan for reaching the world.
3, Example of typical letter – Fred, Roman Centurion to Harvey Tax preparer – “What do you mean I’m being audited??”

B) His Authority
1, Paul was an Apostle of Christ.
a, Apostle = “one clothed with the authority and endued with the power of the sender.”
b, This means that what follows isn’t just the opinion of a missionary – it’s the Word of the Almighty God – & is to be obeyed!

2, An Apostle by God’s Will
a, he didn’t get this job on the basis of his resume – it was God’s sovereign choice.
b, Since he’s never been there Paul wants them to clearly understand this.
c, None of us serve God because of our knowledge, goodness etc. We serve by His Choice which is an extension of His Grace!

C) Who His Readers Are
1, Saints.
a, ALL Christians are saints! Not just long dead nice guys!
B, How? We have been set apart by God by His Grace!
2, Faithful Brethren
a, a word of encouragement to this small and troubled church.
3, Grace and Peace
a, Grace encapsulates what salvation is all about – a free gift!
b, Peace, this word in Greek was used to translate the Hebrew Shalom, which means “wholeness.” That’s the goal of grace in our lives.
c, This comes from a God Who is our Father – not a distant god.

II) PAUL’S THANKSGIVING vs. 3-4

3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, Colossians 1:3-4 (ESV)

A) Thank God! vs. 3
1, Paul is sincere in writing this letter
a, note that he didn’t write a thanksgiving in Galatians & 2 Cor.
2, Paul praises God – not men – something the church today could learn from!
a, He recognizes work well done, as we’ll see, but true praise he reserves for God.
3, Paul, who is always bugging us to pray, practices what he preaches.

B) Faith and Love vs. 4

1, “faith in Christ” doesn’t mean that the object of their faith is Christ (though of course He is!) but the Greek refers to Christ as the sphere in which their faith works.
a, They are in Christ (vs. 2) we draw our spiritual life from Him, all that we are and can hope to become must come from HIM. We really are IN HIM!
b, to be “In Christ” is to be under His Lordship
2, Love for our brothers & sisters – the mark of the true Christian.

C) Hope, Faith & Love vs. 5

5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, Colossians 1:5 (ESV)

1, Hope gives birth to this Love and Faith that we have.
a, These 3 qualities are often linked in Scripture, this is an indication of their importance. ALL 3 are needed to live a truly Christ-like life.
2, What Hope? The Greek indicates an objective hope – the 2nd coming, the resurrection, eternal life.
a, it’s objective because it’s secured for us by our Heavenly Father and our Lord Jesus, & because it’s promised to us in the Word of God

D) Thank God for the Gospel vs. 6

6 which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, Colossians 1:6 (ESV)

1, The Gospel = the word of truth, as opposed to the false religions around them.
2, The Gospel’s two vital characteristics:
a, Growing
1, Colossae was on the Lycus Riv., a tributary of the Meander Riv. which was famous for it’s many curves – hence the English word.
2, The Gospel doesn’t meander – it grows – if not much where you are right now, we know it is in other places & it will grow here if we’re faithful.
b, Producing Fruit:
1, Because it’s the living (Word) logos of God it bears fruit
2, Two Fruits – reconciliation to God – and a changed life!

III) HOW THE GOSPEL CAME TO THEM vs. 7-8

7 just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf 8 and has made known to us your love in the Spirit. Colossians 1:7-8 (ESV)

A) Epaphras
1, short for Epaphraoditus – a very common name in those days – there’s no evidence that he’s the guy as Phil. 2:25, but he could be.

25 I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, Philippians 2:25 (ESV)

2, Servant = deacon
a, who preached the Gospel, started churches, and helped Paul
b, a deacon brought them the Gospel!

B) Learning the Gospel
1, Learned is an unusual word for Paul to use in this context
2, it means Epaphras gave them a systematic instruction in the Gospel
a, perhaps like the Bereans, they too studied diligently.
3, Many people have to come to Christ this way.
a, they need more than a sermon or two, they must study it out
b, If you are dealing with someone like this, or ARE someone like this, don’t give up! Keep giving them reasons for faith. (Acts 18: 4)

4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks. Acts 18:4 (ESV)

News Article: What Baptism Tells Us About the “Seal” of Believer’s Baptism

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2019/november/research-believers-baptism-teens-faith-affiliation-jssr.html

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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 133

Disciple Up 133 Show Notes
Kanye & Christ: When Celebrities Come to Jesus
By Louie Marsh, 11-6-2019

With the release of his new album and his statements of being born again, Kanye West is the latest in a very long line of celebrities becoming a Christian. There’s plenty of controversy about this and that’s what we want to talk about today.

