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Mark 15-16: The Shocking Verse Describing How Jesus Said We are Saved

Baptism, Mark, salvation

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Acts 1-2: Even I Can Be Forgiven! So Can You!

Encouragement, grace, Luke, overcoming sin, salvation

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Colossians 1-2: Faith in Baptism or Faith in God?

Baptism, Colossians, Crucified with Christ, eternal life, Faith, Obedience, relying on God, salvation

Colossians 1-2 (ESV) by Wordle*

Today’s reading is Colossians 1:1-2:23.

“In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead” (Colossians 2:11-12).

In baptism we are circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands. In baptism, the body of the flesh is put off, the old man is crucified. According to Colossians 2:13-14, we are forgiven in baptism and made alive through baptism (not before). When we are baptized the record of debt that stood against us is canceled. Amazing.

Sadly, not many today recognize the very clear teaching of this passage. Why? Because too many people who do recognize it have put their faith in the wrong thing and taught this passage incorrectly. Too many people who recognize the wonderful things that happen in baptism have put their faith in the wrong place. They have put their faith in baptism.

Seeker: “Why are you saved?”

Christian: “Because I got baptized.”

Do you see the problem? When I put my faith in baptism, I’m actually putting my faith in my work. But notice what Paul said. He didn’t say we were “raised with him through faith in the powerful working of our obedience.” He said we were “raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God.” Where is your faith? In your baptism? In your praying? In your experiences? Or in God? When our faith is in the powerful working of God, we’ll get baptized because we know that is when God does His powerful work of circumcising the old body of the flesh, forgiving us, canceling our debt, and making us a live with Christ. We didn’t do that by baptism; God did.

Where is your faith?

Keep the faith and keep reading,

ELC

PS. What struck you in today’s reading? Click here to add your input.

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*Today’s illustration was generated by the creative tool at Wordle.net. You can find all my wordles here.

 

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Acts 7-8: Praise the Lord! Even You Can Be Baptized.

Acts, Baptism, Comfort, Confidence, Crucified with Christ, Jesus

Acts 7-8 (ESV) by Wordle*

Today’s reading is Acts 7:1-8:40.

“And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, ‘See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?’ …And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him” (Acts 8:36, 38).

Obviously, preaching Christ to the eunuch included preaching baptism in the name of Christ. The eunuch himself saw water and wanted to know if anything prevented him from participating. Today, this seems like an odd question. What could possibly prevent a man from being baptized in the name of Jesus. But for the eunuch, this was an obvious question. As a proselyted Jew who had been made a eunuch in a foreign court, he had learned that he was a “second-class” Jew (for lack of a better term). He was prevented from full access to the congregation of the Jews (cf. Deuteronomy 23:1). Would it be the same for being part of the congregation of Christ? Was he prevented by what his queen had done to him?

Praise the Lord! The answer was nothing to prevent him. There are no second-class citizens in Christ’s kingdom. Everyone has full access to Christ and to the throne of God through Christ.

That was good news for the eunuch and great news for us. None of us are second-class citizens. We can all be baptized into Christ and into His congregation and kingdom. Nothing prevents us, except possibly us. If you want to be in Christ, you can get there today. Just do what the eunuch did; be baptized into Christ. (If you need help with this, just hit the “contact” link at the top left of the page and let me know.)

Keep the faith and keep reading,

ELC

PS: What struck you in today’s reading? You can add your input by clicking here.

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*Today’s illustration was generated by the creative tool at Wordle.net. You can find all my wordles here.

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Galatians 1-2: I Must Quit Living

Baptism, Christian Living, Crucified with Christ, Faith, Galatians, Growth, holiness, humility, Jesus, Obedience, relying on God, righteousness, Sacrifice, Surrender

Today’s reading is Galatians 1:1-2:21.

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

I think I get it now. I’ve not allowed this verse to have its full impact in my life. I was baptized, crucified with Christ (cf Romans 6:1-6). Since then I’ve been telling Christ, “Watch this, see how I can live my life for You.” I was certainly sincere in this. I have wanted to serve Christ. I’ve been doing my best. But wasn’t that the problem that led me to Christ in the first place? My best only put me right back into sin (cf Romans 7:14-24). Why would it do any different now?

