Update 8.31.2020

A lot has been happening here since my last post.  I have been receiving several request from different countries to lead them in Bible Studies.  Three of these countries are China, Japan and Africa and there are others countries that have expressed interest as well.  This has been very humbling as well as leaving me in a state of re-examining a lot of things.  I never saw myself in an international ministry, let alone leading it. 

After much prayer and waiting on the Lord, as well as counseling with my pastor and church leaders, I have come to believe that this is from the Lord and so I am following His leading as I understand it.  Perhaps the most notable adjustment I have made is that I am now producing training videos that I will be posting on You tube.  This action has required an investment into software to make these videos and then I have spent untold hours learning how to use it.  I have begun a study on Spiritual Reality.  It is a series of 6 lessons from the Bible that identifies the necessity of our passing through 3 worlds before we enter our final destination we call heaven.  It also identifies the spiritual senses that enable us to interact in the spiritual world. 

The first lesson is broken into two videos and the first video is nearing completion and will be posted in the near future.  I will post its availability as soon as it has been finished. 

These are training videos and require commitment of study and work beyond just watching the video.  Entertainment is not my goal but I try to make them interesting and rewarding.

One of the ways that the Lord has shown me that this is His working and not mine is that it was not my idea to start with.  Additionally, He has provided multiple people to assist in this endeavor, such as a man who has his own ministry and is making Christian videos as I am, who incidentally has the exact same software and lives very close.  He said he is helping because this is an important work.  I sent out a preliminary copy of the first video to a number of people I know  and requested them to critique it and I got back multiple pages of insights and suggestions.  No one was overly complimentary nor were they critical.  I really appreciated their honesty, responsiveness and candor.  These are but a few of the ways that the Lord has made it clear that He is the one doing it and it is not me directing it.  Please pray that I stay close to Him and simply follow His leading.

I plan to continue this website however my post may not be as often as they were in the past.  In addition to this website, I now have a channel on You Tube and I will share that with you as I begin to post these studies on it.

Thank you for your prayers and I hope that you will continue to remember me as we lanunch into this new venture of faith.

Wisdom

Wisdom can be defined as the proper use of knowledge.  Knowledge is basically information whereas wisdom is the proper use of that information. 

The application of wisdom falls into three distinct arenas.  The first arena is on the personal level and has to do with your personal proficiency.  Itdeals with your skills and abilities.  These skills and abilities can be improved by training and experience.  There are at least five characteristics that enhance an individual’s personal proficiency.  First, they are focused.  They have a goal and it is predominate in their efforts and they are constantly moving toward it.  They do not allow distractions to keep them from it. 

Second, they are organized and they have learned not to waste motion or action.  Any distraction from that goal requires additional energy, resources, and time and can defeat the main effort by exhausting your provisions to reach your goal.  My dad used to advise me to “work smarter, not harder” to underscore this truth.

A third characteristic is efficiency, which is thinking about what you are doing and practicing it repeatedly.  By doing this you discover how to remove wasted motion and the end result is that you make it look easy.

A fourth characteristic is diligence.  They neither give up nor quit.  Staying at the task is vital in order to accomplish it.   After all is said and done it still requires a full investment to do it.  Equally important is protecting against burn out which requires a balance of effort. 

Finally, they finish well.  Completing a job is not only satisfying but it is also a vital part of the effort.  They tie up loose ends with the three R’s of RESTORE, REPLACE and RETURN.  They restore their tool’s function by fixing what’s broken and repairing what is worn.  They replace what is used up and worn out and they return what is to be used again to its place.

The second arena of wisdom is in Proper Prudence.  Thisarena addresses professional practices with others and involves living a productive and generally successful life.  In this arena you deal with people and all of their faults and failures.  They are not always kind or helpful but rather they are mostly selfish, short sighted and hurtful as they are in darkness and have not know God or his ways.  Here it is not a matter of just being right but a reflection of the grace and wonder of God, Himself.  Sometimes we must bear the burden of their error in order to reach them in their darkness. 

Honesty and fairness in your business dealings are good examples of how to relate to people who are walking in darkness.  Truthfulness and dependability are also spotlights that expose God.  Humility is the alternate to the proud, and respect will set you apart from those who ridicule.  These are but examples of proper prudence that say you are important and I value you.  This wisdom comes from God and requires a dependence on Him to work His wonder.  It is not a compromise nor is it flattery but must be genuine in its application and an expression of faith in the Lord.

The third arena of wisdom is Philosophical Principles.  This arena addresses the profound issues of human existence such as good vs. evil, human suffering, the basic questions of life (Who? What?  When? Where? And Why?) with an emphasis on the Why of life.  Answers in this arena come down to the Sovereignty of God and ultimately we must trust Him; especially when we do not understand.  Yet, struggling with these principles we come to understand God better.  The book of Job is a classic example of this arena of wisdom.   Proverbs 4:7 Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. In the book of Proverbs, wisdom is personified (looked at as though it was a person)as a woman who would bring many blessings when heeded and curses when it was rejected.  It is contrasted to three types of persons; the inexperienced, the mockers and fools, all of which reject wisdom and its ways, and ultimately end in death.  Life is full of challenges and difficulties and wisdom will enrich the journey while life without it will be an endless struggle and ultimate defeat.

Judge Not

I have attached a list of Scriptures below that should be studied together to see what the Lord had instructed concerning the common directive that is so often quoted out of context.  The phrase is “Judge not lest ye be also judged” and is used to silence those who disagree or would condemn an action. 

The verses (Matthew 7:1 and Luke 6:37) were a part of Jesus’ sermon on the mount, where Jesus was instructing those who would live righteous in this world.  They were not given as prohibitive and all encompassing laws but rather the prohibition of devaluing others.  The words “judge not” simply means do not pass judgment or condemnation and has to do with a person’s worth.  It does not mean to have no opinion or discernment about an action but rather to not allow that discernment to lessen that person’s value to you or to God. 

A good example of this is iron in its natural state is rust mixed with soil and has no apparent value.  When that Iron is mined and processed, the impurities are removed and heat is added, along with other minerals is specified amounts, it becomes steel that becomes quite strong.  Because we see others in their raw and impure form we should not consider them of no value, but God knows what He has in mind for each of us and that is of great value to Him.

When placing these verses along with the other verses such as I John 4:1 where we are commanded to “try the spirits”, it sounds like a contradiction, but it is not.  Even though we are forbidden to pass judgment on a person’s value, we are commanded to measure the spirit behind the action and to know if that spirit is of God.  These are two completely different responses to two completely different applications for two completely different reasons.  Judging deals with another person’s value in his service for comparison, while discernment addresses the spirit behind the action for the benefit of the fellowship.

Further, discernment is based upon the fruit of the individual which exposes the spirit directing the action.  Mt 7:18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.   Matthew 7:20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.  Jesus went on to say in John 7:24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.  It simply cannot be that we are directed to “judge not” in one place and then “Judge righteousness judgment” in another place unless there is a difference of application.  The answer is that we are forbidden to pass judgment based upon appearance (respect of persons) but we are commanded to discern the force behind the actions.  We are commanded to examine the fruit and the witness of the Spirit of God. 

Another point is that we should listen and follow those whom God has placed as our spiritual leaders who have given their lives into His service and have grown into spiritual maturity.  These gifted leaders are chosen by God and given to the church to equip the membership.

In summary then, we are not instructed to disregard sinful or evil activity, but rather, to stand on principles and against evil spirits, not against people.  The person is not the problem but the evil spirit must be confronted.  This is why we should pray for our pastor and church leaders as they stand between evil forces and the church and we are to support them.

Mt 7:1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.

 Lu 6:37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:

 Joh 7:24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.

 1Co 4:3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. {judgment: Gr. day}

******************** versus *********************

1Jo 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

Mt 7:16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

 Mt 7:20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

1Th 5:12 And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;

Joh 7:24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.

