Biblical ConfessionBiblical Confession of a Christian

SECTION 1 – Concerning the Bible

Trusting in the Bible as the verbally (every word) and plenary (completely) inspired Word of God as contained in the original manuscripts; that all portions of Scripture are equally inspired and contain no contradictions; that the Scriptures are to be the only rule of faith and practice for the believer in Jesus Christ; and that the Canon, the sixty-six books of the Bible, is complete. Nothing shall be added to it nor taken from it. The scriptures shall be interpreted according to their normal grammatical-historical meaning. The King James Version of the Bible shall be the official and only translation used by the Church. II Timothy 3:16-17; Hebrews 1:1,2; II Peter 1:20-21; Revelation 22:18, 19.

SECTION 2 – Concerning God

Knowing that there is one and only one, living and true God, an infinite, intelligent Spirit Whose name is Jehovah, the Maker and Supreme Ruler of heaven and earth; that He is inexpressively glorious in holiness and worthy of all possible honor, confidence, and love. Knowing that the Godhead eternally exists in three Persons – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; and that these three are one God, having precisely the same nature, attributes, and perfections; and are worthy of precisely the same homage, confidence, and obedience; they are equal in every divine perfection and executing distinct but harmonious offices in the great work of redemption. We know that Allah is not a name for God but that he is a demon or Satan Himself impersonating God but not the God of the Bible. Genesis 1:1; Exodus 15:11; Psalm 83:18; Matthew 28:19; Mark 12:29, 30; John 1:1; 10:30; 14:16, 17; I Timothy 3:16; Ephesians 2:18.

SECTION 3 – Concerning Jesus Christ

Trusting in the essential deity and virgin birth of our Lord Jesus Christ; that He was begotten by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, not having human father, and is true God and true man; that He is man’s only hope of salvation from sin, being the only mediator between God and man; that he died, and was buried, and rose again the third day for our sins according to the Scriptures; that His return for His Church, the Body of Christ, which He will take with Himself into heaven is imminent; and that He will come to this earth to set up His millennial reign. Isaiah 7:14; Luke 1:35; Matthew 1:18; John 1:1-4; 10:30; 14:6; I Timothy 2:5,6; I Thessalonians 4:13-18; Revelation 20:4-6.

SECTION 4 – Concerning the Holy Spirit

Trusting in the Holy Spirit to be coequal with the Father and with the Son. He is a person. He came to this earth as the fulfillment of Christ’s promise. He convicts, regenerates, indwells, seals, fills, empowers, and guides the believer. John 16:7-13; 3:3-5; Acts 1:8; I Corinthians 6:19; Ephesians 1:13,14; Ephesians 5:18.

SECTION 5 – Concerning Man

Knowing that God created man in His own image and that man sinned and thereby incurred not only physical death, but also spiritual death, which is a conscious and eternal separation from God. We believe that all men are born with a sinful nature, evidenced by sinful acts; that man is totally depraved; and that if he is not born again, he is eternally lost. Genesis 1:26-27; Psalm 51:5; Jeremiah 17:9; Luke 16:23; Revelation 21:8; Romans 3:10-23; 5:12; I Corinthians 15:21,22; Revelation 20:11-15.

SECTION 6 – Concerning Salvation

Knowing that the salvation of sinners is wholly of grace through the mediatory offices of the Son of God, Who, by the appointment of the Father, freely took upon Him our nature; that being conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary, yet without sin, He honored the divine law by His personal obedience and by His death made full atonement for our sins; that, having risen from the dead, He is now enthroned in heaven and uniting in His wonderful person the tenderest sympathies with the divine perfections, He is in every way qualified to be the suitable, and compassionate and all-sufficient Savior.

Trusting in the fact that a person is saved when he, in the simultaneous act of repentance and faith, accepts Jesus Christ as his personal Savior and Lord in all that He is without exception. The believer is kept by the power of God and is eternally secure in Christ. The basis of our salvation is the precious blood of Christ according to I Peter 1:18-19, which states that we are redeemed, “. . . with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”

Knowing that the scope of Salvation included forgiveness of all our sins, past, present, and future; a perfect standing before God as in Jesus Christ; and the changing of our earthly body to be conformed like unto the body of our Lord at His return for His own.

Trusting the fact that the attitude either of reconciliation or enmity toward God is eternally fixed at death. We further believe that there is an appointed day for the judgment of the wicked when they will be cast into the lake of fire, there to remain in everlasting conscious punishment and torment. John 1:12; 5:24; 10:28,29; Romans 6:23; I John 3:2; II Thessalonians 1:7-9; II Peter 2:9; Revelation 20:12-15; 21:8.

SECTION 7 – Concerning Justification

Knowing that the great Gospel blessing, which Christ secures to such as believe in Him, is justification; that justification included the pardon of sin and the promise of eternal life in Heaven; that it is bestowed not in consideration of any works of righteousness which we have done, but solely through faith in the Redeemer’s blood, by virtue of which faith His perfect righteousness is freely imputed to us of God; that justifications brings us into the state of most blessed peace and favor with God and secures every other blessing needful for time and eternity. John 1:16; Acts 13:39; 4:4,5; 5:1,2; Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 5:1; Galatians 3:6; Philippians 3:9; Genesis 15:6; Galatians 3:24.

SECTION 8 –            Concerning the Freeness of Salvation

Knowing that the blessings of Salvation are made free to all by the Gospel; that it is the immediate duty of all to accept them by the cordial, penitent, and obedient faith; and that nothing prevents the salvation of the greatest sinner on earth but his own inherent depravity and voluntary rejection of the Gospel, which rejection involves him in an aggravated condemnation. Isaiah 55:1; Romans 16:25,26; John 5:40; 3:19; II Peter 3:9; Ephesians 2:8,9; John 1:12.

 

SECTION 9 – Concerning Grace in Regeneration

Knowing that, in order to be saved, sinners must be regenerated or born again; that regeneration consists in giving a holy disposition to the mind; that it is affected in a manner above our comprehension by the power of the Holy Spirit, in connection with divine truth, so as to secure our voluntary obedience to the Gospel; that it’s proper evidence appears in the holy fruits of repentance, faith and newness of life. John 3:3; 3:8; II Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 5:9; Galatians 5:16-23; I Peter 1:22-25.

SECTION 10 – Concerning Repentance and Faith

Knowing that repentance and faith are sacred duties and also inseparable graces, wrought in our souls by the regenerating Spirit of God, whereby being deeply convinced of our guilt, danger, and helplessness and of the way of Salvation by Christ; we turn to God with unfeigned contrition, confession, and supplication for mercy; and at the same time we heartily receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our prophet, Priest, and King, and rely on Him alone as the only and all sufficient Savior. Mark 1:5; Acts 11:18; Ephesians 2:8; Acts 2:37-38; Romans 10:9,10.

SECTION 11 – Concerning God’s Purpose of Grace

Knowing that election is the eternal purpose of God according to which He graciously regenerates, sanctified, and saves sinners; that being perfectly consistent with the free agency of man, God’s purpose comprehends all the means in connection with the end; that grace is a most glorious display of God’s sovereign goodness, being infinitely free, wise, holy and unchangeable; that grace utterly excludes boasting and promotes humility, love, prayer, praise, highest degree; that it may be ascertained by its effects in all who truly believe the Gospel; that it is the foundation of Christian assurance; that to ascertain it with regard to ourselves demands and deserves the utmost diligence. II Timothy 1:8,9; II Thessalonians 2:13,14; Exodus 33:18,19; II Timothy 2:10; II Peter 1:10,11; Romans 8:28-30.

SECTION 12 – Concerning Sanctification

Knowing that sanctification is the process by which, according to the will of God, we are made partakers of His Holiness; Knowing that it is a progressive work; that it is begun in regeneration; and that it is carried on in the hearts of believers by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit – the Sealer and Comforter, self-examination, self-denial, watchfulness, Bible reading, and prayer. I Thessalonians 4:3; I John 2:29; Romans 8:5; Philippians 2:12,13; I Timothy 4:12,13; II Timothy 3:15-17; Romans 12:1,2.

