What is Baptism About?

What is Baptism About?
Compiled & Adapted By: Rev. Joe Kramer

 

This is an often asked question so I decided to visit this question today.

 

When someone decides to give their life over to Jesus Christ there is often many questions that arise, and amongst some of the first are about baptism. This quick guide about baptism will help you to clarify the question that you may have.

 

Can you go to heaven by being baptized?

People are saved (and get to go to heaven) by believing that Jesus is the Christ and putting their faith in Him. Baptism does not save anyone.

Ephesians 2:8–9 (NKJV)
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,  not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

 

How should one be baptized?

Because some churches sprinkle water on people instead of immersing them, the obvious question is whether this is OK. Since the only consistent answer around the world comes from the Bible, we recommend using it to find your answers. It is interesting that nowhere in the Bible does anything but “immersion” take place. That is, baptism is always by immersion.

This makes sense if you realize that “baptize” is a transliteration of the original Greek word baptizw (baptizo). In turn, baptizo comes from the root word baptw (bapto), a term used in the first century for immersing a garment first into bleach and then into dye, both cleansing and changing the color of the cloth. (Note its similarity to baptism’s cleansing of sin and becoming a new person through Christ.) Stated another way, when you process cloth to change its color, you are said to “baptize” it. If sprinkling of any kind was to be practiced, a different Greek word would have been used, but it was not.

 

Why should someone be baptized?

Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

  • This verse does not say that baptism is necessary for salvation.  It says that baptism is part of making disciples.
  • If baptism is necessary for salvation then it must also be true that teaching disciples to observe all that Jesus commanded is necessary as well.  But this would be salvation by works.  Instead, Jesus is explicitly declaring how to make disciples – by baptizing them and teaching them to observe what Christ and commanded.

So, the purpose for an individual to baptize is threefold.

  1. Declaring to the world that they have become a Christian by giving their heart and life to Christ.
  2. Identifying with Christ in the symbol of death, burial (going down into the water), and resurrection (coming out of the water).
  3. Declaring that you are joining a body of believers (both the church universally, and the church locally) for the purpose of becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ (learning how to walk according to God’s way of doing things so that you may be blessed and your testimony will have its’ maximum effectiveness in the world).

 

When should someone be baptized?

Let’s look at this question from two directions.

#1 – Does a person’s age make a difference?

A natural question would be, “does your age make a difference?” More specifically, you may ask whether infants or young children should be baptized. It may help if you understand where the idea and practice of baptizing infants came from. Around 400 AD, a man named Augustine came up with the idea of “original sin.” This basically said that everyone inherits the sin of Adam at birth and is therefore separated from God from the beginning of their life. Of course, this caused parents to become concerned over the fate of their children, should they die before “getting right with God.” Since only one of the four steps required to get right with God could be done by (or to) an infant, they decided to baptize them to “take care of the original sin.” Since it is risky to immerse an infant, these people decided to sprinkle them with water instead. Thus, both baptizing infants and baptizing by sprinkling came from human ideas. They did not come from the Bible.

If we look in the Bible we see that children are never seen to “accept Christ” (and therefore get right with God). It is also interesting that God never tells us what to do to keep a child safe. Did He just forget this important point, letting many children go to Hell and suffer eternally? No. A child is safe in the arms of God until they can understand how to be saved by accepting Jesus as their savior. (See 2 Samuel chapter 12, verses 22 and 23 along with Matthew chapter 18, verse 10.) Thus, only adults and older children (who can understand separation from God because of sin and so forth) are at the age when acceptance of Christ is possible.

#2 – When should an individual get baptized: immediately, or later?

Almost anytime you see salvations happening in scripture you see baptism immediately following their salvation.

Thus, “when we believe” is the right time to be baptized. If you “believed” some time back and were not baptized, then this should become a priority for you to fulfill what God asks you to do in the Bible.

Does God Really Care About Your Situations?

Does God Really Care About Your Situations?
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

We have all been in situations where we have said that God just doesn’t care, or we wouldn’t be going through __________. You fill in the blank. Today we find out if God cares and what our response shold be.

(18) Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. (19) For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. (20) For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. (21) For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:

(22) “Who committed no sin,

Nor was deceit found in His mouth”;

(23) who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; (24) who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. (25) For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
-1 Peter 2:18-25

Before we get into this we must know a couple of things. The Bible was written to first century Christians who lived in a culture where slavery was acceptable. If the Bible had completely condemned slavery then people during this time would reject it. But through the preaching of the Gospel slavery was eventually done away with. We must interpret this scripture in the light of the historical context of the passage.

