Jesus in the great commission said, “make disciples and baptize them.” ( Matthew 28:19 ) If Jesus thought it was important, so should we even if we don’t fully understand the spiritual reason for it. Jesus set the example by being baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan even though He was sinless and had no sins to be ‘washed away’. (Mark 1:9)
Baptism has a profound effect on a person’s mindset about their Faith commitment. It is a constant reminder of God’s saving grace.
Baptism is an event which is never forgotten. It creates a memory of a lifetime. The time, the place, the pastor, the friends, and the witnesses all come to mind when a person thinks about their baptism experience. That is why baptism should take place when a person is of an age to make the decision fully understanding what baptism means. It should not be done just as a ritual of the church or to qualify for church membership.
While it is true that baptism is not a prerequisite for one’s salvation, it does put a ‘Spiritual Seal’ on it.
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Baptism is an outward and visible sign of an inner change that has taken place when a person accepts Christ as Savior and Lord. It tells the world, usually in front of several or many witnesses, that a person is now a Christian and not ashamed of it. ( See Luke 9:26 )
Baptism symbolizes dying (buried) with Christ and to self and then rising to a new life in HIM in this present life and for life in eternity. It also means that a person has decided to follow Jesus and now there is no turning back to the old way of life. In another sense, it reflects repentance and forgiveness and acceptance by God.
In a symbolic way, the waters of baptism means having your sins washed away and being resurrected to newness of life in Christ. In other words, becoming a New Creation in Christ. ( 2 Corinthians 5:17 ) and receiving the Holy Spirit.
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These are important questions. They involve a matter critical to the Christian Faith. The answer to the second question is also the answer to the first question. In life there are many authority figures that need to be honored and respected and obeyed; parents, teachers, officers of the law, Government authorities and the like. When a rule or law is broken there are consequences and justice must be served.
God is the supreme judge and ultimate authority (sovereign) over the entire universe and everything in it. So when Adam, the first man, sinned and disobeyed God, death was the penalty. God, who is eternal, holy, omniscient (all knowing), omnipresent, omnipotent (all powerful), just, and in control of his creation, did ‘FIX’ the sin problem that man, Adam and Eve, initially created. Disobedience broke the intimate personal relationship God intended for mankind and himself. God’s holiness and justice demand that sin and rebellion be punished. The punishment is eternal separation from God. (Romans 6:23)
The ‘FIX’ was for God to send his son, Jesus Christ, to pay the price for man’s sins by his death on the cross (John 3:16). Jesus clearly understood his mission on earth was to proclaim the kingdom of God and to be a sacrifice for the sins of man. He knew it was God’s will for him to die. Jesus willingly laid down his life as an atonement for sin. In other words, Jesus paid the price or the penalty for our sins and in so doing established an opportunity to restore a right relationship with God and become one of his children. It’s called God’s Grace or unmerited favor.
The Bible says, ”without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”(Hebrews 9:22) So it was Christ’s sinless blood that was shed to provide for man’s salvation and redemption and a new beginning with God in this life and in the life to come in heaven. (Romans 4:7,8) Those who put their trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord are ‘Born again’, have their sins forgiven and receive the assurance of eternal life.
Jesus had to die to fulfill God’s requirement for justice because of mankind’s sin. The good news is that the God of all creation is also loving, merciful, and gracious. He fixed this problem with the most expensive and precious gift and way possible, with Jesus Christ his only son. So our sins are paid for, and we no longer have to die an eternal death. This is why Jesus had to die and how the all powerful God of Creation FIXED the sin problem once and forever.
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The Bible verse you are referring to is from a letter that the apostle Paul wrote to fellow Christians in the city of Galatia, in what is now central Turkey.
… the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Paul explains that when you ask God’s Spirit to guide your life, you will become more loving of others and know an overarching joy and peace in all circumstances. You will also become more tolerant of those who offend you, and be more willing to show kindness to those who are not kind to you—something that is usually very difficult without the Spirit guiding your thoughts and actions.
Likewise, you will find that doing good and being faithful in your relationships and your work will come more naturally. You will be gentle in your speech and actions, and in all ways you will find yourself better able to control your destructive behaviors.
A tree bears fruit based on its DNA plus water and nutrients it absorbs through its roots. Good genetics, the right amount of water and the correct balance of nutrients will yield good fruit. In the same way, when you allow God’s spirit to infill you, your life will yield wonderful fruit.
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There is a familiar quote that says, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness.” We know from life experiences that when something or someone needs gets soiled a bath or a cleaning up is required. We wash clothes, dishes, cars and of course our bodies to keep them clean and get the dirt out. In some fashion we want to be seen as Mr. or Mrs. Clean, just like the character in the commercial.
In most cultures, outward appearances are considered important. What most people fail to recognize is that while ‘man’ looks at the outside God looks and sees the inside, the condition of the human heart. God’s standard of clean is perfection because He is Holy.
In this context, we are not referring to the beating physical heart but to the very essence of a person’s being, or the real self that resides within the human eternal soul. The ‘heart’ defines the individual’s personality and character. In other words, the real you is on full display to God at all times. A person cannot achieve a clean heart on their own efforts. A clean heart is only possible by the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit through a life-transforming personal relationship with the person of Jesus Christ.
So, therein lies the answer. While there is absolutely nothing a person can do to achieve a clean heart on his or her own, God can and wants to do just that for everyone, as all are created in His image. It becomes a matter of personal choice and a decision of the will. In Psalm 51:1-2 we read King David’s prayer, “Have mercy on me O God…cleanse me from my sin…create in me a pure clean heart.”
David is pleading with God to make his heart new, forgive his sin and receive the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit to keep it pure so he can have a restored loving relationship with God in the present and for all eternity. God is waiting to cleanse your heart today. All you need to do is ask. It’s that simple. Why wait? No one is assured of tomorrow.
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No, we can never be without temptation while we are alive here in this life and if we think we ever are without sin, we are fooled and far from God (1 John 1:8-10). That doesn’t mean it’s all a one-sided battle that we can never win. We can’t win the battle against sin, but the truth is: Jesus when He died over 2,000 years ago, already won the war and we win, when we side with Him, trusting and believing in Him.
Satan and his demons have dominion of this world because of the sin of Adam and Eve, but “fear not, because Jesus has overcome the world” (John 16:33). God allows us to be tempted by the Enemy, who ‘comes only to steal, kill and destroy’ (John 10:10), but never beyond what we can handle because God always provides the route for escape (1 Cor. 10:13). James 4:7 says, ‘Turn to God, resist the Enemy and he will flee from you’ and Galatians 5:16 says ‘ If we walk by the Spirit, we will not gratify our fleshly desires’.