Speaking where the bible speaks, and silent where the bible is silent.

Archive for February, 2017

Hope Is Not A Wish

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“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11: 1). While this is a passage that is often quoted,  I fear that oftentimes great emphasis is placed upon the faith, to the neglect of that of which it is the assurance things hoped for.

The Hebrew writer points out that our forefathers “looked for a city . . . whose builder and maker is God” (v. 10); they “confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (v. 13); and they desired “a better country, that is, an heavenly” (v. 16). Thus, they truly had a hope that was made sure by their faith. Yet, consider the attitude and nature of those that claim to be descendants of such forefathers!

Oftentimes, you find individuals that claim to be of the spiritual seed of Abraham, thus supposedly possessing the same hope that possessed, in reality do not have one whet the faith of Abraham. Had they been in Abraham’s place they would have most likely been laying foundations on earth; talking as if they were going to live on earth forever; and “hoping” that if an eternal abode on earth was not their lot, they might be able to live in a heavenly country.

The thing that many fail to realize about such hope is that such is not hope. Such is a wish, and faith is not assurance of a wish, but of things hoped for! The reasons for this are very simple: If a man s faith is right, he will have “hope” rather than “wish,” and his faith will be the assurance of this. If his faith is not right, it is not the assurance of a hope or wish, but rather eternal damnation. Thus, we have the significance of the statement: “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draws back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him” (Heb. 10: 38).

Remain Not Silent To Error

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Jesus said, “That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment” (Matt 12:36). To quietly do or say nothing is to follow the course of least resistance. Tolerance to evil of his sons was the downfall of Eli (1 Sam. 2). Implied submission to the wishes of the Jews caused King Saul to rebel at God’s orders (1 Sam. 15).

John the Baptist refused to be silent about Herod’s sin of adultery (Matt. 14:4). Peter spake out and proposed the only solution for the Jews guilt (Acts 2:22-38). To the Corinthians, Paul more than once specifically wrote words of correction. Such was also written to the saints at Galatia (Gal. 1:6-9; 3:1). In giving information as to the nature of the work of the Holy Spirit, Christ said, “And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believed not on me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and you see me no more; of judgment because the prince of this world is judged” (Jn 16:8-11). The apostles made the fact manifest that the Holy Spirit was given to neither idle words nor silence.

The sectarian world has influenced many members of the church with their philosophy of “idle silence” with regard to sin and error. God forbid that we be so addicted. “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Eph. 5: 11). “Wherefore rebuke them sharply that they may be sound in the faith” (Tit. 1:13). “These things speak and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise you” (Tit. 2:15). “I charge you therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned to fables” (2 Tim. 4:1-4). “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear” (1 Tim. 5: 20). These orders, admonitions, warnings and exhortations all have to do with sin, error and corruption existing both in the world and in the church. With regard to all the facets of false doctrines, we must be vocal in opposition according to God’s Word.

The philosophy of drifting and voice of apostasy thrive on idle silence. Abundant are the wishes of the drifters from the truth that their errors go unopposed. Idle silence was a valuable tool to the promoters of the Missionary Society. It served its purpose in the introduction of the piano into the worship. Today, if liberal brethren went unopposed, they would have already went the way of pure denominationalism.

Loyal brethren today, who may have an ambitious one among them, who became idly silent to any drifting disposition, are at the river’s mouth of apostasy, ready to float out into the sea of digression. Loyal brethren, let’s face the facts, we cannot be indifferent to drifting trends and retain our stability as loyal people of God. It is important that we retain cautiousness, coupled with stern alertness to any impending drift from the New Testament order. Our vigil must never cease, and we must never remain silent to false teaching.  If fail to warn the wicked, their blood will be upon our hands (Ezek. 33:7-9) As Jesus concluded, “For by your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned” (Matt 12:37).

Some Things That Are Impossible

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In the opening two chapters of the first epistle of John, the apostle established the following impossibilities:

Fellowship with God While Walking in Darkness.

According to 1 Jn 1:6, the person willfully disobedient to God’s word is a liar- when he claims to have fellowship with God.

Live Perfectly Sinless

Although we are to aim at perfection (Matt. 5:48), we must realize that we shall continually fail short of the goal. The man who claims perfection is self-deceived and does not possess the truth (1 Jn 1:8).

