Tag Archives: Baptism

What Baptism is For (A Reply to a Baptist)

One day, several years ago, a preacher by the name of Moses E. Lard received a letter, which said:

Mr. Lard:
DEAR SIR:—Will you have the courtesy to state explicitly whether the body of the people with whom you stand connected hold that baptism is for, that is, in order to remission of sins? I have no motive in putting this question but to collect Information.
Very respectfully yours,
A BAPTIST.

Lard

This question was answered in a series of eight letters, appearing over the span of a year or more.

Lard goes into more detail and more depth in answering this question than anything I’ve ever read before, often using textual arguments that (while close to 200 years old) were new to me.

If you want a deep study of baptism and what it is for, according to the Scriptures, take a look at this relatively short book (just 36 pages), which is today’s addition to the Jimmie Beller Memorial eLibrary!

To read it online, or to download it to your device for later viewing, just click the link below.  And as always, we’ve gone through it, fixing any typos we found, and reformatting the whole thing to make for a pleasant reading experience.

What Baptism is For (Moses E. Lard)

-Bradley S. Cobb

Healing, Casting, and Praying

Sermon 5: Healing, Casting, and Praying

Text: Mark 1:29-39 – And immediately, when they had come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.  But Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick with a fever, and immediately they tell Him about her.  And He came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered to them.

And at evening, when the sun set, they brought to Him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with demons.  And all the city was gathered together at the door.  And He healed many that were sick of various diseases, and cast out many demons; and did not permit the demons to speak, because they knew Him.

And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, He went out and departed into a solitary place, and there [He] prayed.

And Simon and they that were with Him followed after Him.  And when they had found Him, they said to Him, “All are seeking for You.”  And He said to them, “Let’s go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for into this [work] I have come.”

And He preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out demons.

Introduction

Mark spends a good deal of time in the first part of his gospel account showing that Jesus is powerful and has authority.  He’s shown Jesus’ authority over His disciples, His authority in religion, and His authority over a single demon.  Mark’s original readers might have been thinking, “What does this matter to me?  After all, we’re not Jews, nor are we Jesus’ disciples, nor are we possessed by a demon.”  They might have even thought that Jesus’ victory over a single demon was alright, but it wasn’t as though He had to face a bunch of them.  But what comes next would overrule these objections.

The Text, part 1 – Authority over a Fever (Mark 1:29-31)

(29) Immediately, when they had come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.

It is the Sabbath day, and Jesus, having exhibited His power over the kingdom of darkness, has planned to spend the rest of the day in the company of His four new disciples.  Simon and Andrew lived in the same house, not far from the synagogue (a Sabbath-Day’s Journey was around a half-mile), and invited Jesus (as well as James and John) to come there.  This is a show of hospitality and friendship that is severely lacking in the lives of many Christians and congregations.

(30a) But Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick with a fever

Mark doesn’t give some of the details that Matthew and Luke do (they weren’t necessary to bring up for his readers).  But Matthew literally says she was “cast [or thrown] down with a fever,” meaning that it isn’t just that she’s laying down on her bed asleep while running a temperature (Matthew 8:14).  The fever has made her bed-ridden.  Luke says she was held by a “great fever” (Luke 4:38), which means it was a high temperature, and the fever wasn’t breaking.  But again, Mark doesn’t give these details, and if you look at the progression of healings going into chapter two, you’ll see why.

(30b) and immediately they tell Him [Jesus] about her.

Some people have scoffed at this part, saying, “Why didn’t they go tell a doctor?”  That’s an easy thing to say when we aren’t given details such as: how long had she had the fever?  Was it days?  Did it just hit her that morning while Simon and Andrew were at the synagogue?  And who’s to say that, if it had been a few days, they hadn’t called a doctor?  All of those questions and the objection are irrelevant to the discussion at hand.  The fact is, Simon’s mother-in-law was sick with a fever at this point, and they came and told Jesus.

But why would they tell Jesus about it?  Because Jesus had just shown amazing miraculous power in casting out a demon—certainly it’s worth a shot to bring it to His attention.  We can better understand their confidence in telling Jesus about this when we remember that they’d already traveled some with Jesus and seen other miracles (John 1-4).

But the lesson we can learn from this is that when you’ve got problems, sickness, or anything else that you need help with, you go to the one with the power.  Take your requests to God who has the power to answer them.

(31a) And He came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her.

Jesus showed compassion on her, and also showed His power over sickness.  There was no long, drawn-out recovery period.  There wasn’t a “I think the fever is going down” period where they could all start to rest easily because she was starting to get well.  It was immediately gone.  Jesus took her by the hand, and poof!  The fever was completely removed—as though it had never been there in the first place.

(31b) and she ministered to them.

Simon’s mother-in-law had been tired, and the great fever would have normally left her quite exhausted and unable to do much as she was getting better.  But when Jesus healed her, she was well, whole, and felt like working.  She got up and began to serve them.  Most likely, this included preparing food, perhaps even washing their feet.  Meanwhile, you can imagine the awe in the eyes of Simon’s wife, and of the disciples, at this instantaneous healing.

The Text, part 2 – Authority over Diseases and Demons (Mark 1:32-34)

Lest one of Mark’s readers should shrug and say, “It’s only a fever, no big deal,” Mark shows Jesus taking on—and showing power over—progressively bigger illnesses.

(32-33) At evening, when the sun set, they brought to Him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with demons.  And all the city was gathered at the door.

These people had seen (or heard from those who had seen) Jesus casting out a demon in the synagogue on the Sabbath.  Immediately, then, they went back to their houses and told their families and their friends about what wonderful things God had done through Jesus of Nazareth.  They couldn’t wait to spread the word and share their wonder and amazement with others.

Jesus, the King, who has come to announce that His Kingdom is near, now has an evangelistic army to help Him in Capernaum.  He’s still doing His work, but these people are making it a lot easier for His message to be spread.

So, at nightfall, when the Sabbath is concluded, Jesus is in Simon and Andrew’s house, conversing with them and James and John, when crowds gather around the house, standing by the door, all coming to Him for help.  They, being good Jews, waited until the Sabbath was over before doing what some might consider “work” by bringing their sick to Jesus and possibly walking more than the half-mile that constituted a “Sabbath Day’s journey.”

The ones brought to Jesus were suffering from diseases, that is, they were badly sick (the Greek word means “bad” or “miserable” or even sometimes “evil.”  The sicknesses under consideration were not minor things—people weren’t bringing their kids to Jesus saying, “Heal his runny nose.”  These were significant illnesses, usually long-term medical problems.

