Christ In You, The Hope of Glory (Part 4)
Here are some wonderful facts which we KNOW are true:
2 CORINTHIANS 5:17
"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."
"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."
"But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus."
People will ask, how do we know that these things are true? It is not because we can reason it out in our minds (see Bible Study number 3, Praying), nor can we trust the feelings and inclinations of our hearts alone (see Study number 4, Reading). The only answer is that they are written in God's Word - and WE BELIEVE that His Word is true.
Right from the beginning we must understand what this word 'believe' means. In ordinary use it often means that you're not sure that something is true but think it is. This is NOT what Jesus means: Here are some dynamic things he says about true believing:
"And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, BELIEVING, ye shall receive."
"Jesus said unto him, If thou canst BELIEVE, all things are possible to him that believeth."
JOHN 11:25-26 "
Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and BELIEVETH in me shall NEVER DIE. Believest thou this?"
"And these signs shall follow (go with)
them that BELIEVE; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover."
Throughout the New Testament the Greek word 'believe' means 'HAVE FAITH'. 'Faith' is a persuasion, that is, a certain knowledge that something is true. A 'believer' is a person who has faith, a person who knows and is persuaded that what God says is true. Here is God's definition of faith:
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
A 'substance' is something of which we can all be sure; 'evidence' is something that provides proof. When we cannot see something with our eyes then it is faith that makes us certain that it is true, giving us proof even when the results may not be manifest. This is what is meant in the Bible by believing God: we know that what He says is right.
Believing in someone or on someone means putting faith in him: being sure that he is able to be trusted in all things - not just thinking this or hoping it: but KNOWING it. This is what Jesus means by believing in Him.
"Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me."
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever BELIEVETH IN (has faith in Him)
should not perish, but have ever lasting life."
This shows us the wonderful salvation God has given to those who trust him: if we believe in Jesus we will never die: On the other hand, Jesus also says:
"He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
"He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."
Thus, although God loves the whole world and Jesus died for all their sins, still only those who BELIEVE Him will be saved:
1 TIMOTHY 4:10
"For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe."
"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved."
But of course nobody can be saved unless they first REPENT, BE BAPTIZED, and RECEIVE THE HOLY GHOST. This is once more explained with several important points in the next Bible Study, number 10. And yet a great many people who have not followed this pattern still say that they believe in Jesus and are saved. If this were so then these scriptures would contradict one another! What we must conclude is that people who say they believe are not always true believers - they do not always have FAITH. Because surely if somebody believes that Jesus truly is the Son of God and knows it for certain, then he will never disobey or question him, or argue about having to follow his commands:
"If ye love me, keep my commandments.”
In particular, they will automatically have repented, been baptized, and received His Holy Spirit, for these are all clearly commanded in His Word (ACTS 2:38, MATTHEW 28:19, JOHN 3:7, etc.- see the next Bible Study). God's Word is clear: -
"If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his" (ROMANS 8:9). Every person who truly believes God will be daily worshipping God in the Spirit (JOHN 4:24) and reading His Word (JOHN 5:39) and keeping it.
"But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves."
"He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him."
In fact, nobody can truly believe without being filled with the Spirit, for it is the Spirit that causes faith to grow in us by His power:
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith ..."
When we understand this we can truly say that simply to believe in Jesus is to be saved:
"And (the jailer)
brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house."
If we believe in Jesus we are truly the children of God:
"For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." (Compare ROMANS 8:14)
If we believe in Jesus He dwells within us:
"That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith ..."
'If we believe in Jesus we have everlasting life:
"He that BELIEVETH ON THE SON hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him."
This last verse says God is angry with people who do not believe Jesus. The reason is that if anyone says or suggests that anything God says in His Word is not true, he is CALLING GOD A LIAR. This includes anyone who will not obey Him in all points, including the salvation pattern. Those who do believe God are the ones who know that everything He says is perfectly and exactly true: we know it because the Spirit in our heart assures us of it: He gives us FAITH.
"He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness (of the Spirit) in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son."
Of course no matter what men say or think God is NOT a liar: His word tells us so:
"God is not a man, that he should lie: neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?"
So what happens is that even if most of the world do not believe God, His Word is still true, and in fact they are the ones who are not speaking the truth - they are the liars - even if all the world says God is wrong.
"For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid: yea, LET GOD BE TRUE, BUT EVERY MAN A LIAR; as it is written (in PSALM 51:4)
,That though mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.”
Those who will not believe God are truly believing a lie: God will allow them to be deceived in this way and eventually they will die the death of all sinners.
2 THESSALONIANS 2:11-12
"And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."
