The intention of today’s blog is to cheer our readers onward in striving to maintain peace within one’s heart even in the face of the most unfavourable circumstances.
Because the comfort and peace of the Church are dependent largely upon unity of the Spirit of the Lord in the various members.
Let us begin by sharing some glorious scriptures to refresh our minds about the sublime PEACE we are talking about:
“Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it” (Psalm 34:14).
“Follow peace with all men and holiness without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).
“The kingdom of GOD is not meat and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17).
“Follow after the things which make for peace and things wherewith one may edify another” (Romans 14:19).
“Live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18).
“God is not the author of confusion, but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33).
“God has called us topeace” (1 Corinthians 7:15).
“Lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (1 Timothy 2:2).
“The wisdom that is from above is first pure then peaceable” (James 3:17).
“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee” (Isaiah 26:3).
“When a man’s ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Proverbs 16:7).
“Be at peace among yourselves” (1 Thessalonians 5:13).
“Have peace one with another” (Mark 9:50).
“The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace” (James 3:18).
“Follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22).
“Let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also ye are called in one body” (Colossians 3:15).
“Keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3).
“Preach the gospel of peace” (Romans 10:15).
“To be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Romans 8:6).
“Love the truth and peace“ (Zechariah 8:19).
“Great peace have they which love thy law, and nothing shall offend them” (Psalm 119:165).
“The meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in abundance of peace” (Psalm 37:11).
“We, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness; wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot and blameless” (2 Peter 3:13, 14).
What have we done todayto let this peace of God dwell within our hearts?
A possible answer might be — that we have just read the words from the Holy Bible.
YES dear friends!
Even if our flesh is overwhelmed by the storms of imperfection that surround us, we can enter into the shelter of the Most High (Psalm 91:1) when we quieten our minds from the turmoil and read, listen to, or recite, passages of holy Scripture.
We can renew our minds by submitting every thought and motive to be in conformity to the will of God, and fixing our eyes on Christ Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, and recalling how Jesus pleased the Heavenly Father through his loyal and faithful obedient even unto death.
By keeping a firm hold on the precious promises of the holy Scriptures, we keep our hope in Christ burning within our hearts.
“If there be any consolation [comfort] in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same LOVE, being of one accord, of one mind.“
What exhortations to unity, peace, and brotherly kindness! They suggest patience, forbearance, gentleness, helpfulness, and comfort one to another in the Church. By this means, the Spirit of Christ may abound in all, for the greatest possible progress for all in the right way.
If only we can be worthy of the name Barnabas, “Comforter” of the brethren. If the holy Spirit abounds in us more and more (by our unceasing efforts as athletes in a race), then what pleasure we shall bring our Heavenly Father. With the holy Spirit dwelling in us richly, may we all be sons and daughters of comfort in Zion.
Togetherness in Christ
Many Scriptures speak of togetherness.
“There is one body and one spirit, one Lord, one faith” (Ephesians 4:4,5).
“That your hearts might be comforted, knit together in love“ (Colossians 2:2).
We are all part of God’s flock. Sheep like to be together. Unlike other animals who will scatter, sheep will stay together. They are gregarious. This helps them because they lack many of the natural defences other animals have, such as speed or personal protection (like a porcupine). Safety comes from staying close together.
To flock means to be in company together, to be a group. It means togetherness as comrades, brethren, and associates where we learn to pass our tests of character development into Christ. Some differences of opinion in Biblical details may exist which each Son and Daughter of the Most High has the liberty in Christ to possess. This develops humility, patience, and respect for other dear co-labourers in the “vineyard” of our Heavenly Father.
In such fellowship circles, we develop reliance on God to fight the battles surrounding us that might arise when sharing scriptural understandings of Divine revelation concerning prophetic unfoldings of Truth.
How we praise the God of mercy—the Almighty Heavenly Father, Who reads the heart of each one whom He has called by His good pleasure, for their eternal JOY and His HONOR (Nehemiah 8:10).
“BORN OF GOD” – What does this mean?
Peace may be found in holy words of encouragement and Divine reassurance. Here is one example.
“For everyone who has been BORN OF GOD overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith” (1 John 5:4).
The word “born”in this scripture is the Greek word “Gennao” (Strong’s #G1080) which often means begotten.
When and how are we begotten?
The beginning of one’s spiritual existence dates from the time a person believes in Christ as the ransom for their sin and makes a full surrender, or consecration, of themselves to Jehovah God, and this is accepted by Him.
The New Creature mind developing in such an individual continues until their final existence as actual spiritual beings, when they shall be “like Him” Jesus. As in natural generation, begetting precedes birth. Really there are three steps of development — begetting, quickening, and birth. So also with becoming “new creatures in Christ”—there are three corresponding steps.
(1)We are begotten through the Truth—the Gospel (1 Corinthians 4:15, 1 John 5:18).
(2) In due time come a quickening into activity, zeal, and labor. This gives evidence to others that we have been begotten of the truth to newness of life, new hopes and aims. The spirit of Christ in us will “quicken [make active in God’s service] our mortal bodies”(Romans 8:11).
(3) When we are properly developed, we shall come forth in the resurrection, “born” into full spirit-power and become “like him,” who is the “express image of the Father’s person” (Hebrews 1:3).
Our King Jesus gives us so much encouragement. “My reward is with me and I will give to each person according to what they have done”(Revelation 22:12).
The reward of immortality is the reward of the class who will help Christ bring the world of mankind up the Highway of Holiness!
Finally the Body of Christ shall be united with their Bridegroom— their Lord and Master Christ Jesus—for whom they have give up all earthly interests, ambitions, and desires. For whom they have suffered and on occasion been humiliated for, sometimes enduring abuses by the world who considers such as “peculiar.” Perhaps some of such are called by the world as “brainwashed,” “a sect,” “crazy,” “unbalanced in thinking,” “going overboard” with spiritual talk, “obsessed about God” etc.
May the JOY of finally overcoming the scorn of the cross of Christ that we do carry until death, create exuberant rejoicing within our entire being.
Each time we bow our heads and bend our knees in prayer, may the peace of God rule in us as we hide under the shelter of the Heavenly Father’s “wings” of Divine supervision, protection and comfort.
“Let your GENTLENESS be known TO ALL MEN. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to GOD. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, WILL guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:5-7).
“Be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another. Love as brethren” (1 Peter 3:8).
Does “being of one mind” mean we must all think alike on every detail of Scriptural understanding?
No. How grand a blessing here in that it is our differencesthat help is develop the greatest lesson of all,AGAPE LOVE.
“Be of one mind. Live in peace. And the GOD of love and peace shall be with you” (2 Corinthians 13:11).
“Be of the same mind” (Philippians 4:2). Being of one mind does not mean we have to see exactly the same on every smallest detail of the Bible. This would be like saying we must wear the same shoes or agree to like the same flavours or the same colours.
Paul urges us to have no divisions amongst the brethren through a lack of tolerance, a lack of compassion… a lack of allowances given as we do have in the liberty in Christ one for another and we are not to show favouritism toward this one or that one based on human fleshly preferences, nor are we to idolize any man, other than CHrist Jesus.
