HAGGAI 2:7 – The Desire Of All Nations Shall Come

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Here is an overview of the written content from the video “After Armageddon, God’s Kingdom” which can be viewed at the link provided at the end of this post.

In recent times Television and Radio news commentators, have filled our consciousness almost daily with catastrophic events happening throughout the world. Who can forget the tragic collapse of the twin towers on November 9th, 2001, when thousands of innocent people lost their lives because of a hand full of terrorists. Earthquakes are increasing at an alarming rate all around the world, which in turn, often produce the heart wrenching scenes of Tsunamis, wiping away entire cities with tens of thousands of lives lost in Indonesia, and the more recent one in Japan. The world is plagued with terrorist attacks. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan being fought not against conventional armies, but suicidal terrorists. Throughout the Middle East we see people uprising in revolt against their nations leaders. The masses in Egypt, Syria, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, Iran and many other countries, are held down in poverty and oppression of rights. As a result, they demanded the removal of all their corrupt leaders, and governments. Other countries are worried that terrorists or radical governments might acquire a nuclear weapon to destroy their enemies resulting in a nuclear holocaust.

Armageddon In The News

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These catastrophic events and increasing threats are resulting in the Medias News anchors using the term Armageddon ever more frequently. People are wondering if all this trouble is an indicator that we are approaching Armageddon mentioned in the book of Revelation?

In Revelation 16:13-20 (ESV) we read:

“(13) And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon [Political power under the influence of Satan], and out of the mouth of the beast [Papacy – the Roman Catholic Church], and out of the mouth of the false prophet [the Church of England and their Protestant allies]. (14) For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. (15) Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. (16) And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon [Strongs 717 – “the hill or city of Megiddo”]. (17) And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. (18) And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. (19) And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. (20) And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.”

The destruction in Armageddon is highly symbolic picture language. By many, the word Armageddon has come to be misunderstood as a final great cataclysmic event that will destroy by fire the heavens and our literal planet earth, together with all remaining unbelievers. Let us explain in relation to the words of 2 Peter 3:10.

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This scripture is using figurative symbolic language, and should not be taken literally.

The Heavens and The Earth

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The heavens being destroyed couldn’t possibly be referring to the literal heaven of God’s abode or the billions upon billions of stars in the starry heavens above as in this NASA deep space shot, in which each speck of light is not a star, but a galaxy.

Nor could the destruction of the earth be referring to our literal planet earth on which we live, for notice God’s Word in Ecclesiastes 1:4.

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This scripture is a plain easy to understand literal statement. The earth will abide forever!

How then, can 2 Peter 3:10 be understood which says the earth will be destroyed by fire?

Since the Bible was inspired by God, we realize it must be harmonious with itself. Hence, the heavens and earth that are to be destroyed can only be understood in a symbolic sense.

We are told in 2 Corinthians 4:4 that Satan is the god of this present evil world.

“In their case the god of this [evil] world [the Adversary] has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

Thus, the symbolic heavens and earth that will be burnt up with fire, refers to the destruction and removal of all the works of injustice and iniquity of Satan’s evil empire.

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All these elements of Satan’s empire will be destroyed or removed in Armageddon.

The Apostle Peter furthermore, explains what will replace Satan’s empire.

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God will replace the present evil order of society with a new righteous one. This new heavens and earth refers to the kingdom of God that Jesus taught us to pray for.

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We notice God’s kingdom for which we pray for, is going to be right here on earth.

Thus the new heavens isn’t referring to a new literal heaven, but to the new spiritual ruling power of “The Christ,” that will govern over a new earthly society. Not a new planet, but to a new holy righteous kingdom here on earth.

A Great Time of Trouble

A great time of trouble will remove this present evil order. Yet, let us take note what immediately follows aftera great time of blessing to mankind here on planet earth! The kingdom of God!

Psalm 46 speaks of the time of trouble that will melt the earth at the end of the age. It begins with giving comfort to his faithful people as the trouble time approaches.

