- There is but One Living and True God, the Great Creator, and there are three persons in the Godhead. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Genesis 1:1-27; Matthew 28:19; I John 5:7.
- We believe the Holy Bible to be the inspired Word of God. II Timothy 3:16; II Peter 1:20-21.
- We believe we are justified when we repent of our sins, and believe in Jesus Christ. Mark 1:15; Acts 13:38-39; Romans 5:1.
- We believe Sanctification to be a definite work of Grace, subsequent to Salvation. John 15:2; 17:16-17; Ephesians 5:25-27; I John 1:9.
- We believe in the baptism with the Holy Ghost, and speaking with other tongues, as the Spirit gives utterance to be the initiatory evidence of this experience.Acts 2:4; 10:44-46; 19:6. Since the Spirit gives the utterance when one is baptized with the Holy Ghost, we reject the practice of one telling another what to say in order to speak in tongues. We also reject the teaching that one who has received the Baptism of the Holy Ghost can speak in tongues at will, without the Spirit prompting the utterance.
- We believe in divine healing for the body. Acts 3:2-12; 9:32-43; 5:15-16; James 5:14. We do not condemn medical science.
- We believe every blessing we receive from God including Divine healing, comes through the merits of the atonement. Romans 5:11; James 1:16-17.
- We believe in the operation of the nine gifts of the Spirit and encourage our people to so live that these gifts may be manifested in their lives. I Corinthians 12:1-12.
- We believe in the imminent rapture of the church, and the personal, pre-millennial Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Acts 1:10-11; I Thessalonians 4:13-18; Revelation 1:7.
- We, as a church, believe in the eternal redemption of all saints who are faithful to the end. Matthew 24:13; Revelation 2:10. But we reject the theory of "Once in grace always in grace" regardless of conduct. I Corinthians 10:12; Galatians 5:4.
- We believe all who die out of Christ will be punished eternally, but those who die in Him shall share His glory forever. Daniel 12:2; Matthew 25:46; John 5:29; Jude 7.
- We believe the Bride of Christ is composed of the entire Spiritual Church. I Corinthians 12:25; II Corinthians 11:2; Galatians 3:28-29; Ephesians 4:16; 5:23-33; Revelation 19:7-8.
- We believe in the sacredness of marriage between one man and one woman. We promote commitment to strong family values. Ephesians 5:31-33; 6:1-4; Hebrews 13:4; Matthew 19:5; Leviticus 18:22; Genesis 2:24.
- We require all our ministers to speak the same thing, and that there be no division among us in doctrine concerning our Articles of Faith. I Corinthians 1:10.
- Hay un solo Dios vivo y verdadero, el Gran Creador, y hay tres personas en la Divinidad. El Padre, el Hijo y el Espíritu Santo. Génesis 1: 1-27; Mateo 28:19; I Juan 5: 7
- Creemos que la Santa Biblia es la Palabra inspirada de Dios. 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pd 1: 20
- Creemos “Que somos justificados, cuando nos arrepentimos de nuestros pecados y creemos en Jesucristo”. 1:5; Hechos 13:38-39; Romanos. 5:1
- Creemos “Que la santificación es una obra definida de gracia subsiguiente a la salvación.” San Juan 5:2, 17:16, 17; Efesios5:25-27; Juan 1:9
- Creemos en el bautismo con el Espíritu Santo y el hablar en otras lenguas. Hechos 2: 4; 10: 44-46; 19: 6
- Creemos en la sanidad divina para el cuerpo. Hechos 3: 2-12; 9: 32-43; 5: 15-16; Santiago 5:14. Nosotros no condenamos a la ciencia médica.
- Creemos que todas las bendiciones que recibimos de Dios incluyendo la sanidad divina, vienen a través de los méritos de la expiación. Romanos. 5:11; Santiago 1: 16-17
- Creemos en la operación de los nueve dones del Espíritu y alentamos a nuestra gente a vivir de tal manera que estos regalos se pueden manifestar en sus vidas. 1 Corintios 12: 1-12
- Creemos en el rapto inminente de la iglesia y en la personal y pre-milenial segunda venida de nuestro Señor Jesucristo. Hechos 1: 10-11; 1Tesalonicenses 4: 13-18; Apocalipsis 1: 7
- Nosotros, como iglesia, creemos en la redención eterna de todos los santos que son fieles hasta el final. Mateo 24:13; Apocalipsis 2:10. Pero rechazamos la teoría de la "Una vez salvo siempre salvo", independientemente de la conducta. Corintios 10:12; Gálatas5: 4.
- Creemos que todos los que mueren fuera de Cristo serán castigados eternamente, pero los que mueren en Él compartiremos su gloria para siempre. Daniel. 12: 2; Mateo. 25:46; Juan 5:29; Judas 7
- Creemos que la Esposa de Cristo se compone de toda la Iglesia Espiritual. 1 Corintios 12:25; 2 Corintios 11: 2; Gálatas 3: 28-29; Efesios 4:16; 5: 23-33; Apocalipsis19: 7-8
- Creemos en la santidad del matrimonio entre un hombre y una Promovemos compromiso con los valores familiares fuertes. Ef. 5: 31-33; 6: 1-4; Heb.13: 4; Ma. 19: 5; Lev. 18:22; Génesis. 02:24
- Le pedimos a todos nuestros ministros hablar la misma cosa, y que no haya división entre nosotros en la doctrina relativa a nuestros Artículos de Fe. 1Corintios 1:10.
- We will demonstrate our commitment to Christ through spiritual examples of holy living.
- We will demonstrate our loyalty to God and our commitment to the body of Christ by good works, a godly walk and faithful stewardship.
- We will only engage in activities that glorify God in our body and spirit.
- We will read, watch and listen to that which provides for our spiritual edification. We will live in a manner so pleasing to God that it will inspire trust and confidence from others and manifest the spiritual image of Christ.
- We will give priority to fulfilling family responsibilities, to preserving the sanctity of marriage, and maintaining the divine order of the home.
- We will practice moderation in lawful things and abstinence in things that are offensive or which lead to addiction or enslavement.
- We will follow the Scriptural principles of modesty through our dress in a manner that will enhance our Christian testimony and will lend credence to our witness.
- We will demonstrate our Christian commitment by fulfilling our obligation to society by being good citizens, by decrying social injustices and protecting the sanctity of life by speaking out against abortion & euthanasia.
By Bishop Terry Crews
"There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one" (1 John 5:7).
Knowing God is man's greatest privilege in life. A person's concept of God has all to do with his or her faith and stability. If we have the wrong concept of God, we are wrong in every way. We believe in the Holy Trinity and stand on this truth; and that this doctrine is sufficiently evident in our English versions, in language laymen can understand. We believe the only way one can possibly understand differently is by wrestling the Scriptures.
"The original word Elohim, God, is certainly the plural form of El, or Eloah, and has long been supposed, by the most highly learned and pious men, to imply a plurality of persons in the divine nature. As this plurality appears in so many parts of the sacred writings to be confirmed to three persons, hence the doctrine of the Trinity, which has formed a part of the creed of all those who have been deemed sound in the faith, from the earliest ages of Christianity" - Adam Clarke, (Genesis 1:26; 3:22; 11:7; John 1:1-3; Hebrews 1:2,10).
The Trinity in the Old Testament
In our English versions of the Bible, plurality of the Godhead is not as frequently recognized by the ordinary reader in the Old Testament as in the New Testament; however, they make the trinity absolutely clear in the very first chapter of Genesis. "In the beginning God," Verse 1; "and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the water," Verse 2; also God was in communication with others when He said, "Let US make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness," Verse 26. "And the Lord God said, Behold man is become as ONE of US" (Genesis 3:22). "Let US go down, and there confound their language" (Genesis 11:7).
The Third Person
The New Testament makes it clear that the other person with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit in creation was Christ Jesus the Word.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made" (John 1:1-3).
"God who at sundry times and in diverse manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son; whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the world" (Hebrews 1:1-2).
"Thou Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands" (Hebrews 1:10).
Paul referred to Jesus the Son of God, "Who is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of every creature. "For by him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in the earth. Visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him and for him" (Colossians 1:15-16).
Thus, Jesus Christ was clearly the one in reference in the Old Testament. There are many other references in the Old Testament of the Spirit of God also.
The Trinity in the New Testament
Evidence of the Trinity in the New Testament is definitely clear and to further verify the doctrine and the Old Testament. The New Testament abounds in references to prophesies which confirm the doctrine.
"The angel answered, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore, also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35).
When John baptized Jesus, "He saw the Spirit of God . . . lighting upon him: and to a voice from heaven saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:16-17; John 1:32-34).
Jesus commanded His followers to baptize in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost (Matthew 28:19).
"Behold I send the promise [the Holy Ghost] of my Father upon you..." (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4,5; 2:32, 33).
"I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter (John 14:16).
The Comforter, which is the Holy ,Ghost, whom the Father will send in My Name, he shall teach you all things..." (John 14:26).
The epistles abound in statements that are clearly Trinitarian.
Read (Romans, Chapter 8; 1 Peter 1:1-3; Jude 20-21; Revelation 2:7).
"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the Communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all, Amen" (2 Corinthians 13:14).
Jesus is God
"But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne O God, is forever and ever..." (Hebrews 1:8). "Consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house. For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honor than the house. For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God" (Hebrews 3:1-4). "And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory" (1 Timothy 3:16).
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world..." (Ephesians 1: 3-4). "All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made" (John 1:3). "He is before all things..." (Colossians 1:17.) "Before Abraham was, I am" (John 8:58). This associates Jesus with Him who appeared to Moses in the burning bush. "...I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead, behold, I am alive for evermore..." (Revelation 1:17-18).
Men and Angels Worship Him
"When he bringeth in the first begotten into the world, he saith, and let all the angels of God worship him" (Hebrews 1:6; Luke 2:13-14; Revelation 4:8-11; 14:7).
"God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth. And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God" (Philippians 2:9-11).
Men Are Forbidden to Worship Men or Angels
"And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet and worshipped him. But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up, I myself also am a man" (Acts 10:25-26; see also Acts 14:11-15. "Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind" (Colossians 2:18).
The Holy Ghost is God, a Person
Whereas the King James Version uses the name Holy Ghost in the New Testament, others use Holy Spirit. Yet the King James refers in both terms sometimes in the same verse (John 7:39). The Holy Ghost is referred to as a person by Jesus Himself. He is called a Comforter. The pronouns He, Him, Himself are used in reference. He comforts, reproves of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. He will guide into all truth. What He hears He speaks. He will show you things to come. (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:7-8,13-15; 1 Timothy 4:1-5). He speaks (John 15:26); gives utterance to others to speak, thereby edifying the speaker, also reveals mysteries (Acts 2:4; 1 Corinthians 14:2, 4). "The Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them" (Acts 13:2).
So, we believe and affirm: There is but one living and true God, the great Creator, and there are three persons in the Godhead: The Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
By Rev. Billy Anderson
"The Holy Bible to be the inspired Word of God." There is no shadow of doubt, that the Bible claims to be the Book of God. Luke 1:70, "As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets which have been since the world began." The Bible is what "God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets." 2 Timothy 3:16, "All scripture is given by the inspiration of God..." The word "inspiration . . . spiro-inspiro . . . It means, "to breathe into." The Bible is a "God-breathed Book." Therefore, the scriptures are the result of divine in-breathing. 2 Peter 1:20-21, "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophesy came not in old time by the will of man. But holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." The Spirit of God was within the authors, and the supernatural Holy Ghost upon their minds caused them to write in obedience to the command of God and gave them guidance that kept them from error. Psalm 12:6 "The words of the Lord are pure words, as silver tried in a furnace of earth purified seven times." 2 Timothy 3:16 "ALL SCRIPTURE" This includes Genesis, this includes Jonah, parts you understand and parts you do not understand; all scripture. Someone has defined inspiration as: "Inspiration" denotes that sacred action of the Spirit on the faculties of a living messenger by which he is enabled to receive, utter or record the divine message. Scripture is the result of that sacred influence embodied in written form.