Now Peter talks about how slaves should respond. It isn’t fair that they are in that position, but Peter gives them guidance as to how to behave in light of their relationship with God. In all things, no matter what situation you find yourself you should give honor to God.

In Today’s society this can be applied as those who have rule over you (i.e. work, spiritual authority etc.). Some people who have authority over you are harsh (as anyone who has a job knows) and other folks are good to work with and for. During this time these were slaves! They couldn’t just quit and look for “greener pastures” like we can. No they had to do all they do as unto the Lord. Today, however, if   someone with authority over you are harsh and evil you have the option to leave. That being said this text has been applied by pastors far too often, incorrectly, in order to hold a person in their church when perhaps God isn’t telling them to stay in that church/ministry. However if we find ourselves in a situation that we can’t get away from we should endure that as unto the Lord.

Now in verse twenty Peter gives them a caveat to this line of thinking. He states that if we endure suffering for own faults, or straight out wrong doing then it doesn’t profit you. In other words, why would God look at you and say this is to His Glory, if you were belligerent or defiant? But Peter reiterates that if you endure poor treatment, though you have done nothing wrong, then it is to your benefit and God will be please for your actions and bless you.

Now at this point, in verses twenty-one through twenty-two, many Christians would find themselves in the “why me” mentality. We are reminded that Jesus who suffered more than anyone else on earth because of the physical and spiritual turmoil He was under, endured to the very end for the God’s glory! We are called to be like Christ, enduring hardships to the Glory of God. We might not understand it all, but we can be assured that God sees the entirety of all things and will work it out for His glory and our benefit. This assurance is accomplished by our faith in a good God who loves us and will not abandon us.

Verse twenty-three gives us an important attitude. When Christ was raised from the dead He did not hold grievance with those that persecuted Him. He did not take vengeance, and did not hold hatred and bitterness in Himself for those that did that to Him. No, He left all that to the Father who judges rightly. This is something we are required to emulate; something that is hard but nevertheless we are called to emulate Christ in it. If you have trouble with this, make it a matter of prayer before a Holy and loving God.

In verses twenty-four and twenty-five Peter continues to remind us the high cost Christ paid on the cross for us. Because of this high price that Christ paid we should endure the hardships that we find ourselves in. No, it may not be right (whether slavery or whatever other circumstance) what has happened to you and it may not be God’s perfect will, but unfortunately sin marred all of creation and it is where we find ourselves. Therefore we must remember that God is our shepherd and He will oversee our souls and will take care of us as we walk throughout this life. We must continue to be faithful, and He is always faithful to do exceedingly above and beyond anything we can ask or think (Ephesians 3:20).

How about you today? Do you find yourself in a situation you would rather not be in? Hey we have all been there and will be there again. I don’t hide that fact from anyone. That is why Christ said to count the cost. The question is, how will you respond in that situation? Will hold on to bitterness and anger? Or will you continue to be faithful to God? The choice is yours.

Some People Are Just Too Nosey

Some People Are Just Too Nosey
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

One definition for nosey is” offensively curious or inquisitive.” One individual can do acts that a Christian doesn’t approve of (I am not talking about overt sinful acts, i am talking about those things that are not). However, the question should be asked. Is this individual doing anything overtly sinful, unethical, or immoral? If the answer is NO, then perhaps the problem isn’t with their actions but your perception of their actions.

Today we will be looking at Romans Chapter fourteen in three parts. If we want the church to thrive then we need to mind our own business. We must not judge things that have no eternal value, we should not abuse our Christian freedom, and everything we do must be done in faith.

 

We must not judge things that have no eternal value

Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. 2 For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. 3 Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. 4 Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand. 5 One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks. 7 For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living.
-Romans 14:1-9 (NKJV)

Christians are not to act from emotion, but from settled inward convictions that are the result of diligent prayer and study of the Word of God. There would be no serious problems if every Christian acted from conviction. Someone has said that opinions are what we hold, while convictions are what hold us. The stronger Christian is not to despise the weaker one in their immaturity; neither is the weaker Christian to judge the more mature brothers and sisters for their freedom in Christ. In Christ both are Christians, so we should remember that in our dealings with each other. Our lives are to be directed by Jesus, not by people’s ideas or judgments. Mature Christians know why they have acted the way they have acted and have no need for someone to approve or disapprove their actions. All they care about is How God looks at their actions. Why? Because they have put thought, prayer, and conviction behind the action they have performed (for the most part anyway, we do sometimes make snap decisions).