We appreciate ALL OUR BRETHREN who profess their consecration daily before the throne of God in their private prayers, as we, pray for them (1 Corinthians 11:18,19).
Would the apostle approve of the butting of heads, divisions and unkind harsh arguments between the believers? No, he would not. So why does God allow this, one might ask?
The answer from the Divine Word of God is this: “so that they which are approved may be made manifest” (1 Corinthians 11:19).
Amidst the butting, some will show they still have the Lord’s spirit. They will be approved by showing a gentle submission of non-rebellious spirit of always considering others higher and better than themselves— by striving to not force their opinions of Biblical interpretation on others in a demeaning way; learning the lessons of humility, forgiveness, compassion and long-suffering; learning to LOVE MORE THROUGH SUFFERING MORE.
Aggressiveness among us is permitted by the Lord to see who will properly react to the test, who will have the right heart attitude, who will grow and manifest the fruits of the spirit. We really know only in part and this is humbling also (1 Corinthians 13:9).
Through the knowledge we acquire by our striving to diligently study the scriptures, and through our prayers for wisdom and understanding which our Divine Father does give to those who seek it in HIS Perfect time, in the Perfect amounts as HE would best see we should possess, let the main goal of all this work be to develop the HIGHEST LEVEL of LOVE possible —AGAPE love. A definition of agape love is in 1 Corinthians chapter 15. To put agape love into practice is why we are NOW being tested in the most severest and most adverse conditions of all.
Let us ask ourselves: does seeking and maintaining righteous peace help me love my brother and sister in Christ more?
Or should we “turn over the tables” of righteous anger like Jesus could and did do if we think we see or hear injustice? Let us restrain from this. We cannot judge the heart like our Master Jesus could and did.
“Blessed are the peace-makers: for they shall be called the children of GOD” (Matthew 5:9).
None will be accounted worthy who shall not have developed peace-loving dispositions. Anger, malice, hatred, envy, strife and a generally quarrelsome disposition must be recognized as belonging to the works of the flesh and the devil. These must be resisted in the heart fully, and in outward conduct as fully as possible.
“Peaceableness must supplant quarrelsomeness in all those who would hope to share the Kingdom and be recognized as children of GOD. ‘So far as lieth in you live peaceably with all men.’ This of course does not mean peace at any price, otherwise our Lord, the apostles and the faithful body of Christ throughout this age might not have suffered, or at least might have endured very much less suffering for righteousness’ sake. Hence, the significance of our Lord’s statement, ‘In the world ye shall have tribulation; in me ye shall have peace’ (John 16:33).” (Reprints of the Original Watchtower, R2251.)
What types of baptism are practiced in the Churches?
There is more than one type of baptism practiced in the Christian world. There is:
Sprinkling or Pouring on the Head
Submersion under water.
Sprinkling or pouring water on the head
There are no Scriptures in the Bible that describe baptism as the sprinkling or pouring of water on the head.
The first instances in the Bible where individuals were baptized was accomplished by John the Baptist.
Did John the Baptist sprinkle water or submerse the person under water?
“Now John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there. And they came and were baptized” (John 3:23, NKJ).
“And He [Jesus] went away again beyond the Jordan to the place where John was baptizing at first” (John 10:40, NKJ).
If all John was doing was sprinkling water to baptize, he did not need to worry about being near the “much water” of the Jordan River. Clearly, John was doing more than just sprinkling those he baptized.
Is infant baptism scriptural?
Nowhere in the Bibledo we find infant baptism mentioned. Although at times the Scriptures do mention the baptism of households, they never specifically mention children or infants.
For example, in Acts 8, Philip preached to the people of Samaria.
“But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized” (Acts 8:12, NKJ).
Notice, there is no mention of Philip baptizing infants in Samaria; just men and women.
In Mark 16:16, Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved.”
It would not be possible for a newborn infant to understand who Christ is, let alone believe in him.
Remember the question Jesus asked James and John in Mark 10:38,
“Are you able to be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”
A newborn infant would not be capable of answering Jesus’ question, let alone responsibly making such a commitment.
Submersion (Dunking) into Water
Now we do find examples in the New Testament of adult baptism and in every case we believe the baptism was a submersion into water. For example:
“When He [John] had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him” (Matthew 3:16).
” (38) So he [Philip] commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. (39) Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the LORD caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing” (Acts 8:38-39).
The only way Jesus and the Ethiopian eunuch could have “come up” out of the water is if they have been submersed under it.
Greek Definition Of Baptism:
In support of this conclusion that baptism is submersion, let us looks at some definitions.
STRONGS: 907 baptizo (bap-tid’-zo); to immerse, submerge; to make overwhelmed (i.e. fully wet).
VINES: baptism, baptist, baptize.
1. baptisma (908), “baptism,” consisting of the processes of immersion, submersion and emergence (from bapto, “to dip”).
baptizo (907), “to baptize,” primarily a frequentative form of bapto, “to dip,” was used among the Greeks to signify the dyeing of a garment, or the drawing of water by dipping a vessel into another.
So this word has the meaning of complete submersion under water. Certainly when dying, the garment must be totally submerged in the dye.
There is a variation of this word.
2. baptismos (909), as distinct from baptisma (the ordinance), is used of the “ceremonial washing of articles,” in some texts; once in a general sense.
This word is only found four times in the New Testament and refers to ceremonial washings.
John’s Baptism & Its Purpose
Let us talk about John’s (the Baptist’s) baptism. John’s work was not for the Gentiles. His work of baptism was intended to reveal Jesus to the Israelites only, but John did not baptize believers into Christ. That would come later, after Pentecost. His work was not for the Gentiles.
In John 1:29-31 we read, “(29) The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (30) This is He of whom I said, After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me. (31) I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water.‘”
So John the Baptist was baptizing in order to reveal Jesus to Israel only, not yet to the Gentiles.
Bearing fruit was an evidence of those who had sincerely baptized. As John the Baptist said, “Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance” (Matthew 3:8, NKJ).
John’s baptism required a personal confession of sins. “And all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins” (Mark 1:5, NKJ).
Repentance and typical cleansing restored repentant Jews back to the condition of harmony with God as enjoyed under the Law Covenant and through the tabernacle arrangement.
“John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentanceforthe remission of sins” (Mark 1:4, NKJ).
The Jews had not previously practiced individual baptism. The whole nation was recognized as “baptized into Moses in the sea and in the cloud” (1 Corinthians 10:1-2).
In what sense were the Israelites “baptized into Moses in the sea and in the cloud”?
We answer: When the Israelites passed through the Red Sea they were surrounded by water, and Paul mentions that this is a picture of them being baptized. The cloud is mentioned in Exodus 13:22, “He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.” We think that that was the cloud Paul referred to as over the Israelites — so that in that sense they were surrounded from above by water as well.
The Jews were already children of God and heirs of the covenants and promises, and their washing away of their sins meant their coming near again to God, and into closer touch with all the promises and the blessings thereof (Harvest Gleanings I, 1HG255).