I. JESUS CHRIST BELIEVED IN THE INSPIRATION OF THE SCRIPTURES
Luke 24:27, "And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself." So Jesus set His seal of approval on all the Old Testament. Matthew 5:18, "...One jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled." Jesus not only taught word for word inspiration but the inspiration of the very letters. He said that the "jot" which is the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet, and the "tittle" a diacritical marking of some kind was perfect. John 10:35, "...and the scripture cannot be broken."
Jesus Declared the Books of the Law Were Inspired
- Jesus endorses the Genesis account of the creation. Matthew 19:4, "And he answered and said unto them. Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female."
- He endorses the account of the flood and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in Luke 17:26, "As it is was in the days of Noe, so shall it be in the days of the Son of Man." and Luke 17:29, "But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all."
- Two thousand years ago when Jesus was teaching the Word of God to the people in Luke 16:31, He said, "...If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead."
- "And beginning at Moses and all the prophets he expounded unto them in all scriptures the things concerning himself." (Luke 24:27) 5.
II. WE BELIEVE IN THE INSPIRATION OF THE SCRIPTURES BECAUSE OF ITS ENDURANCE
It is a miracle when we think how the Bible has withstood the battle of the ages, yet God said it would be that way. The Bible is not a temporary book.
- Psalm 119:89, "Forever, oh Lord, thy word is settled in heaven."
- Isaiah 40:8, "The grass withereth, the flower fadeth away, but the word of God shall stand forever."
- If you go back to the beginning of the Bible, you will be going back approximately six thousand years; and Psalm 119:160 says, "Thy word is true from the beginning; and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever."
- Luke 1:70, "As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets which have been since the world began." It is not the Book of the week, or of the month or of the year, but the Book of the Ages. Voltaire said: The Bible will be extinct by the nineteenth century. Yet we sell more copies today than ever before. Someone said: "If you destroy Christianity, you must first destroy man's belief in the Bible." The Bible meaning "The Book," is the textbook of Christianity. Men have sunk it by shiploads into the sea, burned it by fire, cut it with a penknife of modernism and liberalism, but the foundation of God stands sure today, and the Bible is still true.
- Matthew 24:35, "Heaven and Earth shall pass away but my words shall not pass away."
- 1 Peter 1:23, "...The Word of God which liveth and abideth forever." The endurance of the Bible assures its inspiration.
III. WE BELIEVE IN THE INSPIRATION OF THE SCRIPTURES BECAUSE OF FULFILLED PROPHESIES OF THE SCRIPTURES
No man can explain how the Bible can predict things hundreds, even thousands of years into the future and be exactly right. It was not mere human skill when the prophets looked through the future and were able to predict the birth of our Lord in a certain town called Bethlehem many hundred years before it came to pass. Isaiah 9, The birth of Christ was predicted 750 years before it happened.
- Isaiah 7:14, "God said a virgin shall conceive and bring forth a Son." This was fulfilled in Matthew 1:22, 23.
- John the Baptist as the forerunner of Christ was prophesied 450 years before his birth. Malachi 3:1, "I will send my messenger and he shall prepare the way before me." This was fulfilled in John 1:23, (450 years later) ... "I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord."
- The crucifixion of Jesus Christ was predicted centuries before it happened. Psalm 22 tells in detail what would happen. These details are fulfilled in the Gospels.
Kenyon's testimony is: The Christian can take the whole Bible in his hand and say without fear or hesitation that he holds in it the true Word of God handed down without essential loss from generation to generation throughout the centuries.
We believe the Bible was written by the finger of God and by Holy Men of God as they were moved upon by the Spirit. It is harmoniously woven around one Man; the Man, Christ Jesus, and presents a pattern of likeness to all mankind.
By Horace Martin
"We are justified, when we repent of our sins and believe in Jesus Christ. (Mark 1:5, Acts 13:38-39; Romans 5:1).
I. Whole World Guilty (Romans, Chapter 3)
Adam broke a direct transgression of God's law when he sinned. Although he was created to be immortal, his sin separated him from God, bringing him to a spiritual death. Because Adam was the federal head of mankind, this spiritual death was passed to the unborn generations that followed. Romans 5:12-14, "Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come."
Our problem is, we are all sinners. Our predicament is, we cannot save ourselves. So, we need a Redeemer, someone to satisfy God's justice by paying the penalty for our sins. The believer's justification is obtained by satisfaction of God's standard. Christ did not cancel the Law, but He fulfilled it. Man is justified without the deeds of the Law. The Law condemns, or gives knowledge of sin, but it does not have the power to save. Christ's atoning sacrifice satisfied God's holy law, thus making it possible for God to forgive sinners and remain just Himself. Thus, Jesus Christ became our Redeemer, to give us deliverance from sin and its penalties. Galatians 4:4-5, "But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons."
II. Justification by Faith (Romans, 3-4)
The scripture teaches us, that the Just shall live by Faith (Galatians 3:11). Only faith in Christ will pardon and cancel the death penalty on our lives inherited through Adam's sin. God cannot declare one righteous or remit one's sin without faith in the atonement. Therefore, we are justified (just as if I had never sinned) by faith not works. Abraham was justified by faith, 430 years before the Law, without the deeds of the law. David was justified by faith, while under the Law. Therefore, Abraham and David were justified, by faith, apart from the Law (Romans 4:2-6).
We call Abraham the Father of all believers, not in connection with law or circumcision, but by Grace. He was the physical Father of the Jews, but he is also the Father to all who follow his steps of faith. True faith is counting things that are not as though they were. Paul describes Abraham's faith to give an example of what gospel faith is like. Abraham and Sarah were well past childbearing age, but God had promised a child. Abraham was fully persuaded that what God had promised, He could do. He, against hope, believed in hope that he might become the father of many nations. Therefore, it was imputed to him for righteous (Romans 4:16-22).
God has declared us righteous through Jesus Christ. His righteousness can now be imparted, by faith, to penitents, and they are justified purely based on His grace. Jesus died for our sins and was resurrected for our justification.
III. Peace With God (Romans, 5)
Therefore, being justified by faith, we now enjoy the blessings of peace with God. The atoning blood of Jesus Christ has settled our account in full on the cross. We now have access to God, through Jesus Christ, our High Priest. Our hope is in the atoning blood of Christ, not in our works, good intentions, gifts, or prayers. God's love has been proven to us at the cross. When we were weak, enslaved by sin, always missing the mark of perfection, haters of God, Christ died for us. How much more will God do for us, since His blood has justified and reconciled us as His children. If His death has saved us, how much more can He save us by His life? The basis of our justification is found on level ground at the cross. Through Adam's sin, a sentence of death without a promise of resurrection, was passed upon all human flesh. However, by the obedience and willingness of Christ to take man's place, the sentence of death was completely eradicated, and complete reconciliation was restored. We were made sinners through Adam. We are made righteous through Christ!
Having the blood applied, we can point to the cross and say, "He died for me!" Christ's own words are, "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:14, 15). This is the exact parallel of justification by faith. Just as the simple act of turning their eyes toward that brazen serpent restored the dying Hebrew in the wilderness, so it is still possible for all of us, even while in the trespasses of sin, to look with eyes of faith toward calvary and say, "Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died." By His death He paid our debt. "He was slain for our offences." This is our justification.
By Dr. Hugh Skelton
"Sanctification to be a definite work of grace subsequent to salvation" (St. John 15:2, 17:16, 17; Ephesians 5:25-27; 1st John 1:9).
It is the purpose of this article to emphasize the Church's position on the doctrine of sanctification. We take the stand that sanctification is a definite work of grace subsequent to salvation. We believe sanctification to be an experience to be received and enjoyed.
Why is it that we allow ourselves a certain looseness and inaccuracy of statement in regard to the work of sanctification? The plea is, "Why be so technical? We all mean the same although we may use different terms or expressions to convey our thoughts." We do not allow ourselves a like looseness or inaccuracy of statement when we speak of the Person and work of the Lord Jesus. Therefore, we believe Saints should not be deprived of the benefits of sanctification because of obscurities and inaccuracies so prevalent in much of our teaching regarding this work of grace. Though clearly stated in the Bible, no doctrine has suffered from misunderstanding and misstatement more than the doctrine of sanctification. Because of this, we set forth the following consideration on the doctrine of sanctification.
Firstly, the doctrine of sanctification must be rightly related to every other Bible doctrine. Disproportionate emphasis on any one doctrine, or the habit of seeing all truth in the light of one line of Bible teaching, leads to serious error. The doctrine of sanctification, like all other doctrines of the scriptures, represents and defines an exact field within the purpose of God, and since it aims at definite ends, it suffers as much from overstatement as from understatement.
Secondly, the doctrine of sanctification in the light of human experience must be found in accord with the scriptures. It is the function of the Bible to interpret experience, rather than the function of experience to interpret the Bible. Therefore, an analysis of some personal experience must not be substituted for the teaching of the Word of God. No human statement, no matter how exhaustive, could ever exactly describe the full measure of the divine reality of this experience.
Thirdly, the right understanding of the doctrine of sanctification depends upon the consideration of all the scriptures bearing on this theme. The body of scripture presenting this doctrine is much more extensive than appears to the one who reads only the English text. The same root Hebrew and Greek words which are translated "sanctify," with their various forms, are also translated by two other English words, "holy" and "saint" with their various forms. It is not our purpose in this article to expand on all these forms but to bring into focus the teaching on sanctification.
The word "sanctify" is used at least one hundred and six times in the Old Testament and thirty-one times in the New Testament. It means to "set apart," or the "state of being set apart." Webster defines it thus: "The act of making holy, the state of being thus purified or sanctified. To make holy, the state of being thus purified or sanctified. To make free from sin." Thus, sanctification is the act of divine grace whereby we are made holy and set apart unto a holy purpose.
Sanctification is a supernatural work wrought in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, who is the Agent (Romans 15:16; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2). In the broad sense, sanctification includes all Christian experience from justification to glorification, beginning with the New Birth and continuing in the Christian life until we meet the Lord face to face. However, the word sanctification is also used in a narrow sense, referring to a CRISIS EXPERIENCE FOLLOWING JUSTIFICATION AND REGENERATION. Justification is the legal aspect and regeneration the moral and vital aspect of our salvation. At salvation we are both forgiven and born again. Yet salvation is just the beginning of the Christian life. After this experience, we should grow in grace. This we must do by embracing the doctrine of sanctification.
We believe sanctification to be more than a "religious luxury" or "fringe benefit." We believe that the Bible teaches that this experience is necessary to victorious living in Christ and that it is that relationship with God into which men enter by faith in Christ, (Acts 26:18; 1 Corinthians 6:11), and to which the sole title is the death of Christ (Ephesians 5:25; Colossians 1:22; Hebrews 10:10-29; 13:12). Sanctification is also used in the New Testament regarding the separation of the believer from evil things and ways. It is God's will for the believer (1 Thessalonians 4:3), and His purpose in calling him by the gospel, verse 7. It must be learned from God, verse 4, as He teaches it by His Word (John 17:17, 19); and it must be pursued by the believer, earnestly and undeviatingly (1 Tim 2:15; Hebrews 12:14). It cannot be transferred or imputed. It is an individual's possession, as the result of obedience to the Word of God, and of following the example of Christ (Matthew 11:29; John 13:15; Ephesians 4:20); in the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:13; Ephesians 3:16).
The verb "sanctify" is derived from two Latin verbs: sancio which means to "make holy," facio meaning "do." The literal translation then would mean: I make holy and I do continue to make holy. So sanctification unmistakably means to make holy as well as to set apart.
The cleansing elements are the Blood of Christ and the Word of God. The Blood is not directly necessary for us to be "set apart," but it is directly necessary for us to be cleansed in a CRISIS OF DEFINITE EXPERIENCE AND TO KEEP US HOLY. (Hebrews 13:12) " . . . that he might sanctify the people with his own blood." Again, "if the blood of bulls and goats, and the. ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh," (not the setting apart of the flesh, but the purifying of the flesh), "how much more shall the Blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge or cleanse, or sanctify your conscience from dead works to serve the living God."
The Word is also a vital part of our sanctification. (John 17:17), "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." The Word also washes us and cleanses us, as Christ said, "Now ye are clean through the Word which I have spoken unto you." Through Christ, we are put to death on the cross, but by the Living Word we are alive unto God, God wills to work in us bringing about our sanctification.
Returning to the thought of sanctification being a work of grace subsequent to salvation, John Wesley spoke of this experience as a "second blessing or entire sanctification." "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it" (1 Thessalonians 5:23,24).
The word "wholly," in the original language, means complete or through and through. Entire sanctification completes the work of cleansing, healing, and empowering through the work of the Spirit, and as a result of the faith of the individual by the blood of the atonement. It is an instantaneous work of grace in the soul to which life was imparted at regeneration. Through entire sanctification, we become complete in Him. It is true that there is a development or growth in the experience, but not into the experience. Depraved inclination in the justified soul is not outgrown by spiritual development, but killed by the power of the Holy Ghost, through a specified act of faith. The old man must be crucified (Romans 6:6).
This experience cannot be entered by those who are yet in their sins. The seeker after Christian Holiness must know clearly that he is a child of God. God calls sinners to repentance, whereas He calls believers to Holiness.
In summary, we understand that sanctification is the purpose of the Father, made possible by the sacrifice of the Son, wrought in us by the agency of the Holy Ghost. That it is the will of God for believers, and can be received when one recognizes the love of God, yields fully to Him by the aid of the Spirit, depends upon the efficiency of the shed blood and believes without doubt the truth of God. We believe that God is able, that God is willing, and that God does sanctify.
By Rev. Bobby Ford
"In the baptism with the Holy Ghost, and speaking with other tongues, as the Spirit gives utterance to be the initiatory evidence of this experience. Acts 2:4; 10:44-46; 19:6."
And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance" (Acts 2:4). The prophet Joel prophesied in Joel 2:28-29, "That in the last days the Lord would pour out his spirit upon all flesh."
The Baptism with the Holy Ghost is an experience of grace that is invaluable in the life of a born-again Christian. Jesus prepared His disciples for this event and impressed upon them the importance of the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. During the closing days of His life before the cross, Jesus told His disciples, "Behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem until ye be endued with power from on high" (Luke 24:49). ". . . and being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence" (Acts 1:4-5). The Baptism of the Holy Ghost is an experience following the New Birth and Sanctification. It is the Holy Ghost that convicts a sinner's heart and works the work of redemption in the heart of those that believe in Jesus Christ and accept Him as Savior.
The Baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire, with the evidence of speaking in tongues, and the endorsement of the power is an experience that can only come after an individual has been born again, made a new creature in Christ, sanctified, set apart and fully dedicated to a life of Holiness. The Baptism of the Holy Ghost is the heritage of everyone who believes on Jesus Christ. No follower of Christ should be satisfied with anything other than the complete fullness of the Spirit. The Bible records three outpourings of the Holy Ghost. The circumstances were not exactly the same, but the results were the same. Many enjoy the experience who do not understand the doctrine. There are things in the natural that, if we waited until we understood all the fundamentals, we would never enjoy them. The same is true in the spiritual. The early church enjoyed the fullness of the power of Pentecost while the doctrine concerning the experience was still taking shape.
In Acts 2:1-4, "The 120 were in the upper room in Jerusalem as they had been commanded by Jesus. When the day of Pentecost had fully come, there came a sound as of a mighty rushing wind and there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire and it set upon each of them and they were filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance." There was a great event taking place. Their shouts of praise rolled out into the streets below and was noised abroad. There were devout men in Jerusalem out of every nation under heaven and they were amazed saying one to another, "are not all these that speak Galileans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born speaking the wonderful works of God?"
Acts 10:1-2, "there was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a Centurion of the band called the Italian Band, a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house and gave much alms to the people and prayed to God always." One day while Cornelius was praying, he was visited by an angel from God and instructed to send to Joppa and ask for one called Peter who would tell him things he ought to know. Peter also had a vision wherein God was showing him that he should not call anything common or unclean that God had cleansed. In verses 44-48, we see where those at Cornelius' house received the Holy Ghost and those that were with Peter were astonished because the Holy Ghost was poured out on the Gentiles. They knew this because they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.
In Acts 19:1-6, approximately 20 years after the outpouring of the Holy Ghost, we find "Paul in Ephesus who there finding certain disciples asked them if they had received the Holy Ghost since they believed." These disciples had not heard about the baptism of the Holy Ghost but were only baptized with the baptism of repentance. Paul explained that there was a deeper experience of baptism and when he had laid his hands on them and prayed, they were baptized with the Holy Ghost and spoke with tongues and prophesied.
To understand the purpose of the baptism with the Holy Ghost we must look beyond the external manifestation. It is essential to recognize that it required a dynamic inward experience to account for the outward demonstration. The baptism of the Holy Ghost is to empower us to be witnesses of the Grace of God. "But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and in Samaria and unto the uttermost parts of the earth" (Acts 1:8). According to John 14:26, He imparts wisdom: "But, the comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." The Holy Ghost empowers us to stand against the wiles of Satan. He is that inner strength needed to face the difficulties, heartaches and disappointments of life. He is peace in the midst of turmoil.
Now concerning speaking in tongues: first, it is the initial evidence, or outward manifestation of the Baptism of the Holy Ghost, as mentioned in the previous scriptures. When the Holy Ghost was given, the evidence was that. they spoke in tongues, magnified God and prophesied. Speaking with tongues edifies the believer (1Corinthians 14:4). This makes speaking with tongues an important exercise in the Christian life and in his worship. Speaking with tongues is a direct spiritual communication with God (1 Corinthians 14:2). The words, "Speaketh not unto men, but unto God," "he speaketh mysteries" and "no man understandeth him" indicate that it is a private line of communication between the believer and his God. Its incomprehensibility neither negates its genuiness nor diminishes its value to the believer or to the church. Speaking with other tongues is a sign to the unbeliever (1 Corinthians 14:22). This supernatural manifestation of God has a particular significance to the unsaved person. It is a sign to show him that God is present among His people. The Holy Ghost witnesses to his heart's need and makes him aware that he is outside the fold and needs a Savior.
The promise and precious Baptism of the Holy Ghost of God is available to all, along with the accompanying evidence of speaking with other tongues (Joel 2:28-39; Isaiah 28:11; John 7:37-39; Acts 2:4; Acts 2:28-39; Acts 10:46; Acts 19:6, Mark 11:8; Matthew 3:11; Acts 1:4-5); to all who ask God (Luke 11:13) for the gift of His Spirit and obey Him (Acts 5:32), they will become the recipient of the most wonderful and never-to-beforgotten experience of the Baptism of the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking with other tongues.
By Rev. Terry Fowler Sr.
"In divine healing for the body without condemning medical science."
The doctrine of divine healing is one of the most dynamic doctrines in the Word of God. We can define it as: A definite act of God, by the power of the Holy Ghost by which the human body is healed, without the aid of medical science.
When we ask the question, "what causes sickness and disease," we must make three considerations. The first is the fall of man. When Adam committed high treason and sinned, a door was opened for him to die. Satan and his demons now had access to work against all mankind. In the New Testament, Jesus often had to rebuke evil spirits in order to heal the sick, thus teaching us Satan's role in sicknesses.
God told Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree in the middle of the garden or they would die. They ate the forbidden fruit, and death entered the earth. Next, because of their actions, sin entered the world. Sin now works death in all the descendants of Adam. Romans 5:12, " Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned."
Lastly, we must consider the law of sowing and reaping. Whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap. If we refuse to take care of our body or partake in destructive living, we will become sick and may die. God is not the author of sin and sickness; Satan is. God has made provision to cleanse us from all our sin and to heal all our diseases. We must understand God's healing provision and understand that "original sin" and the law of sowing and reaping brings sickness. If you get sick, we are not saying that you have sinned.
Some, in times past, have done great damage to the Kingdom of God with this doctrine. We are only saying that because of "original sin," sickness comes on humanity. Disease germs enter our bodies, thus bringing into existence the sickness. God called sickness "captivity" in Job 42:10, "And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before." Satan was the culprit. Job 2:7, "So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown." The Holy Spirit calls sickness "oppression." Acts 10:38, "How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him."
God allows us to understand Him through the names attributed Him. One of the most beautiful words in the Old Testament is Jehovah-rapha. It means that God is our healer. We find many Old Testament examples to confirm His name: Genesis 20:17, "So Abraham prayed unto God: and God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his maidservants, and they bare children." Deuteronomy 7:15, "And the LORD will take away from thee all sickness, and will put none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which thou knowest, upon thee; but will lay them upon all them that hate thee." 2 Kings 5:14, "Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean." 2 Kings 20:5, "Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus saith The LORD, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the LORD. Psalm 103:3, "Who forgivith all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases..." Psalm 107:20, "He sent forth his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions." Proverbs 4:22, "For they (the words of God) are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh."
We could go on and list scriptures for Sarah, Hannah, and the widow's son, but space will not permit. We must admit that God healed His people in the Old Testament. Two, possibly, three million Jews left Egypt and there "was not a feeble one among them." (Psalm 105:37), "He brought them forth also with silver and gold; and there was not one feeble person among their tribes."
When we look into the New Testament, we notice that Jesus took our infirmities and bare our sicknesses. (Matthew 8:16), "When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick." (Matthew 8:17), "That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses." Matthew tells us that Jesus is fulfilling Isaiah 53:4, "Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted." Here we learn that Jesus, in the atonement, bares our infirmities and sicknesses. This is another lesson that sickness and disease are intertwined with sin and death. God's provision for sin must also include a provision for sickness.
We need only to look at the ministry of Jesus in the New Testament to discover God's will concerning healing. Jesus said that He and His father were one, or we might say, "just alike." Then, let us ask ourselves some simple questions. How many people did Jesus make sickly while on earth? The answer is, none. How many people did Jesus kill while on earth? None. I can find reference after reference that He healed all that came to Him, but none that teach He made any sickly. Only in His own hometown was He limited; this because of their unbelief.
After Jesus ascended to the Father, the followers of Christ continued to heal the sick by the power of the Holy Ghost. They would lay hands on the sick, anoint them with oil, or minister to them through the gifts of healing. In the New Testament, we see the healing of a variety of sicknesses and diseases. Fever. (Matthew 8:14), "And when Jesus was come into Peter's house, he saw his wife's Mother laid, and sick of a fever." Blindness. (Matthew 9:27-30), "And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, Thou Son of David, have mercy on us. And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him; and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord. Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you. And their eyes were opened; and Jesus straitly charged them, saying, see that no man know it." A Withered Hand. (Matthew 12:13), "Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other." Leprosy. (Mark 1:41-42), "And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean. And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed." Blood Disease. ( Luke 8:43-44), "And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched." The Lame Man. (Acts 3:1-8), "Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. And a certain lame man from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the Temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms. And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. Then Peter said, silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, And praising God." Palsies. (Acts 8:7), "For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed."
In ( Acts 10:38), we see how Jesus was used to heal all that were oppressed of the devil. In (Mark 16:18), Jesus empowers us and sends us forth to do the same. "They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover." According to (John 14:12), we shall do those same things. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do, because I go unto my Father." First Peter 2:24 tells us, "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed."
By now you may be asking, "If all this is true, why is not everyone healed?" We do not know everything that is between God and another person. Some things will hinder a person from receiving healing. It would be good for us to review them. 1. One of the foremost hindrances is unconfessed sin. (James 5:16), "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." If we have any un-confessed sin in our lives, we must ask forgiveness immediately. Sin will stop God's healing power. Next, we must make sure no fear is found in our lives. (Phil. 4:6), "Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known unto God." Fear and worry rob us of the faith we need to receive from God in any area of our life. God has not given us the spirit of fear, and we do not need to let it rule us. False teaching is another area of hindrance. (Mark 7:13), "Making the Word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye." When the Bible is clear about the will of God and healing, we must not allow anyone to convince us that healing is not for us today. This false teaching will steal your faith and ultimately, your healing. Lastly, unbelief will hinder your healing. (Mark 6:5-6), "And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went about villages, teaching. The promise is to everyone that believes." (Romans 1:16), "For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." Unbelief is probably the greatest problem in the Christian church. It is such a simple answer, yet it is so profound in that we have great difficulty believing God. Remember, the Word of God when believed, is transformed into your healing. (Mark 10:52), "And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way."
We may take certain steps that will help us receive our healing for the Lord. Some of these are: Make sure you have a right relationship with God. ( Matthew 6:33), "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Saturate your life with the Word of God. (John 15:17), "If ye abide in me, and my Words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." (Rom 10:17) , "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Call for the elders of the church to pray for you. (James 5:14-15), "Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him." Anyone teaching that healing is not for us today is guilty of religious forgery. The Bible is clear that God wants to heal sick people. A person must rewrite the Word to make it say anything else. The Bible is the will of God. We must not let anyone cheat us out of our inheritance.
By Rev. Leslee Bailey
Every Blessing we receive from God, including divine healing, comes through the merits of the atonement (Romans 5:11; James 1:16- 17).
"And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement" (Romans 5:11). Among other things, the word atonement means: "to forgive or cancel, appease, cleanse, disannul, be merciful, pacify, pardon, purge, put off, reconcile." The atonement provides salvation for all humans alike. God who made all things said that "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6). God promised that "whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Acts 2:21). "For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Romans 10:12-13). God has received the atonement, "And to a voice from heaven, saying, this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:17). If we but receive it, the work is done.
"Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning" (James 1:16-17). Healing is included in our salvation because healing is on the same basis as forgiveness of sins. "Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (James 5:14-16).
By Rev. Danny Jones
"In the operation of the nine gifts of the Spirit" (1 Corinthians 12:1-14).
1 Corinthians 12:1-14 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many.
The ministry of the Holy Spirit has not changed since the Day of Pentecost when the church of Jesus Christ was born. The divine manifestation and workings of the Holy Spirit are as active and present today as they were during the time of the Book of Acts. The Holy Spirit enables and empowers the church to carry forth into all the world the life-changing message and anointed ministry of Jesus Christ (Acts 1:8). It is within this ministry that the manifestation and operation of the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit occur within the lives of individual believers. The gifts of the Spirit have been referred to as the manifestation gifts. The word manifestation in Greek (I Corinthians 12:7) means “to make manifest or visible or known what has been hidden or unknown; to manifest, whether by words, or deeds, or in any other way” (Thayer 648-649). The word gifts (I Corinthians 12:4) is translated from the Greek word charisma. The word charisma means a gift of God’s grace that is supernaturally bestowed upon a believer to do the work of God. The gifts are “gracious endowments, leading to miraculous results” (Clarke). It is God’s will and plan that these gracious gifts of the Holy Spirit manifest themselves in the lives of Spirit-filled believers within the local church.
The Corinthian Church was a true Spirit-filled church where the gifts of the Spirit were very powerfully in operation. Yet because of abuse and misunderstanding in the church, Paul gave basic explanation and instruction of the true nature and working of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in his first Corinthian letter. This same Biblical understanding and teaching is very imperative within the church today and will serve to keep the church both spiritually sound and Biblically balanced.
- The Gifts of the Holy Spirit Are for the Church Today. One incorrect and unbiblical view states that the miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit ceased at the death of the apostles and at the canonization and collection of the New Testaments books. Some make allusion to I Corinthians 13:10, “But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.” While those of this belief state that the word “perfect” is a reference to the collection of Scriptures into the Bible, the word “perfect” actually refers to the Lord Jesus Christ when He returns. It also would be unbiblical and illogical to believe that whereas God the Father does not change, and God the Son does not change; yet somehow God the Holy Spirit has changed and the gifts ceased. This thinking is not only ridiculous, but denies the total unity and immutability (unchanging nature) of the Trinity.
- The Gifts of the Holy Spirit Always Point to Christ. The manifestations of the gifts of the Holy Spirit always exalt and point to the Lord Jesus Christ (John 15:26). Paul states to the Corinthians that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and that no one can say from his heart that Jesus Christ is the Lord except it is by the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 12:3). This same principle applies to the manifestation of all of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The manifestation of the gifts will never exalt man or appeal to the fleshly nature of man. The gifts of the Spirit will never deny basic Biblical truth or encourage unbiblical, immoral behavior (John 16:13). The manifestations of the gifts of the Holy Spirit will always point people directly to Jesus Christ as Lord.
- The Gifts of the Holy Spirit Are Given For the Common Good of the Church. Paul states in I Corinthians 12:7, “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.” This simply means that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are manifested upon all individual Christians for the good or benefit of the entire church. The gifts of the Spirit are not to benefit or exalt a single person. Neither is their manifestation in the life of a believer is to be a badge of super-spirituality. The purpose of the gifts is to allow the Gospel message and the miraculous ministry of Jesus Christ to be presented through the body of Christ—the Church! This was the earmark of the early Church. Mark 16:20 states, “And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following.” Jesus ascended to Heaven in order that the Holy Spirit could be given and that Jesus’ ministry could be manifested through the church. John 14:12 states, “ Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do, shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” These works were not greater in quality, but greater in quantity and dispersion as the church led by the Holy Spirit of God blazed forth the message of Jesus into the world.
- The Gifts of the Holy Spirit Are Distributed As the Holy Spirit Wills. 1 Corinthians 12:11 states, “But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.” The Holy Spirit is a person, and it is the sovereign will of the Holy Spirit that decides which gift to bestow upon which believer. The Holy Spirit knows the needs of the church for each particular time and place. The choice of the Holy Spirit’s manifestation of a particular gift upon a particular individual is not based upon that individual’s natural abilities or talents. It is based on the Holy Spirit’s will and sovereignty. This completely eliminates the false teaching that the gifts operate at the will and whim of man. It reinforces the Biblical truth that the gifts of the Holy Spirit do not become the exclusive permanent possession of an individual believer. The gifts reside in the Holy Spirit, and are bestowed as needed upon believers for the benefit of the church as the Spirit wills. “We must ever seek the Giver, and leave the dispersing of gifts up to Him” (Underwood, Gift of the Spirit 49).
- The Gifts of the Holy Spirit Are Varied. Paul states, “ Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit (I Corinthians 12:4). The Apostle Paul outlines nine typical manifestation gifts of the Holy Spirit. But it should be understood that the ministry of the Holy Spirit is not limited to a mere list. God can work in the life of any believer through any supernatural means that He chooses. Some scholars have suggested that as many as 16 spiritual manifestation gifts may be found in the New Testament. It also should be noted that the gifts of the Holy Spirit often overlap and coordinate according to God's plan. Note the following grouping and explanation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
A) REVELATION GIFTS:
Gift of the Word of Wisdom: This manifestation of the Holy Spirit is the supernatural ability to apply truths or knowledge to the needs, problems, and situations of life. It can involve being given a sense of divine direction as one is led by the Spirit to act appropriately within particular circumstances (Acts 6:1-5; Acts 15:28).
Gift of the Word of Knowledge: This gift involves the supernatural revelation of God’s divine will or plan (Acts 5:1-12, 14:9,10). “The gift of the word of knowledge is a manifestation of the Holy Spirit in which God the Holy Ghost imparts to a human being, for a specific purpose, on a particular occasion, information or facts which only God may know, in order to supernaturally assist the church in her ministry” (Underwood, Gift of the Spirit 30).
Gift of Discerning of Spirits: This is supernatural insight into the spiritual realm enabling a person to distinguish between the spirit of light and the spirit of darkness; the spirit of truth and the spirit of error; the Holy Spirit, the human spirit, and the evil spirits (Acts 8:20-23).
B) POWER GIFTS:
Gift of Faith: This is a supernatural ability to believe God without doubt. It is the unwavering confidence that God will intervene in the believer’s behalf regardless of the seemingly impossible circumstances. It is a supernatural faith given to a particular person at a particular time for a particular need (Acts 27:22,25).
Gift of Miracles: It is the supernatural intervention and display of God’s power to do that which is impossible according to the natural laws of the universe. The gift of miracles is used to authenticate the preaching of God’s Word and is displayed powerfully in the Book of Acts (Acts 6:7,8; 8:5-7; 19:10,11). It should be noted that the gift of miracles is closely associated with the gifts of faith and healing.
Gifts of Healings: This is the supernatural healing of diseases, illnesses, infirmities, and weaknesses of the body, soul, and spirit to restore health and wholeness. Both words are plural in the original Greek. The use of “gifts” seems to indicate the many “manifestations of grace that work, from time to time, and from place to place through members of the church (Soards 259). The word “healings” refers to the atonement of healing of Jesus Christ that accomplishes total wholeness for the total man---physical, spiritual, and mental (Psalm 103:3, Isaiah 53:4,5).
C) SPEAKING GIFTS:
Gift of Tongues: This is a definite supernatural utterance in an unknown language that is often called a “message in tongues.” This is a divine means of communication whereby God gives a special word or message to a particular group at a particular time for a particular need (I Corinthians 14:27). The gift of interpretation should always accompany this manifestation of the gift of tongues. It should be noted that the gift of tongues is not the same as the “sign of tongues” which accompanies the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Gift of Interpretation of Tongues: This is the supernatural speaking forth of the meaning of a “message in tongues.” This is not a direct translation, but a divine declaration of the meaning or explanation of that which has been spoken. The gift of interpretation of tongues should always accompany the gift of tongues (Acts 14: 27,28). When a message in tongues has occurred, earnest prayer should be offered that the interpretation should be given (I Corinthians 14:13).
Gift of Prophecy: This gift involves supernaturally speaking forth in one’s own language. It is a word or message from the Lord given with great clarity, anointing, and understanding. It can be uttered from any member of the body for the “encouragement, edification, or exhortation of the church” (Underwood, Spiritual Gifts 68). This manifestation of the Holy Spirit is the calling forth of words as given by the Spirit of God (Hayford 647). Prophecy’s source is the Spirit of God, not merely the intellect of man. There are two types of the manifestation of the gift of prophecy: forth telling and foretelling. Forth telling is a prophetic word or message of God that is needed for that particular time, place, and circumstance (I Corinthians 14:3). Foretelling is a prophetic message that actually speaks of future events and occurrences (Acts 21:10,11). All prophetic utterances must be judged solely upon the Word of God. By the 3rd Century A. D. the Gospel of Jesus Christ had reached all known parts of the world without modern transportation, communication, and technology. The message blazed across continents because of the boldness of Spirit-filled believers that proclaimed Jesus as Lord. God confirmed His Word with signs, wonders and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The same power and manifestation of the Holy Spirit is for the church of the 21st Century. May we open our hearts and lives to the Holy Spirit and allow God to “do it again.”
By Rev. Dennis Phillips
"In the imminent, personal, premillennial, second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."
"For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and with the trump of God" (1Thessalonians 4:16).
The Sounding of the Trumpet
Five days before the most celebrated presidential inauguration of the century, the young president-Elect, John Fitzgerald Kennedy asked Dr. Billy Graham a question that is being asked by many in our day. "Billy," he asked, "Would you tell me about the second coming of Jesus Christ?" This is the greatest question of our day and carries a wonderful answer. Then he asked a second question. "What does my church teach about the second coming of Jesus Christ?"
I would like to deal with that subject from our church view and the Bible view. "What does my church teach about the second coming of Jesus Christ?" We believe in the imminent, personal, premillennial second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. These are the words of one of our Articles of Faith. Let us look at this article.
The World Book Encyclopedia says that this word imminent means: "likely to happen soon; about to occur." This is what we believe about the coming of our Lord. "It is likely to occur soon." The greatest day in history did not take place on July 20, 1969, when Astronaut Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, as former President Richard Nixon said. Up till that time, the greatest day had occurred on Easter Sunday morning, some two thousand years ago, when the crucified Savior rose again from the dead! But soonGod is going to have an even greater, grander, and more glorious day than the resurrection of His Beloved Son - and that event is His return to earth again! Surely John the Apostle must have penned the following words with grapesized goose pimples! "And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever" (Revelation 11:15).