God's Word says to us:
"If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established" (ISAIAH 7:9). Nobody who does not believe all His Word can please Him.
"But without faith IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO PLEASE HIM: for he that cometh to God must BELIEVE that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."
We have come to God and been filled with His Spirit. Let us believe His Word and not question or argue when He instructs us from the Scriptures. Let us submit humbly to the One who is greater than our heart, and knows all things (1 JOHN 3:20). Let us do as He says.
"But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition (destruction or ruin)
; but of THEM THAT BELIEVE TO THE SAVING OF THE SOUL."
We have seen before (especially Bible Study number 2) that nobody without God's grace can be justified or made righteous:
"As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one."
A long time before Jesus came God gave His law to the children of Israel: this began with the 'Ten Commandments' (EXODUS 20) but included lots of other instructions as well. The purpose of this law was to show us that none of us can, on his own, measure up to God's high standards. None of us can keep the whole law (without Jesus in us). None of us therefore can be justified by the things that he does!
"Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin."
If we understand God's law then we see that every day every unsaved person is breaking it in some point or other. This means that no matter how good a person may seem by men's standards, he or she still falls short of what God demands:
"For ALL have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."
God's Word shows us the only way that we can be accepted by Him:
"But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is BY FAITH OF JESUS CHRIST UNTO ALL AND UPON ALL THEM THAT BELIEVE: for there is no difference: for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation THROUGH FAITH IN HIS BLOOD, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of HIM WHICH BELIEVETH IN JESUS."
We studied this passage deeply in Bible Study number 2, but already we can see something more: that it is BY FAITH - BY BELIEVING IN JESUS - that we are saved, and BY FAITH that we have the righteousness of God (verse 22). This means that we are JUSTIFIED (= made righteous) BY FAITH:
"Therefore we conclude that a man is justified BY FAITH without the deeds of the law."
We are made righteous solely because we believe. This (as we saw before) has nothing to do with things that we have done, good or bad. God says we cannot sin (1 JOHN 3:9), but that also means we cannot please Him by doing good works either.
“Without faith it is impossible to please him” (HEBREWS 11:6). This means that we are saved and justified solely and simply by God’s grace. We cannot earn or deserve our salvation. We cannot boast before God that we have been saved by our own goodness.
"Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of FAITH."
"For BY GRACE are ye saved THROUGH FAITH; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: NOT of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."
This, too, we have seen before. Any good works which we have done count for nothing. Everything we do we must do simply by the power of God, which means we do not do them at all. Our righteousness is by faith alone.
"What shall we say then? That the Gentiles which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness (i.e. obtained it)
, even THE RIGHTEOUSNESS WHICH IS OF FAITH."
GALATIANS 3:22-24 "
But the scripture "hath concluded all under sin, that the promise BY FAITH OF JESUS CHRIST might be given TO THEM THAT BELIEVE. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, THAT WE MIGHT BE JUSTIFIED BY FAITH."
We can see this clearly by turning to the Old Testament and reading of a man who was born hundreds of years before the law, named Abram. In GENESIS 12:1-4 we are told that God appeared to Abram when he was seventy-five years old, and told him to leave his family and his home and go out into a strange country. God promised that if he did this his descendants would become a great nation, even though at seventy-five Abram had no children and probably thought he never would. Nevertheless he obeyed and went because HE BELIEVED GOD.
"BY FAITH Abraham (=Abram), when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went."
Abram took his wife Sarai and his nephew Lot and went off into the land of Canaan, now called Palestine. When he was there God promised him a number of times that he would have children, and that his descendants would be more than the sand of the sea or the stars of the sky in number, and that they would possess the land he was in (GENESIS 13:14-17; GENESIS 15:4-5).
We are told:
"And HE BELIEVED IN THE LORD; and he (God) counted it to him for righteousness."
That is to say, God regarded Abram as righteous, not because of his good works but simply because of his FAITH. Later again, God appeared to him (GENESIS 17:1-8) and gave him a new name, not Abram but Abraham, promising again that his children would become great and mighty nations. He already had one son named Ishmael, born not of Sarai but of his other wife when Abram was eighty-six (GENESIS 16:15-16), but (as if that was not miraculous enough!) he promised that Sarai herself would bear Abraham a son (GENESIS 17:15-19). (Sarai’s name was also changed to Sarah.) This son (Isaac) was born when Sarah was ninety and Abraham was one hundred years old! (GENESIS 21:1-8). It was possible simply because THEY BELIEVED GOD: He had said it would happen - so they knew it would.
"THROUGH FAITH also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised."