 

“I’m living my own life!” is a statement no Christian ought to make, because we belong to Jesus Christ, whether we live or die. He is the Lord, and we must live to please Him. So often the Christian who has sin in their life, a little white sin or whatever, can’t say they are doing anything “unto the Lord”; because they are truly practicing their so called Christianity from a place of selfishness and not as unto the Lord.

 

We should not abuse our Christian freedom

But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. 11 For it is written:

          “As I live, says the LORD,

          Every knee shall bow to Me,

          And every tongue shall confess to God.”

12 So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. 13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way. 14 I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. 15 Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense. 21 It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak.
-Romans 14:10-21 (NKJV

We are not judgment seekers, but fruit inspectors. Some people who judge how other people behave or the acts they do will look at that Christian and see good fruit. Why? Because maybe what they are doing isn’t sinful, maybe you are living under the conviction God gave you and they are living under the conviction that God gave them. We have no right to judge our brethren, for we will all have our works tested at the judgment seat of Christ—not the White Throne Judgment, but the testing of the Christian’s works after the church is called home. We do not have to give an account of our brother’s life, so we have no right to condemn him today. Certainly all of us want to live lives that will stand the testing of Christ, lives that will win rewards for His glory.

There is one thing we should judge: we should judge ourselves to see whether we are abusing our Christian freedom and making others stumble. Certainly nothing is unclean of itself, but some practices and habits are considered unclean by others. Therefore, if we deliberately do something that makes our brothers stumble, we’re not living according to love.

It is a serious thing to cause another person to stumble and fall into sin. In Mark 9:33–50, where “offend” means “cause to stumble.” The believer who holds on to his questionable practice and causes another Christian to fall in their walk with God. This person is blind to the price Jesus paid on the cross. Our good should not cause evil talk. The Christian life is not a matter of eating or drinking (or any other practice), but one of righteousness and peace and joy, all of which come from the Spirit. Our aim should be not to please ourselves, but to build up other Christians in love. 1 Corinthians 10:23 states that all things are lawful for the believer, but not everything builds us up or helps to build up others. How selfish for a Christian to tear down another believer’s spiritual life because of his own selfish living (or prideful arrogance). Their practices may be lawful, but they do not come under the law of love.

 

We must do everything by faith

Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. 23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.
-Romans 14:22-23 (NKJV)

The Greek word for “faith” in v. 22 means almost the same as “conviction,” for our convictions are born of faith in God’s Word. These two verses lay down the principle that the Christian life is between the believer and the Lord, and that the believer must always be sure they are right with the Lord. If there are doubts about some of their practices, they can’t have joy and peace. Verse twenty three reads that the Christian is condemned. That is, the Christian who engages in practices with a doubtful mind is condemning himself and those practices by his very attitude. Whatever we do that is not of faith is sin, for the Christian lives by faith. Romans 10:17 says, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by Word of God.” Anything I do that I can’t back up by the Word of God is sin. If it isn’t in the Word I can’t possibly do it in faith, therefore it is sin, plain and simple.

Christian, Thou Art Decaying!

Christian, Thou Art Decaying!
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

Today, instead of a sermon I wanted to talk a little bit about how Christianity has NOT been a good steward of what God has given. If we want a culture that honors God, then we need to honor God in Christianity.

 

Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established: And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.
-Proverbs 24:3-4

Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and to morrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee.
-Proverbs 3:27-28

Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.
-1 Corinthians 4:2

 

On this Memorial Day weekend I don’t want to spend a tremendous time talking about stewardship, but I do want to give you a nugget of truth.

This country was founded on freedom to worship God! I don’t care what people say, that is the truth. Because we decided to found this country on Biblical principles God has blessed it tremendously! Unfortunately not everyone agreed and they began to change this country in a way that kicked God out of every area of life! So this mighty institution called the Church said to itself that this will pass and they did nothing! When prayer was ripped out of schools, and the Ten Commandments were ripped out of culture and the Church did NOTHING!