Paul said, "Behold, I shew you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump -for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality" (1 Corinthians 15:51-53). Have you ever wondered how fast a "twinkling of an eye" is? When a preacher spoke to a group on the topic, "In the Twinkling of an Eye," he noticed a young man in the front row take out a pad of paper, a pen, and a small slide rule. For the rest of the preacher's message, this young man looked at his slide rule and wrote on the pad. Being a curious fellow, the preacher finished speaking and walked over to the young man. "Forgive my curiosity," he said, "But may I ask what you have been doing with your slide rule, paper and pen?" The young man replied, "Oh, I was just trying to figure our how fast a twinkling of an eye was." "Well, what did you come up with?" "I figured," said the young man, "That a twinkling of an eye is one-sixth of a nanosecond." "A `whato' second?" countered the preacher. "A nanosecond! A microsecond is one-millionth of a second, and a nanosecond is one-billionth of a second. I figured that a twinkling of an eye is one-sixth of a nanosecond."
The preacher asked the young man how he had come up with such a number. He replied, "I figure that a twinkling of an eye is the time it takes for light entering the iris to reach the retina at the rear of the eye. That is a distance of about one inch at the speed of 186,000 miles per second!" Will the calling out of believers only take one-sixth of a nanosecond? I do not know, but it is bound to be dazzling! Just think this event is imminent. This coming is also to be personal. "The Lord himself shall descend from heaven." There will be no substitute. The One who comes is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. As the first coming was literal in every sense, so will His second coming be literal in every sense. There will be a personal, visible, bodily, glorious reappearing of Jesus Christ.
Let me remind you that when Christ comes, there will be a resurrection. ". . .The dead in Christ shall rise first" (1 Thessalonians 4:16). Those who die out of Christ are not blessed and holy. They must stay in their graves another one thousand years. Then after the millennium, they will be raised and brought in judgment before the Great White Throne where they will receive the condemnation of Hell.
"Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years (Revelation 20:6). ". . . Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord. . ." (Revelation 14:13). There are sleeping Christians in many different places of the earth. Most of them are in manmade graves. However, many Christians have gone down into the seas while many have been burned to death. Some have been lost in the wild places of the earth, and their bones have been picked clean by the birds of the air. Others have suffered and died in the deserts, their bones have been left to bleach in the broiling sun. Some have been torn to pieces in explosions, some have flown away in airplanes and have never been found. None of this matters to Jesus for He knows everything. He knows where they are, and He will show forth His power over death when He comes, for His loved ones will rise from everywhere and not one of them will be lost.
When we attend a funeral of a Christian, we can truly say to him, "Goodby, I will see you with Jesus after a little while." We can say this of all who know Jesus, for we know that it is well with them. Now when the dead are taken up, this is the first resurrection . . . it is not a resurrection of the dead but a resurrection from the dead. The lost dead will be left in their graves, but the saved ones will be raised incorruptible.
Not only is it the imminent and personal, but the premillennial second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. His coming will be before the millennial reign, but not after, as some teach. The word millennium is a Latin term that signifies "One thousand years." ". . . and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years" (Revelation 20:4).
In the first seven verses of Revelation 20, John mentions the thousand-year period no less than six times! In spite of this, some have argued that, since this number is found in only one New Testament passage, one cannot insist that the thousand-year period will really come to pass! To emphasize their point, reference is made to 2 Peter 3:8,
" . . . one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." It is interesting (and perhaps revealing) to note that the same group that attempts to shorten the thousand-year period of Revelation to one day (and thus do away entirely with the millennium) also attempt to expand the six days of creation in Genesis to thousands of years! One is tempted to ask, "Why can't God mean exactly what He says?"
This reign of Jesus on earth is no incident nor accident, but the purpose of God. This kingdom, ordained from the beginning, is no post creation afterthought of God, but a pre-creation thought in His mind from all eternity. When Jesus comes, the pattern prayer of the saints, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven," will be heard. Jesus, the rejected, will seize the reignsof government and rule in beneficent power and victory. Since the millennium is to be a time of righteousness and peace, it is absolutely necessary that Satan be removed from the earth. How can you have a Golden Age without getting rid of the devil? Satan, too strong to be overcome by any human power, will be locked up by the Omnipotent Christ. The arrest of Satan before the millennium! A thousand years of peace in a Satanless world! Think of it - and rejoice! Satan is silenced. This is what we call the millennium. "Be ye, also ready, for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh" (Matthew 24:44).
By Bishop Cullen Hicks
"In the eternal redemption of all saints who are faithful to the end (Matthew 24:13) and (Revelation 2:10). But, we reject the theory of `Once in grace, always in grace' regardless of conduct" (1 Corinthians 10:12 and Galatians 5:4).
What about "Eternal Security?" Does the Bible teach `Once in grace, always in grace'? We, as a church, reject the doctrine outright. We understand the doctrine of `Eternal Security,' to fall without foundation in view of the scriptures as a whole. No man can boast of being eternally saved in this world. Not until we reach heaven will we be able to say we are eternally saved. Space would not permit an extensive study on the subject, nor do we intend to answer every argument on the subject, but the following is given for your consideration.
The Bible, to a degree, teaches eternal security, but not the way many are teaching it today We mean that it teaches eternal security to this extent; that God's grace is eternally secure, and it will keep us from sin in this life and save us at last in heaven. Yet, it is up to the individual whether he continues in the faith and serves God or goes back into sin. One does not become a puppet when he is born again. He still retains his free-moral agency.
At first let us say that we do not believe in backsliding as many seem to practice it. There are those who claim to receive Christ and salvation in every revival. An experience of that nature leaves room for doubt, and we question the validity of such an experience. If every person who has professed a born-again experience would have truly been born-again, we are certain that we would not have heard so much about back sliding.
We have reason to hope that those who are truly born-again will continue in the faith and be saved by God's all sufficient grace. Yet the Bible issues too many warnings and statements of caution to the Christian, warnings against backsliding and apostasy, to say that a believer cannot fall away and make shipwreck of his faith. These warnings would be useless words if one cannot fall. The last and closing threat of the Bible is that "If any man shall take away from the words of the book of prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the Book of Life," signifying that he to whom this could happen did have a part in the Book of Life. Is it possible for a righteous man to turn away from God and die in that condition and be lost? Let scripture answer that question.
(Ezekiel 18:24-26), "But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned; in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die. Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. Hear now, O House of Israel; is not my way equal? Are not your ways unequal? When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; for his iniquity that he hath done shall he die."
Now the last word of the above scripture, "die" must certainly have reference to death of the soul rather than physical death, for the following verse (27) says, "Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive." Consequently, if the wicked person's soul is saved by his turning from his wickedness and doing the right, then likewise will the righteous person's soul be lost if he turns from his righteousness and does that which is wrong.
To teach `once in grace, always in grace' is not only unscriptural, it is an encouragement to carelessness concerning a holy life and separation from the world. If one cannot be lost, then why be concerned about self-examination as Paul exhorts the Corinthian Christians in (2 Corinthians 13:5) "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves."
The writer to the Hebrews was writing to Christians rather than sinners when he wrote in Chapter 2, "Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip." The Revised Version reads thus, "Lest at any time we drift away from them." The writer continues, "For if the word spoken by angels were steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward: How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation."
Jude relates to us, "How that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterwards destroyed them that believed not. And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day." These are examples set forth for our warning and admonition. Yet, why the warning if we are eternally saved now?
It is possible to draw back unto perdition after once having the Faith. For (Hebrews 10:38) says, "Now the just shall live by faith; but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him." Still, some would answer, "But the next verse says that `We are not of them who draw back unto perdition, but of them that believe to the saving of the soul." Yes, that is true, we are not of them that draw back unto perdition, but there is the possibility that one can draw back or verse 38 would not have said, "But if a man draw back..." Again, (2 Peter 1:9-10) reads, "But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sin. Wherefore, the rather brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure; for if you do these things, ye shall never fall."
It is a dangerous thing to backslide, to go away from God. In the words of the scripture it is worse to know God, and then turn back, than to never be saved. The backslider is really more responsible than the sinner who has never known God because of having had the greater light. (2 Peter 2:20-22), "For if after they have escaped the pollution of the world, through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning." David said, "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God" (Psalm 9:17). Now it is unreasonable to assume that you can forget something or someone whom you did not know. So David is saying that the nation (and a nation is made up of individuals) that forgets God, whom they knew, shall be turned into hell, or shall be lost. Again he states in (Psalm 50:22), "Now consider this ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver."
To the Hebrew Christians the warning was given as follows: "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end."
In the strictest sense of the word, a backslider (and by that terminology we have reference to a person who begins the Christian life and for some reason turns back into sin) is nothing more than a sinner and to get back to God he must be converted again. James 5:19-20 reads: "Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him, let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins."
It has been offered as an argument in favor of eternal security that once a person is born into a family he cannot be unborn. To that we may heartily agree. However, though he cannot be unborn, he can certainly die. Many parents have had sons to be born into their homes and have lost their sons, not because they were unborn, but because they died. Remember, scripture says, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die." In the Apostle Paul's last words to Timothy, he emphasized the fact that "I have finished my course, I have kept the faith." According to the doctrine of eternal security, he had to finish his course and he could not help but keep the faith, for he could not lose it. Now if he could not lose his faith, why would he tell Timothy that he had kept it?
The Apostle Peter penned his first Epistle to the "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father . . . " to Christians, mind you, and to them he said, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." The word "devour" means the same as "destroy."
Jesus said in ( St. John 17:12), speaking to His Father, "Those that thou gavest me I have kept," and many would stop there. Yet it continues, "And none of them is lost, but the son of perdition . . . " Here He has references to Judas whom the Father had given Him. Jesus must have had Judas at one time in order to lose him. However, some have argued that Judas was a devil from the beginning. However, the Bible makes no such statement. Jesus did say of him in (St. John 6:70), "Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil." Jesus did not say Judas was a devil but that he is a devil. Just at what time Judas became of such character the Bible does not say, but one thing we do know, Judas `fell by transgression' (Acts 1:25).
We are aware that most any belief can be proven by scripture if that scripture is lifted out from its context and from the whole of the scriptures. However, when a doctrine is substantiated by the general teachings of scripture rather than by an isolated quotation, we can then without fear, preach and teach such a doctrine. We have briefly touched on a few of the scriptures relative to our teachings, but many, many more could be mentioned. Our admonition to all men is found in the words of Jesus when He said, "Watch ye therefore . . . lest coming suddenly he finds you sleeping" (St. Mark 13:35-36).
By Rev. Annie Mae Sproles
Our eternal hope is based on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Christ's personal, literal, and undeniable rising from the grave is fundamental to the existence of the church. The hope of every believer rests in the fact that ". . . every one which seeth the Son and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:40).
For example, when the church met to choose someone to replace Judas, the criteria for this ordination into apostleship was that he must be ". . . a witness with us of His resurrection" (Acts 1:22). Therefore, Jesus' resurrection was the life-giving message of the church, for He laid the foundation in His own preaching. Then, the church structured all that it taught and practiced on the assurance of the resurrection of its Founder. Thirdly, to propagate this message, the church leadership must bear witness of this vital truth. Finally, as He stated, ". . . Because I live, ye shall live also"
(John 14:19), the resurrected Christ Conqueror and head of the church. Besides the resurrection being the life-giving message of the church, it was also the power that prepared the believer for a bodily resurrection with the righteous, but the ungodly were resurrected to eternal destruction.
THE FOUNDATION OF THE CHURCH WAS LAID UPON CHRIST'S OWN PREACHING OF THE RESURRECTION:
Jesus' resurrection became the doctrine upon which all that the church taught was established. His death and resurrection provided eternal life for all believers. As He promised near the grave site of His friend Lazarus, "I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live" (John 11:25).
Consequently, to take away this demonstration of Christ's authority; His death and resurrection would destroy the foundation of the church. In essence, to take away the resurrection of Christ, Christianity would be nothing more than the admiration of a man and his teachings. So the faith of the `born again' was grounded in His resurrection. Without the resurrection, the church would never have been born; or it would have died leaving little to the journals of history. The resurrection and the existence of the church depended totally upon each other in that they would either stand or fall together.