John the Baptist’s baptism, was “for the remission of avoidable sins, gross sins. The godly Jews were not intended, nor expected, to come to John to be baptized. He said, ‘Now come, if you want to get ready for Messiah’s kingdom, and try to keep the law the best you are able and take this water immersion, accepting this as a sign of your putting away sin and starting a new course of life.’ This is all that baptism meant to the Jews. That was not a regular institution. It was a peculiar thing that belonged just to the end of the [Jewish] age, and John tried there to especially prepare a people by this preaching of holiness and putting away of sin for the Messiah; for the testimony is that if they had believed John they would have believed Jesus. If they disbelieved John and disregarded what he said, and were not careful to come back into harmony with God, and become as holy as they were able to do, then they were not in a condition to receive the message God had to give” (What Pastor Russell Said – Question Book, Q34:3).
This typical cleansing available to the Jews is discussed in Leviticus & Hebrews.
“For on that day [of Atonement] the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the LORD” (Leviticus 16:30).
“And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins” (Hebrews 10:11).
So John baptized the Jews for repentance and remission of sins similar to the typical cleansing as was accomplished in the tabernacle by the sacrifice of bulls and goats on the Day of Atonement. Every Jew under the Law Covenant was a member of the house of Moses (Hebrews 3:5). As mentioned above, the Jews were baptized unto Moses in the sea and in the cloud (1 Corinthians 10:12). As natural branches of the olive tree the Jews did not need en-grafting into Christ (Romans 11:16-21). John could not baptize Gentiles since they could not by repentance be restored back to a position they had never occupied.
After Pentecost, John’s baptism was replaced by Christian baptism into Christ.
In the book of Acts we have an incident where some of John’s disciples, after hearing the gospel, were baptized again, this time into Christ; after which they received the holy Spirit.
Acts 19:1-6 – “(1)… Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples (2) he said to them, ‘Did you receive the holy Spirit when you believed?’ So they said to him, ‘We have not so much as heard whether there is a holy Spirit.’ (3) And he said to them, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’ So they said, ‘Into John’s baptism.’ (4) Then Paul said, ‘John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.’ (5) When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. (6) And when Paul had laid hands on them, the holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. (7) Now the men were about twelve in all.”
These disciples were baptized twice (John’s & Christ’s). Bro. Charles T. Russell teaches, “The Apostle instructed them more fully, assuring them that John’s baptism was all right in its time and place, but that they should be baptized in the name of Jesus, baptized into Christ” (Harvest Gleanings I, HG732:6).
In Acts 2:41 three thousand people were baptized and among these, there may have also been some that had been baptized by John earlier.
‘Never is it said of any Gentile that he was baptized unto repentance and remission of sins, that he got back into Moses and in accord with the law. On the contrary, the apostle shows that we and all spiritual Israelites coming from among the Gentiles, come into Christ in a different way from that in which the Jews became related to him. I call your attention to the apostle’s argument in Rom. 11:17-24, where he uses an olive-tree as a symbol or picture. He tells us that that olive-tree was primarily the Jewish nation; that its root was the Abrahamic promise; its branches were the individual Jews. It was to those branches that John preached the baptism of repentance. Many of them were defiled, living in sin, and he urged them to repent and be washed, cleansed; that otherwise they would be broken off. And so it was when Messiah was manifest; the prepared ones, Israelites indeed, in whom was no guile, were ready for him, received him and he received them, and they continued to be branches of that olive, tree. But the great mass of the branches, as the apostle goes on to explain, were broken off because they did not receive our Lord, because they were not in the right condition of heart, not “Israelites indeed, without guile” (Harvest Gleanings I, HG).
Christian Baptism and Its Meaning
Christian baptism has many elements that are similar to John’s baptism and some elements that are different. As with the Jews baptized by John’s baptism, Christians are to confess and repent from their sins.
“And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds” (Acts 19:18).
“(46) Then he said to them, ‘Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, (47) and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem'” (Luke 24:46-47).
“Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit'” (Acts 2:38).
Br. Charles Russell teaches, “This baptism was for Jews only, who had already been baptized into Moses in the sea and the cloud. Sins thus figuratively washed away did not include original sin, but merely minor transgressions against the Mosaic law.” (Reprints of the Original Watchtower 4308:5, 6th Volume of Studies in the Scriptures p.428, Harvest Gleanings I, 600:1,2)
John the Baptist could only provide typical remission. The Christian receives a real remission of sins through actual justification by Jesus’ blood.
John’s baptism pointed the Jews to Christ, but the Christian is to actually believe in Christ and accept Him as their Savior. Let’s see how this is shown in the Scriptures.
“(36) Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, ‘See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?’ (37) Then Philip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart, you may.’ And he answered and said, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God’” (Acts 8:36-37).
“Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized” (Acts 18:8).
So faith in Jesus Christ is a requirement for the Christian baptism.
Baptism Into Christ – Not Into An Organization
Although those baptized into John’s baptism were to bear fruit, the Christian’s death to sin, walking in newness of life and drinking of the cup is a far deeper action. Christian baptism is more than the pursuit of righteousness. It is the total death of self will and a total commitment to sacrifice ALL — one’s time, talent and possessions to the Lord, often at the cost of suffering and persecution.
“Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).
“(3) Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? (4) Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (11) Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (12) Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. (13) And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God” (Romans 6:3-13).
So we see from the 6th chapter of Romans and lowering the candidate into the water represents the death of the Old Man with his sinful ways and the raising up of the candidate shows our walk in newness of life as New Creatures in Christ Jesus. Notice how Romans 6:3 teaches that we are baptized into Christ’s death.
No scripture talks about being baptized into Jehovah’s organization. Also see how the following text show we are actually baptized into Christ.
“For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Galatians 3:27, NASV).
“Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized 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, NASV).
Ultimate Purpose of Baptism
What is the ultimate purpose of Christian baptism? Certainly to lay down our lives in the Lord’s service is purpose enough, but the Bible shows a purpose even beyond that.
Just as going to medical school is of no benefit to humanity unless the student becomes a practicing doctor, so it is with the Christian.
“And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, ‘In you all the nations shall be blessed'” (Galatians 3:8, NKJ).
“In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice” (Genesis 22:18).
“(27) For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have PUT ON Christ… (29) And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:27,29).
Those who are baptized are Abraham’s seed through whom God’s purpose is to bless all the families of the earth. This is the ultimate purpose of baptism.
“Otherwise, what will they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? Why then are they baptized for the dead?”
This passage says that we are baptized “for the dead,” not “into death.” The ultimate purpose of baptism is to bless all the families of the earth.
Many translations agree with this wording, “baptized for the dead.” The translators do not believe this. They would rather not translate this text. Peter puts it this way:
“receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:9, NKJ).
The word “your” is in italics. The thought is that the outcome of our faith, THE ULTIMATE PURPOSE, will be the salvation of mankind.
Does water baptism cancel sins?
