Baptismal Regeneration

24 05 2021

There are many churches that teach baptismal regeneration. This doctrine teaches that one must be baptized in order to be saved. They teach that baptism, not faith alone, is necessary for regeneration. Listen to what Paul has to say in Roman 4:2-8.

For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.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.Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”

I am a firm believer in the clear Scriptural teaching of salvation by grace through faith alone; therefore I wanted to briefly address this heresy. I want to take a look at the proof texts usually given to support this teaching and then give a Scriptural defense against it.

Text #1

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” (Mark 16:15-16)

I can’t deny that it says those who believe and are baptized will be saved. What is that speaking of? If it’s speaking of water baptism being required for salvation then the latter part should read differently.

Those who believe and are baptized not shall be damned.”

It says those who believe and are baptized will be saved but it leaves out the baptism when saying they will be damned. Why is that? The answer is that baptism is linked closely with belief yet is not part of salvation.

Those who are condemned are condemned for not believing. This is because faith is the only requirement for salvation. The baptism here is Spirit baptism. Which happens after we believe.

Text #2

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 2:38)

This passage is probably the most commonly quoted proof text. It’s clearly being taken out of context by those who hold to this doctrine. The first thing we have to do is put the verse back in context with the rest of the chapter.

In this sermon Peter is pointing out that they had rejected Jesus and had crucified Him yet God overruled their objection and raised Him from the dead.

Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.” (Acts 2:23-24)

One important point being missed is that he was telling them to be baptized in the name (or authority of) Jesus Christ, the authority they had previously rejected. Jesus gave instructions to baptize in the name of all three members of the Godhead. Peter was not nullifying what Jesus said, he was simply highlighting the name of Jesus whose authority they rejected.

A second point pertaining to this verse is the term “for.” This word is often highlighted to demonstrate that the baptism was for or to cause the remission of sins. The problem is that there are several Greek and English uses for the word “for.” The word can mean, “in order to get” or it can mean, “because of, as the result of.”

So is Peter saying they must be baptized in order to get forgiveness of sins? If he is then he is contradicting Paul who simply told the jailer in Acts 16:31 to believe.

If I say “take two aspirin for a headache” am I saying to take two aspirin in order to get a headache? Of course not. I’m saying it because you already have one.

The same applies if I said I’m going to Grandma’s house for her birthday. Will she not have a birthday or even a party if I don’t go? Of course she will. My going is not to give her a birthday but because she is having a birthday. This is the clear use of the phrase in this passage.

Salvation is a free gift given by God to those who believe. We are commanded to have repentance toward God and faith toward Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21). We are saved through faith in Jesus Christ not of works (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Peter is not contradicting these passages. He is not saying you must be baptized in order to complete remission of your sins. He is saying to be baptized because you have remission of sins.

Text #3

Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. 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.” (1 Peter 3:20-21)

This passage is by far the second most abused passage used to prove this doctrine. What are we to think of such a passage? Let’s jump back a few verses to get the context.

For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.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.” (1 Peter 3:18-21)

Christ was put to death in the flesh speaking of His death on the cross. The reference to Him being quickened or made alive by the Spirit speaks of His resurrection from the dead. The verse then says by the same Spirit that raised Him from the dead He went and preached to the spirits in prison.

There is no end to the debate about who these spirits are. These spirits are specifically linked to the flood of Noah because it says they were disobedient while the ark was preparing. Some believe that this is saying Christ preached to them by the Holy Spirit through Noah while he was building the ark. I find that interpretation hard to come to. It takes a lot of spiritualization and gymnastics with the text.

The order of events is given, Christ died, was raised, then went and preached to the spirits in prison. Some Roman Catholics hint that this refers to people in purgatory. That’s bad because even Rome teaches that purgatory is for those who died in a state of grace. These who died in the flood obviously did not die in such a state.

We need to ask a question. If these are human spirits why only the ones from the flood? Are they all together in Hades somehow?

