Contents of Faith:
by: Joe R. Price
The Bible is the most possessed and least practiced book in the world. That may seem like an arrogant overstatement, but I assure you it is not intended to be. The fact is that if the Bible were really being practiced by even the majority of those who possess it and claim to believe it, much sin would be eliminated, religious division would be drastically reduced (since the Bible calls for unity of faith, not diversity of faiths, Ephesians 4:1-6), immorality would greatly diminish, and people would not believe that life accidentally began (since the Bible teaches the Divine Creation of the world, Genesis 1). The harsh truth is that most people do not really believe the Bible.
What about you and me? Surely we believe the Bible, don't we? We attend worship services. We read the Bible. We study the Bible. We know the Bible. All of that is good, but my question was, do we believe the Bible ? Is our faith built upon its words (Romans 10:17)? Or do we think the Christian faith is based upon feelings we keep groping after, but are never quite able to find? Many try to convince us that whatever having faith and being a Christian is all about must surely involve feeling some special way.
We have gotten things confused somehow in our zeal for obeying the Bible. Some have become convinced that if they feel good about them self and their spiritual condition, then they must be following the Bible and doing God's will. But feelings can deceive us, and the wise person remembers that only upon obeying the truth does the proper emotion follow (Proverbs 14:12; Acts 8:39). Therefore, we must compare our lives to the revealed word of God before being comforted by any feeling we possess.
Here are some practical suggestions to help us examine our love for the Bible, to check to see just how important God's word really is to us (2 Corinthians 13:5).
--Do I believe the Bible can be understood and properly obeyed? (Ephesians 3:3-5; 5:17)
--Do I spend time with the Bible, reading and learning of God's will for my life? (2 Timothy 2:15)
--Do I expend effort daily obeying its teachings in my life? (Psalms 119:105-106)
--Do I change my mind and my life to be conformed to what the Bible teaches when I discover I have been in error? (Acts 17:11-12; Acts 8:22; James 4:17)
--Is it important to me that the Bible be my only guide in matters of faith and practice? (Colossians 3:17; 2 Timothy 3:16-17)
--How eager am I to attend services where the Bible is taught? (Acts 10:33; 13:44) It is important for us to be honest with ourselves about our respect for the Bible.
When God's truth exposes sin within us, we must be eager
to repent, or we become guilty of giving lip service to God's word, saying
we honor the Bible while rejecting its instruction. "Oh how love I thy law!
It is my meditation all the day." (Psalm 119:97) When that sentiment becomes
a part of us we will "buy the truth and sell it not" (Proverbs 23:23).
The subject of baptism has stirred the hearts of religious zealots from ancient times. Few subjects have generated as much controversy. Yet, few subjects have been more clearly explained in the Bible. As with every other Bible subject, the will of man matters very little when it comes to the question, "what is truth?" (John 18:38) God's truth on the subject of baptism will be discovered in the New Testament of His Son Jesus Christ. To it we must go to understand baptism, and to it we must be obedient if we are to benefit from baptism in our lives.
Baptism did not begin with man. It was commanded by God. Although the Law of Moses made the Jewish people aware of numerous washing regulations, and the traditions of the elders added the burden of man's will to such matters, it was God who commanded baptism in water and connected it to the remission of sins (Leviticus 15; Mark 7:1-4; Luke 3:2-3; Acts 2:37-38). John's baptism called Israel to repent as a prerequisite to receiving the remission of their sins, as he called upon them to prepare for the coming Messiah (Matthew 3:1-12). The Great Commission baptism is commanded to all that they might be saved (Mark 16:15-16).
The Greek counterpart of the word baptize (baptizo) means "to dip, to immerse, to sink, to submerge, to dip in or underneath water." There is no doubt that the word baptize describes an action of going down into water and then coming up out of it. The scriptures affirm this definition (Acts 8:38-39). Its action is likened to a burial (Romans 6:3-4; Colossians 2:12). The practice of sprinkling or pouring water and calling it baptism was started by men centuries after the New Testament to accommodate men, not to conform to the revealed will of God. (History readily confirms this point.)
Why be baptized? The scriptures say it is to be "saved" (Mark 16:16); for the "remission of sins" (Acts 2:38); to wash away sins and call upon the name of the Lord (Acts 22:16); to get "into Christ Jesus" and into "His death" (Rom. 6:3); to "put on Christ" (Galatians 3:27); to be buried with Christ (Colossians 2:12); to be saved (1 Peter 3:21). A more pointed question is, Why do men and women object to these God-given reasons for baptism? So many believe baptism is not really important. They say that baptism is not necessary to be saved, and that baptism does not in any way affect salvation. Such denials of the scriptures are not worthy of those who believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.
Who should be baptized? Many say babies. Others say nobody. The scriptures teach that those who have the capability of being taught the gospel and in turn believe in Jesus should be baptized (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:16; Acts 8:35-37). The apostle Peter is firm in teaching that only those who first repent of their sins may be baptized in order for their sins to be removed (Acts 2:37-38, 41). If you have heard the gospel and believe that Jesus is the Christ, will confess that faith and repent of your sins, you are ready to be baptized for the reasons described above. The question then is, will you? And if not, why not?
Do you believe the Bible's teaching on baptism? You may have been baptized at some point in your life. The important question is, "Why were you baptized?" Was it to conform to man's doctrine (to enter a denomination, to have "original sin" removed by being sprinkled as a baby; to feel accepted by your friends)? Or was it to receive from God the salvation of your soul? Remember, we cannot be saved unless we obey the gospel in faith, just as Jesus and His word has commanded of us (Matthew 7:21). There is "one baptism" that saves, and it belongs to Jesus (Ephesians 4:5). Nobody can expect to be saved without it (1 Peter 3:21).
THE PRIESTHOOD OF BELIEVERS
by: Joe R. Price
We probably do not think of ourselves as priests as much as we should. Perhaps this is due to our familiarity with the priesthoods we observe in the churches around us (Catholic, Mormon, etc.), perversions of the scripture-defined priesthood of Christians. We tend to forget that the gospel describes Christians as "priests" who compose a "kingdom" (Revelation 5:10; 1:6). We are said to be a "holy" and a "royal" priesthood (1 Peter 2:5, 9). What an honor to be counted priests before God our Redeemer!
The primary work of priests is to offer sacrifices and gifts unto God. For example, the service of the Levitical priests, while for the benefit of Israel, was given to God (Exodus 28:1). Their daily service in the house of God brought them into God's presence as it assisted the worshippers they served.
The sacrifices offered by the Levitical priests were acceptable when offered according to the Law (a study of Leviticus teaches us the exacting nature of sacrificing to God). In like manner, we are assured that the sacrifices we offer God "through Jesus Christ" will be acceptable to Him (1 Peter 2:5).
But, "what does all of this have to do with me today" you ask? Everything! Unless you are a priest, serving God in His holy priesthood, the sacrifices and services you offer Him are futile! On the other hand, as a priest before God you are in the extraordinary position of approaching the very God of heaven and earth with sacrifices He will be pleased with. Meditate upon the magnificence of that!
So, being a priest unto God should be very important to us. And, we should know what sacrifices we ought to be offering Him. Here is a brief review of the sacrifices Christians offer to God. First, our bodies (Romans 12:1-2). We bring before God a body with which to serve, worship and obey Him. Our body is to be given to God, not the indulgences of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21). Faith is a sacrifice we offer before God (Philippians 2:17). Taking God at His word and doing whatever He says is often a trying sacrifice, but one with which He is pleased (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3). When we support gospel preaching we are rendering priestly service before God (Philippians 4:18). The Philippians' support of Paul was a sweet smelling sacrifice to God. So is ours as we have fellowship with others in spreading the gospel message. Furthermore, every priest should offer unto God the sacrifice of praise, confessing the good things God has done for us (Hebrews 13:15). Why would any priest be content with not assembling with fellow saints to praise God's matchless name (Hebrews 10:25)?
Being a priest has practical application to our lives every day. As we walk by faith, every expression of service we offer to God, every obedience to His truth, becomes a "spiritual sacrifice" which God accepts (1 Peter 2:5). Christians are priests! Our lives are an offering to God. Serve Him is all holiness.
A BIBLICAL LOOK AT THE HOLY SPIRIT
by: David Weaks
Mention the words Holy Spirit and you will likely get a variety of reactions. Some people claim to have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them personally, guiding their day to day living. Others, however, consider the Holy Spirit to be a divine person - a member of the Godhead, whose specific work involves the revelation of God's word. Who is right?
While some subjects pertaining to the Holy Spirit may indeed be difficult, the confusion which exists over Him is unnecessary. The New Testament gives us plenty of evidence we may use to draw some sound conclusions about the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit Is A Person Not A Thing. Some people speak of the Holy Spirit as if He were no more than a mysterious force which permeates nature and influences people and things. However, one thing is clear from a study of the New Testament: The Holy Spirit is not an "IT!"
Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit as a person, not a thing: "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, WHOM the Father will send in my name, HE will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you" (John 14:26; epm. mine, jdw). The words whom and he are used to refer to people not things. Of the Holy Spirit, Jesus also said: "He will testify of Me" (John 15:26); "He will guide you into all truth," "For He will not speak on His own authority," and "what He hears He will speak" (John 16:13).
Furthermore, the Holy Spirit is described in the New Testament as doing only those things persons are capable of doing. The Holy Spirit has cognitive abilities (i.e. the ability to reason, the ability to know). He knows the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:11). He has the ability to reason and to decide (Acts 15:28). The Holy Spirit has an independent will (1 Corinthians 12:11). Also, the Holy Spirit acts like a person. He speaks (1 Timothy 4:1). He commands action (Acts 13:2); The Holy Spirit forbids action (Acts 16:6). He grieves (Ephesians 4:30). He can be vexed (Isaiah 63:10). He leads (Galatians 5:18). He intercedes (Romans 8:26). These are descriptions that are only suited to persons, not things.
The Holy Spirit Is A Member Of The Godhead (Godhood). The term Godhead appears in three verses in the King James Version of the Bible: Acts 17:29; Romans 1:20; Colossians 2:9. The word Godhead refers to the state or condition of being God. It is the condition of having the attributes that make God, God. To illustrate - one achieves MANHOOD when he possesses the qualities and attributes that make a man a man. The three persons who possess the qualities and characteristics of Godhead are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Father is God (1 Peter 1:3; Ephesians 4:6; Jude 1). Jesus, the Son is God (John 20:28; Hebrews 1:8). And the Holy Spirit is also God. When Ananias and Sapphira conspired to deceive the apostles about the cost of their sold property, Peter said "...Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself?...You have not lied to men but to God" Acts 5:3, 4).
The Work Of The Holy Spirit Is Revelation Of God's Word. Revelation is the process of revealing what was previously covered or unknown. Paul said the mystery was revealed to him through revelation. A mystery is something that is unknown. This mystery was that "which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets..." (Ephesians 3:3, 5). So, the word of God which has been previously unrevealed was revealed to men by the Holy Spirit.
Jesus promised the Helper or the Comforter - the Holy Spirit, to guide the apostles into all truth (John 16:13). He would teach them all things and bring to their remembrance all that Jesus had taught them (John 14:26).
The Holy Spirit Confirmed The Gospel. In addition to revealing the word of God, the Holy Spirit confirmed through miracles the word of God which the apostles preached. The Hebrew writer said, "...how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will? (Hebrews 2:3-4). Many in the first century church possessed spiritual gifts for the necessary building up of the body. The gifts were diverse (1 Corinthians 12:4-10). These gifts were distributed to each one in accordance to the will of the Holy Spirit (vs. 11).
Conclusion. These are just a few of the particulars from the New Testament pertaining to the Holy Spirit. One thing should be fairly clear at this point - the subject of the person and work of the Holy Spirit is clearly revealed unto men. Any doctrine that conflicts with these plain teachings is man made and false.
(The Stonegate Standard, May 28, 1995)
INVESTIGATING ONE'S FAITH
by: Joe R. Price
"If a faith will not bear to be investigated, if its preachers and professors are afraid to have it examined, their foundation must be very weak." (George A. Smith, JOURNAL OF DISCOURSES, XIV:216, August 13, 1871).
George A. Smith was an apostle and member of the First Presidency of the LDS Church. What he said bears consideration. While a willingness to have one's faith examined is noble and useful in determining truth (2 Corinthians 13:5), we should also note that it does not automatically legitimize it, either. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. The religions of men, including Mormonism, fail the test of the inspired word of God (Matthew 15:9; Colossians 2:8; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15; Galatians 1:6-9).
Unfortunately, Christians seem to be less and less willing to have their faith examined in the light of God's word. This is not only sad, it also betrays a prideful attitude. None of us, in our finite knowledge and wisdom, are above error or the need for correction and admonition. If such is offered us from the source of divine truth, we should always be ready to receive it (2 Timothy 4:1-4; 2:24-26).
Christ's apostles assure us that any investigation of a teacher, his teachings or his practices must use their words as the standard of measurement (1 John 4:1, 6). To try to investigate a faith using any other standard of comparison is bound to produce faulty results. Stick to the words of the apostles as you test yourself and the teachings of others and you will be on the right track (cf. Galatians 1:6-10).
Some do not see the need to "try the spirits" to see if they are from God. To them, truth is only relative. It is nothing to be too concerned about. But, they have reached this conclusion on their own. Jesus is "the truth," and His truth frees us from sin (John 14:6; 8:31-32). That makes truth preeminently important to every person!
Always be willing to have your faith investigated (1 Peter 3:15). Perhaps the best way to insure that type of attitude is by investigating ourselves. Put our own beliefs and practices to the test using God's word (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22). Any attempt we make at investigating another's faith implies our willingness to have our own faith inspected (Luke 6:38). Are you willing to have your faith investigated?
Last modified: 08/03/2017.