When and How to Speak Up

October 20, 2016 at 2:26 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments
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Knowing when to be quiet is an underappreciated Christian virtue. Teaching, preaching, counseling, audible prayer, even verbal praise – and especially evangelism – are the topics of frequent and numerous exhortations from the pulpit and from the Scriptures. However, the art of being quiet – perhaps even dividing our speech by as much as 50% from our accustomed habit – or at least making sure that our ears are working twice as hard as our tongue – is something that probably needs to be stressed more.

Still, this does does not mean that appropriate speaking is not also vitally important. So, in this lesson, I would like to identify some Bible principles that will help us know when – and how – to speak up.

And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.

Acts 8:34-35

Philip, not expecting this encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch, could have been too surprised to speak. He could have held his peace and just assumed that, since the Holy Spirit had worked it out so that the Ethiopian was reading a scroll of Isaiah already, he would figure it out on his own. But he didn’t. He opened his mouth. He opened his mouth and preached. He opened his mouth and preached JESUS.

This leads us to the first principle about identifying the right time and way to speak up:

WHEN: When there is an opportunity
HOW: Christologically (about Jesus)

Isaiah Chapter 53 is about penal substitutionary atonement. You don’t need to know the words “penal substitionary atonement” to speak about the concept, but you definitely need to know the truths for which they stand. Speak up for Jesus. Speak up about Jesus. Speak up on the Person and work of Jesus.

Here is another occasion to speak up:

WHEN: When grace is needed
HOW: Seasoned with salt

Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

Colossians 4:6

Grace is needed wherever sin, failure, fault, pain, frustration, or hopelessness abound, because where sin abounds, grace does much more abound (Romans 5:20). However, for grace to be heard as grace (because it is being heard in a place of sin, frustration, hopelessness, or pain), it must first be seasoned, and it must be seasoned with salt.

Salt stings, but it cleanses. Salt flavors and it preserves. Salt creates thirst. Too little salt and your attempt at grace will be bland. Too much salt and your attempt at grace will taste terrible.

A third opportunity to properly speak up is:

WHEN: When it’s time to grow up
HOW: In love

That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

Ephesians 4:14

We have an obligation as part of a family of faith to help each other to grow spiritually. Only truth will help true growth. When my oldest daughter was about to enter junior high school, she decided that she wanted to be a cheerleader. We had enrolled her in gymnastics as a toddler, but, because she spent most of the classes practicing her speed-talking rather than her cartwheels, we decided the money could be better spent elsewhere. I love her dearly, but as she progressed through childhood, it became clear that physical agility and athleticism were not her strong points. To put it kindly, when she attempted any sort of athletic or rhythmic movement, she had the dexterity of a drunken hobo trying to serve tea in a rocking rowboat. So, as her parents, her mother and I had to speak the truth to her about her prospects of making the cheerleading team (not to mention the probability of embarrassment and injury). Hopefully, though, we did it in love.

As Christians, when it’s time to speak up in disagreement, we need to learn to disagree without being disagreeABLE. Love – true Christian love – must be without dissimulation, anyway (Romans 12:9).

Another time to speak up:

WHEN: When anger is warranted
HOW: Softly, after listening carefully

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

James 1:19-20

“Be slow to speak” is not the same as not speaking. Unrighteous anger can not always be ignored. At times it must be confronted, but fighting fire with fire only creates a bigger fire. When we have to confront anger with our speech, we need to try to defuse the bomb, not set it off.

A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

Proverbs 15:1

Be quick to listen, and, when responding, use temperance: control your own temper.

Another instance of speaking up correctly:

WHEN: When people ask what you believe about God (and when people don’t ask)
HOW: With joy, enthusiasm, meekness, and fear

Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy;

Psalm 107:2

Before you became a Christian, you were a prisoner. You were in bondage to sin, Satan, and death, and you had no hope of escape in or of yourself. Created by God to be His servant, you had been taken captive. However, there was a way that you could be set free – “redeemed” – bought back. You may have heard of the practice of “prisoner exchange.” One king or government will sometimes release many prisoners (or one very important prisoner) for the exchange of another king’s or government’s captive citizens. How many servants were you worth? Normally, if the king himself is taken captive, he is ransomed for a great price. But in your case the King Himself ransomed the unworthy servant, and He redeemed you with His own blood! He became your ransom! “He gave Himself a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). How can we NOT speak about this?