SECTION 13 – Concerning Perseverance of Saints

Knowing that such only are real believers as endure unto the end; that their perseverance attachment to Christ is the grand mark which distinguishes them from superficial professors; that a special Providence watches over their welfare; and that they are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation. John 3:21; I John 2:19; Romans 8:28; Philippians 1:6; Ephesians 1:13,14; I Peter 1:7; Jude 1:24; II Peter 2:20-22.

 

 

SECTION 14 – Concerning law and the Gospel

Knowing that the law of God is the eternal and unchangeable rule of His moral government; that it is holy, just, and good; that the inability which the Scriptures ascribe to fallen men to fulfill its precepts arises entirely from their ability and to restore them through the mediator, to unfeigned obedience to the Holy Law and of the means of grace connected with the establishment of the visible church. Romans 3:21; 7:21; 8:7,8; 8:2,4.

SECTION 15 – Concerning the Church

Knowing that the local Church is composed of:

  1. A local group of believers who are autonomous and self-governing with no ecclesiastical organization in authority over them.
  2. Believers who are baptized by immersion;
  3. Believers who are organized; they have for their officers – pastors, deacons, and such other leaders as God has given special gifts to render as a ministry to the church;
  4. Believers who meet regularly for fellowship, worship, and Bible study.
  5. Believers who observe the ordinances of baptism and the Lord ’s Supper.
  6. Believers who carry out the great commission.

I Corinthians 12:13; Acts 2:42-47; I Thessalonians 4:13-18; I Corinthians 16:19; Acts 2:41,47; I Corinthians 12:13-18; Hebrews 10:25; I Corinthians 11:23,24; Matthew 28:18-20.

SECTION 16 – Concerning Baptism and the Lord’s Supper

Knowing that Christian baptism is the immersion in water of a believer, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit to show forth in a solemn and beautiful emblem our faith in the crucified, buried and risen Savior with its effect in our death to sin and resurrection to a new life. We believe that the Lord ’s Supper, in which the members of the Church by the sacred use of the bread and wine (grape juice) are to commemorate together the dying love of Christ, is to be preceded always with solemn self-examination. Acts 8:26-39; John 3:22,23; Matthew 28:19; I Corinthians 11:23-28; Acts 2:41,42.

SECTION 17 – Concerning the Lord’s Day

Trusting the fact that the first day of the week is the Lord’s Day and is to be kept sacred to religious purposes by abstaining from all secular labor, except works of mercy and necessity; by the devout observance of all means of grace, both private and public; and by preparation for that rest which remains for all the people of God. Acts 20:7; Psalm 118:24; Isaiah 58:13,14; Hebrews 4:3-11; Matthew 28:1,2; John 20: 19,26; I Corinthians 16:2.

 

SECTION 18 – Concerning Civil Government

Knowing that civil government is of divine appointment for the interests and good order of human society; and that magistrates are to be prayed for, conscientiously honored, and obeyed, except only in things opposed to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the only Lord of the kings of the earth. Romans 13:1-7; Matthew 22:21; Acts 5:19; Matthew 23:10.

SECTION 19 – Concerning the Righteousness and the Wicked

Knowing that there is a radical and essential difference between the righteous and the wicked; that such only as through faith are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and sanctified by the
Spirit of our God are truly righteous in His esteem while all such as continue in impenitence and unbelief are in His sight wicked and under the curse; and that this distinction holds among men both in and after death. Malachi 3:18; I John 5:19; Luke 16: 25,26.

SECTION 20 – Concerning Satan and Fallen Angels

Knowing that Satan is a person. He is a created being who sinned and became the arch enemy of God and His creation. He is the chief adversary of God’s children. He seeks to keep man from the Lord; and when he cannot succeed in this, he seeks to weaken the testimony of Christians. He has at his command a great host of fallen angels and demons to carry out his purposes. He is not omnipotent and can be overcome by the power of God. His doom is sealed in the lake of fire forever and ever. Ezekiel 28: 12-19; Isaiah 14:12-15; Revelation 12:10; 20:10.

SECTION 21 – Concerning Last Things

Knowing that there will be a resurrection of all, first the just at the coming of Jesus Christ, and finally the unjust after the millennium. The saints are raised to be forever with the Lord, and the unsaved will be confined for eternity in the Lake of Fire. Trusting in the Blessed Hope, which is the personal bodily pre-tribulation, pre-millennial, and imminent return of our Lord and Savior for His Church (the Rapture) and His later return to the earth in power and glory with His saints to set up His Kingdom (the Millennium). John 14:1-3; Acts 1:9; 1:11; 24:14; I Corinthians 15:3-20; Philippians 3:20,21; I Thessalonians 4:13-18; Hebrews 7:25; I John 2:1,2; Revelation 21:1-8.

SECTION 22 – Concerning the World to Come

Knowing that the end of this age is approaching (I Peter 4:7). Knowing that God will create a new heaven and a new earth; that we will dwell in heaven with Jesus forever, and will have access to the new heaven and earth; that we will never again see death or tears or crying, or pain or evil or sin; that all these will be passed away, that we will be united with loved ones and saints of all ages in heaven to live with our Savior forever and ever. John 8:51; 11:25, 26; I Thessalonians 4:13-18; II Corinthians 5:6-8; Revelation 21:1-27;22:1-5.

 

 

SECTION 23 – Concerning Separation

Knowing that God commands Christians to be separated people according to II Corinthians 6:17-18; 7:1. “Wherefore come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; And I will receive you; And will be a father unto you and ye shall be my sons and daughters, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”

Knowing that a true Christian will be separated from all forms of apostasy and religious inclusivism. He will reject ecumenical movements which join all churches into one body regardless of doctrine or practice and the charismatic renewal movement with its unscriptural emphasis on tongues and healing. True Christians will enjoy fellowship with churches of like faith and order, but will have no part in any council of churches that is ecumenical in nature and thrust.

Knowing that Christians are to be personally separated from all worldly practices that hinder spiritual growth and stability. Knowing that God’s people should not love the world or the things that are in the world (I John 2:15-16). Knowing that a Christian should live a holy life and maintain a testimony consistent with the New Testament.

SECTION 24 – Concerning Christian Practice

A true Christian believes that a Christian should live a holy life, and be separated from the world, and maintain a testimony consistent with the New Testament. We also believe that by the power of the Holy Spirit, we all should walk together in Christian love, strive for the advancement of this Church in knowledge, holiness and godliness; hold a conviction that Christianity is a way of life and therefore should be propagated through Bible centered and Christ-centered Christian schooling; promote the prosperity and spirituality of this Church; sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline, and doctrines; contribute cheerfully; and regularly support the Church with our tithes and offerings so that the ministry is supported, expenses are met, the poor are helped, and the Gospel is spread through all nations.

A true Christian encourages all of our members to maintain family and private devotions, to rear the children with Christian schooling from kindergarten through twelfth grade and then encourage the attending of a Christian college; to seek the salvation of kindred and acquaintances; to walk circumspectly in the world; and be just in our dealings, faithful in our engagements, and exemplary in our deportment; to be zealous in our effort to win souls to Christ; to avoid all tattling, backbiting, and excessive anger; and to abstain from the sale and use of intoxicating drink as a beverage, and from the improper sale and use of narcotics. Knowing that this use of narcotics extends to the almost drug like craving for Rock & Roll and any form of CCM music that has so permeated homes and churches in our time. Knowing that only music which has the “melody” that is referred to in Ephesians 5:19 can be truly spiritual music and that all music based on either harmony or more particularly rhythm are classified as worldly and unholy music.

We further encourage each member to show brotherly love toward one another; to remember each other in prayer; to aid each other in sickness and distress; to cultivate Christian sympathy in feeling and courtesy in speech; to be slow to take offense, but always ready for reconciliation and mindful of the rules of our Savior, to secure it without delay.

Should the will of God direct any to move from his local area, each one should desire, as soon as possible to unite with some other church of like faith and practice and thereby continue living a testimony for Christ and living the principles of God’s Word. I Thessalonians 5:8-26; Galatians 6:1,2,10; Ephesians 5:1-10; 6:10-18; Philippians 4:8,9; Colossians 3:1-25.

SECTION 25 – Concerning Christian Education

A true Christian believes that the children of our families need an education that trains children not to walk in the counsel of the ungodly (Psalm 1:1). The families need to obey Colossians 2:8, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”

Therefore A true Christian believes that it must provide a Christian School to train the young people and it must encourage all member families to enroll their children in a Christian School. Knowing that we must see that our children are protected according to Proverbs 19:17, “Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge.”

SECTION 26 – Concerning Human Sexuality

Knowing that God has commanded that no intimate sexual activity should be engaged in outside of a marriage between a man and a woman. Knowing that any form of homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexuality, bestiality, incest, fornication, adultery, and pornography are sinful perversions of God’s gift of sex. Genesis 2:24; 19:5-13; 26:8-9; Leviticus 18:1-30; Romans 1:26-29; I Corinthians 5:1; 6:9; I Thessalonians 4:1-8; Hebrews 13:4.

SECTION 27 – Concerning The Beginning of Human Life

Knowing that human life begins at conception and that the unborn child is a living human being. Abortion constitutes the unjustified, unexcused taking of unborn human life. Abortion is murder. We reject any teaching that abortions or pregnancies due to rape, incest, birth defects, gender selection, birth or population control, or the mental well-being of the mother are acceptable. Job 3:16; Psalms 51:5; 139:14-16; Isaiah 44:24; 49:1,5; Jeremiah 1:5; 20:15-18; Luke 1:44.

SECTION 28 – Concerning Lawsuits Between Believers

Knowing that Christians are prohibited from bringing civil lawsuits against other Christians or A true Christian to resolve personal disputes. Trusting the Church possesses all the resources necessary to resolve personal disputes between members. We do believe, however, that a Christian may seek compensation for injuries from another Christian’s Insurance Company as long as the claim is pursued without malice or slander. I Corinthians 6:1-8; Ephesians 4:31-32.

SECTION 29 – Concerning Giving

Knowing that every Christian, as a steward of that portion of God’s wealth entrusted to him, is obligated to support his local church financially. Trust that God has established the tithe as a basis for giving but that every Christian should also give other offerings sacrificially and cheerfully to the spread of the Gospel. Trust that a Christian relinquished all rights to direct the use of the tithe or offering once the gift has been made. Genesis 14:20; Proverbs 3:9-10; Acts 4:34-37; I Corinthians 16:2; II Corinthians 9:6-7; Galatians 6:6; Ephesians 4:28; I Timothy 5:17-18; I John 3:17.

 

what is a churchTHE LOCAL NEW-TESTAMENT CHURCH

written by  on the topic of Articles by Pastor Trieber on December, 2008

Today, I have the privilege to draw to your attention the New Testament local church. The church is under attack in this day in which we live. It is certainly under attack by the world and the flesh, but I also find that it is under attack from within. We have diluted our position and have become very worldly, unfruitful, and self-centered hearers of the Word of God.

For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.
– Acts 20:29-30

Therefore, because of the apostasy that is so prevalent in our churches today, I am desirous to come to you as the book of Jude says in vs. 3-4:

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

As we consider the New Testament local church, I want to remind you of the importance of our name. We are not a—

  • Fellowship
  • Center
  • Association

We are a church. That means we are a called-out body of saved, baptized Christians.

Jesus did not give His life for the association, center, or the fellowship; but rather, He gave Himself for the church. Let us not become weak concerning our name.

In addition, I want you to remember our Leader.

For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the Saviour of the body. (emphasis mine)
– Ephesians 5:23

Our Leader is neither a charismatic and persuasive individual nor a denominational headsuch as an organization, a Bible college, etc. Our Leader is the Lord Jesus Christ.

I also want to remind you of our responsibility.

That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
– Ephesians 5:26-27

We are not to be a worldly church, but rather a sanctified church—a glorious church without any spot, wrinkle, or blemish. We are to be holy. May I remind you what the Bible says:

But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.
– Ephesians 5:3-4

Our purpose is to take the Gospel to a lost and dying world.

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
– Acts 1:8

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 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 always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
– Matthew 28:18-20

Our financial program is that of tithes and offerings.

Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.
– I Corinthians 16:1-2

I am so burdened for the New Testament local church. I see us wavering on so many fronts. In addition, I am very concerned with the philosophy that has invaded our churches.

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
– Colossians 2:8

Somewhere along the line, we developed the idea that we can listen, read, and study neo-evangelicals and separate the bad from the good. It is not possible.

For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.
– Acts 4:20

Many of us are witnessing the influence of user-friendly preaching, music, terminology, dress, and appearance that is not becoming of saints. May I remind my readers that we will never reach this world and rescue a nation for Christ by becoming like the world, but rather by being separate from the world. Why in the world would anyone want to be like the world? If a Christian were going to be just like the world, what would be the reason for leaving the flesh to come to a compromising church?

My prayer is that we will fall in love again with God’s institution, the church. We need to protect it and realize that, according to the book of Jude, the historic doctrines of the faith have been deposited into our care.

FOR A HISTORY OF THE CHURCH FROM THE TIMES OF CHRIST – The Trail of Blood

THE TRAIL OF BLOOD CHART THAT GOES WITH THE BOOK ABOVEThe Chart 

Read THE CHURCH ONLINE by my childhood hero

  1. Part 1
  2. Part 2

WANT TO KNOW JESUS PERSONALLY?  CLICK HERE

TERMINATING THE PAST

Today we come to the question of how a person deals with his past after believing in the Lord. After believing in the Lord, a person still carries many things of the past with him. How should he terminate these things?

I. THE TEACHING OF THE BIBLE BEING CONCERNED
WITH WHAT ONE DOES AFTER SALVATION

The entire Bible, both the Old Testament and the New Testament, but especially the New Testament, shows that God does not pay attention to what a person does before he believes in the Lord. Try to find a verse from Matthew 1 to Revelation 22 on how believers should terminate their past, and you will see how hard it is to find something on this subject. Even the Epistles, which touch on our wrongdoings in the past, mainly tell us what we should do hereafter, not what we should do about our past. The books of Ephesians, Colossians, and 1 Thessalonians all cover something about our past, but they do not tell us how we should terminate our past; they only tell us how we should go on.

You may recall that someone asked John the Baptist, “What then shall we do?” John answered, “He who has two tunics, let him share with the one who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.” He did not talk about their past but about their future. Some tax collectors came to John and asked what they should do. John answered, “Exact no more than that which is appointed you.” Some soldiers also asked, “What shall we do?” John replied, “Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.” (Luke 3:10-14). This shows us that John, who preached repentance, emphasized the things that we should do hereafter, not the things of the past.

Let us also consider Paul’s Epistles. He always emphasized what we should do in the future, not what we should do regarding the past, because everything of the past has been covered under the precious blood. If we err a little in this matter, we will corrupt the gospel; we will corrupt the way of the Lord, the way of repentance, and the way of restitution. We must deal with this subject carefully.

“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Here Paul speaks of the believers’ past conduct, but he does not say how they should deal with it. “… but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God ” (1 Cor. 6:11b). The emphasis here is not on dealing with the past, because we have a Savior who has already dealt with all our past. Today the emphasis is on what we should do hereafter. A saved person is already washed, sanctified, and justified.

 

” And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)” (Ephesians 2:1-5). These verses do not tell us how we should terminate the things of the flesh. There is only one termination—our Lord’s termination of everything for us based upon the great love with which God loved us and the rich mercy of God.

 

Ephesians 4:17-24 also speaks of our past condition. “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”(Ephesians 4:17-24)

 

“Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.” (Ephesians 4:25) This refers to the things hereafter. It does not tell us how to deal with our past falsehood but that henceforth we should no longer remain in falsehood. Today we must “…speak every man truth with his neighbour… Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:  Neither give place to the devil.” (Eph. 4:25b-27). These verses do not refer to the past but to the future. “Let him that stole steal no more:” (Eph. 4:28a). Paul did not say that he who steals needs to return what was stolen. His emphasis is still on hereafter. What was stolen in the past is another matter. “… but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” (Eph. 4:28b-31).

 

” But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.”(Ephesians 5:3-4)  These words are still in the same principle. They speak of things after one believes in the Lord. They are not about the termination of things done before one believes in the Lord.

After reading all the Epistles, we find a marvelous truth: God pays attention only to what a person should do after he has believed in the Lord. He does not pay attention to the things he has done in his past. He does not tell us what to do with them. This is a basic principle.

Many people are in bondage because they have accepted a wrong gospel. Such a gospel places too much stress on dealing with one’s past. This does not mean that we do not need to deal with our past. Certain things of our past must be dealt with, but such a dealing is not the foundation of our going on. God always draws our attention to the fact that our past sins are under the blood. We are fully forgiven and saved because the Lord Jesus has died for us. Our salvation is not based on how we deal with the past. Man is not saved by repentance for his past bad deeds, just as he is not saved by trusting in his past good deeds. Man is saved through the salvation accomplished by the Lord on the cross. We should hold fast to this foundation.

II. NEW TESTAMENT EXAMPLES
OF DEALING WITH THE PAST

What then should we do with the things of our past? In reading the New Testament, I have spent much time to find out how one should terminate his past after believing in the Lord. I found only a few passages where the subject is mentioned briefly. However, they are not teachings but examples.

A. Matters Related to Idols
Needing to Be Dealt with Thoroughly

First Thessalonians 1:9 says, “For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God;” When a person believes in the Lord, he must deal with all idols. Please remember that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. What agreement does the temple of God have with idols? Even the apostle John, in addressing the believers, said, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.”(1 John 5:21) Hence, this is not as simple a matter as many may think.

One thing we must take note of is that God forbids man to make an image of anything. We cannot consider a man-made object to be living. The moment we have such a thought, the object becomes an idol to us. Of course, idols are nothing, but if we consider them to be living, we fall into error. This is why God forbids the worship of such things. Even an inclination in the heart towards them is forbidden. One of the Ten Commandments forbids the making of idols (Deut. 5:8).

Deuteronomy 12:30 says, “Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise.” This shows us that we should not even inquire how the Gentiles worship their gods. Some who are curious like to study how the nations worship and serve their gods. But God forbids us to inquire about such matters. If we inquire about them, the next thing we will do is worship their gods. Hence, we are forbidden from being curious.

 

Second Corinthians 6:16 says, “And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?” The meaning here is quite obvious. Christians should not visit temples. There are exceptions of course, such as when a person is stranded on a deserted mountain and cannot find a place for shelter at night and there is only a temple for lodging. But generally speaking, believers should not visit any temple. This is because 2 Corinthians 6:16 says clearly that we are the temple of the living God. It also says that there is no agreement between idols and the temple of the living God. Unless one is pressed by special occasion or circumstance, it is inadvisable to go near or purposely tour any temple. John says, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.” (1 John 5:21) Guarding ourselves from idols means staying away from them.  (As this is written in China over 60 years ago, perhaps we should stay away from “American Idol.”)

 

Psalm 16:4 says, “Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another god: their drink offerings of blood will I not offer, nor take up their names into my lips.”  Even at the pulpit, we should carefully avoid the names of other gods except in the case of a necessary illustration. We should not hold on to any superstition, fear of misfortune, or taboo for certain associations or words. Many believers still pay attention to fortunes, the reading of facial features, and destinies. (This applies to reading the horoscope and talking about what sign of the Zodiac someone is under.)  Everything related to fortune-telling or horoscopes is prohibited. Everything in the realm of idolatry should be dealt with thoroughly before God. We should sever our relationship with it completely.

A new believer must give up his idols from the very first day of his salvation. He should not mention the names of idols, be involved with fortune-telling, or visit any temples. (Some TV programs are filled with stories about heathen temples.  Such movies as “Star Wars” and “Harry Potter” are steeped in the Occult and mythology.) We cannot worship anything with an image. Even the thought of worshipping such things is forbidden. (This includes idolizing movie stars or sports heroes.)  We cannot inquire about the worship of other religions. All these things belong to the past, and we should deal with them. Anything that falls into these categories should be destroyed; they should not even be sold. We should destroy, exterminate, and remove them. I hope that new believers will not take this matter lightly; they have to be very careful about these things, for God is extremely jealous of idols.  (If you were in the Catholic Church or another religion where they worshipped Mary or other “Saints” and idols, you need to remove them and have nothing more to do with any of them.)

If you cannot take a strong stand against idols today, you will have a hard time escaping the greatest idol on earth in the future. Of course, we should not worship idols made of clay or wood. But even if there is an idol that is living, we must not worship it. There are actually living idols—the man of lawlessness (2 Thes. 2:3) being one. Please remember that you cannot worship any idols; you must reject all of them, even images of the Lord Jesus and Mary.

We must deal with this matter thoroughly. Otherwise, we will be distracted to follow another way. We are those who serve not in the flesh but in spirit. God is seeking those who serve Him in spirit, not in the flesh. God is Spirit, not an image. If all the brothers and sisters take care of this matter, they will not fall into the hands of Roman Catholicism, Islam or Mormonism in the future. One day Antichrist will come, and the power of Roman Catholicism will be greatly expanded.  (One of the worst forms of idolatry is the worship of Allah and revering of Mohammed as if he were some form of idol with power.)

In the Bible, the first thing one has to do in dealing with his past is to reject all former idols. (This includes false books like the Book of Mormon and the Quran of Islam.  A new Christian should remove from these completely.)  We must turn away from idols and wait for the coming of the Son of God. We should not even keep any picture of the Lord Jesus. Such pictures are not the real image of the Lord Jesus; they are worthless. In the museums in Rome, there are over two thousand different images of the Lord Jesus. All of them represent the imagination of the artists. In some countries artists often look for people who resemble their idea of Jesus and then pay them to pose for portraits of Jesus. This is blasphemous. Our God is a jealous God, and He will not tolerate such things among us. There should not be any kind of superstition. Some people like to say, “It is not a good day today; there are bad omens.” Such remarks are directly from hell. God’s children should get rid of these ideas from the very first day and deal with them in a thorough way. They should not allow any flavor of idolatry to come in.

In this generation, idols have actually come into the church in the form of Rock & Roll music which is sung to the same beat as the Druids used to worship idols and demons in ancient England.  The forerunner of this form of idol worship was Larry Norman who wrote a song, “Why should the devil have all the good music.”  I can assure you that the Devil has no good music and the very thought that churches are now enshrining a set of drums on the platform is a sign that the idol of Rock & Roll is alive and well in our churches.  As Frank Garlock has so adequately taught concerning music, the message is in the beat and the message of all CCM music is quite different from the words that they add as a last resort to make the Devil’s Music (a term Larry Norman loved) into pseudo-Christian music.  I truly believe that the greatest idol in our generation matches the popular music show on TV, “American Idol.”  People are completely dominated by this form of music.  It is a high far more powerful than drugs or alcohol and now the Devil’s music along with his NIV Bible are dominating churches.  The NIV teaches that Jesus is Lucifer in Isaiah 14 where the name “Morning Star,” which is a term for Jesus, is substituted for Lucifer.  Also, in the New Testament in 5 or more places, Jesus is called the “Cap Stone” which is another occult symbol.  This is a change from foundation or corner stone, the true Bible term.  So, if a person is truly saved they need to destroy all occult versions of the bible except the King James Version and occult styles of music like CCM or Christian Rock because they are certainly not Christian, nor are they spiritual or holy.

B. Improper Objects Needing to Be Terminated

“Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.” (Acts 19:19)  This is another matter which new believers should deal with and terminate. (This could include the Book of Mormon, the Quran, or any pornographic books, magazines or sleazy novels, movies, and DVD’s.)

This is not a command or a teaching; it is the result of the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit moved in such a strong way that the Ephesians brought out all the improper books in their possession. Here it says the price was “fifty thousand pieces of silver,” which is a considerable sum. They did not sell their books and give the money to the church. Instead, the books were burned. If Judas had been present, he certainly would not have allowed this. This was much more than thirty pieces of silver which could have been given to the poor. But the Lord was pleased to have them burned.

Apart from the kind of objects mentioned above, there are many other questionable objects that need to be dealt with. Some of them are clearly related to sins. Gambling instruments and improper books and pictures are some examples. These must be burned or destroyed. There may be many luxury items and objects of indulgence which cannot be burned. However, they still need to be removed. Burning, however, is the general principle in dealing with these things, especially if they relate to the occult.

After a person believes in the Lord, he should go home and check through his personal belongings. In an unbeliever’s home, there is always something related to sin. He may have things which do not befit the saints. Things related to sin must be burned or destroyed; they cannot be sold. Luxury items should be converted and altered if possible. If they cannot be altered, we must sell them.

The garments of the lepers in Leviticus 13 and 14 are a good illustration. Garments which have become leprous and cannot be washed must be burned. However, those which can be washed should be washed for reuse. If the style of our clothes is unbecoming, we can alter them. Some garments may be too short, and we can lengthen them; others are odd-looking, and we can make them look more inconspicuous. Some objects cannot be salvaged; they have the element of sin in them, in which case we have to burn them. Those that can be sold should be sold, and the money should be given to the poor.

There should be a termination of improper things. If every new believer will go through all his belongings thoroughly, he will have a very good start. Superstitious objects have to be burned, these belong to the occult.  Others can be altered or sold after being altered. Once we learn this lesson, we will not forget it for the rest of our lives. We must realize that being a Christian is a very practical matter; it is not just a matter of going to “church” and listening to some sermons.

C. Repaying Debts

“And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.” (Luke 19:8)   Zaccheus did not do this as a result of doctrinal teaching; he did this as a result of the working of the Holy Spirit. If it had been the result of doctrinal teaching, only the exact amount would have been repaid, no more and no less. But since it was the working of the Holy Spirit, the amount could vary; it could be a little more or a little less. Zaccheus said, “If I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore four times as much.” Actually, a double compensation would have been more than adequate. The principle in the book of Leviticus is to add one-fifth to the original amount. For one thousand dollars, you would have to repay one thousand two hundred dollars. But if one is touched, he can pay as much as the Lord’s Spirit directs him to pay. He can be moved to repay four times or ten times as much. What is spoken of here is only a principle. In reading the Bible, we must be clear that what is covered is not a mere teaching. It is the result of the leading of the Holy Spirit when He operates in man.

Suppose that before you became a believer, you had extorted or defrauded others, stolen from them, or obtained things by improper means. Now that the Lord is working within, you have to deal with these things in a proper manner. This has nothing to do with the forgiveness you received from the Lord, but it is very much related to your testimony.

Suppose I stole a thousand dollars from someone before I was saved. If I have not dealt with the matter clearly, how can I preach the gospel to that person after I am saved? While I am preaching to him, his heart may still be on the thousand dollars. No doubt, I have received forgiveness from God, but I do not have a proper testimony before man. I cannot say, “Since God has forgiven me, it does not matter whether or not I repay him.” No, this matter is related to my testimony.

Please remember that Zaccheus restored four times as much for the sake of his testimony. At that time everyone was saying, “How could the Lord lodge in this sinner’s home? He has extorted and defrauded many people!” They were all indignant. While they were saying this, Zaccheus stood up and said, “If I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore four times as much.” This fourfold restoration was neither a requirement for becoming a son of Abraham nor a requirement for God’s salvation coming to Zaccheus’s house. This fourfold restoration was the result of God’s salvation coming to Zaccheus’s house and of his becoming a son of Abraham. Due to this act of restoration, Zaccheus had a testimony before man. This was the basis of his testimony.

I knew a brother who was not very upright in financial matters before he believed in the Lord. Many of his classmates were upper middle-class people. After he believed in the Lord, he became rather zealous in leading his classmates to the Lord. But he did not see much fruit. Although he earnestly preached the gospel to them, they said in their heart, “What is this? What about all the money?” His past had not been eradicated from them. This brother did not follow the example of Zaccheus. His sins were forgiven before God. All his problems were solved. But the matter concerning his money before his classmates was not resolved. He had to confess and make recompense for all his past wrongdoings before he could testify to others. The restoration of his testimony depended on the termination of his past.

As I have mentioned, Zaccheus did not become a son of Abraham by restoring four times as much. Neither did he gain salvation by restoring four times as much. Rather, he restored four times as much because he was a child of Abraham. He restored four times as much because he was saved. By restoring four times as much, he shut the mouths of others. They could no longer say anything. His fourfold restoration went far beyond what he owed, thus shutting the mouths of others and restoring his testimony.

Brothers and sisters, did you wrong anyone in any way before you became a believer? Do you owe anyone anything? Have you taken things home which belong to others? Have you taken anything by improper means? If so, you have to deal with all these things properly. The repentance of a Christian has to do with confessing his past wrongdoings, whereas the repentance of ordinary men only involves a change in his present conduct. For example, as a human being, if I have a bad temper, I need only to refrain from my temper. But as a Christian, in addition to refraining from my temper, I have to apologize for my former temper. Apart from not losing my temper before God, I must also apologize for my former temper before men. Only then can this matter be terminated.

Suppose you stole from others in the past. Your problem before God is settled as long as you no longer steal. Likewise, if you have ever taken things that belonged to others, your problem is settled once you stop doing it. However, this is not enough for you to have a testimony before men. Even if you have not stolen anything in three years, others may still consider you as a thief. After believing in the Lord, you must testify before men; you must deal with all your mistakes in the past. Only then will your position be clear.

But here is a difficult problem. Suppose you stole ten thousand dollars from someone. What should you do if you do not even have one thousand dollars now? In principle you have to confess to the person from whom you have stolen. You should tell him frankly that you cannot repay him at the present time. Whether or not you can repay him immediately is another matter; you should still confess and testify to him. If you do not testify now, you will not be able to testify for the rest of your life.

Please remember that in the course of giving your testimony, you may be affected by personal problems. But you cannot avoid dealing with these problems. You still must deal with the problems. You can have a testimony before men only after you have dealt with your problems.

Some have committed murder in the past. What should they do now? This is a part of their past. In the Bible there are two murderers who were saved. One was involved directly with the act of murder, while the other murdered indirectly. The first one was the robber on the cross. It is clear in the Greek language that the word robber does not just mean an ordinary robber; it means a criminal who engages in such acts as murder and arson. He was not just a thief but one who robbed and killed. After he believed in the Lord, his sins were forgiven. The Bible does not tell us how he terminated his past. The other person is Paul. He was not involved in any direct murder. However, he was an accomplice in the murder of Stephen, and he watched over the garments of those who killed Stephen. After Paul was saved, nothing was said about how he dealt with this matter.

In principle I believe that once a murderer has believed in the Lord, his sins are behind him. There is no sin which cannot be cleansed by the blood. The robber did not have to do anything to terminate his past. In fact, he had no opportunity to do anything. The Lord said to him, “Today thou shalt be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). Therefore, when we encounter such cases, we should not overly burden the conscience of others, unless of course God has first worked in that person’s heart. This is because in the two New Testament cases that deal with murder—one directly and the other indirectly—God did not pay attention to the rectification of the past. However, I believe that some have no peace in their conscience, not because they are suffering from ordinary accusations, but because God is working in them. In such cases, we should not stop them from expressing their regrets to the victim’s family.

D. The Termination of Unsettled Matters

When a person is saved, he surely has many unsettled secular matters at hand. These may easily hinder him from following the Lord. What should he do? “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead” (Matt. 8:22). This is another biblical case of terminating the past. Here, a man came to Jesus and said to Him, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father” (v. 21). The Lord said, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” The word their refers to the first use of the word dead, whereas the second dead refers to the man’s father. The first dead refers to those who are spiritually dead. In God’s eyes those in the world are spiritually dead. The Lord was saying that the man should let the dead bury his father, while he should follow the Lord.

I am not exhorting new believers to not make funeral arrangements for their fathers. I am saying that the dead should bury their own dead. We must lay hold of this principle. We should let go of unfinished business. If we wait until we have finished settling them before we become Christians, we will never have the time. There are hundreds and thousands of items of unfinished business in our families, with our fathers, and in our lives. Who then could become a Christian? There is only one word to describe the principle behind all of these things—these are dead people. Let the dead bury their dead. Let the spiritually dead handle the matters of the dead! This is the principle. This is not to exhort new believers to neglect their family. It means that they should not wait until they have settled all their earthly matters before coming to the Lord. If they do, they will not be able to follow the Lord.

Many people want to settle all of their affairs before they believe in the Lord. If so, they will have no opportunity to believe in Him. We should not be bound by matters of the dead. Instead, we should just regard the unsettled matters as settled. If we want to settle them before following the Lord, we will never make it. Matters concerning idols, improper things, and debts must be dealt with thoroughly. As for other unsettled matters, we should just let them go!

With regard to the attitude of a new believer towards his past, I can only find the above four categories of things in the Word of God. As for many other unsettled affairs, we should regard them as settled. As to family duties, we should let the dead take care of the dead. We have no time to deal with them. We want to follow the Lord. Those things are not for us to settle; they are for the dead to take care of. Let the ones who are spiritually dead handle them.

A QUESTION

A brother asked: If I have offended a person and he is not aware of it, must I also confess to him?

Answer: It all depends on whether or not he has suffered material loss. If the other party is aware of this loss, you should deal with the matter by following Zaccheus’s example. Even if he is unaware of this loss, you should still confess to him, especially when material loss is involved. It is best to bring the matter to the church and let the more experienced brothers help you solve it because they know what is most expedient.

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Written originally by Watchman Nee in China during the Chinese revolution and died in a prison camp but these lessons have been the foundation of my life for 38 years.  The illustration was created by me after a study of the Greek word “eis” which means “into.”  David Williams – site Admin.

 

BAPTISM – Immersion in water

Scripture Reading: Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:20-21; Rom. 6:3-4; Col. 2:12

Baptism is a great subject in the Bible. We need to be clear about two aspects concerning baptism. First, before we are baptized, we need to be clear as to what baptism can do for us. Second, after we are baptized, we need to look backward and ask, “What is the significance of baptism?” In the first case, the baptism pool and the water are before us. As we are going to be baptized, we should ask ourselves, “What can baptism do for me?” After our baptism, we need to ask, “What is the meaning of my baptism?” One is a question posed in foresight, and the other is a question posed in hindsight. The former touches one’s knowledge prior to baptism, and the latter, one’s understanding after baptism.

I. WHAT BAPTISM DOES FOR A PERSON

He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

(Mark 16:16). This verse shows what baptism does for a person.

A. Baptism Saving Man from the World

“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” I suppose that all Baptists are a little afraid of this verse. Therefore, they dare not read it. Whenever they read this verse, they change it to, “He that believeth and is saved shall be baptized.” But the Lord’s Word does not say this. In order to avoid the error of Catholicism, the Baptists deliberately go around God’s Word. However, as they evade the error of Catholicism, they fall into another error. The Lord’s Word is clear: “He who believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” Man has no authority to change it to, “He who believeth and is saved shall be baptized.”

1. Salvation Being a Deliverance from the World

Let us now pay attention to the meaning of the word salvation in the Bible. What is a person being saved from? According to the Bible, a man is saved from the world, not hell, though being saved he will go to heaven. The opposite of eternal life is perdition, but the Bible does not regard salvation as the opposite of perdition. The Bible shows us that salvation is one’s deliverance from the world. As long as a person is in the world, he is already in perdition.

Let us consider man’s condition before God. Today man does not have to do anything to perish. I will not perish because I have killed someone, and I will not be saved from perdition because I have not killed someone. The fact is that the whole world is perishing. From among the perishing ones, God has pulled us out and saved us. The whole world is perishing corporately, but God is saving men one by one, individually. God does not catch all the fish from the sea and then separate the good from the bad, assigning some to salvation while destining others to perdition. All the fish in the sea are perishing. Those which are caught by God are saved; the rest remain in the sea.

Hence, the matter of salvation and perdition has nothing to do with whether or not you have believed or how good your conduct is; it has to do with your location. If you are in the boat, you are saved. If you are still in the sea, you are perishing. You may not have done anything, but as long as you are in the world, that is enough for you to perish. It does not matter whether you are good or bad, a gentleman or a villain. It does not matter whether or not you live by your conscience. As long as you are in the world, you are finished. If you have not left that place, you are condemned by God.

2. Salvation Being a Matter of Position

Because Adam sinned and became a sinner, all men became sinners. Man need not sin to be qualified as a sinner. All have become sinners through one man’s sin. Today God has saved you from among many men. If you are on the world’s side, no matter what kind of person you are, you are opposed to God, and you are God’s enemy. Your position is wrong; it is a perishing position, one that leads to perdition. If you are a person in the world, you are perishing.

The word salvation has been used freely among us and with much confusion. There is a distinction between salvation and obtaining eternal life. Obtaining eternal life is a personal matter, but salvation is a matter not only of receiving the eternal life personally but also of coming out from a wrong corporate body. Brothers and sisters, are you clear about this distinction? Receiving eternal life is a personal matter. Salvation, however, is not just a personal matter; it has to do with the corporate body to which you formerly belonged.

Salvation means coming out of one corporate body into another. The receiving of eternal life speaks of what one has entered into; it does not speak of what one has come out of. Salvation includes both a coming out of and an entering in. Therefore, the scope of salvation is wider than that of receiving eternal life. It includes being delivered from the world, that is, coming out of the world.

3. Four Major Facts Concerning the World before God

There are four major facts concerning the world as shown in the Bible: (1) The world is condemned in the eyes of God, (2) the world lies in the evil one, (3) the world has crucified the Lord Jesus, and (4) the world is at enmity with God; it is God’s enemy. These are the four major facts concerning the world before God. As long as a person is in the world, he is already condemned and will perish regardless of his conduct.

Please remember that the salvation of men is not a matter of personal conduct. They are wrong because their position is wrong. We know that it is not easy to be delivered from the world. How can I forsake the world if it is still attractive to me? However, when I realize that the world is in a wrong position with respect to God, I will have to forsake it no matter how lovely it may be to me. Hence, salvation is not just a matter of our personal conduct. The corporate body to which we belong is wrong. We need to be saved from our relationship with and our position in the world.

When the Jews tried to do away with the Lord Jesus, they cried, “Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children. (Matthew 27:25). Although we are not the ones who killed the Lord Jesus, our forefathers did. Even though we did not commit the act, the corporate body to which we belong did. The corporate body to which we belong is an enemy of God and is condemned to perish. Whether we are right or wrong individually is another matter. I hope you can see not only that we are sinners individually and need to be saved individually, but that we also belong to a corporate body which is wrong. The world to which we belong is God’s enemy. The world we are in is condemned by God. We need to be delivered from that relationship and that position.

4. Salvation Being to Come Out of the World

What is salvation? Salvation is a deliverance from a certain corporate body. It is a deliverance from a certain position and certain relationships. In other words, it means to come out of the world. Most people pay much attention to their personal salvation, but the question before us is what are they saved from? The salvation highlighted in the Bible involves being saved from the world, not from hell. The world as a whole is condemned by God.

There is no doubt that he that believeth has eternal life. We have been preaching this for many years. Once a person believes in the Lord Jesus, he has eternal life and is saved forever. All problems are solved. But please remember that if a person believes but is not baptized, he is still not saved (from the world). Indeed, you may have believed and you may have eternal life, but are you saved in the eyes of the world? If you are not baptized, you are not saved (in their eyes), because no one knows that you are different. You must rise up and be baptized, declaring that you have terminated your relationship with the world. Only then will you be saved by the truest definition given in these verses.

5. Believing Being on the Positive Side, and Baptism Being on the Negative Side

What then is baptism? Baptism is deliverance. Believing is on the positive side and baptism is on the negative side. Baptism delivers you out of that corporate body. Many people in the world may say that you are one of them. But the moment you are baptized, they will realize you are finished. The one whom they have known for years is now saved and baptized. Your friendship with them is terminated. You are in the tomb; you have reached the end of your road. You already know that you have eternal life. Now that you are baptized, you are saved. From now on, everyone knows that you are the Lord’s and that you belong to Him.

“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” This is true because once a person believes and is baptized everyone will know where he stands. Without believing, there is no inward reality, and what one does will be nothing but an outward display. With believing, there is inward reality, and if one takes a further step to be baptized, he will be separated from the world, having terminated his relationship with it. Baptism is a separation. It separates us from others.

“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” The Lord Jesus’ word is quite clear. It goes on by saying, “but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Unbelief alone is sufficient for condemnation. As long as a person belongs to that corporate body, his unbelief is sufficient for condemnation. But if one has believed, he still needs to be baptized. If he is not baptized, he still has not made an exit outwardly.

6. A Very Amazing Thing in the World

A very amazing thing in the world today is the attitude of Judaism, Hinduism, and Islam toward baptism.

Any Jew who embraces the Christian faith in secret will not be persecuted. Many Jews believe in the historical record concerning the Lord Jesus. Their greatest hurdle is not in believing in Him but in baptism. Once they are baptized, they are cast out. Some sisters were poisoned by their fiancé after they were baptized. Such things happen even in civilized communities like London and New York. It is all right for a person to believe in his heart, but once he is baptized, others will persecute him.

In India, no one will do anything to a believer if he is not baptized. But once he is baptized, they will cast him out. It is all right for one to believe in the Lord, but he cannot be baptized.

The reaction of the Muslims is more violent. Someone once said that it is difficult for a Muslim believer to remain alive. As soon as he believes, he will die. Dr. Swema is the first person who succeeded in working among the Muslims. He said, “My work will never grow, because once a person believes in the Lord, he has to be sent away immediately. Otherwise, he will die within two or three days after his baptism.” This condition is prevalent even among Muslims today.

Baptism is an open declaration that one has come out. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” We should never consider the salvation here to mean a personal salvation of the spirit. In the Bible, salvation signifies a deliverance from the world, not deliverance from hell.

B. Baptism Being for the Forgiveness of Sins

On the day of Pentecost, the apostles told the Jews, “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. (Acts 2:38). The Baptists have difficulty accepting this verse. But this verse is the plain word of the apostles. “Be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” It is strange that the emphasis of the apostle’s word is not upon faith but upon baptism.

Was the focus of Peter’s message in Acts 2 on persuading men to believe? No. Does this mean that Peter’s preaching was inferior to ours? The Bible tells us that the most crucial thing concerning salvation is faith. How could Peter have left this out? Perhaps he could ignore other doctrines in his message, but how could he not speak about faith? Nevertheless, he did not speak about it. Instead, he spoke about baptism, and the Holy Spirit pricked the heart of those who listened. What about us? We say that faith alone is enough. We think this is orthodox Christianity. Yet Peter said, “Be baptized upon the name of Jesus Christ.”

Peter spoke only of baptism because those who listened to him were the ones who had killed the Lord Jesus. Fifty days prior to that, they were crying, “Take this man away.” These were the same people who were shouting and crying in Jerusalem. Now they needed to be separated from the rest of the Jews. This is why it was not necessary to speak to them about believing. They only needed to be baptized. That would be sufficient for them to get out. As soon as they were baptized, their relationship with that corporate body would be terminated. As soon as they were baptized, they would leave that corporate body and their sins would be washed away. They would no longer be part of that corporate body; they would be out of it. This is why Peter said, “Be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” The act of baptism brought them out. As soon as they came out, all problems were solved.

You need to realize that you were originally in the world and that you were an enemy of God. Since you have come out, you are saved. You need to confess before God and before men that you have come out and have nothing to do with that corporate body. You are through with it. “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.” This was the main teaching on the day of Pentecost. At this point your mind needs to be directed by God’s Word, not by Protestant theology.

C. Baptism Being for the Washing Away of Sins

Let us consider the case of Paul. Ananias came to Paul and said to him, ” And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord. (Acts 22:16).

Paul was the foremost and greatest teacher, prophet, and apostle of Christianity. Was there a little error in his experience? Sometimes we preach the right doctrines but have the wrong experience. What would happen when we gave our testimony? What would happen if others did the same thing we do? The testimony of a teacher is very important because it may mislead others. Could it be that the experience of the foremost teacher of Christianity was wrong?

“And now, why do you delay? Rise up and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on His name.” Please take note of this verse. It says that baptism can wash away one’s sins. The Catholics quote this verse and regard it as a personal matter before God. The error of Catholicism lies in saying, “If you are baptized, your sins will be washed away.” Therefore, they claim that a death-bed baptism can wash away sins. They do not realize that the significance of this matter is not before God but before the world.

Formerly, Paul was a man in the world. After he had believed in the Lord Jesus and had seen Him, he needed to rise up and be baptized. The moment he was baptized, his sins were washed away. The moment he severed his relationship with the world, his sins were gone. If you are a Christian secretly and are not baptized, the world may still consider you as one of them. You may say that you are saved, but the world will not admit it. You may say that you have believed in the Lord Jesus, but they will say that they have not seen it. Once you get into the water, they will see it; they will know that you have believed in Jesus. Otherwise, why should a person be so foolish as to get into the water? The moment you are baptized, you are freed from the world. Water baptism is a severance of one’s relationship with the world.

If a person believes in his heart but does not have any outward gesture, the world will still consider him to be part of it. For instance, in Kuling of Fukien there is a strong tradition of idol worship every fall; everyone is required to donate some money. If a person merely says that he has believed in the Lord, others will not believe him. But the moment he is baptized, they will know that he is no longer one of them. Therefore, baptism is the best way to free oneself from the world. If you want to be freed from the world, you must be baptized. You must tell the world, “My relationship with you is over.” By doing this, you come out of the world.

Baptism is an open testimony, and we should not be afraid to let others witness it. Unbelievers can also be present during our baptism. Recently, when we baptized some people in Foochow, a brother said, “We do not like to conduct the baptism meeting in such a messy way. There were too many spectators.” If this is the case, John the Baptist would have to learn from this brother because John conducted baptisms that were not that orderly. Even the baptisms of the three thousand on the day of Pentecost were not that orderly. The issue is not whether a meeting is orderly. Of course, it is not good to be disorderly. But all the brothers and sisters should know what we are doing. When we baptize someone, we should let the whole world witness what we are doing.

D. Baptism Leading to Salvation through Water

The Scripture is consistent in its principles. First Peter 3:20 says, “… in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water ” This verse shows us again that baptism leads to salvation. The Lord Jesus said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” On the day of Pentecost, Peter said, “Be baptized…for the forgiveness of your sins.” Paul’s action shows us that when a person is baptized, his sins are washed away. They are not just forgiven, but washed away. This is because our sins are washed away when we sever our relationship with the world. Here, the word in 1 Peter also shows us that we are saved through water. Therefore, baptism leads to salvation through water.

Those who cannot pass the test of water are not saved. A person who cannot pass through water drowns. During Noah’s time, everyone was baptized, but only eight souls came out. All the people were baptized and immersed in the water, but only eight souls emerged from it. (They were in the ark – our ark is Christ and by the illustration we are saved “into” Him.  We who are saved are also in the ark spiritually.) In other words, the water became the water of death to some, but to others it was the water of salvation. Others go into the water and remain there, but we pass through the water and emerge from it. There is something positive in Peter’s word. When the flood came, everyone drowned. Only the eight souls in the ark, whom the water could not overcome, emerged from it. While the rest perished, these eight souls were saved. Today the whole world is under the wrath of God. For one to be baptized today means that he goes through God’s wrath. But he does not only go through it; he comes out of it. His emergence from it shows that he is one who has come out. This is baptism.

Baptism is being immersed on one side and emerging out of water on the other side. Baptism means passing through and emerging from the water. You must emphasize the aspect of “emergence.” Everyone went into the water, but only the eight souls came out. Today we are saved through baptism. What does this mean? When I am baptized, I do not go into the water and remain there. Rather, I enter into the water and emerge from it. If you have never believed in the Lord Jesus, your baptism will not result in an emergence. Today my going into the water and coming out of it means that I am different from you. I can come out from the world through the water. I testify to others that I am different from the world.

E. Baptism Freeing Us from the World

The above four portions of the Scripture clearly show us what baptism is. Once we are baptized, we are freed from the world. We do not need years to be freed from the world. The first thing for a new believer to do is to be baptized. You must see the position of the world before God. You have renounced your former position in the world. This is salvation. You must put off the world completely. From now on, you are no longer a part of the world; you are on the other side.

Once we believe in the Lord, we should realize that we are no longer a part of the world. (See the illustration!  We have moved out of the world and “into” Christ.)  Our baptism is a sign that we are freed from the world. Through baptism we assume a different role. Henceforth, we abide in the ark and are persons on the other side. We can tell others that we do not do certain things because we have believed in Jesus. But, even more, we can tell others that we do not do them because we are baptized. We have crossed the bridge; we are on the other side. (In the illustration we have moved from the left to the right.)

Today we must recover the place of baptism before God. What is the meaning of baptism? Baptism means to come out of the world. It is a step which we take to free ourselves from the world. Our baptism is a declaration to others that we are out. This is like the words of a hymn which say, “Out of my bondage, sorrow and night, Jesus I come, Jesus I come.  Into thy freedom, gladness and light, Jesus I, come to thee.” Our dear ones know that we are finished and that we have come to the end of our road. We are through. Only this kind of baptism is effective. If this is not our realization, our baptism is too light and insubstantial. We must realize that we have been freed from the old circle and have come out of it. Eternal life is something that our spirit gains before God, but salvation is an act of our separation from the world.

II. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF BAPTISM

Everyone who is already baptized needs to look back and consider the meaning of baptism. Even if you were baptized ten or twenty years ago, you still need to review this matter. We should always remember the verse which says, ” Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?”(Romans 6:3). This verse is spoken in retrospect, not as forethought.

The verses in Mark 16, Acts 2, Acts 22, and 1 Peter 3 are for those who have not yet been baptized, whereas the verses in Romans 6 and Colossians 2 are for those who have been baptized. They address those who have been baptized already. God is telling them, “Do you not know that when you were baptized, you died together with Christ and were buried and resurrected together with Him?”

Romans 6 emphasizes death and burial even though it also speaks of resurrection. Colossians 2 is more advanced; it emphasizes burial and resurrection, with resurrection as the focus. The emphasis of Romans 6 is death: “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? ” The main point here is death. We should die together with Christ. Romans 6 is on death and burial, whereas Colossians 2 is on burial and resurrection.  “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.” (Colossians 2:12)

The water of baptism typifies the tomb. Today, when we put a person into the water, it is as if we are burying him in the ground. When we raise him up from the water, it is equivalent to raising him up from the tomb. Before one can be buried, he must first be dead. You cannot bury a living person. If a person rises up again after he is buried, this is surely resurrection. The first part of this truth is found in Romans, and the second part of this truth is found in Colossians.

A. A Great Gospel—I Am Dead

When the Lord Jesus was crucified, He carried us along with Him to the cross; we were crucified there as well. In the eyes of God, He has terminated us. What do you think of yourself? You may say, “I am a terrible person to deal with!” Those who do not know themselves do not realize how impossible they are. A person who knows God and who knows himself will say, “I am an impossible person.”

When we were heavy-laden with sin, we heard of the death of the Lord Jesus. This is the gospel. Then we saw that we were beyond all hope and that we were dead. This is also the gospel. Thank God, this is the gospel! The Lord’s death has included all of us. We are dead in Christ. This is a great gospel! Just as the Lord’s death is a great gospel, our own death is also a great gospel. Just as the Lord’s death is a joyful matter, our own death is also a joyful matter. What should be the first thought that comes to our mind when we hear that our Lord has died? We should be like Joseph of Arimathea; we should bury Him. Similarly, when we hear that we are dead, the first thing that we should do is to bury ourselves, because burial is the first thing that follows death. Death is not the end. We are already dead in Christ; therefore, the first thing we need to do is bury ourselves.

B. Having Died and Risen

Brothers, when we step into the water of baptism or when we look back after being believers for many years, we must remember that we are already dead. We allowed others to bury us because we believed that we were already dead. If our heart is still beating and we are still breathing, we cannot be buried. In order to be buried, we must be dead.

When the Lord was crucified, we were crucified too. We allowed others to put us into the water because we believed that we had died. The Lord Jesus has resurrected; He has put His resurrection power within us. Now we are regenerated through this power. This resurrection power operates within us and causes us to be resurrected. This is why we rose from the water. We are no longer our former self; we are now resurrected persons. Today, we must always remind ourselves of this matter. When we went into the water, we believed that we died and needed to be buried. When we came up from the water, we believed that we had newness of life. Now we are on the side of resurrection. Death is on the other side, but resurrection is on this side.

C. I Am in Christ

Once I saw a headline in the newspaper which read, “One Person, Three Lives.” The article was about a pregnant woman who had been murdered. After the woman died, it became known that she was pregnant with twins. Hence, the headline read, “One Person, Three Lives.” Please note that concerning the Lord, it is, “One Person, Millions of Lives.” This is why the Bible repeatedly emphasizes the words in Christ. In the murder spoken of above, the murderer apparently killed only the mother; he did not kill the two children. However, because the two children were in their mother’s womb, they died when their mother died. Likewise, since we are in Christ, when Christ died, we died in Him.

God has put us into Christ Jesus. (See the illustration above.)  This is the revelation in 1 Corinthians 1:30: “Of Him ye are in Christ Jesus.” Since Christ has died, we are all dead. The basis for our co-death with Christ is our being in Christ. If we do not know what being in Christ means, we will not understand what dying with Him means either. How could the children die with their mother? They died because they were in their mother’s womb. The analogy in the spiritual realm is even more real. God has joined us to Christ. When Christ died, we died also.

As soon as this gospel is preached to us, we should learn to look from God’s viewpoint and acknowledge that we have died in the Lord. We have died because we believed this to be a fact. We have been buried in the water and have come out of it. We declare that we are on this side of the tomb. This is resurrection. Reckoning in Romans 6 involves both reckoning oneself dead in Christ Jesus and reckoning oneself alive in Him as well.

Brothers and sisters, I hope that you will take this way once you are saved. These are two separate thoughts. One thought comes before baptism, and the other comes after baptism. Before baptism we must see that we have already died and that we need to be buried. After baptism we must realize that we are in resurrection and that we can therefore serve God today.

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Written originally by Watchman Nee in China during the Chinese revolution and died in a prison camp but these lessons have been the foundation of my life for 38 years.  The illustration was created by me after a study of the Greek word “eis” which means “into.”  David Williams – site Admin.

 

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