How do we react when a well known person, entertainer or otherwise, becomes a Christian?

Some Celebs who, at one time or another, claimed to be a Christian.

Charlie Sheen

In 1997, Charlie Sheen claimed that he was a born-again Christian.  Less than a year later, Sheen was back to his old ways. In 1998, he was hospitalized for a drug overdose.  Currently, Sheen doesn’t seem to follow any organized religion.

Johnny Cash

Country music legend Johnny Cash became a born-again Christian in 1968. On being born-again he said, “A few years ago I was hooked on drugs. I dreaded to wake up in the morning. There was no joy, peace, or happiness in my life. Then one day in my helplessness I turned my life completely over to God. Now I can’t wait to get up in the morning to study the Bible.”

Kirk Cameron

Kirk Cameron became a born-again Christian when he was 17 years old.  He has left mainstream Hollywood behind him, as he now focuses his energy and talent on Christian projects. He has said, “Put your nose into the Bible everyday. It is your spiritual food. And then share it. Make a vow not to be a lukewarm Christian.”

Bettie Page

In 1959, she was lying on a sea wall in Key West when she saw a church with a white neon cross on top. She walked inside and became a born-again Christian. After attending Bible school, she wanted to serve as a missionary but was turned down. Instead, she worked full-time for evangelist Billy Graham‘s ministry. However, a move to Southern California in 1979 brought her more troubles. She was arrested after an altercation with her landlady. Doctors diagnosed her as suffering from acute schizophrenia, and she spent 20 months in a state mental hospital in San Bernardino, and she was subsequently placed under state supervision for eight years.

Jane Fonda

In 1998, Jane Fonda became a born-again Christian. She discusses her faith in her book My Life So Far.  She said that she developed an eating disorder when she was 60 years old and Christianity helped her get her life back in order.

Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan, born Robert Allen Zimmerman, was raised in a Jewish household. In the late 70s, the “Like a Rolling Stone” singer became a born-again Christian.

Gary Busey

Actor Gary Busey became a born-again Christian after suffering a life threatening motorcycle accident in 1988. In 1996, he was quoted as saying, “I am proud to tell Hollywood I am a Christian. For the first time I am now free to be myself.”

Chris Pratt

Chris Pratt became a devout Christian after an interaction with a stranger in Hawaii when he was a teenager. “He was like, ‘I stopped because Jesus told me to stop and talk to you. He said to tell you you’re destined for great things.’ My friends came out, and I was like, ‘Hey, I’m gonna go with this guy.’ I gave my soul to Jesus within, like, two days. I was stuffing envelopes for his organisation, Jews for Jesus,'” Chris Pratt told Esquire of the meeting.

The Guardians of the Galaxy star surprised fans in 2017 when his acceptance speech for Choice Sci-Fi Actor at the Teen Choice Awards was filled with Christian undertones. He also often mentions his religious beliefs on Instagram, such as when he announced his engagement to now-wife Katherine Schwarzenegger, saying, “Proud to live boldly in faith with you.”

Non-Hollywood Celebs – Chuck Colson, James Irwin (Apollo 15), etc.

Sources:

https://www.beliefnet.com/entertainment/celebrities/galleries/5-celebrities-who-converted-to-christianity.aspx

 https://www.ranker.com/list/celebrities-who-are-born-again-christians/celebrity-lists

KANYE WEST:

 https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/kanye-west-s-christian-conversion-less-about-jesus-it-about-ncna1075136

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/october-web-only/kanye-west-conversion-jesus-is-king.html

https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/kanye-west-god-jesus-king/

WHAT SHOULD WE DO:

  • Be careful in opposing what God might be doing.

33  When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them. 34  But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while. 35  And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men. 36  For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. 37  After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered. 38  So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; 39  but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” So they took his advice, 40  and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Acts 5:33-40 (ESV)

  • If they are morally & doctrinally sound, let them work even though what they’re doing is very different from what you are doing.

36  And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.” 37  Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. 38  But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. 39  And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, 40  but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. 41  And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches. Acts 15:36-41 (ESV)

  • You will know them by their fruit.

15  “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16  By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17  Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18  A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20  Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. 21  “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22  Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23  Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ Matthew 7:15-23 (NIV)

6  I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel– 7  which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8  But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! 9  As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! 10  Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:6-10 (NIV)

  • Pray for them that the Gospel will be honored & spread by their example and words.

4  Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. 5  One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6  He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7  For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. 8  If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. Romans 14:4-8 (NIV)

26  When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. 27  But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. 28  So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. 29  He talked and debated with the Grecian Jews, but they tried to kill him. 30  When the brothers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus. Acts 9:26-30 (NIV)

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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?

Please Get In Touch!

Email – louie@discipleup.org

 


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