The traditional view among Catholic and many Protestant denominations is that baptism is necessary for salvation, forgiveness and the cancellation of sins. Not only do they believe it necessary, but some feel it must be performed in a prescribed fashion in order to secure salvation. Some of their supposed proof texts are:
“Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’ ” (Acts 2:38).
“He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16).
“And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).
“There is also an antitype which now saves us — baptism” (1 Peter 3:21).
These texts are telling us that those who are baptized will be saved and receive a remission or washing away, of sins. So are the Catholics and many Protestants correct in believing that the act of baptism is necessary for salvation?
No. Where these Christians are wrong is that it is NOT “water baptism” that saves us. Rather, the true baptism saves us, that is, consecrationand the resultant justification by Christ’s blood. Water baptism cannot save. It is merely a symbol of the true baptism and the resultant justification that can save us.
Baptism is the outward sign of an invisible grace from our Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ.
“Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God” (Romans 5:9, ESV).
We are saved by Jesus’ act of justification, not by our symbolic act of water baptism.
Water Baptism Is Symbolic
Many Scriptures establish that water baptism itself is merely a symbol and that it does not have intrinsic atoning qualities.
Luke 12:50 – “But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how distressed I am till it is accomplished!”
Jesus had already received water baptism by John, so in this case the word “baptism” must be symbolic of more than the literal water baptism. This is also borne out in Mark 10:38-39 (see also Matthew 20:22-23):
“(38) Jesus said to them, ‘You do not know what you ask. Can you drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?’ (39) They said to Him, ‘We are able.’ So Jesus said to them, ‘You will indeed drink the cup that I drink, and with the baptism I am baptized with you will be baptized.'”
More evidence of the symbolic nature of water baptism is found in Colossians 2:11-12 (ESV):
“(11)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,(12) 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.“
Notice here that both circumcision & water baptism are symbolic of putting away sin. Obviously “circumcision” here is not literal. The Christian is not literally required to be circumcised as were the Jews under the Law. This is the symbolic circumcision of the heart. So, just like circumcision is symbolic, likewise, water baptism here is also symbolic.
Next is another symbolic usage of baptism, although a much different one.
“(11) I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.(12) His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:11-12, ESV).
The baptism by “fire” is symbolic of the judgment and destruction upon the nation of Israel as stated in verse 12, “He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
Just as the baptism by fire is symbolic, so is water baptism.
We are not saved by the symbol “water baptism,” but by the reality of it, the meaning of which we will get to shortly.
Born of Water – Spirit Begettal
Many believe John 3:5 teaches that unless you are baptized in water you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. It says, “Jesus answered, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.'”
The word “baptism” is no where to be found in this context. “Water“ here is symbolic of the Word of Truth. Without the Bible we would not have the necessary knowledge to grow in Christ and enter God’s Kingdom.
Our growth in Christ through his Word (the Holy Scriptures) is illustrated by the Greek word genno, that is Strongs #1080. Vines defines it as:
BEGET, BEAR (OF BEGETTING), BORN
gennao —“to beget,” in the passive voice, “to be born,” is chiefly used of men “begetting” children; more rarely of women “begetting” children (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, 1985).
So in John 3:5 we are “begotten of water.” This means that we are spiritually begotten by Truth.
Br. Charles Russell writes “We see that symbolical water represents truth, and that our begetting of the holy Spirit is said to be also a begetting ‘through the Word of truth’” (James 1:18). (Reprints of the Original Watchtower: R.4124:6, R.3600:6, R.2422:1.)
In support of this we will quote four scriptures which relate begettal tothe Word of God.
“Of his own will begat He us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures” (James 1:18, KJV).
“For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel” (1 Corinthians 4:15, NKJ).
“…having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of GOD which lives and abides forever” (1 Peter 1:23).
“…that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word” (Ephesians 5:26).
So we see that John 3:5 does not teach that unless you are baptized in water you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. It actually teaches that we are begotten as New Creatures in Christ by the Truth of God’s word. It is the guidance from God’s Word that develops the embryo New Creature in Christian growth, preparing us for our ultimate Spiritual birth, after the first resurrection.
Saved By Belief, Grace & Justification, Not Saved By Baptism
There are many more Scriptures that talk about us as being saved, but it’s not by water baptism, it is by belief in Jesus Christ and the resultantgrace of God and justification to life.
“And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21).
“Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).
“(30) And he [the jailer] brought them [Paul & Silas] out and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ (31) So they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household'” (Acts 16:30-31).
“…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” (Romans 10:9).
“Much more then, having now been justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him” (Romans 5:9).
“If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire” (1 Corinthians 3:15).
“(1) Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, (2) by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you– unless you believed in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:1-2).
“Even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved.)” (Ephesians 2:5).
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).
The Jerusalem Counsel never addressed the issue of baptism when presenting minimum requirements expected of the Gentile brothers.
“(28) For it seemed good to the holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: (29) that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell” (Acts 15:28-29).
Where is water baptism on this list? If it were necessary for salvation, certainly the Apostles would have required it of the Gentile brethren.
“And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, ‘Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved'” (Acts 15:1).
Some Christians today take the same approach with baptism as these Jews took of circumcision, that it is a requirement for salvation.
Saved By Baptism?
In 1 Peter we find scriptures used by many Christians to again attempt to prove that water baptism is necessary for salvation.
“(19) by whom also He [Jesus] went and preached to the spirits in prison, (20) who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine long suffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. (21) There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:19-22).
Does this passage prove we are saved by literal water baptism? The simple answer here is that Peter is not talking about literal water baptism. In verse 21, He describes “baptism” as “a good conscience toward God.” That word “conscience” is also used in the prior chapter.
“For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully” (1 Peter 2:19, KJV).
So the word “conscience” connected with the word “baptism” refers to suffering for righteousness sake. Hence, the word “baptism” is talking about living our consecration. Our consecration results in justification by the ransom to life. That is what saves us.
It is interesting to note from verse 21 that we are not saved by the “removal of the filth of the flesh,” that is, we are not saved simply by John’s baptism, the repentance from sin. But we must go beyond that to consecration INTO Christ’s death and this involves cheerful in the spirit, willing patient endurance and sacrifice of self-will and self-interest.
“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).
Baptized In Who’s Name?
In whose name is the Christian baptized? Many quote the great commission of Matthew 28:19 to prove we are baptized into the Trinity, not into Jesus Christ alone.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).
If we accept the translation as is, it does not prove that we are baptized into the Trinity, but merely the desperation of those who strive in vain to find support for this false doctrine, in Scripture. This passage does not state that these three are one person, nor anything of the kind.
In conflict with this, six other Scriptures refer baptismin the name of Jesus, not baptism in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit of Matthew 28:19.
Let us look at these Scriptures that contradict Matthew 28:29. Notice that in none of these texts was anyone baptized in the name of the Father, Son and holy Spirit.
“Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit'” (Acts 2:38).
“But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of GOD and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized” (Acts 8:12).
“For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 8:16).
“And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days” (Acts 10:48).
“When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19:5).
“Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into HIS DEATH ?” (Romans 6:3).
