Saturday, June 25, 2011

REVIEWS OF FROM MASON TO MINISTER

This is a smooth and uplifting memoir with lots of gems of poetry and scripture to enjoy. My Rating:  4.25 of 5.0
Product Description
An adventurous, captivating and poetic memoir of the author's courageous and spiritual journey from Scotland to Canada to Australia in his quest to "find the Truth and know the living God." Neither an apologetic nor a polemic, he corrects much misinterpretation and misunderstanding of Freemasonry. We learn how inspiration from Masonic teachings about Solomon's Temple, the arch, and keystone led him to a deep study of the revelation from the Bible of "the stone the builders rejected"; which is Christ. Readers will be uplifted, inspired, and delighted as they follow along with him in the discovery of his calling to become a minister.

Review:
I don’t read lots of memoirs but this ‘life-story’ caught my interest.  Masonry is shrouded in secrecy and not looked upon favorably by fundamental Christian organizations. I thought that reading this book might give me insight to the nature of the Masons. The book goes beyond the nature of Masonry and the real story is the author’s spiritual journey through the Mason's shortcomings.

The book starts with personal background as the author relates how he initially sought  fellowship in the Masons. As I understand from the book, the purpose of the Masons is to encourage men to be good workers and workers of good and this goal was originally founded on Biblical teachings and centered on the building of Solomon's temple. However in the 1800s a directive was made which diluted or stifled the Christian aspects in order to encompass a broader membership of men from all faiths. Although the teachings encourage a relationship with God, it would seem that members are not to push religion nor to even discuss Christ in their lives.

This dichotomy presented a puzzle that gave Mr. McKinlay the impetus to study deeper into scripture. Mr. McKinlay studied first to understand how the scriptures related to the teachings of  Masonry and later how they related to the ‘practices’ or living walk of the Masons. Each level or degree he achieved brought more disenchantment with the practices of the organizations and a more in depth study of God.

As McKinlay studied the Bible he began to see the creator God everywhere in the world around him.  For a time he felt lost, as a spaceman floating without a tether, until he recognized Christ as the only way to God the Father and thereby he found the missing “cornerstone” - the stone that was rejected - Jesus Christ.

I really enjoyed the easy flow and phrasing McKinlay uses. The early chapters at first seemed disjointed but  then I realized that there was a meandering path that moved the journey along, with some side trips in memory. The 'Ministry' section is more direct, perhaps because it is the most recent in time and the author no longer has to tread the fine line of discussing his Masonry experiences. The author does not seem to disclose any real secrets but rather presents revelations of basic tenets and their impact on him with some philosophical insights as well.  He also gives a cogent discussion of the trilogy which is a very difficult concept for many to grasp.  I view the book as a grouping of revelations,  recollections, and reflections on the spiritual awakening in the author’s life.

I admit that sometimes I fold the corners on a page (I know an awful habit) to mark a particularly poignant phrase or point. The problem I found with this book is I was apt to fold every couple of pages as comments repeatedly struck my own spirit. This is an easy read and an enjoyable, as well as informative book.

Three word description: Personal, lyrical, uplifting.

Next Review by: adayriddle "Abbie"
 Dispell the Darkness and secrecy, May 13, 2011
This review is from: From Mason to Minister: Through the Lattice (Hardcover)
Written by a once high level mason this book chronicles his journey to discover the Living God. The hot and often debated topic of whether the Masonic Lodges are a cult or not is openly discussed in light of the scriptures. I was very interested in this book as I have a Great Grandfather that was a high level Mason and Shriner. On his death bed he accepted Christ and renounced the Lodges. 

I found this book to be excellent as a resource for Pastors and others to show those wondering about the workings and truth of the Lodges. In these pages the reader follows the journey of Neil Cullan McKinlay as he wades the vague fog of the Lodges into the true and redeeming light of true Christianity. 

McKinlay does a sound job at showing in an unbiased way the difference between what the Lodge proclaims and what it actually practice and how these very things contradict the teaching of the bible. 

An intriguing journey into the shadowy secrets of the Lodges this book guides readers through the secret rites and teachings of a closed cult. I found it rather ironic that the bible presented to McKinlay upon his entrance into the Lodges was the very book that led to his acceptence of Christ. 

A great easy read. Very informative and very biblically sound. If you are interested in understanding just how far off this lodge is from true christianity this book will clearly answer your questions. 

Next Review by 
 Secret cults are for fools and the dead~!!, June 10, 2011
This review is from: From Mason to Minister: Through the Lattice (Hardcover)
From Mason To Minister: Through The Lattice is a poetic memoir of author, Neil Cullan McKinlay's quest to find the truth while knowing God. 

Neil Cullan McKinlay was born in Canada, raised in Scotland and now lives in Australia. As a child, his family never mentioned anything about Jesus Christ, his childhood home was such that they didn't worship or live by the laws of God. He was disappointed to learn that his father was not a Freemason and Neil wondered and worked towards becoming one himself. 

After moving back to Canada in his young adulthood, Neil finds his way to the Mason meetings and the tenets that are required to climb through the degrees of masonry! With great detail given to the performance one is required to climb the ranks, such as, writing essays, performing plays and taking oaths of secrecy etc. Neil was sure he was at the top of his game, belonging to a prestigious club for men, he could reach his dreams and goals, however, he was left disheartened. 

With all the pageantry and analogies that make up Freemasonry, Neil feels like there is something missing from his life. The Masons explained religion in a textbook style with much hypocrisy, very few of the men who took the vows, actually lived by them. It was all pomp and circumstance and Neil's time with the Masons was short-lived when he came to truly know Jesus Christ and the Living God. 

Turning back on the dogma of the Masons, Neil becomes an ordained minister and preaches to the people the real truth. The decision to reveal all he knows about the Masons, came with much consternation and thought, and putting his faith in God, he choose to share all the secrets that the Free Masons hold so dear. 

I find the subject material fascinating, however, the prose itself is dry, with a lot of rehashing of thoughts from the author. I enjoyed watching the migration of Neil's religious patterns, his questions are solid and the answers he finds hold true to his self. I loved how he listened to the messages from God that he was receiving that his life could be better fulfilled, preaching, instead of being a lackey to a mega organization whose secrets run deeper than time itself. 

I really enjoyed all the historical references shared, as well as, the courage it took to write this book. After reading Neil's account of Free Mason initiations to the next degree or level, I have to wonder how grown men could behave in such a childish manner, then I shuddered thinking these same men hold many powerful positions in our society. 

Frankly, many of the situations the Free Masons practice are dangerously close to homosexual acts, in my honest opinion. Men getting together to dress up and act out plays is a very strange custom to have read about and lets not forget, it appears very "cultish" . I have never read some of the rites that Neil has shared with the reader and was most appalled to learn what I did. REALLY?? Men behave in such a manner, well, its no wonder our world is in such a desolate situation. I commend Neil Cullan McKinlay for stepping away from such barbaric and childish behaviour and walking the true path to enlightment! 

The book clearly emphasizes the differences between the God of the Freemasons and the True Living God. It explains the lip service of Freemasons with great depth and detail and supports the truth with passages from the bible and other historical references. If your looking to break from the lies and walk into the truth, this is a great read, or if your looking for help to turn someone off the wrong path (Freemasonry) and onto the goodly path of God, then this book will give you some ideas to help keep you focused and proof to back your claims. 

In all honesty, my dude was recently invited to become a Freemason, my moral tenets screamed..."NOOOO!!"...He was intrigued with how everyone is successful, while he struggles to put food on our table, the "golden" charm snaked around him and we fought. He believed me to be jealous because I was a woman and excluded, already the evil of the "cult" was changing who he was. I have since put this book in his hands and told him to read it. I don't think he is as willing to walk that path as he once was, thank you Neil for your gift, without this book our lives may have taken a path I would not have wished to travel!
 

Next review by: Wordjourney magazine:

http://www.wordjourney.com/reviews/book-reviews/book-review-from-mason-to-minister/

Book Review: From Mason to Minister

One man’s journey to faith in Jesus Christ
Neil Cullan McKinlay is a lot like most any Christian you’ve ever met, perhaps he is much like you. McKinlay has a three-part life story that begins where he describes his life as an unchurched youth in Scotland, followed by his conversion to Christ while living in Canada as a married man and father of three daughters. Today, McKinlay is walking with the Lord, is living in Australia and is seeking to “finish the race” to the glory of God.
What’s different about McKinlay is what each one of us can say about ourselves: he has a very specific testimony, one peculiar to him and something no one can deny.
McKinlay began his pursuit of God by taking an unlikely path — by studying Freemasonry, a much misunderstood and often derided fraternal organization with its roots dating as far back as the late medieval times in Scotland.

Exploring Freemasonry

Yes, Freemasonry has been criticized for its supposed relationship with occultism, mysticism and as some would say, satanism. In reality, this fraternal organization is based upon following a moral code, using biblically-derived symbols and allegories to frame its beliefs. Godly values are taught, but God is missing from the equation.
For McKinlay, his brief stint as a Mason revealed to him that there was something more than a moral code to live by and that what was obscured could only be revealed by having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  Later, McKinlay abandons freemasonry for what he and the Bible calls, “…a still more excellent way.”
“From Mason to Minister” is McKinlay’s book (Nordskog Publishing | 2011), a story which carries the subtitle “Through the Lattice.” The subtitle is from Song of Solomon 2:9 which reads, “My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag. Behold, he is standing behind our wall, He is looking through the windows, He is peering through the lattice.” That’s how McKinlay understood his journey to faith in Christ — God has always been watching him.

Scottish Narrative

McKinlay’s narrative is one-part personal testimony and another part Scottish anecdote. We learn so much about his personal likes and desires including his love of nature, his poetic gifting as well as his desire to follow Christ, and eventually his ordination as a minister in the Presbyterian Church of Australia.
What is most important about McKinlay’s chronology is that he shows that God is so very much interested in the person and that our “life story” is the means by which God draws us to Him no matter where we’re at. The seeking heart will always find God and there isn’t a place we can go or be where He won’t come searching for us.
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. (Psalm 139:7-10)
This should encourage each of us — God knows those who are His and will provide a way for us to find Him. McKinlay, a Calvanist, may also believe that he could not resist the call of salvation.  In his book, he made no mention of TULIP, the five points of Calvinism, particularly the fourth point — Irresistible Grace. What is apparent is that McKinlay was being prepared for many years to have an encounter with Jesus Christ and when God fully revealed Himself to him, he surrendered all.

Golden Age

One area of personal belief espoused by McKinlay may surprise the reader, and that is a belief held by some in the body of Christ: that before Jesus returns, there will be worldwide peace. In his “Reconciliation” section (pp. 170-173), Mc Kinlay says, “I believe in a future Golden Age before the Lord’s return — an age of peace and harmony among the nations.”
McKinlay doesn’t believe that this Golden Age will mean that everyone on earth will be a follower of Jesus Christ, but he does believe that the earth will one day be fully Christianized and that this period will take place before Jesus sets up His kingdom.
I have two problems with this thinking and they are:
1. Such a belief dismisses the possibility that Jesus can and will return at any time. With this thinking, the supposed “Golden Age” would have to take place first, and then the Lord will appear. Personally, I believe that the Lord will come at any time, although I believe that any delay is for the benefit of those who still don’t know Him. The age of peace will come, but only during a one thousand year reign of Christ following His return.
2. The Bible clearly says that in the last days that some will depart from the faith and “…follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.” (1 Timothy 4:11) This verse seems to indicate a general falling away, not some age of peace.
No, I’m NOT suggesting that McKinlay is deceived and I won’t insist that he is wrong, especially when it pertains to his relationship with Jesus Christ. Every one of us sees through the mirror dimly (1 Corinthians 13:12) and beyond the essentials of our faith (doctrine), some of our beliefs may diverge. I can accept that and believe that McKinlay’s narrative is interesting and can be of benefit to the reader regardless of my personal thinking or understanding.

Next review by: http://jdellis.blogspot.com/2011/06/book-review-mason-to-minister.html?spref=fb

I enjoyed reading this Autobiography of how Neil Cullan McKinlay travelled through the religious world and finally came to the conclusion that religion is religion and a true relationship with Christ is the only thing that will completely satisfy an aching soul.

The book is broken different parts focusing on his life growing up, his life as a Free Mason and then his life as a Minister. Each part has a specific focus on him struggling with the desire to find God. As Free Mason he believes he has found all the answers until he hears a preacher in a Presbyterian church in Australia who preaches the word of God as the Word of God. He was so impressed with this man that he had to find out more about how he could do this. God got a hold of his life and changed his life forever!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

THE BAPTISMAL SEAL

Part 2
(See Westminster Confession of Faith chapter 28 paras 4-6)
Introduction

God made a wonderful promise to Abraham the “father of the faithful.” The Apostle Paul in Galatians 3 speaks of the blessings attached to this great promise. For he says, “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, ‘In you all the nations shall be blessed.’” Galatians 3:8. Thus the heart of the Gospel message Abraham heard, i.e., the Good News preached to Abraham, was that in him all the nations shall be blessed. As Abraham believed the promise of the LORD and was justified (i.e., declared righteous, Gen. 15:6), so would all who have the faith of faithful Abraham be justified.

Thus the Gospel-promise of the Father is received through faith. This same Good News-promise of righteousness was sealed or confirmed to Abraham as recorded in Genesis 17. The Apostle Paul puts it like this, “And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised…” Romans 4:11a.

Let’s note three things we have seen thus far: a) God made a promise to Abraham. b) Abraham believed the promise. And, c) God signified and sealed that promise to Abraham through Circumcision.

Circumcision then is the Older Testament sign and seal of the righteousness promised by God to believers and to their children. This promise of righteousness (i.e., rightness with God) is the Covenant of Grace. This sign and seal of the Covenant of Grace was to be applied to all males in Abraham’s household: “He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised, every male in your generations, he who is born in your house or bought with money from any foreigner who is not your descendant” Genesis 17:12.

Notice then the scope of the application of the covenant sign and seal of circumcision. Elderly males through to male infants alike were to receive the token or seal of God’s promise on the regenerative member of their body. This also included those who were not physically descended from Abraham – i.e., foreigners, even people from other nations; all these were included in the promise. Thus, we see that Abraham, those belonging to his household, and even foreigners and slaves entering his household, were essentially treated by God in the same way as New Testament or Covenant people: “The promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call” Acts 2:39. Note then that Abraham, his children, and those who were once afar off, but subsequently had entered into his household, received Circumcision, i.e., the sign and seal of the promise of God.

Now, when we get to the Newer Testament we may search long and hard, but we will not find anywhere that this promise God made to Abraham has been revoked. Indeed we find that the promise God made to Abraham has begun to come to fruition, which is to say that the blessings of the Covenant of Grace are coming upon all the nations. We discover in the Newer Testament that these promised Gospel blessings are poured upon all the nations through the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ.

The Apostle Paul, the preacher sent to the Gentiles, puts it like this, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse [offering] for us (for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs upon a tree’), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” Galatians 3:13&14.

So, we see then that the promise God made to Abraham, which was sealed or confirmed through circumcision, has been brought to pass by Jesus Christ. And that promise is that we, the Gentiles (ethnoi), indeed all the nations, Jew and Gentile, would receive the promise of the Spirit, i.e., the promised Spirit, through faith. For the Apostle has already said to the Galatians (who were beginning to turn away from the clear teaching of the Gospel): “Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” Galatians 3:2.

So then, the promise of the Spirit still stands. The Covenant of Grace has not been revoked. The righteousness revealed in the Gospel is still promised to all who believe. The thing that has changed regarding the promise is that which signifies and seals it. Bloody Older Testament Circumcision, (as Colossians 2:11-13 teaches), has been replaced by bloodless Newer Testament Baptism. And since infants were included in Older Testament Circumcision, so infants, including female infants, are included in that which has replaced it, i.e., Baptism with water.