There is really never a wrong time to declare your redemption, but it is an especially good time when someone makes an inquiry.

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

I Peter 3:15

Then you do it with joy and enthusiasm (because you can’t help it), and you do it with meekness and fear (beause it is not really “your” message). Remember, when someone asks you why you believe what you believe about Jesus, you are trying to win that person, not win an argument.

WHEN: When teaching or admonishment is needed
HOW: Wisely, spiritually, and with the Word of God

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

Colossians 3:16

The “Word of Christ” is more than just the red letters in your Bible. It is all of Scripture. We are supposed to allow it to “dwell” in us. Not just visit with us occasionally, but remain constantly. It needs to take up residence in our souls. It is impossible to have a high view of the supremacy of Christ and a low view of Scripture at the same time.

The Word of Christ is supposed to dwell in us richly, the way that rich food – filling food – nourishes us and satisfies us, but also “richly” in the sense of us mining the depths of the riches found in Scripture. We are to seek out the deepest meanings and principles in the Bible, and not be content with a “verse of the day” calendar entry.

Then we are to teach and admonish one another. Teaching is instruction and admonishing is correction when wrongdoing occurs. Because the family of God is diverse, we have different experiences and backgrounds from which we can learn from one another. Because the family of God is unified, we have a shared set of precepts and principles from which we can correct each other in love.

WHEN: When you want to do God’s will
HOW: Thankfully and submissively

Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

Ephesians 5:17-21

We want to know and to do God’s will in the general structure of our lives, and in dealing with specific questions concerning what God would have us to do when faced with problems or decisions. His Spirit does not lead us to act drunk. Drunks are loud, arrogant, and foolish. Spirit-led Christians are controlled, wise, and temperate.

All Christians should want to do God’s will. God’s will is worked in us in a general way as we teach and admonish one another. God’s specific will is worked in us as we experience the filling of the Holy Spirit, so we speak to one another when we see needs or opportunities for teaching or admonishing each other, but we speak to ourselves continually to make sure we are remembering to give thanks to the Lord and to submit to the Lord. In other words, we need to be speaking – really, preaching – the Gospel to our own souls. Our fear of the Lord is a natural reminder to submit ourselves to Him, and to keep ourselves submitted. Gratitude is naturally humbling and humility is naturally submissive. Talking to yourself is a sign of mental illness for the person who is not saved, but, for the Christian, speaking to yourself is communicating with the Holy Spirit Who fills us.

One more:

WHEN: As a regular part of everyday life
HOW: Diligently

And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

Deuteronomy 6:7

Communicating the truth of the Word of God from generation to generation requires both regularity and intentionality. Don’t compartmentalize your Christianity. There is no sacred/secular distinction in the Kingdom of God

In conclusion, there is life and death in the power of the tongue. We should use our tongue sparingly and judiciously, but there are times when, if we are to be faithful to Him Who called us, then use it we must.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.

Proverbs 18:21

betrayal through silence

Getting Full (Part 2)

October 18, 2013 at 12:05 pm | Posted in John, Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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Have you ever attended a church service or a conference that turned out to be sort of a religious pep rally where the speaker did his best to get you all fired up to do something, but then stopped short of actually telling you how to do it? Last time I wrote about the importance of being “full” of the Holy Spirit. Now we will look at how to do that.

The first clue lies right there in the verse that commands us to do it:

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

Ephesians 5:18

How do you get drunk with wine? You drink it – lots of it!

For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

I Corinthians 12:13

That Spirit referenced in I Corinthians 12:13 is the Holy Spirit, and you have access to Him if you are truly a Christian – just like every other Christian has access to Him. So how do you “drink of the Spirit?” You drink the Spirit by “minding the things of the Spirit.” In other words, since the Spirit is not really a liquid, and we are using a metaphor here, you have to set your mind and your affection on spiritual things. You have to focus on the things of God and get involved in doing them. If you wanted to drink a large amount of water you would go to where the water is. You would pick it up, and you would pour it down your throat.

