Interestingly enough all demons believe in God (James 2:19), believe JESUS is the Son of God (Matthew 8:29, Mark 1:24, Mark 1:34 & Luke 8:27-28) and believe the Bible is the word of God (Matthew 4:5-10). So just believing that, is not such a good indication that you are a Christian (Acts 16:16-17). The real indication is what has occurred in your heart. Because whatever you really believe you will act on. If I say I believe something and I don’t act like it is true, I really don’t believe it. I’m just paying it lip service. I’m just being “Religious”.
We must first define the term “Christian”. What does that mean? Does it mean someone who attends Religious services on a regular basis? If that be the case, then anyone who attends any Religious services would be considered Christian. That would probably come as a shock to Muslims, Buddhists, Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses and Jewish folk. So it can’t be that. (FYI, just because someone is a member of the previous Religious groups we mentioned DOES NOT MEAN THAT THEY ARE AUTOMATICALLY GOING TO HELL. If you didn’t know that, you need to study the New Testament more thoroughly.)
Then what is a Christian? A Christian is one who models their life after JESUS Christ. Or whatever JESUS did they also should do. Well, what did JESUS do? In three gospels the very first thing that JESUS did as an act of His own free will was to be baptized in water; Matthew 3:13-15, Mark 1:9 & Luke 3:21. JESUS needed to be baptized in water in order to fulfill all righteousness or the requirements of God so He was baptized (fully immersed) in water by John the Baptist. Now if JESUS and the first century church believed that water baptism was so important, (Matthew 28:19, Mark 16:15-16, Acts 2:41, Acts 8:12-13, Acts 8:35-38, Acts 9:18, Acts 10:48, Acts 16:14-15, Acts 19:5) who are we to treat it like it’s no big deal? I know we talk about it, but we really don’t do it all that much, DO WE?
You can come up with all kinds of Religious reasons to not be baptized in water, we’ve heard all of them. It’s kinda funny but most Christian ministers will tell you that water baptism is important, and that you should be baptized. And they will do it right after they explain to you what their particular church or denomination teaches on it. Funny, JESUS, His 12 apostles, His additional 70 disciples never needed a class to explain it to them. They never had to set up an appointment or wait until a particular point on the calendar to be baptized in water. In the book of Acts, everybody, EVERYBODY was baptized in water in the name of JESUS. EVERYBODY. No classes or appointments needed. Apparently our current Christian leadership knows more than they did. If we want to have New Testament results, such as signs, wonders and miracles, we’re going to have to do things the New Testament way. If we don’t do things the New Testament way, WE ARE NOT going to see New Testament results. Here’s a radical idea, in our meetings just as soon as someone makes a commitment to follow JESUS, let’s immediately baptize them in water in the name of JESUS. What would happen if we started doing that? Well, according to the book of Acts 2:41, “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.” How’s that for a successful meeting? Or let’s just keep doing things the way we have been doing them. Let’s just keep coming up with more “programs”, more “out reaches”, more “evangelistic meetings”, “prophetic ministries” and “specialized ministries” (in the New Testament the word ministry “means to serve”. It does not mean “self-serving”) because it is working so well, isn’t it? I mean just look around at how much the greater Cincinnati area and America has become more like JESUS with each passing year.
Here is what we are not saying. WE ARE NOT SAYING THAT IF YOU ARE NOT BAPTIZED IN WATER IN THE NAME OF JESUS YOU ARE NOT GOING TO HEAVEN. We are not saying that at all. Just to be clear, WE ARE NOT SAYING THAT IF YOU ARE NOT BAPTIZED IN WATER IN THE NAME OF JESUS YOU ARE NOT GOING TO HEAVEN. But here’s what we are saying, that if WE want to just keep stumbling around, not knowing God’s will on this problem, not knowing God’s will on that problem, wondering why WE don’t experience the power of God on a daily basis, being confused by all the different Christian belief systems, then let’s just keep doing things the way WE have been doing them. Let’s just continue to ignore the plain teaching of the New Testament. After all God doesn’t want us to do anything that’s going to be inconvenient or make us uncomfortable. Didn’t God have JESUS go to the cross just so we can have convenience and comfort?
Now there are people, mainly the ones who don’t want to follow the New Testament, who will make mention of John 4:1-2. In verse 2 of this passage we read these words, “though JESUS Himself did not baptize, but His disciples”. In other words, JESUS did not baptize people in water, only His disciples did. So the reasoning goes, “If it was that important, why didn’t JESUS baptize others Himself?” This is not a good verse to try to justify their laziness in not following the New Testament pattern. And there are two good reason why this isn’t a very good excuse not to be water baptized.
Reason #1 – You’ll notice it says His “disciples” DID baptize people. If words mean anything this means His “disciples” should be baptizing people in water. So apparently, Christian leadership in this country is filled with non-disciples. You know the ones that don’t do what they are told to do. They say He’s their Lord and yet they don’t do what He tells them to do. You will find them mentioned in Matthew 7:21-22 and Luke 6:46. That’s the first reason that this verse is not good to use to justify their inaction.
Now if the first reason doesn’t irritate them, I’m fairly certain reason #2 will. When it comes to baptism (Greek word baptizo means to be fully immersed) JESUS’ main baptism is the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Oh yeah, we’re going there.
Reason #2 – In all four gospels John the Baptist is telling everyone that he has come to “baptize in water”. Why? To prepare people for the One who will baptize them with the “Holy Spirit and fire”. Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, John 1:33 all confirm this. As a matter of fact in Matthew 3:14 when JESUS came to John to be baptized in water, John the Baptist tried to get JESUS to baptize him with the Holy Spirit.
It’s always amazing how many New Testament ministers seemingly don’t understand that JESUS, you know God in human form, never did any miraculous actions until after He received the Holy Spirit. It’s also curious that throughout the book of Acts His followers were continually being baptized in water and in the Holy Spirit. After they received the baptism in the Holy Spirit they had POWER, not just words. Hmmm, so it would seem according to the New Testament pattern here’s what makes a New Testament Christian. We are to make the decision to believe that God raised JESUS from the dead, make the decision to turn all our life over to Him so He has final authority in our lives, call upon His name, be baptized in water in His name, and then to be filled with the Holy Spirit so that WE CAN DEMONSTRATE that JESUS is alive, not just through words, but prove it with power. If all we have is intelligent arguments, and no power, then all we have is “Religion”. And sadly, that is what Christianity has been reduced to, words with no power.
We have taken a relationship (that JESUS suffered and died for – was raised again from the dead by Almighty God – ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father – God the Father poured out His own Spirit on all flesh to prove the words of His followers), and reduced it to just another great “Religion”.
The good news is that YOU can change this. YOU can make the commitment to spend quality time studying the life of JESUS and the book of Acts. YOU can make the commitment that no matter what it takes YOU will allow God to use you as His vessel. He has to have YOUR permission and YOU have to know what His will is. As with so many things that pertain to the Kingdom of God, YOU will have to ignore your head and listen to YOUR heart. The ball, as they say, is in YOUR court. Are YOU going to run with it or “stay on the side lines”?
With Love, Cincinnati Christian
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