For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
These words of Jesus are very thought provoking. There are many people who are running around trying to just better themselves and that is their only pursuit in life. Not taking one thought about the hereafter.
Let me first say that the Bible nor is God against any person bettering themselves, what it is against is when that becomes our one and only pursuit in life. Notice the question of our verse that we read. If it were possible for a person to gain the whole world and not be prepared for what comes after this life then what have they really gained?
The Bible is very plain that when a person dies they will spend ETERNITY in one of two places, Heaven or Hell! When we talk of heaven there is little debate about what heaven will be like, however when you start talking about hell there is much debate. My description is that hell will be a place of torment and the worst part is that there will be a total separation from God. So that means that there will be a total separation from any thing that is good!
Hell will be a place where the devil and all his demons will inhabit! It will not be a place of limbo it will not be a temporary place it will be forever! You can’t pray your way out or do penitence to get out, your fate will be sealed when you leave this life. What all is involved in the torment I can not tell you, the Bible does speak of the fire of that place and the guilty mind that will torment those who populate it.
Now some would scoff at this and say well if God were a loving God then He wouldn’t allow anyone to go there. True, He doesn’t! If you end up in hell it will be because you sent yourself there! You see if I am so preoccupied with gaining the whole world then in the end then I will lose my soul!
So let me ask you Would It Be Worth It? The thing for you and me to do is to take care of our eternal destiny here and now while we can and then it won’t be to late. To do that then all you need to do is to confess you are a sinner and believe that Jesus died on the cross for you to pay the price for your sins. Then just ask Him to save you!
If you take these steps and ask the Lord to save you then please contact us so that we can help you in your new life with the Lord!
Until next week,
Our verse to consider today is I John 5:13:
These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
There are way to many Christians walking around to day who are so defeated that the Lord cannot use them. And the reason that they are defeated is because they have no assurance! Well the verse that we are examining today is a verse that should help us to understand that we can KNOW that we have eternal life.
One of the devil’s favorite games is to cause a Christian to doubt their salvation, because he knows that if he can get you all caught up in that, then you will not be a productive Christian! Another game that he likes to play is to convince someone that they are saved when they really aren’t. I don’t know if this applies to you but I am sure that you know someone who it does!
Now let me say right up front that none of us can no someone else’s heart, I don’t know if you are saved or not. I only know what the Bible says about salvation. I can tell you if you are trusting in anything other than what Jesus did for us on the cross to save us then you are not saved. I can also tell you that if you are trusting in anything along with Jesus to save you then you are not saved.
Listen to how John states this truth in his gospel. He uses the very words of Jesus:
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Jesus did not say that you could go any way that you want and you will make it to heaven. He did not say that you could do some work and go to heaven. He said very directly that the only way to go to heaven is to go through JESUS! You will not make it if you try to go any other way!
So you must first determine if you are really saved. John says that he wrote this book for those who are saved. So it is presupposed that you are saved before you go further into this verse. So if you are saved this verse says that you have eternal security! Eternal security is for the believer! And when we have it settled in our hearts that we are saved then that should take away all of the doubt about our salvation.
So let’s go a little further, if you have established that you are saved then the next question is why do you still have doubt? The answer lies in your fellowship with the Father. If you know you are saved but you are living a life with blatant un-confessed sin in it, then it won’t be long before you doubt your salvation. So the answer is to clean your life up and allow the Holy Spirit to control your life, and when you do this then the doubts will dissipate.
One last word, if you are one of those that I described who has been deceived to believe that you are saved and you know that you aren’t then I have good news for you. You can change that right now! Just admit that you are a sinner and accept the Lord as your Savior, and He will save you!
Until next week,
I received an email from a complete stranger, Ron Boatwright, wanting me to evaluate his website on what he views as being incorrect Baptist doctrine. While I had some reservations, I looked into it and saw what he was writing. I cannot speak for other churches calling themselves Baptist. There are 50 different flavors of Baptist churches out there and they rarely agree on all things all the time. However, I can speak for what Hope believes, some of which is indicated in our Statement of Faith. Over the next few weeks I will endeavor to take the words of Mr. Boatwright as he wrote them and defend our beliefs, which derive not from a man-made system but from a plain reading of the Scriptures. This week I will focus on the topic of Baptism.
Mr. Boatwright comes from a Church of Christ background. The belief and focus of that particular denomination, and the Restoration Movement that it sprang from, is a focus on the New Testament over the Old. While they hold the Old Testament to be inspired, we are no longer under the Old Covenant and thus should focus on this New Covenant that we find ourselves under. For the purposes of this “debate”, I will limit myself to the New Testament to show to Mr. Boatwright the error from Scripture of his doctrine.