The Seal Applied

Baptism with water in the name of the Triune God is the Newer Testament continuation of Older Testament Circumcision. For the Apostle Paul says that Christians are circumcised in Christ through water baptism. For he says, “In Him you were circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead” Colossians 2:11&12. Thus Baptism, as did its predecessor Circumcision, speaks of the removal of the sins of the flesh.

And also, the Apostle Paul in his Epistle to the Romans teaches us that, as removal of the foreskin in Older Testament circumcision pointed to the removal of our sin through being united to Christ, so our water baptism speaks of our being united to Christ’s death, His funeralization, and His resurrection. For the Apostle says, “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin” Romans 6:4-7.

Notice that Christ did not die in His burial, but rather in His crucifixion! “Our old man was crucified with Him.” Thus our body of sin (as before depicted in bloody foreskin-removal) dies with Christ in His death (by crucifixion), is buried with Him in His burial (i.e., in His being placed in a hollowed-out tomb, not lowered into a grave!), and is raised anew from the state of death.

Thus, as did bloody Circumcision before it, unbloody water baptism seals (or confirms) to us: a) The removal of our sin. b) Our having been cut off by being entombed with Christ. And, c) Our regeneration in His resurrection.

To be buried (i.e., entombed) with Christ is to be cut off from this world. Thus water baptism signifies and seals God’s covenant promise to believers and to their children that He will put off their old man whilst putting on the new, i.e., spiritually renew, e.g., Ezekiel 36:24-28. This is accomplished in time when the Holy Spirit applies Christ and His benefits to the believer, whether Jew or Gentile: “But the meek shall inherit the earth, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace” Psalm 37:11 with Matthew 5:4.

That this promise of the meek inheriting the earth was indeed a Gospel-promise which includes the inheriting the whole world or cosmos, is attested to by father Abraham’s inclusion in it: “For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith” Romans 4:13. The “righteousness of faith,” or “the righteousness that comes by faith” (NIV) is the same as that which was promised to Abraham.

Christ’s “Great Commission” command of Matthew 28:19 to baptize “the nations” is the implementation of His promise to Abraham that, “In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” Genesis 12:3b. Thus water baptism signifies and seals to believers and to their children this same great Gospel-promise that God made to Abraham. Therefore the Newer Testament sign and seal replacing the Older Testament sign and seal of Circumcision is water Baptism. It’s the same Covenant of Grace (or Gospel) only with different administrations.

There is no command given in the Newer Testament to now withhold the sign and seal of the covenant-promise given to believers and to their children in the Older Testament. Therefore, Not only those who profess faith in and obedience unto Christ, but also the infants of one or both believing parents are to be baptised. Thus the Westminster Confession of Faith.

The Promise of God has been given to believers and to their children. Therefore believers and their children qualify to receive the sign and seal of that promise. Again, as it says in Acts 2:38&39, “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off.’” Thus believers and their children qualify to receive the sign and seal of the Covenant of Grace. This includes also all believers and their children of those who are “afar off,” i.e., the Gentile nations (the ethnoi) to whom the Gospel is being proclaimed. The Apostle Paul informs us in the Epistle to the Ephesians that the partition between the Hebrews and the Gentiles has been removed by the shed blood of Christ: “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” Ephesians 2:13.

When the Lord’s Church, i.e., the covenant community, started becoming international after the Day of Pentecost, Gentile converts began to wonder about the status of their unbelieving spouses and their children. The Apostle Paul answers these questions thus, “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy” 1 Corinthians 7:14.

A quote from John Calvin on this verse is worth considering at this point, “The passage, then, is a remarkable one, drawn from the depths of theology; for it teaches, that the children of the pious are set apart from others by a sort of exclusive privilege, so as to be reckoned holy in the church….

As to the Apostle’s assigning here a peculiar privilege to the children of believers, this flows from the blessing of the covenant, by the intervention of which the curse of nature is removed; and those who were by nature unholy are consecrated to God by grace. Hence Paul argues, in his Epistle to the Romans, (11:16,) that the whole of Abraham’s posterity are holy, because God has made a covenant of life with him – “If the root be holy,” says he, “then the branches are holy also.” And God calls all that were descended from Israel His sons: now that the partition is broken down, the same covenant that was entered into with the seed of Abraham is communicated to us. But if the children of believers are exempted from the common lot of mankind, so as to be set apart to the Lord, why should we keep them back from the sign? If the Lord admits them into the Church by His Word, why should we refuse them the sign? In what respects the offspring of the pious are holy, while many of them become degenerate, you will find explained in the tenth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans; and I have handled this point there.”

So, under the Newer Testament holy children qualify to receive the baptismal seal of the Covenant of Grace just as holy children in Older Testament times received the circumcisional seal of the same covenant. So then, we see that the baptismal seal is to be applied to all believers and to their children. But how serious is it to despise or neglect this ordinance either by neglecting your own baptism as a believer or the baptism of your infant children? Well, in the Gospel according to Luke we read, “But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the will of God for themselves, not having been baptised by him [i.e., by John]” Luke 7:30.

These men despised the counsel or will of God that they repent and be baptised by John in preparation to receive the Messiah. Thus we see that it is a very great sin to despise and neglect the baptismal sign and seal of the Covenant of Grace.

And, Moses neglected to place the sign and seal on one of his infants: “And it came to pass on the way, at the encampment, that the LORD met him and sought to kill him. Then Zipporah took a sharp stone and cut off the foreskin of her son and cast it at Moses’ feet, and said, ‘Surely you are a husband of blood to me.’ So He let him go. Then she said, ‘You are a husband of blood’ – because of the circumcision” Exodus 4:24-26.

To be sure this circumcision was done most irregularly, for Moses, not his wife, ought to have performed it. But we do see that the LORD accepted it, for He let Moses go when the child was sealed. Therefore let all believers then be ever so diligent not to delay their own or their little children’s baptism! For the Baptismal seal is to be applied to all who qualify.

The Seal Analysed

Grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed to Baptism, as that no person can be regenerated or saved without it, or that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated. Like Older Testament Circumcision before it, water baptism does not regenerate or save. Rather water baptism signifies and seals to the recipient and to the congregation God’s promise to regenerate and save. Thus, Christian Baptism is not, in the first instance, about the recipient making his/her profession of faith.

To be sure, adults are to make profession of their faith BEFORE they are baptised. We see this illustrated in the passage about Philip and the eunuch from the nation of Ethiopia. Philip explained the Gospel to the eunuch from the Book of Isaiah, chapter 53:7-8 in particular, which follow shortly after the verse which declares, “So shall He sprinkle many nations…” Isaiah 52:15a.

Be that as it may, “Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture [i.e., Isaiah 53:7-8], he preached Jesus to him. Now as he went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, ‘See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?’ Then Philip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart, you may.’ And he answered and said, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’ So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him” Acts 8:35-38.

So we see then that in the case of adults a clear profession of faith is to be made before baptism. And keep in mind that this is a Gentile, an Ethiopian, who was being brought into the covenant community of God through water baptism. And to be sure, being a eunuch he wouldn’t have had any children of his own! But what about those infants of believers, those who on account of immaturity, are unable to make a credible profession of faith? Should the water of baptism be withheld from them? Well, let’s have a right good think about this, because, as we’ve already seen, it’s a great sin to despise or neglect this ordinance.

God does not bar infants from His Son’s kingdom because they are too young to make a profession of faith – neither should we! Indeed God does not save anyone young or old because they exercise faith. Rather He saves them because of His grace. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” Ephesians 2:8&9. Thus, the grace of God is received through the instrument of faith in God. Which is another way of saying that the righteousness of Christ is imputed not earned.

That God imputes righteousness, i.e., that He gives saving grace, is signified and confirmed or sealed to the recipient by water Baptism. That the water of baptism does not regenerate and save is attested to by the repentant thief on the cross. He was regenerated and saved without water baptism. And neither was he condemned to Hell because he had not received water baptism.