How else are we “baptized into Christ’s death?”
We need to surrender our wills to God, as Jesus did. He said, “Lo I come…to do thy will, O God. I delight to do thy will, O my God; thy law is written in my heart” (Psalm 40:7, 8; Hebrews 10:7).
We dedicate or consecrate our all to follow and obey the Lord with our minds, hearts, and our whole beings. This is a total dedication of service to do God’s will. When consecrated, we walk “in newness of life,” having a new, different direction or purpose. We pattern our lives after our dear Redeemer.
A few days before his crucifixion, Jesus stated, “But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished!” (Luke 12:50) This shows that in Jesus’ baptism, water was a symbol of his real baptism in death. It was about to be accomplishedat Calvary. Like Christ, we who dedicate our lives to the Lord make ourselves “dead” to the world’s pursuits. Instead, we pursue heavenly things, studying the scriptures to find out what God’s will is for us. Our desire is to prove faithful unto death and be resurrected with Christ in a divine and immortal body (Philippians 3:10, 11; Romans 2:7, Revelation 2:10).
Water baptism is a witness to others of what has taken place in our hearts with the Lord and our commitment to Him, as well as symbolizing that life of baptism. The individual places himself in the arms of another, and being fully immersed in the water, is dependent on that person to help him up. He comes out of the water into “newness of life.” This is the new life to which he has committed himself until he dies. Hence, we believe water baptism is necessary, not for salvation, but for a witness of that life of commitment.
SO WHAT NOW?
Are you interested to GIVE UPyour life rights on earth to inherit what eye has not seen nor ear heard … to inherit a life with Jesus and those who have now given up the pride of life and disclaim all rights to themselves, to their soul, to their body, to their time, to their health, to their reputation, to their talents or to anything that they own?
If you confess tobe the property of Jesus Christyour Redeemer, then:
tobelong entirely to Jesus now,
to serve, love and trust him as your life and salvation until your life’s end and show this through baptism.
“Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).
God is now selecting men and women of faith for special honors during the Millennium. Namely, to reign with Christ in heaven as spiritual rulers of the world, to lead the world to righteousness, godliness, and truth and raise all the dead of past Ages. Satan’s demons now lead the world into sin and ignorance. Then, Christ and his saints will lead the world into obedience and understanding (Revelation 20:1-6).
When we understand the high honor to which the saints are called, we better appreciate the high standards that are expected of them.
(1) Godly conduct
(2) Character Development
(3) Study of the Truth
(4) Service and Sacrifice.
We enter the race for the “prize of the High Calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14) by consecrating our life to GOD.
This we do in personal prayer to God, committing our life and service and interests to God hereafter.
If this step is taken, then it is proper to symbolize that decision with water baptism, as a testimony to others.
“(11) The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; (12) if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us” (2 Timothy 2:11-12, ESV).
If you have not considered the matter of consecration, take time to do so.
Read our Lord’s words about this decision, thoughtfully, in Luke 14:27‑35. Remember the blessings promised, and the conditions for them:
“by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory, honor, and immortality” (Romans 2:7).
Remember the privilege of being with Christ, in heaven, to bless “all the families of the earth” during the Millennium. God wishes us to respond favorably. “This is the will of God, even your sanctification” (1 Thessalonians 4:3).
So dear brethren, let us pursue our consecration with determination and great zeal, so that we may please our Father and be prepared for our future mission.
ALL are born with an inherent tendency to worship a higher power—a Supreme Being. Some have tried to dismiss the idea of GOD, and to get along without religion, but sooner or later come back to the worship of some kind of a higher power. Others, in their anxiety not to overlook any advantage that might accrue to them from allegiance to deity, have had a multiplicity of gods. The Athenians of old even went so far as to erect an idol to the “unknown God” (Acts 17:23).
The true Deity of the Bible has been an “unknown God” to most people in all ages, and is even today.
The Bible tells is that there is one GOD, whose name is Jehovah, Yahweh who is addressed by Christians as their Heavenly Father.
The Bible also tells us of the “Son of GOD,” who is our Lord Jesus Christ, the Redeemer and Savior of the world. The first chapter of the Gospel according to St. John states that Jesus, in his prehuman existence was known as the “Logos,” that is, the “Word,” or mouthpiece of Jehovah, the Creator. In his relationship to mankind, as Savior and Redeemer, Jesus is prophetically spoken of as the “Prince of Peace”; the “Mighty God”; “Emmanuel”; “Michael”; “King of kings”; “Mediator”; etc. These various titles do not describe different gods, but various characteristics of this one Son of GOD, whom the Father has commanded shall be honored even as he himself is honored (Isaiah 9:6,Matthew 1:23,Daniel 12:1,Revelation 19:16,1 Timothy 2:5).
The Bible also speaks of the “Holy Spirit.” Through a misunderstanding the Holy Spirit has been construed to be a personality, a third mighty being, equal in power and glory to the Father and Son, yet in some mysterious way, one in substance with them. But this view is not scriptural, as we shall see. Rather, the Holy Spirit mentioned so prominently in the Scriptures is the holy power or influence of GOD—a power which operates for the accomplishment of the Divine purposes wherever and whatever they may be. This fact will become readily apparent as we examine the Bible scriptures.
1. JEHOVAH – a GOD of Love
In a more or less widespread misconception of Jehovah, he is thought of as being austere and unsympathetic, demanding cruel punishment for all who deviate from the doing of his will. In this view, Jesus is looked upon as the loving GOD of the Bible, the One who stepped between the stern Creator and man as a Redeemer and Savior of the human race.
In our search of the Scriptures to find what they say about the “GOD of love and mercy,” it is important, first of all, to note that Jehovah himself, as well as Jesus, is clearly shown to possess the quality of love. In Titus 3:4, in fact, He is spoken of as our “Savior,” and is there said to be kind and loving. This, the scriptural view of Jehovah, reveals Him as being the Author of the plan of salvation, and Jesus as heartily co-operating.
The name Jehovah means the Self-existent, or Eternal One. (Dr. James Strong) In the Bible it is applied exclusively to the Creator, the great First Cause of everything.
“From everlasting to everlasting,” is one of the scriptural expressions used by the Holy Spirit to emphasize that Jehovah is not a created being, but the Creator of all things (Psalm 90:2).
The name Jehovah is never applied to Jesus.
The name Jehovah is, of course, an Old Testament word. It is not used by the New Testament writers, evidently for the reason that they considered it too sacred a name to translate into another language, or, perhaps because there was no suitable Greek word to use in translating it. But this does not mean that Jehovah is merely a tribal god of the Jews, as some would try to make us believe. He is the one true GOD, the Creator of the universe, and the one in whom all animate creation lives and moves and has its being (Acts 17:24-28).
Other Gods in the Old Testament
There are other Hebrew words in the Old Testament translated Lord and God. These, while sometimes applied to Jehovah, are also sometimes prophetically applied to Jesus; sometimes to one or more of the angels; and sometimes even to heathen rulers, and heathen gods. There are three of these Hebrew words—adon, Adonai, and elohim.
