Counting the Cost of Loving and Serving God
Isaiah 55:6-9 "Seek the LORD while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the LORD, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. 8 "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor your ways My ways," says the LORD. 9 "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts."
Matthew 16:24-26 "And Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and let him take up his cross and follow Me.
25 For whoever desires to save his life shall lose it; but whoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it. 26 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, but loses his life? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his life?’"
Amos 3:3 "Can two walk together unless they be agreed?" [Are you really agreed?]
Matthew 10:34-39 "Do not think that I have come to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man at variance against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a man’s enemies shall be those of his own household. 37 The one who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and the one who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And the one who does not take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. 39 The one who has found his life shall lose it; and the one who has lost his life for My sake shall find it."
Luke 14:27-28 "And whoever does not carry his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple; 28 For which one of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has sufficient for its completion."
Matthew 6:33-34 "But as for you, seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow; for tomorrow shall take care of the things of itself. Sufficient for the day is the evil of that day."
Luke 9:57-62 "Now it came to pass that as they were going along the road, someone said to Him, ‘I will follow You wherever You may go, Lord.’ 58 But Jesus said to him, ‘The foxes have holes, and the birds of heaven have nests; but the Son of man does not have any place to lay His head.’ 59 Then He said to another, ‘Follow Me.’ And he said, ‘Lord, allow me first to go and bury my father.’ 60 But Jesus said to him, ‘Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.’ 61 And another also said, ‘I will follow You, Lord, but allow me first to bid farewell to those who are at my house.’ 62 But Jesus said to him, ‘No one who sets his hands to the plow, and looks back at the things behind, is fit for the kingdom of God.’"
John 14:11-24 "‘Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; but if not, believe Me because of the works themselves. 12 Truly, truly I say to you, the one who believes in Me shall also do the works that I do; and greater works than these shall he do because I am going to the Father. 13. And whatever you shall ask in My name, this will I do that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. 15 If you love Me, keep the commandments—namely, My commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that it may be with you throughout the age: 17 Even the Spirit of the truth, which the world cannot receive because it perceives it not, nor knows it; but you know it because it dwells with you, and shall be within you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world shall see Me no longer; but you shall see Me. Because I live, you shall live also. 20 In that day, you shall know that I am in My Father, and you are in Me, and I am in you. 21 The one who has My commandments and is keeping them, that is the one who loves Me; and the one who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will manifest Myself to him.’ 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, ‘Lord, what has happened that You are about to manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?’ 23 Jesus answered and said to him, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. 24 The one who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word that you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s, Who sent Me.’"
John 15:9-12 "As the Father has loved Me, I also have loved you; live in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you shall live in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and live in His love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, in order that My joy may dwell in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 This is My commandment: that you love one another, as I have loved you."
Revelation 12:9 "And the great dragon was cast out, the ancient serpent who is called the Devil and Satan, who is deceiving the whole world; he was cast down to the earth, and his angels were cast down with him."
2 Corinthians 4:3-4 "But if our gospel is hidden, it is hidden to those who are perishing; 4 In whom the god of this age has blinded the minds of those who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, Who is the image of God, should shine unto them."
2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 "Now we beseech you, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, 2 That you not be quickly shaken in mind, nor be troubled—neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by epistle, as if from us, saying that the day of Christ is present. 3 Do not let anyone deceive you by any means because that day will not come unless the apostasy shall come first, and the man of sin shall be revealed—the son of perdition, 4 The one who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is an object of worship; so that he comes into the temple of God and sits down as God, proclaiming that he himself is God. 5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you, I told you these things? 6 And now you understand what is holding him back in order for him to be revealed in his own set time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already working; only there is one Who is restraining at the present time until it arises out of the midst. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed (whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth, and will destroy with the brightness of His coming); 9 Even the one whose coming is according to the inner working of Satan, with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in those who are perishing because they did not receive the love of the truth, so that they might be saved. 11 And for this cause, God will send upon them a powerful deception that will cause them to believe the lie, 12 So that all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but who took pleasure in unrighteousness."
John 6:44 "No one can come to Me unless the Father, Who sent Me, draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day." [Are you being called to Jesus?]
Matthew 20:16 "So the last shall be first, and the first shall be last; for many are called, but few are chosen." [Will you be approved righteous and chosen by Jesus?]
John 15:18-19 "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. However, because you are not of the world, but I have personally chosen you out of the world, the world hates you for this." [Are you willing to be persecuted for righteous sake?]
John 14:6 "Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me.’"