Heb 5:13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. 14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Bits and Pieces

Yesterday was a day of progress in several ways.  I began my day with sleeping in because I was up past midnight.  I took a leisurely shower got dressed and spent time with my wife as we usually do.  I then spent some time in my office catching up on different projects and miscellaneous paper work. 

My wife had a luncheon with one of the ladies at church so I fixed myself some lunch.  I had a meeting with my pastor at 2:30 in which we discussed the status of the latest developments of the Christian Training Center for Eastern Asia, that I am working on.  I shared with him about my meeting in Oklahoma City with a Chinese pastor and his chairman of deacons.  We considered the establishing of the Christian Training Center and a suggestion was made to consider Taiwan as a central location as it was fairly central and visas would be easier. What do you think?

We then discussed the organization plan and objective.  My pastor had given me an assignment to write out my vision of what that was and I went over it with him.  We then considered the target audience and I shared the need I see from my perspective.  This is where I need your help.  Would you write me and share with me your ideas and needs?  I know that I do not have a complete view of the real need but here is what I have so far.  The main target is the new pastor or church leader with little or no training in his role in the church.  The objective is to assist and enable him in his development so that he can equip his people in Christian living.  He will be charged with self-study within the bounds of the curriculum.  Our task is to provide an environment of support and guidance as well as the resources for him to accomplish that task.  To this end we noted that we need the curriculum of specific courses of study and identified the first as being that of walking by faith.  This is a project that I will begin immediately.

To achieve this end, I need your prayers, ideas and input to provide the best program to meet your needs.  I need individuals who the Lord has placed in this time and space to step forward with wisdom, resources, prayers and a heart to be God’s hands and feet for such a time as this.  I need to be sensitive to what the Lord is doing and keep in step with Him. 

After my meeting with my pastor, I met with our pastor of Discipleship and shared with him our present status of this project.  He then shared with me that we have within our church, two additional resources.  One is a project that our church is already working with and that is a similar project in Africa.  He will be getting me in contact with the leaders of that project to see what we can glean from what they have already done and enable us to avoid wasted motion.  The second is an individual who has worked with Eastern Asia radio and how we might utilize that resource in our efforts.  I continue to see God’s fingerprints on every step of this effort and am continually being amazed at what He is doing.

I think that it is important to remember that this is not my project, nor is it our project but that this is God’s project.  He began it and has led it along the way.  We are finding the different resources that He has provided ahead and we proceed based on His power and provision.  In the final analysis, our own development and transformation is His first objective while in the process we become tools in His hands to build His kingdom.

GOD’S PLAN FOR MAN

Life here on earth can be quite confusing.  The four basic questions of man (Who am I? Where did I come from?  Why am I here?  And where am I going?) seem to go unanswered.  Before we head out in some direction, we need a direction to head out in or we will find ourselves even further from where we need to be.

There are some basic guidelines that will help us in our quest to find our way.  First of all we should access our situation.  What are our assets and liabilities?  What do I really know about this world that I am in? What are the effects of my choices? These and many other question will bring you to a view (rightly or wrongly) of where you are at.

Secondly, we should set our priorities.  Our choices will be made based on what is important to me at the time.  Are you seeking the truth first or are you seeking a certain result?  Can you trust the source of your information and do you even trust yourself? 

Thirdly, choose a direction and move cautiously, measuring the effect of that choice and be open to the evidence as it is discovered.

Finally, make course corrections as needed.

These are basic guidelines but I am not going to tell you what to choose.  You will do that for yourself, regardless of what I might say.  What I do intend to share with you is a short summary of what I have discovered about this journey.

The first thing you need to know is that there is a plan for man.  It is not your plan, nor is it my plan nor is it any plan that we can come up with.  Simply put, it is God’s plan.  There is a plan and purpose to all of life.  Furthermore, it can be know because God intended for us to know it.  He has given us everything we need to come to know that plan.  It was stated plainly in Genesis 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.  God made us in the similitude of Himself that we might know Him.  Without that we could never know Him nor could we understand Him.  His purpose for us is that we might become His children and dwell with Him in eternal glory.

This plan has been obscured by sin and now must be rediscovered by our walking in light.  Jesus said that “I am the light of the world” He will lead us on our journey through life to become the sons of God.  That plan was not completed when man was placed in the Garden of Eden nor was it destroyed when man sinned.  God uses the problem of sin in our final development of this plan by our choices to follow the ways of the world or the way of righteousness.  Since we make the choices, we become responsible for the outcome.

So how can I know that this is so?  Jesus said in John 7:17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.  Don’t take my word on it but prove it for yourself.   If you really want to know the truth, you can.  Not knowing is no excuse.  Of all of the people in the world, don’t kid yourself.

The Flaming Sword

Occasionally, I like to address a Scripture that is commonly misunderstood.  Today is one of those days.  The Scripture is found in Genesis 3:22-24 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:  23 Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.  24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

A common understanding is that since man sinned, he was driven out of the garden where the tree of life was located because he couldn’t be trusted any more and the angel with the flaming sword was stationed there to protect the tree of life by preventing man from ever returning. 

There are several things wrong with that interpretation.  First, God was not protecting the tree of life from man but rather He was protecting man from the tree of life.  Had Adam taken from the tree of life, he would have sealed his own doom because that would have sealed his eternity in the fallen state and God had greater thing planned for man.  It would have destroyed God’s plan of man being completed in God’s image, likeness and authority.  Man needed time to be changed into that likeness.

Second, it was not an angel that was placed at the entrance to the Garden of Eden, but a Cherubim, which means spiritual enforcer.  This was not to prevent man from taking from the Tree of Life, but to restrict man until he would come restored to a right relationship. 

Thirdly there are two directives as to man’s exodus.  In verse 23 states that the Lord sent him forth from the garden to till the ground from whence he was taken.  The ground was cursed for man’s sake (v. 17)  He needed to see the effect of sin in order to turn from it and back to God.  Then in verse 24 we see that man was driven out.  Man had willfully gone against God and he needed to understand that thereare consequences for sin.  God will not lower His standards and wink at our sin.  It will take God’s intervention to deal with sin and it was pictured in the slaying of the animal for their new coverings or clothing.

Fourthly,  the flaming sword is described in Eph 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: as the Word of God.  We know it as the Scriptures or The Bible.  It is further described in Heb 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.  You cannot fool God and He will know you to the depth of your inner most being.  Entrance is restricted to only one way, the way of the cross.

Finally, the phrase “to keep the way” does not mean to keep the way closed, but just the opposite, to keep the way open.  Though it is kept open it is still restricted to meet God’s standards.  There is hope for man to complete God’s plan for man by entering in the manner that God is pleased with and that is the was of Faith in Jesus.  However, we must come repentant of our self-government and surrender our will to the Lord Jesus for it is His blood the brings our sin into submission.  Without that blood there is no remission.

God At Work

As I said in my last blog, I would share some more developments in the training center for Eastern Asia.  The need is growing day by day.  The attempt to stamp out Christianity by several countries only emphasizes the importance of this effort.  I considered why these countries would fight so hard to eliminate the church and I came up with a few considerations.  First, the number of Christians is growing dramatically.  In China alone there are somewhere in the neighborhood of a million or more Christians.  That is one in fourteen of the people in China are professing Christians.  That is a serious block of people who could potentially threaten the government’s power.  This “threat” would make any government uncomfortable by itself.  What the governments fail to recognize is that the Christians will only make the government stronger when they are seeking to do what is right.  Christianity stabilizes the people.  Yet the genocide and persecution of Christians to death , is alarming.  There have been more martyrs in the last 10 years than in all of the previous years of recorded time, and the rate is increasing every year.

Secondly, historically speaking, every government that has set out to destroy the church and its people, have incurred God’s wrath and have fallen as a result of their error.  Governments were established by God to be a blessing to the people but when they reject God and His ways, they are removed by God.  The Christians are not the ones that they should fear but rather, God who set them up to begin with for he sets up kingdoms and also removes them.  If they truly want to do what is right then they should embrace them. 