The most frequent application of adonis to great and mighty ones of the earth.
Adonai is always applied to deity, but not always to Jehovah. E.g. Psalm 110:5, “the Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath.” Here the name Lord is a translation of the Hebrew word Adonai, and refers to Christ, while the pronoun “thy” refers to Jehovah.
The Hebrew word elohim in the Old Testament is a plural form most frequently translated “God” and “Gods,” and is sometimes used with reference to Jehovah, sometimes prophetically of Christ, occasionally, by way of deference, to magistrates, sometimes to angels, and sometimes to false gods. We mention the use of these various Hebrew words translated Lord and God in order to emphasize the fact that Jehovah is the one and only Almighty GOD, who is “from everlasting to everlasting.” There are other lords and other gods referred to in the Scriptures, but Jehovah, even when mentioned as Adonai, or Elohim, is TheAdonai, and TheElohim.
Attributes of Jehovah’s Character
Jehovah has been belittled in the minds of many by a traditional misconception of his personality that has been handed down to us from the Dark Ages, in which he was depicted as an old man with a beard. The Bible does not attempt to give us a description of the bodily appearance of the great Eternal One, because our finite minds could not conceive of his glory even though it were described to us.
The Bible does, however, reveal a great deal concerning the outstanding attributes of the Divine character. It tells us of his infinite wisdom, justice, love, and power. These attributes of Jehovah’s character are in perfect balance; and by their manifestation through his dealings with the human race, his glory is revealed. However, it is largely to the degree that we understand the Divine plan for the human race, that we can appreciate the beauty of the Divine character.
While the Bible, of course, does say that GOD is love, that he is just, and wise and powerful, yet it is only as we see the outworking of these glorious attributes in the Creator’s designs toward the children of men that they become truly meaningful to us. While we can, it is true, behold the power of Jehovah in the works of creation with which we are surrounded, yet God’s plan for a resurrection of the dead; and especially his resurrection of Jesus, is a display of his power surpassing even that of his creative work (Ephesians 1:19,20).
Without a knowledge of God’s plan as a whole, one might wonder why he does not use his power to put an immediate stop to human suffering, especially in view of the fact that he is reputed to be loving as well as powerful. But we must remember that GOD is just and wise, as well as powerful and loving. Everything he does must be fully in harmony with all these attributes of his character (Psalm 89:14).
If GOD was only loving and merciful he would not have condemned our first parents to death, although he had told them if they sinned they would die. One of the fundamentals of GOD’s law is that the “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). His justice, therefore, demanded that our first parents pay the penalty of their sin.
Some may argue that GOD’s plan to raise the dead is, in effect, a setting aside of GOD’s justice in demanding the death sentence for the violation of his law. But that is where GOD’s wisdom and love can be seen. If only justice alone had been considered, no provision would have been made to set aside that original sentence of death; but divine wisdom and love found a way whereby God could be just, yet use his power to restore the dead to life. This way is through Christ, the Redeemer. Jesus was the world’s “ransom,” which means a corresponding price. It was Divine love that allowed for this, for the Scriptures say that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16, Hebrews 2:9).
Jehovah has changed his mind concerning the “wages of sin.” GOD’s Divine wisdom saw that it would be highly desirable that man obtain a thorough knowledge of sin and its disasterous consequences so that all men can learn obedience to GOD’s standard principle = RIGHTEOUSNESS,which shall be the ultimate result in due time.
GOD could have created enough human beings to fill the whole earth, and thus have the planet populated without the process of procreation. This would have meant that each one would have been individually on trial for life. In this case, if those who transgressed were to be redeemed from death, it would have required a separate Redeemer for each one of them. Hence, we can see the wisdom in the divine arrangement whereby Adam was held the responsible head of the entire human race. Thus his sin not only brought condemnation upon all, in that from the very start they were born imperfect, but it also made possible the redemption of all through the death of but one Redeemer (Romans 5:12).
SO all the human race has been receiving an experimental knowledge of sin and its results, and then they have been passes away temporarily in the sleep of death, to be restored during the coming kingdom period when their present experience will be a most valuable asset to them in weighing the advantages of obedience to the divine law then in force.
By this infinitely wise arrangement every child of Adam will be given an experimental knowledge of both good and evil, and thus will be equipped to choose intelligently between the two. Those who choose the good, and accept of GOD’s grace through Christ, the Redeemer, will then live forever.
GOD’s Diversified Wisdom
In Ephesians 3:10, Paul speaks of the “manifold” wisdom of GOD. The Emphatic Diaglott translation of this text uses the word “diversified.” The apostle also shows that this “diversified” wisdom of GOD is being manifested even to the angelic beings in the universe, being revealed to them specially through GOD’s dealings with the church (the 144,000 Elect and the Great Company – as explained in the Book of Revelation) of this age.
In the selection and preparation of the Church to co-operate with Jesus in the future kingdom work of rehabilitating the lost race, there is a still further manifestation of Divine wisdom. How wise that representatives of the fallen race should be chosen, tested, and then equipped to deal with and bless their fellows in the mediatorial arrangements of the new age soon to begin.
And the qualification test placed upon these is that they love GOD’s will supremely and their fellow men so unselfishly that they gladly lay down their lives in service now—imperfect though that service may be—in order that they may be exalted to a glorious future service which will actually give life to all mankind. It is this that Apostle Paul refers to as a baptism for the dead (1 Corinthians 15:29).
Yes, those who will follow in Jesus’ footsteps now, will reign with him in his thousand-year kingdom.
The purpose of that kingdom is the restoration of the entire human race to the lost earthly paradise. During those thousand years Christ and the church will serve as a mediatorial board to instruct and bless the world; and finally, to restore the people to atonement with the Creator (Revelation 20:4, Acts 3:20,21, Acts 15:16,17).
Jehovah of the Old Testament Scriptures is the Heavenly Father of the New Testament.
Thus, Jesus taught his disciples to pray, “Our Father which art in heaven.”
Jesus is the Son of GOD, this being the relationship he has always enjoyed with Jehovah, the Creator. The Scriptures make it plain that Jesus had been actively associated with his Father since the earliest dawn of creation. They tell us, in fact, that he was the “beginning of the creation of GOD” (Revelation 3:14), and also, “the firstborn of every creature” (Colossians 1:15).
These passages indicate that Jesus was the direct creation of the Father, and therefore properly spoken of as his “only begotten Son.” The apostle also tells us that Jesus was the active agent of Jehovah in all the creative work. He says: “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible, and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him” (Colossians 1:16, Hebrew 1:2,John 1:3,Ephesians 3:9).
In John 1:14,Jesus in his prehuman existence is referred to as the “Word” of GOD. Verse 14 says that the “Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” The term “Word” here used is a translation of the Greek word Logos. Ancient kings when addressing their people, customarily sat behind a lattice in front of which stood a representative who proclaimed the king’s message to the people. The representative was styled the logos—the king’s word, or mouthpiece.