Know Jesus and Obey Him Not

Although most everyone is nominally acquainted with Jesus, only the obedient have the personal relationship which allows us to know him and what he has done for us. Should the disobedient claim to have that knowledge, they are liars (1 Jn 2:4).

Be in the Light and Hate One’s brother

To be obedient to God and hate one’s brother are mutually exclusive. The man who thinks he is able to do both is still in spiritual darkness (1 Jn 2:9).

Conclusion: These are some things to think about whenever one thinks he can serve God and the world at the same time (Matt 6:24). As John concluded, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 Jn 2:15,16).

Preach The Gospel Without Ceasing

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Preaching on Bible baptism is as vital today as it has ever been. This is true, first because it is a part of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20; Mk. 16:15-16). In every case of conversion beginning in Acts 2, sinners who put their trust in Christ were baptized as a part of their initial response to the gospel. When sinners wanted to be saved from their sins, they by faith in Christ were baptized in water immediately – “the same hour of the night” (Acts 16:33) – without delay. The same clear instruction is needed today if sinners are to be saved by the blood of Christ.

Second, the need of such teaching is urgent because denominationalism fills people’s minds with prejudice, resentment, and resistance on this subject. Brethren have taught much on Bible baptism and must teach much on it still. False teachers have poisoned the minds of many that ‘faith only’ saves despite the fact the bible teaches otherwise (Jam 2:19-26). Constantly gospel preachers have to remind the denominational world that the thief on the cross was not subject to the gospel of Christ because he died under the Mosaic law and not under the law of Christ. The gospel was first preached in Acts chapter 2 on the day of Pentecost.

A third reason we need to teach much and often on Bible baptism is that some among us “depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron” (1 Tim. 4:1-2). These men make “shipwreck concerning the faith,” contradicting the great truths they once preached and defended (1 Tim. 1:19). As the disease of apostasy progresses, such men “overthrow the faith of some” others who are not well grounded (2 Tim. 2:17-18).

Where these apostates once preached with emphasis and exclamation marks, they now speak with speculation and question marks. Their sermons used to be girded with the bands of Book, Chapter, and Verse quotations, but now with the spaghetti strings of what modern theologians and pop psychologists have to say. Frequent, pious reminders are given of how much we have to learn from denominational leaders by men who now are “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 3:7).

Men who used to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” now earnestly defend denominational doubts, dodges, and dogmas on baptism (Jude 3). As these sweet-spirited souls granulate into sugar, they have temper tantrums and go into tirades crying out against “legalism.” A “legalist” in their eyes is someone who insists, “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God” (1 Pet. 4:11). These liberal minded brethren insist conservative brethren are “legalist” or “Pharisees” for following the letter of the law (1 Cor 4:6 f; Rev 22:18,19). Yet, Jesus commanded his own disciples to obey the Pharisees, but not to do as they did, for they said and did not (Matt 23:2,3). If Liberals believe Conservatives to be “legalists” or “Pharisees”, then obey what they say. Even so, liberals are twice worse than the Pharisees because they neither say or do. There is much talk by these apostates about searching for “common ground” they are always finding more and more of it with their denominational neighbors, less and less of it with their brethren who insist upon a “thus saith the Lord” for all things.

Let us not be intimidated by the vast numbers of the lost, by the vast power of denominationalism, or by the rash railings of false brethren. Let us diligently equip ourselves by immersing ourselves in Scripture so that we may be workmen who need not to be ashamed, “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine” (4:2). You will know it is “out of season” when men falsely accuse you of putting the Bible or the church or baptism above faith in Christ. Preach the gospel without ceasing despite all these things. “Take heed unto yourself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this you shall both save yourself, and them that hear you” (1 Tim. 4:16).

Impossibilities

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During the personal ministry of Jesus, questions were often asked of him by his hearers, disciples, and critics. In response to the rich young ruler’s question, “what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”, Jesus pointed out the necessity of keeping the Law and because of his love for the young man, he told him the one thing he lacked to enter the kingdom of heaven. Jesus instructed the young ruler to “go your way, sell whatsoever you have, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven: and come, take up your cross, and follow me.” The text tells us that this man rejected the instructions he sought from the Good Master “And he was sad at the saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions” (Mk 10:17-23).

Jesus’ Illustration

Not only did the words of Jesus have a marked impact on the young ruler, but the disciples of Jesus who had witnessed this encounter were astonished at his words as well. Jesus then began to teach the impossibility of one entering heaven who trusts in riches. In verse 23 Jesus said, “How hardly shall they that have riches (wealth) enter into the kingdom of God!” Similar language is used also in verse 24. Upon the astonishment of the disciples by this saying, Jesus in verse 25 uses a proverbial statement to illustrate this impossibility by saying, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”

Jesus uses the literal “camel” and the “needle’s eye” (Luke 18:25) to illustrate the absolute impossibility of one entering heaven who trusts in riches. Some have attempted to soften this saying of Jesus and water it down by saying that the needle’s eye was only referring to a small passage way or small gate. Such a notion is totally unfounded and filled with wishful thinking! The needle’s eye here is the literal needle, and the expression was a proverbial one to indicate that which is absolutely impossible.

These attempts to soften this and other sayings of Jesus is not surprising. What Jesus and the apostles taught as being an impossibility, many religious rebels, renegades and even some of my brethren, try to make a possibility in an effort to justify their lawlessness! The impossibility of putting that camel through the needle’s eye can be set in contrast to other impossibilities we find revealed in the Scriptures!

Other Impossibilities

It is impossible for those who have not been baptized into Christ to enter the kingdom of God. Jesus said to Nicodemus in John 3:4, “…Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Jesus said in Mark 16:16, “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be condemned.” Paul said that “we are buried with him in baptism” (Rom. 6:1-6); that those who “have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:27). Recorded in the book of Acts are those who were baptized in the name of Christ in water on Pentecost 3,000 were baptized (Acts 2:1-47), the Samaritans (8:5-12), Simon (8:13), the Ethiopian eunuch (8:26-40), Saul (9:1-18; 22:1-6; 26:12-18), Cornelius and his household (10:1-48; 11:1-17), Lydia and her household (16:14, I5), the Philippian jailer (16:25-40); the Corinthians (18:8). Therefore, those who have not been baptized into Christ have not put on Christ and shall not enter the kingdom of God.

It is impossible for those involved in religious error to inherit the kingdom of God. Jesus denounced doing things religiously without his authority. He said in Matthew 7:21-23 , “Not every one that says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.” Jesus also identified the worship of doctrines and commandments of men as vain worship and proclaimed, “Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up” (Matt. 15:9, 13). Religious error of any kind is iniquity in God’s sight and will prevent those involved in it from entering the kingdom of God. All things must be done by the authority of Christ (Col. 3:17).

It is impossible for those living in an adulterous marriage to enter the Kingdom of God. Many have tried to soften the definite teaching of Jesus on the subject of divorce and remarriage in Matthew 19:9 where he said “And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, commits adultery: and whoso marries her which is put away commits adultery.” Even those who heard Jesus were shocked at this strict law of Jesus. Jesus in this encounter with the Pharisees reaffirmed Genesis 2:24 one man for one woman for life with one exception for divorce given to the man for the cause of fornication. Therefore when a man divorces his wife for a cause other that fornication and marries another, he goes to the bed of adultery with the unlawful wife and Paul taught that the adulterer shall not enter the kingdom of heaven (1 Cor. 6:9 f; Heb. 13:4)! How often do preachers of every denomination tells their members that they can remarry for any reason. How often do  preachers in the Lord’s church mislead women into believing they can divorce their unfaithful husband and remarry. This they do despite the scriptures twice instructing women that they are bound to their husband as long as he lives (Rom 7:2,3 f; 1 Cor 7:39). This they do despite the absence of Jesus instructing women that they could divorce their husband and remarry if their husband was unfaithful (Mat 5:32 f; Matt 19:9). Teaching such things may get preachers a pat on the back and money in their pocket, but by teaching error they are dooming not on their own soul but all those who believe them.

It is impossible for the sexually immoral to enter the kingdom of God. The word “fornication” includes all sexual immorality. This word includes homosexuality, lesbianism, incest, rape, pedophilia, bestiality, whoredom, and adultery. This also includes the ungodly practice of “shacking up” that so many are involved in where a man and woman live together and are joined sexually without being married. Paul condemned those involved in sexual immorality as well as those involved in the list of sins in Rom 1:21-32 ff; Gal 5:19-21; 1 Cor 5:1-5; 6:15-20; and Col 3:5, 6).

It is impossible for a liar to enter kingdom of God. John said “…and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Rev. 21:8). The lake which burns with fire and brimstone is far from the kingdom of Heaven__ it is eternal damnation in Hell!