There is a hunger for Bible Training that must be met.  I saw this in China last year and again in Japan this year.  People are willing to make great sacrifice of time, resources and personal suffering in order to satisfy this hunger.  I saw people endure long sessions on small plastic stools night after night, taking notes as thought their lives depended on it; and do it night after night.  Stories abound of the cost to satisfy this need.  People are crying out for help and God is listening and has already begun to answer their prayers.

My burden is to set in motion the working of a Bible Training Center that will be available for God’s people to get that training that is so needed.  I have already begun to contact key people who are in a position to be a part of supplying this need.  I have talked with at least two different schools that presently have online courses available as well as many of the colleges and universities that also have such opportunities.  I have talked with a couple of individuals that have financial resources that are willing to help.  I am personally in contact with some professors and educational institutions that are willing to step up and be a part of this effort.  I will be in a meeting in December with two key people who will be praying and working with me to outline such a program.

Would you make it a matter of prayer to support this effort?  As I look around I see God’s fingerprints on each part of this work.  I did not choose it but it was placed upon me and I can do nothing but move forward with it as the Lord leads.  Please understand that this is not my project, but the Lord’s.  We are seeing God at work.

Update 11.23.2019

Thank you for praying for me as I have been going through some real struggles.  It is not health for the Lord has been quite gracious to me.  I have lost a few pounds which I needed to do and am feeling fine.  It is not a financial or social or personal problem either.  It has been a spiritual battle within me.  I find myself wasting time on lesser important things and not doing the things that are of eternal value.  One of the things that I have neglected is posting here on the website and I felt that I needed to address it openly and honestly.

It’s not that I haven’t had time, for I get the same allotment that you and everyone else get, 24 hours a day.  Not even a second more or a second less but exactly 24 hours a day.  It is not how much time I have but how I manage it.  Lately, I have been letting it manage me and that was my sin.  Just as you can just sit in a boat on a river and remain in one position, life is constantly moving like the river and either you let it carry you down river or you paddle to go upriver.  If you try to anchor yourself in one position you will eventually sink because the river is constantly changing.  Not only is it always moving but sometimes it has more water and sometimes it has less.  Sometimes the wind blows and sometimes it is at rest.  Also, the seasons are constantly changing and bring various types of debris that affect your travel. 

 Hebrews 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,  Itis not alike I was doing something that was sinful or immoral.  I wasn’t being productive in my stewardship.  It doesn’t have to be a sinful activity in order for it to be a sin.  Any old weight will do.  Weights are unnecessary activity that consumes your attention and resources so that you are not effective in doing the will of God.   James 4:17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. 

I do not offer excuses, but rather, I ask from you forgiveness.  We are all on a journey to eternity and the decisions we make determine not only the journey now but also how we are completed for eternity. 

Persecution

For those of you who follow us on our “Journey Home”, there is some news that is quite important.  I just received an email from Japan on the state of the church in China.  The persecution there is intensifying every day.  I hear regularly about The Chinese government forcing Christians to sign a document that they renounce their profession of faith and pledging to total support the government.  If the document is not signed then there are severe consequences, such as forbidding them to hold a job and they are ostracized from society.   Sometimes they are imprisoned and other means to force them into submission.  I know of one individual who was in his third year of studying medicine and he was forced to leave the school and is not allowed to continue his studies. 

In another situation the pastor and his wife and 70 of the members were put in prison because they would not turn over the control of their church to the government.  The church was then disbanded and the remaining members were then interrogated and required to sign the paper.  In other situations the church is split into several smaller groups and forced underground.  Life for Christians in China is quite difficult,  It is illegal for a church to own property and all of their resources are confiscated.

The government will allow a church to continue if they will allow the government to place faces identification cameras in the church and yield to the government’s full control.  It didn’t work for king Ahasuerus in the book of Ester nor did it work for the Roman government’s requirement of calling Cesar Lord.  Historically, the church has always grown more under persecution than it has at any other time so we should be looking for what God is doing.  It is at the most difficult times that God is seen clearer and works the greatest miracles.  The examples are numerous of atheistic kings discovering God when trying to stamp out His people. 