John 4:24 "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth."
Romans 12:1-2 "I exhort you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and well pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service. 2 Do not conform yourselves to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind in order that you may prove what is well pleasing and good, and the perfect will of God."
2 Corinthians 6:14 "Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and lawlessness have in common? And what fellowship does light have with darkness?" [Do you trust unbelievers or do you trust Jesus and His Father?]
Micah 2:1 "Woe to those who plot wickedness and prepare evil on their beds!…"
Micah 3:2-3 "You who hate the good and love the evil; who tear the skin off My people and strip the flesh from their bones; 3 Who also eat the flesh of My people, …"
Baptism Explained in Detail:
It is necessary to Receive the Holy Spirit and Understanding
Baptism is a ceremony that represents an outward representation of a person internal acknowledgement and willingness to accept Jesus’ atoning blood to wash away the penalty of our sins. It is a physical act that shows that we acknowledge our sinful nature and are willing to confess and willing to change our inward nature and outward actions to follow the precepts and commands of Jesus with the aid of the Holy Spirit to serve our Righteous Father in Heaven. Baptism is said to represent the death of the person (Romans 6:3-5), the union of that person with Christ (Galatians 3:27), the cleansing of that person's sins (Acts 22:16), the identification with the one "baptized into" as when the Israelites were baptized into Moses (1 Corinthians 10:2), and being united in one church, the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). Also, baptism is one of the signs and seals of the New Dispensation of Grace that was instituted by Jesus. Ekklesia Church of God consists of New Covenant Saints who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. (Revelation 14:12). They are called out of this age and drawn to Jesus by God the Father (John 6:44). At baptism, you do not "join a church," you become a spiritual member of the body of Christ; you are a member of the spiritual body of New Covenant Saints!
Grace is unearned pardon:
Grace an offer from God to Mankind wherein God promises mankind eternal life based on mankind’s response. It is based upon the conditional response to our faith in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for our sins. This is coupled with rewards according to works. As the Lord’s Supper replaced Passover, baptism, in like manner, replaces circumcision. "The Supper and baptism represent the same spiritual blessings formerly symbolized by Passover and circumcision in the old dispensation." When believe and take action to accept Jesus as our Savior we receive grace as a free gift from God. We have taken the internal decision, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, to live in a newness of life, seeking to "go and sin no more," as Christ directed. The New Testament teaches baptism as the process whereby we may show an outward sign of our desire to obey, serve, and become part of the God family.
Infants and children do not need to be baptized until age of accountability, usually about age 12-15. In ancient times infants were entered into a covenant relationship with God by circumcision -- instituted through their parents’ actions. An important question is how is it possible for an infant to be entered into a covenant with God. There could be a lot of different answers given but the point remains: it was done; also those who left Egypt were all baptized in the Red Sea. Parents were instructed to teach children the significance of God’s way and laws.
In baptism no blood is shed and it replaces the Old Testament circumcision because there was a New Covenant given with new symbols explained by Christ as He instituted the Lord’s Supper (Luke 22:20). Circumcision involved the shedding of blood, but no more blood is shed because the blood of Christ has been shed once for all: ("…after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God" Hebrews 10:12); and circumcision along with other now ceased works of the sacrificial and temple laws are no longer applicable today: ("…Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin you would not, neither had pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; Then He said, Lo, I come to do Your will, O God. He took away the first covenant, that He may establish the second covenant." Hebrews 10:8-9).
[If you understand that baptism is a covenant sign, then you can see that it is a representation of the reality of Christ circumcising our hearts (Romans 2:29; Colossians 2:11-12). It is our outward proclamation of the inward spiritual blessing of regeneration. It comes after faith and forgiveness which is a gift of God (Romans 12:3) and the work of God (John 6:28).]
(John 3:5) "Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he or she is born of water and the Spirit.'"
(Acts 2:38) "Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.‘"
(1 Pet. 3:21) "and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also -- not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ."
(Acts 22:16) "And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on His name."
(Romans 6:4) "We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life."
(Titus 3:5) "He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing, rebirth, and the renewal by the Holy Spirit."
[The washing of rebirth can only be that washing of the blood of Christ that cleanses us. It is not the symbol that saves, but the reality. The reality is the blood of Christ and the changed way of living life.]
Gal. 3:27, "for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ."
The verses below summarize the three prerequisites for baptism: knowledge, belief, and action.
"Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them...Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you…" (Matthew 28:19-20).