On the cross he went from hurling abuse at the Lord, to seeking His forgiveness. Therefore we have no reason to believe he had been baptized beforehand, perhaps by John. For John the Baptizer had already pointed people to Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God – the One upon whom the Holy Spirit would descend and remain. No, the thief on the cross had not been baptised. Hence baptism doesn’t regenerate and save.

Also, we read these words of Jesus in Mark’s Gospel, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptised will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” Mark 16:15-16. Two things to note: a) Every creature means Jew, Gentile, young and elderly alike of every nation. And, b) Unbelievers are condemned because of their unbelief, not because they are unbaptized.

There are those believers who neglect to have their infants baptized, but if any of their infants die they do not doubt that they go to be with the Lord. Therefore even those believers who refuse to baptize their children (which children are holy) believe in regeneration and salvation before baptism! However, contradictorily they withhold the baptismal seal from their infants simply because an infant is unable to make a credible profession of faith! But this lack of a credible profession of faith is only because of immaturity, NOT unbelief! Thus by withholding the Baptismal seal they call “unclean” that which the Lord calls holy! (See again 1 Corinthians 7:14).

Yet the Lord says in Luke’s Gospel, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom as a little child will by no means enter it” Luke 18:16&17. Also, in Matthew 18 Jesus says, “Whoever receives one little child in My name receives Me. But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depths of the sea” Matthew 18:4-6. Thus we see that the kingdom of heaven belongs to Newer Testament little ones every bit as much as to little ones in the Older Testament. Therefore the Newer Testament sign and seal of the Covenant of Grace also belongs to them.

Also, we see that little ones are able to believe in Jesus Christ, although not able to express and profess their faith before baptism (as did the eunuch). Again, water baptism must not be reduced to a mere profession of faith. For that would be to transform into a man-centred individual religious act that which signifies and seals Christ’s catholic or universal covenantal blessings. In other words, it would empty the Sacrament of God’s declaratory promise to bless all the nations. And instead would fill it with the declarations of men. Thus the ordinance of God would be changed from a God-centred to a man-centred ordinance.

In covenant baptism the focus is on God and His promise, and not on man and his faith. That the focus in water baptism ought to be on the blessings of God and not the professions of men is in the fact that Christ baptizes by pouring out His Spirit upon all flesh. Therefore those who insist on adult only baptism by immersion as a profession of faith would do well to humbly admit that they have magnified man’s profession of faith at the expense of the clear depiction of God’s Gospel/covenant promise to bless all the nations.

To be sure, adult profession of faith prior to water baptism is important. But since God promises to give His Spirit to believers and to their children (in all nations), and actually does, we would do well to baptize with water those whom Christ promises to baptise with His Spirit. Therefore even in water baptism we must ever be “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” Hebrews 12:2a.

Infants of at least one believing parent are holy. “For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy, and if the root is holy, so are the branches” Romans 11:16. “otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy” 1 Corinthians 7:14b. Abraham’s son Isaac was holy before he received the seal of God’s Covenant of Grace, so were Jacob and Esau. The effectiveness of baptism, like its Older Testament predecessor, is not tied to the moment when it is administered. Like Esau, some may never become regenerate and be saved by the grace of God.

A Newer Testament example of a person receiving the seal but not being, or becoming, regenerate is found in Acts 8: “Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done” Acts 8:13.

Simon offered money to the Apostles for the power of the Holy Spirit: “But Peter said to him, ‘Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right with God. Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity’” Acts 8:20-23.

So, again we see that water baptism does not regenerate. For Simon was still bound by iniquity even after having been baptized by the Apostles. Therefore there was nothing left for Simon to do but to improve on his baptism, by repenting of his sins and believing in everything his baptism points him to. Whether he eventually did or not, we’re not told.

So, the thief on the cross and covenant infants dying before and during birth demonstrate that regeneration and salvation can take place without baptism. And Simon the Sorcerer proves that baptism doesn’t regenerate. However, through the right use of this ordinance, the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited and conferred by the Holy Ghost, to such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongs to, according to the counsel of God’s own will, in His appointed time. In other words, like the wind, the Holy Spirit blows where and when He wills. He can apply that which water-baptism pictures at any point in a person’s life.

Isaac received God’s saving grace from the womb. Jacob was converted later in life. And the Holy Spirit chose to by-pass Esau. And Scripture says of John the Baptizer, “He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb” Luke 1:15b. Therefore, water baptism as with circumcision before it, simply points us to Christ and His benefits. Our responsibility is to believe in Christ and His benefits, i.e., His Gospel of righteousness. And our responsibility is to bring up our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. In other words, we keep on pointing our children to the Lord and His benefits. This is exactly what water baptism (which is received only once) is designed by the Lord to do.

To say that the child is too young to see the Lord and His benefits in baptism is as ludicrous as saying that young Isaac could not see the Lord and His benefits in circumcision. In fact it borders on the blasphemous!

God instituted the Older Testament seal of Circumcision. He replaced it with water Baptism in the Newer Testament, Colossians 2:11-13. He has never withdrawn His command to place the sign and seal on believers and on their children. And just as there can only ever be one Circumcision, so there can only ever be one Baptism. Therefore the Sacrament of Baptism is but once to be administered to any person. And those who despise and neglect the baptism of the infants of believers and thereby reject their baptism, by rebaptizing them when older have the whole weight of both Testaments against them!

Think about it, God in the Lord Jesus Christ has only one bride. He is not a bigamist, having an Older Testament bride and a Newer Testament bride. There is only one Covenant of Grace. That covenant was revealed to Abraham and was signified and sealed to him and his offspring by circumcision. Now that the bride’s Husband has come, He has, poured out the blessings (like confetti!) promised in Older Testament times, hence the change in the administration to water Baptism. But the marriage to His bride, i.e., the covenantal union, remains unchanged.

There is one olive tree and we believing Gentiles and our children have been ingrafted into that one tree. “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and in you all” Ephesians 4:4-6.

Conclusion

Water baptism points to Christ and His benefits. These benefits or blessings are summed up in the gift of the Holy Spirit. Water baptism points to the Holy Spirit, the Promise of the Father to all nations. Water baptism seals believers and their children with the poured-out blood of Christ. The Holy Spirit, as depicted in baptism, also seals us. “Now He who established us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who has also sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee” 1 Corinthians 1:22.

Anointing is consistent with wetting the forehead in covenant baptism. For, as already mentioned, the sealing of the Holy Spirit is also depicted in covenant baptism. A guarantee is a promise, which promise is also signified and sealed in Covenant baptism.

Paul also speaks of the promise and seal of the Holy Spirit in Ephesians, “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of our purchased possession, to the praise of His glory” Ephesians 1:13&14. Also, this exhortation in Ephesians 4:30, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”

The Book of Revelation speaks of the time of the sealing of the Holy Spirit. In Revelation 7:3 we read these words spoken by God to four angels, “Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of God on their foreheads” Revelation 7:3. Covenant Baptism therefore also is designed to depict this sealing of the Holy Spirit of God.

The passage in Revelation goes on to declare the sealing of twelve thousand from each of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. And then in Revelation 7:9-10 we see who else has been sealed, “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’”

That’s the fulfilment of God’s Gospel/covenant promise to Abraham. That’s the same promise God has made to believers and to their children. Water Baptism signifies and seals this promise.

BAPTISM

Part 1
(See Westminster Confession of Faith chapter 28 paras 1-3)

Introduction
The Day of Pentecost was spoken of throughout the Older Testament Scriptures. Indeed in Acts 2 where the events of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit from Heaven are recorded in the Newer Testament Peter quotes the Older Testament prophet Joel. Says Peter in reference to what was then happening, “But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; and they shall prophesy…’” Acts 2:17&18.