Paul doesn’t say to tell Jesus, “I’ll do my best to live for You.” Rather, Jesus is saying, “Quit trying to live. I’ll live my best for you.” I need to quit trying to live my life and simply start letting Jesus live through me. What does He want? Do that. Of course, that is going to take faith. Jesus won’t treat me like a puppet. It’s my choice to let Him live through me by my faith. But I have to make a conscious decision to quit trying to live my life, even if I’m trying to live it for Him. Instead, I need to let Him live my life through me. I need to surrender myself to Him, His will, His goals, His life.

Keep the faith and keep reading,

ELC

PS. What struck you in today’s reading?

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Acts 1-2: What Shall We Do?

Acts, Baptism, salvation

Today’s reading is Acts 1:1-2:47.

“Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’” (Acts 2:37).

Too often for us, this is a boilerplate question. We’ve heard it over and over again. Sermons have been renderd, “What must I do to be saved?” But is that the basic question here? Can you hear the desparation. They had crucified the Messiah, the one they claimed to be awaiting. They thought He would be the solution to all their problems. When He came among them, they spat on Him, beat Him, mocked Him, and killed Him. They cried out, “Let his blood be on our heads and the heads of our children.”

This was a question they were expecting to go unanswered. What on earth could they do? They had killed their one hope. All was lost. And yet, it wasn’t. What a surprise it must have been when Peter actually had a response. He didn’t say, “Too bad for you. You blew it. You stupid morons.” Instead he said, “Repent and be baptized everyone one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

Gasp! There is something we can do? It isn’t over? Our hope is not lost? Perhaps some of our problem today is the question “What shall we do” is a boilerplate question. It is sermon fodder. It is not a despairing cry. Today, I need to remember how amazing it is that when I ask that question, God has actually provided an answer. Because of what Jesus did, there is something I can do.

Keep the faith and keep reading,

ELC

PS. What struck you in today’s reading?

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Galatians 3-4: It’s Not Saving Faith without Baptism

Baptism, Faith, Galatians, Obedience, salvation

baptism by jacob & kiki hantlaToday’s reading is Galatians 3:1-4:31.

As if to correspond with Nathan’s comment from Friday’s post, Paul steps up in Galatians 3:25-29 to explain that while we are justified by faith and not works of the law, if we don’t have some works then we cannot claim we have saving faith.

So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

Did you see what that said about baptism and faith? It said we are sons of God through faith. We are not sons of God through works of the law, but through faith. However, how do we know we are sons of God through faith? “For” or because when we were baptized into Christ we put on Christ. I know this is not commonly accepted among most religious circles these days. But in the same way that I cannot help but see we are justified by faith and not by works of any law, I can’t help but see that I’m only a son of God through faith if I’ve put Christ on in baptism. I may believe in Jesus. I may think Jesus is great. I might even assent to all the facts about Jesus’ life. However, if my faith doesn’t carry me to surrender to Him in that first step of baptism, then my faith hasn’t saved me. I haven’t put on Christ, I’m still only an outside observer who thinks very highly of Him.

Please notice very carefully what Paul did not say. He did not say that we put on Christ through a prayer. He did not say we put on Christ through speaking in tongues. He did not say we put on Christ through an overwhelming spiritual experience. He did not say we put on Christ by being good enough. He did, however, say that we put on Christ in baptism and that we were baptized into Christ. 

That is only the beginning of a life surrendered to Jesus by faith (cf. Galatians 2:20). However, it is the beginning.

Keep the faith and keep reading,

ELC

P.S. What struck you in today’s reading?

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Acts 21-22: Arise and Be Baptized to Wash Away Your Sins

Acts, Baptism, overcoming sin

baptized by cannon snobToday’s reading is Acts 21:1-22:30.

Sin is my problem. I was covered up with it. But I wanted to be holy. I wanted to be righteous. I wanted to be with God and like God. I have a couple of options. I could just say it is impossible and give up, living however I want. I could try to change on my own and try to live perfectly from this point on. I could try to live beyond perfectly striving to pay God back for my past sins while not committing anymore. The problem is that leads me back to option one, trying to live perfectly. I’ve learned that doesn’t work.

