Category Archives: Christians

Why Baptism Isn’t Something You Do

BAPTISMIn Acts 2:37 the people interrupt the preacher (Peter) and ask a simple question.  Simple yet profound, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Those gathered on that day, after hearing the Apostles speaking in each audience member’s own languages (BTW there were more dialects and languages than there were apostles), and after being reminded of their guilt in killing the Messiah and how God raised Him from the dead, proving this Jesus of Nazareth to be Lord and Christ, the realized their guilt and knew they had to do something.

Peter tells them what to do, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38).

What were they to do?

REPENT. They were to return to God. They were to make an about face. The Thessalonians provide us an example of what repentance is when they, “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.” (1Th 1:9). Whatever traditions, doctrines, or motivations led them to be participants in Jesus’ crucifixion, they were to put them away and turn to God.

And BE BAPTIZED. Baptism is a passive participation of the penitent.  They were not told, “Repent and baptize yourselves.” Peter told them Repent and BE baptized.”  Baptism is not a work we do to earn salvation.

Baptism is something we MUST submit to in order to obey God’s word. Jesus said, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.” (Mark 16:16). Even in that verse baptism (immersion) is an act of submission.

Baptism is something done to us as we submit to God.  Paul describes baptism as a re-enactment of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ – the gospel. “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” (Romans 6:3-5). (Just for argument sake the physically dead do not bury themselves, so it would make since that does dead to sin have someone bury them.)

In Galatians Paul echoes Jesus’ statement of belief and baptism (cf. Mark 16:16) when Paul says, “But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (Galatians 3:25-27).

  • Baptism is linked to faith.
  • Baptism is a re-enactment of the Gospel in the life of the penitent.
  • Baptism is a submissive act that we allow done to us.
  • Through our death to self and sin, burial in water, and rising out of that watery grave, we are put into Christ.
  • Because of our faith, we submit to immersion  (baptism) so that we will receive forgiveness of sin, receive the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of our salvation (2 Cor 1:21-22), and are added to His Kingdom the Church (Acts 2:47).
  • Baptism is necessary for forgiveness of sin and entrance into the Kingdom.

But baptism is not something YOU do to earn God’s grace, it is something done to you to receive God’s grace when you submit to Him.



Filed under baptism, Christians, faith, Uncategorized

Found in the Files: Sharing Christ

Looking for an illustration in the “Hard Copy Files” I ran across this poem that I forgot I held onto.  It reminded me of who we are and what we are to be about as citizens of God’s kingdom.

Sharing Christ

By Serena Voss

“Lead me to some soul . . . “ we sang

And all week long that message rang.

Inside my head and heart, I prayed

“Lord, who could I reach for You today?”

Just at that moment my neighbor walked by

and I said to myself, “Okay, I’ll try.

But first I need time to study and rehearse

To make sure I know book, chapter, and verse.”


Then armed with my proof texts and Bible outlines,

I approached her to study and she said, “That’s fine.”

The verses poured out in a steady stream

Doctrinal purity was my theme.

Besides, many claim to follow Christ

But they do it man’s way, thinking that will suffice.


Well, after the session was nearly through,

I said, “Have questions?” She said, “Just a few.”

“It’s obvious you know your Bible quite well;

You’ve talked about heaven and touched on Hell.

You’ve even shown that the Bible is true.

But you haven’t yet told me what Christ means to you.

How is your life different? How do you cope?

Is there any real joy or any real hope?”


I stared at my outlines, then put them away,

And I changed and shared gently the man called the Way

As that simple old story began to shine through

My friend came to know Jesus, not the WHAT, but the WHO.

My we lead people to know Jesus by our words and by our walk of faith.