So now when we look at our culture we see one of decadence and decay. We no longer see God at the center of anything. You know what the sad part is? It is not the Church just did nothing about it, no they did something worse. The Church has decided to adopt the values of the world! What, you may be asking? Yes the Church has! Christians today don’t worship God in Spirit and IN TRUTH. Christians today can’t tell you about the Second Book of Hezekiah! Wait did I just write Hezekiah? Yes I did! I wonder how many of the “Christians” reading this didn’t even know that there is no Second Book of Hezekiah! I made it up. Why did I just do that? Hopefully to draw some people to the fact that the Bible amongst Christians isn’t that well-loved anymore! No Christians are too busy adopting the culture rather than studying God’s Word.

What other things have I seen that show that Christianity is falling away from God? Well, when a pastor says he is divorcing his wife because God told him to do that and take a new wife and he doesn’t lose his entire congregation and isn’t shamed out of ministry, something is wrong! When a Christian can visit a strip club on Saturday and get drunk and walk into church and teach Sunday school, something is wrong! When young people can live together without being married and still “serve” in church functions, something is wrong! When church splits happen and no one thinks they are wrong (read 1 Timothy chapter 1), something is wrong! When a minister can do as they please, and often does what is in their best interest rather than others, and no one call them out on it, something is wrong! Yes, something in Christianity stinks!

How did Christianity get here? Because the church stopped clinging to God and started to be “sensitive to the seeker.” Folks this ought not to be! Just do what the Bible says and forget the culture! Be a good steward of God’s Word and be a good steward of the things He blessed you with and you will see a change in Christianity and a change in the culture as a result.

What will you do today? The choice is yours.

Don’t Let Your Past Dictate Your Future!

Don’t Let Your Past Dictate Your Future!
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

Far too often people don’t own up to their own actions about a given situation. Far too often they let people and happenings from their past dictate their future! Will you be one of those? Or will you move on with YOUR LIFE.

 

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
– 2 Corinthians 5:10 (NKJV)

You know Christians often complain about the circumstances they find themselves in and we have all been guilty of it at some point. The problem is that with this culture we forget that it is not the circumstances that brought us here but how we respond in them as to how we will be judged by God.

Too often Christians want to be liked so much (by their peers/other Christians) that they compromise and play the political games of their circle of influence. A lot of them end up being puppets for whoever the “alpha-dog” is in the group. They are too scared to stand up for what they know is right, honest, and true, even though the Bible tells them to focus on those things. Why are they scared? Because they are afraid they will lose what little influence they currently have within the group (Note: By group I mean any group or click. It could even be where you work, if they claim to be a Christian place of employment)! The sad part is that this is the mentality and actions of the unbeliever, the un-churched! This is transplanted in a place where love should reign supreme, Christianity.

Now there is a catch with this! Some people think they are standing for truth when they aren’t. They don’t follow scripture, because they don’t know scripture! A Christian should stand for what is explicitly written as right and wrong in the Word of God, not fringe/peripheral issues. A Christian should call a spade a spade from God’s Word. If there is no repentance and the politics get played, let the chips fall where they may. Remember to stand up means that a lot of times you are going to get bitten by the “alpha-dog.” When that happens you are supposed to trust in God and no one else.

Look at Elijah. He did wonderful acts for God and called down fire from heaven! But where did he end up? He found himself in a cave all by himself. Why? Because he was running for his life, and when God protected him did he thank God? No! He whined and complained about being in that cave and that he was the only one left in Israel who truly worships God! So God reminds him of all that He has brought Elijah through and tells him there are seven thousand people in Israel who have not abandoned God. Far too often Christians who have been wronged by God’s “people” end up blaming God, even though they stood up for what is right. You know what? God has not forgotten you Christian He is right there and if you listen He will tell you that you need to get busy serving Him no matter what situation you find yourself. Remember God is bigger than you circumstances.

God knows where you have been and where you are going. Just let Him work all things out for you. Also remember to take responsibility for your own actions in any given situation, because more than likely you have some blame in the situation as well. God cares more about how you act than about how you were acted against.

How about you today? Are you blaming someone else entirely for some kind of situation in your life? Then stop and REPENT! Are you looking up and whining about a situation to God? Then stop and REPENT! It is time to move on in God and get your hands to the plow and start working for Him again! Will you be dragged down and turned bitter against someone? Or will you REPENT of your actions before a loving God and let Him deal with the past, while you move on with what God has for you? The Choice is yours.