Archive | March 2013

From the Pastor’s Pen

Final Thoughts on II Timothy 2:8

Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel,                     NKJV

The whole foundation of Christianity rests upon the fact that Jesus Christ “was raised from the dead;” for, if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless, our faith is worthless, we are still in our sins, and believers who have died in Christ have perished (I Cor. 15:14-18).  Indeed, the divinity of Jesus finds its surest proof in His resurrection, since He was “declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom. 1:4).  It would not be unreasonable to doubt His Deity if He had not risen.

Moreover, He is “of the seed of David.”  In accordance with His promise to David (the Davidic covenant), God has given David a descendant who was raised from the dead and will sit on His throne in Jerusalem, ruling the nations of the earth in righteousness (Psa. 2:7-9, 72:8, 89:29).  When Jesus died, His body did not see corruption, nor was His soul left in Hades (Psa. 16:10;  Acts 2:27, 31-32), but rather He emptied out the bowels of Abraham’s bosom, taking the Old Testament saints into Heaven with Him, and was raised from the dead on the third day in a glorified, incorruptible, immortal body.

Jesus’ resurrection lies at the heart of the gospel message (Rom. 10:9) and should be a powerful motivator for us, as Christians, to share the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ with a lost and dying world around us.  God has called us to be Ambassadors for Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation (bringing sinners into a right relationship with God) through the word of reconciliation (the gospel message).  As we share the gospel, the Holy Spirit opens hearts to its truths and souls are saved; and it is all possible because Jesus, not only died for our sins, but has risen from the dead conquering sin and death.  The Lord Jesus Christ is both able and willing to save any who truly repent of their sins and through faith receive Him as their personal Savior.

From the Pastor’s Pen

Final Thoughts on Mark 13:3-6

Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked Him privately, “Tell us, when will these things be?  And what will be the sign when all these things will be fulfilled?”  And Jesus, answering them, began to say: “Take heed that no one deceives you.  For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and will deceive many.  But when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be troubled; for such things must happen, but the end is not yet.                         NKJV

Rather than immediately answering the disciples’ questions regarding events that would signal the end of the age, Jesus first gives them some general characteristics of the church age, none of which means that its end has begun.  Jesus wanted to be sure that the disciples would not jump to certain conclusions because of various events and so He first answers their questions negatively, telling them of things that would not mean the end has begun.

Just because someone appears, claiming to be Christ or the Messiah, does not mean that he is the Antichrist who will appear in the end times.  Church history has seen lots of false Christs.  I John 2:18 says, “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour.”  By the last hour, John does not mean the “end times” but rather the last days—the final stretch between Jesus’ 1st and 2nd comings.  Even in the first century, there were false Christs.  Vespasian (70 A.D.) was one prominent example.  All of the Roman Catholic Popes have been false Christs, claiming to speak with the same authority as Jesus Himself.  Sun Myung Moon (1920-2012), the founder of the Unification Church (the Moonies) claimed to be the “third Adam,” following Adam as the “first Adam” and Jesus as the “second Adam.”  However, I Corinthians 15:45 does not state that Jesus is the “second Adam,” but rather the “Last Adam.”  David Koresh, the founder and leader of the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas (1990), claimed to be the Messiah.  Jose Miranda, the current leader of Growing in Grace International Ministry, Inc., not only claims to be Christ, but has the number 666 tattooed on his forearm.  And the list of false Christs goes on.  Since the first century, there have been dozens of documented cases of men claiming to be Christ Himself.

In our text, Jesus also warned his disciples not to think that wars and rumors of wars would signal the end.  Since Jesus was born, there have been over 3,000 documented local wars with over a third of them occurring in the middle east, yet every time a war or skirmish occurs in the middle east, particularly if Israel is involved, there is a tendency among Christians to think that in some way it must signal the approaching end of the age.  This is exactly what Jesus wanted His disciples to avoid.