The importance of all this is shown us in the New Testament: if we believe God then we are sharing in Abraham's faith and so are, in effect, Abraham’s children.
"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's, THEN ARE YE ABRAHAM'S SEED, and heirs according to the promise."
"That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit THROUGH FAITH."
The point of this is that God promised to BLESS Abraham's children (and multiply them, and give them a land to possess). If we believe God and are Abraham's children, then we too are blessed.
"Know ye therefore that THEY WHICH ARE OF FAITH, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith ARE BLESSED WITH FAITHFUL ABRAHAM."
And, of course, the blessing we have been given is eternal life, being at peace with God – being truly justified by faith.
"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Moreover, we see how Abraham was justified: not by anything he did but simply by BELIEVING GOD – by faith, not works, just like us.
ROMANS 4:1-3 "What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. (See ROMANS 3:27!) For what saith the scripture? ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS COUNTED UNTO HIM FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”
Even Abraham would not have been righteous if judged only by his works (ROMANS 3:23); but because he believed God. God regarded him as if he were righteous, so that in God's judgment he was righteous. This is our situation exactly.
"Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness."
Abraham believed God. At the age of ninety-nine he set aside his own thoughts and reasonings, and the weakness of his own flesh, and believed the impossible, because God had said it would come to pass. As a result God counted him to be righteous. The same thing applies to us: if we believe God, no matter how fantastic it seems, and ignore and mortify our own thoughts and feelings, then we too will be accounted righteous in God's sight. God will show us that in His Son whom He raised from the dead we have the righteousness of God.
"Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (as it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb: he staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief: but was STRONG IN FAITH, giving glory to God and being fully persuaded that what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed (or counted) to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification."
The Source of Faith
Unsaved people are always troubled about faith: they try hard to believe but find they cannot. This is because no man can manufacture true faith: it comes from God alone. The very faith that saved us was from Him:
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and THAT NOT OF YOURSELVES: IT IS THE GIFT OF GOD."
This is why we can never be proud about being saved: IT IS BY GOD'S GRACE ALONE that we have His saving faith.
"For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you: not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as GOD hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. "
We have already seen how the faith that God has given us grows in us by the power of the Spirit:
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith ..."
We know that we cannot be more saved or more righteous before God: those are things that we either have or don't have. But the things in this verse are all the time growing as we walk in the Spirit, and it is right that we should ask God often to cause them to multiply in us. In particular two very important scriptures show us how to build up our faith:
"But ye, beloved, building up ourselves on our most holy faith, PRAYING IN THE HOLY GHOST (in the new tongue - see Study No.3)
"So then faith cometh by HEARING, and hearing by THE WORD OF GOD."
Those two things go hand in hand. The more we pray diligently to our Father and the more we read His Word (with prayer for understanding) the more His faith in us will grow. God is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him (HEBREWS 11:6). As we read the Scriptures and believe them, they cause our faith to increase more and more every day. But we must see that here, as in all things, it is not our works that gain us anything. Everything we have comes only from Jesus:
"Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith..."
Jesus began our faith (the author) and He will cause it to grow until it reaches its full stature (the finisher). And He Himself shows us just what the fullness of faith is:
"And Jesus answering saith unto them, HAVE FAITH OF GOD. (This is the correct translation.) For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall BELIEVE that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, BELIEVE that ye receive them, and ye shall have them."
Jesus did not say 'Have faith in God': He said 'Have God's faith': This is in fact the glorious truth shown to us in God's own Word: the faith Jesus gives us is not any old faith but HIS OWN FAITH.
"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live BY THE FAITH OF THE SON OF GOD, who loved me, and gave himself for me."
And it is not any 'faith' of our own that can justify us any more than our works can: we are justified only by JESUS' FAITH:
"Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but BY THE FAITH OF JESUS CHRIST, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be JUSTIFIED BY THE FAITH OF CHRIST, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified."
In no less than three verses Paul wrote to Timothy that all faith and all love is IN JESUS:
1 TIMOTHY 1:14
"And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus."
2 TIMOTHY 1:13
"Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus."
2 TIMOTHY 3:15
"And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus."
It is Jesus' faith that the Father has given us. This means that just as Jesus walked the earth healing the sick and raising the dead, so can we – by His faith. Here is what Jesus says:
"And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed (even a tiny grain – as long as it is true faith, Jesus' faith), ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you."
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and GREATER works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.”
Read that once again! Jesus says that if you believe Him then in His name and by His faith you will do greater works than Jesus did when He was on the earth! This is not blasphemous, but Jesus' own words: BELIEVE IT! Read MARK 16:17-18 again. This is what the Gospel is all about -the POWER OF GOD working through the faith of Jesus in men and women today:
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the POWER OF GOD unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek."