Now, for the purposes of what we’re looking at in the following I’d like you simply to notice that God had promised to “pour out” His Spirit: “ And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days…”

Notice also what Jesus said to His disciples after His resurrection just before His ascension into Heaven: “And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, ‘which,’ He said, ‘you have heard from Me; for John truly baptised with water, but you shall be baptised with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’” Acts 1:4&5.

This then, this baptism or outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost is the fulfilment of the great promise made throughout Older Testament times. The Holy Spirit is the Promise of the Father and the Son, Luke 24:49; Acts 1:5.

Now, to whom has God has made His promise of the Holy Spirit? Peter in Acts 2:17&18 says the God has given His Promise to their sons and their daughters, young men and old men, menservants and maid servants. Therefore the promise to young and old alike, to male and female alike.

Indeed Peter goes on to say that the promise is not just to young and old male and female Hebrews, but also to Gentiles, i.e., all nations. Acts 2:38&39 says, “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.’”

So we see then that young and old, male and female, Hebrew and Gentile are to repent and be baptised for the remission of their sins. And we also see that this repentance and baptism in the name of Jesus Christ is connected to receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit. Therefore water baptism is the sign and seal of God’s promise, which is the Promise of the Father, i.e., the Holy Spirit. In other words, water baptism points to Spirit baptism. Or to put it another way, water baptism signifies and confirms the Promise of the Father. This promise of God the Father and God the Son is found throughout the Older Testament.

The Meaning of Baptism

Baptism is one of the two Newer Testament signs and seals of the Covenant of Grace. The other Newer Testament sign and seal is the Lord’s Supper. These are the only Sacraments ordained by Jesus Christ in the Newer Testament. These two signs and seals have replaced the two Older Testament signs and seals of Circumcision and Passover respectively. Water baptism has the same meaning therefore as its Older Testament predecessor because it is simply a different administration of the same covenant.

Water baptism is for the receiving of the baptised person into the visible church. And it is for a sign and seal of the Covenant of Grace. And as such it signifies and confirms that person’s engrafting into Christ. And as such it symbolises the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit with the Word. And water baptism also speaks of the remission of the baptisee’s sins. Not to forget that it is a presenting of the baptisee to God through Jesus to walk in newness of life. So we see then that baptism teaches us many things. Indeed, as all the promises of God are ‘Yes’ and ‘Amen’ in Jesus Christ, baptism like Circumcision before it, points us to Jesus Christ and all the benefits of His cross.

We see Jesus institute Baptism in the ‘Great Commission’ passage of Matthew 28. In Matthew 28:19, in line with the Joel verses recorded in Acts 2, we see the catholicity or the universality of ‘the Promise of the Father.’ For in Matthew 28:19 Jesus says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”

So, Hebrews, Gentiles, young men, old men, their sons and their daughters are to be baptised into the name of the Triune God. Therefore all nations and all classes of people are to be baptised, “For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off , as many as the Lord our God will call.” Acts 2:39.

Now, that people are not to be baptised indiscriminately has already been noted. Baptism is a sign and seal of the Covenant of Grace. Therefore only those who are in the covenant receive the sign and seal of the covenant. As Abraham’s Older Testament Circumcision was the sign and seal that he belonged to the covenant of grace, so is Newer Testament Baptism. For we read these words regarding Abraham in Romans 4:11, “And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also…”

So, Abraham’s circumcision was a visible confirmation of God’s righteousness, i.e., the righteousness that was imputed to Abraham – which righteousness is promised to all who believe. This is nothing less than the promise of the Gospel, “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed…” Romans 1:17a. Abraham’s circumcision therefore signified and sealed or confirmed to him the Promise of the Father. And since the promise is to Abraham and his children Abraham had every male in his household circumcised including children.

This command of God to place the sign and seal of His covenant on believers and their children has not been revoked in or by the Newer Testament. For rather than narrowing this covenantal promise, it has actually been broadened by including females and indeed young and old of all the nations. This is not to say that females could not be saved in the Older Testament because they were excluded from Circumcision by being female. For that would be to suggest that the Sacramental sign and seal itself saves. But rather it simply helps demonstrate the catholicity or universality of the promised blessings of God in Newer Testament times. For God said to Abraham, “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curse you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:2&3.

Older Testament circumcision began with Abraham (Genesis 17). God’s promise that in Abraham all the families of the earth shall be blessed was pictured and confirmed in his circumcision. For Older Testament Circumcision pointed to Christ and all His benefits or blessings. This is why Paul shows the Colossians that Older Testament Circumcision is synonymous with Newer Testament Baptism. He shows that like Abraham we (Newer Testament Christians) are also circumcised in Christ. “In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses…” Colossians 2:11-13.

Older Testament Circumcision therefore speaks of the same blessings as Newer Testament Baptism. It speaks of a spiritual working of God who raised Jesus from the dead, i.e., the work of the Holy Spirit. It speaks of putting off the body of the sins of the flesh. It speaks of faith in God who raises the dead. It speaks of those who are dead in their trespasses being made alive in Christ. In a word, Older Testament Circumcision like Newer Testament Baptism speaks of the need of cleansing or purification and spiritual renewal by the Holy Spirit.

This purification and spiritual renewal comes when the Holy Spirit applies the shed blood of Christ’s cross to those who believe. That is what is depicted in Baptism; Covenant Baptism. That is what the Holy Spirit does in reality. The Church on earth is to continue depicting the Promise of the Father, i.e., the outpouring of the Holy Spirit even to the end of the age, Matthew 28:20.

The Mode of Baptism

We believe we are standing on solid (and dry!) ground, Scriptural ground, when we insist that the element used in the Newer Testament be water. For under inspiration of the Holy Spirit Matthew records the following infallible words uttered by John the Baptiser under influence of the Holy Spirit: “I indeed baptise you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Matthew 3:11.

Notice that John baptised with water. Therefore the element used in the Newer Testament Sacrament is to be water. But what does the water in Baptism represent? Again, if we look at Matthew 3:11 we see that what John did with water Jesus Christ was going to do with the Holy Spirit. “I indeed baptise you with water… but… He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit…” It’s very important – it’s crucial – that you see the analogy here. What we do in water baptism is a visible depiction of what Christ does invisibly with the Holy Spirit.

We’ve seen already that the ‘Promise of the Father’ is the Older Testament Promise of God to pour out the Holy Spirit on the young and old, male and female of all nations – ‘on all flesh.’. This is what we mean when we say that water Baptism is a sign and seal of the Covenant of Grace.

God’s Covenant of Grace began to be revealed immediately after the Fall of man in the Garden. Immediately after the Fall we see in Genesis 3:15 the promise that the devil, i.e., the serpent’s head, will be crushed by One who would have His heel crushed in the process. In other words, Jesus Christ is the Promised One (Galatians 3:16). And His cross at Calvary was the arena in which He crushed the devil’s head (who is now writhing in the throes of death).

When Jesus arose bodily from the tomb He subsequently ascended into Heaven from where He poured out the Spirit as witnessed on the Day of Pentecost. Thus the outpouring of the Spirit on the people on the day of Pentecost is a direct fulfilment of the words of John the Baptiser in Matthew 3:11, “I indeed baptise you with water … but… He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit …” Thus, does it not stand to reason, i.e., to Biblical presupposition, that because Christ baptised by pouring, the Church on earth should baptise by pouring?

Why would anyone wish to change the picture of the baptism of the Holy Spirit as it is depicted throughout all the Scriptures? They are too numerous to cite, but here are some samples: Proverbs 1:23, “…Surely I will pour out My Spirit upon you…” Isaiah 44;3, “For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground; and pour My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessing on your offspring.” Isaiah 53:15, “So shall He sprinkle many nations…” Ezekiel 36:25; 27a, “Then I shall sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols… I will put My Spirit within you…” Joel 2:28&29, “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.”

How can anyone miss the picture of what happened on the Day of Pentecost? As John the Baptiser predicted, just as he did with water, so Jesus Christ did with the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. Could it be any clearer? Therefore we can see clearly from Scripture how Jesus Christ baptises from on High, (which is to pour or sprinkle the nations with the Holy Spirit).

We see this promise to baptise the Gentiles or the nations begin to come to fruition in the Book of Acts. In Acts 10 the Apostle Peter was talking to some Gentiles while in the company of some circumcised and subsequently baptised Hebrews. We read these words in Acts 10:44-48, “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, ‘Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptised, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?’” And he commanded them to be baptised in the name of the Lord.”

Then up ahead in Acts 11 when Peter began to relate what had happened he said, “And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning. Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptised with water, but you shall be baptised with the Holy Spirit.’” Acts 11:15&16.

The Holy Spirit fell upon the Gentiles just as He fell upon the Hebrews on the Day of Pentecost because that is how Jesus baptises His Church on earth with the Holy Spirit.

So we see then that the mode of Spirit-baptism is that of pouring or sprinkling. Therefore, because the Scriptures always picture the Spirit as shed forth which is depicted by pouring, or sprinkling water, we can guarantee that in water baptism sprinkling is Scriptural. Thus in the words of the Westminster Confession of Faith 28:3, Dipping of the person into the water is not necessary; but baptism is rightly administered by pouring or sprinkling water upon the person.

The grace in this Confessional statement is that it does not deny the validity of the baptism of any who have been submerged into the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. However, the Confession does deny that Christian baptism may only be administered by dipping the person into the water. However, it does state that baptism is rightly administered by pouring or sprinkling water upon the person.

Why then do some insist that any mode other than submersion is invalid? Well, it all has to do with the meaning of the actual Newer Testament Greek word for baptise. Indeed, our English Bibles usually leave the Greek word for baptise untranslated. But there are some who believe that every time the word ‘baptise’ appears in the Newer Testament it should be translated as ‘immerse.’ They believe that baptism is immersion – period! To be sure one of the meanings of the Newer Testament Greek word is ‘to dip’. And no true Presbyterian would deny that the Greek word also includes the idea of dipping. But, as our Confession says, ‘Dipping of the person into the water is not necessary…’

Why isn’t it necessary to dip or immerse the person into the water? It’s because the word baptizo, as AA Hodge says, as well as ‘to dip’ means also ‘to moisten, to wet, to purify, to wash.” (The Confession of Faith, p. 341) Yet there is always ‘dipping’ involved in water baptism. For the minister has to dip his fingers into the water in order to sprinkle the baptizee!

Admittedly, our view of the mode of baptism is swayed by the clear teaching of Scripture regarding Christ’s baptizing His Church with His Spirit. But to be fair and to illustrate that by itself the word baptise may also include dipping we shall mention a couple of verses that illustrate this.

In the story of the rich man and Lazarus we read of the rich man being in torments in Hades. Luke 16:24 says, “Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in the flame.’” Not a nice picture! but the word dip there has to do with the word for baptism. The rich man wanted Lazarus to dip his finger in water. Note: The minister dips his fingers in water to baptise the member of the covenant.

Also, in John’s Gospel Jesus’ disciples were wondering which one of them was going to betray Him. John 13:26, “Jesus answered, ‘It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it.’ And having dipped the bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.”

Note: Dipping the bread does not mean putting the whole piece of bread below the surface. Thus we have to wonder about the view put forth by some that ‘dip’ or ‘immerse’ means total submersion of the person in water.

The inverted image of baptism put forth by submersionists looks especially strange when viewed in the light of Mark 7:2-4, “Now when they [the Pharisees and scribes] saw some of His disciples eat bread with defiled, that is, with unwashed hands they found fault. For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands in a special way, holding the tradition of the elders. When they [the Pharisees and scribes] come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash [i.e., baptise]. And there are many things which they have received and hold, like the washing [i.e., the baptizing] of cups, pitchers, copper vessels, and couches.”

The Newer Testament word for baptism cannot always and only mean full immersion, (i.e. total submersion of the whole body under water). For unbaptised hands in this passage do not the whole body make! Also dipping the hands in water would not be the way to purify or wash ceremonially unclean hands according to the traditions of the Pharisees and scribes. Indeed, one has to wonder as to the wisdom of the practice of submersing couches! We believe sprinkling is what is meant by the words for baptism in this passage.

It is interesting to note the Laws of Purification recorded in Numbers 19. E.g., “And for an unclean person they shall take some of the ashes of the heifer burnt for purification from sin, and running water shall be put on them in a vessel. A clean person shall take hyssop and dip it in the water, sprinkle it on the tent, on all the vessels, on the persons who were there… But the man who is unclean and does not purify himself, that person shall be cut off from among the assembly, because he has defiled the sanctuary of the LORD. The water of purification has not been sprinkled on him; he is unclean. It shall be a perpetual statute for them. He who sprinkles the water of purification shall wash his clothes; and he who touches the water of purification shall be unclean until evening. Whatever the unclean person touches shall be unclean; and the person who touches it shall be unclean until evening.” Numbers 19:17&18a; 20-22.

Note: To submerse an (ceremonially) unclean person (or vessel) in water is to contaminate the whole body of water. Thus living or running water, either sprinkled or poured protects against contaminating the whole body of water. The Pharisees and scribes therefore would have baptised their hands, cups, pitchers, copper vessels, and couches by pouring or sprinkling so as not to make the whole store of water unclean and therefore unusable.

Indeed, the writer to the Hebrews talks of Older Testament purification rites in Hebrews 9. Speaking of things which symbolized things to come, the writer speaks of “…various washings [i.e., various baptisms], and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of the reformation.” Hebrews 9:10. The writer then goes on to demonstrate how some of these various baptisms were performed. Hebrews 9:19 f. “For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, ‘This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you.’ Then likewise he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry. And according to the law almost all things are purified [cleansed] with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no remission.”

Baptism is about blood, the blood of purification, the blood that cleanses, the blood of the Covenant, Christ’s blood. For the writer to the Hebrews says in Hebrews 9:13&14, “For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”

The Apostle John speaking of Jesus says in Revelation 1:5, “To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood…” And Paul says to Titus that “…according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour…” Titus 3:5b&6.

And so we are back to the Biblical picture of Christian Baptism. It pictures the Holy Spirit being poured out on Christ’s Church with the cleansing power of Christ’s shed blood. Indeed, the Jews sent priests and Levites to investigate the authority under which John the Baptiser was baptising (John 1:19). “Then there arose a dispute between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purification.” John 3:25. Had John been doing anything other than pouring or sprinkling water on the people the Jews would not have said to John: “Why then do you baptise if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” John 1:25. Rather they would have asked John what he was doing. Thus they saw baptism as synonymous with the Older Testament purification rites (which were administered by pouring or sprinkling). However, the bad news is that “…they rejected the will of God for themselves, not having been baptised by him [i.e., John]” Luke 7:30.

The Apostle Peter tells us that the eight souls saved from the flood in Noah’s ark is a picture of baptism, 1 Peter 3:20&21. We shouldn’t need to mention that those who were sprinkled upon in the ark were saved, while those who were fully immersed perished! Also, the fully immersed pursuing Egyptians also perished (Exodus 14:28; Psalm 78:53), while the people of God who crossed the Red Sea “…were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptised into Moses in the cloud and in the sea…” 1 Corinthians 10:1&2. Thus God’s covenant people, infants and elderly alike, were baptised by being sprinkled upon in the cloud whilst on dry ground: “But the children of Israel had walked on dry land in the midst of the sea…” Exodus 14:29a; Psalm 66:6a.The Bible is replete with sprinkling imagery – sprinkling that purifies – that’s what Christian Baptism pictures!

It has been alleged by some that Romans 6:4 teaches a mode of baptism where it says, “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we should walk in the newness of life.”

That this is not speaking of the mode of baptism, but rather the meaning of baptism is seen by the fact that it’s really speaking of those who are already dead in their trespasses and sins being regenerated. For “…our old man was crucified with Him…” Romans 6:6. Therefore it’s not picture or symbol of us dying in the grave with Christ and being raised to newness of life, for who ever has died in the grave? Rather it is teaching that through water baptism we are being identified with and united with Christ’s death and resurrection.