(34a) And He healed many that were sick of various diseases.

Mark is answering the potential challenge from his readers by progressing from Jesus healing a fever to healing multiple people of serious significant illnesses.  And lest the readers think that Jesus’ victory over a demon was a fluke, here come even more of Satan’s minions to face Him.

(34b) He…cast out many demons.

Several knights of the Kingdom of Darkness were brought to Jesus.  They had taken over people’s lives, tormenting them, hurting them.  As we’ll see later in the book of Mark, it appears that being demon-possessed was such a horrible experience that some people tried to kill themselves to escape it.  But the King, Jesus, was coming to set them free, to overthrow the powers of darkness.  It didn’t matter if it was one demon-possessed man or a whole crowd of them; Jesus stood unafraid and ready to take them all on.

Before we move on from this point, it would probably be a good time to point out that demon-possession was a first-century phenomenon, and that it does not still take place today.  Zechariah 13:2 says:

“It shall come to pass in that day,” says Jehovah of Hosts, “that I will cut off the names of the idols out of the land, and they shall no more be remembered; and also I will cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land.”

If you look at the context, you will discover when “that day” which Jehovah mentions took place.  The verse immediately before it says:

In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and uncleanness.

Go back five verses from there (Zechariah 12:10-11a) and we see what this “day” (it’s actually a period of time, like we say “back in my day…”) means.

I will pour out on the house of David, and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for Him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.  In that day, there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem…

So, in the context of the death of Jesus and the time in which forgiveness of sins would be offered to the Jews, Jehovah would cause the evil spirit (demons) to pass from the land.  If we were to keep reading in Zechariah, we would see, just eight verses after that statement by Jehovah, these words:

Behold, the day of Jehovah comes, and your spoil shall be divided in the midst of you.  For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city (Zechariah 14:1-2).

Sometime between the death of Jesus on the cross and the time in which God brought the nations to destroy Jerusalem (AD 70), demonic activity would cease.  But when Mark was writing, demons were still active, so his readers were at least familiar with the concept.

(34c) He…did not permit them to speak, because they knew Him.

Like we discussed in the last lesson, Jesus didn’t want the demons to speak because it wasn’t time for Him to be revealed as the Son of God, nor did He want the testimony of demons—which would have been counter-productive.

The Text, part 3 – Praying and Jesus’ Purpose (Mark 1:35-39)

If you were to ask someone “Why did Jesus come to earth?” you’re likely to get a lot of different responses.  One answer, though, that you probably won’t get is what Jesus Himself said in this next passage.

(35) And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, He went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there He prayed.

After a busy night of healing the sick, and casting out demons, Jesus most certainly would have been tired.  However, early in the morning, a great while before the sun rose, Jesus got up and left Simon and Andrew’s house so He could go somewhere to be alone and pray.  To Mark’s readers, this shows the King is not doing this work for the attention—He needs time to Himself to spend in prayer.

This goes along with what Jesus said in Matthew 6:6 – But you, when you pray, enter into your closet, and when you have shut the door, pray to your Father which is in secret; and your Father which sees in secret shall reward your openly.  In other words, there is benefit to be had from (1) praying, and (2) doing it in a place where you’re alone with God.

Jesus—God Himself in the flesh—thought it was important to find a time when He could be alone to pray.  I’m convinced that prayer is one of the most under-utilized blessings that Christians have!  If prayer was important to our Savior, shouldn’t prayer be important to us as well?

(36-37) Simon and they that were with him searched for Him. And when they had found Him, they said to Him, “All are seeking for You.”

It seems as though Jesus left the house without waking anyone, but when morning came, the people all returned to Simon’s house, wanting to find Jesus.  Were they bringing more people to be healed?  Or was it (if we want to give them the highest possible motives) that they wanted to know more about the Kingdom of God, and to hear what this messenger of heaven had to tell them?  The text doesn’t say.  What we do know is that the people were anxious to spend more time with Jesus.

The King’s mission in spreading the word about the imminent arrival of His Kingdom is working.  Instead of it being exclusively Him finding people to tell about the Kingdom, now people are trying to find Him, presumably with an open mind to what He has to say.

(38) He said to them, “Let’s go into the next towns, so that I may preach there also: for into this [work] have I come.”

The King’s mission in traveling around was not to heal the sick—it was to prepare people for the coming of His Kingdom.  His mission wasn’t to cast out demons—it was to prepare people for the coming of His Kingdom.  Make no mistake, healing the sick and casting out demons helped to convince people of His message, but those things were not the purpose of His mission.

Instead, Jesus Himself said plainly that He needed to go elsewhere and preach [the gospel of the Kingdom of God], because it is “therefore” [literally “into this”] that He had come.  We can take a cue from our Lord here, realizing that helping others is a good thing, but it is not the purpose of our mission here on earth.  Our purpose is to bring people to the King, Jesus the Christ; aiding others in their misfortunes is something we can do that can help to accomplish that goal.  Never lose sight of the ultimate goal—bringing people to the Kingdom of God.

(39) He preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out demons.

With this short sentence, Mark shows his readers that the King continued His work proclaiming the overthrow of the Kingdom of Darkness and defeating some of Satan’s minions along the way to prove His point.  It’s such a short sentence, but don’t for a moment think that means it is insignificant.  The people met in the synagogues on the Sabbath, once a week, and so this one sentence takes up potentially months of Jesus’ life.  What would you give to be able to have seen Jesus in action?  To be able to spend just one day with Him in person?  To see Him cast out demons?  Many people got to see it, and it is all condensed into the sentence, “He preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out demons.”

Application

Spend Time with Your Brethren Outside the Worship Assembly.

Jesus didn’t limit His interaction with God’s faithful children to the weekly assembly.  Simon and Andrew didn’t either, nor did James and John.  Instead, they spent time together outside of the worship building.  They went into each other’s homes, ate together, spent time together.  The early church did the same thing, “continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and eating their bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and singleness of heart” (Acts 2:46).

The church grows stronger when it spends more time together.

Peter was Never a Pope!

I’m sure you noticed it in the text: Peter was married!  Mark 1:30 (and it’s mentioned in Matthew 8 and Luke 4 as well) says Peter’s wife’s mother.  The Catholic Church makes the claim that Peter was the first pope, and that no priest, or Bishop, or Archbishop, or Cardinal, or Pope can be married.  In truth, the doctrine that the “clergy” (priests, bishops, etc…) can’t be married came about hundreds of years after Peter was dead and gone.  The doctrine was made official Catholic Church policy, and they acted as though it had always been the case, thus saying Peter wasn’t married either.  This is one of those verses that many Catholics haven’t ever heard of.

When You’re Able to Serve Others, Do It!

Look at Peter’s mother-in-law.  She’s been sick with a horrible fever that has made her unable to get up and do anything.  She’s weak and tired.  Then comes Jesus who heals her—and her healing is absolutely 100% instantaneous and complete.  Now, everyone in the room would probably have had no problem if she had spent the rest of the day sitting and resting after the ordeal she’d been through.  But she was able to work, so she got to work.  The lesson we can take from her example is that if we are able to serve others, we should be serving others.  Whether that’s your family, your employer, your church family, your friends, or whoever, we need to spend time in service to others.

Don’t Enslave Yourself to Sin!

Citizens of the Kingdom of Darkness are really nothing more than slaves, being controlled by sin.  Demons were controlling some of these people, and that’s horribly sad, but being controlled by sin is even sadder, because you’ve chosen your enslavement.  Jesus calls you to freedom from sin, and He’s cleared the path to make it easy for you.

Invitation

Jesus cleared the way to lead you to freedom through His death on the cross, His burial, and His resurrection from the dead.  All you have to do is take that path.

Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death?  Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.  For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that from here forward we should not serve sin.  For he that is dead is freed from sin (Romans 6:3-7).

God be thanked that you were the servants of sin, but you have obeyed from the heard that form of doctrine that was delivered to you.  Being then made free from sin, you became the servants of righteousness (Romans 6:17-18).

Be set free from the powers of sin by accepting Jesus Christ as the Son of God, making the choice to follow His path, acknowledging Him as the Savior, and being buried with Him in baptism so that you can be made free from sin.

Jesus the King pleads with you, and so do we.

-Bradley S. Cobb

The Library has Grown!

We’ve not been just twiddling our thumbs around here.  We’ve been getting more books ready for the Jimmie Beller Memorial eLibrary!

Abner Jones

First, we have made available a biography of Abner Jones, one of the earliest preachers of the Restoration Movement.  This was written in 2009, and updated in 2015.  It is called “Abner Jones – Christian Only.”

Click the link below to read or download it!

Abner Jones – Christian Only (Bradley Cobb)

Baptism

The second book we’re bringing you is a 12-page work entitled “The Act, Subjects, and Design of Baptism” by James Anderson, a preacher from Australia.  While it’s short, it has a lot of really great information in it.

Click the link below to read or download it!

Act, Subjects, and Design of Baptism (James Anderson)

The Gospel Plan of Salvation

And finally, we’re happy to announce that we’ve included T.W. Brents’ classic work, “The Gospel Plan of Salvation.”  You’ll definitely want to get this one and read it.

Click on the link below to read or download it!

Brents, T.W. – Gospel Plan of Salvation

 

-Bradley Cobb

Two New Sisters in Christ!!!

This isn’t an article.  I just thought I’d make that clear from the outset.  But I know you’ll want to read it anyway.

Just after Bible study, Savannah (our daughter) told me that she wanted to be baptized, and she didn’t want to wait any longer.  She said she needed to be saved, she didn’t want to go to the “bad place,” and she wanted to have her sins washed away.  She also added that she wanted to make sure that when she died, she’d be able to be with her mom and dad forever.

As she was getting ready, Deserae (also our daughter) decided that she was tired of waiting and worrying about her soul.  She confessed that she has sinned, that she knew it was sin, and that she needed to be forgiven by God for her sins.  She said “I need to be saved.”

So just a few minutes later, I had the joyful pleasure of immersing both of them into Jesus Christ.

First Savannah:

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Then Deserae

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Did Paul Receive the Holy Spirit by the Laying on of Hands?

Question: The book of Acts says that Ananias came and laid hands on Paul so that he would “receive the Holy Spirit.”  Does that mean that he had the Holy Spirit before he was baptized? –F.B.U.

To answer this question, we need to look at the text that it comes from:

Acts 9:17-18

And Ananias went his way and entered into the house. And putting his hands on him, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus that appeared to you in the way as you came has sent me so that you might receive your sight, and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales, and he received sight immediately, and arose, and was baptized.

Putting his hands on him…”Brother Saul…receive your sight…”

Here we see the miracle of Saul’s sight being restored. Verse 18 makes it clear that was the result of Ananias’ laying hands on him. That much is clear and undisputed by anyone who believes the Bible.

The question now, though, is what do we make of the phrase “be filled with the Holy Spirit”?

Jesus…has sent me so that you might…be filled with the Holy Spirit.

There are several opinions from scholars as to what this means. Some insist that it is the literal indwelling of the Holy Spirit being given to Saul of Tarsus—prior to baptism—by Ananias laying hands on him. Others say basically the same thing, except they say it was the gift of miracles being given to Saul prior to his baptism by Ananias laying hands on him.

When Luke uses the phrase “filled with the Holy Spirit” or “full of the Holy Spirit,” miracles (usually inspiration) are always under consideration. Examine them for yourself: John the Immerser (Luke 1:15), John’s mother, Elisabeth (Luke 1:41-45), John’s father, Zacharias (Luke 1:67-79), the apostles (Acts 2:4), the apostles again (Acts 4:31), Stephen (Acts 6:5, 7:55-56), Barnabas (Acts 11:22-24), Paul (Acts 13:9-11), and the disciples of Antioch in Pisidia (Acts 13:14, 51-52).

Understanding this, let’s now look at the evidence to come to a rational, biblical conclusion to this potential conundrum.

First, Jesus said that the purpose of Ananias’ laying hands on Saul was so he would receive his sight. That was seen in verse 12 of this same chapter. There was no indication in Jesus’ words that Ananias was going to give Saul the Holy Spirit.

Second, the only result of this event shown in the Bible is that Saul received his sight. After he put his hands on Saul, the Bible only records that Saul received his sight. It says nothing about him receiving the Holy Spirit. If we look at Acts 22, where Saul (who is also called Paul) is telling about this very event, we see that he doesn’t even mention the Holy Spirit at all—but he does mention receiving his sight again.[1]

Third, the ability to pass on the Holy Spirit was only available to the apostles. This is shown in chapter 8, verses 14-18. Ananias was not an apostle, and so—unless someone wishes to argue that Ananias should be classed as an apostle—the evidence is against his being able to pass on this gift.

Fourth, Saul was lost in his sins when Ananias laid his hands on him, and was not a candidate to receive the Holy Spirit, for he had not been baptized. This principle is seen in Acts 8:15-16. Acts 22:12-16 shows that he was still lost in sins after Ananias laid his hands on him. The Holy Spirit was promised only to those who were the obedient servants of God.[2]

Fifth, Paul makes it very clear throughout his life that he did not receive his apostleship from any man. Miracles (the gift of the Holy Spirit) and the ability to pass them on were “the signs of an apostle.”[3] Paul states that he was “an apostle—not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead.”[4] All of the apostles received their miraculous ability direct from heaven.[5] Paul would be no different.

Sixth, we see no record of Saul performing miracles until years later. The first time we read of Saul (now called Paul) doing any miracle is in Acts 13:9-11. This is the first time where Paul is said to be “filled with the Holy Spirit.” Now, this does not mean that Paul was unable to perform miracles prior to Acts 13, but it is supportive evidence that he didn’t receive the Holy Spirit when Ananias laid hands on him. There is no evidence that Saul was able to work miracles before that event.

Seventh, it took the testimony of Barnabas to convince the apostles that Saul was really a disciple of Jesus Christ. You might ask, What does that have to do with anything? If Saul of Tarsus had the miraculous abilities given by the Holy Spirit at this point, it would have been very simple for him to prove to the apostles and other disciples that he was a Christian. But instead, it took Barnabas speaking on his behalf. Though not conclusive, this evidence seems to indicate that at this point Saul did not have the miraculous gift of the Holy Spirit.

Since the evidence implies that Saul did not receive the Holy Spirit when Ananias laid hands on him, what exactly did he mean when he told Saul “Jesus…has sent me so that you might…be filled with the Holy Spirit”?

Ananias’ mission was to heal and baptize Saul; to bring him into the family of God and Christ. As you can see from other passages in Acts,[6] the Holy Spirit was only given to those who were servants of God, and who obey Him. Ananias came to help Saul become spiritually acceptable before God, and thus also help him become a candidate for the reception of the Holy Spirit. It was preparatory work.

-Bradley S. Cobb

[1] Acts 22:12-13

[2] Acts 2:17-18, 5:32

[3] II Corinthians 12:12

[4] Galatians 1:1

[5] Acts 2:1-4, 4:29-31

[6] Acts 2:17-18, 5:32

Is Baptism Essential?

IS BAPTISM ESSENTIAL?

By Paul Simon, Minister.

Is baptism essential to the remission of our sins? It is a shame that there is so much confusion over this question on which the Bible is so plain. There are many proofs that baptism is necessary to the remission of sins to the person who has reached the mental age of account­ability. Howbeit, I will not burden your minds with all of these proofs, but rather suffice it with four—any one of which would be conclusive in and by itself.

Condition of Salvation

Baptism is one of the conditions of the remission of sins. Jesus said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16). It must be agreed that this baptism is water baptism and not Holy Spirit baptism, because even those who teach that the Holy Spirit bap­tism is to be sought today, teach that it is not essential to salvation, but is a “blessing to be desired.” Jesus here makes faith and baptism equally necessary to salvation. Do you believe a responsible person can be saved without faith? Why then do you think he can be saved with­out baptism?

For Remission of Sins

Jesus says, through His apostle Peter, “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). Jesus here makes repentance and baptism of equal importance. The preposition, for, means the same thing in connection with “be baptized” as it does with “repent,” that is, to obtain. God is here saying, “Re­pent everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for remission of sins.” Can one be saved without repentance? Then neither can he be saved without baptism.

God Commands It

God commands baptism. “And he com­manded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord” (Acts 10:48). (You) repent and (you) be baptized everyone of you (Acts 2:38).

Christ is going to punish those who obey not His commandments. II Thes. 1:7-9: “And to you who are troubled, rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with ever­lasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.” Therefore, baptism is essential.

All who obey His commandments are to be saved.Rev. 22:14: “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have a right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.”

All agree that to get into Christ is essential. Baptism is one of the acts of obedience which puts us into Christ. Gal.

3:27: “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” This could not be Holy Spirit baptism, because all agree that Holy Spirit baptism does not put one in Christ. Therefore, water baptism is essential. (Note: Some­one might say, “The preceding verse says that we are saved by faith.” It does, but it does not say “by faith only.”)

Part of The New Birth

Jesus said “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of the water and of the Spirit he CANNOT enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). Practically all commentators agree that the birth of water, here mentioned, refers to baptism. See Abbott, Wesley, Milligan, Whitby, Theluck, Olshausen. Alford says, “All attempts to rid this have sprung from doctrinal prejudices.” Even Adam Clarke admits that it refers to baptism, and then tries to argue out of it. Therefore, baptism is essential.

And yet, the church of Christ, the Christian Church, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Second Adventist Church, Roman Catholic Church, Greek Catholic Church (with possibly some branch of the Holiness Church) are the only religious groups which teach and practice baptism as essential to the re­mission of sins.

Calling on the Name of the Lord

When kids misunderstand things, we think it is cute.  In fact, people share these adorable misunderstandings with their friends and anyone else who wants to know (look at Facebook for a few days and you’ll see them).

But when adults misunderstand things, it’s not the same, is it?  Adults are rightfully expected to put some effort into understanding things.  A wife isn’t going to post on Facebook about how cute it was that her husband misunderstood what she wanted.  Instead, it’s often times the basis of a (ahem) “discussion” (if you’re married, you know what I mean).

Today, we will consider one of the biggest misunderstandings in the religious world today: Calling on the name of the Lord.

The majority of so-called “Christian” denominations teach that to call on the name of the Lord is to ask Jesus into your heart, praying for salvation from sin.  It’s interesting that if you just take the sheer number (not groups, but individuals) of people claiming to be Christians, the overwhelming majority actually REJECT this doctrine.  However, it has been popularized by televangelists and others who twist God’s word to their own destruction (II Peter 3:16).  Salvation through prayer is “another gospel”, and all those who bring such doctrines will be cursed by God (Galatians 1:8-9).

But what does “calling on the name of the Lord” actually mean?

What is calling on the name of the Lord?

Though this phrase appears in the New Testament, it also appears in the Old Testament.

Seth had his son, Enos, THEN men began to call on the name of the LORD (Genesis 4:26).

This is generally referred to as the “Godly line.” This isn’t saying that no one prayed to God until Enos was born. But it was this line that obeyed God (see Enoch and Noah for examples).

Abraham built an altar and “called on the name of the LORD” (Genesis 12:8).