Jesus warns us in Mark 13:32-36 that no one knows when He is coming, not even the angels in Heaven.  Instead of trying to predict the time of His appearing, we need to be ready always for His return, knowing that the rapture of the church (I Thess. 4:16-17) could happen at any moment.  We are exhorted to always be ready for Jesus’ coming.  This means we are to be in His service and live for His glory, each moment of each day, as His Ambassadors here on the earth.

Baptismal Service

On Sunday, March 10th, Kevin and Alissa Makaipo were baptized at Ali’i Beach Park in Haleiwa. Praise the Lord!

From the Pastor’s Pen

Final Thoughts on I Corinthians 13:11

 

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.               NKJV

The 2011 movie, Courageous, produced by Sherwood Pictures, the independent Christian film company and creators of Flywheel, Facing the Giants, and Fireproof, is an unapologetic call for men to live courageously for their faith and their families.  In the film, a group of Christian men resolve to become the men that God has called them to be.

What is a man?  In Courageous, four men sign a resolution which embodies the Biblical essence of being a man.  The resolution reads as follows:

I do solemnly resolve before God to take full responsibility for myself, my wife, and my children.

I will love them, protect them, serve them, and teach them the Word of God as the spiritual leader of my home.

I will be faithful to my wife, to love and honor her, and be willing to lay down my life for her as Jesus Christ did for me.

I will bless my children and teach them to love god with all of their hearts, all of their minds, and all of their strength.

I will train them to honor authority and live responsibly.

I will confront evil, pursue justice, and love mercy.

I will pray for others and treat them with kindness, respect, and compassion.

I will work diligently to provide for the needs of my family.

I will forgive those who have wronged me and reconcile with those I have wronged.

I will learn from my mistakes, repent of my sins, and walk with integrity as a man answerable to God.

I will seek to honor God, be faithful to His church, obey His Word, and do His will.

I will courageously work with the strength God provides to fulfill this resolution for the rest of my life and for His glory.

As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.                 Joshua 24:15

From the Pastor’s Pen

Final Thoughts on Matthew 28:19

 

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,                  NKJV

There are three great Scriptural truths regarding baptism that we can learn from this passage.

First, the proper candidate for baptism is a Believer.  In our text it is “disciples” who are to be baptized.  The word “disciple” literally refers to a “pupil” of Christ; someone who has received Jesus Christ as personal Savior and is following Him.  The scripture is clear on this matter that only Believers are to be baptized.  In Acts 8:12, those who believed Phillip’s gospel message were baptized.  In Acts 8:35-39, Phillip baptized the Ethiopian eunuch after he had heard and believed the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.  In Acts 16:14-15, Lydia was baptized only after she had heard the gospel and believed.  In Acts 16:30-33, the Philippian jailer and his household were baptized only after they had believed on the Lord Jesus Christ and been saved.  The claims by those who practice infant baptism that there must have been infants or small children in the jailer’s household that were baptized is without substantiation.  Clearly all of those who were baptized believed (vs. 31-32).

There is no scriptural warrant for infant baptism anywhere in the Bible.  In fact, infant baptism did not come into practice in the church until late in the 2nd century with the emergence of the heresy of baptismal regeneration.  There are some churches that do not teach baptismal regeneration but do baptize infants claiming that baptism is the New Testament replacement for circumcision, but this view is without scriptural support.  If baptism had replaced circumcision then the Jerusalem Council would have been completely unnecessary.  In response to the question of whether or not Gentile Believers needed to be circumcised, the answer would have simply been, “Of course not; circumcision was replaced by baptism.”

Circumcision is the outward sign of an elect national people—Israel.  Baptism is the outward sign of an elect spiritual people—the Church.  In one sense, as a Church we do baptize infants, but we baptize spiritual infants, not physical infants.  Baptism is a picture of the spiritual regeneration of the Believer and a means of identifying oneself publicly with the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 6:4, Col. 2:12).

Second, baptism is a command for Believers.  In our text, Jesus uses the Greek imperative mood (a command).  Baptism is not just a suggestion for Believers.  In Acts 10:48, as Peter is addressing the church, “he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.”  Why would Peter command baptism?  He commanded it because Jesus commanded baptism.