"He that believes and is baptized shall be saved…" (Mark 16:16). [We are warned in:] (James 2:19-20) "You believe that there is one God; you do well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But will you know, O vain person, that faith without works is dead?" [We are further admonished to obey and work out our own salvation in:] (Philippians 2:12) "Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. "…if you will enter into life, keep the commandments." (Matthew 19:17).
"…Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…" (Acts 2:38).
Obviously, before being baptized, you need to believe in God. More than that, you need to believe what Jesus did for you with His life and death. You need to accept as true that Jesus lived a perfect life, then suffered, bled, and died to pay the penalty of sin for you. Baptism is your public confession to the world that Jesus is now Lord of your life. It is also symbolic of you following Jesus in His death, burial, and resurrection.
"Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin" (Romans 6:4-6).
Repentance is the turning away from sin. Before baptism, you need to confess your sins and turn away from them. It is a conscious choice to put your past behind you and with God’s Holy Spirit received at baptism you can start a new life walking with the power of God in you. Baptism is an outward sign of your willingness to begin worshiping God in spirit and truth.
After Baptism – Then What?
Once you are baptized does not insure nor guarantee the attainment of eternal life: "But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway." (1 Corinthians 9:27)
[After baptism and having hands laid upon the repentant person; they shall receive the Holy Spirit and then they can develop the fruit of God’s Holy Spirit:] (Galatians 5:22-25 ~CEV) "God's Spirit makes us loving, happy, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled. There is no law against behaving in any of these ways. And because we belong to Christ Jesus, we have killed our selfish feelings and lustful desires. God's Spirit has given us life, and so we should follow the Spirit as we walk in a newness of godly life.
A person is begotten into the family of God through baptism (1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:26-27), he or she is a part of the church, the household of God (1 Timothy 3:15; Ephesians 2:19-22). The New Covenant Saint thus has access to all of the spiritual benefits of the "in Christ" relationship (Ephesians 1:3). As a son or daughter of God, within that sacred environment, the New Covenant Saint petitions the heavenly Father for his or her personal needs by means of prayer (see Acts 8:22, 24; James 5:16), including forgiveness for sins as a child who did err (1 John 1:8; 2:1).
[God warns us to:] (1 Corinthians 6:18-20) "Flee fornication [both physical and spiritual]. Every sin that a man does is without the body; but he that commits fornication sins against his own body. What? know you not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which you have of God, and you are not your own? For you are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.
(1 Thessalonians 4:3-4, 7-8) "For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that you should abstain from fornication [avoid both sexual and religious immorality (adultery)]: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor;…For God has not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. He therefore that despises, despises not man, but God, who has also given unto us His Holy Spirit."
[As you walk in a newness of live, you must avoid wrong conduct:] (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 CEV) "Don't you know that evil people won't have a share in the blessings of God's kingdom? Don't fool yourselves! No one who is immoral or worships idols or is unfaithful in marriage or is a pervert or behaves like a homosexual will share in God's kingdom. Neither will any thief or greedy person or drunkard or anyone who curses and cheats others. Some of you used to be like that. But now the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and the power of God's Spirit have washed you and made you holy and acceptable to God."
(1 Thessalonians 4:8 CEV) "So if you don't obey these rules, you are not really disobeying us. You are disobeying God, who gives you His Holy Spirit."
"Pray without ceasing." (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
"I beg you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (2) And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." (Romans 12:1-2)
"Prove all things; hold fast (don’t let go of) that which is good." (1 Thessalonians 5:21)
[Therefore:] "Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing (understanding) the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babbling: for they will increase unto more ungodliness." (2 Timothy 2:15-16)
"And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come." (Matthew 24:11-14)
Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which you have, so no man takes your crown. (Revelation 3:11) ["Once saved, always saved" is a false doctrine and thus a lie.]
"These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man (person) despise you." [After baptism, expect to receive correction, persecution, and trials:] (Titus 2:15; See also 2 Timothy 3:12 and 1 Peter 1:7).
(2 Timothy 4:1-5) "I charge you therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch you in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of your ministry."
And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers (witches), and whoremongers (immoral people), and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loves and makes a lie. (Revelation 22:12-15)
Baptismal Qualifications Clarified
Unfortunately, there are many sects in today’s world of "Christendom" that practice a "form of baptism," but one that is contaminated by the accompaniment of a variety of doctrinal errors that invalidate the process. It is the case, therefore, that many who have been administered what was called "baptism," need to submit to the ordinance again — this time with a more accurate understanding that precedes the event.
