Baptism In Perspective 05/20/20
This week’s installment of “In Perspective” attends to the doctrine of baptism, or step two in Christian fundamentals. Two weeks ago step one, Salvation, was presented. Here are all eight steps in the series:
[1. Salvation] [2. Baptism] [3. Fellowship, new friends] [4. Bible Study]
[5. Discipleship] [6. Service/Leadership] [7. Tithing] [8. Evangelism]
These eight steps, taken with sincere humility, will accomplish a proper “walk with God” and allow a life pleasing to him (Genesis 17:2, Galatians 5:16). Don’t let Satan persuade you to neglect any one of these, or your journey with the Lord will suffer.
Genesis 17:2 offers a good explanation of this truth. God said to Abraham, “Walk before me and be perfect.” God, here, is not demanding perfection but is emphasizing that we can only know perfection by walking with him. Man’s weakness is his willingness to walk where God is not, settling for imperfection. Even the staunchest believer has a propensity toward that, which Abraham confirms on various occasions.
In that vein, we may translate Genesis 17:2 this way: “You will be perfect, Abraham, only to the degree that you walk with me.” Galatians 5:16 is the New Testament equivalent: Walk in the Spirit (walk with God) and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh (you will be perfect).
This exercise, walking with God, was conducted by Noah before Abraham (Genesis 6:9), and by Enoch before Noah (Genesis 5:24). Even Adam and Eve walked with God in the garden (inferred in Genesis 3:8). It is made obvious that we are to walk with him. The question becomes, how do we walk with God? If we study the footsteps of Jesus, in his earthly ministry, he shows us how to walk with God.
Jesus said, “I always do what is pleasing to my Father” (John 8:29). He was telling us that we also may, by following him, do what is pleasing to God. When he was baptized, immersed in the Jordan River(Matthew 3:13-17), the heavens opened and the Father proclaimed, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Baptism also announced the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry. It is a reasonable deduction, then, that anyone who would be involved in the ministry, meaning every Christian, should be baptized in obedience to Christ’s example. Many theologians agree that baptism is the first step of obedience in our relationship with God, notwithstanding this first step does not precede salvation. I personally was saved 14 years before I was baptized but it was only after baptism that the Lord took control of my life and blessed my ministry. No doubt, countless others can relate to how profoundly baptism affected their walk with God for the better.
As Colossians 2:12 teaches, to be baptized through immersion is to be buried in the likeness of his death. To emerge is to be raised in the likeness of his resurrection. The water symbolizes a grave, out of which you are a resurrected, child of the King. This is an accurate portrayal of baptism and the church ought to be true to it. Also, as controversial as it may be now, Biblical baptism was undergone only by those consenting to it. Any other kind of baptism is a deviation of the original intent. Let the candidate step forward and announce his salvation. Then, and only then, should the ordinance of baptism be performed. One can then proceed with full confidence that he/she legitimately completed the second step in his/ her walk with the Lord.
Pastor Ed Havey
To the Church In Perspective 5/12/20
Let me remind you of what the Bible says about the perilous times preceding the end of the age. I’m not suggesting that’s where we are, but only exploring the possibility. There are things happening today consistent with end times teaching. We know that a one world government will be issued in as the end draws near. We are not to be alarmed about these things without the great consolation that they are in keeping with God’s plan.
There are powers here and around the globe dedicated to the formation of a one world government. We see, plainly, the objective of the enemies of Christ, as they brazenly collaborate. The very pandemic we are subjected to now is seen, by these insidious conspirators, as a mere tool to be used to accomplish their goal of bringing all nations under one government. Though we feel powerless, as the evil intentions of this world gain strength, we also can celebrate the fulfillment of God’s word when the end does come. He has told us beforehand, out of his own mouth (Matthew 24-25), and by the Biblical prophets, the true prophets, specifically what will happen. We don’t need more information. The word of God is sufficient.
No man knows the hour when these things will come to pass. This pandemic may play out and things return to normal. I hope so.The current crisis may or may not be the beginning of the end. We are not to assume, we are not to prophecy about these things. Others have announced the end before, only to be disproven. All we can do, all we could ever do, is be faithful to the Lord, the word, and his bride, the church. Study your Bibles every day. Use this pandemic as an opportunity to develop a good habit: daily Bible study. Who doesn’t have a spare hour now to devote to the study of God’s word?