Then I read what God did for Paul. In Acts 22: 16, Ananias had told Paul, “Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.” Paul’s sins could be washed away in baptism. So could mine. So can yours.

What a great thought that we can avoid the wrath of God. We can avoid the eternal consequences of all those sins we committed. God has said, “Arise and be baptized and wash away your sins.” He’ll wash your sins away, but you must be baptized.

Keep the faith and keep reading,

ELC

PS: What struck you in today’s reading?

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Acts 1-2: The Holy Spirit’s Promise is For Me

Acts, Baptism, Comfort

Today’s reading is Acts 1:1-2:47.

I love to read Peter’s words in Acts 2:39: “For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

I don’t think Peter fully understood what the Spirit was saying through him here. It would be 10 to 15 years before Peter would actually get who the “far off” really were. Even on this first day, the Spirit was revealing that Christianity was not just for Jews. I’m sure that initial audience heard this statement as saying the promise was for the Jews who had traveled to Jerusalem for Pentecost and for those who had stayed in their far off homes.

However, in Ephesians 2:11-13 explains that those who are “far off” actually refers to the Gentiles. They were “far off” not because they were geographically separated but because they were spiritually separated from God.

Peter was saying the promises were for the Jews who were listening to him then, for the descendants of the Jews listening to him then, and for the Gentiles. 

The reason I love this so much is because I am a Gentile. The promise of salvation through the Holy Spirit is for me. I can be saved even though I wasn’t raised under Moses’ law. I can be saved even though I don’t live by that law. I can be saved because Jesus died for me just as He did for everyone else.

Therefore, just like the Jews who heard the message Peter preached on that day, I can be baptized for the remission of my sins and be added to Christ’s body. So can you.

***Question: What provides comfort to you about your relationship with God through Jesus?

Keep the faith and keep reading?

ELC

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Matthew 3-4: I’m Not Baptized Because Jesus Was

Baptism, Matthew

Today’s reading is Matthew 3:1-4:25.

Jesus’ baptism is a great example to us all. John even tried to talk him out of it, apparently being aware of Jesus’ great moral fiber and righteousness. Yet, Jesus pushed the issue. He claimed He needed to be baptized “to fulfill all righteousness.” I understand that Jesus needed to be baptized not in order to be granted righteousness but in order to fulfill it. That is, in order to fulfill what the Father wanted for Him.

However, I can’t help but point out this has led to all kinds of incorrect argumentation. Sometimes we can come up with these great sounding statements that simply don’t hold water biblically. One such statement is that we need to be baptized because Jesus was baptized. That is simply not so. Just because Jesus did something doesn’t mean we have to. For instance, Jesus was circumcised (Luke 2:21). Jesus was presented at the temple for purification (Luke 2:22-24). I don’t have to do either of those things.

Don’t misunderstand. I certainly believe each and every one of us must be baptized. Mark 16:16 says only those who believe and are baptized will be saved. Acts 2:38 says we must repent and be baptized for the remission of our sins. I Peter 3:21 says baptism now saves us. For all these reasons, I must be baptized. However, I’m not baptized because Jesus was. In fact, Jesus did not undergo the same baptism we have to undergo. He went through the baptism of John. However, that baptism does me no good. In fact, in Acts 19:1-7, Paul found 12 men who had been baptized in John’s baptism. However, under this new covenant it had done them no good. They needed to be baptized in Jesus’ name. Interestingly, Jesus did not undergo that baptism. 

The point behind all this is the baptism in which Jesus’ participated is not the same baptism in which we must participate. We do not get baptized for the same reasons as Jesus. Jesus was baptized in order to fulfill all righteousness. We are baptized in order to receive righteousness. Jesus was baptized with John’s baptism. We are baptized in Jesus’ baptism. 

Therefore, please don’t tell me that our baptism is not for the remission of sins or in order to become a child of God just because Jesus was also baptized. His baptism was different. 

The example Jesus did set for us here, however, is that if God says do something, we need to do it. Jesus did this because it was what God wanted. Instead of arguing against God, we need to submit to Him like Jesus did.

Keep the faith and keep reading,

ELC

P.S. What did you get out of today’s reading?

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