God’s Son, as the Logos, has always been the active agent of Jehovah, and the Bible assures us that he always will be. Not only in the work of creation, but in the call and preparation of the church in this age, and also in the gigantic task of restitution scheduled for the approaching 1000 years of Mediatorial Reign, this beloved Son of GOD acts for the Father, expressing his will, and doing his work. In the millennial age Christ with his church, will speak peace to all the nations, and they will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks (Micah 4:3, Psalm 46:9).
The Apostle Paul explains in 2 Corinthians 15:25-28, “He must REIGN, till he hath put ALL enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For He [Jehovah] hath put all things under his [Jesus’] feet. But when he saith, all things are put under him [Jesus], it is manifest that he [Jehovah] is excepted, which did put all things under him [Jesus]. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him [Jehovah] that put all things under him, that God [Jehovah] may be all in all.
Considerable confusion has resulted from an inaccurate translation of John 1:1,2, where the King James Version makes it appear that the “Word,” or Logos, is the same personality as GOD. The “Word was God,” is the way this faulty translation puts it. But in the original Greek text the matter is made clear. There a distinction is made between the Logos, who was “a” God, and the Father, who is referred to as “The” GOD. The translation should read, “In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was a God. The same was in the beginning with The God.”
The Greek wordTheos is the one in this text that is translated God. Theos simply means a mighty one, and it must be determined from the text in which it is used, whether the reference is to Jehovah, the Great and Almighty One, or to His Son, Christ Jesus, formerly the Logos, who is “a” mighty One. As a matter of fact, this same word Theos is used in 2 Corinthians 4:4, where the reference is to Satan, the “god [theos] of this world.” However, in the Greek text, the definite article “The,” makes it clear who is meant.
Thus we see that it was the Logos, as “a” God, the one who was the active agent of Jehovah in the creative work, who was “made flesh.” It is interesting to note, in this connection, the form of expression used in the Genesis account of creation, where we read, “Let US make man in OUR image,”etc. Here Jehovah is speaking to the Logos, outlining and directing the work in hand (Genesis 1:26).
And, in keeping with this spirit of oneness and co-operation, when the time came for fallen man to be redeemed, the Logos “humbled himself,” becoming a servant in lowly form, for the suffering of death upon the cross. (Philippians 2:7,8) During the whole period of his earthly ministry Jesus remained humble, always reminding those to whom he ministered that the words which he spoke, and the works which he did, were not his own, but those of the Heavenly Father. This was in full keeping with his plain assertion, “My Father is greater than I” (John 14:28).
Jesus’ Oneness with the Father
Jesus declared to his disciples, “I and my Father are one.” (John 10:30) This statement has been misused in an effort to prove that Jesus and his Father were one and the same Person. But all will concede, we believe, that there are forms of oneness other than that of a similarity of being. In John chapter 17, Jesus is quoted as praying for the oneness of his church. In this prayer he asks his Father to bring about the same kind of oneness between his church and himself as existed between himself and his Father. This, obviously, is aoneness of will and purpose.
During Jesus’s ministry, he emphasized over and over that he came not to do his own will, but the will of the Heavenly Father who sent him. When Jesus was facing mockery, ignominy, and death, he asked the Father to let this cup pass from him if it were possible. “Nevertheless,” he said, “not my will, but thine, be done.” (Luke 22:42; Matt. 26:39; John 5:30; 6:38) The Heavenly Father’s will was ever paramount in the Master’s life, hence he could truly say, “I and my Father are one.”
This is also the reason Jesus could truthfully say, “He who hath seen me hath seen the Father.” (John 14:9) This statement of Jesus does not mean that in seeing him one actually saw Jehovah, as throughout the Bible we have statements to the effect that no one can look upon GOD and live. (Exod. 33:20; I Tim. 6:16; 1:17; John 1:18) If those who looked upon Jesus in the flesh thereby actually saw GOD, it would mean that GOD, the creator of the universe, is a human being. What Jesus meant was that his life and ministry served to reveal the Father to those who had “eyes to see.”
And besides, it should be remembered that Jesus in the flesh was an exact counterpart of father Adam, of whom it is said, that he was created in the “image of God.” This, of course, refers to a moral image, not a physical likeness. It means that Adam was capable of discerning between right and wrong, as those principles were enunciated in the law of his Creator. This is the reason he was held responsible for his sin.
Jesus, like Adam before the fall, was also in the image of God—a perfect, sinless human being. It was necessary that Jesus be thus, else he could not have redeemed Adam and his race from death. He came to earth as a representative of the Heavenly Father, and everything he did and said was just what the Father would have done and said had he personally visited the earth. Thus it was true that, in a very wonderful way, those who saw him saw the Father. It was the only way that a fallen human being could I see GOD and live.
We should honor the Son even as we honor the Father. (John 5:23) God so highly regarded and honored the Son that he even commanded the angels to worship him, (Heb. 1:6,7) If we take the view that Jesus was GOD himself, then we have the inconsistency of the Master praying to himself, as well as other incongruities in connection with his earthly life and ministry.
Jesus Now Highly Exalted
The Bible shows that in carrying out the Divine plan of redemption for the human race, the only begotten Son of GOD has experienced two changes of nature. Before his human existence, he was a glorious spirit being, next in honor and authority to the Heavenly Father himself. Jesus referred to his prehuman glory, when he prayed, “O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” (John 17:5) That glory was laid aside when the Logos was “made flesh.” Jesus was made flesh, the apostle explains, “for the suffering of death.” (Heb. 2:9,14) As a spirit being he could not give himself as a corresponding price for father Adam and his race, so he humbled himself that he might die as a ransom to save the human race from eternal destruction.—Phil. 2:7, 8; I Tim. 2:5,6
In raising the Master from the dead the Father did more than restore his Son to his former position of glory in the heavenly realm. He highly exalted him to a place next to himself on the throne of the universe. GOD exalted him to the Divine nature, also, so that now he is truly the Divine Christ—the “express image of the Father’s person.” (Ps. 110:1; Acts 2:34,36; Phil. 2:9-11; Heb. 1:3,13) Hallelujah, what a Savior!
3. THE HOLY SPIRIT
Through mistranslation and otherwise, many have been led erroneously to believe that the Holy spirit is a person, the third person of a trinity God; but the Scriptures, when properly understood, do not warrant this thought. One of the mistranslations contributing to this misunderstanding is where the Greek word pneumais rendered by the English word “ghost.” This makes the holy Spirit to be a holy “Ghost.”
But this is a gross mistranslation, and so recognized by the American Revision Committee who translated the Revised Version. In a number of instances, both the British and American Revisers corrected “Ghost” to “Spirit.” The American Revisers use the word “Spirit” where the King James Version reads “Ghost.”
The King James Version was translated at a time when superstition was rife, hence the word “Ghost” would command a great deal more respect and reverence than it does today. Back in the days when the KJV Bible was written, ghosts were very real in the minds of most people, yet very mysterious. They were always associated with the thought of personality, and the translators, believing in a personal holy Spirit, conceived the idea of calling it a holy “Ghost.”