Just because we are not currently gathering every week does not mean that we are unfaithful, so don’t beat yourself up over your absence from the church. Unfaithfulness arrives when you abandon your service to the Lord. I was in quarantine and did not go to church for 10 weeks. I am not any less saved or any less persuaded that Jesus Christ is my Savior, with a capital “S.” As God has instructed, I focus on the cares of the day and celebrate, even in isolation, the day the Lord has made. I proclaim the good news to whoever I can reach. The pandemic has not terminated my ministry. In fact, it has expanded through social media. I have my poetry mission which ministers the gospel to many. I now have my Trinity Church/Monee web page to offer to seeker and saved alike. That page can be accessed through Facebook.
As he has done for me, God has gifted you also, which gift becomes more critical, not less, in times like these. He has gifted you in order that you may serve him. Your gift is needed more now than ever. Every gift revolves around the call to be a witness and provides an asset pertinent to the church. Use yours wisely. Do not neglect the gift God has given you. Discover it! Develop it!Understand its twofold purpose. Be a witness and do not deprive God’s people of the gift he has given you.
Do not value your life above your service to Jesus Christ. Don’t forget, if you love your life, you will lose it, but if you lose your life in defense of the gospel, you will save it. The Lord is not asking you to commit hari-kari. Don’t recklessly hurl yourself against the opposition. Value your life. Protect it. Don’t step in front of a moving bus. But always be ready. The time may come when evil commands you to renounce your Savior. Pray now, that if that hour ever arrives, you will have strength enough to cling tightly to the living feet of Jesus.
Pastor Ed Havey
Christian Fundamentals (Step One) In Perspective 05/04/20
The first of Christian fundamentals is salvation. A walk with Jesus Christ starts there. It would seem unnecessary to even mention this obvious step. Why don’t we just move on to step two? After all, there is no Christianity without Christ. The fact of the matter is, there is a false Christianity, with standing room only, crowded beyond capacity with people who, tragically, do not know Jesus Christ and are on there way to hell. They will surely end up there if they don’t get off the highway of deception and get on the path of truth.
In Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus tells us that when this age concludes, many, not a few, but many, who claim to be Christians will be exposed as impostors. In this passage they plead their case, giving what appears to be good credentials, saying to the Lord: “We have prophesied in your name and in your name we have cast out many demons. And in your name we have done many wonderful works.” That sounds like an impressive list of accomplishments. What are they guilty of? What did they fail to do?
I have studied this quandary long and hard and the word of God has given me a sound and logical answer to these questions. Their guilt is revealed by their own lips. They were trusting in their works for salvation. If you study the passage (Matthew 7:21-23), you cannot help but detect a proud, boastful spirit emanating from these unbelievers. They are practically demanding that Jesus step aside and let them in. They act as if Jesus is indebted to them.. They were using, not trusting, Christ as a means to earn a seat in the eternal, heavenly congregation. No such people will sit among those who will celebrate Jesus Christ and salvation by grace, in eternity. If the impostors were allowed in, Jesus Christ would not be the Lord of that place at all. For eternity, they would Lord over him.
This spirit comes from utter darkness and has thoroughly infiltrated the church. We were warned over and over about this throughout the scriptures. Two thousand years ago, Jude warned us in verse 4 that the enemies of Jesus Christ are in the camp, mingling among us, pretending to be some of us. Jesus himself said many times to beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing. The sad truth is that, in some Christian circles, the wolves outnumber the sheep. That is a testament to the faithfulness of Jesus Christ, who can and does prevent such sheep from being devoured.
Paul said (2nd Corinthians 11:14) that Satan has the power to impersonate light. Translation: you may be focusing on a false light. Understand the gospel in order to shift your focus to the true light. You are a sinner and you cannot, however noble your effort, you cannot save yourself. You must fall, a broken person, defeated, before Jesus Christ, confessing yourself a sinner powerless to be anything else. That is genuine repentance and there is no substitute for it. Do not continue a futile attempt to save yourself. You can fall before Christ today, wherein he will lift you up, or you can find yourself among those many tragic and deceived people, who will fall before him too late, at which horrifying point they will learn a destiny of fire and brimstone. Do not find yourself in a position that you would not wish on your worst enemy, which is what all your tireless efforts to save yourself will earn you. Choose, rather, the gift of eternal life, which Jesus Christ freely gives to all who sincerely ask.