For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.

Romans 8:5

1. Initiate spiritual thoughts and actions.

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

Colossians 3:1-2

Think about that with which God would want you to be involved.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Philippians 4:8

Get full of the Holy Spirit by thinking about – and doing – the types of things the Holy Spirit loves to do: things that help others; things that build up others; things that edify; things that bring praise and glory to God; things that magnify Christ Jesus – which brings us to the second way to get full of the Holy Spirit.

2. Imitate the Lord Jesus.

In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)

John 7:37-39

If you came to Jesus, repenting of your sins, believing the truth about Him, and calling upon Him to save you from the wrath of God that you and I deserve, then you “drank” of His Spirit, and, after that, rivers of this “living water” exist in you and flow out of you. Therefore, you “drink the Spirit” by living, loving, and leading like Jesus. You need to live a pure and holy life, because that’s how Jesus lived. You need to love the people around you – and especially the people who seem unlovable – because that’s what Jesus did. You need to lead people into a right relationship with God, because that’s what Jesus did.

3. Indoctrinate yourself with Bible principles.

It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

John 6:53

You need to read and study and meditate on the teachings of Jesus. You need to go to church and Sunday School and learn about, put into practice, and live out the teachings of Jesus. You need to be a student of the records of what He said during His time on earth in the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. If you want to be filled with the Holy Spirit, you are going to have to find out what the Bible teaches, both in the “red letter” words, and in the rest of the Bible, too, including the teachings of the Apostles.

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

I Corinthians 2:12-13

If we will indoctrinate ourselves with the words of Jesus and with Apostolic teaching, we will be filled with the Holy Spirit.

4. Interact with the Holy Spirit Himself.

He is a person. He is not a source, a power, a mystical cloud, a thing, or an “it.” When you are dealing with a person, you must cultivate a real relationship.

The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

John 3:8

You can’t control the wind, but you can certainly interact with it. It is important – and perhaps this is the most important thing to know about how to be filled with the Holy Spirit – to pray for Him to fill you.

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

Luke 11:3

Ask God to fill you with His Holy Spirit.

You have to want to be Spirit-filled for the right reasons. He can not be manipulated.

But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries. But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done. Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.

Acts 8:9-23

“Simony” is the purchasing of church offices, but Simon’s real fault was in thinking he could manipulate and control the Holy Spirit for his own profit. He was covetous (“in the gall of bitterness”) and he was being used by Satan (“in the bond of iniquity”). The wrong way to ask God for the Holy Spirit is with an ulterior motive of manipulation. The right way is with a heart that seeks to please God. Remember, when you are filled with the Spirit, here is what you will find yourself doing: praising the Lord; thanking the Lord, serving others humbly because of God.

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

Ephesians 5:18-21

However, you can not have the Spirit at all – much less be filled – unless you have been born again.

Communion in Church

May 28, 2013 at 10:29 am | Posted in C.H.U.R.C.H. | 6 Comments
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C.hrist
H.oliness
U.nction
R.esponsibility
C.
H.

The second “C” in C.H.U.R.C.H. is for “C.ommunion.”

These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.

Acts 1:14 (emphasis added)

In church we pray together. We should be in one accord, in common unity.

And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,

Acts 2:46 (emphasis added)

There are times when we eat together – in common unity.

And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:

Acts 4:24 (emphasis added)

In church we worship God out loud together – in common unity.

And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch.

Acts 5:12 (emphasis added)

In church, we discuss the wondrous things God is doing in our lives and the lives of people we know – together – in common unity.

And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.

Acts 8:6 (emphasis added)

In church we listen to preaching together – in common unity.

One thing that is important about church is getting together, and having the same mind about spiritual things.

Practical Intentional Evangelism

January 10, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Posted in Bible Studies, Biblical farming | 15 Comments
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After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome.