I think the answer is that these are not human spirits but fallen angels who sinned in the past during the events of Genesis 6:1-4. Addressing the flood he says eight souls were saved by water and then says in a like manner baptism now saves us. Does that settle it? Does that prove baptismal regeneration?

What we are seeing is a type and anti-type situation. The flood waters (which completely submerged people) was a judgment that led to the death of those who were baptized. In a like manner baptism now correlates not to death and punishment but to our salvation. The apostle then goes on to say it doesn’t apply to the cleaning the filth of the flesh.

It has no effect on cleansing us, that is done by the blood of Christ. It is an answer of a good conscience. It is a reflection of that inward work, a sign of having been brought into the New Covenant.

Text #4

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.” (John 3:5)

This is another very common verse used to defend baptismal regeneration. They do this by pulling a single verse out of a chapter to prove their point. We need to put the verse in context to see what it is actually saying. In verse 3 Jesus simply tells him that he must be born again. This confuses Nicodemus.

Nicodemus responds by asking how someone can be born a second time. He asks if he must enter his mother’s womb again and be born. Then in verse 5 Jesus draws the distinction. He says you must be born of water (physical birth) and of the Spirit (second birth).

Continue into the next verse, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” He clearly explains the birth of water is the physical birth and the birth of Spirit is the second birth. He closes His explanation in verse 7, “Marvel not that I said unto thee, ye must be born again.” He explained that the command to be born again was referring to the spiritual not the physical.

Now that we have looked at the common proof texts we must establish the main reason that baptismal regeneration is false. Too many other Scriptures teach that salvation is by faith alone not by baptism. Let’s examine a few of these verses in the Bible.

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” (Titus 3:5)

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.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” (Acts 16:31)

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 with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10)

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13)

These among many other Scriptures teach that salvation is accomplished with no effort on the part of the one being saved outside of repentance and faith. One of the greatest proofs against baptismal regeneration is the thief on the cross.

He died minutes or hours after believing and never got off the cross to be baptized. He looked to Christ in simple faith and was saved as a result. Any sinner who looks to Christ receives eternal life. Paul makes an interesting point in Romans 1:16.

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.”

The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation, “to everyone who believeth.” Notice how he did not say to everyone who believeth and is baptized. If baptismal regeneration were true then the apostle made a major doctrinal error.

He said the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation. This means salvation comes through the Gospel. This would also mean according to common sense that all requirements for salvation are found in the Gospel.

In 1 Corinthians 1:17 Paul said that God didn’t send him to baptize but to preach the Gospel. If baptism were required for salvation it would be part of the Gospel but Paul evidently does not see it that way. If Paul didn’t baptize except a few then most of his converts were false converts. We know this isn’t the case.

Baptismal regeneration is not orthodox which means it is not the historical doctrine of the church. I would easily qualify it as heresy because it distorts salvation, damns its followers and attempts to add human merit to salvation.

Conclusion:

Baptism whether sprinkling or immersion has no salvific value. It does not contribute to our salvation. We are saved by faith alone. The Gospel and baptism are intentionally separated in the Bible because they are not interrelated.





Christians and Birth Control

18 02 2021

I hesitate to touch on extremely controversial topics but I do feel this is one area that needs to be addressed. Birth control is pretty much accepted as normal by all people both Christian and secular. This wasn’t always the case. In the middle of the 20th century, most Christians were either suspicious of birth control or rejected it altogether.

As feminism grew in America it crept into the church and over several generations, the issue of birth control became more difficult to address. We no longer considered what the Bible said on the issue. All of our defenses of its use came from secular reasoning, not Biblical discernment.

As you can probably tell I am not in favor of its use. This is not an unbiased look at the issue. This is a consideration of the issue from a Bible-based worldview. Let me give you a breakdown of why I oppose birth control.

1. Chemical birth control causes abortion.

When we talk about birth control most people refer to the pill or chemical birth control. Since I believe life begins at conception that life is killed by the functions of the pill. One of the functions of birth control pills is to thin the lining of the uterus to prevent implantation if fertilization does occur.

