WATER BAPTISM – LIVING THE BAPTIZED LIFE

Water baptism is the first commandment given to us after salvation. Unfortunately many in the Church do not see the importance of water baptism. Several questions arise when discussing water baptism. First of all, “What does water baptism mean?” Another question would be, “Is water baptism necessary for salvation?”, and if not, “Why do I need water baptism?” Let’s find out.

What Does Water Baptism Mean?

Water baptism symbolizes something that already happens to be true inside of one that is born again. Indeed, at salvation your old man dies, symbolized in baptism by your submersion under the water. Then you become “resurrected” with Christ as a new creation, a new man, symbolized by you being raised out of the water. Paul uses this symbolism in Rom. 6:3, 4 which says, “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (NASB).

The details of the death of your “old man” unfolds even further in Gal.2:20, “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live, yet not I , but Christ liveth in me; and the life that I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” Paul goes on to tell us in Col. 3:3, “For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Consequently, in baptism, one tells the whole world that, “For all the remaining years of my life, I shall be dead to my past and my old carnal ways.”

But, there remains more. Just as you are buried under the water, you also rise again! As you come out of the water, you declare to the whole world, “I will, from this point on, draw on the power of the resurrection life of my Lord Jesus!”

Is Water Baptism Necessary for Salvation?

Most people who believe that water baptism remains necessary for salvation quote Acts 2:38 as evidence. “And Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” There are other Scriptures besides this one but this persists as the main one that people use to justify this teaching. We must remember to filter specific verses like this one through the clear teaching of the Bible. The Bible teaches salvation by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, “not of works lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8,9). If water baptism saves you then faith would have to be put in the ceremony of water baptism which would produce salvation by works. The apostle Paul also wrote in Rom. 10:9, 10, 13, “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. …For whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” No mention of water baptism appears anywhere in this passage.

So What About Acts 2:38

The solution to what this confusing verse apparently says proves not so difficult. The Greek word eis translated “for” in this passage can also be translated “because of” or “in view of,” and many Greek scholars, such as A. T. Robertson and J. R. Mantey, maintain that it should be. This changes the meaning of the passage dramatically and lines up much better with the rest of Scripture.

Other Considerations

Luke 23:42, 43 says, “Then he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.’” This was one of the two criminals crucified on either side of Jesus. One of them had nothing but cursing for Jesus, but the other one became convinced that Jesus entered this world as the Messiah. The thief placed his faith in Jesus right there on the cross next to Him. At no time did any of the guards let Jesus and the thief off their crosses so Jesus could go baptize him real quick before they died. It wasn’t necessary to the thief’s salvation for him to get baptized.

Let’s consider deathbed conversions for a minute. When a person on their deathbed sincerely places their faith in Christ right before they pass away there isn’t time for them to get baptized. By the way, getting sprinkled wouldn’t do any good in this situation because the word for baptism in the Greek (baptizo) means to immerge or submerge.

What about some poor chap that gets saved at a restaurant across the street from the church. He decides he wants to get baptized right then. So they walk across the street to get to the church, but he gets hit by a car and dies on the way and doesn’t make it. I guess that’s too bad for him, he’s going to hell. Baptismal regeneration stands as not only unscriptural it’s not practical either.

So Why Do I Need to be Baptized?

So the short and simple reason why one needs to be baptized? Jesus commanded it. Jesus commanded the apostles in Matt. 28:19 to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. When we look back at the original action verb (the word go actually acts as a participle acting as a verb) of this verse, go, we find it in the imperative sense. This makes it a command. In Acts 2:38 the phrase “be baptized” occurs in the imperative mood which, again, makes this a command. The issue here remains not one of salvation, it abides as one of obedience. However, it stands to reason that one who truly receives salvation will want to follow the Lord in Baptism and be obedient to His Word.

Obedience is not the only reason a believer should be baptized. Baptism endures as a wonderful opportunity to tell the whole world about your new relationship with Jesus. Baptism tells everyone that you have been buried with Christ in His death and raised in His resurrection to newness of life. Water baptism declares to everyone that you are different, that you have become a new creation. You’re not the same person that you used to be. It tells everyone to watch your life and see if this is a way of life that they may want to follow. In this regard we see the importance of walking in the Spirit and in the truth of God’s Word so we do not become a stumbling block to someone else.

Closing Thoughts

Jack Hayford tells us that, “Baptism is not a ritual to be performed but rather a dynamic to be experienced.” As most believers’ first act of obedience baptism opens the door to experience all that baptism represents. Our old nature crucified with Christ and our new life raised in resurrection to live out all that God has awaiting us. We also must remember that this is not a once for all time transaction. In 1 Cor. 15:31, Paul says, “I die daily.” We must commit to live the baptized life on a daily basis, always staying above the dead habits of the past and walking in newness of life every day.

COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD

INTRO

“Why is there something rather than nothing?”              Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnez

Today we start a long journey on our way toward proving the existence of God. In addition and most importantly, we will show that the Triune God of the Bible makes known that God. However, these first few posts will deal primarily with showing that a Supreme Being must exist.

THE COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT

We will begin with the cosmological argument for the existence of God focusing especially on the Kalam cosmological argument. The cosmological argument for the existence of God attempts to prove that because anything exists there must be a God who ushered it into existence.

To clarify, the basic design of the cosmological argument states that things exist. Furthermore, it is possible for those things to not exist. Consequently, if something that exists doesn’t have to exist, something caused it to come into being. Something would have to exist in order to bring itself into existence and yes, that sounds very illogical.

In addition, something cannot be brought into existence by an infinite number of causes. Indeed, an infinite recurrence of causes produces no initial cause, which means no cause of existence. Therefore, considering the universe exists, it must have a cause. In other words, an uncaused cause of all things must exist. This Uncaused Cause must be God.

KALAM COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT

Based on logic, the Kalam argument posits that the universe is not eternal. Therefore, it must have had a Cause outside the universe, that being God.

But how do we know that the universe is not eternal and therefore, infinite? First of all, the Big Bang Theory very strongly supports that the universe is finite. But, more importantly, philosophical logic upholds this position. Peter Kreft states in his Handbook of Christian Apologetics the following:

“Can an infinite task ever be done or completed? If, in order to reach a certain end, infinitely many steps had to precede it, could the end ever be reached? Of course not—not even in an infinite time. For an infinite time would be unending, just as the steps would be. In other words, no end would ever be reached. The task would—could—never be completed.

But what about the step just before the end? Could that point ever be reached? Well, if the task is really infinite, then an infinity of steps must also have preceded it. And therefore the step just before the end could also never be reached. But then neither could the step just before that one. In fact, no step in the sequence could be reached, because an infinity of steps must always have preceded any step; must always have been gone through one by one before it. The problem comes from supposing that an infinite sequence could ever reach, by temporal succession, any point at all.”

POTENTIAL AND ACTUAL INFINITIES

To understand Kreft’s argument one must understand potential and actual infinities. Both exist in math but only one exists in reality.

Potential Infinities

Potential infinities subsist of sets of numbers that continually increase by adding another number to the series. For example, a geometric line with a starting point could extend on, potentially, without end. Also, a list of numbers with a starting point can always have more number added to it. Nevertheless, a potential infinity can never actually be infinite. It remains a finite set of numbers to which another number can be added.

Actual Infinities

Sets of numbers to which no increment can be added due to their infiniteness represent actual infinities. These sets include all numbers so there is nothing to add. My mind hurts just trying to imagine this. Indeed, actual infinities do not and cannot exist in the physical world. To illustrate the absurdity of actual infinities let me first say that if the universe existed infinitely we would never have reached this point where I would be writing to you describing how the universe cannot be infinite. William Lane Craig describes this much better than me in this long quote on “Hilbert’s Hotel.”

