Month: October 2016

Stump the Pastor: Baptism Questions (and a bonus)

baptismFrom Acts 19:1-6 and Acts 22:16: “Can you be saved without baptism? Can you receive the Holy Spirit without baptism in Jesus?”

These are huge questions, especially because in the book of Acts, we have a historical record of the early church. Who doesn’t want to be a church like one in the New Testament?

So in the Acts 19 passage, we seem to have “Christians” who do not have the Holy Spirit. Then they get baptized and boom, they receive the Spirit (and speak in tongues). Naturally, we wonder, “So does that happen now?” Is it possible for someone to believe in Jesus and not have the Holy Spirit? Does the Holy Spirit come later? Does tongues-speaking signify a true Spirit-filling?

In short, we need to be careful to not allow the history of the early church’s beginnings to be the way things happen now. Flames of fire on people’s heads (see Acts 2) will probably not be repeated. A deceitful couple will probably not be struck dead if they lie about their pledge to the new ministry campaign (see Acts 5, the story of Ananias and Saphira). And not all converts to Jesus will speak in tongues (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:29-30 and know that in the original Greek language, Paul uses a construction with these questions that indicates the answer is no).

In the case of Acts 19, we have a people who state by their own lips they do not know (have not been instructed) concerning the person and work of Jesus nor the filling of the Holy Spirit. They were hoping for a Messiah and following John the Baptist’s lead, but they were not New Testament Christians yet. So, when Paul shows up, he preaches the full Gospel of Christ and upon believing they were immediately filled with the Holy Spirit (which is what happens to every Christian today, cf. Colossians 2, Romans 8, 1 Corinthians 12:3). This all happens at conversion, before baptism.

So the answer to the second question is, “yes,” you can, should, and will receive the Holy Spirit prior to baptism at your conversion. Looking at the New Testament teaching as whole the process seems to be: Repent/believe, receive the Holy Spirit and then get baptized. That being said, sometimes, the spiritual experience is felt in a different order. You may cognitively believe in Jesus, receive baptism, experience a powerful sense of the Holy Spirit’s presence, and then boldly repent of sin. I personally don’t think a pastor should baptize someone who hasn’t believed, repented, and shown evidence of spiritual fruit in concert with the Holy Spirit’s presence. But the existential aspects of a person coming to faith are never the same.

The 1st question has multiple answers: Can you be saved without baptism? On one hand, yes, absolutely. Jesus saves, not baptism (baptism is just a sign and seal of Christ’s prior work). The repentant thief on the Cross experienced salvation through Christ and paradise all apart from baptism. A death bed conversion with saving trust in Jesus does not require baptism to be ratified in heaven. Believe and be saved (Acts 16:31; Romans 10:9)!

On the other hand, I would question the salvation of any person who refuses to be baptized. It’s a clear command from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Persistent, ongoing, unrepentant sin has consequences, eternal ones even (cf. Hebrews 9:26-27). So if months or years go by and a person refuses to be baptized, it would be hard for me to reconcile that they are Christians if they won’t profess that faith through baptism. It is a great joy to share the baptismal waters with our Savior! Who wouldn’t want that?

Here’s a bonus “Stump the Pastor Question” I was asked after the sermon on October 9 by a thoughtful 7 year old. “Do we get baptized to get the demons out?” Clearly, this person is aware that Jesus has power over demons. And they know that baptism is not to be taken lightly. Still, I think the Bible would say, “No.” In fact, I think that sort of mystical approach to baptism would take our eyes and worship off the true demon-cleanser, Jesus. Baptism conveys all sorts of truths about Jesus: he provides purification from sin, he saves us from judgement, he brings us from death to life, and he ushers us into a relationship with the Triune God and the Church. But the sign of baptism is pointing to Jesus. If we get caught up on the sign itself (and some church traditions do), we actually miss out on the person the sign wants us to worship, trust, love, and obey. So, if you are facing demonization, run to Jesus. If you need forgiveness of sin, run to Jesus. Accept Jesus, take His hand, and in time, he’ll walk you to the waters of baptism to symbolize all that He has done for you!

Kids SS – Wisdom for God’s People

Gospel Project

Wisdom is the knowledge and understanding of what is right, true, honest and fair. I don’t think this series of lessons could have come at a better time than right now. When the world is showing you on TV every night the opposite of wisdom, it is more important now than ever to teach your kids what true wisdom is. Here’s what you need this week to help teach your kids:

  • Bible Passage: Proverbs 1:1-7; 3:1-12; 4:10-19
  • Main Point: Wisdom is fearing the Lord and obeying His Word.
  • Key Passage: Proverbs 2:6-7
  • Big Picture Question: Where does wisdom come from? Wisdom comes from God through His Word.