Some situations in which "re-baptism" is warranted:
Another vain tradition is "baptizing" babies! If one was "baptized" as an infant, thus they were lacking personal faith (Mark 16:16; Acts 11:21), he or she should repudiate the meaningless earlier rite, in which they had no decision-making power (even though the parents were sincere in subjecting the baby to the procedure). He or she, as an adult, in genuine faith, should submit to the command in the proper way. Infants have neither the need nor the ability to respond to the gospel of Christ.
As far as age is concerned, few children are ready for baptism at 9 or 10 years of age, Most may no be not ready until 12 or 13. No age level is specified in the Bible, because children have different levels of experience and understanding. Some are ready for baptism earlier than others. It is not something to be taken lightly. It is an agreement to a covenant commitment.
Sprinkling is not baptism:
Being sprinkled with water, or having water poured upon the head, is no baptism at all, and such substitutes are not based on doctrine of the New Testament. They are inventions and traditions of false teachers. If one was "baptized" in some fashion which actually expresses a contradictory concept other than by immersion then they should yield to the proper form; since "baptize" means "immerse."
True baptism pictures the burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The sinner is buried in (immersed under water), and raised from water (Romans 6:3-4; Colossians 2:12), just as the Lord was buried, and then raised from the dead. True baptism validates one’s faith in the death and resurrection events.
True repentance must precede baptism:
If one was "baptized" without being accompanied by genuine repentance, such a procedure was and is ineffectual and vain. It has been said that a man who emerged from a baptismal pool, turned to his wife, and said: "I hope you’re satisfied!" Don’t be baptized to please others. No "baptism" which lacks the proper motive (and other prerequisites) can have validity in God’s eyes as expressed in the New Testament scriptures.
Baptism without faith:
If one is "baptized" without a sound faith basis, this "ritual" would be of no avail. One might feel, for instance, that Jesus was a good man (perhaps even a "perfect man" — as an historic figure), but deny that Christ is the Son of God (i.e., deity), and yet, for various other reasons, desire baptism. No such baptism, grounded upon a spurious "faith" could be accounted as genuine.
Baptism without purpose:
If one has yielded to baptism for some purpose other than that which is supplied by inspired teaching, they, in reality, have not obeyed the Lord. Baptism is never defined as "an outward sign of an inward grace"; it is not a mere representation of redemption for those already received.
"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 you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.’" (Acts 2:38-39)
Baptism is only for those households who God the Father may call as Jesus said: "No man can come to Me, except the Father which has sent Me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6:44)
The purpose of the act is "for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38), to have sins "washed away" (Acts 22:16), to put the candidate "into Christ" (Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:26-27), or into his "body" (1 Corinthians 12:13), at which point he is "saved" (Mark 16:16; 1 Peter 3:21). The common resistance to the biblical proposition, namely that baptism is preliminary to salvation, constitutes a bold rejection of the plain testimony of Scripture. One cannot be immersed "for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38), if he believes his sins have been remitted already.
Paul questions the nature of some earlier baptisms:
While on his third missionary campaign, the apostle Paul came to the city of Ephesus. There, he encountered twelve men who formerly had been baptized (with the type of baptism administered by John the Baptist). One might be inclined to conclude, therefore, that the apostle would have accepted these men as they were, and merely organized them into a church.
Such was not the case, however. After questioning them as to the nature of their earlier baptism, and determining that their pre-baptism instruction on the previous occasion had been lacking in essential particulars, Paul immersed these men into Christ (see Acts 19:1-6 below).
This case clearly demonstrates that in order for one’s baptism to be valid, accurate teaching must precede the process of being baptized. Otherwise it is but a meaningless exercise, and not based on faith (Romans 10:17).
Genuine baptism is needed only one time in a person’s life. Once a person has been baptized, according to the full complement of scriptural instructions, he or she never has the need to repeat this "new birth" process (John 3:3-5).
A person’s soul is too valuable, the plan is too simple, and the remedy too easy to access, for a person to "gamble," hoping that a former "baptism" will be alright — in spite of the deficiencies associated therewith. If there is any question in one’s mind regarding a previous "baptism," they should be safe and do it right. An example follows.
Have an Anointing to Receive the Holy Spirit:
Acts 19:1–6 "And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples (2) he said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’
So they said to him, ‘We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.’
(3) And he said to them, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’
So they said, ‘Into John’s baptism.’
(4) Then Paul said, ‘John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.’
(5) When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
(6) And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them…"
Ask to Receive the Holy Spirit and Understanding
Baptism: Ask and Receive
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