Archive for January, 2013

Baptism and Covenant Theology

There are many arguments when it comes to the topic of Baptism but here is some common ground: Baptism is symbolic to that in which a believer dies in his flesh and rises that he may receive the salvation of Christ.

Romans 6
4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

Yes Baptism is that of repentance to receive the forgiveness of sins but repentance requires one to acknowledge that he is dead in his trespasses and sin (Eph 2:1) before God may grant him new life and pardons him with the atonement worked out on the cross.

Reformed Presbyterian believers have an argument towards which I am very inclined. They talk about covenant theology.

Deut 5:2
2 “The LORD our God made a covenant with us at Horeb.
3 “The LORD did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, with all those of us alive here today.

Deut 30:6
6 “Moreover the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live.

You see Horeb was Mount Sinai but this statement in Deut 5:2 was made 40 years later and though this covenant did rejected those who worshiped the golden calf, God kept his covenant with their children and the children of the faithful who were not even born (Deut 30:6) at that time. Similarly when it comes to Baptism, it is part of the new covenant (2Cor 3:6), which God keeps, going down from generation to generation (Act 2:38-39).

2 Corinthians 3
6 who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Acts 2
38 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.
39 “For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.”

Many denominations of Christians speak out against infant baptism; even among reformed believers like the Puritans and the Reformed Baptist reject the concept of infant baptism but such a concept as theirs of God picking random believers, says that God maintains his covenant on an individual basis rather than being passed down the believer’s posterity as shown in the Bible. For those who argue that an infant has an inability to repent that he may be baptized should know that Abraham circumcised Isaac when he was only 8 days old. Isaac too may have had no realization of what was happening at that time when he was being called into that covenant but the promise was of God and so as repentance too comes from God (2 Timothy 2:25), none can truly say Baptism was their self initiative because Salvation is only of the Lord (Lam 3:26).

As mentioned earlier, Baptism is a symbolic burial of our fleshly and sinful appetites and in turn receiving the life that Adam lost with his disobedience in the garden of Eden.

Col 2
9 For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,
10 and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;
11 and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ;
12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions,

If you take a look as at Col 2:11-12, you will see that as in the Old Testament, circumcision is what symbolized God ownership over His people. Under the new covenant, His people are marked by the circumcision of the heart where they have died to themselves in Baptism to receive the redemption of Christ, which is newness of life. Heb 9:16 tells us that we as Christians are under a Covenant, established in His blood and though Baptism by immersion is Biblical, we must also consider as Biblical: Baptism by sprinkling. Since the sacrificial sin offering of the Old Testament, was a shadow of the Atonement of Christ; considering that as the blood of the sin offering was sprinkled (Lev 5:9), we can come to the conclusion that Baptism can also be carried out by sprinkling! As per Ex 24:8, it was sprinkling that marked the blood covenant between God and His people.

I would like to leave you the story of Zaccheus, where his repentance unto Christ brought salvation not just to him but also to his house i.e. his family.

Luke 19
2 And there was a man called by the name of Zaccheus; he was a chief tax collector and he was rich.
3 Zaccheus was trying to see who Jesus was, and was unable because of the crowd, for he was small in stature.
4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way.
5 When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.”
6 And he hurried and came down and received Him gladly.
7 When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”
8 Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.”
9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham.

As the Bible says: we are the spiritual descendants of Abraham (Romans 4:16) by having faith in Jesus Christ; and as believers in Jesus Christ salvation comes to us and also to our families whom we head and represent.

Advertisements

humiliation is the real test of HUMILITY!

In finding fruitless reason to deny Christ, many question, how can Almighty God be put through such humiliation as that of the cross. The Bible teaches that there is but one mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5), and so in substance this mediator Jesus Christ was both, fully God and fully man. As God, He becomes Salvation (Ex 15:2) and as a man whom God is pleased with (Romans 8:8) He became subject (Romans 8:7) to God’s perfect Law (Psalms 19:7). It is said in the Bible that Moses was the humblest man of his time (Numbers 12:3) and Moses’ statement has been recorded saying that the One who was to come as Messiah would be like Moses (Deut 8:15). In the Atonement worked out on the cross, the whole deity of Christ is seen for only God is without blemish (Heb 2:10), which is a prime requirement for the regulated sacrificial sin offering; at the same time seeing Jesus who condescended to become man in flesh in the womb of a virgin and taking on the humiliation of the cross, that pointed not only to His humility as a Man of God (Phil 2:8) but also implied that He was the Messiah to come that was spoken off in Moses’ likeness.

The example Jesus has set for a believer, is that one’s obedience to God is prioritized even more than the believer’s sustenance or life; for better is one day to live in obedience to God than to live a thousand days in disobedience (elsewhere) with the wicked.

Psalms 84:10
10 For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand outside. I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God Than dwell in the tents of wickedness.

So if you are asking what there is to obey then it is this:

Matthew 22
35 One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him,
36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”
37 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.’
38 “This is the great and foremost commandment.
39 “The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
40 “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

To concluded, I must say however that obedience to the commandments of God is only possible for those who are born of His Spirit (Romans 8:7).

1 Pet 5:6
6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time,

Under Law…….Grace? Rom 6:14 ….

Under Law…….Grace? Rom 6:14 …..

Christ and the Law

It is considered by many Christians today that believing in Jesus Christ means that you are free from the Law. People like to quote Romans 6:14 and John 1:17 to show that the Law does not apply to believing Christians. They say Christian life is a standard higher than the Law. Well, it must be understood that there are two aspects of the Law i.e. the physical and the spiritual/moral. Now the Bible says that if one keeps the physical aspect and yet transgresses the spiritual aspect of the Law, he still transgresses the Law but he who does not keep the physical aspect of the Law and yet maintains himself in the spiritual aspect of the Law, he keeps the Law.

Romans 2
25 For indeed circumcision is of value if you practice the Law; but if you are a transgressor of the Law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision.
26 So if the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision?
27 And he who is physically uncircumcised, if he keeps the Law, will he not judge you who though having the letter of the Law and circumcision are a transgressor of the Law?
28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh.
29 But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.

The Law therefore seen is Spiritual (Romans 7:14) and all hangs on two commandments, it is to first love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and secondly to love your neighbor (even it is your enemy) as you love yourself (Luke 10:27). It must be understood that the law that came to a close in Romans 10:4 was the law, the physical aspect which people used to establish their own self righteousness. Gal 3:24 says that it is the Law that leads us to Christ because the Law makes people realize the dreadfulness of sin (Romans 7:7) and convicts them (James 2:9) that they may be brought to repentance… back to Christ. As His Church is the believing body that is susceptible to sin, the reason a Christian has been brought to the terms of facing his sin, is because the Law is written on his heart (Romans 2:15) and so he keeps the Law and is judged by the Law (Romans 2:12) but his faith in Christ has made the curse of the Law fall on Him who was the atonement sacrifice of all the sin of His people (Gal 3:10, 13).

There was a time I felt that the grace by which I was saved was grace that gave me freedom from the Law but I have now come to realize that that is certainly not the case. In fact it is by His moral Law (Romans 6:16-18) which has been imputed in me by His Spirit that I realize that the grace I have received is not one that gives me freedom to sin (Romans 6:15). The Law is perfect (Psalms 19:7), nothing which is perfect can get any better. If I am called to love my neighbor as I love myself, then I am automatically called to never covet, steal or murder against my neighbor. The way I had come to receive the grace of Christ, was a way that was lawless, a blasphemy against Christ Himself. This I have seen as my sin, for in loving Christ, I am called to obey His commandments.

John 15:10 (Jesus’ word)
10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.

Now here is an interesting thought in John 15:10, as per reformed theological study Jesus Christ is referred to as the Second Adam. You see both Adam and Christ were subject to the commandments of God. Adam was created perfect (un-fallen) while Christ did not inherit original sin as He was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of a virgin. Both Adam and Christ were representatives of a people, while Adam represented all mankind, Christ represented the Church. Both were subject to the Covenant of Life i.e. the Salvation of the people they represented that depended on their works in obedience to God. It must be seen that this testing was only for a certain period of time; else the term ‘eternal life’ would not have existed. It was a famous theologian who said: In Christ, the sons of Adam boast of more blessing than their father lost. So if any racial distinctions are ever to be drawn, it is those who were represented by Christ who are superior and this is grace that he who is saved is saved by the merit of Christ and not himself. For by himself, his fallen nature is inherent from Adam.

The Bible does say that man is not justified by the Law and even where there is no Law, people perish (Romans 2:12). It is right that man is justified by faith in Christ but the grace that we receive in Christ extends to receiving the Holy Spirit, who fulfills in us the requirements of the Law (Romans 8:4). Though it says in 1Cor 15:56 that the power of sin is in the law it should never be considered that the Law is Sin (Romans 7:7) for a person comes to terms with the power of sin through the Law (Spiritual) besides 1John 3:4 refers to sin as lawlessness.

Matthew 5:18 (Jesus’ word)
18 “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

Atonement was accomplished on the cross (John 19:30), while the Salvation of the Church is being accomplished in the furnace of trial and affliction, suffering for Christ sake (Phil 1:29) by believers all over the world (1Peter 5:9). On the other hand the sin playing out of a person’s lust accomplishes death (James 1:15) for the reprobate as it incurs the wrath of God (Jeremiah 30:23-24). So we see that His Law shall remain till His Salvation is accomplished for every elect and His wrath accomplished for every deemed reprobate.

There are many religions and cultures around the world who claims to adhere to strict regulations but when you step out into their streets and public places, their nature of rebellion against the spiritual Law of God sticks out like a sore thumb but these will surely receive His justice and even those whose acknowledgement of His Lordship is nothing more than lip service (Mat 15:8) and outward displays these will also be deemed under the same lawlessness.

Matthew 7
15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
16 “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?
17 “So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.
18 “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.
19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
20 “So then, you will know them by their fruits.
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.
22 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’
23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

%d bloggers like this: