Repent and be Baptized

Man, Baptism, Faith, Religion, Symbol

This is one of the most argued about doctrines in Christendom. Is Baptism immersion? Is it sprinkling? Can it be done to infants? Does it save you? I grew up in a movement that said baptism was only for believers and you had to do it to be saved. Their case and point verses are Acts 2:38 and 1 Peter 3:21. The main reason that there are so many arguments about baptism is the verses that talk about them are not as clear as one expects at first glance. They need to be looked at as a whole to get a better understanding of the doctrine of baptism.

This is called systematic theology. Hermeneutics plays a key role in gaining a well developed systematic theology. The verses that support the doctrine need to be understood in their grammatical and historical contexts.

So in the book of Acts, Luke wrote to Theophilus to show him what the Holy Spirit did through the apostles to make disciples starting in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the Earth. The surrounding context of the passage is a sermon from Peter to explain why people of different languages were hearing the gospel miraculously in their own languages. The people were cut to the heart that they had crucified their promised Messiah and that He had raised from the dead. They wanted to know what they had to do to be saved from His wrath. Then Peter said, “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.” (ESV). Here are some important things to realize in this verse.

  1. The word repent means to turn/change one’s mind/heart that results in a change of living. It is in the aorist tense. So it is a one time act that has affects in the future
  2. Repent is in the aorist active imperative 2nd person and be baptized is in the passive tense. That means that the repentance was the action they needed to do. Be baptized is what they need to do in light of their repentance. So repentance is the primary action that is salvific, baptism is the secondary action it is not salvific. But baptism does need to be done by the repentant believer.
  3. The word “Eis” in the Greek can mean into, for, in, or because of. In this case it is translated “for”, but should be translated “because of”. They needed to repent and be baptized because Jesus has already given them forgiveness of sins on the cross.

To conclude this verse. What saves people is the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Repentance is the primary action people must do in response to this. Baptism is the secondary response. Baptism flows from repentance. This makes sense in light of other passages that show we are saved by grace through faith. Repentance is the other side of the coin of faith. Baptism, the work, demonstrates that we have that faith/repentance. So yes people need to be baptized because of repentance, but, not to save them. It just shows that repentant believers are saved.

So what do we do with the 1 Peter 3:21, “Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” (ESV) Well this verse would make more sense if we translated “baptism” into “immersion”. We are immersed into the body of Christ when we have repentant faith in Jesus Christ. Peter says he is not talking about the washing ritual Christians do to show we are saved when he says, “not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience”.

Yes baptism means immersion. Yes believers should be baptized. No the physical baptism does not save us. Repentant faith in the LORD Jesus Christ is the primary response to salvation. We are saved by the Death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ when he atoned for our sin.

I hope that this has blessed you. Please feel free to comment in the comment section. Please no cursing for pornography. Also feel free to share this post to your friends who need it, or like it. If you want to contact me, you can contact me at josiah.rob.nichols@gmail.com with any question you want. Also please feel free to look at the resource page to look at The Using Hermeneutics Series. Lord bless you.

Message of Hope and Comfort

“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1 John 1:5-2:2

Hands, Open, Candle, Candlelight, Prayer

Sin. I hate that word. I hate that I am a sinner and that I sin. I battle and struggle against it every day. I am not the shining light that I think that I am. I fall and give into sin more than I know I do. Sometimes I wonder how God being the perfect shining light that He is, can love me even though I am a wretched sinner. I have broken His laws and I deserve the wrath of God. I know that left to myself I would do nothing but sin and revel in it. Oh, how I hate what my Lord hates. Sin often makes me cry. I often ask what can I do. Maybe you are like me. You hate that you are a sinner. Maybe you wonder that you are even saved.

The book of 1 John was written to answer your question if you are saved. 1 John is one of the three epistles written by John. An epistle is just a fancy word for a letter. The Holy Spirit moved John to write three letters to different churches to 1. Remind them of the gospel, 2. Encourage them in the faith, 3. to strengthen them against heresy, 4. to solve personal matters these specific churches were dealing with. When interpreting an epistle we need to remember:

  1. The author that is writing the epistle, John.
  2. The audience they are writing to, a church.
  3. The reason for writing, to assure believers of their salvation.