I often hear the question, why does the Chinese government persecute the church?  I am sure that there is several reasons but the number one reason is probably that they are considered a threat because the church refuses to bow to the government as the ultimate authority.  It makes sense that an atheistic government would fear a people who do not recognize them as the ultimate authority.  After all, they came into power by not recognizing the then current authority so they would want to squash any authority that they couldn’t control.  This is especially true when there are as many as 100 million Christians in China (that is 1 in every 14) which is a large block of people that you don’t control.

Perhaps a more important question is, why does God allow persecution?  It all seems unfair (and it is) but God has good reasons to allow it.  Consider the following reasons as some of the purposes of God in allowing persecution:

  1. To reveal His personage.  The main reason that leaders demand to be acknowledged as the ultimate authority is that they do not know God who is the ultimate authority.  They see God as uninvolved if they even acknowledge His existence.  Often their view of God is in the lives of His professed followers who are not a good representation of Him.  They are unaware of the possibilities and the dangers of defying God.  (Consider Goliath)  God wants us to know Him as He is with all His power, knowledge, love, etc.  He has only good in mind for us but for us to enjoy it we must have our grip on sin broken.
  2. To refocus His people.  God’s people sometimes get out of step with God and become carnal or worldly.  We begin to take the reins out of God’s hands and attempt to justify ourselves and earn our place with God.  This will never be allowed by God.  The Bible states clearly in Romans 14:23 “whatsoever is not of faith (in Him) is sin.” In Hebrews 11:6 “without faith (in Him) it is impossible to please Him.”  Whenever we get on the works system we are setting ourselves up for persecution.  The Lord gave the early church the command to go into all the world and teach all nations . . . (Matt. 28:19-20) but the church stayed in Jerusalem.  The next event that followed was the death of Stephen and a great persecution against the church.  Then the church began preaching Christ after they were scattered everywhere.  We need to learn to follow God’s instructions and not what we think.
  3. To recover and refine His people.  If God did not let us know we were off course we would continue moving out of God’s will and people would perish and we would suffer great consequences.  We desperately need course corrections.  The hardest lessons are often the ones we remember the most and are most apt to turn us from our own self will.  Not only is it His intent to recover us from our error, He wants to refine us in His service and expand our usefulness.  Growing in His grace is essential in our transformation into His image and likeness.
  4. To renounce false gods.  It is important to note that everyone lives by faith all of the time.  Having faith is not our weakness but placing our faith in the Lord and not in anything or anyone else is the biblical faith that causes God to get involved with our situations.  He only responds to faith in Jesus as Lord (boss).  When we trust anything else it is unbelief in Christ and brings its own consequence.  The key to triumphant living is in living by faith in Jesus and renouncing all other options as false gods.  Why is it so important that we get this straight?  Because there is no other Gods and the world needs desperately  to see the truth.
  5. To reach the Lost.  The world will die in their sin unless and until they know the only true God.  We are the illustrated version of this message that God is real and He has revealed Himself in the personage of Jesus.  Romans 10:13-17.  Jesus said we are the light of the world.  (Matt 5:14), and II Corinthians 5:18 states that we have been given the ministry of reconciliation.  These are but some of the reasons God allows persecution.  

Baptism

There has been much debate on the subject of baptism over the years that have caused a lot of confusion among believers and even the splitting of churches.  What you believe about baptism is important and can cause real problems in fellowship.  Baptism is not required for salvation.  If it were, the thief on the cross would not have been saved yet Jesus declared that they would be together in paradise that day.  Though it is not a requirement for salvation, it is a requirement of obedience and a faith walk of the believer.  It is proper evidence of your conversion.  A Scriptural baptism will include these 5 points of identification.