Comprehend, now, the necessity of addressing salvation as the first step in a walk with Jesus Christ. Inform friend and enemy alike that there is an all too obvious “false Christianity,” that every true disciple of Jesus Christ is obligated to talk about. God appointed Ezekiel a watchman (Ezekiel 3:17-19), instructing him that if he saw someone on their way to hell and did nothing about it, God would hold him accountable. We too, have been appointed to Ezekiel’s post. That is a most sobering reality. Do not disregard it.
Perhaps you wonder how you can do justice to such a calling. Pray pray pray, and pray some more that God would teach you his word and so equip you to do the work of an evangelist (2nd Timothy 4:5). Pray for that, and pray for that to be your priority in life. We have a mission field right here in the very heart of the church.
Pastor Ed Havey
God’s Word In Perspective 04/27/20
God’s word is an absolute necessity for a healthy relationship with him (John 8:31). A wise preacher once said, “We communicate with God through prayer and God communicates with us through his word.” In that vein, if you are not studying his word, then you are doing all the talking. Neglecting to hear from God allows his enemy, Satan, to influence you. Satan promotes worldly philosophy. Mingling worldly and Biblical thought is like putting a cup of rice into a bowl of spaghetti. Separating the two will not be done without extreme frustration, aggravation, and impatience. You will likely quit trying and end up consuming both.
God instructs us to let every thought conform to the teachings of Christ (2nd Corinthians 10:5). Translation: challenge every thought and expel every one that does not compliment the word. That is a huge challenge, for we are bombarded, from our youth, with worldly and carnal thinking, all of which oppose the word of God. There are superstitions, astrology, psychic games promising to improve you, and other various forms of voodoo disguised as harmless entertainment. They are not harmless but offensive to the Living God.
My aim, in the weeks ahead, is to present all the fundamentals of scripture, which will allow you to be fully equipped in the knowledge and counsel of God. With these assets in your spiritual corner, you will learn to recognize all that the world promotes, and be able to, instantly, rely on something infinitely more valuable, the mind of Christ. The Bible calls itself a sword (Ephesians 6:17, Hebrews 4:12). If you don’t know how to wield it, to fend off the enemy, Satan will turn it on yourself, wounding you and making you resent the very thing designed to protect you in the spiritual battle raging around you. Do not become a casualty, due to your lack of training, in the fight between good and evil.
Since Christ is the Word of God (John 1:1), it represents his mind. Put another way: the Bible, from cover to cover, divulges the mind of Christ. We are instructed to put on that mind. (1st Corinthians 2:16). That will enable you you to compare everything you participate in against the word, wherein you will begin to weed out all that chokes the word. 2nd Peter 1:4 invites us to “participate in the divine nature.” To do that you must cease and desist any activity or entertainment that contradicts or disobeys the mind of Christ.
No one wants a relationship with someone who does all the talking. If you are long on prayer but short on reading the word, you are doing all the talking. Then you play worldly games designed to reveal, through various steps, what is best for your life. Wake up! You are dabbling in the demonic realm. Your misunderstanding of scripture makes you incredibly vulnerable to satanic influence, all in the name of harmless fun. Do not participate in such things. The word counsels you to avoid any and everything remotely resembling evil (1st Thessalonians 5:19-22). The Bible clearly says that doing what is right in your own eyes does not translate to doing what is right in God’s eyes (Proverbs 14:12). Your heart is deceitful above all things (Jeremiah 17:9). Learn to see through his eyes. To do that effectively, you must be thoroughly acquainted with God’s word.
Because Satan has the power to impersonate light (1st Corinthians 11:13-15), therefore everything that claims to come from God must be proven or disproven with the word (1st John 4:1). If you are not thoroughly grounded in it, the word becomes foggy, and Satan, in that fog, deceives you into thinking that God has spoken. In the face of the relentless devices of darkness, the truth must be even more relentlessly defended. How impossible is that defense if your counsel from God is not entirely grounded in the word? If you do not rely one hundred per cent on the Bible for truth, you will be subject to influence by an impostor. Don’t sing the Lord’s praises only to contradict that song by collaborating, however unwittingly, with darkness. Know the difference, Biblically, between God’s light and all the cheap imitations the world offers. Accomplishing that, demands an all-out, lifelong study of God’s word, also known as, Jesus Christ. You can only know Jesus to the degree that you know the word, for they are one and the same (John 1:1). Obversely, to the degree that you do not know the word, you do not know Jesus.
Pastor Ed Havey