Therefore this passage (like its parallel Colossians 2:12) is not teaching a mode of baptism. It is teaching the means by which we are united to Christ, i.e., through our baptism. Anyway, Jesus wasn’t lowered into a grave, a six-foot hole in the ground, as in Western burials. Rather His body was placed in a new tomb, which was a cave hewn out of rock, Matthew 27:60

Also it’s extremely difficult to imagine what the water in baptism pictures in Christ’s burial if the water does not represent Christ Spirit and blood. Thus we believe that the pouring or sprinkling of water in baptism clearly depicts Christ’s poured out Spirit and covenant blood.

Conclusion

It is alleged by some that the Gospels teach that when Jesus was baptised by John He was submerged. There is no reason to hold this view. For we read the following words when Philip baptised the eunuch, “And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water , and he baptised him. Now when they came up out of the water , the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away…” Acts 8:38&39. Since both Philip and the eunuch went down into and came up out of the water we are simply left to wonder as to the specific mode of baptism – we’re not told in this passage.

It’s the same with Jesus when it says, “And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. Then a voice came from heaven, ‘You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Mark 1:10&11.

All we’re told is, like Philip and the eunuch, Jesus came up from (KJV), or out of (NIV) the water. We’re not told exactly how Jesus was baptised by John. But we do note the presence of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit at Christ’s baptism. And we particularly note that the Father poured out the Holy Spirit upon His Son at His Son’s baptism.

Water baptism therefore always pictures Spirit baptism!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

JESUS RECEIVES A KINGDOM

The following is excerpted from my Kindle book "Demystifying the Gospel"
http://www.amazon.com/DEMYSTIFYING-THE-GOSPEL-ebook/dp/B006X51ZGY/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_5

Introduction

In our own generation there has been a proliferation of “End Times” books. Walk into any everyday Christian bookstore and these kinds of books are just about yelling out at you to buy them! Now, each book of course, needs to be taken upon its own merits – even “Last Days” books. In other words, everything the author says ought to be measured against the clear teaching of Scripture.

Of course, as a rule we tend not to read these kinds of books. But, our understanding of them is that they promote and propagate the view that everything in this world is going to go from bad to worse before Christ returns. They hold forth the thesis that because things (in their eyes) are getting worse and worse – therefore the immanent or any-minute return of Christ is sure.

If you take this type of belief to its logical conclusion then it will be your hope as a Christian that things in this world will continue to go from bad to worse. But isn’t that against the clear teaching of Scripture? Shouldn’t we be believing and praying for the exact opposite of this? Even in the Lord’s Prayer we are taught to pray to God: “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”

Why would you bother yourself praying words like that if you think the world is supposed to spin more and more on a downward spiral? Why would you bother teaching people to be obedient to God by doing all things to His glory if you thought the Lord was going to return any second? Wouldn’t you just spend your time handing out little “How To Get Saved” Bible tracts? Wouldn’t you be thinking of the Lord’s Church as a lifeboat plucking drowning people from the raging sea?

But aren’t Christians supposed to be salt and light? Aren’t we supposed to be disseminating the salt and light and influencing the world with the Good News of Jesus Christ? Is the Church not supposed to be the leaven that leavens the whole batch – even the whole world? Therefore, like Noah exiting the ark, we need to dock the lifeboat, come ashore, and start subduing the earth as we’re supposed to.

In the title of a little book, Francis Nigel Lee asks: Will Christ or Satan Win This World? What do you think? In the following we’ll look at a couple of verses that might help you answer that question.


Christ’s Return

“And behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven!” So says Daniel in Daniel 7:13. Daniel says he saw this wondrous sight in “the night visions.” Daniel, as you know, was one of God’s Old Testament prophets. God would give revelation of Himself and what He was doing, and even what He was going to do, through His designated prophets. Daniel in this particular vision is seeing something that would take place well over five hundred years into the future – something that actually took place some two thousand years ago.

What Daniel is seeing in this vision, without a doubt, is Jesus Christ ascending into heaven. Notice the words “…He came TO the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him.” These verses therefore are not speaking of Christ’s 2nd Coming to earth (though that’s a common view). Rather they are speaking of His return to Heaven after His birth, death, and resurrection on earth. Jesus told His disciples in John 16:28, “I came forth from the Father and have come into the world and go to the Father.”

Now, notice that Daniel says that he saw “One like the Son of Man.” Why does he use the word “like” – One LIKE the Son of Man? Why doesn’t he just say he saw the Son of Man, i.e., Jesus? Well, let’s first off note that this title “Son of Man” was a title that Jesus used to describe Himself. The examples from the Gospels are far too numerous to list. But, e.g., in Luke 9:22 Jesus is recorded as saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes and be killed, and raised the third day.”

And in John 6 when some of His disciples were complaining about His hard teaching He said, “What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before?” John 6:62. Daniel, in Daniel 7:13 is seeing the Son of Man ascend where He was before. However, this is not to say that the Son of Man had a human body before the time He was conceived and born of the Virgin. John in John 1:14 says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” If Christ had always existed in human form he would not have said “the Word became flesh.” But he does say the Word BECAME flesh.

How did He become flesh? Luke 1:30&31, “Then the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS.’” Mary wondered how this could be seeing as she didn’t know a man that she could conceive. Luke 1:35, “And the angel answered and said to her [i.e., Mary], ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.’”

The Apostle Paul refers to the birth of Jesus in Galatians 4:4: “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born OF a woman…” Therefore clearly God the Son became also a Man only when He was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of Mary, a virgin. Therefore Daniel is seeing a vision of the return to Heaven the One who clothed Himself in the robes of humanity – the same One who went to Calvary and offered up Himself to God as a sweet-smelling sacrifice for our sins – the same One who was buried in a tomb and rose again on the third day – the same One who was witnessed in His resurrected state by over five hundred people at once.

Luke records what happened before Jesus ascended into Heaven. Luke 24:45f, “And He [i.e., Jesus] opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them, ‘Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things. Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.’ And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven.”

Luke also wrote the Book of Acts where he tells us a little more about Jesus ascending to Heaven. Acts 1:9, “Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw him go into heaven.’”

Notice the words, “This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven” in Acts 1:11. So, it’s not a different Jesus to the One who was taken up into heaven who is going to return to the earth at some future point in time. But rather it’s the same Jesus who was seen by over five hundred people at once in His resurrected state, 1 Corinthians 15:6. This is the same Jesus who laboured hard to teach Thomas, a.k.a. known as “Doubting Thomas,” that He had been raised with the self-same body that had been nailed to the cross. Jesus invited Thomas to closely examine the wounds He’d received on the cross, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side.” John 20:27. He said to His disciples in Luke 24:39, “Behold, My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.’”

So, we see then that the Son of Man didn’t have a human body that He brought with Him from heaven where He was before. For the Word became flesh, in that He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of a woman. John 1:14 and Galatians 4:4. And we see also that Jesus didn’t discard His body on His way to Heaven. Nor did He have His Divine nature absorb His human nature – body included. For the same Jesus who was taken up into heaven will come back in like manner.

Therefore it wasn’t the human spirit of Jesus that Daniel saw in the night visions coming to the Ancient of Days to receive His reward for a job well done. No, Daniel saw the eternal Son of God who had condescended to take upon Himself human flesh and suffer at the hands of wicked men. He saw the One who is the Son of God become also the Son of Man forever. And, in the Person of Jesus Christ the Son of God is going to remain united to His human nature forever, and vice versa.

We’re labouring the point here with good reason. You need to see with Daniel who it is who is receiving dominion, glory and a kingdom from the Ancient of Days, i.e., from God. It is the Man Christ Jesus, the Mediator between God and men, who is receiving the reward. If you don’t see that it is the Divine Person Jesus Christ the God-Man who is receiving these things, you’ll have a faulty view of the “Cultural” or “Dominion Mandate” given to man in Genesis. And you’ll have a faulty view of the “Great Commission” of Matthew 28. In short you’ll have a pietistic view of the Gospel. Which means in turn that you’ll have a faulty view of the world in which we live. And by pietistic view of the Gospel we mean that you’ll have a view of the Gospel that may be so narrow that you’ll think that Christianity is only about saving individual souls.

