Part 10 - The Ordinance of Baptism
In this tenth teaching part, we delve into the subject matter of water baptism and in so doing discover that baptism has its roots entrenched in the Old Testament. Water has always been viewed in Judaism as a ceremonial means of cleansing and purifying. When God appeared to the children of Israel on Mt. Sinai for instance, Moses was instructed to “sanctify them” and they were instructed to “wash their clothes” (Ex. 19:10). Before entering into the holy place to minister before the Lord on the Day of Atonement, Aaron was to put on his white priestly linen garments. Yet, before he could put on these holy garments he was first commanded to “wash his flesh in water, and so put them on” (Lv. 16:4). Ritual washing was also required by Law for women following menstruation or childbirth and for men, following a discharge (Lev. 15). It is against this historical backdrop that John the Baptist comes onto the scene baptising men and women in the river Jordan for the remission of sins.
With the advent of Jesus Christ, baptism is taken to a higher spiritual significance in the death, burial and resurrection of the Saviour! We endeavour in this teaching to present this significance while at the same time guarding against the heresy of baptismal regeneration. When is the right time to baptise believers? Who are the proper subjects of baptism? Is it biblical to baptise infants? Is the proper mode of baptism sprinkling, pouring or immersion? As we undertake this teaching, all shall be revealed!
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In the sixth verse of the fifth chapter of the epistle to the Romans, we read these shattering words; a staggering statement of stupendous magnitude: “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom. 5:6). It has been my experience generally, that happy are God’s people to own the truth of Paul’s words as it relates to past sins pre-conversion. However, having now passed from death to life and being brought from a state of enmity with God into friendship, I find ironically that many of God’s redeemed now struggle with accepting forgiveness for the sins they regrettably have committed as Christians and consequently live under a black cloud of guilt and condemnation.
This sermon is a great encouragement for believers who have failed God in the area of sin to look to our good and gracious God who is full of compassion, delighting in mercy towards those who fear Him. Having demonstrated His great love toward us “…in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him” (Rom 5:8-9).
The parables of the kingdom are in my opinion the finest parables contained in the Gospel accounts. Rich in teaching, full of depth of meaning; in so few words as often was the speech of our Lord, they paint a vivid picture of the great mysteries of the kingdom of God. Seven in number, they can be found bound together as a whole in the thirteenth chapter of Matthew.
In this sermon, we take as our foundation, two parables from amongst the seven, namely the parable of the hidden treasure and the parable of the pearl of great price. Our purpose and design is threefold in number; firstly, to show the great value of the kingdom of heaven; secondly, to show the tremendous effect upon the heart of the one discovering it and thirdly, to show the radical steps one undergoes to secure it!! May our hearts be stirred and challenged!!
Part 9 - The Lord’s Supper
An Ordinance properly defined in a Christian context, is a religious ritual i.e. a ceremony or sacred observance. For the Bible believing Christian, there are only two Ordinances which concern us, namely that of the Lord’s Supper (Communion) and Baptism. On the eve of Jesus’ crucifixion, He desired one last time to eat the Passover meal with His disciples. It was at this feast that Jesus instituted what we know and celebrate as the Lord’s Supper; a memorial meal for the purpose of remembering of the events that were to take place on the morrow, namely His crucifixion in which the New Covenant would be established by the shedding of His precious blood.
In this teaching part, we explore the meaning of Communion and try to bring clarity surrounding some of the misconceptions held by believers regarding this Holy Ordinance. We particularly focus on the administration of the Lord’s Supper, since it is at this point where many Bible believing Christians part company in their differing customs. Some Churches have Communion every Sunday, others once a month, once a quarter or even once a year! Some choose to major on the specific type of bread and wine that should be used. One Church allows for all in attendance to partake of it (including children) while another forbids anyone from taking it unless they are an active member of their particular Church. We seek in this ninth teaching part to address these issues biblically by bringing them to the light of God’s Word.
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The late Mr. Leonard Ravenhill when delivering the burden of the Lord as his custom was, said quite frequently: “Prayer is preoccupation with our needs. Praise is preoccupation with our blessings. Worship is preoccupation with God Himself”. How true it is that when coming before the Ancient of Days, so often we approach His eternal throne of grace with a wish list a mile long! After getting off our chest all the things we want God to do for us, we turn our attention next, to ask God what He can do for others!! Then, when we receive the things we’ve asked of God, we spend our time thanking Him and praising Him for all that He has done for us!! Whilst most assuredly we are commanded to do all of the above in Holy Scripture, so often the simple worship and adoration of God can be lost from sight in the midst of our much business.
This sermon is a call to bring back again into our Christian experience the art of worship! The place where self takes a back seat and God is brought into full view as He becomes the sole centre of our love and adoration, our affection devotion, not for anything that He has done for us but for simply who He is!!