When we keep these things in mind, we will be able to interpret the letter clearly. We also need to look at the surrounding context of the passage we are studying before we dive in to the passage. John starts out the passage with his credibility as a witness of Jesus Christ and the eternal life that He brings. Then he says that he wrote those thigs to make the reader’s “joy complete”.

Then he transitions into proclaiming the Gospel message. First point is that God is perfect, “that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1Jn 1:5). God is holy and without sin. Some of the best preachers I know say they start their gospel presentation with the terrifying bad news, “God is good and we are not.” If we want to have fellowship with Him, we must walk in the “light.” We must live in His goodness and revealed truth. If we do that through Jesus Christ, we are “cleansed from all sim”. That is awesome.

Since in Him there is no darkness at all. He cannot fellowship with darkness. Yet the passage also says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Here is where we came from in the beginning. We are horrible wretched sinners and we cannot get rid of our own sin. We cannot have fellowship with God on our own even with a little bit of Jesus help. We cannot work our way to heaven. Like George Whitefield said, “Works, Works, a man can get to heaven by works. I would sooner try to climb to the moon with a rope of sand.”

Here is the beauty of the passage, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The verb confess is in the present active subjunctive first person. It means to continually and presently confess our sin to God. This is repentance, we turn from saying we are not sinners, to agreeing we are sinners, and stop trying to live in sin, but live in the revealed truth of God and of Jesus Christ. That is a mouthful there and a big concept to get around but it is like walking. You get closer to your destination with every step you take.

You might ask yourself what if I screw up again. Well, you cannot work your way to heaven. If fact, if you try to do this without the grace of Jesus you will fail again often. What do you do if you fall of the horse? You get back on again. That is why he wrote this so that we do not sin. He continues on to say, “But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”(1 Jn. 2:1b). Jesus has our back. He will still hold us up. He will still cleanse us. He will always keep us in perfect relationship with God the Father. After all, we are helpless without him.

How does he do that? He has once for all paid the debt for all of our sin. “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” Propitiation means a blood sacrifice that appeases wrath. He once for all, through his sacrifice on the cross, satisfied the righteous wrath of God for all of our sin. This is available to anyone in the world through repentance and faith.

Do you hate your sin? God hates it more. He hates your sin so much that you deserve to spend an eternity in Hell under the holy wrath of God. He is light and in Him there is no darkness at all. He has provided you shelter from His wrath in Jesus propitiation on the cross. Walk in the shelter of His grace, love, and peace. Daily confess your sin, repent of your sin, and trust in Jesus. Then you will be a light to others in this dark horrible world. Jesus has covered your lying, thieving, blasphemous, adulterous heart by the blood sacrifice on the cross, and cleansed your every sin. Love and trust the savior.

I hope that this has blessed you. Please feel free to comment in the comment section. Please no cursing for pornography. Also feel free to share this post to your friends who need it, or like it. If you want to contact me, you can contact me at josiah.rob.nichols@gmail.com with any question you want. Also please feel free to look at the resource page to look at The Using Hermeneutics Series. Lord bless you.

Original Black Friday

Cross, Christ, Faith, God, Jesus, Clouds

“Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.’ Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, ‘Certainly this man was innocent!’” Luke 23:46-47

“And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God!'” Mark 15:39

Yesterday was the celebrated Good Friday. Many people get off of work to spend time with their families. They go to Good Friday services with their families. They have communion with their families and hear a great message about how Christ Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin. All this is true. Yet to the disciples and the people surrounding this event it could be considered an ugly Friday or an unusual Passover day. Except for an unusual bystander.

The events surrounding the event are vividly described by the eye witnesses (the gospel writers). Jesus was speedily gaining animosity from the religious leaders by proving he was the Messiah. Jesus held his last Passover with the disciples. Jesus was betrayed by Judas Iscariot. Jesus was falsely and illegally tried by the religious leaders. Then he was declared innocent by Pilate 7 times. Then he was crucified anyway because of the mob/crowd. In the meantime, the people were celebrating the Passover, the leaders were mocking Jesus, the criminals were mocking Jesus, the disciples except John were hiding, and the soldiers were having fun with the crucifixion victims and Jesus’ clothing.

Then it went dark. From the 6th (12pm) hour to the 9th hour (3pm) it went dark. That is why it is the original black Friday by contemporary preachers. The judgement of God was coming down on Jesus for bearing our sin. Luke records one criminal continued to mock while the other asked Jesus to forgive Him, and Jesus declared he would be with him in “paradise” that day. Then Jesus gave up His Spirit and died.

When Jesus died several things happened. The earth quaked, the temple curtain was torn in two, and dead people came out of their tombs. It was so violent people were obviously scared. The soldiers could obviously tell He was dead. Perhaps from all of these events the Centurion could tell He was innocent and the Son of God. Luke said,
“Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, ‘Certainly this man was innocent!'” (Luke 23:47).

The thing to remember when interpreting historical narrative is that each biography was written to prove a point so each event might not be chronological. The key is remembering each point when interpreting the story. Matthew was writing about Jesus being the King of the Jews. Matthew’s point in showing the soldier’s testimony that Jesus really is the King of the Jews, the long awaited Messiah, the Son of God. Mark was showing that Jesus is the suffering servant of the LORD aka the Son of God. One of his theological themes was the silence of the disciples and the only testimony of Jesus was from demons and this soldier. Luke was writing to give a “full account” of Jesus’ ministry. So the centurion saying that Jesus was innocent was one of the many things that he probably said during the incident. Of course Jesus being innocent of the crime of blasphemy of claiming to be the Son of God would include the idea of him actually being the Son of God. John wrote His gospel so that people might believe and be saved and to prove that Jesus is God. He also wrote his gospel after the three synoptics (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). So he decided to point to the soldiers testifying to his death by plunging a spear in his side with blood and water coming out and not breaking his legs. He decided not to write about the Centurion’s testimony.

What can we learn by the testimony of the centurion? The events surrounded Jesus’ death proved he was the Son of God and He was innocent. He was the perfect sacrificial lamb who died in our place. You and I are guilty of breaking the Law of God. We are lying, thieving, blasphemous, adulterous, idolaters at heart. We are so evil we deserve to go to Hell. Yet Jesus the perfect sacrifice, paid our fine. If we repent of our sin and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, we will be saved. We know that we have a newness of life because Jesus Christ rose from the dead and proved he was the Son of God three days later. If we repent of our sins and trust in Christ, we can also testify to Jesus being the Son of God and our innocent, perfect ransom from sin. Let us testify like the centurion of the Black Friday and the Lord’s day of Jesus being the Son of God.

I hope that this has blessed you. Please feel free to comment in the comment section. Please no cursing for pornography. Also feel free to share this post to your friends who need it, or like it. If you want to contact me, you can contact me at josiah.rob.nichols@gmail.com with any question you want. Also please feel free to look at the resource page to look at The Using Hermeneutics Series. Lord bless you.

Using Hermeneutics

Tools, Hammer, Nail, Nails, Drill, Nut

A tool is neither good nor bad. It cannot do good things on its own. It cannot do bad things on its own. It is inanimate until a person picks it up and uses it. The hermeneutical process is a tool. It is a great tool in helping you determine the original intent of the author. When you look at the content and context of a passage, you get a good grasp on its intended meaning. This can generate a lot of good when used on the Bible. The Bible was intended to teach God’s people about Him and His will. The Bible as a whole reveals God’s redemptive plan for all of history. It does reveal proper theology. It reveals a lot of truth that benefits man greatly. The biggest question is “Can the process of interpretation be used for bad things?” The answer of course is yes.

The hermeneutical process is:

  1. Observe the Text.
  2. Discover the differences between the original and contemporary audiences.
  3. Draw principles from the passage.
  4. See if principles carry over to today.
  5. Apply the principles.

It is pretty obvious how to use this for good. How can we use this for evil?

  1. When we use Bible passages that are correctly interpreted to hurt other people instead of help them, we use it for evil.
  2. When we do not pass on the Bible teachings to others, we use it for evil.
  3. When we use the Bible to fill us up with pride, we use if for evil.
  4. When we know the truth of the scriptures and do not apply them, we use it for evil.

You can have correct theology and know all the right things, but if you do not act on it, you are no different than demons. “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!” (James 2:19 ESV). We must use hermeneutics for good for the glory of God.

I hope that this has blessed you. Please feel free to comment in the comment section, share this post to your friends who need it, or like it. If you want to contact me, you can contact me at josiah.rob.nichols@gmail.com with any question you want. Also please feel free to look at the resource page to look at The Using Hermeneutics Series. Lord bless you.

Words Matter

“I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak,  for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:36-37 ESV

The context of this verse is astounding. Jesus had just healed a blind man. Wow! Jesus just willed for the man to be healed and he could see. This was not the first time that Jesus did the impossible. Jesus healed the sick, cast out demons, gave sight to the blind, made the deaf hear, the mute speak, restore a man’s limb, and confounded the wise. Yet in spite of all of this amazing evidence that He is Israel’s long awaited Messiah, the leading Jews refused to believe. Instead, the religious leaders said that he did this by the power of demons. The hatred in their hearts only festered. They not only did not want to believe in Jesus, they did not want anyone to believe in Him. Jesus’ response shows the absurdity of their statement in Matthew 12.

  1. Demons can’t cast out other demons, Only God can (Matthew 12:25-32).
  2. Good works come from good people. Bad works come from bad people (12:33-37).

It is from this last argument that we get our verse. Jesus did plenty of good works and only said what was right. The religious leaders on the other hand, oppressed the poor, widows, sick, and week. They also did not want people to believe in Jesus so they would lose their power. It is no wonder why Jesus called them a “brood of vipers” (12:34). What the religious leaders said came out of their own natures. They were evil and their words were enough to condemn them.

This principle can be brought into our day and age. If the religious leaders in Jesus day were condemned by their words, how much more us. Cursing has become everyday language for adults, teens, and even children. People use the Lord’s name in vain without thinking of it. They carelessly use God’s holy name as a filthy word. They also do this to Jesus’ name. In the factory where I work, I cannot go one minute without someone either using profanity or dragging God’s name through the mud.

If out of our mouths comes what is in our heart, then almost everyone hates God and everyone else in the world. God is not going to hold us guiltless. He is coming to judge every one of us and the words we speak. We justly deserve to go to Hell and we can do nothing to appease His wrath. Thankfully God sent Jesus, who was fully God and fully man, to live a perfect life, die on the cross to pay our fine, and rise from the dead to give us new life. If you turn from your sin to God in repentance and trust in what Jesus did on the cross, you will be saved. God will change your heart of cursing to a heart of praise. God will give you the Holy Spirit to assure you of your salvation and change your heart. Please Come to Him today.

I hope that this has blessed you. Please feel free to comment in the comment section, share this post to your friends who need it, or like it. If you want to contact me, you can contact me at josiah.rob.nichols@gmail.com with any question you want. Also please feel free to look at the resource page to look at The Using Hermeneutics Series. Lord bless you.

Reading the Bible in a Lifetime

Photo of Child Reading Holy Bible

Maybe you heard of reading the entire Bible in a year, the 90 program, or some other Bible reading program. I once read the Bible in 66 days. I was single and I devoted about four hrs. a day into reading through an entire book. It helped me see a lot of connections between the scriptures that I never saw before. One dear lady in our church has read the entire Bible 33 times for 33 years. She is a great witness for the Word of God. I read somewhere that broke it down how long it takes to read each book of the Bible and how long it took to read it as a whole. Psalms was 4 hrs. long. Jeremiah and Isaiah were the longest being 4 1/2 hrs. long. In total it takes about 72 hrs. of uninterrupted reading to read through the Bible.

With all of that said, most people don’t read it or don’t read it regularly. That breaks my heart. There are plenty of reasons why people don’t read the Bible.

  1. The person is unsaved and doesn’t want to read the Bible.
  2. The person has too many interests to read the Bible. (If that is your case, you need to repent and start reading.)
  3. The person has no time management. (Read the Bible in your free time.)
  4. The person is afraid to read the Bible because they don’t want to misinterpret it.

The last reason is why I love studying the subject of hermeneutics, the science and art of interpreting literature. If you regularly read the Bible and are saved, you will begin to understand it as you submit yourself to its teachings. If you read the Bible like a little child, it will open itself up to you. Once you get started, it is a joy and a wonder to read. Keep in mind you need to read it in its literal grammatical/historical context. You read it keeping in mind what the author is writing, who he is writing to, the circumstances for why he wrote it, the theme, and reading the sentences and paragraphs carefully. The great thing is these things will just open themselves up to you as you carefully read God’s Word.