“Let me use one of my favorites, Hilbert’s Hotel, a product of the mind of the great German mathematician, David Hilbert. Let us imagine a hotel with a finite number of rooms. Suppose, furthermore, that all the rooms are full. When a new guest arrives asking for a room, the proprietor apologizes, “Sorry, all the rooms are full.” But now let us imagine a hotel with an infinite number of rooms and suppose once more that all the rooms are full. There is not a single vacant room throughout the entire infinite hotel. Now suppose a new guest shows up, asking for a room. “But of course!” says the proprietor, and he immediately shifts the person in room #1 into room #2, the person in room #2 into room #3, the person in room #3 into room #4 and so on, out to infinity. As a result of these room changes, room #1 now becomes vacant and the new guest gratefully checks in. But remember, before he arrived, all the rooms were full! Equally curious, according to the mathematicians, there are now no more persons in the hotel than there were before: the number is just infinite. But how can this be? The proprietor just added the new guest’s name to the register and gave him his keys-how can there not be one more person in the hotel than before? But the situation becomes even stranger. For suppose an infinity of new guests show up to the desk, asking for a room. “Of course, of course!” says the proprietor, and he proceeds to shift the person in room #1 into room #2, the person in room #2 into room #4, the person in room #3 into room #6, and so on out to infinity, always putting each former occupant into the room number twice his own. As a result, all the odd numbered rooms become vacant, and the infinity of new guests is easily accommodated. And yet, before they came, all the rooms were full! And again, strangely enough, the number of guests in the hotel is the same after the infinity of new guests check in as before, even though there were as many new guests as old guests. In fact, the proprietor could repeat this process infinitely many times and yet there would never be one single person more in the hotel than before.

But Hilbert’s Hotel is even stranger than the German mathematician gave it out to be. For suppose some of the guests start to check out. Suppose the guest in room #1 departs. Is there not now one less person in the hotel? Not according to the mathematicians-but just ask the woman who makes the beds! Suppose the guests in room numbers 1, 3, 5, . . . check out. In this case an infinite number of people have left the hotel, but according to the mathematicians there are no less people in the hotel-but don’t talk to that laundry woman! In fact, we could have every other guest check out of the hotel and repeat this process infinitely many times, and yet there would never be any less people in the hotel. But suppose instead the persons in room number 4, 5, 6, . . . checked out. At a single stroke the hotel would be virtually emptied, the guest register reduced to three names, and the infinite converted to finitude. And yet it would remain true that the same number of guests checked out this time as when the guests in room numbers 1, 3, 5, . . . checked out. Can anyone sincerely believe that such a hotel could exist in reality? These sorts of absurdities illustrate the impossibility of the existence of an actually infinite number of things.”

One More Example

Now let’s apply this craziness to one simple law, the 2nd law of thermodynamics otherwise known as the law of entropy. According to the law of entropy, the amount of usable energy in the universe is running out and will eventually exhaust itself. If the universe existed as an actual infinity the amount of usable energy could run out but there would still be the same amount of usable energy as existed throughout all eternity. Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense does it? By the way, the law of entropy is probably the best evidence that the universe is not eternal and infinite.

CONCLUSION

I hope you can at least begin to see how the universe cannot be infinite and therefore must have a First Cause. The implications of this are staggering.

I can tell that this first post in this series on apologetics must encompass more than one post. So, in part two of this post we will discuss time and causality, the Uncaused Cause, the Leibnizian argument, and scientific arguments. I hope you like what you have read and if you do please be sure to hit the Facebook like button at the bottom of this page.

I’M SAVED – NOW WHAT?

“I’m saved now what?” This expresses an understandable question after one makes Jesus Lord of their life. Unfortunately a good number of those who ask this question never get the answer that they need. This post should serve as a good outline of what will be shared on this website to address this need. With this in mind, let us look at the three mountaintop experiences of a normal Christian.

MT. CALVARY

If we use the analogy of “mountaintop experiences of a Christian” it should make the answer to this question easier to visualize. Mt. Calvary looms as our first mountaintop experience. Indeed, Jesus was crucified for our sins there. This mountain enters as the starting point for our walk with God otherwise known as salvation. Another term for this is positional sanctification. At this point in your walk you are as saved as you ever will be in the eyes of God. Consequently, the Bible says that through Jesus justification enters our lives (Rom. 5:18). Justification does more than wipe our slate of sin clean. As a matter of fact, justification carries with it the idea that we have never sinned. Positionally, we transform into new creations (2 Cor. 5:17; Jn. 3:3-8). As a result, God looks at us as if we have never sinned!!! What a wonderful truth! However, we don’t need to stop here and grow stagnant, which brings us to the next mountaintop, Mt. Sinai.