Inextricably linked; tied with an inseparable cord is the commandment to Christian love and the exhortation to Christian unity. Try any which way you will to separate these two giants and for all your strivings your efforts shall prove in vain, for one cannot maintain the unity of the faith without love and without the unity to which Christ hath joined us to His spiritual body via the new birth, the commandment to love would be impossible!!
This sermon is an exhortation to practical unity!! To simply dote upon the theological truths relating to our spiritual union in Christ and by virtue of this our union with His spiritual body is pie in the sky unless we are going to make a purposeful effort on our behalf to strive to ensure that this spiritual unity is brought into the realm of practical experience “Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3).
This sermon was shared at the CMFI 2017 conference
I think all would be agreed that David didn’t ascend the throne of Israel overnight, he first spent nearly a decade in the wilderness in God’s school of preparation for service. Moses, before he went to Pharaoh spent four decades in the backside of the desert (Acts 7:30)! The apostles spent 3½ years at the feet of Christ; Paul spent the greater part of 3 years in Arabia (Gal. 1:18) and John we’re told was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel (Lk. 1:80). Thus my dear friends, God is no rush and before ever He sends out a people He first prepares a people!!
This sermon is an exhortation to all would-be service men and women of God, not to despise the day of small beginnings in God’s school of preparation. These precious years are the most vital years as God prepares His vessels for service. The wilderness of preparation is the means by which God may perform in you that which cannot be given by divine imputation, namely that of Christian character!!
Having spent the last two teaching sessions surveying two great pillars of what is termed Soteriology (the study of salvation), we come in this eighth teaching part to survey the third and final pillar, namely the doctrine of sanctification. If the doctrine of sin lays the foundation upon which doctrine of the atonement rests, the doctrine of sanctification takes its necessary place in the grand order of things in being the last to be laid. That it is last to be laid is no reflection upon its importance, for all three are of equal importance and if one was to fall they would all fall! Many today would make much of the first two pillars as though the work of salvation is complete without need of the third. However, as we shall see the doctrine of sanctification is of the utmost importance for without it Christianity is confined to the dust of death, without life and without power.
In short, it is the heart of God to redeem a holy people set apart unto Himself that as He is holy so we might be also! He has accomplished this through the atoning work of Jesus Christ through which we have received the forgiveness of sins and the regenerating life of the Holy Spirit so as to be purified and live a life now set apart unto God in righteousness. This work of sanctification though a past event, is also ongoing in this life as the believer renews his mind and is changed into the same image of the Lord from glory to glory by the Spirit of God that as He is, so we might also be in this world. Our finished and final state of perfection shall one day be fully revealed at the coming of the Lord when we who are alive shall be changed in a twinkling of an eye and those that are dead shall be raised together to meet the Lord in the air and so shall we ever be with the Lord!!
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There are some that appear in the eyes of many to be a most religious bunch whilst hidden beneath the thin veneer of their religion lies the darkness of evil! Dead religion has always provided the platform for the most wicked of crimes and the cloak under which men might veil their evils in hypocrisy and deceit. For example of this, we need to look no further than the Scribes and Pharisees!! It wasn’t the publicans who plotted His execution nor was it the prostitutes who handed Him over to be crucified, rather it was those belonging to the religious establishment of the day who crucified the Saviour, loving their traditions more than God!!
This sermon is a warning to us all and an exhortation to come out from the shadows of dead religion into the light of God’s Word!! God forbid that when truth stares us in the face, we should choose instead of repenting, to hide behind the veil of dead religion. Those who persecuted Christ and those responsible for persecuting the true Church hasn't changed, in Christ’s day it was those professing to be the true Assembly of God and in our day it shall be the same. May God keep us and give us the grace to stand in this evil day!
2 Timothy 4:5-8
When you’ve only one shot, what do you do? You make it count!! When you’ve only one bullet in the chamber, though you may have fired hundreds before it, that one bullet by reason of it being your last, now becomes priceless and the need for it to find its target, paramount! In the hour of plenty, one is at liberty to fire and miss a few, but when you’re down to the last shot, there are no second chances! My dear Brothers and Sisters, life is very much like this. Oh, I know that in one’s younger years, it appears as though we’ve many more ahead of us and on account of this the years generally of the youngster are passed in foolishness, wasted and squandered in the pursuit of vanity. Ah, but alas, one suddenly finds that the sun which seemed so bright in its day, has come down to set and the years which were deemed to be many prove only to be of few.
This sermon brings the listener face to face with the radical life of the Apostle Paul who from the very moment of his conversion dedicated his life to serve and live for Christ. It is an exhortation in light of life’s passing moment for us to rethink our priorities and set our affections heavenward, that we might give our lives to Jesus in service and run well the race set before us!