This kills the fertilized egg thus killing that new life. If abortion is murder (and it is) then this is also murder. We soothe our conscience by saying that it’s only if the method fails but that does happen anywhere from 3%-5% of the time. The fact that the life is small and we don’t know it’s being killed makes us feel better but I don’t think it clears us of guilt in the eyes of God.

2. Birth control of all types is an affront to the sovereignty of God.

The Bible is clear that God is sovereign over all things. The Bible establishes this truth which is not debatable.

“In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” (Ephesians 1:11)

God works all things according to the counsel of His own will. This must include the giving of life. I don’t see any way to explain that His authority ends there. It doesn’t, He is in complete control of all things.

“But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.” (Psalm 115:3)

I’ve heard people say that God can overrule their birth control if He wants to give them a baby. I guess my question would be this: why would you try to stop birth if you believe God is sovereign? It’s God who gives life so who are you trying to stop with birth control?

If the answer is God then you have a problem. You are admittedly and actively trying to stop God from working. I never want to work against God.

3. Birth control usurps God’s authority.

The Bible is very clear that God is the giver of life.

God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things.” (Acts 17:24-25)

God is the giver of life. We see God opening and closing the womb in Scripture. This wasn’t a temporary practice until we were able to open and close the womb ourselves. This is God’s area to control not ours.

So Abraham prayed unto God: and God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his maidservants; and they bare children. For the Lord had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah Abraham’s wife.” (Genesis 20:17-18)

In the story of Jacob with his wives Rachel and Leah we see the Bible declaring over and over that God opened one womb and closed another then when He was ready He opened the one that was closed and closed the one that was open. He granted Sarah a child when she was naturally too old because He is sovereign over the womb.

Consider Jeremiah the prophet. God didn’t just know him after he came into existence nor did He ordain Jeremiah a prophet after conception but before Jeremiah was even conceived God knew him and ordained him a prophet.

Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:4-5)

Consider what Jacob told Rachel about her lack of children.

And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister; and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die. And Jacob’s anger was kindled against Rachel: and he said, Am I in God’s stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb?” (Genesis 30:1-2)

He asks if he is in the place of God to decide if she will have children. I believe that when we try to stop conception we are usurping the authority and place of God. This is serious business.

Be very careful in these types of decisions. If God is the giver of life then we may find ourselves fighting against Him. Is that the place we want to be in? You may raise the objection that this isn’t the right time but shouldn’t God decide when it is or isn’t the right time?

Do we believe that God can’t be trusted? Do we believe He will do us wrong? I surely hope not.





Giving Thanks in the Bad Years

9 01 2021

As 2020 closes we look bad on what was for many the worst year of their lives. Covid, lockdowns, death in the family, mask mandates, and lost employment have taken their toll. How is a Christian to respond to such trials?

There could be several answers but I want to focus on the words of the Apostle Paul.

“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Paul says we are to give thanks for everything. Not somethings, not even just good things. We are to give thanks for Covid, the death of loved ones, lost jobs, and even government overreach. It doesn’t mean we don’t speak out against injustice but we give thanks for even the trials because those work for our benefit.

“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:7)

“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.” (James 1 :2-3) This year let’s practice 1 Thessalonians 5:18. The world will take notice and Christ will be exalted.





Gerry Preaching at FPA

1 05 2020

This is Gerry Collins preaching the Gospel at an FPA abortion clinic in Bakersfield, California.





You Have No Right to Your Rights

30 04 2020

Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?” (Matthew 26:52-54)

One of the biggest hindrances to American Christianity is politics. We have so merged the two that to be a conservative republican is to be a Christian. I see Christians everywhere demanding their rights. This is not in and of itself evil. We are guaranteed certain rights and it’s not wrong to want those rights.

What tends to happen is a mean spirit seems to fester and before too long Christians are name calling and angrily demanding their rights. I have seen Christians get into arguments with police officers over their rights while street preaching. Often it is unnecessary and seldom Christ honoring.