It is impossible for those consumed with worldly pleasures to enter the kingdom of God. Paul said in Philippians 3: I8, 19, “For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.” Sadly to say, many brethren are in this condition and this truth can be applied to those brethren who more interested in stuffing the stomach rather than feeding the soul (Jn 6:26-37).

It is impossible for the unrighteous or disobedient to enter the kingdom of God. It should be obvious to all who are honestly trying to live a godly life, that the there is no end to things that could be mentioned that will keep one from entering the kingdom of God. What about the gossiper (Psa. 16:28; 26:20 f; Eph. 4:31)? What about the hypocrite (Matt. 23:1-30; Luke 12:2; Jam. 3:17)? What about those negligent in their service to God (Matt. 25:1-3)? What about the rebellious (1 Sam. 15:23)? What about those who engaged in addictive practices such as smoking, drinking alcohol socially, illegal drugs, and gambling, etc? And what about those with the wrong attitude toward the truth and preachers of it? In Galatians 5:19-21 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-19, Paul lists numerous sins that are “works of the flesh.” In answer to his own rhetorical question, “Know you not that the unrighteous shall not enter the kingdom of God?”, he answered with the warning, “Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9, 10).

Conclusion: Some teach and many are deceived into believing that such people will inherit the kingdom of God. Paul’s teaching says that this notion is not so! The truth is, heaven is reserved only for the obedient child of God whose faith has endured “the trial of fire” (1 Pet. 1:3-9). Let these Apostolic words sink deep into our hearts, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and godly, in this present world” (Tit. 2:11, 12). To attempt to put the ungodly, the disobedient, the alien sinner, or an erring brother into the eternal kingdom of God (heaven), is like trying to put that camel “through the eye of the needle.” An Impossibility! “Be not deceived” for whatsoever a man sows that shall he also reap (Gal 6:7).

The Man and His Plan

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Preachers and teachers in denominational churches tell us to put our faith “in the man, not the plan.” Our trust and belief, they say, must be in the person of Christ and not in any pattern or system of faith. Thus, they make a distinction between love and loyalty to the Lord and obedience to his word. This is done in an attempt to escape the plain words of the Savior which require that one be baptized in order to be saved (Matt. 28:19 f; Mark 16:16).

Let me illustrate some positive arguments which show that the saved believer is the obedient believer.

Belief in John the Baptist

“And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him” (Luke 7:29, 30). Jesus taught that the baptism of John was “from heaven,” from God. Then, he said, “For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and you believed him not” (Matt. 21:23-32).

First, to reject the word which came “from heaven,” by refusing John’s baptism, was to repudiate the counsel, purpose, or plan of God, and to fail to justify the person of God. Second, John’s word was described by the Lord as “the way (plan or pattern) of righteousness.” Third, the result of rejecting John’s teaching that they should be baptized was the same as not believing or accepting the person of John (“you believed him not”). The principle is established. Therefore, if we reject the baptism of Jesus, if we refuse to be baptized upon his command, it may be said of us, “you believed him not.” Did Jesus come to us “in the way of righteousness”? Certainly, he did (Matt. 3:15 ff; John 16:8; Rom. 10:1-10; 1 Cor. 1:30; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 1:8). Jesus said, “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be condemned” (Mk 16:16). As we learned from the baptism of John, if we reject these words of the Lord, we also reject the person of the Lord.

John 3:16

 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only be-gotten son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” This passage, we are told, tells us to believe “in him,” to trust him, and not lean upon some plan of salvation. Yes, but observe that the believer in this context is the one who “does truth” (John 3:21). At the conclusion of the chapter, John says, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life, but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (Jn 3:36).

Further, immediately preceding his words in verse sixteen, Jesus compared his being lifted up on the cross with Moses’ lifting up of the serpent in Numbers 21. Those bitten by serpents had to come and look upon the serpent of brass before they could be saved. Those bitten could not simply say, “I believe Moses. I believe in God. He can heal me.” No, that was not sufficient. With faith in God and in the word of Moses, they had to act; they had to come and look before they could be healed. Likewise, it is not enough to envision the scene of the cross and to orally express trust in Jesus’ power to save. As bitten Israelites were not healed until they came and looked, so we cannot be healed of the bite and sting of sin until we “obey” or “do truth” (John 3:21, 36 f; Heb. 5:9).