In the Old Testament the word “spirit” is a translation of the Hebrew wordruach. The primary significance of this word is wind. We do not mean to imply by this, however, that the holy Spirit is a holy wind. This is merely the root meaning of the word. Wind is both invisible and powerful, hence the ancients applied this word to various invisible and powerful influences. Since Divine power is exercised through channels and by agencies beyond human sight and understanding, this word ruach came to be applied more and more to all of GOD’s dealings.
The wordruach,in addition to being translated “Spirit,” is also translated in the Old Testament by the English words “blast,” “breath,” “tempest,” “mind,” “smell,” “wind,” and “windy.” It will be seen that in each of these translations the thought behind the word is that of invisible power, or influence. There is power in the mind, for example, but it is a power that is invisible, and its operation but little understood.
As already noted, in the New Testament the Greek word translated “Spirit,” or “Ghost,” in the expressions holy Spirit or holy “Ghost,” is pneuma.The primary meaning of this word is also wind, or air. It is the word from which our English word pneumatic is derived. In addition to being translated Spirit and Ghost, it is also translated in the New ‘testament by the words “life,” “spiritual,” and sometimes “wind.” In Revelation 13:15 it is translated life, and here the reference is to life that is given to the image of the beast.”
The holy Spirit then is the invisible power of GOD, a power that is manifested in a great variety of ways. Speaking of GOD’s creative power we read that his “Spirit moved upon the face of the waters.” (Genesis 1:2) That was a life-giving Power.
The influence of the holy Spirit in our lives as Christians is primarily that of GOD’s mind—the power of his expressed will for us.
Various manifestations of the holy Spirit are referred to as “The Spirit of Christ,” the “Spirit of holiness,” the “Spirit of truth,” the “Holy Spirit of promise,” the “Spirit of meekness,” the “Spirit of grace,” the “Spirit of prophecy.”
The various manifestations of the spirit of Satan are described as the “spirit of fear,” the “spirit of bondage,” the “spirit of the world,” the “spirit of error,” the “spirit of divination,” the “spirit of antichrist,” and the “spirit of slumber.” No one would conclude that because the word spirit is thus used to describe the various manifestations of Satan’s influence in the world, that there is a personal unholy spirit, that is one in substance with the Devil.
Born of the Spirit
There are a number of expressions used in the Scriptures to describe the work of the holy Spirit in the hearts and lives of Christians. One of these is “born.” This is a word which suggests the coming into existence of a new life, and this is one of the things accomplished by the Power of the holy Spirit. This new life, when it conics fully to birth, will be so different from the human life that concerning it Jesus said, “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canal not tell whence it cometh and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).
The Greek word in the Bible translated “born” is also correctly translated “begotten”. When one comes to GOD in repentance and, through faith in Christ as his Redeemer, surrenders himself in full consecration to do GOD’s will, what occurs is properly described as a “begetting” of the Spirit of GOD. In other words, a new life is then begun.
But this new life, to continue the symbolism, is merely an embryo. It needs to be nourished by the Word of GOD, and thus to develop, growing strong in the Lord and in the power of his night. It is not until the resurrection that this new life comes to the birth. Not until then is one truly born of the Spirit. Not until then are the words of Jesus true that one thus born is able to go and come invisibly as the wind.
Baptism of the Spirit
The Scriptures also speak of the “baptism” of the Spirit. The word baptize means to bury, and to be baptized by the Spirit of GOD simply means to be so fully surrendered to the doing of GOD’s will that one comes fully under its control, having no will of one’s own.
The Apostle Paul wrote, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized,” and he explains that for the individual this baptism occurs when one comes into the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). It is a burial of our wills into the will of God as expressed through Christ, the Head of the “body.”
When we understand what to expect as a result of placing ourselves under the influence of the Holy Spirit, we will not be wondering why we cannot speak with tongues as did the disciples at Pentecost and for a short time thereafter. Speaking with tongues as practiced by the early Church was a necessity at that time. At Pentecost, for example, Jews were gathered at Jerusalem from all parts of the known world. They spoke various languages, yet it was the Lord’s will that they should receive a witness of the truth as proclaimed by the apostles. In order for this to be accomplished, the disciples were miraculously empowered to speak in these various languages. As the church grew, and conversions were made among these various language groups, the need for speaking with tongues no longer existed, for there were disciples among all the various groups capable of witnessing to the Gospel in their native tongues.
Filled with the Spirit
The Scriptures declare, “Be ye filled with the Spirit.” (Ephesians 5:18) How void of meaning would this expression be if the Holy Spirit were a person! But when we recognize that it is simply the power, or influence, of GOD, exercised in the Christian life largely through his written Word, then we can understand how it is possible to have either more or less of the Spirit influencing our lives.
To be filled with the Spirit calls for an emptying of self and self-will, and a diligent application of ourselves to the study of GOD’s Word and to putting into practice all of its righteous precepts.
In the Scriptures, Christians are also said to be “sealed” by the “holy Spirit of promise.” (Ephesians 1:13) GOD’s Spirit directed the minds of the prophets in writing the Old Testament in which are recorded many promises vouchsafing GOD’s blessing upon His faithful people. The New Testament was also written under the direct inspiration of the Spirit, or power of GOD, and it contains additional promises by which GOD guarantees victory through Christ for every faithful follower of the Master. Thus He “seals” us by His promises; that is, He assures us that if we are faithful to Him He will give us Grace to help in every time of need, and in the resurrection will give us a crown of life.
All Flesh to be Blessed
GOD’s Spirit will be poured out in various ways for the blessing of mankind during the 1000 Year Messianic Reign of CHRIST and His Bride, the 144,000 Elect.. He will cause the knowledge of his glory to fill the whole earth as the waters cover the sea. (Isa. 11:9) His power will also operate to restore the dead to life, for the promise is that there “shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust” (Acts 24:15).
In a promise of a New Covenant which the Lord will make, first with the house of Israel, and then with the whole world, the statement is made that the Lord will write His law in the hearts of the people. (Jeremiah 31:31-34) This, too, will result from the operation of His Holy Spirit in the lives of those who obey the laws of Christ’s kingdom.
During this 1000 year Mediatorial Reign, Satan and all his army of evil angels will be bound, thus his spirit will not be influencing people to do wrong. Instead, every condition of the new social order will be favorable to the doing of GOD’s righteous will. Love will take the place of selfishness as a motivating power in all human activity. The people will learn that the greatest and only enduring joy comes from DOING RIGHTEOUSLY to others rather than from selfishly seeking always to take care of one’s own interests first.
Thus the whole outlook of the human race gradually will be changed as a result of the outpouring of GOD’s Spirit upon all flesh.
How glad we should be that the power of GOD is thus to be manifested for solving the problems of a distressed and dying race! When the blessings accruing from this outpouring of the holy Spirit will be recognized as coming from the great and true GOD of the universe, the Creator of heaven an d earth, the people will be glad to give glory to him, for they will then know that he is truly a GOD of PERFECT AGAPE LOVE -what more could one ask for then this level of PURE LOVE?