Humble Dogs

That they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts. Matthew 13:15b

Archive for the tag “grace”

Baptism – Not To Be Taken Lightly

Before I go on I want to say that this post is to clarify what I said about baptism in my previous blog post, Covenant: Signed, Sealed, Delivered; I’m Yours.

Many have described baptism as, “The outward sign of an inward grace”. Yes, that is true but—. The problem I have with this connection of the two is; the ‘Outward Sign’ of baptism is of our volition. The ‘Inward Grace’ is of God. Let us look at these in reverse order, actually, the proper order.

The Inward Grace

Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

Romans 6:4, “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”

It is at the Cross of Christ, Christ’s death and resurrection, where we were saved, when we were saved, not when we were immersed in or sprinkled with water. We were saved long before we turned to Christ in faith. That salvation, which is for the whole of the people on earth, is granted to us by the Grace of God. It is God’s most precious gift. What we care to do with that gift is up to each of us. It is the salvation earned for us by Christ that is the entry pass to the Kingdom of God and the receiving of the Holy Spirit that we may become part of God’s ‘Royal Priesthood’.

Christ’s death and resurrection is God’s guarantee of the covenant between Him and the people of His Kingdom to build up “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation”, see Exodus: 19:5,6.

Cross, Empty for Christ is Risen

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Colossians 2:12, “..having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.”

1 Corinthians 1:18 “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

Colossians 3:1-4, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”

Acts 2:38-39, “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call.”

As Matthew-Henry Commentary says on Acts 2:38-39:

“This was the same duty that John the Baptist and Christ had preached, and now that the Spirit is poured out is it still insisted on: “Repent, repent; change your mind, change your way; admit an after-thought.’’ (2.) Be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ; that is, “firmly believe the doctrine of Christ, and submit to his grace and government; and make an open solemn profession of this, and come under an engagement to abide by it, by submitting to the ordinance of baptism; be proselyted to Christ and to his holy religion, and renounce your infidelity.”

Because God has bestowed upon us the most precious gift of salvation through Christ Jesus, our spirit felt realization of this blessed truth of the Grace of God brings us to repentance and as a sign that we accept His gift we commit to Him in the ordinance of baptism.

We make a statement in our baptism: “I was crucified and buried with Christ and raised up to newness of life.”

Does our act of baptism bring us the gift of salvation? No! It is in response to our salvation that we commit to being baptized.
Does our baptism bring us the gift of the Holy Spirit? No! We are infilled with the Spirit of God upon our acceptance of the gift of salvation, the obedience of Christ Jesus to death on the cross and his glorious resurrection.
God is one, undivided, all aspects of God, all benefits and gifts and ministries are combined into that single package, SALVATION.

So what is the purpose of the outward sign of baptism?

The physical act, the outward sign, of baptism is a public display testifying to all in attendance that, “I have accepted the salvation offered through Christ and am from this day forward I am a reformed person. I know the one true and living God and I promise that I will in every way be a reflection of Him. Go ahead world, – judge me according to His standard.”

I now live for Christ. “But God forbid that I should boast except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me and I to the world.” Gal. 6:14

How much more powerful a statement would the act of baptism be if baptism was performed in public instead of within the private confines of a church.

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All Religion Is A Lie

My original title for this post was Death and Taxes.

John 17:3 “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”
Romans 1:18–21 “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. ..

As we surf through the myriad of websites and blogs on the internet, we can’t help but come across a host of differing opinions and explanations telling us how in methods and ways to reach the ultimate goal in life, that being discovering the final answer – who, what and where is god.

It has been said that there are only two things you can be sure of – Death and Taxes. That is basically true, for secular living. Both are part of the two most divisive topics – Religion and Politics. The two taboos for congeniality.

In politics the debate is: Resolved, We have a debt problem, who will pay?
In religion the debate is: Resolved, We have a debt problem, who will pay?

But, one might say, they’re both the same debate. That is absolutely true. On the human plain it’s called politics, on the spiritual plain it’s called religion. We cannot separate the two; Our politics will become our religion and vise versa, our religion will become our politics.

Both Political and Religious resolutions depend mostly on compromise, basically a halfway solution that only mitigates the immediate emergency, the present problem. “We will deal with it as best we can for now.” Although compromise is often a necessity to reaching political agreement, compromise is not truth, it is a cover up.

Compromise in religion comes from not knowing the truth. Let us make up some explanation, decorate it with what people want to hear and call it “XYZ”. People become so used to being told lies that they can no longer discern the truth. There is the manifestation of the problem – lies sooner or later can and all too often become believable, especially when they contain an element of truth. In reality, they are all a covering up for lack of truth.

Covering up is what people do best. They lie. Soon, knowing that compromise, or half truth, is always a way out, compromise becomes the norm, lying becomes the norm. I recall a sales seminar I once attended, the speaker stated; “When dealing with a prospective customer, stretch the facts but never say an outright lie.” Lying is the reason advertising sells. Not that all advertising or promotion are lies, it is that everyone is looking to resolve a situation or a problem. Everyone is looking for an easier way out and advertising promises a solution in the product it promotes, whether true or not.

Cover up, or lying is the number one blemish on the human character. Every one of us is guilty and is what gets nearly every person into hot water at some point in their lives. Lying can be causal to; the disgrace of politicians, the ruin of corporate profit, the demotion of rank or position, the blemish on reputation, the break up of marriage and family, the end of friendships, the down fall of church leaders.

After the lie comes the denial. The inability to come clean, admit the mistake, confess. Then comes the defense or excuse making. His fault, her fault, I was under pressure, the devil made me do it, etc. Lying to amend the lie can be endless.

Every religion comes to the same crucial point of dogmatic failure, the inability to get past personal debt, our sin, who will pay and how. Every religion has to come to a compromise of one mode or another to either allay the penalty of sin or deny the debt of sin altogether. Every religion needs a lie to be believable.

There are mystic religions that depend on contortions and meditations that will transform you to a whole new consciousness. “Everybody say Oohm”.
There are cosmic religions that promise the powers of universal goddesses who will transform your life to peace and serenity. “It’s all in your mind, think harder.”
There are reincarnate religions that promise rebirth in another form. “Can I be a tortoise next time around, they live longer.”
There are destiny religions that place your life on the shuffle of a deck of cards. “I don’t like your reading. I demand a re-shuffle.”
There are planetary religions that place your destiny in the cosmic alignment of the stars at birth. Or is that conception? “What sign was I born under? – It said Maternity on the door.”
There are prosperity religions that promise riches and great wealth as long as you pay in accordance of your desire. “You need more faith son, donate another hundred”.
There are penitence religions that require one to earn the reward of forgiveness. “Hey, Senor, how much for impure thoughts?”
There are ‘sign’ religions that ask you to develop a certain sign of faith. “Keep babbling, soon it will come.”
There are ceremonial religions than demand traditions and laws be obeyed. “Here is your path to heaven.”
All these religions are no better as a path to God and Righteousness than the agnostic, god is unknown and unknowable, or the atheist  the rejection of belief in the existence of deity.

What all these religions miss is the reality of God. God doesn’t want ceremony, he doesn’t rule in law, he is not one with or part of the universe, every star is a work of His hand. He is not a god of chance or luck, He doesn’t give out rewards for being good. His favor is not conditional on signs or practices of penitence. He doesn’t reveal Himself to any special class of believer or show favor one over the other.

God is a God of grace, it’s all free, and all He wants of you or me or anyone, anywhere, is be in honest relationship with Him. All of the guilt, all of the penalty, is paid in full, by Him, in the person of Christ Jesus, God who came to live with us, paid the ultimate price that we might have free and complete access to God as one with Christ, a part of the Family, the Holy Brotherhood, a kinship in and through His Spirit. As a bride is one with her husband, we, the church, as members of the body of Christ are one with God and in full inheritance of the Kingdom of God.

Through Christ Jesus, God has shown us His relationship between God and man, His promise, His covenant:
2 Corinthians 3:6 “He (God) has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant–not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”

Christianity is a relationship not a religion. Christianity is a relationship between God and man, demonstrated man to man and has as the foundational fabric – love. Love of God, love for each other. An unconditional love, forgiving, comforting, forbearing, providing, as a bride is to her husband, husband is to his bride.

Matthew 22: 35-40;
“One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ “This is the great and foremost commandment. “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

John 13:35 quotes Jesus saying, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
I Peter 4 says, “Love each other; share with and care for each other; serve each other.”

Tertullian, 3rd century Roman historian, reported that the Romans would exclaim about Christians, “See how they love one another!”

If you feel that I am off track with what I have said in this post, please, I want to hear from you.

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