A monthly publication by the Klang Church of Christ, containing articles written by bro. Roger D. Campbell, to help educate, edify, encourage and equip the saints of God.


I S S U E   N U M B E R :


              July 2012



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ARE THERE ANY CASES WHEN ONE WOULD NEED TO BE BAPTIZED AGAIN?


We often encounter and study the Bible with people from a denominational background. When we show them biblical passages that show water baptism as a requirement for salvation, some tell us that they have already been baptized, and they do not want to do it again (or maybe they honestly do not see/feel the need to be baptized “a second time”).

“It would not be proper to be baptized more than once, because the Bible says that there is only one baptism.” The biblical reference to “one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5) does not refer to the frequency of being baptized, but rather to the type/kind of baptism that was in effect when Paul wrote that epistle. While the Bible mentions several different types of baptism, the “one baptism” is water baptism – the baptism of Jesus’ “Great Commission,” the baptism that will be in effect until the end of the age/world.

“I have never read anywhere in the Bible about anybody being baptized more than once.” In fact, there is an example of such in Acts 19. A group of men, about twelve in number, had been baptized before they met the apostle Paul (19:3). They had been baptized “into John’s baptism” (19:4). After meeting Paul and hearing his message, they were immersed again, this time being “baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19:5). Why would they choose to make a second trip to the water? Evidently they had received John’s baptism after Jesus gave instruction about baptism in His Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15,16); John’s baptism was not valid for anyone who received it after Jesus gave that commission.

All of this causes us to wonder, in modern times, under what circumstances would a person need to be “baptized” again? We have no right to try and bind commands that God has not given, but at the same time, we must not remove any requirements that He has made, either. Any action which men label as “baptism” but does not harmonize with the teaching of Jesus’ new covenant is not a valid “baptism.” Consider the following scenarios.

“I was baptized when I was a baby.” In truth, babies are not proper candidates for baptism. Why? Because they have no sins to be forgiven and cannot receive the gospel message (Acts 2:38,41). Baby “baptism” is not scriptural baptism.

“I was baptized with my friends when I was only fifteen years old. The minister sprinkled some water on our heads one at a time.” Regardless of one’s age, sprinkling is not scriptural baptism. In the Bible, water baptism is always an immersion – the Greek word “baptisma” means immersion or submersion.

“Our whole family was baptized the same day. I recall that I did not really want to be baptized, but I did it anyway because my parents said that it would look bad if I did not join them.” When we read the Book of Acts, we learn that those who were baptized in the first century were people who personally desired to be immersed – no one else made the decision for them or forced them into it (Acts 2:41; 8:35-39). Being baptized in order to please other humans makes the action invalid.

“I am sure that I was baptized after I was already saved.” With that mindset, a person obviously was not baptized in order to have his/her sins washed away (Acts 22:16). Many are immersed, yet not for the right purpose. Just as partaking of the Lord’s Supper is pleasing to God only when it is done for the proper purpose (in remembrance of Jesus), so one’s “baptism,” in order to meet God’s approval, must be for the right purpose. If a person was immersed, convinced prior to that action that he was already saved, then later learns the truth and wants to obey it, it will require another trip to the water.

“The only thing I know is that I was baptized in order to become a member of the _________ denomination.” Baptism that makes one a member of a man-made church/denomination is not Bible baptism. Joining a man-made church is not in harmony with God’s will. When the African eunuch was baptized, to what church did the Lord add him (Acts 8)? To His own church, not a denomination (Acts 2:47). What about Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9)? Same answer. No one about whom we read in the Book of Acts was baptized into a denomination of men. Let me add that there is no such thing as being baptized into a denomination, then later learning the truth about salvation and just praying for forgiveness – it is not possible to “transfer” membership into the Lord’s church through prayer.

If my “first baptism” was not in harmony with the Bible, then it never really counted in God’s sight. If I later was immersed a second time, and that second time I “got it right,” then only that second trip to the water counted as true, scriptural baptism.





“GIVE ME THIS MOUNTAIN”


Do you recall which Bible character spoke those words? One “faithful spy,” Caleb, said them to the other “faithful spy,” Joshua. In response, “Joshua blessed him, and gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh as an inheritance” (Joshua 14:13).

Though it is a bit lengthy, we will be benefitted by reading Joshua 14:6-12, as it sets the stage for Caleb saying, “Give me this mountain”:

       (6) . . . And Caleb . . . said to him: ‘You know the word which the LORD said
            to Moses the man of God concerning you and me in Kadesh Barnea.
       (7) I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from
            Kadesh Barnea to spy out the land, and I brought back word to him as it
            was in my heart.
       (8) Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the
            people melt, but I wholly followed the LORD my God.
       (9) So Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land where your foot has
            trodden shall be your inheritance and your children’s forever, because you
            have wholly followed the LORD my God.
       (10) And now, behold, the LORD has kept me alive, as He said, these forty-five
            years, ever since the LORD spoke this word to Moses while Israel wandered in
            the wilderness, and now, here I am this day, eighty-five years old.
       (11) As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as
            my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out
            and for coming in.
       (12) Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the LORD spoke in that day . . .

From this text, we get some insight into Caleb’s thinking and character. What do we see in him?

•  Caleb’s Heart – He reminded his friend Joshua of the word that was in his heart and which he shared with Moses after he returned from spying the land of Canaan (14:7). While ten faithless, spineless spies said that Israel could not overcome Canaan and its inhabitants, courageous Caleb charged, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it” (Numbers 13:30). Thank God for people today who, like Caleb, will not allow the wavering faith of others to lower their enthusiasm or cause them to stumble.

Caleb further showed his heart when he said, “. . . the LORD has kept me alive, as He said, these forty-five years” (Joshua 14:10). From spying the land at age 40 to approaching death at age 85, Caleb wisely gave credit to God, realizing that he owed him everything, as Paul said, “But by the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Corinthians 15:10).

Caleb’s mindset was, if he and God worked together, then they could get the job done – “If may be that the LORD will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the LORD said” (14:12).

Note one more thing about Caleb’s heart: he was willing to let Joshua have the spotlight while he served more or less in the background. They were co-faithful spies and they both set a wonderful example, but Joshua was the God-appointed leader who replaced Moses. Joshua got most of “the headlines,” but Caleb continued to serve, too.

•  Caleb’s Commitment – This is actually a demonstration of his heart and character, but we point to it separately because the Bible shows the high level of the man’s commitment. Why was Caleb rewarded with the city of Hebron? “Because he wholly followed the LORD God of Israel” (14:13). In fact, three times in this passage it is stated plainly that the son of Jephunneh followed God with his whole heart (14:8,9,14). That set him apart from the ten weak spies, whose report “made the heart of the people melt” (14:8). It is easy to see why God praised Caleb, saying, “But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him and has followed Me fully . . .” (Numbers 14:24). God’s man, Caleb, was willing to be different, and he was determined to do what was right, no matter what others did or said. Yes, that is what we call “commitment.” How committed was he to the Lord? “Wholly.” When you think about it, unless one is totally committed to God, then he is not really committed, is he? Our Lord wants us to love Him with our whole being (Mark 12:29,30) and forsake all for Him (Luke 14:33). Brothers and sisters how high is the level of our commitment to the Lord?

•  Caleb’s Enduring Service – He was faithful as a spy at age 40, and he was still going strong at age 85 (Joshua 14:10). He was not just alive at age 85; he was still laboring for the Lord then, too! We know that some “drop out” as time passes. Jesus said they “fall away” (Luke 8:13). Some stay in the Lord’s army, but are walking out of line, no longer submitting to the Lord’s instructions (Galatians 5:7). And, some semi-retire along the way, thinking that they have done their share of the work and so it is now time for someone else to do it. In fact, there is much for each child of God to do in the Kingdom, even those that have passed “the middle ages.” Do I need to remind you that Moses was 80 when he led Israel out of Egypt? Or that “young” Noah was 600 when he entered the ark which he built?