  1. The first point of identification is that there must be a proper candidate.  A proper candidate is one who has become a believer in Jesus as Lord and Savior.  He has been converted from the old way of living (sin) to the new life (walking by faith in Jesus).  This is done by a confrontation and confession of sin (called repentance) and the surrender of the control of your life to Jesus (faith in Him).  This is a conscious and deliberate choice of the will.  An infant is not capable of making such a choice, yet a few do make that choice at an early age prior to the teenage years.  A proper candidate is already a believer so baptism is not a part of getting saved but it is an important part of walking by faith and should be done as soon as possible after getting saved.  Without the conversion experience, you are not a proper candidate.  Baptism is not part of your qualification for salvation but an evidence that it has already been accomplished.  See Acts 2:38, 8:12-13, 36-38, Ephesians 4:5
  2. The second point of identification for a scriptural baptism is a proper mode.  A proper mode is how it is done.  The word baptism is a transliteration of the Greek word “baptizo” which is the only method used in the Bible.  It means to dip, immerse or plunge under.  The sprinkling or pouring came much later in the history of the church and was in response to the erroneous doctrine that baptism was necessary for, or a part of salvation.  Scriptural baptism knows of only one method and that is by immersion and is seen in its meaning.
  3.  It is the picture of God’s provision of our salvation in Christ:  He died on the cross, He was buried in the tomb and He was raised victorious over death hell and the grave.
  4. It is also the picture of what has happened to the believer.  He has died to sin, buried in a grave of water and raised to walk in newness of life.
  5. It is further, a picture of the Christians’ hope.  We die physically, we are buried in the ground and we will be resurrected to join Christ in the air and so shall we ever be.  See Romans 6:4-6, I Thessalonians 4:13-18
  6. The third point of identification for a scriptural baptism is a proper time.  There isn’t a lot of scripture about the timing of baptism but the scriptural example is that it should be done as soon as possible after conversion.  Acts 8:36-38  I have heard of a number of individuals who claim to be believers but have never been baptized. In every case I have observed that there is a major problem in their faith walk.  We are commanded to be baptized once we become a believer and to put it off becomes disobedience when not done promptly, as it will affect your faith walk. 
  7. The fourth point of identification of a scriptural baptism is a proper purposeMatthew 3:15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.  A common question about baptism is why should I be baptized since I am already saved?  Some people have the idea that going to heave is all that is important but Jesus said that we should fulfill all righteousness.  Getting to heave is just the means of travel but God is in the business of transformation of the believer so that when he gets to heaven he will be at home.  Without this transformation we would either miss the trip all together or if we should actually make it there we would be dis figured or handicapped forever.  Here are some of the reasons that we should be baptized.
  8. It is a declaration of independence from the control of sin on our lives.  It is also a declaration of independence from the curse of the law (legalism).  Further it is a declaration of independence from the dominion of the old nature.  We are no longer a prisoner of our old nature.
  9. It is a declaration of dependence upon Christ not only to provide salvation but a means to continually be cleansed from sin by our confession of it to Him.  It is also a declaration of our dependence on the Holy Spirit to teach us the scriptures, give us recall of them (John 14:26), convict, convince and convert the world (John 16:8),  guide you into all truth (John 16:13), Shew you things to come (John 16:8), and to glorify the Lord (John 16:14).  We are totally dependent on the Lord.  Further, it is a declaration of dependence upon the Scripture.  It is wholly trustworthy as it will never pass away.  It has stood the test of time, trials and twisting and remains the sure foundation of all doctrine of God.
  10. It is a declaration of interdependence.  The church is the bride of Christ and very precious to Him.  As a part of a local church we support one another and learn  to lean on the Lord as He is in the church.
  11. Baptism is to be administered by a proper authority.  The proper authority is His church made up of His believers.  It is the church that was commissioned to carry the gospel to the whole world, to baptize the new believers and then to teach them to observe the things that He commanded us to do. (Matthew 28:19-20)  Christ is the head of the church (Ephesians 1:22) Acting under His authority and leadership we have been given the ministry of reconciliation.  (II Corinthians 5:18)