Shortly after the Holy Spirit was poured out on the day of Pentecost (ACTS 2:1-4) - perhaps even the same day - Peter and John spoke to a lame man in Jesus' name and caused him to be healed. Afterward they spoke to the people about Jesus, and they said:
"And HIS NAME through FAITH IN HIS NAME hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, THE FAITH WHICH IS BY HIM hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all."
It was Jesus' faith that healed that man, just as Jesus' faith in us will go forward today with all God's power. CHRIST IN YOU (COLOSSIANS 1:27) will do the works by HIS FAITH. Surely if we understand this we will know in our hearts that beside him nothing else is important:
"Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found IN HIM, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is THROUGH THE FAITH OF CHRIST, the righteousness which is of God by faith."
The pattern of gaining salvation was laid down in God's Word for all time by the apostle Peter on the day of Pentecost:
"Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, REPENT, and BE BAPTIZED everyone of you in (actually 'upon') the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and YE SHALL RECEIVE THE GIFT OF THE HOLY GHOST. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call."
We notice immediately that this pattern is for 'as many as the Lord our God shall call', not for anyone place or only for a certain time but for all time and all places - including Australia today! But, not surprisingly, nearly every conceivable argument has been brought up to try to contradict it, so that in the world as a whole there is COMPLETE CONFUSION as to what God requires. But God is not the author of confusion (1 CORINTHIANS 14:33), and His Word shows us clearly and simply what a person must do to be saved.
This study will necessarily be a little more concise than usual and you will have to look up most of the scriptures for yourself. If you want to know more about a particular point see your pastor.
When a person first hears the Word of God he is still an enemy of God, and every thought and feeling is contrary to what God wants (ROMANS 5:10,7-8 - see the first part of Bible Study number 5). It follows that the first thing he must do is REPENT, which means change his mind or his feelings or his way of thinking.
"From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
In practical terms this would mean a readiness to submit to God and obey His Word, being prepared to set aside our own thoughts. A person who repents will normally next be baptized, for this is the first thing that God commands us to do. Also one who repents would realize in some way that he is sinful and needs Jesus to save him, although nobody can understand this properly without being saved, as only the Spirit within can reveal fully how totally we depend on CHRIST IN US (COLOSSIANS 1:27). Nevertheless, Jesus shows us that the same Spirit will convict or convince the whole world of sin - sooner or later the whole world will be pricked in the heart and made to realize their sinfulness before God (JOHN 16:8).
Many people who call themselves 'Christians' say that this is all that is necessary for salvation. They talk a great deal of nonsense about 'accepting Jesus as your personal Saviour' and 'receiving him into your heart', NONE OF WHICH IS EVER MENTIONED IN GOD'S WORD. It is clear from the Scripture that no-one who has not received the Holy Spirit can be a Christian (ROMANS 8:9). Jesus himself says this:
"Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily (= truly)
, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."
"Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."
People who say that it is not necessary to be baptized or to receive the Holy Spirit rarely quote scriptures except to say that a person who 'believes that Jesus is the Son of God' automatically is 'born again' as soon as he believes it: they use verses such as ROMANS 10:9 or ACTS 16:31 which they clearly do not understand (see Bible Study number 9). A person who believes that Jesus is the Son of God truly is born again (1 JOHN 5:1), but he will also keep all of God's Word because of that faith (1 JOHN 2:4). 1 JOHN 4:15 says "Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God", but the very next verse says that this can only be so if we love God. Then 1 JOHN 5:3 tells us what that means: if we love God, we will keep commandments gladly, and not argue or quibble about them. And GALATIANS 5:6 tells us that FAITH WORKS BY LOVE – if we don't love God and keep His commandments, our so-called 'faith' is fruitless and spurious – not faith at all (also 1 CORINTHIANS 13:2). Jesus says:
"He that believeth (truly)
and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”
It is obvious that anybody who refuses to be baptized does not believe God's word (see below). The only group of people who in the Bible received the Holy Spirit before they were baptized were COMMANDED IN THE NAME OF THE LORD to be baptized (ACTS 10:48).
'Baptize' is a Greek word meaning 'dip' or 'immerse'. It is a clear commandment of God that all who wish to be saved be baptized in this way, by being immersed in water. Here are Jesus' words:
"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them (immersing them)
in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen."
Jesus Himself was baptized by His cousin John (we call him John 'the baptist', meaning the baptizer –not the name of a denomination).
“Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for THUS IT BECOMETH US TO FULFIL ALL RIGHTEOUSNESS. Then he suffered him (permitted to be baptized)
. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting (landing)
upon him: and lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
What Jesus says to John in verse 15 means "Permit it to be like this now –you baptizing Me – because this is proper for us to finish all the things we ought to do." It was necessary for Jesus to be baptized so as to keep all the commandments of God. And as soon as Jesus came up out of the water God sent the Spirit to Him, and said He was pleased with Him: Jesus had done what He wanted (and by the Spirit was going to continue to do what God wanted!). Notice that Jesus came up out of the water, showing clearly that He was totally immersed in the river. Many people say that immersion is not necessary, and they only pour or sprinkle a little water on the person's forehead, and call that baptism – but that is just not what the word means: It is certain that Jesus was truly baptized or immersed, as were all His followers; a little later John moved to another place
"because there was much water there" (JOHN 3:23), which would be unnecessary if he were only sprinkling people. Similarly in ACTS 8:38 Philip and the eunuch went down into the water for the baptism. There can be no doubt that in the beginning all were immersed; so-called 'baptism' by sprinkling (or 'christening') is an invention of men of a later age. There can be no changing of the commandments of God’s Word. If God says to be baptized then He means just that! People who are only sprinkled with water are not baptized and are therefore not saved.
Another false custom of men is the baptism or sprinkling of children and babies. This is clearly against the Word of God:
1 PETER 3:21
"The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ."
The act of baptism is "the answer of a good conscience toward God", or the pledge of a person prepared to live for God and keep His word. This is clearly impossible for a child to understand. Should a child die before he is old enough to be baptized and receive the Holy Spirit then the Word of God shows us that as long as one parent is saved and following the Lord then the child will be in some sense saved also (1 CORINTHIANS 7:14, also ACTS 2:39): infant baptism is clearly not possible.
Many people are mentioned in the Bible as being baptized (MATTHEW 3:6; MARK 1:5; JOHN 3:23; ACTS 2:41, ACTS 8:12, ACTS 8:38, ACTS 9:18, ACTS 16:15, ACTS 16:33, ACTS 18:8, ACTS 19:5), and there are several scriptures that explain to us its significance. ROMANS 6:3-4 and COLOSSIANS 2:12 show us that by baptism we are buried into Jesus' death and our old life is completely finished: then when we received the Holy Spirit we became a NEW CREATURE (see Bible Study number 1). This is why Peter (1 PETER 3:21) says that we are saved in baptism: it is part of the process of salvation. Notice though that although baptism cleanses us from our old sins (this is the remission or taking away of sins: ACTS 2:38) and enables us to have a clear conscience with God it does not destroy our flesh or its filth, so that if we do not go on to receive the Holy Spirit we are still in the flesh and cannot please God: ROMANS 8:8-9. But simplest of all, being baptized shows God that we are prepared to set aside all our desires and thoughts and do what He commands. This is why it is so important that we baptize people exactly as God's Word says: anyone who wants to change it even slightly is demonstrating that he is not prepared to submit to God's Word and so will not be saved.
Some groups teach falsely that baptism is only for people who are already saved, which is clearly impossible. However they appear to have a scripture, namely ACTS 8:37, where Philip tells the eunuch that he may be baptized if he believes with all his heart. However, the eunuch’s acknowledgment that “Jesus Christ is the Son of God” does in no way mean that he was already saved by this statement. The scriptural situation is just as in ACTS 2:38: a person repents, then is baptized. Then when he receives the Holy Spirit (which may occasionally come before baptism) he is saved and is a true believer because of the faith given by the Spirit dwelling within. Other doctrines you may hear are that being 'born again of (or out of) water' refers somehow to natural birth, or to being born again of the Word (whatever that means – this is based on a false reading of EPHESIANS 5:26), both of which are invented by people who won't admit that baptism is necessary.
One other false doctrine you may come across seems only to be a small change from the pattern in the Word, but is no less important for all that: Jesus says to baptize people
"in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" (MATTHEW 28:19). Some people have very complicated arguments for setting this scripture aside and baptizing people "in the name of Jesus" only. They go so far as to say that people baptized the way Jesus says are not truly baptized, and they persuade many saved people to have a second baptism, which is clearly not right (you can only die once!). These claims are based on ACTS 2:38, which in the Authorized Version says
"be baptized ...in the name of Jesus Christ", but a check with the Greek shows that Peter actually says to "be baptized ... upon the name of Jesus Christ". This is explained better in ACTS 22:16: "...Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, CALLING ON (or UPON) the NAME OF THE LORD (Jesus)". In other words, what Peter means is that a person being baptized should be calling upon Jesus’ name, because he is being buried into Jesus' death, and will soon be sharing in His new life. On the other hand the person baptizing him must be careful to do it in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, as Jesus commands. In baptism, as in all things, we must be careful to keep exactly to God’s Word.