Boatwright opens his discussion of Baptist doctrine with the following paragraphs: “Most Baptists teach that all one must do is "accept Jesus as your personal Saviour" and say the "Sinner's Prayer" in order to be saved and have your sins forgiven. They say that baptism is not essential to salvation and not essential for the forgiveness of sins. They claim that they are saved and their sins are forgiven before and without baptism. But where in the Bible is any of this found? It is not there because men, with the help of Satan, have come up with these false ideas.
But what does the Bible say? Jesus says in Mark 16:16, "He who believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned". But just as 1+1=2, Jesus says belief + baptism = saved. One needs help to misunderstand Jesus. How much clearer could Jesus have said it? People are given a simple choice: they can believe and be baptized in order to be saved, or they can disbelieve and be condemned. One who is not baptized in order to be saved shows that he does not really believe Jesus and because of this he will not be saved, but will be eternally condemned to Hell.”
I will leave the topics of accepting Jesus as Savior and the “Sinner’s Prayer” for another day. Our stance here at Hope is that water baptism by immersion is not essential for salvation. It is clearly defined in Point #14 of our Statement of Faith along with the corresponding verses that support that position. It is not a false idea and can be plainly supported by the Bible.
Boatwright’s main contention for his position is found in the following verses:
· Mark 16:16- He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
At issue with this verse is the definition of baptism. There are two Greek words used for baptism in the New Testament, bapto and baptizo. The clearest example that shows the meaning of baptizo is from the Greek poet and physician Nicander. He wrote a recipe for making pickles that is helpful because it uses both words. Nicander says that in order to make a pickle, the vegetable should first be 'dipped' (bapto) into boiling water and then 'baptized' (baptizo) in the vinegar solution. Both verbs concern the immersing of vegetables in a solution. The first is temporary, while the second, the act of baptizing the vegetable, produces a permanent change. Boatwright confuses the dipping of our bodies in water during a temporary ceremony with the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit that produces a permanent change in us.
Another point we must consider is the second clause in this verse. Jesus states that whoever does not believe will be damned. Baptism is not a consideration here. Faith is the issue.
· Acts 2:38- Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
At issue here is the definition of for. In the original Greek, eis or for could have two meanings. If you saw a poster saying "Jesse James wanted for robbery", "for" could mean Jesse is wanted so he can commit a robbery, or is wanted because he has committed a robbery. The later sense is the correct one. So too in this passage, the word "for" signifies an action in the past. We have already been forgiven our sins and baptism is a public recognition of that.
· Acts 22:16- And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.
Once again, baptizo is the Greek used here, and denotes a permanent change, not a temporary dipping.
I will even add another verse that would seem to support his position:
· John 3:5- Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
Water is used symbolically in the Scripture many times. In Revelation it refers to the Gentile world. However, Jesus refers to Himself as the Living Water. Consider John 7:37-39: 37- In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. 38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 39 (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) With that in mind, consider these verses:
o Ephesians 5:26- That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
o Hebrews 10:22- Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
The water being referenced in these verses is not baptismal waters in a river or baptismal font (which will never be considered pure), but Jesus Himself. Unless we are born again by our faith in Jesus and the imbedding of the Holy Spirit, we will not be saved and we cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.
At a surface level, these verses would seem to overwhelmingly support his contention that baptism is essential for salvation. However, sound doctrine must always be based on the whole teaching of the Bible, not just on verses here or there that we pick to support our position. Those verses must be understood in context and with an understanding of the original language.
I want to leave you with three verses that show that faith and faith alone produces salvation. The first is Ephesians 2:8-9: For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. Mr. Boatwright makes baptism a work necessary for salvation, and this verse clearly shows that that is not the case. The second is Titus 3:5: Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost. This verse again stresses our works are meaningless to salvation, and the baptism described here is that of the Holy Spirit, not a ceremony. Finally, Paul lists two conditions for salvation in Romans 10:9: That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. The two conditions here are belief and confession by mouth. Nowhere does Paul mention baptism. Indeed, in the Book of Romans, Paul’s treatise on salvation, baptism is mentioned only in two verses (6:3-4) and those two verses are spiritual in nature, not physical.
Finally, let us consider Luke 23:39-43: And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. 40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. 42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. 43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.
The Thief on the Cross destroys so many man-made systems. He was degenerate, worthy of death by his own admission. Yet the only thing he did was confess Jesus as Lord, and he was saved. The Thief was never baptized, never took communion, never did anything but place his faith and trust in Jesus. Mr. Boatwright, who treats our position as man-made, must explain this passage away and he cannot do so.
Salvation is by faith alone. In no way should this post lead you to not consider baptism. We are commanded in several places to do so. It is a commandment from our Lord. But it is separate from salvation, and something that should only be done after a genuine baptism by the Holy Spirit that leads to regeneration and a new life. That is the baptism referenced in these passages, and the only answer to wash away our sins and begin a new life in Him._
A few thoughts on current events, upcoming sermons and other matters of concern from a Biblical perspective.