In the text above Jesus makes a clear statement that as the Son of God He had certain rights and yet to fulfill the will of God He had no claim to those rights. In other words all of our rights stop at the cross which is the ultimate place of submission to God. Our right to live the life we desire stops at the cross.

Our right to vengeance dies at the cross, our right to self exaltation dies at the cross, our right to our reputation dies at the cross, our right to anything comes to an end at the cross. The cross is the end of self. While the heathen (Republican and Democrat) scream for their rights, believers know that we don’t have a rightful claim on all of our rights.

When I’m taking the Gospel door to door I often leave a tract on a house that says “no soliciting.” The reason is that I know that religious free speech is protected by the 1st Amendment and is not covered under soliciting laws. The problem is that the average person doesn’t understand that. Too often I have seen Christians in shouting matches with people over their right to leave a tract.

While I agree in the right to do it I also have to admit that it may be better to forego that right as a witness to that lost person. I’m not a good testimony when I scream my rights at them. Many point to Paul using his Roman rights while in captivity. True, he did as far as it benefited the Gospel, but he also at times he laid aside his rights in order to further the Gospel.

If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 9:11-12)

Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel. But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void.” (1 Corinthians 9:14-15)

We as believers find the will of God to be our ultimate authority. All other rights whether political or even Biblical must be held only in the light of their value to the will of God.





Celebrating Good Friday

10 04 2020

I come from a Christian tradition that doesn’t necessarily celebrate Good Friday. There is debate as to whether Jesus died on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. There are good arguments on all sides of the debate but I’m not planning to weigh in on it right now.

The question is this: is it wrong to celebrate Good Friday? My answer is no, in fact my family attends Good Friday services even though I am not convinced that is the actual day of His death. I want to address two common arguments used against Good Friday to see if they have any validity.

1.Good Friday is a Catholic holiday.

The problem with this objection is that you could make the same arguments against Christmas and Easter. In fact many people do make that argument. I find that most of the people I know who are against Good Friday do in fact celebrate Easter and Christmas. We should strive for consistency in our Christian lives.

Also consider that Catholics doing something or believing something doesn’t make it wrong. Seventh Day Adventists condemn us for meeting on Sunday because Catholics meet on Sunday for example. Catholics believe in the Trinity as do I. Catholics believing something that’s true doesn’t make it wrong for us to believe it. Catholics doing something doesn’t make it wrong to do as long as it doesn’t violate the Scriptures.

2.I don’t believe Jesus died on Friday.

This is the second most common argument. Do you celebrate Christmas? Was Jesus born on December 25th? I know a lot of people who use this argument who would also deny Jesus was born on December 25th yet they celebrate Christmas.

This is hypocrisy. Once again we need to be consistent in how we live our lives. This argument is one of the most inconsistent. I was reading that the Declaration of Independence wasn’t actually signed on July 4th, If I remember it was July 3rd yet those who rely on this argument never take a stand on the 4th of July.

My point is that Good Friday is a day set aside by many Christians to remember the death of Christ. This is not a bad thing, in fact all secular calendars mark the remembrance of the death of Christ. That can’t possibly be a bad thing. I feel many Christians waste an opportunity to preach the Gospel because of their man mad tradition which is all opposition to Good Friday is.

It’s not a consistent argument which hurts our Christian testimony and it’s not a Biblical argument because the Bible is clear on the subject.

One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.” (Romans 14:5-6)

If you don’t celebrate a certain day then that’s okay but don’t judge those who do. For those of you that don’t it’s fine as well. I’m not judging you or saying that you should. My argument is that each needs to be persuaded in their own mind but don’t use inconsistent arguments against your brother. We need to strive for consistency in our Christian lives and in understanding towards others in the body who do things a little different than we do.





Free but Servant to All

31 03 2020

My pastor recently preached from Romans 14 about Christian liberty. The Bible makes it clear that we are not under the law.

“For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” (Romans 6:14)

We have liberty having been freed from the curse of the law by Christ who was our perfect law-keeper and who met the demands of the law on our behalf. The text in Romans 14 deals with judging others for using their freedom differently then we use ours.

While we are free the Bible also teaches that we are servant to all. We are to serve one another and live our lives for the benefit of the brethren.

“For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” (Galatians 5:13)

“Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (1 John 3:16)

In Acts 15 a council was called in Jerusalem to consider what was required from the Gentile believers. The answer was given by James.

Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.” (Acts 15:19-20)

The argument was that since they were justified by faith why put them under the law which was a burden that even the Jews couldn’t keep. James said the Gentiles had to abstain from a few things but why?

The answer is unity. There were tensions in the Jewish/Gentile church and many Jews were trying to bring them under the law. James didn’t take away the liberty of the Gentiles but instead affirmed it then advised they abstain from certain things offensive to the Jews.

Often times we boast in our liberty yet we forget that things we enjoy in liberty others cannot and we may weaken the faith of our brother.

But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. Let not then your good be evil spoken of: For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.” (Romans 14:15-21)

We have tremendous liberty in Christ but with that liberty comes great responsibility to act in a manner that conveys love for our brother. The faith of others is more important than the liberty we possess. All things must be done in love looking to the things of others before our own things.





What was God Doing in the Christmas Story? (Part 2)

13 12 2019

The place of His youth. (Matthew 2:23)

“And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.”

Now this is an interesting verse. It’s often used by enemies of Christ to prove the Bible is wrong. The reason is that there is no verse in the Old Testament that predicts the Messiah will be a Nazarene. Let me tell you what I believe this means.

The town of Nazareth comes from the word netser which means branch or sprout. Now follow me on this. Matthew didn’t say it was spoken by the prophet singular, but the prophets plural. The other prophecies were by a single prophet but this one was by more than one prophet.

Where is it spoken that the Messiah would be a netserene or a branch or sprout. It was spoken by several prophets, plural.

“And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.” (Isaiah 11:1)

“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.” (Jeremiah 23:5)

“In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land.” (Jeremiah 33:15)

“Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the Branch.” (Zechariah 3:8)

“And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The Branch; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord.” (Zechariah 6:12)

He is a yes to the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Zechariah.

The trip to Egypt. (Matthew 2:13-15)

“And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.”

Herod hears from the wise men that the King of the Jews had been born. Fearful for the loss of power he tries to destroy the child. He kills all the male children 2 years old and under. Joseph is warned to go to Egypt until the king dies and it’s safe to return.

Why Egypt? The reason is that it was prophesied by the prophet Hosea.

“When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.” (Hosea 11:1)

This was based on a historical event that served as a type of the coming Christ. Everything in the Old Testament points to the coming Messiah even the Exodus from Egypt. We also see God using normal means to accomplish prophecy.

Just like He used a tax to bring them to Bethlehem, God uses the evil desire of the King as a means to take them to Egypt so that He can call them back out.

Also note that Egypt had once been a place of death for Israelite males but now it serves as a place of refuge for the holy child Jesus. God can make a river in the desert and bring calm in the midst of a storm.

He is a yes to the prophet Hosea.

The Rage of the King. (Matthew 2:16-18)

“Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.”

The King orders the murder of all males 2 years old and under. This fulfills a prophecy about Rachel weeping for her children. Rachel here the mother of Israel weeping for her children. This refers back to Jeremiah 31.

Jeremiah is writing about the carrying away of Israel into captivity by the Babylonians.

“Thus saith the Lord; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rahel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.” (Jeremiah 31:15)

As the captives marched past the tomb of Rachel she is said to be weeping over them but not just about the captivity. Many of them would return this was looking forward to this event when the children of Rachel would be slaughtered.

In that same chapter Jeremiah talks about the new covenant that God would make with His people and here we have not only the fulfillment of this prophecy about Rachel weeping but it’s at the birth of the Messiah who would initiate this new covenant with His on blood.

He is the yes to the prophet Jeremiah.

I could go on and on. At the death of Jesus and throughout the ministry of Jesus we see many more fulfilled prophecies. We have many examples of the yes that Jesus is to all of God’s promises.

What God was doing in the Christmas story was showing that His word was trustworthy and that He could be trusted to fulfill His promises. He kept His word about the coming of Messiah so they could trust Him about the sacrifice of Messiah.

We can look back and see that He kept His promises about the death of Christ and trust that all He promised us in Christ He will likewise fulfill.





What was God Doing in the Christmas Story? (Part 1)

5 12 2019

I love the story of Christmas. It’s a beautiful story that only God could tell. It’s a story that only God could write. We know the basics of the story, it’s all very familiar to us. I don’t want to hit on the basics I want to dwell for a few minutes on the facts less talked about.

I don’t have a single text because we will be all over the place but if I had to have a set text from which to jump into the subject it would be Galatians 4:4-5:

“But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”

What we have in the Christmas story is the middle chapter a longer story. It’s kind of a bridge between the types and shadows and the fulfillment. The story began in Genesis 3:15 with the prophecy from God Himself that a Savior would be coming.

From there a foundation is laid throughout the Old Testament with types and figures of the fulfillment of this great promise. How could such a Savior come to fulfill these types that we see played out in story form across the Hebrew Scriptures?

It’s clear you would need a separate story to bridge the promises and the fulfillment. Certain prophecies were written into the story hinting at what that bridge would look like. Prophecies hinting at how such a Savior would come.

Then we get to the birth of Jesus and we begin to see these prophecies played out in real life. God was doing more in the birth of Jesus then giving the world a Savior. He was keeping His word and demonstrating that He was faithful to bring this Savior.

Have you ever noticed the emphasis God places in the Old Testament on His previous works? The Psalms which were the songs sung in Israelite worship constantly recount the mighty acts of God on behalf of His people.

God over and over again tells the people of Israel remember when I parted the Red Sea, or delivered you from the house of bondage, or gave your fathers manna in the wilderness. His keeping of his word became the evidence that they should trust Him in the future.

This is what Christmas is about. Jesus and the events of His birth are the proof that God keeps His word.

“For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.” (2 Corinthians 1:20)

All the promises of God are yes in Jesus because in Jesus we find the great fulfillment of all that God promised. So let’s look at the Christmas story with the eye to see the the Word of God to His people fulfilled.

1. The nature of His birth. (Matthew 1:18)

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.”

After going through a list of this father begat this son Matthew comes to Jesus and he is like the birth of Jesus the Messiah was in this way. In other words not the normal way. He was born of a virgin.

This was promised by God through the prophet Isaiah 700 years before His birth. This was in Isaiah 7:14. If Jesus was born in the normal course of things then God’s promises would be void but they are yes in the birth of Jesus.

“Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” (Matthew 1:22-23)

We see these events play out in Luke 1:26-35.

“And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”

2. The place of His birth. (Luke 2:1-4)

“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David.”

The place of His birth is vital because the prophets spoke of it long before it happened. The Jewish leaders understood this, in fact even the Roman authorities knew it had been foretold.

“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.” (Matthew 2:1-6)

Where are they quoting from? They are quoting the prophet Micah.

“But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” (Micah 5:2)

He had to be born in Bethlehem and then God used ordinary means to bring it about. A census was taken in order to tax the population. We often forget that God uses mundane day to day activities to accomplish His purpose.

God tells the king to take a census and the king thinks it’s his decision and doesn’t realize that God is using him to bring the Savior in the world. He is the yes to the prophet Micah.

To be continued…





In Everything Give Thanks

29 11 2019

“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

I think this short verse holds one of the most difficult commands in the entire Bible. I know it does for me. Corrie Ten Boom struggle with obedience to this verse as well. Listen to her story.

“We lay back, struggling against the nausea that swept over us from the reeking straw.
..Suddenly I sat up, striking my head on the cross-slats above. Something had pinched my leg.
“‘Fleas!’ I cried. ’Betsie, the place is swarming with them!’
“‘Here! And here another one!’ I wailed. ‘Betsie, how can we live in such a place!’