Direct statements of Jesus

Jesus said, “These things I say, that you might be saved” (John 5:34). What was the purpose of Jesus’ word? It was “that you might be saved.” Later, when they did not believe his word, he said, “You believe (me) not” (John 5:38), “And you will not come to me, that you might have life” (v. 40). So, his words were the source of eternal life which he spake to save them (John 6:44, 45, 63, 68). But they would “not come to (him)” that they might have life. To come to the person of the Son is to believe his word. To disobey his word is to reject his person – “You will not come to me.”

Believers in Antioch

Preachers came to Antioch, “preaching the Lord Jesus . . . and a great number believed and turned to the Lord .. . and much people was added unto the Lord ” (Acts 11:20-24). Collectively, these individual “disciples,” “Christians,” constituted “the church” in Antioch (v. 26). How does one become a member of the Lord’s body, or church? He is “baptized into one body,” and added to the church (1 Cor. 12:13). So, these believers in Antioch, those who turned to the person of the Lord Jesus, were obedient, baptized believers. At the instruction of the Spirit through those who came “preaching the Lord Jesus,” they were baptized into the church, the body of Christ. In this way, they “turned to the Lord,” and were “added unto the Lord.”

The Philippian jailer

This man and his household “rejoiced, believing in God” (Acts 16:34). When, though, was he described as a believer in God? It was after he heard the word, the plan, of God for salvation. It was after he was baptized (Acts 16:30-34). Not until he had heard, believed, and obeyed the word, was it said that he believed in God. Again, the believer in the person of God is the man who has obeyed the word of God! If we call a man a saved believer in God before he has done what the jailer did, we do that which the New Testament does not do.

The conversion of Cornelius

Cornelius and his household (a) were “granted repentance unto life,” (b) were “saved” “though the grace of the Lord Jesus,” and (c) had their hearts purified “by faith” (Acts 11:17 cf; 15:7-11). “Yes,” our denominational friends exclaim, “this is what we are talking about; they did not `obey’ a `plan of salvation’ ; they did not have to be baptized; they simply trusted in Jesus, and he saved them `by grace through faith.”‘

Let no one think that we deny salvation by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8, 9). Let no one believe that we deny that our hearts are purified “by faith.” We accept these accounts, but we insist that they must include all that the Bible says with respect to them. First, Cornelius was to hear “words, whereby you and all your house shall be saved” (Acts 11:14). Second, it was by Peter’s preaching that Cornelius “should hear the word (the plan) of the gospel, and believe,” for “faith comes by hearing” the gospel (Acts 15:7 f; Rom. 10:17). Third, Cornelius was told, “he that fears him, and works righteousness is accepted with him” (Acts 10:35). Fourth, Cornelius was “commanded … to be baptized, in water, in the name of the Lord” (Acts 10:47, 48). Fifth, what is baptism “in the name of the Lord” for? What is its purpose? It is “for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). Finally, after Cornelius heard the word, after he believed the word, after he feared the Lord, after he repented and was baptized in the name of the Lord “for the remission of sins,” his soul was purified by faith; he was saved by grace!

The belief of Crispus

 “Crispus . . . believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized” (Acts 18:8). Nothing is here directly stated about Crispus being baptized, but it does say he “believed on the Lord.” Later, however, Paul said, “I baptized . . . Crispus” (1 Cor. 1:14). Paul says nothing about Crispus’ faith in Christ. Luke says nothing about Crispus’ baptism. As his baptism presumes his belief of Paul’s preaching of Christ, so the summary statement of his believing assumes his obedience in baptism (Mark 16:16). Like the jailer above, his belief in the Lord comprehends his obedience in baptism.

Believers in Jerusalem

In Jerusalem, Paul persecuted the church, “them that believed on” the Lord (Acts 8:1-3; 22:19). Who are these people in Jerusalem that “believed on thee”? They were the ones who had “gladly received” the “word” of the apostle Peter and had been “baptized . . . for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38, 41). Once again, those who had “gladly received” the plan, the word of God, are those who are said to have “believed on you,” the Divine person. If we speak “as the oracles of God,” we will refer to those who are baptized for the remission of sins as those who believe on the Lord.