Acts 19:21

The Apostle Paul was taking a love offering to the saints in Jerusalem, but he was purposed in the spirit to head to Rome. The last third of the Book of Acts gives the account of Paul’s resolve to reach Rome with the Gospel. Christians today should have a strong resolve to reach people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When we talk to someone about the Gospel we must understand from where our authority comes. When I am witnessing, I am not there on my own authority. Jesus Christ has earned the right for His story to be told.

And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?

Acts 8:27-30

When you go to tell someone about Jesus, your authority is His Word. Take your Bible with you.

When it comes to evangelism we also need to understand the principles of the harvest. You may be planting the seed. You may be watering. God may just use you to break up some hard soil. You may be weeding. You may just be checking the crop. Farmers can’t get discouraged that every day isn’t harvest day.

If possible, when you go on an intentional evangelism visit, it is a good idea to go with a Christian partner.

After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come.

Luke 10:1 (emphasis added)

Going with a partner has practical advantages also. One person may have to deal with children or pets while the other person talks about the Gospel. Especially when visiting inside a person’s home, having a witness can be a safeguard against false claims that might hurt your testimony.

Pray specifically for the person you are witnessing to both before and after (and during if possible) the visit.

The presentation of the Gospel should not be “seeker-sensitive.” It should be “Savior-sensitive.” Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. We can’t save anyone. Only the Holy Spirit can truly draw someone to Christ, even though there may be opportunities to share your personal testimony. You will find that many people believe what you believed about God and Jesus, Heaven and hell, before you became a Christian.

Discipleship Lesson 3: Baptism

November 17, 2010 at 1:48 pm | Posted in Discipleship Lessons | 17 Comments
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I. Why does God want me to be baptized after I am saved?

It is the first act of service in obedience to the Lord. Anyone can be baptized – it takes no special talents or effort.

Jesus set the example by submitting to baptism before He began His public ministry.

Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Matthew 3:13-17, emphasis added

And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan. And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him: And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Mark 1:9-11, emphasis added

Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.

Luke 3:21-22, emphasis added

Jesus was baptized in obedience to God’s plan. The single most important thing about baptism sounds like two things, but it is really two-things-in-one: submission and obedience.

And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.

Acts 9:18

And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.

Acts 8:36-39

And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed. And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.

Acts 16:25-33

These are all examples in the Book of Acts of people who were baptized after being saved.

II. What is my being baptized supposed to show to others?

Physical baptism is a picture of spiritual truth.

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin.

Romans 6:1-7

Baptism pictures the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. It is also a public testimony of identification with Christ.

III. What is the requirement for being baptized?

And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

Acts 8:36-37

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Romans 10:9-10

Baptism does not save anyone. The requirement for being baptized is the requirement of first being saved. The requirement for being baptized is believing in your heart that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior, and confession that He is Lord and Savior. In the Bible Christians are baptized after being saved.

But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

Acts 8:12

And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.

Acts 18:8

IV. What is Biblical baptism?

And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.

Acts 8:38-39

Both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water. So did Jesus.

And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:

Matthew 3:16

Baptism is a picture of death, burial, and resurrection. No one is buried by having dirt sprinkled on them.

Baptism does not save (Ephesians 2:8-9), but it is essential for service and spiritual growth.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Matthew 28:19-20

Baptism is right up there with teaching, maybe before, in importance.

V. Questions

A. Why should babies not be baptized?

They are not saved.

B. Why is sprinkling with water not Biblical baptism?

It’s not a picture of death, burial, and resurrection.

C. Where should the baptism take place?

In public (in front of witnesses), as part of a Christian church service.

VI. Memory Verses

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Romans 6:3-4

And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:

Matthew 3:16

And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?

Acts 8:36

Next time: Discipleship Lesson Four – The Bible

A Leopard Can’t Change His Spots

October 4, 2010 at 11:39 am | Posted in Common Expressions, Jeremiah | 9 Comments
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Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.

Jeremiah 13:23

The Bible uses the Ethiopian in this verse because Ethiopians were known to have dark skin. The point seems to be that those who are long accustomed to sin are going to find it impossible to break the practice. That is because, like the color of our skin, or like a leopard’s spots, it is part of our nature. We can’t, by force of will, change our skin color any more than a leopard can change his spots. We can’t do it, but Someone else can change our nature.

Ethiopians are mentioned a few times in the Old Testament, but there is one particularly well known Ethiopian in the New Testament. At the end of Acts Chapter 8 the Bible gives us the historical account of the ministry of Philip. He encountered an Ethiopian servant, riding in a fancy chariot, reading aloud. Philip asked him, “Do you understand what you’re reading?” He was reading what we refer to as Isaiah Chapter 53. The Ethiopian had already “opened” the Word of God. Philip could get right to the alleging and reasoning and sharing.

Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.

Acts 8:35

Philip opened his mouth. The Lord Jesus, as referenced in Isaiah 53:7, kept His mouth closed. Part of the reason that He kept His mouth closed was to empower us to open ours. Philip, his tongue surrendered to the Holy Ghost, opened his mouth, but he did not start to entertain the Ethiopian with songs. He opened his mouth, but he did not simply begin to pray aloud for the Ethiopian. He opened his mouth, but He did not perform a drama or a skit. He opened his mouth, but he did not invite the Ethiopian out for a cup of coffee. He opened his mouth, but he did not politely inquire as to how the Ethiopian’s job was going these days. No, Philip opened his mouth and preached. And what did he preach? Ten easy steps for eunuchs to regain their self-esteem? How to speak forth the promises of God every day for three months in order to get out of debt? No, he preached Jesus!

When the Ethiopian saw some water, he said, “Hey there’s some water, what’s stopping me from just getting down right here and being baptized?” Just like the leopard who can’t change his spots or the person who can’t change his nature by washing in water, baptism can’t change our sin nature. But something else can. What can wash away our sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Would you be whiter, much whiter than snow?
There’s power in the blood, power in the blood;
Sin stains are lost in its life giving flow.
There’s wonderful power in the blood.

“There Is Power in the Blood,” Lewis E. Jones

“Well,” says the weary wife of a wayward husband or the discouraged parent of a prodigal child, “I sure would like to see my loved one quit running the roads and settle down, but you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, or a leopard can’t change its spots.” Don’t give up! The Bible says a leopard can’t change its own spots, but the blood of Jesus can wash them away.

If you feel discouraged over the long practice of a favorite pet sin, remember: The Word of God is a cleansing agent. Sin will keep you from the Bible, or the Bible will keep you from sin.

Holiness is not the way to salvation. Salvation is the way to holiness.

Exposing the Enemy and Going Forth with the Truth

June 30, 2009 at 10:57 am | Posted in Acts | 20 Comments
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Acts Chapter 8 introduces us to Saul of Tarsus, who would become the Apostle Paul.

And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.

Acts 8:1

Saul saw Stephen stoned, and he approved of it. But you have to wonder if it affected him – if God used it to begin to prick his conscience.

And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

Acts 9:5

Something was bothering Saul, stabbing at his conscience as he charged down the road to Damascus like an angry bull.

As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.

Acts 8:2

He “wreaked havoc” on the early Church – tore it to pieces like a wild beast – the way Samson once did to a lion (which normally tears the lamb.) But the early Church was empowered by the Lamb of God; persecution only caused it to grow.

Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word. Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.

Acts 8:4-5

Philip went to Samaria. The Samaritans were half-Jewish and half-Gentile. When the Assyrians had conquered the northern tribes of Israel, they brought in people to intermarry. The Samaritans were the second ethnic group in Acts upon which God poured His Spirit.

Philip’s revelations were confirmed by special miracles for a special ethnic group.

But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one:

Acts 8:9

Simon was doing satanic miracles; Philip was doing God-empowered miracles.

To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.

Acts 8:10-11

Simon’s miracles bewitched the people; Philip’s preaching set them free.

Satan got Simon to infiltrate Philip’s ministry.

And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.

Acts 8:18-20

The laying-on of hands is there in Chapter 8, but not in Chapter 10 when the Gentiles receive the Holy Ghost. Laying-on of hands is not necessary for Spirit baptism – and notice that only the Apostles could do it. There is only one prerequisite for Spirit-baptism: Salvation.

Simon the sorcerer has a word named for him: simony. Simony is the buying and selling of church offices. Simon was willing to pay for the ability to lay hands on people and impart the Holy Spirit to them. There is much division and confusion and strife about this among the professing Christian church today, and, obviously, if you read this, you can do what you want, but I would be very careful about paying money – whether you call it a “love offering” or “sowing a seed” or whatever – for some “anointed” object.

Peter was very good at ferreting out Satan, and he spoke harshly to Satan’s secret agents when they were exposed. When he exposed Ananias, Peter asked him, “Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost?” (Acts 5:3) He told Simon:

Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.

Acts 8:22-23

It is possible that Ananias and Sapphira would have destroyed the church in Jerusalem, and likewise Simon could have destroyed the church in Samaria. It may be that Peter was so good at spotting Satan’s infiltration tactics because of his past experience with Satan trying to infiltrate the disciples through Peter himself.

But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

Matthew 16:23

And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.

Luke 22:31-32

Acts Chapter 8 also contains the important account of the Ethiopian eunuch. This Ethiopian servant would have been wealthy – he was riding in a fancy chariot. And it may be that he was not a real “eunuch” in the modern sense of the term, but rather a high-ranking servant who had retained the name. In any event, he had a scroll of Isaiah – which would have been very rare to have in those days. He apparently had an interest in being a Jewish proselyte. However, if he was in fact a real “eunuch,” he would have been barred from temple worship due to his physical mutilation. He could have still been what was known as a “God-fearer” (this is what Cornelius was). God-fearers were Gentiles who tried to observe the Jewish laws and rites, even though they could not be true Jews. Joseph pretended to be an Old Testament example of this. He gave his brothers a hint when he sent them home, saying, “This do and live; for I fear God.” (Genesis 42:18)

And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?

Acts 8:30

The Ethiopian was reading from Isaiah 53:

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.

Isaiah 53:7-8

This passage of Scripture deals with the Messiah as a substitutionary sacrifice.

Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.

Acts 8:35-39

Please note that the Ethiopian had to be saved before he could be baptized.

Philip was “caught away” – this implies a supernatural phenomenon. He ended up at Azotus, and then preached his way back to Caesarea – about 60 miles. There are few spiritual events that will energize your Christian life like leading someone to the Lord and seeing him saved.

For the Ladies…

May 12, 2009 at 9:38 am | Posted in Acts | 10 Comments
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Previously, we looked at the power that the very first Christian Church experienced through the ministry of the Holy Ghost!

It is fun to note God’s plan for all the different types of people that would make up the Church. Not only would the early Church be comprised of believing Jews in Jerusalem, but the Gospel would also bring in some people from “all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). And it would not be limited by gender, either. The Holy Spirit used Luke, in writing the Book of Acts, to point out in numerous places the inclusion of women in the foundational days of the Church.

There were women praying with the disciples and Mary in Acts 1:14. These same women were filled with the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:4). Multitudes of women were saved after the fear of the Lord motivated the Church (Acts 5:14). It was the needs of the widows that the Lord used to bring about the ordination of the first deacons (Acts 6:1-3). There were women who were courageous in the face of persecution (Acts 8:3). Samaritan women started being saved and baptized (Acts 8:12). God used Peter to raise a lady disciple named Tabitha from the dead (Acts 9:40). Mary the mother of John, surnamed Mark, graciously opened her home for a prayer meeting (Acts 12:12). A girl named Rhoda was there, and answered the door when Peter knocked (Acts 12:13-14). Timothy, the Apostle Paul’s right-hand man, had the advantage of a Godly mother and grandmother (Acts 16:1; II Timothy 1:5). A woman named Lydia was the first convert in Macedonia, and also generously opened her house to the Lord (Acts 16:14-15). The Apostle Paul commanded a demon to come out of a young girl in Acts 16:18. Many notable women were saved in Thessalonica and Berea (Acts 17:4; 12). This is only to mention a few. Thank the Lord for His grace toward men and women, boys and girls – all skin colors and nationalities.


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