Jesus used two Old Testament examples in which He explained figuratively His death and resurrection. He did not give the sign to the Pharisees that they expected. The fact that He could cleanse the temple should have been sufficient proof of his authority. Yet, He responded with an example, "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up" (John 2:19).
He told of His death and resurrection in terms normally denoting something else. Another example, He called it "the sign of the prophet Jonas," For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly, so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" (Matthew 12:39-40). Jesus had already given throughout His ministry an abundance of signs that proved Him to be sent from God. Likewise, the preaching of Jesus should have been sufficient as in the case of Jonah, "They repented at the preaching of Jonah." Jesus was greater than both the temple and Jonah. He knew they would continue to disbelieve in spite of all that He said or did.
Signs confirmed faith, but Jesus denied giving them, when they demanded them, because of unbelief. Yet, the message contained here would be reserved for their conviction. Furthermore, it was intended to be the evidence that Jesus was the Messiah. John explained the later response of His followers to the destruction and raising of the temple. "When, therefore, He was risen from the dead, His disciples remembered He had said this unto them; and they believed the Scriptures, and the word which Jesus said" (John 2:2).
THE RESURRECTION ESTABLISHED WHAT THE CHURCH TAUGHT AND BELIEVED:
The Apostles, in their earliest preaching days, were staggered by Jesus' proclamation of His death and resurrection. "From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto His disciples, how that He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took Him, and began to rebuke Him, saying, be it far from Thee, Lord, this shall not be unto Thee. But He turned, and said unto Peter, get thee behind Me, Satan: Thou art an offence unto Me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men" (Matthew 16:21-23).
When He arose, His place as the Messiah had been approved, justified, and glorified by the Father. Because of this, the resurrection and the preaching of the Gospel became primary and basic to their faith in Christ. Paul declared to the church at Corinth. "If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is vain" (1 Corinthians 15:14). The witness of the disciples to the resurrection of Jesus was so empowered by the Holy Ghost that they said of themselves, "We cannot but speak of the things which we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:20).
As a result, the resurrection of Christ upheld what Jesus taught and did and what the disciples believed due to their relationship with Him. Indeed, those who had deserted Him and the one who had denied Him would not have been rallied again if it had not been for His resurrection. It is reasonable to assert that the Gospels illustrate how the foundation of the church was laid in His death and resurrection. Then, in the Acts, they raised the church upon the power of His resurrection under the official authority of the Holy Ghost. Thirdly, anointed men developed in the Epistles the explicit details for the church as they opened the mysteries of Christ's resurrection.
THE EXPANSION OF THE CHURCH DEPENDED ON ITS LEADERSHIP'S KNOWLEDGE OF WHOM JESUS WAS AND WHO THEY WERE IN CHRIST:
Jesus had given hints of His sufferings when He said, "Destroy this Temple." Again, when He spoke of "the Son of man being lifted up" and of "eating His flesh and drinking His blood." He continually directed their minds toward His mission in the world. Beginning in Matthew 16:20, Jesus commenced to show them more plainly that He would have to suffer and die. It was evident from Jesus's rebuke of Peter that His followers did not understand or know Him for who He was.
Admittedly, His disciples needed to know much more about Him. Then, they needed to understand His work of grace in their lives before they would be fit, or able, to confess Him before men. Sometimes, as the experience of the Apostle Peter displayed, the most unfitted of all for the preaching of the Gospel, his death and resurrection, are those who suppose themselves the most fit. Peter was an excellent example. He must know who Jesus was, and He must know what His work of grace meant.
When Christ spoke of His death, He always combined it with His resurrection. The Lord loved the work of redemption. No doubt, for Him, the resurrection took away the reproach of death on the cross, and for His disciples, it should have taken away the grief. A. T. Robertson explained, "They continued not to understand. They were agnostic on the subject of the death and resurrection even after the Transfiguration experience." As they came down the mountain, they were puzzled again over the Master's allusion to His resurrection (Mark 9:10). Matthew 17:23 notes that "they were exceeding sorry" to hear Jesus talk this way again, but Mark adds that they "were afraid to ask Him . . .” Luke 9:45 explains that "it was concealed from them," probably by their own preconceived ideas and prejudices" (Word Pictures in the New Testament Vol. l p. 344).
Each of the Gospel writers gave an account of Christ's resurrection. They presented it with the assurance of true church leaders. Those upon whom Jesus would depend to build His church must exchange their conflicting ideas and prejudices for a solid faith in His death and resurrection. Each recorded from different perspectives, but their accounts enhanced and gave full proof that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. What Jesus told His disciples of His suffering actually happened. They tried Him, abused, convicted, and killed; but He arose.
Although He had given notice to his disciples of His suffering, when it came, they were both surprised and terrified. To Peter, it was as if he had never heard what the Lord had repeatedly told them. Yet, it was Peter who called for one to be chosen who can speak from his own experience of the ministry, resurrection, and ascension of the Lord. Also, his message of Acts 2, at a time when it was possible to test the validity of its content, openly proclaimed the resurrection as a fact. He needed no evidence for what he declared was known to his hearers. Not only that, but the Apostle goes back to the Old Testament, Psalm 16, the resurrection Psalm, to support what they witnessed.
God used unbelievers, both political and religious, to announce who Jesus was. He intended it to be the proclaiming of Christ upon the cross, the king of the Jews. Pilate did not know what he wrote when he placed the words "the King of the Jews" on the cross. Neither did Caiaphas who said, "And this spoke He not of himself, but, being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation" (John 11:51).
Christ emptied Himself: not of His divine nature, that was impossible. He continued to be the Son of God. He gave up His environment of glory, and took upon Himself the limitations of place. He was without sin, though He was tempted as a man. He stripped Himself of the insignia of majesty. His humanity was as real as His deity. It was a voluntary humiliation on the part of Christ. He came as God's Son incarnated in the flesh as Mary's Son to the most despised death of all, a condemned criminal on the accursed cross (Philippians 2:6-8). Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:15, proclaimed His resurrection and its benefits for the believer, "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead" ( 1 Corinthians 15:20-21). Christ is the Conqueror!
THE CRUCIFIED, RESURRECTED CHRIST IS THE CONQUEROR AND HEAD OF THE CHURCH:
When He hung on the cross, He conquered His and His people's enemies. Not only that, He triumphed over them, "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it" (Colossians 2:14-15).
When Christ took on our human flesh and stepped upon the field as the Captain of our salvation, the conflict man faced from the fall reached its climax. In dying, the crucified Christ stripped off the evil forces of Satan that man could not overcome himself. It is evident. The victory of man is involved in the victory of Christ. In the cross, there was the greatest triumph: for the law was fulfilled, God's program was vindicated, death was robbed of its prey in his resurrection, then Satan "the prince of this world" was cast out. The world that was imprisoned had been set free. Christ conquered!
The resurrection message gave life to the church, and it was the power of the Holy Ghost that gave it witness. In the Bible, there were two methods by which God's power was gaged. In the Old Testament, Micah 7:15 explains it as the power which God brought Israel out of Egypt. The New Testament, according to the Apostle Paul, says it is " . . . His mighty power, Which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him in at His own right hand in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 1: 19-20).
THE SPIRITUAL RESURRECTION is identified as the power exerted by Christ's resurrection, and it is brought to bear in raising divine life in a person who is dead in trespasses and sins. Furthermore, the aspirations of the believer results in the desire to achieve something higher and greater. That is, to know ever more the power of His resurrection. "That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death" (Colossians 3:10). This passage not only gives the believer the promise and assurance of the present power and victory, but also of future glorification.
THERE WILL BE A BODILY RESURRECTION OF THE BELIEVER:
As Paul explains, "For as in Adam all die, even so is Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Corinthians 15:22). Christ's appearance to the disciples in bodily form was evidence of His bodily resurrection. In fact, it was so important that He remained forty days upon the earth after His resurrection. During this time, He gave infallible proofs to the claims of His own preaching.
As long as Christ lay in the grave, there was no assurance that His redemptive work had been acceptable to God. But as Paul explains, "Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us" (Romans 8:34). The apostle is speaking of physical death in Adam, and physical resurrection in Christ. Christ's work gave assurance to the redemptive work in the lives of believers.
William Evans describes the resurrected body in this manner. "What was the nature and likeness of Christ's resurrection body which our resurrection body is to resemble. It was a real body (Luke 24:39); recognizable (Luke 24:31; John 20:16); powerful (John 20:19). Summing up these passages, we may say that the resurrection body of the believer will be like the glorified body of Christ" (The Great Doctrines of the Bible p. 248). Further characteristics of the believer's resurrected body are discussed in 1 Corinthians 15.
The resurrection of the believer is connected with the return of Christ. Indeed, the reality of the resurrection of the body convinces the believer of salvation and the hope of immortality.
The Old Testament is not as clear on the resurrection of the saints as the New Testament, because Christ brought light on the subject. Job 19:25-27 stated, "...In my flesh shall I see God . . . " Isaiah 26:19 declared, " . . . Together with my dead body shall they rise . . . " The people of the Old Testament were not without hope. They believed that God's Holy One would redeem them from Sheol. Psalms 16:10 and: Ps 49:15- point to the fulfillment of this in Jesus' death (Matthew 12:40; Luke 23:42-43).
The resurrection of Christ ensures that all men, both the wicked and the good, the unbelieving and the believing, shall be raised. They will not be raised at the same time. Christ was the first fruit of the resurrection. True believers will come forth at His second advent (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). The unbelievers will be raised to come before God for judgment.
THE RESURRECTION OF THE WICKED is defined as those who never accepted Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the Savior of the world. For a person to be a part of the first resurrection, that individual must know Jesus in the power of His death and resurrection. Because Christ has been made head over all things for the church, everyone must become subject to Him. This decision separates the believer from the unbeliever. It separates the church from the world, and it separates the righteous and the wicked in the resurrection. Furthermore, it will separate their eternal destinies.
There is no message more powerful than that of the resurrection. When it is embraced into the church life with the same fervency as the New Testament Church in its doctrine, practices, and leadership, it will bring reformation and revival to the church. Christ, the Head of the church, is in charge of His work here. He is more than able to lead people with resurrection lives from sin and destruction to victory. His victory is the victory of the church. In His resurrection, He was more than the Conqueror.
By Rev. David L. Hodges
"The Bride of Christ is composed of the entire spiritual church" (1 Corinthians 12:25; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Galatians 3:28, 29; Ephesians 4:16, Eph 5:23-33; Revelation 19:7-8).
While we do believe this and the above scriptures indicate this, I would like to say that there is a wide range of parallels between the Church and a Bride.
First, I want to look at the entire spiritual church. The word "church" means an assembly or the "called out" ones. Paul teaches in Romans 12:4-8 that the church is like a human body and in Ephesians 5:23 and Colossians 1:18 that Christ is the Head. Every believer, like every part of the human body, has individual functions to do. Christ is the Head of the church, which means He has the authority over the church to guide it. This also means that Christ (the Head) and the church (the body) exist together in organic unity.
We must remember when this body is attacked (and it will be attacked as our physical bodies are attacked) that Christ is the Head. A body cannot drown until the Head goes under, and He is never going under. Paul states in 1 Corinthians 12:18 that God "set the members every one of them in the Body, as it pleased Him." This signifies that God has chosen each member and that each member is of equal importance to God, as every body part is important to the body. In 1 Corinthians 12:15-17, Paul shows why, as members of this body, we should not feel we are more important than another member. In verse 17, he states, "If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were the hearing, where were the smelling?" In Ephesians 4:3-6, Paul exhorts this body to unity based on the oneness of the body. He states in these verses that there is one Spirit, Hope, Lord, Faith, Baptism, and one God and father of all.
Christian unity in the body of Christ is damaged by mistrust, anger, unwholesome talk, bitterness, wrath, and clamor. All of this among fellow members (Ephesians 4:25) is to be put away. To be able to put these things away, we must be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving to one another.