The Holy Spirit
Anyone who has even begun to read through these Bible Studies prayerfully can see that it is impossible to be saved in this age without receiving the Holy Spirit (ROMANS 8:9). The first mention in the New Testament of this promise is a statement by John the Baptist:
"I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me (Jesus) is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: HE SHALL BAPTIZE YOU WITH THE HOLY GHOST, AND WITH FIRE."
Jesus Himself spoke several times about the Spirit that He would give to His disciples (especially JOHN 14:16-20 and JOHN 14:26; JOHN 16:7-15; LUKE 24:49; ACTS 1:8), but He made it clear that this would not come to pass until after He had died, risen again, and been glorified (JOHN 7:39). When the time came for Him to return to His Father He told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they received the Holy Ghost (ACTS 1:4-5) and this came to pass some days later (ACTS 2:1-4). READ all these scriptures, especially the last, and note how they received the Holy Ghost: they began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance (the other things happened before they received, and were not part of the receiving). There are only two places in the Bible where we are told what happened when somebody received the Spirit: ACTS 10:44-46 and ACTS 19:6. In both cases the people all began to speak in tongues. Surely it is clear from God's Word that this is the way all believers come to receive the Spirit (also MARK 16:17)!
However even here there is GREAT CONFUSION all over the world. Nearly everyone, including most of the so-called Pentecostal churches, says that a person is saved by 'accepting Jesus' (see 'Repentance'), whereas the object is not to accept Him but to be accepted by Him: (He shows us that we are accepted by filling us with the Holy Ghost.) The so-called 'Pentecostals' say that when this 'accepting Jesus' has happened (when nothing has really happened at all) the person has somehow received the Holy Spirit. They then teach that afterward some (not all) may then go on to receive 'the baptism of the Holy Ghost', as part of which they will speak in tongues. They teach that people are saved and become believers at the first time (!) and that the 'baptism' is later for some believers only. Many believers go on for years thinking they are saved not asking God for the Spirit because they think they already have it, and don't want or don't go after the 'baptism of the Holy Spirit'. You will sooner or later come across this doctrine and you must understand the truth from the Word of God so that you can stand firm and confident and at the same time, if possible, help these misled ones and bring them to a real knowledge of God.
A great many people claim that it is possible to receive the Holy Spirit without speaking in tongues. They point out that many people were saved in the book of Acts, but only in three cases (see paragraph before last) is it mentioned that they spoke in tongues. This is true, but to conclude that the rest did not is absurd! For example, there are only two places in Acts where people are said to have met together to break bread (meaning to eat the Lord's supper or communion) – ACTS 2:42 and 46, and ACTS 20:7 and ACTS 20:11 – but surely this does not mean that at other times they never did, for this is a clear commandment of Jesus (LUKE 22:19). This shows that we cannot conclude anything from the lack of other references, except that God considers that the three (or two) are quite sufficient! Again, it is obvious that everyone saved must receive the Holy Ghost, but there is only one other place where even this is mentioned – ACTS 8:17 – and although it does not say what happened, a man standing by saw that the Holy Ghost was given and offered money to the disciples so as to have the same power. (He was a professional sorcerer, and apparently was so impressed by what he saw that he wanted to 'learn the trick'! ACTS 8:18-19). Clearly something miraculous happened.
In fact, it is clear that something miraculous must happen every time somebody receives the Holy Spirit, or how is anyone to know whether it has happened or not? It is true that everyone who has repented and been baptized will receive if he truly seeks for it (ACTS 2: 38, LUKE 11: 13), but sometimes there is a delay of some time before the Spirit falls – as happened in this last case: ACTS 8:12,14-16 – and it is ESSENTIAL to be able to say exactly when the person becomes saved, especially for the person himself! Also if a person could be saved without speaking in tongues he would be unable to worship the Father in Spirit, whereas Jesus says we must (JOHN 4:24 – see Study number 3). Surely it would be simpler to just believe God’s Word and keep it simple! If there were another way to receive the Holy Spirit then it would be made clear in the Word, but there is not even the slightest indication of any other way. The only other scripture that is mistakenly brought up in this connection is 1 CORINTHIANS 12:30, which says 'Do all speak with tongues?’, and the implied answer is no, but it is clear that Paul is saying that not everyone has the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues in the church, which is a different matter altogether, as will be explained in a later study.
