Why be Baptized? #436

3  Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4  Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:3-4)

Water baptism is commanded of all who want to be saved from their sins by Jesus (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:37-38; 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:21). Many have distorted the Biblical purposes of baptism, but the Scriptures continue to teach us the truth. Sinners are  baptized into three things according to this passage. First, one is baptized “into Christ Jesus” (v. 3). Baptism is an action of faith that brings one into a saved relationship with Christ. Clearly, one is outside of Christ until he is “baptized into Christ”. Second, one is baptized “into His death” (v. 3). The benefit of Christ’s death is obtained when one is baptized “into His death”. That is when Christ “washed us from our sins in His own blood” (Rev. 1:5). Third, one is baptized “into death” (v. 4). When baptized, sin’s death no longer claims the sinner. He or she is raised from the death of sin by the power of God to newness of life in Christ (Col. 2:12). These are among the reasons water baptism is essential for our salvation in Christ.

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“My God, My God!” #435

45  Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. 46  And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?” (Matthew 27:45-46)

Betrayed, denied and rejected; On the cross all seemed to be lost. Now, in darkness and throes of death, Jesus endures the final hours of agony without immediate relief from the Father He loved and who loved Him. Only Jesus could be the sacrifice for our sins. He came to this moment for that very purpose. What magnificent resolve He had! “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name” (Jno. 12:27-28). Although there was no immediate relief, yet “when He cried to Him, He heard” (Psa. 22:1, 24). Dear Christian, when you must face life’s trials and sorrows, take heart. The Father is not far away. There is divine purpose to suffering and by faith we endure (1 Pet. 1:6-9). Pass through your moment of pain knowing that when you cry to the Lord, He hears you, too (1 Jno. 5:14-15).

Light in the Lord #434

8  For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9  (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10  finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 11  And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12  For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. 13  But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. (Ephesians 5:8-13)

Christians are “light in the Lord”. We do not live in the shadowy recesses of sin and shame. This passages calls us to the following actions: 1) Walk as children of light. Goodness, righteousness and truth are “acceptable to the Lord” and is the fruit our life must bear. 2) Have no fellowship with sin. To practice, teach, endorse or otherwise approve of sin and those who practice it puts one in fellowship with sin. 3) Reprove the works of darkness (sin). That is, expose sin for what it is; shameful before God and those who love God. Do not approve it. Do not be entertained by it. Do not compromise with it. Stand up against sin and call the lost to repentance. You were once in sin’s darkness, too. Now, you are a child of light. Live like it every day.

“He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” #433

11  And He said to them, “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables, 12  so that ‘SEEING THEY MAY SEE AND NOT PERCEIVE, AND HEARING THEY MAY HEAR AND NOT UNDERSTAND; LEST THEY SHOULD TURN, AND THEIR SINS BE FORGIVEN THEM.’ ” 13  And He said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?” (Mark 4:11-13)

The same parable would both reveal and conceal knowledge of the kingdom of God. The condition of the hearer’s heart determined whether or not the parables of Jesus were understood. A ready mind continues to be vital to understanding God’s word (Acts 17:11-12). Notice that Jesus expected His disciples to “understand this parable” of the sower. Knowing it unlocks all of His parables, since it explains the condition of the human heart (the soils) toward the word of God (the seed). You are in this parable; we all are. How do you react to the Scriptures, the word of God? Which soil are you? Read the parable and Jesus’ explanation to find out (Mark 4:3-9, 14-20).

Don’t be a Fool #432

He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but whoever walks wisely will be delivered. (Proverbs 28:26)

April Fools’ Day is a time of practical jokes and light-hearted humor. But there is a deadly side to being spiritually foolish, and God’s word cautions those who consider their ways and seek wisdom. For example, the fool says there is no God (Psa. 14:1). The person who spreads slander is a fool (Prov. 10:18).  The person who trusts his own way instead of godly counsel from the Lord is a fool; such a person is hopeless (Prov. 12:15; 26:12). The fool does not control his wrath (Prov. 12:16). These are just some of God’s warnings against being a fool. “Hear instruction and be wise, and do not disdain it” (Prov. 8:33).

The Choices We Make #431

3  Then Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve. 4  So he went his way and conferred with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray Him to them. 5  And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. 6  So he promised and sought opportunity to betray Him to them in the absence of the multitude. (Luke 22:3-6)

Judas made a choice to betray Jesus. The fact that Satan entered Judas does not at all suggest he lost his freewill in the matter. Satan set the enticement before him, and he gave into the temptation. It is the same with all temptation to sin: An enticement coupled with a person’s own desires (“But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed”, James 1:14). The tempter can be resisted: “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (Jas. 4:7). No one forces you to sin; the choice is yours. And, so is the accountability before God. The wages of sin is death. God gift is “eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). Choosing sin brings death. Choose faith in Jesus (Matt. 11:28-30; 7:21-23; Lk. 6:46).

Preach the Gospel #430

15  So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also. 16  For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. ­17  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:15–17)

Why preach the gospel? Because it is God’s power to save the lost. Why does the gospel possess such power? Because it reveals “the righteousness of God”. That is, the gospel reveals the means by which God counts sinners righteous; it is “by faith” (Rom. 5:1). Plus, the gospel produces personal faith in Jesus (Rom. 10:17). This is the thesis statement of Romans. The gospel teaches us how God saves sinners. The gospel teaches us about the personal faith we must have in Jesus in order to be saved. That is why the gospel must be preached.