  • Scott

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Why I Love the Church

I grew-up in a Christian home. My parents and three of my four grandparents are (were) members of the Church.  Many of my earliest memories surround assembling with Christians and having other church members over our house on Sunday evenings.  Growing up there were two major influences other than my family they were Church and school.  My adult life reflects those influences – I am a preacher, married to an elementary school teacher.  Church involvement was never an option and neither was respecting and loving the Church.  That is not to say my parents forced my involvement, but their example and instruction insured that I would dedicate myself to Christ and His Church.  They taught me to love the Church.  What I love about the Church, I learned from those before me.

Song Leader Suggestions

I love the Church in view of the fact that God loved Her enough to PURCHASE Her at a sacrificial price (Acts 20:28).  How can I not love the people for whom my God and Creator gave all that He had to give to sanctify?  How can I turn my back on the Church when God was willing to not spare His Son so that the Church might exist?  I love the Church because God loves Her.

I love the Church that is PRECIOUS to Her Groom (Eph 5:21-33).  Paul’s description of the Church as the betrothed of Christ is a beautiful portrait.  When ever I see a long-lasting marriage relationship that is beautiful and I see the way the husband dotes on his bride of many years, I think about Christ doting on His betrothed Bride – the Church.  I think of how He is preparing Her for the day He presents His chosen Bride to the Father.  How proud He is of Her beauty and accomplishments that glorify Him.  I love the Church because the Christ loves Her.

I love the Church that has the PROMISE of an eternally joyous relationship with Her Husband (Rev 19).  We as the Church – purchased and precious – await the day when we will welcome the Bridegroom who promised to come and take us home with Him to His Father’s house (John 14:1-6). I love the Church because the faithful will one day reunite in heaven with the Father and the Son.

I love the Church!

  • Scott

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Every Where You Go


Yesterday on the way home from a funeral of a wonderful Christian mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, aunt, servant, and friend, I passed by a marquee sign near a church of some variety. The message said, “As a Christians we are the influence of Christ in the world.” My first thought was, “Amen!” My next thought was how the sweet lady whose funeral I attended was in all appearances a wonderful influence to those around her. Then this thought crossed my mind, “What if I am not living as Christ would have me live?”

The truth is that how I live tells the world about Christ and His Church. The sad truth is that if I am sour, angry, harsh, or condemning in my attitude, then the world thinks that is what Christianity is about. If I am a poor employee my work ethic sheds a poor light – no cast a dark shadow over Christianity. Living as a Christian, I must always remember who I am.

  1. I am a child of God – 1 John 3:1-2
  2. I am a servant to the Lord of lords – Romans 6:17-18
  3. I am a light to a dark world – Matthew 5:14-16, Philippians 2:15
  4. I am an ambassador of God’s grace – 2 Corinthians 5:20
  5. I am a citizen of heaven – Philippians 3:20

I should live these truths.

  • Scott

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What Ever Happened . . .

  • Gun violence

  • Marital infidelity
  • Divorce
  • Pre-marital sexuality
  • Homosexual relationships
  • Gambling
  • Assaults on law officers
  • Police brutality
  • Government waste
  • Looting, rioting
  • Theft
  • Domestic violence
  • Child abuse
  • Elderly abuse
  • Alcohol and drug addiction

These are the stories and headlines I read, heard, or saw this week (and it is only Tuesday). This is enough to depress even the most optimistic of people.  Simply put, society is corrupt.  People, we are selfish.

Paul describes the culture of Roman society in the first century and in his description, I cannot help but see Western society today.

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. (Romans 1:21-32)

What ever happened to SELF-CONTROL.  Did Jesus not teach His followers to deny themselves? Did Paul not tell the Philippians, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4). Do we not see an example in Jesus as he prays to the Father, “nevertheless, not my will but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42)?

Self-control starts with you and me. We practice it, we teach it to our children and grandchildren. Those upon whom we have influence see the peace, happiness, and blessings that self-control brings in our live and they learn to practice the same.

“Dear Father, help me to deny myself and live for your and to be a blessing in the lives of others. Help me to be a part of the solution and not a part of the problem. In Jesus’ name.”

