And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume X, Number 23 March 25, 2007
In this issue:
Mt.Baker Church of Christ
March 25-30, 2007
(Canyon Lake, TX)
Sunday, Mar. 25th at 9:30 AM – “A Helpful Formula”
(From I-5 take Exit # 255 and go East 4.2 miles)
We probably do not think of ourselves as priests as much as we should. Perhaps this is due to our familiarity with the priesthoods we observe in the churches around us (Catholic, Mormon, etc.) – perversions of the scripture-defined priesthood of Christians. But, Christians are indeed priests. We tend to forget that the gospel describes Christians as “priests” who compose a “kingdom” (Rev. 5:10; 1:6). We are said to be a “holy” and “royal” priesthood (1 Pet. 2:5, 9). What an honor to be counted priests before God our Redeemer.
The primary work of a priest is to offer sacrifices and gifts to God. For example, the service of the Levitical priests, while for the benefit of Israel, served God (Exo. 28:1). The daily service of the priests in the house of God brought them into God’s presence as it assisted the worshippers they served.
The sacrifices offered by the Levitical priests were acceptable when offered according to the Law (a study of Leviticus teaches the exacting nature of sacrifices to God). In like manner, Christians are assured that God accepts the sacrifices we offer Him “through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 2:5).
What does all of this have to do with us today? Everything! Unless you are a priest who is serving God in His holy priesthood according to His revealed design, the sacrifices you offer Him are futile. As a priest, every Christian is in the extraordinary position of approaching the sovereign God of heaven and earth with sacrifices that please Him. This is an extraordinary spiritual blessing (Eph. 1:3).
So, being a priest before God ought to be very important to us. At the same time, we must understand what sacrifices we are to bring before Him. Here is a brief review of some sacrifices Christians offer to God:
1) Our bodies (Rom. 12:1-2). We bring before God a body with which to serve, worship and obey Him. Our body is to be given to God, not the indulgences of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21).
2) A life of faith is a sacrifice we offer before God (Phil. 2:17). Taking God at His word and doing whatever He says is often a sacrifice that tests us, but one that pleases God (Phil. 2:12-13; 1 Ths. 1:2-3).
3) A life of love is “an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma” (Eph. 5:2).
4) When we support gospel preaching we are rendering priestly service before God (Phil. 4:18). The Philippians’ support of Paul was a sweet smelling sacrifice to God. Our support of those who faithfully preach the gospel is a pleasing sacrifice before God.
5) Worship. Every priest offers to God the sacrifice of praise and thanking God for the good things He God has done (Heb. 13:15). Why would any priest forsake assembling with fellow saints to praise God’s matchless name (Heb. 10:25)?
Being a priest has practical application to our lives every day, not just when we work through the local church. As one walks by faith, every expression of service he offers to God, every act of obedience to divine truth, is a “spiritual sacrifice” offered to God and accepted by God through Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 2:5).
Because Christians are priests, our lives are an offering to God. Let us serve Him in all holiness, for He is holy, (1 Pet. 1:15-16).
The subject of baptism has stirred the hearts of religious zealots from ancient times. Few subjects have generated as much controversy. Yet, few subjects have been more clearly explained in the Bible. As with every other Bible subject, the will of man matters very little when it comes to the question, “what is truth?” (Jn. 18:38) God’s truth on the subject of baptism is revealed in the New Testament of His Son Jesus Christ. We must go to it to understand baptism, and we must obey it if we are to benefit from baptism in our lives.
Baptism did not begin with man; it was commanded by God. The Law of Moses made the Jewish people aware of numerous washing regulations (Lev. 15). The traditions of the elders added the burden of man’s will to such matters (Mk. 7:1-4). But, it was God who commanded baptism in water and connected it to the remission of sins (Lk. 3:2-3; Acts 2:37-38). As John prepared Israel for the coming Messiah, his baptism called on Israel to repent as a prerequisite to receiving the remission of their sins, (Matt. 3:1-12). The Great Commission baptism is commanded to all men everywhere in order to be saved (Mk. 16:15-16).
The Greek counterpart of the English word, baptize (baptizw) means “to dip, to immerse, to sink, to submerge, to dip in or underneath water.” There is no doubt that the word “baptize” describes an action of going down into water and then coming up out of it. The scriptures affirm this definition (Acts 8:38-39). The action of baptism is likened to a burial (Rom. 6:3-4; Col. 2:12). History readily confirms that practicing baptism by sprinkling or pouring water was an accommodation of men started by men centuries after the New Testament was given.
Why be baptized? The scriptures say it is to be “saved” (Mk. 16:16); it is for the “remission of sins” (Acts 2:38); to wash away sins and call upon the name of the Lord (Acts 22:16); to get “into Christ Jesus” and into “His death” (Rom. 6:3); to “put on Christ” (Gal. 3:27); to be buried with Christ (Col. 2:12); in order to be saved (1 Pet. 3:21). A more pointed question: Why do men and women object to these God-given reasons for baptism? Many say baptism is not really important. They say baptism is not necessary to be saved, and that baptism does not in any way affect salvation. Such denials of the scriptures are not worthy of those who believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Those who do so deny clear Scriptures.
Who should be baptized? Many say babies; others say nobody. The scriptures teach that those who have the capability of being taught the gospel and in turn, believe in Jesus as the Christ should be baptized (Matt. 28:19; Mk. 16:16; Acts 8:35-37). The apostle Peter is firm in teaching that only those who first repent of their sins may be baptized in order for their sins to be removed (Acts 2:37-38, 41). If you have heard the gospel and believe that Jesus is the Christ, will confess your faith and repent of your sins, then you are ready to be baptized for the reasons described above. The question is, will you? If not, why not?
Do you believe what the Bible teaches about baptism? You may have had some experience you called “baptism” earlier in your life. The important question is, “Why were you baptized?” Was it to enter a particular denomination? Was it to have “original sin” removed (by being sprinkled as a baby)? Were you “baptized” just because your friends were doing it? Or, was it to be saved from your sins by the Son of God? Remember, the sinner cannot be saved unless he obeys the gospel in faith, just as Jesus commanded in Matthew 7:21. There is “one baptism” that saves, and it belongs to Jesus (Eph. 4:5); He commanded it (Mk. 16:16); He will accept no other (Acts 19:3-5). Nobody can expect to be saved without it (1 Pet. 3:21).
An Inconvenient Truth
Former Vice President Al Gore won an Oscar for his documentary film in which he says the truth about global warming is inconvenient. The science he relies on is by no means indisputable; more than a few have greeted his conclusions with skepticism and rejection. Mr. Gore testified before Congress this week, saying that “Our world faces a true planetary emergency” and that “What we're facing now is a crisis that is by far the most serious we've ever faced.” Mr. Gore’s detractors charge him with wild exaggeration. Among them, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., who once called global warming “the greatest hoax ever perpetuated on the American people.” (“Gore Brings Inconvenient Message to Congress,” Kansas City Infozine.com, March 21, 2007)
This is not a piece on global warming, but on the inconvenient nature of truth.
Truth is absolute. Truth contains right and wrong, not so many different shades of gray. The “simplicity that is in Christ” is plain, and must not be diluted by the doctrinal errors and moral corruptions of men (2 Cor. 11:3-4).
Truth is demanding. Denying self is among the most demanding elements of the gospel (Lk. 9:23). Without it, we cannot be disciples of Jesus (Lk. 14:25-27). Without it, we will not be saved (Matt. 19:20-22).
Truth is revealing. Truth reveals the mind of God and the heart of man (1 Ths. 2:13; Heb. 4:12). Truth reveals the darkness of sin and lights the way to salvation (Jno. 3:19-21). Jesus is the way, the truth and the life (Jno. 14:6). We must follow Him (Jno. 8:12; 12:35-36).
The most serious crisis facing this planet is not global warming, it is sin (Rom. 3:23). Our only salvation is Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12). The convenient time to be saved is now (Acts 24:25; 2 Cor. 6:2).
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 03/23/2007
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA