Sunday, April 21 2019
Many people speak of God as just another man rather than the eternal Being and Creator of the universe. By definition, God is beyond the universe as the Creator of the heavens and the earth. The cause of the universe must be transcendent of everything and thus metaphysical and supernatural. This uniqueness separating God from all creation and existence is God’s holiness.
His holy nature is pure, right, loving, and just. Isaiah’s rhapsody reflected that God shows Himself holy in righteousness (Isa 5:16). Because of God’s holiness, the Psalmist called for exaltation and worship of God (Ps 99:9; cf. 1 Chr 16:29). According to the Song of Moses, God’s majesty displays in His holiness (Exod 15:11).
God has called all believers to “be holy for I am holy” (1 Pet 1:16; cf. Lev 11:44–45; 19:2). According to 1 Peter 1:14–16, God is the standard of holiness in righteousness. To live holy lives is to live in the likeness of God. Peter urged Christians not to conform to passions of lust but Christians must become holy in all conduct and behavior. This is why obedience to God is essential. Peter further revealed that Christ ransomed Christians by His blood as He is without spot or blemish (1 Pet 1:18–19). Despite sins, everyone can pursue a holy and righteous life with God through Jesus Christ.
Hannah professed in her prayer, “There is none holy like the Lord: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God” (1 Sam 2:2). God is totally set apart from all evil. The Hebrew for holy is godesh meaning “apartness” or “sacred.” The root idea of holiness is separation. That separation of holiness is a divine quality of God’s righteous nature (Isa 5:16). Holiness is godliness.
Holiness is one of the greatest moral attributes of God by which believers commune with God. Unlike divine attributes that are maximal as God such as being almighty and all-knowing, humanity can share in God’s holiness and must to be saved (Heb 12:10). Holiness is both transcendent in God and yet morally applicable for humanity made in His image.
As one scholar noted, God’s holiness is comparable to the rooms of the tabernacle. The first room of the tabernacle is the “holy place” dedicated for priests to serve God daily. However, the veil separated the priests from the most holy place (Exod 26:33). The most holy place is separated from evil and sin as the Holy of Holies that contained God’s commandments within the Ark of the Covenant. God’s separation from sin demonstrates His complete righteousness. David expressed, “And who shall stand in His holy place?” (Ps 24:3).
The writer of Hebrews revealed, “For the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (12:14b). The holy nature of God demands a people who are holy, consecrated, pure, and set apart from the defiling acts of the world (1 Pet 2:5, 9; cf. Exod 19:4–6; Josh 24:19–20).
Thank God that He has made the faithful holy, because people cannot make themselves holy. Paul revealed, “He has now reconciled in His body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before Him,” (Col 1:22). Paul also declared, “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God” (2 Cor 7:1).
Monday, April 15 2019
Many churches teach the need for multiple baptisms including a spiritual baptism, a water baptism, and a Holy Spirit baptism. Why does the Bible teach “one baptism” and yet many churches teach the need for more than one (Eph 4:5)? The answer is that the leadership of these churches have been breaking the one baptism into parts and forming other baptisms. Furthermore, many people do not like water baptism as the Pharisees who rejected the baptism that John taught (Luke 7:30).
What is the one baptism in the Bible? The one baptism must be the baptism that Jesus commanded in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit when He resurrected from the dead (Matt 28:19–20). As Jesus commanded, baptism is in His name, which is baptism in water, throughout the Book of Acts (Acts 10:47–48; cf. 8:38). No one receives salvation without the work of the Holy Spirit by being washed in Jesus’s name (1 Cor 6:11; cf. Rom 8:9–10). The one baptism must include the blessings that Jesus promised to receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 1). Peter preached the one baptism in Jesus’s name for the forgiveness of sins and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).
The power and authority of baptism comes by the command of Jesus Christ not man. The Bible never calls baptism a work of man. However, God works salvation raising the repentant believer from baptism into new life (Col 2:12–13). God accomplishes all the work of forgiveness through baptism (Col 2:13).
Baptism partakes of the power of God for salvation in the Gospel (Rom 1:16). Of first importance to the Gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ that saves the believer (1 Cor 15:1–4). Baptism symbolizes the burial of the believer with Christ as the believer dies to oneself in repentance and is immersed in water uniting with Christ (Rom 6:3–5). For this reason, Christ revealed, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16).
As the believer becomes a disciple by baptism, God adds the baptized to His church. In the Book of Acts, Luke reported that those 3,000 baptized were saved and added to the body of disciples — the church (Acts 2:41, 47). Likewise, Paul agreed when he wrote of the one baptism that is by the Spirit and joins the believer to the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:13).
What should believers do about churches teaching more than one baptism? They should seek out the church that Jesus built and who teach the truth (cf. Matt 16:18). Jesus is the head of the body, His church (Eph 1:22–23). Disciples of Christ will seek out of the church of Christ.
For the unity of all saints in the church, Christians can unite and teach with one voice as Peter declared, “Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,” (1 Pet 3:21; cf. 1:3). By baptism, believers appeal and call to God for forgiveness and salvation.
To all who love Christ and have yet to be baptized, “And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name” (Acts 22:16).