This “calling on the name of the LORD” could have included prayer, but that isn’t all that it entailed.  It involved praise to God, worship to God, and doing what was acceptable to God – in short, it was obedience.

Isaac built an altar and “called on the name of the LORD” (Genesis 26:25).

This is not an instance of Isaac praying, because in the previous verse, GOD APPEARED UNTO HIM.

Calling on the name of the LORD was the expression of a life lived for God in thankfulness and obedience.

Elijah, on Mt. Carmel, made the challenge to the prophets of Baal,

“you call on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD. And the God that answers by fire, let him be God.” (I Kings 18:24).

As you will well remember, the prophets of Baal cried out long and loud and nothing happened.  Elijah then prayed,

“LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word.” And of course God answered him (I Kings 18:36-38).

So, see, calling on the name of the Lord means praying! Not so fast…

It is true that Elijah prayed, but notice that in his prayer, the answer was requested completely based upon Elijah’s obedience.  His calling on the name of the LORD was turning to God for help based on his–Elijah’s–obedience.

Psalm 116:12-19 describes calling on the name of the Lord.

What shall I render unto Jehovah For all his benefits toward me?  I will take the cup of salvation, And call upon the name of Jehovah.  I will pay my vows unto Jehovah, Yea, in the presence of all his people.

Precious in the sight of Jehovah Is the death of his saints.  O Jehovah, truly I am thy servant: I am thy servant, the son of thy handmaid; Thou hast loosed my bonds.  I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, And will call upon the name of Jehovah.  I will pay my vows unto Jehovah, Yea, in the presence of all his people, In the courts of Jehovah’s house, In the midst of thee, O Jerusalem. Praise ye Jehovah.

As you read through this passage, you will notice that calling on the name of the Lord is the equivalent of living right before God, taking the salvation that God offers, and keeping your vows to God.

In short, calling on the name of the Lord is a life of obedience and thankfulness to God.

That they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve Him with one consent (Zephaniah 3:9).

Here, calling on the name of the Lord is described as serving God.

In the New Testament, the concept of calling on the name of the LORD only appears three times.

Two of those times (Acts 2:21, Romans 10:13) are quotations from Joel 2:32.

Acts 2

In Acts 2:21, Peter mentions it at the beginning of his Pentecost sermon (those who call on the name of the Lord shall be saved).  In 2:38, Peter tells the people there to “repent and be baptized.”  In 2:41, those who gladly received his words were baptized and added to their number.  In 2:47, Those who were being added were the ones being “saved.”  Therefore, calling on the name of the Lord involved obedience to His word (including repentance and baptism).

Romans 10

In Romans 10:8-18, Paul discusses salvation.  10:17 – faith comes by hearing.  10:10 – belief and confession = salvation.  10:13 – Calling on the name of the Lord = salvation.  10:16 – but some have NOT obeyed the gospel. Therefore, hearing, belief, confession, and calling on the name of the Lord are requirements for salvation.

Acts 22

The other passage in the New Testament that discusses “calling on the name of the LORD” is Acts 22:16.

And now why tarriest thou? Arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the LORD.

Calling on the name of the Lord is NOT baptism.  Let me say that again, calling on the name of the Lord is NOT baptismIf it were, then Abraham, Isaac, David, and Elijah all got baptized…and more than once.

Calling on the name of the Lord means the same thing in the New Testament as it did in the Old Testament – OBEDIENCE to God.

The “name of the LORD.”

In Matthew 28:18-20, we read Jesus instructing the eleven apostles to baptize people in the NAME of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”  When something is done “in the name of” someone, it means it is done by their authority.

There is a big argument in some religious circles about whose name you are to baptize in.  Some say you have to recite the three names (citing Matthew 28:18-20).  Others say that we are only supposed to baptize in the name of Jesus (citing every example in the book of Acts).  People are having massive arguments over this, and it is all because they don’t understand what “in the name of” means.  If something is done by the authority of Jesus Christ, then BY DEFINITION it is by the authority of the Father, as delivered by the Holy Spirit.

The “name of the Lord” is the authority of the Lord.  Just like “stop in the name of the law” means “by the authority of the law.”

How do we call on the name of the Lord?

When a doctor called on someone (back when they did that kind of thing), they went to where the patient was.  When a boy went to call on his girl, he went to where she was.  It involved action and a need to be where the one being called on was.

Calling on the name of the LORD is going to where God is.  Calling on the name of the Lord is doing what is necessary to be with Him.

For Abraham and Isaac, this involved living properly under the laws God had given them.  For David and the Israelites, it involved living properly under the Law of Moses.

It is interesting to note that all of the Old Testament examples of people calling on the name of the Lord WERE ALREADY children of God.  They weren’t calling on the name of the Lord to become a child of God.  That didn’t take place until the New Testament.

Calling on the name of the Lord is this:

Turning yourself over to God’s authority in faithful obedience.

For those on the Day of Pentecost, and everyone since then who want to be saved, calling on the name of the Lord involves hearing the gospel, believing in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, repenting of their sins, confessing Christ with their mouth, and being baptized.

Calling on the name of the Lord isn’t baptism, but is sure includes it!

Turn your life over to God, submit yourself to His authority, and enjoy the blessings of salvation!

An American Fable – Water Baptism

Due to the upcoming holidays and trying to get work done on some pressing projects, we didn’t get a Bible Q&A done for this week.  But we recently ran across something that we just had to share with you.  Once you read it, you will see why.

Have a great weekend!

An American Fable Relating to Water Baptism

(Originally appeared in Lard’s Quarterly, October 1866)

A missionary once presented a Bible to a young Indian, who possessed a fair knowledge of the English language, and exhorted him to read it, and obey its commandments. The book was received and read, as requested.

Some time afterward the Indian met the preacher, and said to him: “I want you to go with me to the river. I want to be baptized.”

“I can baptize you without going to the river,” said the preacher.

“Where?” inquired the red man.

“Here,” replied the preacher.

Said the Indian, in a tone of surprise: “I don’t see how you can baptize me here, where there is no water.”

“We can have water brought for the purpose,” responded the minister.

But the young man was perplexed; he could not understand how they were to baptize him after the water was brought. The minister then explained to him that they could baptize him “by pouring a little water on his forehead.”

“Is that baptism?”

“Yes,” said the minister.

Not yet quite satisfied, the young man again replied: “Well, if that is baptism, you have given me the wrong book.”

His idea seemed to be that each denomination had a Bible of its own, and that the minister had, through mistake, given him one that represented baptism by immersion. The impression that baptism is by immersion was made upon his mind by reading the Bible; but if pouring [or sprinkling] is baptism, it must be learned from some other book; that is, the same book can not teach both pouring and immersion to be baptism. Why not? Because there is such a difference between pouring and immersion that if one is taught to be baptism, the other cannot be.

W.W. Hayden.

Tracts from the Past – The World’s Greatest Question

THE WORLD’S GREATEST QUESTION

(No. 8 of The Gospel Tract Series)

By Eugene S. Smith

“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” This question, asked in Acts 16:30 by a man in Philippi nineteen hundred years ago, has never been equaled in importance. In substance this same question is asked in two other places in the Book of Acts. In the inspired answer to this question, asked three times, we have an infallible answer. To this we do well to give heed in these days.

The importance of this question stems from the fact that it deals with the salvation of our souls. Nothing in this world, no, not even the world itself, can be compared in value to our souls. The soul of man, your soul or mine, is the most important thing in the universe and the question concern­ing its salvation is the greatest and most important that we can ask.

It Is of Doing

Please note in beginning this study that the question is, “What Must I Do?” We know that “God so loved the world that He gave his only begot­ten son” (John 3:16). We know that Christ so loved the souls of men that He “tasted of death for every man” (Heb. 2:9). We also know that the Holy Spirit, through the Apostles, revealed unto us “the way of salvation” (Acts. 16:17). These, therefore, having done their part in our salvation, we are now interested in what we should do.

Further, it is not a question of what one should be, how one should feel, where one should live, or the language that one should speak. This is a ques­tion of doing, and the answer that is given by inspiration (as the question was asked these three times) is evi­dence that there is something for us to do and that everyone must do these same things.

Acts 16:30-34

In the sixteenth chapter of Acts when the question was asked the im­mediate reply of Paul was, “Believe on the Lord Jesus and thou shalt be saved, thou and thy house” (Acts. 16:31). A great many people want to stop here, thinking that this is all the answer that was given to the question. However, an examination of the verses fol­lowing reveals that this is not all of the answer and that to stop here is to stop short of a complete answer.

The remainder of the answer of Paul is indicated by the words of the fol­lowing verse: “And they spake the word of the Lord to him, with all that were in his house” (Acts 16:32). This was necessary for even faith could not come to the man or his house apart from the hearing of the word. Paul has said, “So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17). The word had to be spoken to produce the faith and faith could not come till the word was spoken. However, when the word was spoken we find that the jailer had learned that he must do more than be­lieve and this he did. Verse 33 says that “he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, im­mediately”. Here repentance and bap­tism are definitely shown to have been included in the word of the Lord, the answer given by Paul and Silas to the man’s question, “What must I do to be saved?” The washing of their stripes indicates repentance and it is definitely stated that the man was bap­tized, Therefore, these things were in­cluded in the answer given him or he would have known nothing of them. These are as much a part of the word of the Lord as belief and have as much to do with our salvation from sin.

Therefore, we must remember that in answer to this man’s question he was taught to, 1. Believe on the Lord Jesus, 2. Repent of his sins, and, 3. Be baptized unto the remission of his sins. When he had done these things, the record says that he “rejoiced great­ly, with all his house, having believed in God”. By his obedience his faith was made perfect and he became a Son of God and could rejoice in that rela­tionship.

Acts 2:37-42

In the second chapter of Acts the question again is asked. This time, however, those who ask are believers in the Christ. Although only a few days previously they had denied the Christ and condemned him to be cruci­fied they are now convicted of their sins and realizing that he is the Christ cry out to Peter and the others of Christ’s apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37).

With all directness the Apostle Peter gave answer to these inquiring souls as he said, “Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins” (Acts 2:38). This answer of inspiration is too plain to need ex­planation and “They then that received his word were baptized” (Acts 2:41). Here again sinners were taught to: 1. Believe on the Lord Jesus, 2. Repent of their sins, and 3. Be baptized unto the remission of their sins.

Having done this they “continued steadfastly in the Apostles teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and prayers” (Acts 2:42). That is they “walked in the newness of life” (Rom. 6:4) and were acceptable in the sight of God as his children.

Acts 22:10-16

In the twenty-second chapter of Acts, Paul gives an account of his own con­version. On the Damascus road he be­lieved in the Lord and confessed that faith, calling him Lord. He repented of his sins and desired to know and do the will of the Lord. This is all evi­denced by his asking the question, “Lord, what shall I do?” (Acts 22:10). This question shows the faith and the repentance of Saul of Tarsus yet he was not saved.

The Lord, in answer, told him to go into the city and there it would be told him all things appointed for him to do. When in that city Ananias came to him he said, “Why tarriest thou? Arise and be baptized and wash away thy sins, calling on His name.” (Acts 22:16). This is Paul’s own account of the matter and one I am sure we can trust. Paul realized that his sins were not re­moved by faith or repentance but only when his faith was expressed in obe­dience to the Lord’s command to be baptized.

Thus, again we have the question and the answer is the same, 1. Believe. 2. Repent. 3. Be baptized unto the remis­sion (washing away) of your sins. This brought him “into Christ” and in Christ he was a new creature.

Therefore, the question is asked and answered. You can see the answer as given by inspiration. You can walk in the same way to your own salvation.

Tracts from the Past – Salvation by Grace?

Today’s offering is a “Tract from the Past.”  This one is called “Salvation by Grace” and is written by Eugene Smith.  Mr. Smith was a proficient writer during his life, authoring several tracts.  We hope you enjoy it!

Smith_SavebByGrace

Of all the great doctrines of the Bible, none is more capable of arous­ing the appreciation of man than the idea suggested by the words of the apostle Paul in Eph. 2:8, 9, where he says, “for by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of your­selves, it is the gift of God; not of works, that no man should glory.” In this statement the kindness and love of God is revealed to such extent that we should be eternally grateful to God and in our appreciation should humbly sub­mit to His will in all things.

Christ, of course, is the manifesta­tion of the grace of God. In him the love of God is shown as he was present­ed as the perfect sacrifice for sin. This sacrifice was “not by works done in righteousness, which we did ourselves, but according to his mercy” (Tit. 3:5). Nothing good that we had done was or could be sufficient to merit the sacri­fice of Christ upon the cross. This was the unmerited favor of God to lost and dying man. This was “the kindness of God our Saviour, and His love toward man” (Tit. 3:4), that appeared for our redemption from a curse which was too great for us to lift.

This grace of God was not bestowed on “the few” but rather on “the many.” Paul said in Tit. 2:11, “For the grace of God hath appeared, bringing salva­tion to all men.” All were in need of a Saviour and when God gave His Son He made him a “propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only but also for the whole world” (I John 2:2). When we look upon Jesus today we behold the one whom God “crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God he should taste of death for every man” (Heb. 2:9).

Therefore by the unmerited mani­festation of the goodness and kindness of God our love for him is born and kept alive. John said, “We love, because he first loved us” (I John 4:19). The great love of God which was manifest to the world in the death of Christ is enough to ever keep us humble and grateful before the throne of God for the great gift was made while we were yet sinners and was therefore strictly by the grace and love of God. Paul said of this in Rom. 5:8, “God commendeth His own love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Enough has been said, therefore, to cause us to realize that it is by grace we are saved.

An Oft-Made Mistake

However, in thinking of the doctrine of Salvation by Grace there is a mis­take often made that leads to the wrong conclusion. Some have supposed that the fact that salvation is by grace has precluded and excluded all re­sponse on our part. Some have argued that since it is by “grace” there is nothing we can do in any way in the matter of our salvation. These argu­ments are usually summed up under three headings which are erroneously based on the text of Eph. 2:8. They are: (1) Salvation being of grace there is nothing we can do toward that salva­tion; (2) It being the gift of God there is nothing we can do to receive it; and (3) It being “not of works” we are ex­cluded from doing anything whatso­ever to receive it. Believing the above thoughts to be entirely wrong and based upon a mistaken understanding of the text we want to examine them very carefully in the light of God’s word.

Does Grace Exclude Obedience?

Some have supposed that grace ex­cludes obedience to the commandments of God but this cannot be for it would make of God’s word a mass of contra­dictions and we know this is not so. Christ said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21). Christ in this verse and in the illustration of the two builders (Matt. 7:24-27), which fol­lows, makes clear to all that obedience to God’s will is an essential pre-requi­site of salvation.

The apostle Paul, in speaking along this line, has very clearly said, “He (Christ) became unto all them that obey him the author of eternal salva­tion” (Heb. 5:9). Peter said, “Seeing ye have purified your souls in your obedience to the truth” (I Pet. 1:22) and the beloved John said “This is the love of God that we keep his command­ments” (I John 5:3). Therefore it is impossible to suppose that grace ex­cludes obedience. Nay, rather grace de­mands obedience for in view of the wonderful manifestation of the love of God we should gladly humble our hearts before Him and do His will, obeying His commandments which are given to us in His word. Any course other than this would be contrary to the scriptures and to common sense. We must obey God, obey the truth, or keep His commandments for thus we show our love for Him.

Does A Gift Exclude Obedience?

Some have likewise supposed that since salvation is a gift we can do nothing to receive it. Now to say we can do nothing to merit it is one thing and to say that we can do nothing to receive it is quite another thing. I realize that nothing we can do will ever give us merit enough to make God owe us salvation as a debt He must pay. It is not in this respect that we speak of our obedience. It is not that we are to do a thing or things to merit salva­tion but we must, according to the word of God, do certain things that we may receive salvation.

Christ says, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16). If we are to receive the “gift of God” we must then “believe and be baptized.” Some will accept the idea that we must believe but will reject the companion thought that we must be baptized. These two, belief and bap­tism, are joined together by the con­junction “and.” One of the elementary rules of the English language is that this conjunction joins words or phrases of equal rank or importance. Therefore when it is used to join belief and bap­tism it makes them of equal import­ance.

The gift of salvation from Christ is held forth to man and he says it will be bestowed upon the man who “be­lieveth and is baptized.” If anyone an­swers that to believe and be baptized is to make it no longer a gift he is surely mistaken about that for the Bi­ble cannot be a book of contradictions. But think one moment about this. If I were to say to you, “Write me a letter and I will give you a book,” you could understand the meaning of my words. If you then wrote me the letter would that in any way show that you had earned the book. No, for when you had complied with my request the book would still be received as a gift and not something you had earned.

A Bible Illustration

To illustrate the fact that one can obey the commands of God and still re­ceive his blessings as a gift we turn to the sixth chapter of Joshua to study the illustration set forth. These things “happened unto them by way of ex­ample; and they were written for our admonition” (I Cor. 10:11). They are given that in them we may see and learn God’s way of dealing with the sons of men in the earth. Paul tells us this again in Rom. 15:4, where he says, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learn­ing.” Therefore we can, by studying the examples of Israel in the Old Testa­ment, learn of God’s dealing with man even today. Not that the Old Testa­ment is to be considered our law but the examples thereof are valuable to us as warnings.

“Now Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in” (Josh. 6: 1). This was the condition of the city as the children of Israel under Joshua’s leadership encamped before the city. Then in verse 2 God talks with Joshua in the following words, “See, I have given into thy hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valor.” The city of Jericho was a gift of God to Joshua and the children of Israel.

However God did not end His speak­ing with His statement that He would give them the city. He went on to say, “And Ye shall compass the city, all the men of war, going about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days. And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. And it shall be, that, when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall go up every man straight before him” (Josh. 6:3-6).

Now if Joshua had been like some people today he would have said “Not so Lord for if we do all that thou hast commanded we shall earn the city and it will not and cannot be a gift.” That is the way people sometimes talk to­day when obedience to the command­ments of God is emphasized by gospel preachers. People are wont to cry, “If we do anything it cannot be a gift.” In this they make a serious mistake that will finally result in the condemnation of millions for failing to do the will of the Lord.

Joshua, however, being a man of faith, did not so speak. He immediately marshalled his forces as God had com­manded and began to fulfill those com­mandments of Jehovah. All that the Lord had said was done in just the way that the Lord had said it should be done. When they came to the seventh day of their obedience we hear Joshua speaking again to the children of Israel as the priests blew the ram’s horn trumpet according to God’s command­ment. He said, “Shout; for Jehovah hath given you the city” (Josh. 6:16). Therefore it must be forever settled and known that men can obey God’s commandments and still receive the promised blessing as a “gift of God.”

More than this in our contemplation of God’s gift to man we must remem­ber that Paul said it was “By grace through Faith” (Eph. 2:8). This is God’s gift and it is received “through faith.” Now let us note another simi­larity between this gift of God and the one we have been studying in Joshua. We read in Hebrews 11:30, “By faith the wall of Jericho fell down, after they had been compassed about for seven days.” Here then is a further confirma­tion of the necessity of our obedience of God’s commandments if we are to be saved by grace.

The salvation by grace is through faith. The falls of Jericho fell down by faith. However they did not fall by faith till God’s commandments were obeyed and therefore we do not receive the blessing of God’s grace till our obedience to God’s will of today is com­plete. Then, and then only, can we re­ceive the blessing by faith. For until our obedience is rendered before God, our faith is dead and vain and can never bring the blessing of God.

Does Grace Exclude Works?

Now we come to the final objection of those who would reject obedience to God as having anything to do with our salvation. They cry “it is not of works” and thus would turn many away from doing the will of God. Let me say first of all that this limitation cannot be un­derstood in an absolute sense, that is to say, prohibiting all works of any kind, for that would cause the apostle to contradict himself in the two verses with which we began this study.

Paul says of this salvation by grace that it is “through faith” and then goes on to say it is “not of works.” Now I know that he does not mean by this that all works are excluded for to do that would even exclude faith. The Christ himself hath said, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent” (John 6:29). God has commanded men to believe and Christ says this is a work that is com­manded of God; a work that men are to do. Therefore as salvation is “through faith” we cannot exclude all works or we would thereby even ex­clude faith. This we know cannot be.

Moreover, we know that “works of righteousness” are not excluded by Paul’s statement for we hear the apos­tle Peter speaking to Cornelius and his household in the city of Caesarea and these were to be the first converts from among the gentiles. As he preached to them we hear him say, “Of a truth I perceive that God is no re­specter of persons; but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is acceptable to him” (Acts 10:34, 35). Therefore the “works of righteousness, do have something to do with our being accepted of God. In Titus 3:5 as we have already noted they had nothing to do with God send­ing His son but now that the grace of God has been manifested to the world in the son we are acceptable in the sight of God as we “work righteous­ness.”

Working righteousness is obeying the commandments of God for the com­mandments of God are His righteous­ness. We read this in Psa. 119:172, where David says, “All thy command­ments are righteousness.” Therefore it is evident that to “work righteousness” is to “work God’s commandments.” Therefore it is on the basis of our obedience to the commandments of God that we are acceptable in the sight of God and our obedience to God’s com­mandments is not the thing under con­sideration by Paul when he said in Eph. 2:9, “Not of works.”

Moreover Christ has said that our “works of righteousness,” that is our obedience to God’s commandments, is nothing about which we can boast or glory. He says, “Even so ye also, when ye shall have done all the things that are commanded you, say, we are un­profitable servants; we have done that which it was our duty to do” (Luke 17:10). In obeying God’s commands and receiving His blessing we have noth­ing to boast about. The children of Is­rael could not boast about their capture of Jericho. God’s way was not the way that would create boasting on their part but rather a way that would in­crease their faith in and respect for Him.

Had the children of Israel captured the city by force of arms they might have later boasted about it; but taking it as they did they could never glory in it but must always give glory to God. Likewise in our obedience to Christ’s commandments we can never glory for who could say that believing in the Christ, repenting of our sins, confessing our faith in Christ and be­ing baptized could ever be enough to “earn” for us the glory of heaven. Nay, rather, it only emphasizes our depend­ence upon the mercy and grace of God. Therefore as we obey and when we have done all things commanded we are unprofitable and it is still by God’s grace that we are saved. However it is evident that his grace does not ex­clude the “works of righteousness” which he has commanded us to do.

What then can be the meaning of Paul’s statement, “not of works.” It is very simple, and as usual in God’s word, we find it in the very sentence we are considering. Notice, please, that Paul says, “not of works, that no man should glory” (Eph. 2:9). The King James version says “boast” instead of “glory” as we find it in the American Standard Version. This is the key of the entire matter, it is not of works that we can glory in or boast about. It is not by works that we earn salvation or place God in debt to us. This is the en­tire meaning of the apostle’s words and when we thus consider the matter we can see that some works are ex­cluded but that the “works of right­eousness” are not excluded but are the obedience of faith by which we are to receive the “gift of God.” Therefore it is important that we obey the com­mandments of Jesus that he may be the author of eternal salvation to our souls as he is to all them that obey him (Heb. 5:8, 9).

The Ephesian Example

Now in conclusion we want to re­member that our text for this study was written to members of the church in Ephesus. These were said to be saved by “grace through faith” so if we can learn what they did and how they were saved it will be of great im­portance to us in our study. Let us therefore turn our attention to the nineteenth chapter of Acts where we read of the establishment of this church and in this record learn of the conversion of the Ephesians.

“And it came to pass, that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper country came to Ephesus, and found certain disci­ples: and he said unto them, Did ye re­ceive the Holy Spirit when ye believed? And they said unto him, Nay, we did not so much as hear whether the Holy Spirit was given. And he said, Into what then were ye baptized ? and they said, Into John’s baptism. And Paul said, John baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people that they should believe on him that should come after him, that is on Jesus. And when they heard this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19:1-5).

In this account we have the begin­ning of the church in Ephesus. These are the people to whom Paul wrote, “By grace have ye been saved through faith.” Therefore it is evident that Paul’s conception of salvation by grace did not exclude obedience to God’s commands. Nay, contrary to that, it so emphasized obedience to Christ that when he found these who had been one time baptized but with an improper faith he taught them the truth and they were baptized again. Therefore these were baptized twice, once wrong and once right, and still were saved by grace.

There are hundreds of thousands in this land of ours who are like those at Ephesus. They have been baptized but did not understand the true signifi­cance and meaning of it at the time. Their baptism is invalid and they like the Ephesians should be baptized with the baptism commanded by Christ. That is they should be baptized into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to receive the remission of their sins for this is the baptism commanded by the Lord and therefore the baptism in His name (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16: 15, 16).

There are other hundreds of thou­sands who have never been baptized. These need to believe in Christ with all their hearts (Acts 8:36, 37), repent of their sins (Acts 17:30), confess their faith in the Christ (Rom. 10:10), and be baptized into Christ (Rom. 6:3) unto the remission of their sins (Acts 2:38). Thus they would in their obedi­ence to the commands of the Christ have him become the author of eternal salvation to their souls. Thus they would “work righteousness” and be­come acceptable in the sight of God. Thus they would “by faith” receive “the gift of God” the salvation of their souls and as children of God “by faith in Christ Jesus” rejoice in the sweet assurance of salvation by and through the grace of God for “as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ” (Gal. 3:27) and since “in Christ” the grace of God is made known and bestowed they would be saved “by grace through faith.”