Third, the correct mode of baptism is immersion.  The word “baptize” comes from the Greek word “baptizo”, which literally means to “immerse or submerge.”  Some churches sprinkle or pour, but this is not really baptism.  In the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament that was commonly used in Jesus’ day), the meaning of “baptizo” can be clearly seen.  In Leviticus 4:6, when the priest offered the sin offering, God commanded him to dip (Greek: baptizo) his finger in the blood and sprinkle (Greek: rantizo) some of the blood 7 times before the Lord, in front of the veil of the sanctuary.  Baptizo was translated “dip” because the finger was plunged completely beneath the blood, whereas rantizo was translated “sprinkle.”  Those who practice sprinkling are “rantizing” not “baptizing.”  Even though the Greek Orthodox Church (unscripturally) practices infant baptism, they immerse their infants because they understand the meaning of the Greek word “baptizo.”  Furthermore, when Jesus was baptized, He came up out of the water (Mat. 3:16, Mk. 1:10).  The only reason for Him to be down in the water is because He was immersed.  Likewise, in Acts 8:38-39, Phillip and the Ethiopian eunuch went down into the water and then came up out of the water; an act that would be needed only if the eunuch were immersed.  Finally in John 3:23, we read that “John was baptizing in Aenon near Salim because there was much water there.”  Sprinkling or pouring does not require a large amount of water; immersion does.

From the Pastor’s Pen

Final Thoughts on Psalm 33:10-12

 

The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect.  The counsel of the Lord stands forever, The plans of His heart to all generations.  Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, The people He has chosen as His own inheritance.                       NKJV

The Bible declares plainly that God determines everything that happens, both in the broad scope of history (Isa. 46:9-10) and in the lives of individual human beings (Jer. 18:6, Acts 17:26).  This is frequently a disturbing blow to our pride as we like to believe that we are in control of our lives; that our destiny is in the own hands.  But the reality is that we make our plans, but God controls the outcome.

A number of scripture verses, including Ephesians 1:11, Job 23:13, and Daniel 4:35 declare that God works everything according to His own divine will.  Even Christians often object to the idea of everything being predestined, believing that predestination somehow makes marionettes out of people, but clearly this is not the case.  God, who is omniscient, knows the outcome of every decision we make and can certainly intervene to change the outcome if He so desires.  The fact that He chooses not to do so means that the outcome is predestined.

God can bring about His divine will by controlling the circumstances in which we live just as he did with Joseph’s brothers when he brought a caravan of Midianite slave traders into their midst while the brothers were trying to decide what to do with Joseph.  God knew that they would sell Joseph into slavery.  Have you ever stopped to consider how far ahead God had to act so that those slave traders would arrive where Joseph’s brothers were at that exact moment in time.  God made us and knows how we will react under every given set of circumstances.  If He chooses to bring about a certain reaction from us, all He has to do is create the proper set of circumstances around us and we will react accordingly.

Sometimes I have been asked, “But doesn’t predestination make God the author of sin?  The answer is “no!”  In Genesis 50:20, Joseph said to his brothers, “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.”  The brothers chose to sell Joseph into slavery and were responsible for their actions.  They were the authors of the sin.  At the same time, God’s sovereign will was carried out from a good motive.

Consider the crucifixion of Christ, which was clearly the predestined will of God (Rev. 13:8).  Peter said to the Jews in Acts 2:23, “Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death.”  The Jews chose to murder Jesus and were responsible for their actions.  They were the authors of the sin.  At the same time, God’s predestined will came to pass; an event which was the greatest good in the history of the world.  Thus we see that God can predestine an event without necessarily authoring that event.

God has decreed in Himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely and unchangeably, all things, whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby is God neither the author of sin nor has fellowship with any therein; nor is violence offered to the will of the creature, nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken way, but rather established; in which appears His wisdom in disposing all things, and power and faithfulness in accomplishing His decree.                   The Westminster Confession of Faith (1646), the Baptist Confession of Faith (1689), and the Philadelphia Confession of Faith (1742).