But look at what the Divine Person – the Son of Man – received from God, the Ancient of Days.


Christ’s Reward

His work on earth finished, Jesus ascended into Heaven. The Men of Galilee witnessed Jesus being taken up and a cloud received Him out of their sight. Daniel in his night visions had witnessed the Son of Man coming with the clouds of Heaven. He saw Jesus coming TO the Ancient of Days, not coming to (i.e., returning to) the earth.

Then Daniel got to witness what happened next: “Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed.” Daniel 7:14.

Notice at least three obvious things: 1. Dominion, Glory, and a Kingdom are given to Jesus. 2. All peoples, Nations, and Languages belong to that Kingdom – for the express purpose of serving Him. 3. His Dominion will not pass away – for His Kingdom will not be destroyed.

We’ve already noted that it was the Man Christ Jesus who received these things. God being God already has these things on account of His being Almighty God. It would be a redundant thing were God to give Himself what He already has! Therefore it most certainly is the Man Christ Jesus who is receiving these things.

Now let’s talk for a moment about the Cultural Mandate a.k.a. as the Dominion Mandate. Genesis 1:26-28, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’”

When Noah and His sons exited the ark, the Lord reiterated the Cultural Mandate to them. (Genesis 9). Therefore God never changed His mind about the Cultural Mandate. It still stands. Man was given dominion or authority over all the earth. Man was commissioned by God to “culturize” or “culturalize” the earth, i.e., to cultivate it.

And so we see men become farmers as they cultivate the ground. They become keepers of sheep, goats and cattle as they cultivate the animals. They begin to make musical instruments, and develop metallurgy etc., etc., etc. They begin to develop and make things – which is a cultural activity. We see these things being cultivated even as early as Genesis 4:20-22, and indeed earlier.

God gave man dominion over the all earth to cultivate it to God’s glory. And the Cultural Mandate still stands today. For instance, the Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, WHATEVER YOU DO, do ALL to the glory of God.” So, we’ve to build fences to the glory of God. We’ve to bake cakes to the glory of God. We’ve to clean toilets to the glory of God. We’ve to develop the sciences to the glory of God. We’ve to develop the arts, languages, politics, education – whatever you do – to the glory of God! We work for Christ, i.e., we serve Him in all we do. Therefore we ought to try to do the best job we can.

What do we know? We know that God gave the Cultural Mandate to man. And we know that Jesus is a man. Therefore the Cultural Mandate was given also to Jesus.

Now, we know that the first man Adam sinned and therefore he and all his offspring are tainted by sin. Therefore we know that everything we do, i.e., every cultural activity we participate in, is tainted by sin. But what about the Man Christ Jesus? Is He tainted by sin? No! Are the things He does tainted by sin? No! So, do you think He will be able to keep the Cultural Mandate as a man, and, in the end, finally have cultivated and subdued all creation to the glory of God? Of course! 1 Corinthians 15:25-28.

What were those three obvious things we noted from Daniel 7:14? 1. Jesus was given Dominion, Glory, and a Kingdom. 2. He was given all peoples, Nations, and Languages – that they should serve Him. And, 3. His Dominion will not pass away – for His Kingdom will not be destroyed. So, in terms of the Cultural Mandate Jesus has received – for cultural development – an everlasting Dominion and a Kingdom that will never be destroyed.

We hear echoes of the Divine decree recorded in Psalm 2:7-9: “I will declare the decree: The LORD has said to Me, You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

So, in the night visions Daniel witnesses the fact that the Man Christ Jesus was indeed given all peoples, nations, and languages. He will break them with a rod of iron, and dash them to pieces. This, of course, doesn’t necessarily mean that He will destroy them from the face of the earth, though that is the way of it for some nations, peoples and languages. But it does mean that Jesus has been given dominion or authority over them. Therefore they should to serve Him.

And isn’t that exactly what Jesus said just as He was about to ascend to Heaven bodily and receive His reward? Matthew 28:16f., the ‘Great Commission’: “Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. When they saw Him, they worshipped Him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.”

It was a foregone conclusion that Jesus, when He ascended to heaven, would be given the nations for His inheritance and the ends of the earth for His possession. Daniel testified to that some five hundred years before it happened.

But how do we tie all of this together? How should we view all of this in our own day? Well, we hope you can see the connection between the “Cultural Mandate” and the “Great Commission” as it applies to Jesus in the light of the Daniel 7:13&14 passage. Can you see that our being obedient to His Gospel is far, far more than you and me handing out little Gospel tracts to people? Can you see that, not only is the Gospel about the redemption of individual souls, but rather is much larger in scope than that?

The Gospel is also about the redemption of all peoples, nations, and languages. It’s about the redemption of the ends of the earth! It is the MAN Christ Jesus who has been given all authority in heaven and on earth. It’s as a man that He has overcome the world. It’s as a man that He crushed the serpent’s head on Calvary’s cross. It’s as a man that He has destroyed the works of the Devil. Satan will have no victory! The cosmos belongs to the Man Christ Jesus. His is the dominion. His is the glory. His is the kingdom. His are all peoples. His are all nations. His are all languages. All peoples, nations, and languages will serve Him – not Satan! Satan is a usurper. He has no dominion. He has no authority. Satan’s dominion came crashing down when the Man Christ Jesus rose from the dead.

So what’s this nonsense being taught in the churches today? – The nonsense that Satan is going to destroy Christ’s kingdom before He comes back? – The nonsense that Satan is going to possess the ends of the earth before Jesus returns?

Look at Daniel 7:14 once more, and believe it: “Then to Him was [not, ‘will be’] given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed.”


Conclusion

Is the dominion that God gave to Jesus upon His ascension an everlasting dominion? Or is it a dominion that the Devil is somehow going to wrest from Jesus, even though Jesus has defeated him by His cross? And is the kingdom that the Father has given to the Man Christ Jesus going to be a kingdom that will be destroyed?

We’re sure you can see clearly that the dominion and kingdom of Jesus Christ is forever. So, what is all this pessimistic and pietistic nonsense being spread around nowadays? What’s all this nonsense that the world will get worse and worse before Christ returns? Of course it will get worse and worse right up until the point where Christians wake up and start living their whole lives to the glory of God in the world instead of wanting to be “Raptured” out of it! For, as that great Christian leader Abraham Kuyper said in effect: “There’s not one inch of all creation that Jesus cannot point to and say, ‘Give it to Me, it’s mine!’”

So, let’s be done with all pietism and pessimism. Rather, let’s be obedient to the Cultural Mandate. Let’s be obedient to the Great Commission. Let’s even eat and drink to the glory of God. Let’s do all things to the glory of God in the service of Jesus Christ. Let’s hammer every nail in every plank to the glory of God. Let’s mow our lawns to the glory of God. Let’s raise our children to the glory of God. Let’s repair our cars to the glory of God. Let’s plant our gardens to the glory of God. Let’s change our tap-washers to the glory of God. Let’s make our beds to the glory of God. Let’s play football and tennis etc., to the glory of God.

Why should we do all things to the glory of God? Because this is how the Gospel is spread among the nations, even to the ends of the earth. Because this is how Jesus breaks the nations with His rod of iron – so that they will serve Him. This is how He dashes them to pieces – so that they will work for Him. And this is how we, as Paul says to the Romans, crush Satan under our feet. Romans 16:20.

The Man Christ Jesus has returned to Heaven victorious. The Man Christ Jesus has received His reward. Praise Him! Praise Him! Praise Him! Therefore serve Him! Serve Him! Serve Him!

What do you think now in light of Daniel’s night visions? Will Christ or Satan Win This World? For Thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory, for ever and ever. Amen.