Through Moses, Jehovah had promised a land inheritance in Canaan for Caleb (Joshua 14:9). Caleb remembered God’s promise, valued it (it stayed in his heart for 45 years; 14:10), claimed it, and did his part to obtain its fulfillment (14:12).

Caleb was not perfect. No mere human ever is. But, it is clear that he had some admirable qualities that God’s people still should try and imitate today.




MAKING CHOICES


If I am a child of God, when I make my decisions in life, what should be my top priority? If I am considering an important choice, and if I write down a list of “plusses” and “minuses” for each option that I have available to me, should I count material benefits as most important, or should I give more weight to the spiritual side of the matters involved?

The Bible’s instruction on this topic is really quite clear. When it comes to material food and spiritual food, what did the Master say? “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of man will give you . . .” (John 6:27). The physical body cannot survive without physical food, but Jesus says that something is of greater value than food for the body – that would be the food which endures to eternal life, that is, spiritual food.

The Lord expects every member of His church to carry out the message of Colossians 3:1,2: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” So, while Christians are “in the world” but “not of the world” (John 17:11,14), in every phase of life and in every activity, we need to make our spiritual wellbeing our top priority.

In all honesty, most people are a whole lot more concerned about material matters and the temporary things of their temporary journey on earth than they are about their spiritual welfare. We expect that from people in the world, but sadly too often we see blood-bought people apparently giving little thought to the spiritual consequences of their decisions. For each choice in life, we ought to be asking ourselves, “How will this choice influence my relationship with the God of heaven?”

Lot, like his uncle Abraham, had an abundance of livestock. When Abraham told Lot to pick the area where he wanted to live, Lot chose the plain of Jordan. Why? Because “it was well watered” (Genesis 13:11), and Lot needed a lot of water for his animals. So, Lot “pitched his tent even as far as Sodom” (Genesis 13:12). Later he actually lived in that vile and corrupt city, and though he was a righteous man, the filth of that place tormented his heart on a daily basis (2 Peter 2:6-8).

From a purely earthly and material standpoint, Lot’s choosing the region of Sodom made perfect sense. It would be great for his livestock, and he would be able to prosper. But what about the spiritual side of life in Sodom? Lot made material things his priority, and he paid the price. He was miserable each day, his two daughters married men that scoffed at the message of Jehovah (Genesis 19:14), and he lost his wife when she “just had” to look back at Sodom after the Lord by His mercy delivered their family (19:17,26).

We also remember King David’s adulterous relationship with Bathsheba and its disastrous consequences. When David saw Bathsheba bathing, to his eyes “the woman was very beautiful to behold” (2 Samuel 11:2). She was another man’s wife, but, never mind, David wanted to sleep with her, so he did. Long before David’s time, Moses wisely and admirably chose not “to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:25). Not David; he chose physical pleasure over his spiritual wellbeing. Sleeping with a beautiful woman must have made David happy, “But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD” (2 Samuel 11:27).

Brothers and sisters, let us learn from the foolish choices of Lot and David – they looked at the physical benefits/pleasures of their options and failed to give proper consideration to the spiritual influence of what they undertook. You and I must examine things beyond their outward appearance and see how they will affect our service to the Lord.

When choosing a spouse, a Christian must look beyond outward, physical attraction and ask, “Will this person help me and our future children get to heaven?” “But she is so pretty!” Spiritual consideration comes first. Remember Lot and David.

When choosing where to receive an education, we need to ask, “Is there a faithful local church in which I can have an active part? If not, am I willing and capable of starting a new one?” Remember, spiritual must take priority over physical/material.

When choosing a job, the same questions ought to be of number one importance to each member of the Lord’s body: “How will this job affect my service to Jesus? Is there a faithful congregation there, and if not, am I ready to start a new one?” In connection with seeking employment, before taking a job a Christian should be ready to ask about and discuss his/her working hours and what would be expected of him/her (things like deceiving clients or drinking alcohol with customers). We have been dismayed to have some saints tell us after a job interview, “I am not sure if I will have to work on Sundays (and miss the services of the church) or not. I did not bring it up.” You did not ask?! If your heart is on things above, how can you not ask?!