Secondly, when the Word of God speaks of the Church being the Bride of Christ, it is referring to both the symbolic and the actual Bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:31, Revelation 19:7; 21:9). Figuratively speaking, the church is likened to the marriage relationship between a husband and a wife. The reason being that the relationship is monogamous and is a commitment for life. The Children of God, who comprise the church, are to have a "one and only one God" relationship. That is, a life-long commitment on the part of the Husband (Christ) as well as the Wife (Church).
In Revelation 19:7 she is not called His bride, but His wife. That is a deeper, dearer, more matured word than "bride." "His wife hath made herself ready." The Church has now come to the fullness of her joy and has taken possession of her status as "His Wife." What does "hath made herself ready" mean? It means first, that she is willingly and of her own accord, coming to her Lord to be His, and to be with Him forever. This she does with all her heart: "she hath made herself ready." She does not enter this engagement with reluctance.
Notice the preparation! It is described in the eighth verse: "To her was granted." This speaks for itself. Whatever preparation it was that she made, in whatever apparel she was arrayed, it was granted to her. Look at the apparel of the wife: "To her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white." How simple her raiment! Only fine linen, clean and white! Noting the first, and only, Hebrew word in the Revelation is `worthy'. Alleluia is the supreme shout of praise, and is not heard until the marriage celebration takes place (Revelation 19:1). It is a beautiful, loving relationship with which we, as mortal man, can identify. The intimacy, caring and affection pictured in the marriage relationship are a longing and a desire felt and known by all those who claim the name of Christ.
What a wonderful view we have into the very heart of God as we are likened to a Bride. At any moment, the trumpet could sound, and we could be summoned to the glorious Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Can't you hear the wedding bells ringing?
By Bishop Ronald Wilson
"That Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of the Father, conceived of the Holy Ghost, and born of the Virgin Mary."
The doctrine of the virgin birth is one of the most precious beliefs that all true Christians hold dear to their hearts. Through the years, the ungodly have tried to dispute and destroy this great Bible truth. To attack the virgin birth, in effect, attacks the deity of Christ. The entire Gospel message falls apart if Christ were not God in the flesh. If belief in the virgin birth is destroyed, salvation for the sinner does not exist; we have no hope of deliverance and healing in this life, and certainly no home in heaven when this life is over. If the conception and the cradle of Christ are treated as myths, His cross and tomb have no value either, for they were built upon lies.
Those who deny the virgin birth do so in complete disbelief and rebellion against God's Word. They also deny the power of Almighty God. In their blindness, these unbelievers seem to have forgotten that God created all things in the beginning by simply speaking them into existence. If God could create Adam without a man or a woman, and if God created Eve from the rib of Adam without a woman, causing the birth of Jesus without an earthly father would be easy for God. As many preachers before me have said, "The same God who brought a motherless woman from the body of a man brought a fatherless man from the body of a woman."
In chapter 7, verse 14, Isaiah prophesied the virgin birth of Jesus; "Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel." Mary acknowledged her virginity and her purity when she asked the angel Gabriel this question; "How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?" (Luke 1:34).
The idea that Mary was just a young woman, which is how the Revised Standard Version translates Isaiah 7:14, and not a virgin, cannot be validated with any scripture in the Bible. In fact, whether Mary was a young woman or not, has nothing to do with the issue. Mary could have been a young woman and not a virgin, or she could have been a virgin and not a young woman. However, if Mary had been with child out of wedlock, she certainly would not have been highly favored with God as Gabriel said to her. "Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women" (Luke 1:28). The Bible makes it clear that Mary had never had any sexual relations with a man when she was found to be with Child.
In the book of Genesis, after Adam and Eve sinned, God promised them a Savior would be born into the world. "And I will put enmity between thee (Satan) and the woman (Eve), and between thy seed and her seed; It shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel" Genesis 3:15. From the beginning, the prophecy said nothing about the seed of man, but the seed of woman. Jesus would be born of a woman, yet the method of His conception would be unlike anything the world had ever known. It would be a special birth for earth's most special Child.
As we come back to the Gospel of Luke, in response to the question Mary asked, the angel Gabriel said to her; "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35). The clear meaning of this scripture is that Jesus was to be born of Mary without a human father. The Holy Ghost conceived the Child inside her.
In the Gospel of Matthew, we read this account of the birth of Jesus. "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as His mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with Child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privately. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus: for He shall save His people form their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with Child, and shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called His name Jesus" (Matthew 1:18-25).
The fact that Joseph was not the father of Jesus is perfectly clear if one reads the Scriptures. Mary was espoused to Joseph, but the marriage had not been consummated. When Joseph learned that Mary was to become a mother, he decided to divorce her. Joseph reached this decision because he knew that Mary's Son was not his son. However, the customs of that day forced Joseph to make a choice. If he divorced her openly, both parties must present themselves to the elders of the city in a public meeting. If the womanwas found to be with child by another man, she would be taken outside the gates of the city and stoned to death. Joseph knew this would happen to Mary if he publicly divorced her. He did believe Mary had been unfaithful to him, but he loved her so much that he did not want her to die. The only other option Joseph saw was to put her away privately, which is what the Bible tells us he intended to do.
If Joseph were not the father of Jesus, who was? If Jesus was not born of a virgin, then Mary was a woman of ill repute. If Jesus was not begotten of God and conceived by the Holy Ghost, then two unmarried and immoral people who were responsible for His birth concocted the most incredible story ever perpetrated upon the world to cover up their sin. If that is true, then Christianity is builtupon the most horrible fraud of all time. If you take away the virgin birth, what is left?
If Jesus were an illegitimate child, do you think the angels would have rejoiced? "And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, an angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for behold I bring you. . ." Did the angel say that he brought sad news from heaven that a woman who had given birth to a child conceived out of wedlock? Was that the news that caused heaven to rejoice? No! The angel said: "Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be sign unto you; Ye shall find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men" (Luke 2:8-14). Heaven rejoiced because God's Son and earth's Savior had been born!
John 3:16 is said to be the most quoted verse in the Bible, but notice the wording. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son. . ." Begotten means to be the father of. I know many people like to skip all the begats of the Bible, but you miss something when you do. Take the begats of the New Testament. In Matthew's account of the genealogy of Jesus, he begins in verse two with Abraham and proceeds toward the birth of Jesus with a total of 39 "begats." Abraham begat Isaac, Isaac begat Jacob, Jacob begat Judas, and so on until he comes to Joseph. When he gets to Joseph, this is what the Bible says. "And Jacob begat Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ" (Matthew 1:16). Matthew did not say that Joseph begat Jesus. Why? The reason: an earthly father did not sire Jesus.
The genealogy of Jesus in the book of Luke, which is the lineage of Mary, goes all the way back to Adam. This was done to show that Mary was the woman through whom the "promised Seed" had come. Just as God had promised, her Seed would bruise the head of the serpent.
When the angel of the Lord instructed Joseph to go into Egypt, he did not say to him, take your wife and your son. But rather, "Take the young Child and His mother." Joseph had nothing to do with the conception of Jesus.
Throughout the Gospels, Jesus is called the Son of Mary, the Son of David, the Son of man, the Son of God, the Only begotten of the Father, the Son of the Highest, and the Son of the most High. With one exception, only His enemies called Him the Son of Joseph. The exception was the occasion when Jesus was twelve years old. During the celebration of Passover, He became separated from His earthly family. When Mary and Joseph found Him in the Temple, she said; "Son, why hast Thou thus dealt with us? Behold, Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing." The answer Jesus gave to His mother was a gentle rebuke. He said to her; "How is it that ye sought Me? Wist ye not that I must be about My Father's business?" (Luke 2:48-49). Mary had spoken of Joseph as his father. Jesus reminded her that God was His father.
If Jesus were in fact the Son Joseph, then years later the Jewish leaders were correct when they charged Him with blasphemy. They were right to demand His death. They knew the Son of Joseph could not save us from our sin. You see, it does make a difference whose Son Jesus was. Divine birth proves Sonship, and only divine Sonship provides divine redemption.
If Jesus were not born of a virgin, then He had a human father. If He had a human father, He inherited the sin nature of that father. If He were born in sin, He was under the curse and penalty of sin Himself. When He claimed that He had power over His own life and no one could take His life from Him, if He were only the son of an earthly father, that was nothing more than another lie. If Jesus had a finite father, he would have been a finite son. If Jesus were a finite son, He could not have been an infinite Person. If He were finite, He was not God. If He were not God in the flesh, then salvation is nothing more than a cunningly devised fable.
A person who denies the virgin birth snatches the robe of divine royalty off our Lord. They strip Him of His sinless humanity, denounce His deity, make the cross a failure and disgrace, and tell us we have to face eternity with no hope. In essence, they destroy Christianity.
Let the agnostic and infidels say what they please, but we believe the Bible speaks with clarity on this most vital doctrine; "Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of the Father, conceived of the Holy Ghost, and born of the Virgin Mary."
By Rev. Wayne Hicks
"In Water Baptism by immersion, and all who repent should be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."
New Testament Christianity cannot be labeled a ritualistic religion. At the very heart of Christianity is man's direct contact with God through the Spirit. These are two ceremonies that are essential because they are divinely ordained. These two ceremonies are Water Baptism and the Lord's Supper. The characters of these are very sacred and, because of this, they are sometimes described as sacraments . . . literally, "sacred things," or "oaths consecrated by a sacred rite." They are also described as ordinances because they are ceremonies "ordained" by the Lord, Himself.
In this article we will study the sacrament of Water Baptism.
Both the words `baptism' and `baptize' have their root in the Greek word, "Bapto," meaning to immerse, dip, or plunge under water;to wash. As strange as it may seem, baptism was not an invention of Christianity. Both Judaism and the pagan mystery religions used baptism as initiation into their group. Baptism first appears in the New Testament when we read of John the Baptist. Crowds were "Baptized of him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins" (Mark 1:5). His baptism was accompanied by repentance and was symbolized by the same. Jesus, Himself, was baptized by John, showing the continuity between their ministries. Baptism is in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Baptism is into Christ, or His Name, signifying union with Him. This union involves sharing in His death, burial, and resurrection, of which baptism is an obvious symbol. Two of the verses that emphasize the significance of baptism are Acts 2:38, "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost," and Acts 22:16, "And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord."
Baptism is an initiatory rite. Though the act of baptism is not the act of joining the church, it is signifying through public proclamation that the believer is joined to Christ and is identified with Christ and His Church. This sacrament was instituted by Christ when He gave the "Great Commission" in Matthew 28:19.
The Biblical formula for baptism is also stated in the Great Commission, "Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" (Matthew 28:19). This formula worships the Triune God in the administering of the sacrament. When we baptize in the name of the Father, then we are recognizing Him as the Father of our Lord Jesus, and as the Author of redemption. When we baptize in the name of the Son, we are recognizing Him as the begotten of God. When we baptize in the name of the Spirit, we are recognizing Him as the eternal Spirit and as the Administrator of divine graces through redemption. Since this formula recognizes the divine Trinity and the distinction of the three persons in the Trinity, this is the only formula of baptism that the Congregational Holiness Church recognizes and accepts.
The word "Baptize" used throughout the New Testament means literally to "dip or to immerse." Therefore, the mode of baptism recognized in the scriptures is immersion. Even scholars belonging to churches that baptize by sprinkling admit that immersion was the earliest mode. For several years, the Congregational Holiness Church allowed candidates to be immersed or sprinkled. This was later changed, and the only mode accepted now is baptism by immersion. The Scriptural, original mode of baptism is by immersion, which is true to the symbolic meaning of baptism: namely death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6:1-4).
All who sincerely repent of their sins and accept Christ as their Lord and Savior are eligible for water baptism. Baptism is a spiritual duty and privilege. All of those who receive Christ as their Lord and Savior are to receive this sacrament, and to willfully neglect it is sinful (James 4:17; Luke 7:30).
Water baptism, itself, has no saving power. People are baptized not to be saved, but because they are saved. Therefore, we cannot say that Water Baptism is essential to salvation, but we may say that it is essential to full obedience to God's Word. Water baptism is our public inauguration as a member of the Church of Christ. Baptism is not a sacrament that the believer needs to repeat. Baptism is the initiating sacrament showing the believer's continuing faith. Though baptism is not normally repeated, all believers can have a re-experiencing of the spiritual blessing of this sacrament if they so desire.