  • Scott

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Forgetting God

And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not 2014-07-10 09-00-52.216know the LORD or the work that he had done for Israel. (Judges 2:10)

From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts. But you say, ‘How shall we return?’ (Malachi 3:7)

This scene of God’s Old Covenant people forgetting Him repeats itself throughout scripture. God even warned them against forgetting Him, “Take care lest you forget the LORD your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today,” (Deuteronomy 8:11). But forget Him they did.

Paul warns about Christ taking vengeance on those that do not know God (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9), I believe that includes those that forget God today.  You are thinking, “I won’t forget God. I know that He is.  I go to church and occasionally read my Bible.  I pray before meals.  I have not forgotten God.”  Take time to read the four short chapters of Malachi.  The people claimed to know God and even practiced sacrifice and tithing to Him, but God still accuses them of disrespecting His name, forsaking His covenant and laws, and robbing Him. They do not know they are doing these things. They do not know because they have forgotten God. We can forget God. We can forget what He has done and does for us in Christ.

How can I know if I have forgotten God, or that I am forgetting God? Here are six symptoms to look for in YOUR life:

  1. Selfishness. Selfishness is the root of all sin. Selfishness puts my desires above what God wants of me, for me, and from me. Do I think or say things like, “I know that the Bible says this is sin, but God wants me to me happy . . . “
  2. Pride. In Luke 18 a Pharisee was so full of pride in his own self-righteousness, that he could not see his own short-comings before God. He was even judgmental of another who was also praying to God.
  3. Worry. Worry comes from forgetting that God is in control and that He cares for us. Take time to read Matthew 6:25-34 or consider what Paul says in Philippians, ” . . . do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. . . And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6,19)
  4. Envy. Envy looks at others blessings or perceived blessings and questions why God is not equally blessing you. When we are envious of others, we forget what God is doing in our lives.
  5. Ungratefulness. This is a sign of our times. In our society of entitlements, we expect to receive and are ungrateful for our blessings. Paul writes about this in Romans 1:21, “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Ingratitude forgets that all our blessings (even life itself) come from God.
  6. Unfaithfulness. God is always faithful to His promise even when we are unfaithful to Him – He will not deny His nature (2 Timothy 2:11-13). We must stay focused on God’s will and faithfully walk in His light. When we choose the way of the world, or our own will, over God then we are unfaithful to Him – we have forgotten God.

Maybe that is why the psalmist penned these words,

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Psalms 103:1-5)

  • Scott

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A Message for Church Leaders

2014-07-10 09-00-52.216What the Christ (Messiah) said to Religious Leaders: Should ministry leaders and church leaders pay attention?!?

There is no accusation nor is there animosity in this post. As a minister, a Christian leader, a church leader, and especially as one who stands each week to teach and proclaim faith in Christ, this is for me first and foremost. I am asking myself and you, are we quick to point out the wrongs in other’s life (especially those outside of Christ) to the point of  ignoring that we all need salvation through the blood of Christ. Could it be that although we give lip service to this truth our words and actions loudly speak the opposite? This is a moment of honest self-reflection some needed self-examination that the apostle Paul encourages us to do, But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:27) And, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” (2 Corinthians 13:5)

I share these quotes from Jesus without comment so you and I can simple see where our actions stand.

  • But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”  (Matthew 9:12-13)
  • And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. (Matthew 12:7)
  • You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'” (Matthew 15:7-9)
  • But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” (Matthew 16:23)
  • And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. (Mark 2:27)
  • And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” (Mark 11:17)
  • Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)
  • And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. (Luke 11:39)
  • And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God. (Luke 16:15)
  • He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14)
  • Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.  (John 8:34)

For extra reading consider what Jesus said to the Pharisees in Matthew 23:13-33.

Do we need to warn people about the consequences of sin? – YES! Yet at the same time we need to remember our own weaknesses and help all see the beauty of the love of God in Christ.

  • Scott

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