Saturday, December 7, 2019
We find the conversion of Lydia in Acts 16:13-15.
“And on the Sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither. And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshiped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, if ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.”
As we examine her conversion, we find the same pattern as in all previous cases. Her conversion involved her “calling upon the name of the Lord.” She had to do this in order for her to be saved as the prophecy made by Joel, and quoted by the apostle Peter in Acts 2:21 is in effect. All who come the Lord must call upon His name.
"Calling upon the name of the Lord” has never been by praying the sinners’ prayer or by praying to God, asking Him to pardon sins. Previously, in the book of Acts we have found people who were religious, devout, and praying individuals prior to hearing of salvation through Jesus, but upon hearing this good news, they responded in the following manner:
They believed what was proclaimed about Jesus, i.e., that He had been made both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36).
They were told to repent of their past sins, because Jesus commanded repentance to be proclaimed "in His name" (Luke 24: 47).
They confessed their faith in Jesus as the Son of God (Acts 8:37; Rom. 10:9-10).
They were also immersed in water, for Jesus had commanded everyone to be buried in the likeness of His death (Rom. 6:4-5).
This is the “form of doctrine” that was preached and obeyed (Rom. 6:17-18). This was the pattern of "calling upon His name” as recorded in Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; and Luke 24:44-49.
Notice the facts provided in the story of Lydia’s conversion: First, what description of her is given prior to her hearing of Jesus. It is said that she “worshiped God”. This tells us that she was a religious person. Yet even though she was religious, she lived AFTER Christ’s resurrection from the dead and needed to “call upon the name of the Lord” in order to be forgiven of her sins.
[Remember the Hebrew writer in Heb. 9:15-17 explained that the old covenant (i.e., the Law of Moses) was no longer in effect, being replaced by a new covenant. What the Law could not do, Jesus did by the shedding of His blood. We must now look to Jesus for salvation, as “...there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”-Acts 4:12]
Notice also that the news of salvation through Jesus is preached to Lydia. This is seen from these statements, “...they spake unto the women...”; and “...whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.” It is said that her heart was “opened” by the Lord. The result of this ‘opening’ was that Lydia “...attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.” We are then told that she and her household were baptized. All of these statements help us to understand how she “called upon the name of the Lord”.
In "opening her heart", did the Lord overpower Lydia’s will and force her to submit to what was spoken by Paul? Is this what God does in conversion? Some teach this very thing today, but observe what the facts reveal.
Again, notice the effects of her heart being opened. She “...attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.” What did Paul speak to her of? How can we know? We can know from what is recorded of Lydia after hearing Paul speak.
What is recorded of Lydia? Notice it says, “And when she was baptized, and her household...”. We can accurately conclude that Paul commanded her to be baptized when he ‘spake’ to her. We can also accurately conclude that this in part, was how she “attended to” the things spoken of Paul. Why else would she be baptized? Why did she desire to be baptized? If we reject the possibility that the apostle Paul spoke to her of her need to be baptized, how then do we answer why she desired to be baptized?
How did she learn of it? Who else would have told her of baptism? The text demands that we conclude but one thing. The apostle preached baptism to her. They “spake” to her; she “heard”, for faith cometh by hearing (Rom. 10:17), and hearing by the word of God. She repented, and was immersed for we read that she “...attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.”
We might ask also in regard to her baptism. For what PURPOSE was she (and her household) baptized? The New Testament is consistent and clear as to the PURPOSE of baptism. However, modern day preaching varies from the New Testament as to WHY one is baptized. Notice some passages that state the PURPOSE of baptism:
Romans 6:3-5 – baptism is for the PURPOSE of an unsaved person undergoing a burial in the likeness of Christ’s death; one cannot be raised up to walk in newness of life without this planting in the likeness of Christ’s death. It is a thus a part of the new birth (John 3:3-5).
Gal. 3:27 – in baptism, one “puts on” Christ. Christ is not “put on” before and without baptism. (No other act of obedience is said to put a sinner “into” Christ.)
Acts 22:16 – sins are said to be “washed away” by baptism in water.
1 Peter 3:21 – water baptism is said to be a “like figure” of salvation as was the water that saved eight souls in the days of Noah. Water, in some way ‘saved’ Noah’s family. In whatever way it ‘saved’ them, it ‘saves’ all today in a ‘like-figure’.
Having shown these passages, let us now notice what the Bible does NOT say about the PURPOSE of baptism.
The Bible does NOT say that baptism is to be performed on an “already saved” person. Baptism is never said to be a church “ordinance” to be performed upon some who was saved at the point of their faith, for no one is saved by faith alone (James 2:17-26).
Justification involves man being obedient to Jesus’ commands. Man does not “call upon the name of the Lord” before and without obedience, for Jesus commanded all to submit to His authority.
Matthew 28:18 records Jesus telling His apostles, “All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”
In Mark 16:15-16, Jesus commanded the apostles, “...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.”
In Luke 24:47, Jesus commanded that “...repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations...”
These passages are clear that remission of sins follows baptism, rather than precedes it. Add to that, Peter’s answer in Acts 2:38, when asked about how to be forgiven. He said, “Repent and be baptized...”. In Acts 3:19, Peter again answered, “Repent and be converted...”.
Lydia was immersed in water, BECAUSE PAUL COMMANDED HER TO BE IMMERSED IN WATER. That is the only conclusion any honest inquirer can come to. She was not baptized to “outwardly show” what had already taken place “inwardly”. She was not baptized to be added to a denominational body, for none existed. She was not “in Christ” before her immersion, even though she was a worshiper of God. Paul preached the same message to her that Peter preached to the Jews on the Day of Pentecost. She obeyed from her heart that ‘form of doctrine’ delivered to her, as did the Romans (Rom. 6:17-18).
Let us not be divided or misled by uninspired denominational creed wording that teach contrary to the scriptures on ‘how’ one calls upon Jesus’ name. The Lord ‘opened her heart’ in the same way that everyone’s heart is ‘opened’.
Sunday, December 1, 2019
Have you ever prayed repeatedly to God about a matter dear to your heart; something over which you suffered much anxiety for a prolonged period of time until you made a decision about it? Such is the case with any matter that immensely impacts your life. Perhaps it is entering a marital relationship, a move to a different locality, or a job change. The uncertainty causes this anxiety, stress, and fear. We want it, but we want it to be a “good” want, not a selfish desire. So we “take it to the Lord in prayer.”
How will God answer our prayer? Consider a parallel example. One may earnestly desire and pray about a job. God may grant that request in that an offer for employment with that company may forth come. But does the prayer make you an employee of that company? Do you begin to receive any benefits from that company, any compensation? While I may possess many of the requirements for that job (CDL license, drive a standard shift), I could not drive their vehicle until I was hired by the company. My prayer did not entitle me to drive their vehicle, or to any other company benefits. There is a hiring process to go through. Once hired, you are accountable, and compensated, per the company.
The answer to the prayer involves God and you. You must accept the offer. You must meet any requirements beforehand (i.e., obtain a CDL). Are you an employee before or after you meet the requirements? Understanding how the answer came explains when the answer came. God answers prayer, but there is a process.
Similarly, one who desires to be a child of Go may pray fervently for it and God may grant that prayer, but the prayer for a relationship does not put you in that relationship any more than it would make you an employee of a company. There is a process by which God answers prayer.
A blind man, healed by Jesus, recognized that Jesus could not have healed him unless it was doing the will of God. The reason? “God hearth not sinners” (John 9:31). Jesus was a worshiper of God, and was doing God’s will, thus God “heard” him.
Prayer is essential to the salvation of those lost in sin. “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-4).
A lost person may pray fervently about his sins, but the process involves learning God’s will for him or her, and doing it. God provides circumstances whereby the petitioner can respond. A sinner must have something in which to believe or trust…What will that be? It is God’s Word (Romans 10:17). How will man respond if he has faith in God’s word? He will do as God spoke.
Cornelius (Acts 10) and Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9; 22; 26) were two honest, sincere men who prayed fervently, and who lived with good consciences prior to learning of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. However, the prayer of both men did not put them into Christ. They were given instructions and had to comply as instructed in regard to entering into fellowship with Christ. Once they obeyed the commands given them, they were in a covenant relationship with the Lord. Their salvation rests not on the prayer, bu tin their faith and obedience to the God who offered his Son for their sins. In this way, God answers prayer!
Notice from 1 Timothy 2:1-4 who was to pray, who was to be prayed for, and why. The reason for prayers on behalf of those in authority was so that God’s people might “lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” God’s people are the “we.” These prayers are “good and acceptable” because God desires all to be saved and to come to the knowledge of truth. In this way, prayer is essential to salvation. Those in need of salvation need prayers! Even those in need of salvation, upon recognizing their need, with pray. Realizing their lost condition, they too may suffer from anxiety, stress, and fear until they make their decision to receive God’s pardoning. However, it is important that we understand how God answers prayers for those in need of salvation.
Every example of conversion to Jesus in the New Testament parallels this pattern.
The conversion of the 3,000 (Acts 2), the Samaritans and the eunuch (Acts 8), Lydia and the jailer (Acts 16), and the Corinthians (Acts 18) were identical. They were all lost in sin, they learned of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, and accepted the terms of forgiveness offered by God in Christ (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:16; Luke 24:47; John 17:8). After they accepted these terms, they were forgiven of their sins. This exact point at which they entered into a relationship with Christ can be identified, for it was determined as Jesus taught the twelve.
God’s answer to any prayer for salvation is in a risen Savior who grants us repentance and forgiveness of sins according to his word (Acts 5:31). Let us worship and do his will.
Monday, October 21, 2019
“Can necessary inference be established as a scriptural means of determining authority from the New Testament, or is it a longstanding tradition”? This question was posed by a brother who seems willing to recognize authority derived from commands and approved examples, but has difficulty seeing necessary inference as legitimate.
While I will agree that determining authority by way of necessary inference is “trickier,” and should be approached with great care, I believe it is legitimate. I believe it is more than simply longstanding tradition.
First, we need to make sure we understand the word, “inference.” To “infer’ is ‘to derive as a conclusion from facts or premises’ (Meriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dict.). Therefore: Infer = judge, conclude, perceive.
Unlike the words, “command” and “example”, this word is not used in scripture, which may be why our brother is suspicious of it as a means of authority. However, “conclude”, “perceive” and ‘judge”, [synonyms of the word], can be found in scripture.
Within the definition, the dictionary advises, “see Imply”. That is because an inference can never stand alone. There must be an implication in order for there to be a necessary inference. There can be no necessary inference unless it is based on information from statements, commands, approved examples, or some combination thereof.
In order for an inference to be authoritative, it must be a necessary conclusion. There are many possible inferences we might make based on sketchy information, but unless we can determine that the Holy Spirit has implied something, we cannot draw a necessary inference. When one draws a conclusion with out an implication he is merely surmising.
Let me cite three approved apostolic examples of the use of necessary inference:
Notice that when the time came for the gospel to be preached to the Gentiles that GOD never directly told Peter that salvation was available to the un-circumicised, He gave him a vision, sent messengers to where he was staying and sent the Holy Spirit upon Cornelius and his household so that they spoke in tongues. From these events Peter was able to perceive the truth that men of “every nation’ could be accepted if they would work righteousness (Acts 10:34-35). That was the only conclusion he could reach from what GOD had revealed. That’s a necessary inference.
The apostle Paul was able to conclude that GOD is the GOD of the Gentiles as well as the Jews (Rom. 3:28ff). His conclusion was based on Abraham being justified by faith apart from the law (Rom. 4:1-3).
Perhaps the clearest example of the use of a necessary inference is provided by James during the debate over circumcision. In this situation we have the apostles recognizing the use of a statement, an example, and a necessary inference all in one context. In establishing authority for conversion of the uncircumcised, Peter makes a statement that GOD “chose” that “the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe” (Acts 15:7); Paul and Barnabas then cited an example of GOD working signs among uncircumcised Gentiles (15:12); and finally James draws the conclusion by saying, “Therefore, I judge that we should not trouble those from necessary inference among the Gentiles who are turning to GOD” (15:19).
Yes! Necessary inference has been established as a scriptural means of determining authority from the New Testament. It is not merely tradition.
Tuesday, October 15, 2019
8 Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.
9 And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation,
10 being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.
11 Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.
12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.
13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant.
14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.
Notice from v. 12, that in stating that they HAD BECOME dull of hearing, it is necessarily implied that they were not always that way.
HOW had they become "dull" in their hearing?
The answer lies in what was stated in v. 14, about their "powers of discernment". To be able to "discern", it takes "practice"...constant practice. In all that is involved in this, the simple idea, is that of constant bible study.
When your "powers of discernment" aren't "trained", the result is inevitable that you will BECOME "dull of hearing"; and as the writer said, when you become dull of hearing, distinguishing right from wrong is difficult.
The one area wherein that is most affected by "dullness" is in regard to understanding the significance of man's obedience in his salvation.
This significance is seen in mentioning the example of Jesus and His obedience.
Re-read vss. 8-9. Obedience was "learned" through suffering, and is related to, and necessary to "perfection".
Having been "trained", they could now understand the significance of Christ's obedience and of how His 'perfection' came through His sufferings. More importantly, they could understand how/why obedience is connected to the sinner's salvation from His sin.
However, when one's "powers of discernment" aren't "trained", the connection of obedience to salvation is hard to explain...
What about YOU; do you have difficulty seeing the connection of obedience to salvation?
Give prayerful thought and study to what is said in verse 9 of Jesus, AND of obeying Him, "...having been made perfect, He became to all those who OBEY Him the source of eternal salvation...".
Wednesday, August 21, 2019
Monday, August 19, 2019
.A fool has a great confidence that some find attractive.
The fool has an enormous talent to sense the needs of another and then transform himself into the kind of person that other person wants.
The fool will use his tongue to flatter others, to convince them that he alone understands them, and that others have misunderstood them and treated them badly.
They have a fun way about themselves that makes you drop your guard because of your natural desire to have fun and feel that you belong.
For the fool this is all a show, an act of hypocrisy, so that he might gain a temporary goal at the expense of another and then cast off the one he has used. “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise.” (Proverbs 12:15) He may be bold and love to express his opinion, but he does not know where he is going.
One of the great mistakes a person can make is to get in the way of a fool and his folly. “Better to meet a she-bear robbed of its cubs than to confront a fool immersed in folly.” (Proverbs 17:12)
God warns us in many ways not to even try to teach a fool. “Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the wisdom of your words.” (Proverbs 23:9)
A fool will threaten you if he perceives that you are getting in the way. He will threaten to slander you and will carry out that threat if you do not submit to him.
There is a big difference in being a fool and being foolish. All of us have been foolish and learned, but the fool will not. This is the very person that Jesus warned about: “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.” (Matthew 7:6)
Monday, August 12, 2019
CONTEXT - it matters!
I remember a TV preacher from years ago, (during the Nixon presidency) saying that the Bible predicted the Watergate scandal...quoting passages such as Neh. 8:1, 3 which only contained the words "water" and "gate" in them, without regard for the context in which 'water' and 'gate'.
Nehemiah also mentioned the HORSE gate; the FOUNTAIN gate; the REFUSE gate, the VALLEY gate OLD gate, FISH gate, SHEEP gate, EAST gate, INSPECTION gate, OLD gate, GATE of EPHRAIM and GATE of the GUARD in Nehemiah chapter 3. These were simply the various ENTRANCES (gates) of the city of Jerusalem. WATER gate was one of the entrances to the city, NOT a prophecy of political scandal to occur in the 1970's, as this preacher applied. it.
A similar DISREGARD for CONTEXT could be made from a statement of Job. "If I have looked at the sun when it shone...that...would have been an iniquity...for I would have denied God above." ~ Job 31:26-28. Without regard for CONTEXT, some might conclude that looking at the sun would be a sin...
However, if you read the missing words in these 3 verses (vss. 26-28), as well as the entire chapter, Job's words are a declaration that he has NOT concealed his sin by doing any of the "if's" in this chapter.
Also, by consideration of earlier chapters in the book, Job's friends had accused him of this very thing...secret sins. This is why a study of context is crucial to teaching truthfully from the Bible.
"Take heed WHAT ye hear" ~ Mark 4:24
"Take heed HOW ye hear" ~ Luke 6:38
"Take heed WHAT ye hear" ~ Mark 4:24
"Take heed HOW ye hear" ~ Luke 6:38
If context is perverted; doctrine will also be perverted. CONTEXT makes a difference, because DOCTRINE MATTERS!