“‘Show us. Show us how.’ It was said so matter of factly it took me a second to realize she was praying. More and more the distinction between prayer and the rest of life seemed to be vanishing for Betsie.
“‘Corrie!’ she said excitedly. ’He’s given us the answer! Before we asked, as He always does! In the Bible this morning. Where was it? Read that part again!’
“I glanced down the long dim aisle to make sure no guard was in sight, then drew the Bible from its pouch. ‘It was in First Thessalonians,’ I said. We were on our third complete reading of the New Testament since leaving Scheveningen.

“In the feeble light I turned the pages. ‘Here it is: “Comfort the frightened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all…’”
It seemed written expressly to Ravensbruck.

“‘Go on,’ said Betsie. ‘That wasn’t all.’
“‘Oh yes:’…“Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.’”
“‘That’s it, Corrie! That’s His answer. “Give thanks in all circumstances!” That’s what we can do. We can start right now to thank God for every single thing about this new barracks!’ I stared at her; then around me at the dark, foul-aired room.
“‘Such as?’ I said.
“‘Such as being assigned here together.’
“I bit my lip. ‘Oh yes, Lord Jesus!’
“‘Such as what you’re holding in your hands.’ I looked down at the Bible.

“‘Yes! Thank You, dear Lord, that there was no inspection when we entered here! Thank You for all these women, here in this room, who will meet You in these pages.’
“‘Yes,’ said Betsie, ‘Thank You for the very crowding here. Since we’re packed so close, that many more will hear!’

She looked at me expectantly. ‘Corrie!’ she prodded.
“‘Oh, all right. Thank You for the jammed, crammed, stuffed, packed suffocating crowds.’

“‘Thank You,’ Betsie went on serenely, ‘for the fleas and for–’ 

“The fleas! This was too much. ‘Betsie, there’s no way even God can make me grateful for a flea.’
“‘Give thanks in all circumstances,’ she quoted. It doesn’t say, ‘in pleasant circumstances.’ Fleas are part of this place where God has put us.
“And so we stood between tiers of bunks and gave thanks for fleas. But this time I was sure Betsie was wrong.”
“Back at the barracks we formed yet another line–would there never be an end to columns and waits?–to receive our ladle of turnip soup in the center room. Then, as quickly as we could for the press of people, Betsie and I made our way to the rear of the dormitory room where we held our worship “service.” Around our own platform area there was not enough light to read the Bible, but back here a small light bulb cast a wan yellow circle on the wall, and here an ever larger group of women gathered.
“They were services like no others, these times in Barracks 28.

“At first Betsie and I called these meetings with great timidity. But as night after night went by and no guard ever came near us, we grew bolder. So many now wanted to join us that we held a second service after evening roll call.
There on the Lagerstrasse we were under rigid surveillance, guards in their warm wool capes marching constantly up and down. It was the same in the center room of the barracks: half a dozen guards or camp police always present. Yet in the large dormitory room there was almost no supervision at all. We did not understand it.
“One evening I got back to the barracks late from a wood-gathering foray outside the walls. A light snow lay on the ground and it was hard to find the sticks and twigs with which a small stove was kept going in each room. Betsie was waiting for me, as always, so that we could wait through the food line together. Her eyes were twinkling.

“‘You’re looking extraordinarily pleased with yourself,’ I told her.
“‘You know, we’ve never understood why we had so much freedom in the big room,’ she said. ‘Well–I’ve found out.’
“That afternoon, she said, there’d been confusion in her knitting group about sock sizes and they’d asked the supervisor to come and settle it.
“But she wouldn’t. She wouldn’t step through the door and neither would the guards. And you know why?”

“Betsie could not keep the triumph from her voice: ‘Because of the fleas! That’s what she said, “That place is crawling with fleas!’”
“My mind rushed back to our first hour in this place. I remembered Betsie’s bowed head, remembered her thanks to God for creatures I could see no use for.”

The reason we can obey this particular command is in the light of Romans 8:28.

“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.”

If all things work together for our good then we can confidently give thanks for everything because no matter how bad anything seems all things work for our good and therefore deserve thanks.








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