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This is the same end time trouble referred to in Revelation and in 2 Peter chapter 3. The elements melt as he brings desolation or destruction to earths evil social structure. But now notice what immediately follows in the very next verse after the symbolic earth melts from the heat of trouble.

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After the symbolic melting of earth, the earth is still here!

God makes wars to cease to the ends of the earth. It’s God’s kingdom time, the time God will be exalted among the nations.

And where are the nations? God says, “I will be exalted in the EARTH!

Yes, the EARTH will abide forever.

The previous melting, was only symbolic of the destruction of Satan’s evil empire that will be removed, and replaced with God’s kingdom. Similarly we read about this in Zephaniah 3: 8,9.

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Again, we read of the destruction of symbolic earth with the FIRE of God’s jealousy. But in the very next verse we read:

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After the removal of the present evil order of society, the kingdom of blessings will immediately follow.

All mankind will be gradually raised from the tomb of death, and will be instructed with a pure language, that is a pure and true understanding of God’s word, his plans and His will for mankind to follow in order to go on to receive everlasting life.

Now we come to our theme text of Haggai 2:6-8 (KJV).

“(6) For thus saith the Lord of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land;
(7) And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts.
(8) The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts.

This is prophetic of the same shaking of Armageddon and the end time of trouble that will remove Satan’s empire—the present symbolic heavens and earth. But again, let us notice what immediately follows in the very next verse!

“‘(9) The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts.’”

What a glorious precious promise!

After the trouble, the blessings of the kingdom of God on earth will come. A time when THE DESIRE OF ALL NATIONS WILL COME when they are raised from the tomb in God’s kingdom.

What is the desire of all nations, of all people?

→ peace
→ health
→ freedom from all fear and anxieties,
→ EVERLASTING LIFE!

The opportunity for all these and more is what God has promised for all mankind in God’s promised Kingdom on earth.

WHY

One might ask, then, if God intends “the desire of all nations” to pass, then:

WHY did God not do this from the very beginning of Creation?

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WHY has God allowed man to suffer pain, sickness and death for thousands of years?

 

In order to find the answer to this universal question, may we suggest that for a few moments we try to imagine ourselves being God! That’s rather difficult but let us give it a try! Imagine having just finished creating the Angelic host and all the stars, galaxies and planets.

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Let us try to envision our beginning to contemplate creating a new human race of intelligent beings. Our first thought might be that of creating him in such a way that it was impossible for him to ever do anything wrong, for in this way, humanity will live forever never having any pain or sickness.

But upon further thought, we may realize no, this would not be good because then humans would be mere robots, programmed to love God rather than truly desiring from their own hearts to love God.

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We would want our children to love and obey us because they want to, not because they have to without any choice.

We would want them to have a mind of their own, to have freedom to make their own decisions.

As we consider various possibilities, we gradually develop a fantastic plan. A plan that:

  • is kind and loving!
  • provides for freedom of choice!
  • teaches our children to learn by experiencing right from wrong!
  • provides an opportunity to live forever in perfect happiness.
  • allows our children to love and serve us, not because they have to with no choice, but because they love us for what we are, and for what we provide for them.

This is the plan of God that he provided for his new human family. As we further consider that plan, we will see that it is the most loving, most just, most reasonable plan for mankind that you could ever imagine.

Adam and Eve in Eden

When God created Adam in the Garden of Eden, he gave him a simple test:

Obey and live,
or
disobey and die.

 

God knew Adam would fail his test, because of a lack of experience, but
God permitted it as an act of love
for man’s ultimate greatest eternal blessing.

Man was to learn from experience to discern right from wrong and also to experience the disastrous effects of disobedience so that…

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after evil is eradicated, for eternity the lessons of the past will serve as a reminder of what JOYS REMAIN ETERNALLY for all who OBEY the Heavenly Father’s principles.

The Scriptures promise, that very soon every single one who has ever lived will gradually be raised from the sleep of death in God’s promised kingdom.

In 1 Corinthians 15:22 we read, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” Notice ALL will be made alive. This includes every man, woman and child that has ever lived on the face of the earth… Jew, Arab, Christian, Atheist, Hindu, Buddhist, good or bad… ALL are promised to be made alive in God’s kingdom!

Because the one perfect man Adam sinned, the death penalty came upon him and all of us as his children. But God’s love provided for another perfect man Christ Jesus, to give his life as a ransom to redeem father Adam. Thus, it was Jesus’ ransom merit that provided the legal basis for justice to be satisfied, and allow everyone that has ever lived to be resurrected from the dead.

Two Salvations

The KEY to understand God’s ultimate plan for his human creation is to recognize that the scriptures teach that there are two salvations for mankind:

  • A heavenly salvation.
  • An earthly salvation.

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Our Lord refers to this heavenly class as but a “little flock,” that is relatively few in number.

 

But note:

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It is to this earthly kingdom that ALL the remainder of mankind (the good and the bad) will be raised in the 1000-year Millennial kingdom of God. As each one will be raised from the dead in this kingdom, they will be guided and instructed in the laws of the kingdom. They will be given every opportunity to gradually change their ways to develop Christ -like qualities.

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By that time, all mankind will have experienced the great contrast between disobedience (prison) and obedience (joyful life). Thus, with experience being the best teacher, this vast contrast will enable most of mankind to pass their individual test and go on to live forever in perfect happiness.

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A Foretaste of the Future

We can see that the plan God has adopted for his new human creation will result in most all of mankind loving and obeying their Creator for all eternity, not because they have to with no choice, but because they want to with all their being. It will be then that words of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 2:10,11 shall be fulfilled.

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Kingdom Blessings

With this brief summary of why God permitted evil for man’s ultimate good, let us note a few of the many Scriptures that describe the blessings of what the kingdom of God will be like.

In Isaiah 35:1-10 we are promised:

“The desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose…
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped…
Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue will shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert…
and the ransomed of the LORD will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.”

10496121_10203530977370025_4997210872171024409_o.jpg“The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them” (Isaiah 11:6, NIV).

“They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain (Kingdom), for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9).

“He will destroy in this mountain [kingdom,] the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death for ever, and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth; for the LORD has spoken. It will be said on that day, “Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation” (Isaiah 25:7-9, RSV).

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After the shaking trouble of Armageddon, truly the desire of all nations shall come” in God’s glorious kingdom!

Signs of The Time of the End

Since Jesus died so long ago, one might wonder when will this resurrection take place and the kingdom of God be established? The disciples asked Jesus this very same question in the 24th chapter of Matthew:

30. MATT-24-3.PNGJesus proceeded to outline evidences that would enable those who were watching to recognize when this time would be.

Matthew 24:21,22—For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved.

But someone might say, there has always been trouble, and people often feel it is worse than ever before. What makes our present day trouble, a special sign? What makes it a special sign is the last phrase,

“And except those days should be shortened, there should be no flesh saved.”

Recall for a moment the devastation that took place in Hiroshima Japan on August 5th 1945. The next day the United States dropped one Atomic Bomb over Hiroshima and the city was completely destroyed.

40. HIROSHIMA.PNGOver 200,000 people died and countless others were injured with radiation burns.

By today’s standards that bomb was relatively small. Its destructive power was the equivalent of exploding only 13,000 tons of TNT explosive.

On October 30, 1961 Russia exploded a test hydrogen bomb, that had the equivalent of 50 million tons of TNT—3,846 times greater explosive power than the one bomb on Hiroshima!

Today there are eight countries that have nuclear warheads: China, England, France, India, Israel, Pakistan, Russia, and the United States. There are currently about 31,000 nuclear warheads owned by these eight countries. The combined explosive yield of these weapons is approximately 5000 million tons of TNT. That’s 200,000 times the explosive power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima!