Let us seriously weigh our choices in life. For both short-term and long-term choices, let us always put God and our service to Him first (Matthew 6:33). The Lord’s wonderful blessings await those who are willing to put and keep “first things first.”




Mark 8:36,37 – “WHAT WILL IT PROFIT A MAN?”


You remember the words that Jesus spoke about this, right? Sure you do. Here is what He said: “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36,37).

The word “soul” is sometimes translated as “life.” In this setting, the Master was definitely talking about losing true spiritual life, which would be the loss of the soul. A soul is not lost in the sense that it can be misplaced, nor does a soul being lost mean that it goes out of existence. To “lose” one’s soul means the loss of spiritual well-being – separated from God by sin in this life, and ultimately separated from Him eternally in the life to come (2 Thessalonians 1:8,9).

A quick look at the context in which Jesus was teaching about gaining the world and losing one’s soul shows that Jesus’ message challenged people to make choices. In Mark 8:34 we read that our Lord calls on all people to follow Him. Will we? He calls on each person to deny himself and take up His cross (8:34). Will we? He appeals to us to lose our life for His sake and the gospel’s in order to save it (8:35). That simply means that He wants us to give up our devotion to ourselves and our own desires and count Him and His will as being most important. Will we do that? He further makes it clear that He does not want us to be ashamed of Him and His words (8:38). Will we?

Like I said, all of the teaching in this context at the very end of Mark 8 shows us that we have to make decisions – important decisions, tough decisions, decisions that will determine our eternal destiny. They are, indeed, “major.” And, right there in the middle of these instructions is the Christ’s question about what does it profit a man if he could gain the whole world and lose his own soul in the process. Well, what is the answer? In the big picture of things, what would it profit him? Jesus’ inquiry causes us to think soberly about what really matters most in life. In our heart of hearts, just what is it that ranks right up there in the top position on our list of “most important stuff?”

If a woman could become the richest female in history, but in the process rebels against Jehovah and loses her soul, what profit would there be for her to have heaps of gold and the notoriety of being so rich that she cannot possibly count all of her money?

If a Christian couple can amass mountains of money, but when it comes to contributing to the Lord’s work, they give like beggars, what shall it profit them to have gigantic sums of wealth if they only give God their leftover crumbs and ultimately lose their souls?

If two Christian men who are brothers in the flesh run a business that has been in their family for three generations, and they take that business to a financial level that brings them outrageous sums of money in annual profits, but they make a bunch of their profit by dishonesty and other immoral practices, not to mention the fact that, due to their job commitments, they only attend 25% of the services of the church (because a fellow has to make a little living, you know) – what, what, what does all of their money profit them, if in the end they lose their souls?!

If a young woman purposely wears skimpy clothing that reveals her cleavage and thighs for all the boys to gawk at and is known as “the hottest” girl in school, what shall it profit her if she loses her soul in the process?

If a young man drinks a few bottles of beer, takes illegal drugs, and uses profanity to prove to his friends that he is a mature man (???), but he loses his soul because of his ungodliness and lack of selfcontrol, what has his so-called show of manliness gained him?

Brothers and sisters, if we want to be popular in the eyes of other humans, the devil has an unlimited number of ways to help us pursue popularity. If you and I count making money and acquiring material goods as our biggest goal in life, do not worry; Satan’s got us covered on that one, too. He has every kind of ploy that one could imagine to assist us in getting our hands on material things. We may never make Forbes’ list of the wealthiest people in the world, but covetous people have a way of getting their hands on stuff. For a heart filled with covetousness, though, there is never a feeling of being satisfied with what one has. There is always the longing for more, more, more. I recall that someone asked, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” Are we listening?

Our soul is by far our most valuable possession. I know that is how God sees it, but do you and I have that same outlook? Let us be more concerned about our soul’s security than we are the securing of our material resources. “What will it profit . . .?”


~ Roger D. Campbell ~


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