MT. SINAI

At the first Pentecost, God came down from Mt. Sinai and dwelt in the Holy of Holies inside the tabernacle so that He could dwell among His chosen people, Israel. On the day of Pentecost in the second chapter of Acts, God came down and dwelt inside His people, the Church. He could not do this in the Old Testament because all the sacrifices in the world could not make them holy enough for God to indwell them. This took the Blood of the Lamb, God’s Son, Jesus. This indwelling of the Holy Spirit mentioned throughout the book of Acts is secondary to being born again. I will discuss this in more detail in a later blog. More importantly, this is the place where progressive sanctification begins. This is where God begins to mold us and shape us into the Image of His Son. We must understand that we must play our part in this process. We must be filled with the Holy Spirit daily (Eph. 5:18). We must read and study God’s Word (John 17:17; 2 Tim. 2:15). We must develop a prayer relationship with God (Eph. 6:18; 1 Thess. 5:17; Matt. 6:9-13). We must practice certain disciplines as outlined in the New Testament. Doing these things will not make you more saved. Indeed, according to Eph. 2:8,9, no amount of working we do earns salvation. However, most people never quote verse 10 of this passage which says, “We are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Dallas Willard once said in an interview that, “Grace isn’t against works, it’s against earning.” This may sound overwhelming to some but don’t worry, if you are truly born again God will place a desire in you to want to get closer to Him. You will also find out real quick that your transformation into the image of Christ is not possible without the Holy Spirit’s help.

MT. ZION

Mt. Zion now enters our field of vision as the last mountaintop on our journey. Sometimes called ultimate sanctification or glorification, Mt. Zion rises as the preeminent goal of the Christian’s walk with God. One of my heroes, John Wesley, taught that this mountaintop could be achieved in this lifetime. He called it Christian perfection. He was sincerely wrong on this one. Your walk with God from Mt. Sinai until the day you die will be concerned with trying to reach this summit. You won’t make it. But don’t worry, God knows you won’t make it in this lifetime, but when you take your first step into heaven and hear the voice of your Savior saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant…enter into the joy of your Lord” (Matt. 25:21), you will realize that you have arrived.

CONCLUSION

I hope this post has given you some idea of what discipleship entails. We will be covering each one of these mountaintop experiences in much more detail in upcoming blog posts.

INTRODUCTION TO APOLOGETICS

We now embark on a journey into the world of apologetics. Everyone chooses their eternal destination whether they like to admit it or not. Apologetics attempts to steer people into making the correct choice.

Many different choices arise for a person to choose from when this subject rears it’s sometimes ugly head. Indeed, many different religions compete for your attention like items from a restaurant menu. Atheism and agnosticism also appear for your viewing pleasure.

Apologetics attempts to steer you to Christianity by presenting many different forms of evidence. However, Christianity is not presented as just another choice we make while shopping at the supermarket. Indeed, Christianity proclaims itself as the antidote, not a lifestyle choice or element of a well-thought-out world view. In Holman’s Quicksource Guide to Christian Apologetics we read, “Like the antidote, it can be painful and inconvenient. It can be socially unacceptable. But most of all, it can be offensive.” What this series of blog posts will attempt to show is that Christianity is also the absolute truth.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

This series on apologetics will be divided up into eight or nine (give or take a few) different sections. This first section will look at arguments for the existence of God.

We will investigate the cosmological argument for the existence of God first (specifically Kalam’s Argument), then the argument from efficient causality and also the argument from time and contingency.

In addition, we will look extensively at the argument from design, the argument from miracles and the argument from consciousness.

We will conclude this section on the existence of God on the moral argument. In addition we will take a light-hearted look at Pascal’s Wager.

FUTURE SECTIONS

Future sections of this blog series will deal with the nature of God, the problem of evil, God and grace, the reliability of the Bible, the resurrection, God and eternity, Christianity and other religions, objective truth, and finally, we will sum it all up with the bottom line.

THE ARGUMENT FROM AESTHETIC EXPERIENCE

One argument we will look at in this post is one put forth by Peter Kreft in his “Handbook of Christian Apologetics.” The argument from aesthetic experience simply states that, “There is the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. Therefore there must be a God. You either see this one or you don’t.”

CONCLUSION

Just so you know, I am not trying to reach Christians with these posts on apologetics. So don’t be surprised if you don’t see conclusive arguments proving Christianity at the beginning of this series. My first objective clarifies that a personal God exists. Once that is established we will press on to prove the personal God of Christianity is that God.