We can see the fulfillment of Jesus’ sign of the end of the age when he said:

“And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved” (Matthew 24:22).

Never before in the history of man would it have been possible to destroy all life on earth. Today there are enough nuclear warheads to destroy all flesh on earth many times over. But how thankful we are God has promised the trouble will be shortened. And when Satan’s present evil heavens and earth are removed, they will be replaced with the new righteous heavens and earth of God’s kingdom.

In the book of Daniel, God gave us additional signs to know where we are in the stream of time.

“And at that time shall Michael [Jesus] stand up, … and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time” (Daniel 12:1-4, KJV).

 Again a great time of trouble like never before, but note what will come after the trouble in the next verse… THE KINGDOM TIME!

“And at that time thy people shall be delivered, (2) Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake…” (Daniel 12:1,2).

The resurrection of the dead will begin!

Then in verse 4, God gives us two more signs to help us know when this time of trouble followed by the kingdom would be. It wasn’t going to be in Daniel’s day, but in “the time of the end.”

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We have witnessed both of these signs. Think for a moment how fast knowledge is increasing. The accumulated knowledge of mankind since his first appearance on earth up to 1750 had doubled by 1900, a period of 150 years, redoubled again in just 50 years by 1950, redoubled again in 10 years to 1960, and again in 8 years to 1968.

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The telephone, electric light, automobiles, sound recording, radio, television, jet airplanes, modern appliances, computers, space travel, trips to the moon, cell/mobile phones have been changing so rapidly we can’t keep up. And now with the internet—via a press of a button—information about any topic from around the globe can be accessed.

The “increase of knowledge” was one of the signs Daniel gave us of the nearness of the kingdom of God and it made possible the next sign Daniel gave us: “…many shall run to and fro!” (Daniel 12:4, KJV).

Are we not running to and fro today?

Think for a moment how just a little more than 100 years ago, man’s common transportation for thousands of years was a horse and buggy. Sir Isaac Newton was scorned by his peers when he predicted man would someday travel at speeds of 50 miles per hour. Little did he realize that man would fly across the ocean at 1300 mph and travel through space at 25,000 mph.

“Many shall run to and fro”—this is certainly our day!  Another evidence that we are on the very brink of the establishment of God’s Kingdom!

The Fig Tree

Returning to Matthew 24, Jesus gave another very important sign that would indicate the time of his 2nd presence and the end of the age in Matthew 24:32-34.

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32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: 33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. 34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.”

From many Scriptures throughout the Bible we realize the fig tree always represents the nation of Israel. Leaves sprouting on a tree is a sign that the tree has sprung to life after a dormant winter. Thus, what Jesus was actually telling us, is that when we see Israel come alive as a nation after being without a homeland for thousands of years, then we will know that God’s kingdom is right at the door.

Has Israel put forth leaves? Yes!

As we recall the past, we see how Israel as a people were dispersed among all nations, persecuted bitterly, having to live in Ghettos, hunted and exterminated as undesirables. Yet Israel’s hope was strong in God’s promises of a return to their homeland.

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We recall the words uttered so often by Jewish people, “next year in Jerusalem.”

This hope was fulfilled in an historic miracle of our day, after thousands of years without a homeland.

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By all military standards, Israel should not be in existence.

 

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In war after war, outnumbered 100 to one, the tiny Israeli forces could not be overpowered.

 

 

 

 

And so it has continued to this day because God’s time clock has struck, for Israel to return to their land!

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The Fig tree has blossomed!

Remember this was a sign Jesus gave to show the nearness of his kingdom. The Apostle Luke adds something in his account that makes our faith even stronger, writing the following words:

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If the Fig Tree pictures Israel, “all the trees” would refer to other nations.

So Luke is telling us that together with Israel putting forth leaves (springing into life), many other nations would be putting forth leaves—sprouting into existence. And when we see this happen we would know the kingdom of God was near at hand. What does history tell us?  It ties in exactly with Israel becoming a nation.