There are two types of Bible reading: 1. Reading it to know that is in it, 2. Reading it to know it. Most people don’t differentiate between these two types of Bible reading. Reading it to know what is in it doesn’t take long. You can read through an average chapter in the Bible in 5 minutes. In 40 minutes I usually read through 8 chapters. I typically know what each chapter is about when I am done, but no more than that. Reading it to know it takes much longer. I can spend hours, days, and weeks pouring into a passage and still find more truth and application the passage is presenting. The old Christians would sleep 4-6hrs a day and spend 12hrs reading the Bible to plumb its depths.

I know plenty of people who have learning disabilities and have to read the Bible slower. They often feel discouraged that they can’t read as fast as other people can. That is ok. Maybe they can’t read through the Bible in a year, or if they do they will have to put more work into it. That is fine. The key is reading the Bible to know it. You need to let it affect your life. Think through what you are reading. Then build your life on it. The goal is reading the Bible in a lifetime to prepare for God’s Kingdom. Then we need to share it with others so they can enter into God’s kingdom too. We don’t need to just listen to Jesus’ teaching we need to follow it as well.

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” Matthew 7:23-27 ESV

The Bible is so simple a child can read it and so deep a Theologian could spend hours in it and just scratch the surface.

I hope this has blessed you. Please feel free to comment in the comment section. Please no profanity or pornography. Please also feel free to look at the resource section for my book series on how to study the Bible. Lord bless you.

Confusion on Interpretation

Dortmund Hbf, Regional Train

Have you ever been asked, “Why are there so many interpretations if your interpretation is the right one?” Usually this question is asked to me as a trump card more than a question. It usually has to do with the Bible. The argument follows: a. Your claim that interpreting the Bible literally in it’s historical and grammatical contexts is the right way to interpret, b. There are a lot of different ways people interpret the Bible, c. Therefore your claim that the right way to interpret the Bible as literal is wrong. This is known as the bandwagon fallacy. Since everybody else interprets the Bible different ways, your claim that yours ins the right one is wrong. This argument makes a lot of assumptions.

  1. Truth is determined by the majority. This is again bandwagon fallacy. Truth is determined by reality, not popular opinion.
  2. Truth is relative so your saying there is only one truth is wrong. This logical fallacy is known as begging the question. The argument assumes truth is relative without giving an argument for why truth is relative. It is also contradictory as if truth is relative, then my assortation that truth is not relative is still true.
  3. The Bible is not clear. This is a straw man argument. The argument sets the Bible up as something that is obscure, then pushes it down by saying many people interpret it differently. If anyone has read the Bible, they can know this is not the case.

The thing that I want to ask that person is, do you want me to apply that same logic to you? Since truth can be interpreted any way I want to, I believe you just said you want to give me a thousand dollars. In fact, I believe you told me you wanted me to take you to your bank so you can give me a thousand dollars. Obviously he wants me to interpret him literally in the context of our conversation.

That still brings up the question. Why do people interpret the Bible differently? There are a few different reasons why.

  1. Some people interpret the Bible differently than the literal interpretation because they do not know how to interpret the literature. The Bible has different genres that require different rules of interpretation. You don’t interpret the gospels the same as you do the book of Revelation. They are two dramatically different genres.
  2. Some people are taught to spiritualize or allegorize the text to get the deeper meaning of the passage. They miss the plain understanding of the passage to get a more spiritual understanding, even if it is clear that the author does not intend the passage to be interpreted this way.
  3. Some people do not want the Bible to be true. So they interpret it to mean something it doesn’t mean in order to tear it down. Again straw man fallacy.
  4. Some people just do not have enough information to make a correct interpretation of the passage. They do not know the author, context, situation, geography, history, or etc. and that leads to misinterpreting the text.

None of these reasons are legitimate reasons for interpreting the Bible differently from what the author intended. They are just reasons why misinterpretation happens. If we follow the rules of reading the Bible in its historical and grammatical context, we will get the right interpretation of the passage. If we let the clear passages of scripture help us understand the more complex passages, and submit ourselves to the teaching, we will be blessed by God. Just think if the engineer in the train decided to follow whatever path he wanted instead of following the rules of the railroad. He would be headed for great disaster. Let’s follow God’s plan in interpreting the scriptures and stay away from all of those dangerous misinterpretation paths.

I hope this has blessed you. Please feel free to comment in the comment section. Please no profanity or pornography. Please also feel free to look at the resource section for my book series on how to study the Bible. Lord bless you.