SALVATION

Welcome to Captured by Grace. I hope you find what you are looking for in the pages contained in this blog. This first post may be the most important post you ever see on this site. It will show you exactly where we stand on a very important subject: salvation and eternal life. Someone once told me that I was too narrow minded in my belief on this subject. I replied, “It’s alright to be narrow minded when you’re right.” I hope that doesn’t turn some of our readers off, but I am passionate about this message and refuse to be wishy-washy concerning it. Please take a look and truly consider what is being said.

ONLY ONE WAY

Simply put, Jesus is the only Way to heaven. The Scriptures tell us concerning Jesus that, “… there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

Jesus Himself told us in John 14:6, “I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” You may ask, “How can Jesus claim to be the only way to heaven and to the Father when there are so many different religions clamoring for our attention?” The answer is an easy one. Although there are a great many differences between Christianity and other religions, there is one key difference: The Resurrection. In no other religion has their leader risen from the dead. Muhammad died and his bones are still in the grave, Buddha died and his bones are still in the grave, Zoroaster is dead and his bones are still in the grave, and many other examples could be given, but Jesus rose from the dead and ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. You may ask, “How do we know that the resurrection really happened?” The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8:

3  For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4  And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
5  And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:
6  After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.
7  After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.
8  And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

This was not a mass hallucination, and the New Testament is probably the most well attested piece of literature in antiquity. No other work even comes close to the New Testament.

Why is the resurrection so Important? The apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15 that if Christ is not risen, we are of all men most miserable. Take away the resurrection and Christianity falls apart. But He is risen! Over 500 people saw Him after the resurrection; the apostles died horrific deaths on account of their faith and devotion to Him. Why would so many people die for a lie?

“MEN AND BRETHREN, WHAT SHALL WE DO?”

Acknowledge You are a Sinner

Romans 3:10 says, “There is none righteous, no not one.”  V. 23 of the same chapter tells us that, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” It is very popular today for a person to say that, “I’m not a bad person, God will let me in to heaven, I’m ok.” However, when we weigh ourselves against God’s law, the 10 commandments, we fall way short. Jesus made it even tougher when he told us that if you hate someone in your heart you have committed murder or when you lust after someone in your heart you have committed adultery. That leaves us all in a bad spot because sin separates us from God. It gets worse. Romans 6:23 tells us that, “The wages of sin is death…” This is speaking of eternal death and separation from God. But there is hope!!!

Christ Died For Us

Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. This is great news!!! Jesus took our punishment that we deserved on the cross. Imagine with me for a moment, you, standing before a judge after committing some heinous crime, worthy of death. The judge is about to pass sentence upon you when all of a sudden, someone storms into the court room and yells, “Wait your honor, I have come to take the punishment that this person deserves.” You see, that is what  Jesus did for each one of us.

Free Gift

Remember what we read in Romans 6:23 about the wages of sin being death? There is a wonderful word that follows death in this scripture, “But, the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” You see, it is a free gift. Nothing we could ever do would be enough to earn this great salvation that God offers us. You just have to receive it. You ask, “How do I receive it then?

The Way of Salvation

In Acts 2:38 says, “Repent, and be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ for (better translated because of ) the remission of sin; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 10:9 says, “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.” Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved.”  We must acknowledge that we are sinners and turn from our sins (repent). We must believe (sincerely and truly believe) that Jesus died and was raised from the dead. And don’t leave out confessing Him as Lord of your life. Then we receive His free gift of salvation.

THE SINNERS PRAYER

If this post has touched your heart and you would like to receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior, Just pray this simple prayer and ask Him into your heart now:

Father God, I come to you now confessing that I am a sinner and I need the salvation that You offer through Jesus Christ Your Son. I ask that You would forgive me of all my sins; I turn away from my sins right now in the Name of Jesus. I confess with my mouth that Jesus is the Lord and Savior of my life and I will follow Him for the rest of my days. I believe in my heart that Jesus died for me and then rose again from the dead on the third day. Father, I thank You for Your great salvation and for forgiving me for all my sins. In Jesus Name, Amen

If you prayed that prayer from a sincere heart you are now part of God’s family and you have just made the best, most important decision of your life. Hallelujah!!!

I would sure like to hear from you if you just made this decision or if you just want to comment or ask questions. Thank you.

In His Service,

William

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