Roman saints “justified by faith”

Numerous times, Paul assures the Romans that justification is by faith in Christ (Rom. 1:16; 5:1). But “when” did this justification take place? “But God be thanked, that you were the servants of sin, but you have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, you became the servants of righteousness” (Rom. 6:17, 18). The Romans were justified by faith in Christ when they obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine, that gospel plan of salvation (Rom. 1:16, 17; 10:1-3, 16).

Elect believers

Peter wrote to elect believers in Christ, “whom having not seen, you love; in whom, though you see him not, yet believing, you rejoice . . . Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls” (1 Pet. 1:2-9). They had been “redeemed . . . with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Pet. 1:18, 19). They stood in “the true grace of God” (1 Pet. 5:12). When, though, were they redeemed by the blood and saved by grace? Upon the basis of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, they “purified (their) souls in obeying the truth” when they were baptized (1 Pet. 1:22; 3:21). Therefore, they are the ones “which believe,” while those who refuse to be baptized are those “which stumble at the word, being disobedient” (1 Pet. 2: 7, 8).

Conclusion: If you truly believe the MAN (Jesus), obey His PLAN (the Gospel). Having “heard this,” all of those who truly “believe on him . . . that is, on Christ Jesus,” on his divine name and his glorious person, will be “baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” “for the remission of sins” (Acts 19:4, 5; 2:38).

Forsaken By Demas

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Demas had forsaken the blood of Jesus that had cleansed him of his sins, and had returned to wallow in the mire of the world … He had forsaken the promise and prospect of heaven itself!

I am reminded of the story Jesus told about a man who desired to follow Him but wanted to first attend the funeral of his father. “

Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.” And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Lk 9:57-62).

Life takes a great many sad turns. Life often gets in the way of our service to the Lord. We are torn between living this present life and living for Christ. There are certainly some very disheartening moments that come our way. No doubt one of the saddest is when we lose a family member or a close friend, with little hope of ever regaining him. This is the situation when Paul mentions in his second epistle to Timothy (4:10), “Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world.”

Demas was not just a good friend, he was before a faithful Christian brother and an associate in the minis-try of the gospel. He is mentioned elsewhere in Scripture as among those who traveled with Paul in his missionary journeying (Phil. 24; Col. 4:14). No doubt these men had worked closely together, had prayed together, laughed together, and wept together. Now Demas was gone. He had abandoned Paul and left him to his work alone. No doubt the Apostle felt a deep sense of emptiness when he left, the same feeling we all have when we are abandoned by someone about whom we care deeply. Too, he surely felt the inner craving to see him again, the identical yearning that we experience in the absence of friends of years gone by.

Unfortunately, Paul could not run after him. I believe he would have if it had been possible, but Demas had not merely left. He had “forsaken” Paul. He had not only forsaken Paul, but the Lord also. He had forsaken the church, which needed so desperately then, as it does now, able workers to share their talents in seeking the lost and encouraging the redeemed. He had forsaken the fellowship of saintly men and women. He had forsaken worship activities: his voice was not heard in the songs and hymns of praise, nor was his heart joined in the prayers of the people of God. He had forsaken the blood of Jesus that had cleansed him of his sins, and had returned to wallow in the mire of the world (2 Pet. 2:22). He had forsaken the promise and prospect of heaven itself! (I wonder now, looking back from his present perspective in eternity, if he thinks his grand transaction such a bargain as he did then?)

The Bible also defines the terms of his abandonment of the cause of Christ in the same verse: “having loved this present world. ” My curiosity is whetted at why this godly man chose to forsake Christ for “this present world.” Was he sick and tired of the persecutions leveled against the church and himself as one of its advocates? (2 Tim 3:12) Undoubtedly he was, but did this cause him to leave? Was he fed up with the hardships of the work of preaching the Word? Was he tired of doing without; and had he made up his mind that he was going to get some of the material possessions that others had, and up till now he had done without? Could it have been the persistently low wages? Was he sick of the double standard that many brethren have for preachers? Was he tired of living in a “glass house” with everyone’s eyes on him? Was he fed up with the criticisms and petty “nitpicking” directed at him and his family by fellow Christians? Was it a woman? Had he met a girl who was for him “forbidden fruit” (the wife of another, or an adulteress)?

It is interesting that Scripture does not give us the details or satisfy our curiosity on this matter. We are left wondering, but we would not be surprised to hear it was any of these things or even a combination of them. We have seen it played out so often under different circumstances and with different people as the main characters. Don’t permit yourself to be a Demas. The Lord’s people need you and will miss you if you go.

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