The book of Proverbs is called “Wisdom Literature.” It is found here and some other places in the Old Testament (and some scholars think in the New Testament as well). Wisdom literature is marked by words of wisdom that hold true most of the time. Wisdom literature doesn’t tell us all of the possible outcomes, but the generally true outcomes. The author of Proverbs says:

My child, do not forget my teaching,
but let your heart keep my commandments,
for they will provide a long and full life,
and they will add well-being to you.

Proverbs 3:1-2

When the author says “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6), that is not a guarantee that every child that is raised up right will never turn away from what he’s learned. But the author is saying, generally speaking, if children are started on the right path, they are more likely to end up on the right path than the wrong one. That nugget of wisdom might seem obvious, but especially to children, those kind of nuggets of wisdom have to be spoken.

Let me encourage you to share some of God’s proverbs with your kids this week. Talk about the general truth of the proverb. Talk about how that proverb has held true in your life. Talk about how it hasn’t worked out that way, but that it was still a good general principle. If you’re not sure which one to talk about with your kids, try Proverbs 4:18-19.

The path of the righteous is like the morning sun,
shining ever brighter till the full light of day.
But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
they do not know what makes them stumble.

Talk about how doing what is right makes for bright paths, but doing what is wrong makes for dark paths that cause us to stumble. How have you seen that play out in your life?

Have a Great Week!

P.S. – The kids will be participating in a Christmas program this year all together. We’re going to sing a couple of songs as a group. We’ll practice as a part of our regular Sunday school time. I’ll send more info along as we get closer.

Also, there is a congregational meeting coming up in November. We will still have Sunday school that week, just a shortened version so we can have our pot-blessing and meeting.

October 16, 2016: Matthew 18:15-17 “Obediance: Delicate Care Required (part 2)”

Big Idea:  Hope must be the heart of church discipline.

How’s your heart at work lately?

1392543Do you find yourself living out this instruction from Colossians 3:22-23 in your daily work, serving “with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters [read: bosses, children, fame, power or paychecks].”

Are you engaged in Christian work as defined by Dorothy Sayers: “The only Christian work is good work, well done.”

If you need a pick-me-up today to engage your daily calling(s), consider listening to one of the sermons from our Fall 2015 series: “Contributing to God’s Kingdom.”

Galatians 6:7-10: “Contributing to God’s Kingdom” – Work done God’s way goes on forever.

Genesis 1:26-31: “The Work and the Workers.” – Are you building walls or are you building cathedrals?

Exodus 19/Revelation 1: “A Kingdom of Priests” – Everyday you go to work as a priest.

Esther: “Faithfulness in Unique Places” – God, even when seeming absent, works in the strangest of places.

Malachi 3:6-12: “Our Hearts and Our Money” – Stewardship is far more than just the handling of our money.

Luke 2:41-52: “Faithfulness to the Father” – Father God calls His children into service with Him.

Luke 16:1-15: “Buying Friends with Worldly Wealth” – A.K.A. The Tale of Two Shrewd Managers

Luke 19:1-27: “Faithful, Friend or Foe” – What we believe about Jesus will affect how we prepare for His return.

Letter to Philemon – “Can Jesus Impact my (Workplace) Relationships?” – There is good news for your workplace.

1 Peter 2:13-25: “Everybody has a Boss” – Our heavenly assignment gives our worldly assignments purpose.

Revelation 22: “Serving in the Celestial City” – Work goes on forever, and it’s stilled called Heaven.



Kids SS – Seek and Ask for Wisdom

The gospel project

This week we start a new unit. We transition away from king David and look at King Solomon, the wisest king of Israel. Here are the details about the story:

  • Title: Solomon asked for wisdom
  • Bible passage: 1 Kings 2:1-4, 10-12; 3:1-15
  • Main point: Solomon asked God for wisdom to lead God’s people
  • Key passage: Proverbs 2:6-7
  • Big picture question: Where does wisdom come from? Wisdom comes from God through his Word.

Wisdom is a hard thing to define. Smart is easy. It’s getting the answers right on a test, knowing the facts for Jeopardy, or knowing which tool fixes which problem. Wisdom is different.

Wisdom is not about how much you know, but about applying what you know in the right and noble way. In our story this week, it is about leading a country in a way that is just and honorable. Solomon knew he was not equipped for the job of leading, so in humility he asked for God’s help. He asked for wisdom rather than riches. And God gave him wisdom that was unparalleled.

Wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord. That is, it’s source is understanding who God is and that I’m not him. It begins with reference for God and his ways. Wisdom begins with humility before the Lord, just as Solomon did.

How can you teach wisdom? I’m not sure you can. Wisdom comes with time. And wisdom comes from God. I think it is best to teach humility, respect for God and love for each other, then before you know it, wisdom blossoms.

Talk with your kids this week about the difference between wisdom and smarts. What does a wise person look like? What do they say and do that is different?