The very act of baptism shows that the convert has been spiritually identified with Christ. The immersion declares that Christ died "for" sin so that man might die "to" sin. The raising from the water declares that Christ arose from the dead, so this man might live a new life of righteousness.
When a convert is baptized, he has "put on" the very character of God. As a soldier wears the uniform of his country, so does the baptized convert don the uniform of the Kingdom of Christ.
By Kenneth Law
"In the Lord's Supper and Washing of the Saint's Feet."
The Lord's Supper speaks special truths, and all point to the cross. The bread and wine both say, "Remember Me and My Death." They show the violence of His death and tell us of the blessing that flows to us therefrom. When we remember the Divine Covenant, the forgiveness of sins, the new life and the fullness of Joy, we should all glory when we think of the Lord's Supper.
(Matthew 26:26-30) says, "And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, take eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave It to them saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is My Blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's Kingdom. And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the Mount of Olives."
The lesson that Jesus was setting forth was that the Passover would not be needed anymore because of the new agreement He brought through the shedding of His Blood.
He then gave the ordinances to be practiced by His followers until He comes again. Jesus wants us to remember that His body was broken and His Blood was shed so that we might be redeemed from the curse of sin. Like the Passover Lamb that was slain and the blood applied to the doorpost for the saving of the firstborn, so did Jesus die that His blood could provide life for all if we would accept it. He then tells us to remember His death by eating the Lord's Supper.
The Apostle John gives additional accounts of the Lord's Supper in (St. John 13:4,5), "He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that, he poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded." This lesson recorded by John gives us a great example in being servants one to the other. Jesus, King and Lord took the role of a servant then, with marvelous self-abasement, washed the disciples' feet. The disciples were twelve strong men, yet they could not do without a servant: therefore their Lord supplied the vacant place. Christ is gone into Heaven, and His church still needs servants, and we will never be so clean that we will have no need of feet washing.
Because of the nature of self-love, men sometimes say, "If he needs his feet washed, let him wash his own feet," but the nature of a Christian is: "I am willing to let others help me become holy, and I also want to help others become the same." You will often find it more humbling to have your own feet washed, than to wash another's feet.
The lesson goes far beyond the realm of the walls that they enclose us in, for we see that Jesus was teaching that to those who needed a service, there had to be someone to be the server. To find the real blessing, we must sometimes go past the ceremonial foot-washing service within the church, into the place of residence of an individual who stands in a real need of the service that, we as his servants could supply
If we could hear the Apostle Peter acclaim now in person, I am sure he would say unto us. "All of you gird yourselves with humility to serve one another, for God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble."
There are some who try to discount the account that John recorded, by saying that it was a custom of those days. I find no record anywhere that it was a custom for Kings to wash peasant's feet. Christ provided us a great example in washing His disciples' feet, and went on to proclaim that when we realize that the servant is not greater than his Lord, how happy we could be if we would perform like-services.
When we realize the great importance of partaking of the Lord's Supper and can grasp the great lesson He taught about being real Christians one to another, we can certainly have a greater influence upon the humanity among which we dwell.
By Bishop Chet Smith
"Holiness" is God's standard of living for His people; this is what the Congregational Holiness Church teaches.
The Psalmist wrote, "Thy testimonies are very sure: Holiness becometh thy house, O Lord forever" (Psalm 93:5). From the pen of the Psalmist comes the assurance that holiness will never be superseded nor become obsolete. The teachings of holiness will always be sure and steadfast. In these last days, with liberalism, worldliness and permissiveness abounding, holiness must be proclaimed with a loud voice. Holiness of belief and practice is not optional, but required. Under "The Condition of Membership" the Discipline of the Congregational Holiness Church states: "He or she must be in harmony with the Articles of Faith, also must abstain from the use of tobacco in every form, the use of slang language and other things that are contrary to holy living and take the Bible as his or her rule of conduct."
God's holiness is proclaimed throughout the pages of the Bible. Holy Scriptures reveal the holy nature of God from Genesis to Revelation. The Apostle Peter wrote, "But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, be ye holy for I am holy" (1 Peter 1:15-16). This admonition was written to the early Christians who were scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia. Peter was calling these scattered Christians to a life of holiness. He reminds them that the God who declares His holiness in the Old Testament also declares His holiness in the New Testament. In His unchanging essence of what He was, He still is, and what He is, He will always be. Moses wrote of a God who is holy. Malachi wrote of a God who changes not.
The Greek word for holy is "hagios." Hagios translated means "to be righteous, pure, sinless and godly." It also means to be separated and entirely different from all other beings and things. In the Living Webster Encyclopedic Dictionary of the English Language, "Holy" is described as "consecrated to God, saintly in character and of divine origin." What becomes increasingly evident in the Old Testament is overwhelmingly evident in the New Testament: that holiness means the pure, loving nature of God, separated from evil, and it is aggressively seeking to universalize itself. Peter wrote, "According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue, whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises; that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (2 Peter 1:3-4). God's plan of universalizing His holiness is for every believer to be translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of his Son.
It then can be said of the believer that he is to be holy. God's divine power will enable him to live a separated life that is entirely different from all who live worldly. The Apostle Paul wrote of Jesus, "Who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and made higher than the heavens" (Hebrews 7:26). Holiness is of a divine origin and not of laws passed down from traditions or man-made philosophies. The best righteousness that man could produce would not satisfy the demands of a God who is righteous, pure and the embodiment of absolute holiness. All self-made righteousness is as filthy rags to God and would never produce holiness of heart, mind, and body.
He who is holy has called believers to be holy in mind, spirit and body. He does not want the Christian to be corruptible and dying with the world. To live with God eternally, the believer must be like Him. Therefore, the believer must live a holy, pure and righteous life. He must pursue, seek and go after holiness. Scripture demands holiness, for it is written, "Ye shall therefore be holy for I am holy" (Leviticus 11:45). The Apostle Paul wrote, "Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Corinthians 7:1). In the book of Hebrews, there is the great cry for the paths of holiness, "Follow peace with all men and holiness without which no man shall see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14).
The words `holiness,' `saints' and `sanctification' are all translated from the one Greek word, "Hagios." The Old Testament equivalent Hebrew word is "Kadosh." The basic meaning of "Kadosh" is "to be set apart, separated and different from all others or things". When it is applied to individuals, it means pure, sinless, righteous, holy. The believer has been separated from the world and set aside for God to use. We are thereby called holy unto the Lord. There are several things in scripture called holy unto the Lord because of their special connection to him. The ground that Moses stood upon was called Holy Ground (Exodus 3:1-5). The temple that worldly King Herod built was called Holy (Matthew 24:15). Within the holy temple was the Holiest of Holies (Hebrews 9:2-3). The Apostle Peter called the Mountain of Transfiguration the Holy Mount (1 Peter 1;18). The gospel and scriptures are called Holy (Matthew 7:6; Romans 1:2). Anything that becomes associated with God is separated unto God in a very special sense and becomes different from all other things.
Israel, A Holy Nation Unto God:
In the Book of Exodus the children of Israel were called a holy nation. They were set apart in a very special way unto God. God had said to them, "Ye shall be holy unto me; For I, the Lord am holy and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine" (Leviticus 20:26). Israel was to be holy in that they were to be different from all other nations. They were to believe God and serve Him faithfully. The promise to Israel was, "Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: For all the earth is mine; and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation" (Exodus 19:5-6). The people were to be holy, the priests were to be holy, the tithe was to be holy, and the temple was to be holy. However, the children of Israel refused to participate in the great plan that God had designed for them. Sadly, National Israel rebelled in unbelief. Their ultimate sin was the rejection and crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Church Is Holy Unto the Lord:
The church is now the holy people of God. The Apostle Peter wrote, "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9). The privileges and responsibilities of following God were taken away from the Jews and given to the church. However, Jews are not excluded from the church. The church is set apart unto God as holy, separated and different. The Apostle Paul wrote of the church, "In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord; in whom ye also are buildedtogether for an habitation of God through the Spirit" (Ephesians 2:21-22).
The Individual Is Holy Unto the Lord:
The individual believer is holy unto the Lord. The Apostle Paul wrote, "What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price; Therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). The body then becomes the dwelling place for God's presence and replaces the Holy of Holies within the inner Sanctuary of the temple. Every believer is called a saint, or holy one. Paul wrote that believers were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world and that they should be holy and without blame (Ephesians 1:4). "God hath from the beginning chosen the believer through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth."
Only in holiness can we resemble God. God has not summoned us to great learning but unto holiness of heart. God has not called us to be conformed to this world's mold but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. We are called not only to holiness of speech but holiness of conduct. Our roots are in His holiness. Holiness permeates heaven and holiness will be the song of the ages. All the redeemed will one day sing out the refrain, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty." God has called us unto holiness.
By Rev. Allen Skelton
"There are few greater joys in life than the joy of giving."
It seems God releases His abundance in the lives of those who gladly invest in His Kingdom. (Luke 6:38), "Give and it shall be given unto you: good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom . . ." What a blessing it is to experience the kindness of God in such overflowing fashion. All because we give!
Paul reminded us in his letter to the Corinthians that, "God loves a cheerful giver." In essence, that is what stewardship is - The cheerful sharing of our blessings God has trusted us with. (Psalm 24:1), Stewardship is not just a mandated Biblical truth. We are given the opportunity to involve ourselves in the grace of giving and experiencing fulfillment at the same time. God is always more accepting of the attitudes of our heart than the calloused accomplishment of our missions.
There have been endless arguments concerning our role in giving. Some have made the `sharing of our blessing' very rigid. Others have cleverly excused themselves from any part in God's plan of giving. When someone gives just to appease a religious system, he loses the spirit of giving. "Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver." 2 Corinthians 9:7 exhorts us not to give grudgingly. We do not honor God in giving what we really wish we could keep.
Those who excuse themselves from giving altogether also miss the spirit of giving. Stewardship is our responsibility as kingdom people, but even more than that, it is our privilege. We do not give of our blessings just because it is asked of us. Neither do we withhold of our ability to give because we live in an era of grace. We are joyful, non begrudging stewards because our giving blesses God and blesses us. We would not be complete if all we did was receive.
In Genesis 1:26, God said, "Let us make man in our image." We are created to be like Him. Our stewardship comes from our Father. God is a giver. Everything we have has been given to us by God. He has withheld nothing from us. He has given us life, His promise, His Son, and His Word. John 15:16 reminds us we can ask whatsoever we will of the Father in Jesus' name and He will give it to us. Of course, it must be according to His will, but the idea is God wants to minister to our needs. If God is a benevolent God, who, according to Romans 8:32, has freely given us all things, how can we, who are created in His image, be anything less than abundant givers? Nothing pleases the Father more than His children imitating Him.
Wayne Gretzky, the great hockey player said, "I miss 100% of the shots I never take." We, too, will miss 100% of the blessings we could receive, if we never learn the joy of giving. The best way to avoid the pitfalls of selfish living is to cultivate the attitude of giving as a lifestyle. Every time we receive income, our greatest act of worship should be to share our blessing with whom it belongs. In the Old Testament, God taught His people to give tithes and offerings. In the New Testament, Jesus taught us to continue in the pattern of giving. Paul, the apostle, taught us to give continually and regularly.
Our faithfulness to give is a great indication of our love for Him. He has proven His love for us. We have the privilege to honor His place in our lives, by joyfully sharing our blessings as good stewards. Because we understand the spirit of giving, we remove all roadblocks to giving.
- Every born-again believer is to be a giver.
- Our wants and desires materially do not precede the priority of giving to the kingdom.
- We are not asked to decide if or when to give. We give from every blessing God shares with us.
- Our place is not to compare our giving with what others give. We give no matter what others give.
- Our local churches are the beneficiaries of our tithes and offerings because that is God's plan to sustain and prosper His church.
- We should also give offerings to other worthy ministries God places on our hearts.
By being good stewards, we participate in God's plan to cover the earth with the message of "Good News." It is our happy privilege to invest our blessings in our churches and in ministries who carry forth the plans of God.