Just by the way, it may be useful to point out another false teaching, namely that the gift of tongues as given on the day of Pentecost was a special gift to help in preaching the Word, and that a person who speaks in tongues should be speaking in a foreign language which someone listening can understand. This is based on a misreading of what happened in ACTS chapter 2. When the Holy Ghost fell, the 120 people all began to speak in tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance (verse 4). A crowd gathered outside to listen, and as Pentecost was an important feast there were Jews from all over the world – fifteen different regions are mentioned in verses 9 to 11 – and each heard people speaking in their own language (verse 8). But read it carefully. Some teach that each man heard all the people speaking in his own language – for example, an Arabian would have heard all 120 people speaking in Arabic, while the Parthians would have heard them all speaking in their own language (Persian?). It is possible that this did happen, but the scripture never says so; all verse 8 says is
“And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?" The Greek here is very explicit: they say ‘How does each man of us hear in his own tongue', not 'How do we hear every man of them in our own tongue'. Verse 11 gives no more information. So it does not follow that every person of the 120 spoke in a recognized language, only that some of them did, enough for everyone present to be able to pick out his own dialect. The others may well have spoken in unknown tongues, as most of us do today. Then Peter stood up and preached to the whole crowd, and some again say that he spoke in his own Galilean dialect but was miraculously understood by all the foreigners. However once again the scripture says nothing; what is more likely is that he spoke in Aramaic, which he would have spoken fluently and which every Jew coming to Jerusalem would have understood easily. There was no need for a special miracle here, nor does the Bible give the slightest indication that there was one. And to people who then go on to say that all true speaking in tongues must be in recognized languages it is only necessary to quote 1 CORINTHIANS 14:2, where we note the word ‘unknown’ is in italics, for it does not appear in the Greek either here or in verses 4, 13 or 27.
Most of the false arguments discussed in this study have arisen from people taking one or two scriptures, ‘interpreting’ them (see Bible Study number 4) and then ignoring the others! Just as an example of where this can lead, here are four verses all taken from the same letter of Paul to the church in Rome:
"For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be SAVED BY HIS LIFE."
"For we are SAVED BY HOPE: ..."
"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, THOU SHALT BE SAVED."
"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord SHALL BE SAVED.”
Clearly not every person who hopes to be saved will, nor will everyone who cries out to the Lord but does nothing else. This last one Paul goes on to explain in the following verses: we can't truly call on God unless we believe Him, and then (as we have seen) we shall be saved. But to take just one of these verses and say that saves us (and ignore the rest) is madness: There are verses that say baptism saves us (1 PETER 3:21), or prayer (JAMES 5:15), as well as other things, but in all these the necessary idea of FAITH is also mentioned or implied. The point is that we must not just take odd verses that suit us, but rather build on the WHOLE WORD OF GOD.
The situation is simply that God has set down a pattern in His word which we can either obey or not obey. If we don't obey it then we have NO FOUNDATION for our position and we will SURELY BE DAMNED. But if we believe God’s Word and obey His pattern without question we will surely be SAVED according to the promises in that Word.
"And we are witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to THEM THAT OBEY HIM."
"And being made perfect, he became the author of ETERNAL SALVATION, unto ALL THEM THAT OBEY HIM."
"If ye love me and keep my commandments” (JOHN 14:15). We pray that all those whom He has saved will come to an understanding of the truth. We expect and believe that all who truly repent and turn to Him, being baptized, will be filled with His Holy Spirit and speak gloriously in a new tongue, as at the beginning, so becoming His saved brothers and sisters. There will be no compromise.
Even under the old covenant which was done away in Christ, God promised to heal His people of all their sicknesses:
said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am THE LORD THAT HEALETH THEE."
"And ye shall serve the LORD your God, and he shall bless thy bread, and thy water; and I WILL TAKE SICKNESS AWAY FROM THE MIDST OF THEE."
"And the LORD will take away from thee all sickness, and will put none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which thou knowest, upon thee; but will lay them upon all them that hate thee."
"There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling."
When Jesus began to walk the earth and preach the gospel this took on a dynamic new stage: countless thousands of people were instantly and miraculously healed of all kinds of diseases.
"And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them."
"When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias (= Isaiah)
the prophet saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses."
It is instructive to see how Jesus went about these healings:
"And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed."
"And when Jesus was come into Peter's house, he saw his wife's mother laid and sick of a fever. And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them."
Notice that there was no fuss or bother; no long prayers or shouting; just a quiet, firm confidence that the healing would take place. This is FAITH. Jesus believed that the Father would perform the miracles. He says:
"Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but THE FATHER THAT DWELLETH IN ME, HE DOETH THE WORKS. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake."
Everything Jesus did was by the Father's power: He himself could do nothing on His own (JOHN 5:30). When we understand this we can see why He goes on to say:
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, THE WORKS THAT I DO SHALL HE DO ALSO; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father."
Yes, by FAITH we will do greater works than Jesus, by believing the Father and letting Him work, by using the FAITH OF JESUS, going forth IN JESUS' NAME.
JOHN 14:13-14 "
And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it."
“And these signs shall follow (go with)
them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover."
Even before Jesus died, He sent out His disciples in His name to preach and to heal the sick:
LUKE 10:1, LUKE 10:9, LUKE 10:17
“After these things the Lord anointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come ...And (he said to them)
heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you ...And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name."
"And they went out, and preached that men should repent. And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them."
But after they were filled with the Spirit (ACTS 2:1-4) they could go out with Jesus' faith and do greater works than Jesus:
ACTS 5:12, ACTS 5:15-16
"And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people ...insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them. There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed everyone."
“Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. And there was great joy in that city."
"And God wrought (worked –note who did it!)
special miracles by the hands of Paul: so that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them."
ACTS 28:8 -9
"And it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux (discharge)
: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him. So when this was done, others also, which had diseases in the island, came, and were healed."
"And they went forth, and preached every where, THE LORD WORKING WITH THEM, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen."
So we see that miraculous healing of the sick is by no means a thing of the past, but rather of the ministry of God's church today:
“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.”
God wants to save people – and this word 'save' means also to be made complete and whole, in spirit and soul and body. God wants this for His sons and daughters, not being destroyed or pained by sickness but serving Him joyfully in perfect soundness through CHRIST IN THEM (COLOSSIANS 1:27).
"For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives… but to save them (= to make them whole)
"The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I (Jesus)
am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."
3 JOHN 2
"Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth."
"And whithersoever he entered, into villages, or cities, or country, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought him that they might touch if it were but the border of his garment: and as many as touched him were MADE WHOLE."
"And there he found a certain man named Aeneas, which had kept his bed eight years: and was sick of the palsy. And Peter said unto him, Aeneas, JESUS CHRIST MAKETH THEE WHOLE: arise, and make thy bed. And he arose immediately."
And yet, even though God wishes this, He sometimes allows Christians to become ill or infirm (probably Aeneas was an example of this). It happened a number of times in the Bible, as now:
2 TIMOTHY 4:20
"Erastus abode at Corinth: but Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick."
1 TIMOTHY 5:23
"Drink no longer water, but use a little wine (= grape juice)
for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities."
It is vital to see that if you or someone else become sick then it does NOT mean you are being punished or have done anything wrong: remember you are RIGHTEOUS before God. If God allows this then it must be a good thing for the person concerned and all ought to look to the Lord in faith:
"And we know that ALL THINGS work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."
1 THESSALONIANS 5:18
"In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."
If this ever happens the scripture shows us exactly what to do:
"Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: and THE PRAYER OF FAITH shall save (= make whole)
the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."
God has set gifts of healing in the church (1 CORINTHIANS 12:9), so it is clear they will be used from time to time. The purpose is also clear: the person concerned has learned humility and submission to God's will, and when God brings about the healing as He promises all the church will be able to give Him glory. When Jesus was brought to a blind man He made it plain that this was the only reason that man was born blind:
"And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should, be made manifest in him."
If ever you become ill or need healing for some reason don't be troubled about why it has happened: just trust God. Do what the scripture says: call for your elders and let them anoint you with oil in the name of the Lord and pray for you. Pray believing that the Lord will heal you. Pray believing that the Lord has healed you, for this is what is in the scriptures:
“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace (which also means 'wholeness') was upon him; and WITH HIS STRIPES WE ARE HEALED."
Jesus cried upon the cross
"IT IS FINISHED" (JOHN 19:30). Believe Him that the work is done and the healing completed: this is the PRAYER OF FAITH.
One more point: Jesus has given the healing: the person who laid hands on you was simply someone through whom He was working. You must never exalt that person or think that he healed you, nor must he seek this. Peter and John made this clear when they healed a lame man:
"And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus ...And his name THROUGH FAITH in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, THE FAITH WHICH IS BY HIM hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all."
Jesus did the healing alone: Jesus alone will receive the glory. He has saved us and made us whole.
1 PETER 2:24
"Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: BY WHOSE STRIPES YE WERE HEALED."
Compiled by Pentecost Revival Centre, Ballarat, Australia, approx. 1968-1972.