Up until 1945 the number of independent nations in the world remained relatively constant for centuries. A total of 70 were in existence in 1945. But since the ending of the 2nd World War in 1945 notice what’s happened! Today, there are 196 nations! More than 125 new independent nations have sprung into being which previously were held as colonies. Yes, Israel simultaneously with other nations has put forth leaves, sprouting into existence! We are the ones who have witnessed the fulfillment of this!
Let us recall what Luke and Matthew told us:

“When ye see these things come to pass, know ye the Kingdom of God is nigh at hand” (Luke 21:31).

 “When ye shall see all these things know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily, I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled (Matthew 24:34).

What a thrill to our hearts to realize this means we are on the very brink of the greatest event in all human historythe establishment of God’s Kingdom!
If this is so, then why all the continued trouble?

This is again in fulfillment of prophecy. For just as a contractor must remove an old structure from a building site, before he can build a new skyscraper, so with God. He must first remove Satan’s present corrupt systems of society, before they can be replaced with Jehovah’s kingdom of blessings.

Notice how this was portrayed in the book of Daniel. In Daniel 2:31-45 Daniel interprets a prophetic dream of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, that pictured the four Universal World Empires, and their removal. Here are three images to explain the image according to Bible prophecy:

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Image 1
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Image 2
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Image 3

The stone that struck the image—pictures how God’s kingdom will grow and fill the whole earth. This prophetic dream is in essence, another symbol of the removal of the present corrupt heavens and earth being replaced by the new heavens and earth of God’s kingdom, which will fill the earth with blessings.

Then in verse 44 of Daniel 2, we are given another prophetic corroboration of 1914 as the time when the stone of God’s power initially strike the image beginning the “time of trouble” which will be culminated in Armageddon.

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We realize that the kings of Europe virtually passed away after the first World War of 1914.

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Thus this Scripture is telling us, that when the kings still existed in 1914, it was God’s initial kingdom power that struck a blow which started the time of trouble. It started to break in pieces the monarchies and colonies of the kingdoms, and the breaking down process will continue until it ultimately removes all the kingdoms in Armageddon.

God’s plan is truly the most kind, the most loving, the most just, the most blessed and reasonable plan for mankind, that you could ever imagine.

We leave you with one of the most precious closing verses of the book of Revelation. Earlier we consider Revelations reference to Armageddon. But now notice how Revelation’s closing promises show us that Armageddon is not the end, but in reality it’s the prelude to the beginning of the new heavens and earth, the most glorious time period awaiting you and me and everyone that has ever lived—God’s Kingdom!

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Truly, the desire of ALL nations will have come, and it will LAST FOREVER!

Acknowledgment:

Br. George Tabac—The content for this post is based on Br. George Tabac’s script of his video titled “After Armageddon, God’s Kingdom” which can be viewed on the BibleTruth411 YouTube channel, at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LzAnPWMXrW0

Suggested Further Viewing/Reading

“Armageddon—A Critical Part of God’s Master Plan” by Br. Bob Goodman. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECzweTBCmjk

“Armageddon then World Peace”— a Dawn Publication by The Dawn Bible Students Association.  http://www.dawnbible.com/booklets/armageddon.htm

Armageddon then World Peace.jpg“The Melting Elements.” The Dawn (Magazine) – A Herald of Christ’s Presence.http://www.dawnbible.com/1957/5711-hl.htm

 

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ISAIAH 61:1 – The Opening of the Prison

ISAIAH 61, 1

Dear friends,

We are not writing this post in our own wisdom, nor in the wisdom of man, but rather we trust in that pure wisdom of which our Heavenly Father, YAHWEH, alone, is the author.

For as the Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:18,

“The preaching of the cross is unto them that are perishing, foolishness; but unto us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 

I am sure that each one of us would be willing to be counted amongst the foolish if the preaching of the cross be foolishness.

Our Lord tells us through the prophet that the wisdom of man shall not stand.

“The wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall fail, because they have rejected the word of the Lord, and what wisdom is in then?” (Isaiah 29:14)

We invite your attention more particularly to the words of the Lord as recorded in Isaiah 61:1,

“The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the glad tidings to the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted; to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.”

Are these words literal?

The words “the opening of the prison to them that are bound suggest to our minds at least 4 main thoughts:-

(1) A prison – a place or condition of bondage or confinement.

(2) Prisoners – those in such a condition of bondage or confinement.

(3) A prison keeper, or warden, or captor, one who has the immediate or present control of the prison house.

(4) A great deliverer who is here described as proclaiming liberty to the captives and opening the prison to them that are bound.

PRISON

We understand this to refer to the great prison house of death.

In Ezekiel 16:53 we read – “When I will bring again their captivity, the captivity of Sodom and her daughters, and the captivity of Samaria and her daughters. Then will I bring again the captivity of thy captives in the midst of them.”

We know that the captivity referred to in this case is the great captivity of death, for Sodom had long lain in ashes when these words were spoken and it could not therefore refer to any local captivity.

In John 5:28-29 we read, “All that are in their graves shall hear his voice and shall come forth.” This too here, cannot refer to a literal release from prison at the first advent because John the Baptist was not released. Jesus did not deliver death’s prisoners at the first advent.

The death state is a condition properly pictured by a prison, which of course represents bondage or restraint of our life, rights and privileges. Our Heavenly Father Himself tells us that the death sentence meant a returning unto the dust – a going into oblivion. (Genesis 3:19.)

In Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6, 10 we read, the “dead know not anything” that “their love also, and their hatred and their envy is perished,” that “there is neither work nor device, nor knowledge nor wisdom in the grave whither thou goest.”

The Psalmist says that “He returneth to his earth: in that very day his thoughts perish.” (Psalm 146:4.)

PRISONERS

Seeing what the prison is we can certainly appreciate who the prisoners are – the whole human family – “All in Adam die.” “Death has passed on all.”

PRISON KEEPER

Satan has opposed the best interests of the human family from Adam’s fall. Our Lord Jesus, calls him “the Prince of this World” (John 14:30), while the Apostle Paul similarly calls him “the God of this World.” (2 Colossians 4:4)

In Matthew 12:29, our Lord Jesus again refers to him in a little parable saying, “How can one enter into a strong man’s house and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.”

The cause of Satan’s opposing attitude is declared to be PRIDE and the desire to be EQUAL TO or ABOVE GOD YAHWEH,  as we read in these next scriptures where the Prophet Isaiah in chapter 14 and verses 13 to 17:-

“For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High (YAHWEH). Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee and consider thee, saying, ‘is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake the kingdoms; that made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?’ ”

Satan has not liberated any of his prisoners because he has not the power over death. That work is appointed to the Great Deliverer: our beloved King, Jesus Christ.

At the first of Jesus’ ministry, we read of Him, in Luke 14:

16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,

18 ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’

20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’

22 And all spoke well of him and marvelled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth.”

Then and there began in a public way, the carrying out of this glorious prophecy. The fulfillment of it all was invested in our Lord Jesus.

A question may arise in our minds from Isaiah 49: 24 – “Shall the prey (the human family) be taken from the mighty (Satan & his ‘army’) or the lawful captive be set free?”

How can the human family (“lawful captives”) ever be set free? That is, how can GOD continue to be just and ever be the justifier of anybody?

On examination we find that the sentence of death upon Adam was thoroughly lawful and just and right because Adam had the ability to resist the temptation and was forewarned and was not deceived.

Some may say…

O.K… I see easily enough how Adam got into prison and how that it was right with him, but I don’t understand then why was the WHOLE HUMAN FAMILY affected by ONE man’s fall and disobedience?

Well, the answer to this is a simple one but oh, so very painful in the results/consequences which we ALL now have experienced for nearly 6000 years in the ‘Permission of Evil’ period of time, thus far!

If Adam was placed in prison and had no posterity at the time of his imprisonment and if he ever had any children, since he has never been liberated, it necessarily follows that they must have been born in prison. That is why Apostle Paul in Romans 5:12, 18, 19 says,

“12 By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.”

“18 By the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation.”

19“By one man’s disobedience many were made sinners.”

So we see that the prey” cannot liberate themselves from the mighty power of death for they are ALL in prison, and who can release himself and let the others out?

“None can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him.” (Psalm 49:7.)

But
WHEN MAN CAN DO NOTHING,
that is when
GOD YAHWEH
CAN DO SOMETHING!!!

When all seems LOST…. Then GOD HAS the ability to change it all from IMPOSSIBLE to POSSIBLE!!!

Our Heavenly Father brought salvation to the sighing and groaning prisoners and our Father’s  determination to carry out this feature of HIS plan is expressed by the Prophet Hosea:

I will ransom them from the power of the grave: I will redeem them from death: 0, death, I will be thy plagues: O, grave. I will be thy destruction, repentance shall be hid from my eyes.” (Hosea 13:14)

In pursuance of this intention GOD sent forth His own Son into the world to die and redeem many.

The opening of the prison house refers to the RESURRECTION OF EVERY SINGLE HUMAN from the grave. The first to have resurrected in the 1st Resurrection is our Lord Jesus, and we read in 1 Corinthians 15: 20-22,

“But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam ALL die, so also in Christ shall ALL be made alive.”

Jesus says, “I have the keys of death.” (Rev. 1:18)

Christ is to deliver ALL death’s prisoners. He did not do so at his first advent, but will in due time set at liberty all the captives, opening the prison doors of hades (the tomb). They will all come forth to trial—not on Adam’s sin, nor on account of things done while under the Adamic penalty, but to a new trial for life on their own responsibility during the PERFECT earthly conditions given on earth during the (near approaching) Kingdom of GOD, where Jesus with his 144,000 Elect ‘Bride’ members shall reign with him for 1000 years when all shall learn to choose RIGHTEOUSNESS to gain life eternal.

Those who choose to persist in ungodliness, shall be destroyed with ‘second death’ yet if “God’s love is better than life” (Psalm 63:3) then it will seem unlikely to most to choose to not obey the only GODly standard that GOD accepts, which is RIGHTEOUSNESS IN ALL THINGS.

“We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor (in order) that he might taste death for EVERY man.” (Heb. 2:9)

If Lord has already done this then WHY has not the prison been opened wide and everyone delivered from the bondage of death?

Ah! Well, we learn that the prisoners are not going to be liberated without order, but that the Divine arrangement is to liberate those during the Gospel Age who desire to have freedom, who are “weary and heavy laden” (Matthew 11:28), and that these shall be taught of YAHWEH’s plans and purposes IN ADVANCE by a normal training, as it were, and prepared to act as teachers for the balance of mankind.

So the Gospel and Good News message of the Kingdom is in two parts: Of restitution, resurrection, as well as the great prize of the high calling.

“Unlike John the Baptist,
it is not the duty of the Lord’s people to go through the world rebuking sin,
but preaching the Gospel
(Reprints of the Original Watchtower, R.3326:2)

Psalm 25:9 says that GOD will guide in justice the MEEK, and the MEEK HE will teach His way. These, who seek to do GOD’s will, in order to do what is RIGHT by Divine Standards, are meek enough to receive instruction from God’s Divine Word – then meditate upon it – and pray. GOD sees that such persons are not satisfied with the things of this world. He guides their understanding.

Jesus’ teachings are only for the meek. They are “Lovers of righteousness.”

The truths of the new dispensation belong to the Christian first – they will be for the world later. The proud, arrogant, hard-hearted, profane, rebellious, or indifferent will not hear them. Therefore, if the person you speak with is not meek, it is timely to draw away. Do not antagonize him or her, or debate (Expanded Biblical Comments).

We are authorized to do the work of a good physician, to bind up the broken hearted!

Dear friends, if we have consecrated our lives, and FULLY ENROLLED IN THE SCHOOL OF OUR MASTER AND KING, our Beloved Jesus Christ, then we are NOW to study and practice wherever the opportunity permits, how to be HEALERS of OTHERS EMOTIONS.

Will we do this perfectly? Of course not! We are in imperfect bodies. But we should be, as the High Priests who wore the robe with the pomegranates alternating with bells around the rim of their robes. Pomegranates are known to have so many healing properties, from rejuvenating the skin to healing disease.

Those who have taken the vow of following Jesus, the Greatest Human healer that ever lived, must know how to be a patient first and then learn from the text book given by our Heavenly Father. We must also have practical lessons now, applying the theory, for thorough learning, in order to be prepared to bless the world.

This glorious happy day of Great Rejoicing that the world has not seen, IS COMING!

May this HOPE we have in the Precious Promises, makes us REJOICE as if it, this glad morn of the Messianic Age, were already here!

The broken hearts we find around us today, or may have caused in others in our ignorance at the time, need to be touched with the application of the healing balm of grace and truth. Let our touches be gentle ones.

If more breaking of the heart is necessary it is not for us to do. (R4131:2)

The message of the Lord’s lips at the present time are not arrows (Psalm 45:5), nor the sword – but an invitation to rest (Matthew 11:28-30).

Our mission is not to break hearts,
but to heal broken ones
delivering a message of DIVINE MERCY;
that the Kingdom will bring order, peace and joy. (R5449:1)

Sin breaks the hearts of thousands – through man’s disappointment in himself, his own ambitions, efforts, friends, business and pleasure. The Church’s special work in blessing and comforting the world will be in the Kingdom (R5537:1).

When this great work shall have been accomplished in us, ONLY THEN, shall the prison gates be opened for the world. They shall be brought forth “to their former estate” “unto the judgment resurrection,” to walk upon the highway of holiness (Isaiah 35) if they are appreciative of GOD YAHWEH’s grace bestowed upon them. Then he that leadeth into captivity (Satan) shall have gone into captivity and the blessed and holy influence of the glorified Christ shall be exercised to healing all the disease and blindness incurred by the long captivity.

There’s a wideness in GOD’s mercy,
Like the wideness of the sea;
There’s a kindness in His justice,
Though severe His judgments be.
For the love of GOD is broader
Than the measure of man’s mind,
And the heart of the Eternal
Is most wonderfully kind.

Acknowledgments: The content for this post was inspired from a 1909 Bible Student Convention Report- Synopsis of a Discourse by Pilgrim Brother F. H. Robison.

References: Reprints of the Original Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence; The Expanded Biblical Comments.   http://www.htdb8.com

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What Does It Mean To Be Baptized Into Christ?

matt-16-25

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
  • Infant Baptism
  • 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.

Infant Baptism

Is infant baptism scriptural?

Nowhere in the Bible do 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.

A. Nouns.

1. baptisma (908), “baptism,” consisting of the processes of immersion, submersion and emergence (from bapto, “to dip”).

B. Verb.

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 repentance for the 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.

Context:

“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.

The same point is expressed in 1 Corinthians 15:29.

“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, consecration and 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 to the 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 resultant grace 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 baptism in 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 accomplished at 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 UP your 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 to be the property of Jesus Christ your Redeemer, then:

  DEDICATE YOURSELF

to belong 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).

High Standards

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.

Consecration

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.

Click here to watch a baptism service video

References and Acknowledgement:

Br. Peter Karavas & our brethren in Christ at http://www.friendsofjehovahswitnesses.com/

Br. Charles Taze Russell: What Pastor Russell Said – Question Book, Q34:3; Harvest Gleanings I; Reprints of the Original Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence, Studies in the Scriptures – Volume 6.

Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, 1985.

STRONG’S Concordance.

This post’s URL:
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/07/09/what-does-it-mean-to-be-baptized-into-christ/

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